In politics, what isn’t on the program is often as interesting as what is

If you were at the sold-out Jean Chretien tribute on Tuesday night, as we were, you would have heard Kathleen Wynne speak – even though she wasn’t on the program to do so.

Meanwhile, Paul Martin – who was in the program – surprised some folks by not being there.

I’m sure it had nothing to do with this, which came the very next day.

It may all be one great big coincidence. I’m sure it is.



Google Music Timeline: punk world domination is imminent

Well, not entirely.  But this cool new Google thingie shows that I was right: traditional rock really does suck, and the weirdo punk/alt stuff I have listened to for decades really is better.

The irony, of course, is that I am a punk rock snob and I drop a band whenever they get popular.  So, as soon my chosen genre gets huge, I’ll be wearing a beret, quoting Sartre, and listening to jazz with my best friend Paul Wells.

Click on the image for a link to lotsa fun.




Happy birthday, Boss

The best part wasn’t necessarily at the dinner, but came earlier, when Lala and me gave him this painting my Mom did for his 80th – from all of the Kinsellas. I hope he finds a good spot for it on his wall!


Rob Ford, wasted again? Plus, a question for 14 Division

The issue isn’t whether Ford would be (a) stoned/drunk in public or (b) mocking minorities in public.  That stuff is a given. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again. (He’s done it at the same place, too.)

The issue is whether (c) the video is legit or not.  I personally find it fascinating that (a) and (b) are no longer really news, and (c) is what folks are debating.

Oh, and (d).  That being a question I have for the cops: do you guys ever plan to charge Mayor Crackhead with driving under the influence? Or does someone have to die first?

Sid Ryan: the reverse Midas touch

As in, everything he touches turns to garbage.

This Toronto Star typist gets one big thing wrong, here: Ryan is no friend of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, or many NDP partisans. I’m a Liberal, and I know that much. (A round-up of the last exchange Sidney and I had, in that regard, is here.)

Ryan’s sole objective is to get labour to support the coming budget: that’s all he cares about.  Other, more sensible, labour leaders have a bigger concern – keeping the Ontario PC anti-labour policies from ever being implemented.

That may be achieved by supporting Kathleen Wynne.  Or, that may be achieved by supporting Andrea Horwath.  My hunch, as I’ve written previously, is they’ll take the latter route – not Sid Ryan’s.



Olivia Chow: your morning media round-up


In Tuesday’s Sun: if you agree with this opinion column, you are apparently an anti-Semite

When you go there, the first thing you notice about Israel is how strikingly different it is from Canada’s Jewish leadership, and Canada’s governing Conservatives.

Israel is, of course, quite beautiful. But Israel is also multicultural and diverse. It is progressive and modern. And it is far, far more secular than you’ve been led to think.

“Progressive and modern” – and “secular” – are not the sorts of things one associates with the worldview of Stephen Harper, or many within the huge entourage travelling with the Canadian Prime Minister this week to Israel. Nor would anyone ever associate many of them with multiculturalism or diversity (one man revealed to be with Harper by Sun Media has ties to Britain’s racist English Defence League).

They are monochrome, they are sectarian, and they resolutely conservative. (And Conservative.)

Israel, when you see it up-close, isn’t like that at all. But that doesn’t deter Harper or his retinue of lobbyists and hardliners: they favour an approach that has isolated Israel (and Canada) globally, and which has reduced Canada’s Jewish leadership to a Conservative Party echo chamber. To them, you’re either in favour of Israeli settlements – which are illegal, and which Harper has refused to denounce while in Israel – or you’re the enemy. There is no in-between, for them.

We Irish are familiar with the species. Conservative evangelical Christians, and Canada’s Jewish leadership, are engaged in what is called “trying to out-Irish the Irish.” They’re hardcore. They’re hardliners. And they could not be more unlike most Israelis, who seek peace – not war – with surrounding Arab nations. (Who Harper, last month, actually called “a region of darkness.”)

Jewish leaders in the United States are wholly unlike Canada’s. There, the Jewish vote skews Democratic. For decades, U.S. Jews have been at the forefront of the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and efforts to maintain a dichotomy between church and state. Unlike recent Canadian Jewish leaders, they have shrewdly maintained cordial relationships with all sides of the political establishment. So that, whoever is in power, they will always have someone to call.

Not in Canada. Here, progressive Jewish leaders – like the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Bernie Farber, or B’nai Brith’s Karen Mock, or Parliamentary giants like Irwin Cotler – have been shunned and reviled for favouring moderation and accommodation. Here, those who have traditionally regarded themselves as Zionists – like, for example, this writer – have been driven out for the temerity to oppose Israel junkets being offered to Muslim-hating white supremacists.

What has all of this ideological cleansing gotten Canada, and those in Canada who support the Jewish state? Not much. It cost Canada a seat on the U.N. Security Council, and has greatly reduced our voice internationally. It has left Canada’s Jewish leaders aligned with cartoonish Christian zealots who want to convert Jews in the end-times. Most ominously, it has reduced the number of friends Israel has within the Liberal and New Democratic parties, both of whom periodically win power.

A fair question to ask in conclusion: if Harper and his massive entourage are so pro-Israel, why are they so unlike so many Israelis?

Simple: Stephen Harper, and those with him, actually aren’t pro-Israel. They are pro-Likud Party. They, like Likud, are conservative, bellicose, and insular.

Likud isn’t Israel. Israel – multicultural, diverse, progressive, modern and secular Israel – is much more than that. And the sooner Harper and his factionalists accept that, the better off Canada will be.

Israel, too.