Our Daisy


Daisy is my company, but – for almost as long – Daisy was a dog, too.

I got her in 2007, at a place out of town. She rode in a cardboard box beside me, on the front seat, and she was perfect. A perfect chocolate lab. Her disposition was a ten, the breeder told me.

I don’t know how they measure those things, but it turned out that Daisy was indeed a ten. We were all so sad from the loss of our long-time border collie, Sheena. But Daisy made us feel better. She gave us joy, basically. That was her job.

And she proceeded to do so for the next almost-13-years, too. Through health challenges, through pain, through a marriage breakup. Through all of that and more.

She loved jumping in our lake, chasing whatever we’d throw in there: she’d leap as far as she could, retrieve the stick, and then swim back. She’d do that a 100 times, if you let her.

She loved being up there in the woods, too. As we would round the bend, heading towards the dock, she’d make these little sounds, and we knew what they were: Daisy expressing her own joy.

She loved her family, her four kids, and – most of all – her mother, Suzanne. She loved walks. She loved her expensive dog food. She loved us.

And, we loved her.

You wonder if you should mourn a dog so deeply, but you do. We do. I do. They make their way into your hearts, into your lives, into every family memory. And, even though they aren’t here as long as their humans are, they are indisputably part of the family.

Our family, the Kinsella-Amos family, are down a member, tonight. We will miss her and love her – and we will forever see her in our memory, leaping into Lake Weslemkoon to get that stick.

Bye, Daisy. You were the best dog. We love you.

Now, go get that stick.


Five free comms tips for Justin Trudeau

The Gettysburg Address it was not.

Standing on the picturesque shores of some picturesque lake in Mont-Saint-Hillaire, Quebec, Justin Trudeau was asked what he and his family had done to cut single-use plastics out of their lives.

Here is what he said, verbatim.

“We…uh…uh…we have recently switched to drinking water bottles out of…water out of when we have, uh, bottles out of, uh, plastic, sorry, away from plastic towards, uh, paper.  Like, drink box water bottles sort of things.”

The Liberal Prime Minister’s was so proudly unintelligible, so defiantly incomprehensible, it instantly went viral, supplying fodder for dozens of anti-Trudeau memes across the Internet for the next 100 years.  It was mocked and maligned from coast to coast to coast, including by people who actually still sort of like Justin Trudeau.  Heck, the clever Sodastream beverage people even put together an ad about it, with the tagline: “Justin, just say Sodastream.” Trolled by a big international company: ouch.

It reminded all and sundry that Gerald Butts has indeed left the building, and that Justin Trudeau has started to sound like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, except way worse.  Or Zoolander, even, but on a bad day.

How did the oxymoronic brain trust in Trudeau’s PMO not see that coming?  How did they not supply the Actor-In-Chief with an answer to one of the three most enduring political questions, namely: “Do you practice what you preach? (The other two being: “What did you know and when did you know it?” and “Why did you party on that boat with a bunch of topless co-eds?”)

Since it is becoming evident that Chief of Staff Katie Telford and Liberal campaign manager Jeremy Broadhurst couldn’t communicate their way out of a moist, environmentally-friendly paper bag, it is incumbent upon the rest of us to provide Prime Minister Chewbacca Socks with some communications guidance.

Herewith and hereupon, the Hill Times’ Five Immutable Comms Rules, gratis.

  1. Don’t mangle the message, man.  Last week, in the wake of the important report by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Justin Trudeau declined to say “genocide” had taken place.  A few hours later, he flip-flopped and said genocide had taken place.  Then, a couple days later, he changed his mind again, and said it wasn’t genocide, but “cultural genocide.”  In the process, Trudeau sounded like the aforementioned Messrs. Gump and Zoolander.  As such, it was essential that Trudeau’s Great Big Announcement about single-use plastics be clear, consistent and coherent.  It wasn’t.
  2. Don’t sell snow shovels in June.  Or, in this case, don’t make a Great Big Announcement – and we know it was a Great Big Announcement because your office had been telegraphing that for days – when the biggest sporting event in Canadian history was also taking place.  You know: that little match-up between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors.  It was in all the papers, Katie and Jeremy: it was kind of a big deal, in the immortal words of Ron Burgundy.  Pro tip, Justin: if you are proposing something to fundamentally change the way millions of Canadians will live their lives, don’t do it when Canadians are paying attention to someone who has fundamentally changed the way millions of Canadians now live their lives, cf. Kawhi Leonard.  Just don’t.
  3. Don’t wait too late.  In slightly more than 100 days, the writs will drop for the 2019 Canadian federal general election.  Why, why, why did the Trudeau Party wait untilnow to make their plastics announcement – when the European Union, among others, had done likewise long ago?  Announcing something this big, this late, convinces the few folks paying attention (see point two, above) that it was a cynical, desperate move to halt the undeniable momentum of the much-admired Liz May.  Because it was.
  4. Don’t forget to make it relevant. The banning of plastic straws became an early and frequent target of Trudeau’s announcement.  Parents of autistic kids, for example, reminded Trudeau that their kids needed such straws to, you know, consume liquids.  Why, then, didn’t Trudeau focus on the number one source of single-use plastic pollution.  Namely, cigarette butts.  They’re unsightly, they’re ugly, and they’re universally disliked.  They’re made out of cellulose acetate, which is plastic.  But Trudeau’s press release didn’t even mention them.  Dumb.
  5. Don’t be a hypocrite.  Mere moments after Trudeau said what he tried to say, the Internet was flooded with recent photos of the Prime Minister swilling water from plastic bottles – and it was reported that Trudeau’s family had spent $300 in a single month on water in plastic bottles.  Hypocrisy, thy name is Justin.

Anyway.  Will Justin Trudeau listen to all that excellent free advice?  Not on your life.

Because, these days, there’s no one who personifies the phrase “single-use plastic” better than the guy who, you know, made the announcement.


My latest: Trudeau’s enemy

Justin Trudeau needs an enemy.

In politics, you always do. Someone you can demonize. Someone you can warn voters about. Someone who suggests to voters that, while you may be imperfect, your enemy is far, far worse.

In politics, having the right enemy is more important than having the right friends. For voters, the devil one knows is always preferable to the devil one doesn’t.

For months, then, Justin Trudeau has been casting about for an enemy. He knows he is deeply unpopular – a Forum Research poll released this week found that 56 disapprove of his performance, with only 34 per cent approving – so he needs to act quickly. The election is just over 100 days away, give or take.

The Liberal leader’s task: find someone who is less popular than him. But who?

For a while, Trudeau attempted to convince Canadians that Andrew Scheer was a cross-burning, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, red-necked lunatic. He’ll ban abortion, gay marriage and hold midnight rallies at 24 Sussex with Faith Goldy, Trudeau insinuated.

Except: Scheer said he won’t do any of those things, and polls indicate Canadians tend to believe him. Hell, Trudeau’s own Liberal caucus doesn’t even believe it – selfsame Liberal caucus having voted to instal Scheer in the Speaker’s chair, a few years back.

In his commercials, Scheer celebrates his blandness, his ordinariness. As he lopes around the hockey rinks of the nation, Timmie’s in hand, Scheer repeats his mantra: “I’m Blandy Andy, and I’m boring. You can count on me to do nothing radical. Go back to sleep.”

As Bill Davis memorably observed, eons ago: bland works. It’s working for Andrew Scheer.

So, who now to demonize, Prime Minister Chewbacca Socks? NDP leader Jagmeet Singh? That’s a waste of firepower. Singh, likeable as he is, is going nowhere fast.

Same with the People Party’s Gauleiter, Maxime Bernier. Trudeau doesn’t want to demonize Bernier – he wants him to do better, and chip away at Scheer’s lead in the polls. But Bernier has gone full alt-Right, and thereby consigned himself to the margins of Canadian politics, and the dustbin of history.

The Green Party’s Elizabeth May, meanwhile, is a worthier target: the aforementioned Forum Research poll has determined that May is the most popular leader in Canadian politics, with voters approving of her by a factor of two to one.

Her party, meanwhile, has reached a truly historic benchmark: Forum found that the Green Party of Canada is now actually tied with the New Democrats, at 13 per cent apiece. Many expect the nascent Greens to eclipse the Dippers in coming weeks.

Trudeau hasn’t attacked May – yet. But he has been, ahem, liberally swiping her policies to halt her momentum. His single-use plastic announcement, which made the wetsuit-and-jetski-era Stockwell Day sound perfectly Churchillian, was a disaster. It became the stuff of memes – and future attack ads – instantly.

All of it was motivated solely by Trudeau’s desperation to staunch the loss of Liberal support to the Greens. It is unlikely to work, because May is simply seen as more credible on the environment than Trudeau.

So, who to attack? The answer is obvious: the Mango Mussolini. Donald Trump is deeply disliked by Canadians from East to West, old to young, Left to Right. There is nothing that unifies Canadians more than anti-Trump sentiment.

But Trudeau has spent three years cravenly sucking up to the Unpresident, with nothing to show for it. It’s too late to do a volte-face now.

So who is left to demonize? Who, truly, is Justin Trudeau’s worst enemy? Who should he blame before he blames anyone else?

It’s the guy you spot in the bathroom mirror every morning, Justin.

It’s you.