An open letter to the worst minister in Canada

Dear Minister Joly:

May I call you Melanie?

You’ve blocked my access to your ministerial Twitter account, so please forgive the formality of an open letter. I sense that I’ve upset you, which concerns me deeply.

Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the propriety of a public servant (that’s you) blocking the access of one of your employers (that’s me) to one of the official platforms you (a public servant) use to communicate with the likes of me (one of your employers). Let’s leave all that aside for a moment.

Let’s get to the pith and substance of the matter, shall we?

Have I been critical of your performance as a cabinet minister? Well, yes, you could say that. Among other things, I think you are possibly the worst cabinet minister in the history of Confederation. You make Bev Oda look like Margaret Thatcher. You make Stockwell Day seem positively Churchillian. You stink at this politics stuff, you know?

The evidence before the court of public opinion is myriad and multiple.  It is overwhelming.

Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, for example.  In my experience, countries only get one opportunity to celebrate their 150th birthday.  Governments, meanwhile, get plenty of notice that a 150th birthday celebration is coming.

You rendered our 150th in Ottawa a fiasco, however.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s just a sampling of the bon mots sent to you by other citizens (who, again, are your employers):

• “Shame on you Ottawa. Shame on you Heritage Canada and the organizers. You failed us!”

• “I have never seen such a poor, chaotic display. Shame on you Ottawa.”

• “The organizers of Canada Day 2017 should be ashamed of themselves for the shoddy work that went into this year’s event.”

• “Please, [Minister Joly], I beg you to step out of your protective shell and acknowledge what a mess Canada Day was and take some responsibility for it.”

• “Time for you to resign!”

But you weren’t done.  Nope.  The Netflix announcement – which essentially saw the streaming behemoth being granted tax-free status for a piddling amount of investment in Canada’s cultural sector, and most particularly in the province you profess to represent – was also a debacle.

A sampling of commentary about the Netflix mess:

• Globe: “[Joly’s] fall from grace in her home province has been swift and merciless, sped by her maladroit attempts to sell a deal with Netflix…”

• National Post: “[Joly] she has been savaged in Quebec media, artistic and political circles.”

• Journal de Montreal: “[Joly sounds] like a living answering machine having a nervous breakdown.”

But there’s more!

As you will recall, there was the matter of the plaque affixed to the new Holocaust Monument in Ottawa.  It didn’t mention the six million.  Or the word “Jews.” Or “anti-Semitism.”  You hurriedly ordered the plaque replaced, but not before just about every Jew in Canada noticed.

The resulting headline in the Washington Post, then, actually made me wince: “Canada forgot to mention Jews on new Holocaust monument dedication plaque.”

Ouch.

Anyway.  Let’s forget about the Holocaust Monument, and the Netflix thing, and Canada 150.  Let’s forget about all that.  Let’s turn the page. Let’s focus, instead, on your latest decision, which I will render all-caps, because I think it merits it:

MELANIE JOLY HAS SPENT $5 MILLION TO BUILD A HOCKEY RINK ON PARLIAMENT HILL.

And it’s not just any $5 million hockey rink.  No, not in Joly World.  It is a $5 million hockey rink that:

• Prohibits the playing of hockey.

• Will be in existence for less than a month.

• Is a block from the biggest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal.

Oh, and the Toronto Star reported this: “The rink, which will be available for free public skating from Dec. 7 to Jan. 1, is budgeted to cost about $215,385 per day that it’s open.”

One of my readers informed me that works out to about $300 per skater, per leisurely skate.  I’m not sure Wayne Gretzky made that much in his prime with the Oilers, Melanie.

And here’s what you had to say about Skate-gate: “We believe that it is really good news because this will be here for a month, and this will support, of course, important programming.”

“Really good news.”

It isn’t, Melanie.  It isn’t.  It is a disgrace.  It is disgusting.  It is an actual scandal. It is.

Melanie, it is also time for you to go.  You aren’t helping your reputation – and you are regularly hurting the reputation of this government, which is a not-bad government, as governments go.  Resign, for the love God, resign.

Oh, and I’d tell you that on Twitter, too.  If you weren’t, you know, blocking me.

Your friend,

Etc.


Can a single page win an entire election?

If it can – and it might – PC leader Patrick Brown may well have won the 2018 provincial election this weekend.

One sheet of paper: seriously. Here it is.

It’s the cover of Patrick Brown’s PC party (because they truly are his party, now) platform, the People’s Guarantee. It is actually brilliant. Let me explain.

I helped out a bit on the development and rollout of the Liberal Party of Canada’s now-legendary 1993 election platform, which came to be known as the Red Book. But, as the guy running the ’93 war room, my task was mainly to defend the Red Book.

The reasons why the Red Book was successful, and why it needed to be defended, are myriad. But Brown’s little book (with the cheeky socialist-y name) shares certain characteristics with the Red Book. There are five.

  • Most folks won’t ever read your policy book. They’re too busy or whatever. But the existence of the book reassures them that your team has spent some time thinking about the challenges of their daily life, and has some good ideas. That’s why Chretien would hold it up so often – he knew that most Canadians wouldn’t actually ever read it, but they approved of the fact that he had one. It worked.
  • Keep it simple, stupid. James Carville’s famous aphorism is a staple of political life. So, Chretien was very good at reducing the complexities of his platform to three or four memorable soundbites. The genius of the PC platform is that they actually printed them right on the cover. That’s something we should’ve done in 1993. It ensures the stuff they want you to remember will be remembered.
  • That picture. It’s a good one. Patrick Brown doesn’t test well with women. There’s something about his physicality that is off-putting to women. My personal theory is that runners – and Brown is a runner – always seem to have that sleek, shiny, too-perfect, hair-never-out-of-place thing about them. So what did Brown do for the most important photo of his life? Big smile, sure, but no tie, open collar, a face and a hairdo that have been in no way airbrushed. He looks normal. He even looks likeable.
  • The promises. Cut taxes and Hydro? Big deal. Everyone is promising that. But a historically-huge investment in mental health? Uploading Toronto transit, and reversing what Mike Harris did? Big child care savings for poorer families? Dental care for seniors? That’s Liberal and liberal stuff, boys and girls. This ain’t the PC party of Harris no more – it’s the PC party of Davis. Deliberately.

Oh, and one more thing, which was actually found on another sheet of paper: the PCs had a former federal parliamentary budgetary officer check out their numbers and declare them sound. I laughed when I saw that.

A few months ago, you see, I ran into Brown’s diminutive genius Chief of Staff, Alykhan Velshi, and told him the smartest thing we did in 1993 was get our Red Book numbers validated by a major Canadian accounting firm. We stuck their “sound accounting principles” letter right at the front of the Red Book. That way, when our numbers were attacked by the governing Conservatives and the NDP, we’d have an effective response. It worked, too.

So there you go: two pieces of paper, not one. But impressive, just the same. Will those two sheets of paper help the PCs finally win?

Lots of stuff helps you win an election campaign: good advertising, a well-organized tour, a commanding debate performance, impressive candidates, a war room that leaves no charge unanswered. All of those things matter.

But this weekend, I think Patrick Brown’s PCs made themselves the party to beat. I don’t ever count out Kathleen Wynne, but – as of now – nobody should be counting out Patrick Brown, either.

Two sheets of paper. Impressive.


Apple iBooks calls Recipe For Hate one of the “best books” of the month!

Wow.

Apple iBooks has called Recipe For Hate one of the top books of November 2017 – and offered up this review:

It’s the late ’70s and the Ramones are defining a new kind of American rock. In Portland’s underground punk scene, a group of teens experience a defining moment of their own when two of their friends are murdered by Nazis. Recipe for Hate throws readers right into the moshpit of it all. Though the book’s themes are heavy, it’s a fast-paced read with well-drawn characters. This incredibly timely novel–inspired by real-life events–trains a keen eye on the hidden dynamics within subcultures and ask big questions about the nature of justice.

First Quill and Quire, then Publisher’s Weekly, then School Library Journal, now this.  I am somewhat stunned (Lisa will tell you I’m always stunned) and immensely grateful.

Like, wow.


Melanie Joly is spending $5 million of our money on a hockey rink

…a hockey rink that does not permit the playing of hockey.

From next week’s column:

Anyway.  Let’s forget about the Holocaust Monument, and the Netflix thing, and Canada 150.  Let’s forget about all that.  Let’s turn the page. Let’s focus, instead, on your latest decision, which I will render all-caps, because I think it merits it:

MELANIE JOLY HAS SPENT $5 MILLION TO BUILD A HOCKEY RINK ON PARLIAMENT HILL.

And it’s not just any $5 million hockey rink.  No, not in Joly World.  It is a $5 million hockey rink that:

  • Prohibits the playing of hockey.
  • Will be in existence for less than a month.
  • Is a block from the biggest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal.

Oh, and the Toronto Star reported this: “The rink, which will be available for free public skating from Dec. 7 to Jan. 1, is budgeted to cost about $215,385 per day that it’s open.”

One of my readers informed me that works out to about $300 per skater, per leisurely skate.  I’m not sure Wayne Gretzky made that much in his prime with the Oilers, Melanie.

And here’s what you had to say about Skate-gate: “We believe that it is really good news because this will be here for a month, and this will support, of course, important programming.”

“Really good news.”

It isn’t, Melanie.  It isn’t.  It is a disgrace.  It is disgusting.  It is an actual scandal.

It is.


Blandy Scheer, true beleiver and champion of Dad jeans, etc.

So, the column I wrote about conservative and visuals got picked up over at HuffPo, and it irritated myriad Tories.  Which worries me a great deal, as you can well imagine.  It is here.  You have to read the comments.  They’re a scream.  This exchange is representative.

My suggestion that Scheer should keep away from Jordan “Some of my best friends are The Jews” Peterson, who should keep away from Gavin McInnes, is here.  It elicited a response from Scheer’s “Director of Media Relations,” here.  I felt compelled to respond, here.

Finally, no less than the Toronto Star has taken pity on Blandy, and his Lynchian new ad, as seen here:

This awkward, amateurish quality is why so many on the “cocktail circuit” (what I assume is Scheer’s term for elites in big cities whose pants aren’t so forgiving) have taken to mocking the leader and the ad endlessly online. Here’s Warren Kinsella on Twitter: “This ad is so bad, and so fundamentally weird, you half expect David Lynch to appear on one of the benches, holding an owl and a log.”

The commentator’s political expertise, in this regard?  “I may not be a political scientist but I did win three high school student council elections in a row.”

Gotcha.

Here’s my response to all of this:

  1. The best response to “you guys aren’t very good at visuals” isn’t to (a) call your critics libtards and lieberals and/or (b) to shrug.  It’s: start working on getting better visuals, “beleivers.”  They, you know, work.
  2. If you are the “director of media relations” for the guy who wants to be Prime Minister, don’t invite people online to further criticize your boss.  It’s kind of stupid.  Also, they might take you up on your invitation.
  3. We live in a dark time – Trump, Brexit, the Recipe For Hate, etc.  Conservatives should be like Jeff Flake, and be principled and inclusive.  They shouldn’t be like Rebel Media, and devolve into something that is bigoted and divisive, just because Trump cheated with Russia’s help and “won” the Electoral College with three million fewer votes.

Will anyone listen to me?  Of course not.  No one listens to me, etc.