Now now, Now

Now magazine is irritated with Your Humble Narrator.  For a while – um – now, the alt weakly has been in a state of high dudgeon, and it would be super boring if it weren’t for this: I’m researching a column on some of the hypocrisies of the so-called Left, to try and figure out why they’re in decline politically.  As such, I’ve been researching Now itself, and specifically:

And so on.

I’m interested in hearing from anyone – and particularly some of the former staffers at Now – who have stories to relate about its profitability, its union-busting, its hypocrisy on equality issues, and its bosses.  Feel free to confidentially email me at the usual place.

Otherwise, comment, er, now!

Is Den Tandt right?


“Mulcair is the only leader of a federal party who stands a fair chance of losing his job following the federal election, tentatively slated for later this year.”

I’m not sure I agree with my colleague, who I almost always agree with.  Here’s a couple other scenarios:

  • The economy gets lousy, those criminal trials get newsworthy, Stephen Harper has a Senator Finley-less – ie., poorly-run – campaign, and he flat-out loses the election.
  • The economy stays strong, nobody cares about the trials, Harper again executes a solid campaign, and Justin Trudeau has a great big verbal flub on the campaign trail – or, worse, during the leaders’ debates – and he flat-out loses the election.

In either one of those scenarios, I can easily see the Tories and the Grits readying the gallows for Messrs. Harper or Trudeau.

What thinkest thou, O readers of this here web site?


I am confused, as usual

Apologies for getting all Toronto-centric, but the media in The Centre of the Universe are this morning filled with stories about how the new mayor is going to “get tough” with illegally parked vehicles during rush hour, blah blah blah. There are dozens of such stories.

Here’s the question I therefore asked on the Twitter thing. A few folks apparently agreed with me.

In Friday’s Sun: 2014 in one word

If you were asked to assign a word to 2014, what would it be?

Cold? It was indisputably that. Uncertain? With oil costing far less‎ and housing costing ever more, unquestionably. Frightening? ISIS and Ebola ensured that it was.

Politically, there really is no single word that can be easily applied to the year that just went by. So let us look, instead, at ten people who – intentionally or not – shaped our politics and our perspective on 2014.

1. Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent: The murders of these two Canadian Forces men ‎- at the hands of extremists who wanted to make a political statement, and did – still reverberates through our politics. Their deaths provided evidence that seemingly far-flung conflicts, in places like Afghanistan and Syria, aren’t so far away at all.

2.‎ Dave Ross, Douglas Larche, Fabrice Gevaudan: Three RCMP officers were gunned down by Justin Bourque in Moncton in June – and their tragic deaths would not have happened if Bourque, whose own lawyer called a “gun nut,” had been denied access‎ to a powerful semi-automatic M305. 308 sniper rifle. The deaths of Ross, Larche and Gevaudan could have been prevented with better government regulation of the acquisition of firearms.

‎3. Robin Williams: The comic was American, but his August suicide deeply ‎affected many Canadians. Williams’ passing provided us with another reminder that depression – while much-discussed – is still an enormous public health crisis that remains mostly unaddressed.

4. Jian Ghomeshi: Ghomeshi was one of the brightest stars in the Canadian media firmament – but he came crashing to Earth, in October, amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault. His case, while rife with allegations that were disturbing, was also helpful in one way: it shone a light on the scourge of sexual harassment, and forced a debate that was long overdue.

5. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya: The former CEO of Malaysia Airlines – his tenure ended on New Year’s Day – will be remembered‎ as the world’s unluckiest man. In the space of four months, two of his company’s planes went down – one shot out of the sky by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the other lost over the South China Sea – claiming nearly 600 lives, among them Canadians. The stories of those two flights provided shocking reminders that life is terribly fleeting, and can be taken away in an instant.

6. Michael Brown: The August death of the unarmed Missouri teenager – shot twelve times by police officer Darren Wilson after Brown had obeyed commands to put his hands up – set off riots and confrontations across the US, and even ‎protests in Canada. Brown’s death, and the deaths of other black men at the hands of white police officers, stirred up racial tensions in a way that few expected during the tenure of a black U.S. President.

7. Vladimir Putin: Russia’s arrogant despot invaded the Crimea in February, and set off a conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands. Canada, home to the third-largest Ukrainian population in the world – after Ukriane and Russia – was rightly outraged by Putin’s flagrant disregard for international law and human rights. ‎ Putin, meanwhile, is still in power – and one of the world’s most reviled leaders.

Out of all that, a picture emerges. One word threads its way through the year gone by, and it is not happy one.

2014 was a year of triumphs, and breakthroughs, and some genuinely positive news, of course. But, mostly, the world in 2014 was still simply this:


Predictions about 2015, and confessions about 2014

Some of 2014 was kind of meh. I can now reveal, for example, my big news: I was going to be the host of a show on Sun News – but that show got cancelled before it even got aired! Drag. Would’ve been fun. Father John Daly, my priest, knows even more stuff.

But, mostly, it was a great year. My daughter won gold at the North American Indigenous Games – and my sons all had achievements academically and athletically. I finished a book that will surprise a lot of people (I think), and have already started the next one. And, of course, I got engaged to the aforementioned Ms. Kirbie – and we’re looking forward to a great Kinsellabration in Kennebunk at the end of August with friends of every political persuasion.

And, in respect of the political stuff, I would have liked to run in Toronto-Danforth, sure – but some of the Trudeau guys don’t like dissent, and I’m a dissenter. So I’ll be doing other things, politically, in the year to come.

In the meantime, here’s me and my gal on Sun News earlier today, predicting predictions about 2015. Comments about what we had to say are, as always, welcome. And, until next year, have a wonderful 2015 – and accept my thanks for making this web site a success, in its fifteenth anniversary year!

In Tuesday’s Sun: 2015 isn’t a year – it’s a lifetime

NEW YORK – It’s a cliché‎, but like a lot of clichés it’s true: a week is a long time in politics.

British politician Harold Wilson said that, or something like that. In political life, Wilson’s axiom is the only universal truth: everything can change, dramatically, in the blink of an eye.

Ask New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. A year ago, the first Democratic New York mayor in a generation was sworn in outside City Hall. The many attendees were brimming with sunny optimism. The Clintons were there, Governor Andrew Cuomo was there, former mayor David Dinkins was there, even Harry Belafonte was there.

Everything seemed progressive and possible, on that day. Everyone was smiling. Hundreds lined up in the bitter cold for hours, to shake the new mayor’s hand, and offer their best wishes.

What a difference a year makes, as they say. Almost a year to the day, hundreds of New York police officers lined up to do something else – to turn their backs on de Blasio, as he spoke about two murdered officers. It was an extraordinary display of contempt, and it signaled that – for de Blasio – everything can change in no time at all.

Similarly, de Blasio has been criticized for everything from fumbling snow removal to regularly arriving late at events. He even dropped the star of the city’s annual Groundhog Day event. (The groundhog later died.)

In the unlikely event that he ever casts an eye northward‎, a weary de Blasio might have some advice for another star in the progressive firmament, Justin Trudeau: not only is a week in politics a long time, sonny, it’s even longer for politicians of the progressive variety.

Consider, too, the year that Trudeau has had. A year ago, the Trudeau-led Liberal Party was atop every poll, and every pundit (including this one) was ‎compiling lists about who would make up that first Liberal cabinet. Stephen Harper was destined to return to Calgary in ignominious defeat, and Thomas Mulcair’s social democrats would be reduced to their traditional role, a rump in the House of Commons.

No longer. Not a single pundit now believes that Harper’s demise is a forgone conclusion. In fact, the bulk of them have lately taken to predicting a Conservative minority‎, or even a slim Conservative majority. Not all of them believe Mulcair is undone, either: the NDP leader remains competitive in key provinces, like BC and Quebec.

As they contemplate the year that is ahead – brimming with Tory attack ads and Tory war room‎ missives, as it will be – Liberals may well wonder how so much has changed in a year. The answer, as with most things in Canadian politics nowadays, lies with Justin Trudeau.

His youthfulness, his optimism, his newness – and the change that all of those things foretold – propelled Trudeau and his party to the heights of popularity. He seemed unbeatable.

A year later, his verbal gaffes, his policy void, his inexperienced inner circle – who have rendered his open nominations pledge a farcical joke, among other things – have taken a toll. What once seemed unbeatable now looks, well, quite beatable.

The “week in politics is a long time” cliché cuts both ways, of course. What now looks promising to Harper and Mulcair can easily melt away in the Spring. Trudeau could surge back.

But, for now, Justin Trudeau would do well to ponder the cautionary tale of Bill de Blasio: at the start, they will line up to shake your hand.

And, in no time at all, they may be lining up to turn their backs on you.