Rahim-Helena: In today’s Hill Times

KINSELLA: What has been interesting, to me, in the Rahim-Helena mess hasn’t been the ill-fated couple, per se. It’s been how the Harper Reformatory government has dealt with the whole mess.

Early on, for example, I opined online about Guergis’s now-infamous tantrum at Charlottetown’s airport. On my Facebook page, one of the first folks to comment about my comment was none other than Kory Teneycke—until recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s powerful director of communications, and now one of the most adept Conservative pundits in Canada. Teneycke let it be known that he was no fan of Guergis or her behaviour—and, later on, even seemed to suggest she deserved to be Tasered for her misdeeds.

That evening, I did CTV’s Power Play show with Canada’s only other highly-adept Conservative pundit guys, Tim Powers. Powers, too, mused that Guergis needed to reflect on what she had done. He didn’t sound impressed.

Nobody pays any attention to me, and for good reason, but I told CTV’s Tom Clark that I was amazed by Teneycke’s and Powers’s public utterances, and that it could only mean that the all-seeing PMO was about to cut her adrift.

There’s no way—no way—either of those two guys would ever say something that didn’t meet with the approval of the PM. “Helena, start packing your bags,” I advised. “You’re done.”

Precisely no one, then, should have been surprised to see Guergis and her unlucky husband kicked to the curb by Reform-Conservative officialdom mere days later. It was always going to happen. The only question was when, not if.

That is what intrigues me about all of this sad tale. I don’t see it in any way harmful to the Conservatives’ long-term prospects. For Team Angry, it did two useful things: one, it allowed them to separate themselves from two too-urban, too-hip people whom many in government had come to dislike. Two, it allowed them to look proactive and tough on crime. (Memo to Liberals: when a brown envelope is handed to you, in the future, take it.)

At the end of this drama, I feel sort of sorry for Guergis and Jaffer. The moment Teneycke and Powers started expressing their disapproval, it was all over but for the proverbial fat lady singing. And I don’t get the impression that Mr. Harper dislikes the sound of her voice.


Blogs are for boys, Facebook’s for girls

That, at least, is the shorthand we use at my firm. When we design campaigns for clients, we start from the proposition that the online world is delineated into gender camps.

As a seminal Ipsos study showed a few years ago, bloggers (and those who read them) tend to be angry, white, college/university-educated males. That’s why Stephen Harper’s acolytes are so preoccupied with blogs, for example.

Facebook, meanwhile, is wildly popular with everyone – but no one as much as young, upwardly-mobile women. For quite some time, they have been gravitating to Facebook in astonishing numbers – which is why centre-left political parties (like the Liberals and the NDP) need to be doing more in the FB demi-monde (but aren’t, go figure).

The Star has an interesting column this morning about this latter phenomenon.

“…Many parents would find it difficult — impossible even — to keep their daughters from surfing, let alone texting, during the week.

And besides, is it really that unhealthy? Is 21st century texting worse than 20th century tying up the phone playing High School Confidential with all your besties? Is Facebook any different from group mall-trawling for cute outfits and cuter boys?

Apparently so, at least according to Dr. Leonard Sax, author, physician and psychologist. He sees threats to children everywhere, in unnecessary prescriptions for ADHD meds, unchaperoned parties, department stores that sell sexy Ts for 7-year-olds, and in what he calls the “cyberbubble.”

That’s skewing their self-image and their world view, Sax believes.

“Most parents have no clue how kids are using Facebook,” he says…”

That’s a truism. Most parents “don’t have a clue” how their children are using any Internet tool – because they don’t understand the Internet like their children do. As a Dad, I am constantly amazed (and concerned) about the degree to which my children have an online life – and how I can only ever glimpse the faint outlines of it.

Anyway. Suggesting that kids are more cyber-savvy than adults is stating the manifestly, glaringly obvious. My point is different. My point is that those cyber-savvy boys and girls have embraced different media within the New Media. If anyone has any theories why that is so – and it is decidedly so – comments are welcome.


I Was A Teenage Anarchist

Heard this for the first time at the March 25 Against Me! show in Kingston with my buddy Richard Warman.  What a night.

My kids love – and I mean love – this song.  Tonight, Boy Two was hollering it as we drove down Queen Street with the pizza and the ‘Avatar’ rental.

Christ, I love punk rock.


April 23 bits and pieces

  • The Decentralized Centre: CP veteran Steve Mertl – who shares my fondness for big dogs, and less so tiny yappy ones – discovers that Harper’s PMO has now seeped into places other than Ottawa.  Norman Spector, me and a few others don’t ever recall that happening with any Prime Minister, going way back.  When we were in power, we shut down regional ministerial offices.  The Harper guys, meanwhile, expand them.  Interesting contrast.
  • Lobbyists lobbying: I’m a lobbyist.  Also lobbyists, or lobbying, are the Salvation Army, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Oxfam Canada, the Lung Association, the World Wildlife Fund and every Canadian university.  What gives lobbyists a bad name, mainly, are people/organizations who try to pretend they’re not lobbying, or registered lobbyists, when they are. It’s only a dirty word if you act like it is.  That, among other things, is the legacy of Rahim Jaffer and his ilk.
  • Border buffoonery: During the course of various cross-border jaunts over the years, I’ve encountered some very polite border guards.  Increasingly, however, I’ve dealt with some – on both sides of the border – who are rude and crude tin-pot dictators who, among other things, have used exaggerated “terrorist” threats to justify their rude and crude behaviour.  They need to be reined in, big time.
  • Sex sells: Sorry, Adam, but you’d be among the first to say “The provincial Liberals have failed because they haven’t put the brakes on their bureaucrat’s sex ed proposals.”  Instead, you and others are now saying we “failed” because, um, we did. Some days, you just can’t win.  (Even when sex is the subject matter!)
  • The iPhone i-Leak: I was a bit suspicious about the story about the over-refreshed Apple employee who “lost” a prototype of the new 4G iPhone in a bar.  I mean, these guys at Apple are more secretive than an invitation-only get-together by the Yakuza, the Cosa Nostra and the NSA.  I grew more suspicious when I saw what the “accident” did to their stock price.  Anyway – looks like others were suspicious too.  And, yes, I’ll get it when it comes out: it may be a trick, but it’s a fun trick.


Culture War

Sounds like a name for a punk band.

My view?  If you have an electoral strategy, don’t talk about it.

Say who you are, be who you are, and do what you need to do.  But don’t say you want to have a “war” about anything.


Set phasers on stunned

Actually, as an unrepentant Trekkie – to wit, I sleep every night in a room containing, inter alia, a real Tribble and two signed original series Star Trek scripts, worth kabillions – this news makes me very, very excited. It would, you might say, make me live long and prosper.

Hell, I might even consider voting Conservative if they follow through on this one. That’s nowhere I have gone before, believe me.

“You! What planet is this!” I’ve always wanted to say that, even wildly out of context. (Who said it? Which episode? Hint: it’s the one that won a Hugo.)

Anyway. If you grok with me on this one, sign the petition. This is a dream that could become reality, and spread throughout the stars. (Which episode? Who said it?)

Now, beam up your views on my poll!


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Obligatory Jaffer-Guergis Post

Rahim isn’t running again; his name won’t be on a ballot for a long, long time – if ever. So, if you’re an Opposition MP, why spend so much time trying to tar and feather him?

To wit:

“Mr. Speaker, we know now that Rahim Jaffer didn’t disclose his lobbying activity, as the rules require. So why didn’t any of the many, many Conservative Ministers, staff and MPs he met with regularly report him to the relevant authorities, to ensure that the rules were being followed?”

That’s the question.

From the relevant web site:

“…all public office holders, including designated public office holders, [should] verify the registration status of an individual if they believe that he or she may be carrying out registrable activities. If there is no registration, they could choose to ask the individual if registration is required.”

Did any of them do that? Nope.

Why not?