The Reformatory debate in tweets

My latest: OLP’s “SlapMineNuts” candidate is slapped – out

SlapMineNutsMC’ has been slapped — right out as an Ontario Liberal candidate.

Following an exclusive report in the Toronto Sun, Sudbury-area high school student, Aidan Kallioinen, has been told he will not be permitted to run as a candidate for the Ontario Liberals in Sault Ste Marie in the June 2 election.

Responding to this newspaper, Andrea Ernesaks, the party’s press secretary wrote: “These reports were not disclosed to us in the vetting process. We have spoken to Mr. Kallioinen and have informed him that he will not be running as part of our Liberal team.”

The “reports” Ernesaks refers to, and which reported earlier in the Sun, revealed that Kallioinen referred to himself in online chats as “SlapMineN___MC” and had participated in discussions where participants joked about people “dying of AIDS.” The Sun has not verified whether Kallioinen was one of the participants joking.

The former Liberal candidate was chosen over Naomi Sayers, an experienced and respected Indigenous lawyer. Sayers has been legal counsel to one of the largest electricity providers in Canada, and is called to the bar in Ontario and Alberta.

She has appeared before courts and tribunals at all levels. Her work has been cited at the Supreme Court of Canada, and she has been a university professor at Algoma University.

Kallioinen, meanwhile, was a Grade 11 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary in Sudbury, three hours’ drive from the Soo. Del Duca’s Liberals refused Naomi Sayer’s application — and made Kallioinen their chosen candidate.

They did so on Monday night, news outlet Soo Today reported, with 16 minutes notice given to local Liberals. “Aidan Kallioinen will be acclaimed as the candidate of the Ontario Liberal Party in the electoral district of Sault Ste. Marie,” declared Mike Cavanaugh and Jordan Hudyma in an email sent to party members.

The appointment contradicted Del Duca’s own pronouncements about elevating female candidates to the legislature. Just a few weeks ago, Del Duca issued a statement on International Women’s Day, and said: “Ontario Liberals will fight to make sure our province has an equitable recovery. We are also committed to ensuring that come this June, at least 50% of our candidates are women.”

Except, in the case of Indigenous female lawyer Naomi Sayers, many Ontario Liberals felt, Del Duca wasn’t very “equitable.” He chose a white male high school student instead.

Sayers is active on social media. In the past, she did sex work, which she has not hidden. The law societies of Ontario and Alberta evidently weren’t concerned, because they both admitted her to the bar.

Nor did the Ontario Liberals ever raise Sayers’ sex worker past with her.

Instead, they denied her candidacy because she disclosed too much material to them.

Charrissa Klander, the “nomination commissioner” for the Ontario Liberals, wrote to Sayers and said: “Given the fact that we are days away from the election being called, and we will be unable to complete full vetting, I am writing to advise you that I have instructed staff to stop further review of your nomination application.”

There was an “enormous volume of material” provided by Sayers, Klander complained.

So, Sayers was out. A few days later, the Ontario Liberals picked young Aidan Kallioinen, who had scrubbed his own social media — but not all of it. Now he’s out, too.

Naomi Sayers is now running as independent in Sault Ste. Marie. She’s expressed sadness about what Steven Del Duca’s party did to her.

“People are upset and not happy with how the party treated me. Those are the facts — I can’t change the facts,” says Sayers. “But I am happy to have my name on the ballot as an independent candidate, and I’m looking forward to participating in the democratic process to bring a voice for Sault Ste. Marie to the legislature.”

– Kinsella ran the Ontario Liberal war room in 2003, 2007 and 2011, and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law.

My latest: dog catches car

What happens when the dog catches the car?

You know what we mean: dogs sometimes chase after passing cars, but they never really catch them. The cars are faster than the dogs.

But what does the dog do when it actually catches the car?

In this little analogy, the dogs are conservatives — Republicans down South, social conservatives up here — and the car is abortion. And, this week, the dog finally caught up to the car.

Interestingly, the conservatives, like the dogs, aren’t sure what to do next. They, and we, weren’t expecting this. Arf.

The conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States of America slammed on the brakes, to extend the metaphor. They authored an opinion that was leaked, and the opinion wants to make abortion illegal again.

And now the conservative canines — the ones who have been barking about abortion since Roe v. Wade was handed down, a half-Century ago — don’t know what to do with themselves. It’s a problem.

For them.

That’s because legalized abortion has been a prodigious source of fundraising, recruitment and propagandizing for American conservatives for decades. It has fattened the coffers and the membership rolls of conservative think tanks, candidates and political parties. It has been manna from heaven, you might say.

And now, basically, it’s gone.

The leaked Supreme Court decision has flipped the table. What was once a cherished asset on the Right has become an unexpected asset on the Left. And conservatives are now left wondering about that old saying about politics.

You know: be careful what you wish for — because you just might get it.

For progressives in the United States — mostly card-carrying Democrats — the Supreme Court’s leaked decision to take away the constitutional right of women to control their own bodies has energized them like no other issue could. Instantly, too.

Within minutes of the bombshell report landing on the nation’s computer screens, protests were seen on the steps at the Supreme Court, and my inbox was filled with abortion-related emails from the Democratic Party, busily fundraising and organizing for November’s midterms. They’ve spoken about little else since the leak.

Oh, and by the by: for anyone hoping to suggest Politico broke the story to covertly help out the Democrats, let me remind you that Politico’s last three big controversies were: (i) offering pro-Trump branded content, (ii) publishing attacks on Bernie Sanders that smacked of anti-Semitism, and (iii) cheerfully providing a platform for pro-Republican pamphleteer Ben Shapiro.

My view is that a conservative judge or clerk leaked the ruling to precondition Americans for the final one. But they — like all judges everywhere, who don’t know jack about politics — didn’t anticipate the backlash, which has been historically huge. And negative.

For American women, the Supreme Court’s decision to expropriate their reproductive systems is an unmitigated disaster. It is terrible.

But for Democrats, it is a game-changer. Already, it has energized their troops and their candidates. And it has given President Joe Biden a crusade to lead into the midterms and beyond.

And not just down South.

Canada, the last time we checked, is not an American state. But Canadian progressives — Liberals and New Democrats alike — have seized on the Roe v. Wade draft decision as if it had been rendered by our own high court. They’ve been tweeting and commenting on it 24/7, too.

There’s a reason for that, as this space noted the night the Politico story broke: pro-choice sentiment crosses partisan lines. Conservative women are mostly pro-choice, too. And they will vote against their own party if they sense Pierre Poilievre or Leslyn Lewis — both of whom have been, or are, longtime anti-choice advocates — want to recriminalize abortion.

In the war rooms I have run over the years, I sometimes remind my youthful charges that getting no answer is sometimes better than getting one. Leaving an issue unresolved is often better than wrapping it up.

Abortion was like that. Conservatives have lost the one social issue that has benefitted them the most, for decades. And now progressives own it.

The dog, you might say, has caught the car.

And now the dog is going to get run over by it.

Fifteen million

My latest: the Doug and Justin bromance

Justin Trudeau. Campaigning. With Doug Ford.

Well, not quite, but pretty close. Just this week — just one (1) day before the formal launch of the 2022 Ontario election campaign! — there were Messrs. Trudeau and Ford. At a campaign-style event, announcing a huge auto sector investment.

Trudeau with Ford. In Windsor. In Ontario. In Canada. In Windsor. We did not make this up.

OK, OK, I’m having a bit of insider-politico fun, there. Remember the 2006 federal election campaign?

Paul Martin’s resident campaign wizards came up with that ad about soldiers in Canadian cities with guns. The ad was intensely idiotic, and it was mocked widely. Martin was later obliged to pull it.

So: members of the oxymoronic Paul Martin brain trust were on Twitter this week, following the big Trudeau/Ford auto sector announcement. They were unhappy.

“What is Trudeau doing?” one Martinite fumed, adding that Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca “should try to get Trudeau defined as a third party to at least limit his spending.”

Ho, ho.

Now, it is somewhat understandable why the Martin folks were upset. (I guess.) After the aforementioned 2006 federal election debacle, in which they wrecked the Liberal Party of Canada for a decade, the Martinettes headed down Hwy. 401 to Toronto. Whereupon they proceeded to wreck the Ontario Liberal Party for a decade, reducing it from a majority government to a political rump with seven (7) seats.

And here they were, back like a stain on the carpet. Angry that Justin Trudeau was doing an announcement with Doug Ford.

Except, um, this: Justin Trudeau is Prime Minister of Canada. Doug Ford is the Premier of Ontario. Partisan differences notwithstanding, it’s their job to occasionally work cooperatively to help create, you know, jobs.

Do they vacation together? Not as far as we are aware. Do they have sleep-overs, and read comic books with flashlights in their sleeping bags? Unlikely. Is there a bromance brewing?

Well, not necessarily. But a Justin-Doug bromance isn’t outside the realm of possibility, either. Let us explain.

As this space has observed previously, Ontario voters are pretty smart. They’re not like my home province of Alberta, where voters elect conservatives at every level of government, and then are shocked and hurt when conservatives start taking them for granted.

No, Ontario voters favour “alternation” — that is, they put Liberal Justin Trudeau in power in Ottawa. And then they put Conservative Doug Ford in power at Queen’s Park.

And that’s how it has always been, really.

For nearly six decades, one party winning at both levels has happened only once. That was in 2003, when Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario Liberals won big — and after Jean Chretien’s federal Liberals won big in 2000. (Key factor in each: some Warren Kinsella fellow ran the war rooms for both leaders. Here’s my business card, etc.)

So, in fairness to Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford: the two leaders may not love each other, but they definitely need each other. Victory by one practically guarantees victory by the other. So get ready for more of this:

Trudeau with Ford. In Windsor. In Ontario. In Canada. In Windsor. We did not make this up.

(Because it makes sense.)

— Kinsella was chairman of Jean Chretien’s war rooms in 1993 and 2000, and Dalton McGuinty’s in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

My latest: abortion is back

Think the U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw abortion is irrelevant to Canada?

Think again.

Because Politico’s bombshell revelation Monday night — a leak of a draft opinion of America’s highest court on the seminal decision that legalized abortion in the United States, Roe v. Wade — is going to have profound consequences for many politicians. On both sides of the border.

In the U.S., overturning Roe v. Wade isn’t a political earthquake — it is bigger than that. It’s something beyond description. It’s akin to the shifting of political tectonic plates.

Among other things, it will lead to many Democratic Party victories in the coming mid-terms. That’s important, because Joe Biden was heading to an electoral pounding in November. No longer: He now has a wedge that will hasten the end of Republican careers.

It’ll lead to demands — which Biden may grant, after the mid-terms — to enlarge the high court and load it up with progressive jurists. That’s a given.

And how Politico got their hands on a draft Supreme Court opinion? That’s big, too. The resulting inquiries will certainly preoccupy lawyers and politicos (and maybe detectives) for years to come. Why? Because such a leak is something that has never, ever happened before. It means the Supreme Court justices are at war with each other, basically.

But overturning Roe v. Wade won’t just shake up American politics. It is going to have big political consequences up here, too.

Because if you think Justin Trudeau will hesitate to use abortion against his conservative opponents, you are dreaming in Technicolor. Abortion is the ultimate political wedge — one that mobilizes most Canadian women, of all stripes, to vote to maintain control over their bodies.

For Pierre Poilievre, the frontrunner in the Conservative Party leadership race, the return of the abortion debate is very, very unhelpful. For years, the Ottawa-area MP has enjoyed the support of the Campaign Life Coalition, the powerful lobby group that wants to outlaw abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia.

On its web site, the Campaign Life Coalition gave approving green check marks to Poilievre for voting for bills that would make it an offence to “kill or injure a pre-born child” — and to “protect women from coercion to abort.” For most of his political career, Poilievre has opposed abortion, full stop.

Only very recently — as the prospect of seizing the Conservative leadership grew larger — did Poilievre abandon his previous positions on abortion and gay marriage, thereby angering the Campaign Life Coalition. But, under his leadership, he still admits he would permit MPs to bring forward laws to criminalize abortion.

That matters. Because, even if Poilievre has magically experienced a whiplash-inducing reversal on abortion, the likes of MP Leslyn Lewis have not. Lewis is a social conservative extremist — and her presence in the upper ranks of the leadership contenders can’t be dismissed. Lewis doesn’t hide her opposition to abortion, saying: (There’s) nothing hidden about it.”

Exasperated conservatives will point out, correctly, that conservative jurists do not presently dominate on the Canadian Supreme Court. They will say, correctly, that neither Stephen Harper nor Brian Mulroney rigged our highest court with social conservatives.

But do you think Trudeau will ever hesitate to use a divisive social issue to pulverize his Conservative opponents? In 2015, 2019 and 2021, did the Liberal leader ever seem reluctant to beat Tories with whatever club was laying nearby, however cynical that may be?

No and no. Trudeau has used abortion to hobble Conservatives before, and he’ll do so again. The reversal of Roe v. Wade guarantees it.

On Monday night, you could almost hear the corks being popped on the Veuve Clicquot at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Because abortion is back.

And abortion kills — Tory political careers.