2015, not 1815: this is truly shocking, and it happened in Canada



WINDSOR, Ont. — A black man found a noose on his truck and another near his work station at an auto plant that is being retooled in this southwestern Ontario city.

The victim, in his late 40s, was shaken but declined to speak about the incidents, officials said Monday. Police are investigating.

The man, who is from Windsor, is among hundreds of workers involved in a $2-billion retooling project at a Fiat Chrysler minivan assembly plant. Auto production has been shut down during the revamping.

The Post has extensively covered this incident – this hate crime – as well as CBC and the Windsor Star. It has also received significant coverage in the U.S., on Fox, USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, and so on. It deserves more attention in Canada than it is getting.

It’s 2015, not 1815: this kind of despicable, cowardly act of hate needs to be investigated and prosecuted (once again showing why it was a mistake to kill section 13 of the Human Rights Act).

I can’t imagine how this man felt when he came to work and saw that noose. And I can’t believe this has happened in Canada in 2015.

In this week’s Hill Times: scandals are boring, and Mike Duffy’s is no exception

In a week and a bit, the trial of Mike Duffy will commence. Official Ottawa will be agog, apoplectic and absorbed—via Twitter, via Facebook, via regular breathless and live televised reports, issued from just outside the battlefield, i.e., the Ontario Court of Justice, at the Ottawa Courthouse on Elgin Street.

The Rest of Canada—that is, Joe and Jane Frontporch, who live and work South of the Queensway—will not give a rat’s ass. They will not pay the Duffy-related doings any heed. They will not care.

They shouldn’t.

Now, now, a caveat: it is, of course, important that our public officials, elected or otherwise, do not dip their snouts into the treasury, like domesticated hogs extracting truffles in temperate forests. That is what is alleged in l’affaire Duffy, more or less.

According to the Mounties and the Crown, who investigated the case for what seemed like centuries—dutifully leaking details of the efforts to media outlets who parked their critical faculties elsewhere—the Senator from Cavendish-cum-Kanata allegedly broke the law no less than 31 times, Your Honour.

Among the allegations: bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The bribery one is my personal favourite because it’s going precisely nowhere. The RCMP has alleged a bribe took place, in a most bizarre fashion: that is, a bribe was sought (by one Mike Duffy) but not offered (by one Nigel Wright).

Every lawyer in the world has an eye trained on that one, because bribery takes two to tango, as it were. How can the erstwhile Senator be convicted of accepting a bribe, when one wasn’t ever offered? Watch for this charge to go down in proverbial flames—principally because (a) it can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and (b) everyone knows that Nigel Wright is one of the most decent fellows to ever set foot on Parliament Hill.

At this point in our dissertation, naturally, Joe and Jane Frontporch are falling asleep. This column has become a textbook case of Ottawa talking about Ottawa and there is nothing more boring than that.

So, too, scandal. While myriad controversies—always nouns, always with “gate” appended as a suffix—always transfix the commentariat, they always leave Mr. and Mrs. Frontporch cold. The Duffy “scandal” is no exception.

That is because scandal-mongering, like the Senate itself, is a thankless task (and taskless thanks). With perhaps the notable historic exception of the Watergate break-in, it doesn’t really work anymore.

There are three reasons why:

1. The media/political punditocracy refer to everything, pretty much, as a scandal.

2. Regrettably, if you were to ask Joe and Jane Frontporch—and someone really should, one of these days—they would tell you: they already believe that everyone who wields power in Ottawa/Washington/wherever is an unindicted co-conspirator, i.e., a crook. Ipso facto, news reports to the effect that a politician has allegedly committed theft, fraud, and breach of trust aren’t news at all. They are, instead, like weather reports: they happen every day, they are rarely good news, and there is nothing Joe and Jane can do about them.

3. Joe and Jane Frontporch have heard the hysteria and histrionics about “scandals” way, way too many times. Way. And, consequently, they now don’t believe any of it until the good Senator is led away in handcuffs and a fetching orange pantsuit.

In the real world, the real scandals are things like not having a job, and being unable to pay the bills. The real scandals are seeing your ailing parent curled up on a bed in a hospital corridor, waiting days to get seen by a doctor. The real scandals are governments spending untold billions on security—only to thereafter shrug when some deranged, lone wolf fanatic slips through their labyrinth of scanners and spies, and commit terrible crimes.

Those things, to Joe and Jane Frontporch, are the real scandals.

Not, to put a fine point on it, Mike Duffy. That, they feel, is just another sad case of Ottawa talking about Ottawa—and not the real scandals, in the real world.

Sad announcement

I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but I figured I’d let folks know that  we have gone our separate ways. Have agreed to be friends, etc. All of that. But, after nearly six great years, it’s time to move on. And that’s all I’m going to be saying about it.

No reasonable offer refused!


It is an election year and, accordingly, folks are already asking me about banner advertising on this here web site.

Last time, the Libs got to it first. This time, who knows? First come, first served.

Marijuana Party of Canada, this could be your lucky day!

Liberals, leaders, lackluster-ness

From that Ivison column Grits are passing around:

Those are all direct quotes.

Now, blinders-wearing Grits will attack John’s opinion column, natch. But having been an aspiring columnist for some time, I can say that John is merely doing what a columnist is supposed to do – being skeptical, being tough on all sides, being anything but predictable.  That’s the job.

And, by the by, he’s right about quite a few things.  The verbal missteps; the vicious expulsion of Liberal Senators; the diktats about how candidates and MPs should think; the confusing and calamitous decisions on ISIS and C-51; the farce that is the “open nominations” promise: it goes on and on, unfortunately.

Does Trudeau need to make some staff changes before the election? I’ve thought that for some time.  Does he need to get some policy in the window, given the suspicion that voters have about his intellect? For sure.  Does he need to stop trying to tell jokes, and look and sound more Prime Ministerial? Yes, yes and yes.  All that.

I still believe he can become Prime Minister, short or long term.  I still believe he has done extraordinary things for the Liberal Party’s organizational and fundraising strength.  I still believe that most Canadians self-identify as Liberal or liberal.

But Justin Trudeau is now slipping downward towards the twenties, and that’s Ignatieff and Dion territory.  And we all know how that turned out.

Smarten up, Justin.  You only get one chance to make a first impression.

The emperor wears no clothes, but the kids bow to him anyway

Driving in with Son Two, Arcade Fire’s ‘Ready to Start’ comes on.  I personally think Arcade Fire are insufferably pretentious/precious, and Win Butler makes Billy Corgan seem shy and retiring.  But this remains a great pop song, and that line in the middle corresponds to my view of quite a bit of politics, these days.

All the kids have always known
That the emperor wears no clothes
But they bow down to him anyway

Stick to your day job, big guy

Just as the Cons make use of their leader’s artistic expression to fundraise, so too do the Libs, now.

Stick to your day jobs, fellas. If this keeps up, Tom Mulcair will start belting out show tunes in Question Period.