Yes, it is April 1, isn’t it?

About 95 per cent of you weren’t fooled for a minute.  Some who who were – people I know! – were sucked in, hook, line and sinker.  Shame, Mr. Speaker, shame!

Anyway, if you still need me to show my bona fides, I can report that CBC’s elves passed along Iggy with Strombo.  Don’t have the embed code, only the link.

Ha!  Gotcha!


A confession

Time for a confession.

It’s been whispered about, here and there, for a few months.  I’ve had some friends and former co-workers ask me about it, too.  And there has even been some Internet speculation, by people I don’t even know.  It’s been…strange. And I have to say that I haven’t particularly liked being less-than-candid with certain people.

But the speculation is true.  It’s true.

How you are when you are younger is well and good, but how you are when you get older – so goes the cliché, anyway- is almost always different.  You get older, you change.  That’s just the way it is.  It’s certainly been that way for me.

Some of you may have noticed, therefore, that my enthusiasm for certain things – and for one “thing” in particular – has waned, in the past year or so.  I hardly mention it at all anymore, if at all.  There’s a reason for that.  The reason is I just don’t believe anymore.

I could dress it up in all kinds of finery, and all sorts of self-justification.  But I won’t.  I’ll just say it, instead.

Last night, I tore up one piece of paper – and went online to get a new piece of paper.

From these people.

For me, right now, it was the right thing to do.  It wasn’t easy, but it feels right.

For those of you who are upset, or don’t understand, I’m sorry.  But it was time – and it was time for me to make my little confession.

Good luck and God bless.


That was then, this is now

Globe and Mail, May 2, 1998:

“…Frank, according to Mr. Duffy, made it acceptable for other media to mention or joke about his weight. For example, the Royal Canadian Air Farce depicts him as Tiny Mike. As well as costing him the Order of Canada, he said the attacks lowered his standing at CTV.

He was advised by his lawyer, David Sherriff-Scott, not to talk to The Globe and Mail about the case. However, in the examination for discovery, Mr. Duffy makes a very convincing case for how much being “Franked” can hurt.

“I don’t know anyone who wants to be held up to ridicule,” Mr. Duffy says on the transcript. “I’ve never met a human being who wants people to make . . . personal comments about them…I’m not sure if your clients appreciate when they put down the Prime Minister for his accent and so on that hurts him personally. Now, one could argue that he asked for that because he ran for office, but the fact is we’re all human beings, and what your magazine, or your client’s magazine, consistently demonstrates is a complete absence of any shred of humanity in relation to other human beings.

“And there is no reason for you to think for one second that Mike Duffy doesn’t have a heart, that I can be hit and not be bruised and not feel it. Of course. And everybody else who is in there feels it too, when they’re attacked. So the idea that you can get some kind of free pass that Mike Duffy is the only human being on Earth who doesn’t feel pain when people make cracks about him, personal cracks, is totally wrong.”

Speech, Sen. Mike Duffy, March 30, 2010:

“I rise to join my colleague, Senator Finley, in support of an inquiry into the state of freedom of speech in Canada…I share Senator Finley’s love of freedom and his concern about the growing phenomena of censorship. I approach the subject from the perspective of someone who, as a journalist for more than forty years, has used freedom of speech every day of my life, and has seen its essential role in keeping our democracy healthySome people say that if we ban offensive or rude opinions in Canada, society will be more harmonious. But experience around the world shows that’s just not how it works; and if we stop people from expressing themselves verbally, even in ways we find distasteful, they might be tempted to express themselves violently…As a journalist, I know the value of free speech. And as a Senator, I have a duty to protect it. Thank you.”

UPDATE: A response by Mike Duffy is found in comments, below.


Brian McInnis, RIP

I was sorry to read about his death in this week’s Hill Times.

Some years ago – while I was in the midst of defending my friend, and my friend’s reputation, during the Gomery Pyle schmozzleMcInnis wrote to me, to pass along a few kind words about the importance of taking a stand, and standing up to thugs.  Even if they’re in your own party.

I understand he had a difficult time due to the role he played in the Reform Party-Heritage Front affair, but I hope he found some peace at the end.


PSA re: PSE

The first protest I ever led was on Parliament Hill in 1984 – against the Trudeau government’s approaches to post-secondary education.  We didn’t overturn any cars or set effigies alight, but we did secure a meeting with Jim Peterson, and we attracted lots of media attention to our cause.  (We kept at it, too.  I even later made a mock run at the Conservative Party leadership, to force politicians to focus on PSE.  We held a car wash to come up with the entrance fee, but came up short!)

I’ve remained  passionate about PSE, since then, because I believe that (a) our collective future depends on it and (b) reducing university and college campuses to playgrounds for the rich, as in much of the US, would be an unmitigated disaster.  Post-secondary education must remain accessible and equitable for all.  It’s in our own self-interest, along with being the right thing to do.

Thus, I’m pretty happy by this move by the McGuinty government.  It will help kids struggling under massive debt loads – and it will help ensure that PSE remains a right, and not a privilege for a few.

**

Ontario students to get more loans, flexibility in paying back debt (Ont-Student-Aid)
Source:
The Canadian Press
Mar 29, 2010 11:33

TORONTO – College and university students in Ontario will get more financial aid and more flexibility on loan repayment options as the province moves to increase new post-secondary spaces this fall.

The changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program include 1,000 new graduate scholarships, a new grant for part-time students and additional support for married students or those with children. The Ontario Student Opportunity Grant threshold, which caps annual student debt, will increase to $7,300 from $7,000 for a two-term academic year, the first increase in 12 years.

Students will also be allowed to keep more of the money they earn from part-time jobs and will get a no-interest period on student loans for six months after graduation.

The changes, which provide details of an $81-million plan promised in the fall economic statement, will improve assistance for about 188,000 students.

The tuition fee framework is also being extended for two more years, limiting tuition fee increases to an average of five per cent annually.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, which represents more than 140,000 university students, welcomed the move, calling it a “huge step forward for students relying on government aid to access higher education.”

The alliance says the changes mean the weekly loan limits will increase to $150 from $140 per week.

They also tie the maximum assessment for textbook and supplies costs to the rate of inflation.

“The sustained regulation of tuition fees is promising, however, students in Ontario continue to pay the highest fees in the country,” said OUSA executive director Alexi White.

INDEX: EDUCATION POLITICS


Covering up

Possible lawbreaker.

BR Ignatieff Veil
Source:
The Canadian Press
Mar 27, 2010 3:13

MONTREAL – Michael Ignatieff is weighing in on the Muslim face-covering debate that’s raging in Quebec.

The federal Liberal leader says he supports controversial legislation that would force veiled women in Quebec to uncover their faces when receiving or delivering public services.

Ignatieff says the bill represents a “good Canadian balance” between religious freedom and equal treatment.

Some Muslim groups and other commentators have harshly denounced the bill, branding it as intolerant.

Ignatieff, however, says it’s “ridiculous” to say that Quebec is more intolerant than other parts of the country.

He says all modern societies are grappling with how to reasonably accommodate cultural and religious differences.

***

I’m not “grappling” with this one, personally. I don’t agree, at all, with the position that my party – or the governing party – have taken, here.  That likely places me in a small minority, but I’m okay with that.

It’s fair to say, however, that I’m also not overly exercised about what Quebec proposes to do:  it’s a poorly-drafted law, one that will face (so to speak) an inevitable constitutional challenge. I just cannot foresee such a law surviving a Section Two Charter review – nor it being regarded as particularly reasonable, under a Section One check.

On the other hand – if I am wrong, and I’m often wrong – and the law eludes a Charter challenge, prepare yourself for the inevitable: every kook and bigot with some spare time on his hands may commence litigation against the Sikh’s turban and beard, the Jew’s kippah and the Hasidic Jew’s clothing,  the Hindu’s tilak facial markings, the styles favoured by traditional Mennonites and the Amish, or perhaps even the ostentatious display of a nun’s habit.  I mean, why not, right?  Any one of those things may serve to obscure a person’s identity in some way. Fair’s fair.

There may indeed be occasions when the provision of certain government services reasonably require that we see a person’s face – checking a passport, crossing a border, perhaps even voting when a person’s bona fides can’t otherwise be confirmed.  But, say, popping by a government office to pay a parking ticket?  Will the new law prohibit that, too?

I think we’re in rather dangerous territory, here, but I’m interested in your thoughts, as always.


Skinny Little Bitch

I have always admired Courtney Love. Not for the drug abuse stuff, obviously, or for her shockingly-poor approach to parenting, or that extremely unfortunate incident at Strummer’s funeral.

I’ve admired her for her music – which has always been strong, and fearless and honest – and for her guts. She’s been accused of every crime imaginable – killing her husband, killing Nirvana, never actually ever writing a song herself (because Cobain or Corgan really wrote her stuff, don’t you know). I always figured that she and Yoko Ono – the other much-reviled rock’n’roll villainess – should get together. They’d have a lot to talk about.

Anyway. Courtney, who is unkillable, is back with Hole (but it’s a Hole in name only, as it’s a brand-new Hole), and she is seriously kicking ass. Her new tune, Skinny Little Bitch, is a ball-busting, blood-and-sweat, take-no-prisoners bit of riffage, with Courtney snarling and spitting over top. It’s amazing, and it’s already charted on Billboard, despite being only out for a few days.

As far as I know, the official vid isn’t out yet. But I liked this fan’s work, and I think you will, too.

Kick it, girl.