Sunday, December 29, 2013

This Ain't A Scene, It's A Goddamned Arms Race

There was a time, back in the days of yore (poorly understood by me and people of my generation) where freaky-looking long-haired people terrorized their stuffy upper middle class parents by being as far-out and groovy as possible. All kinds of weird punked-out stuff became cool and hip, mostly because it was so far removed from the buttoned down monoculture of the time.

I have been made to understand that these freaky beatniks had the power to shock and captivate attention. Everyone wanted to know what was up with these hipstery subcultures, and everyone wanted a piece of the action, and as a result entirely new classes of cultural and fashion and social crimes were developed to punish those squares and posers who just couldn't get with it.

But the beatniks were too clever by half. They forgot that whatever was originally outrageous soon becomes the familiar and the commonplace. By now, whatever you do to your body, whomever or whatever you marry, however radically you choose to express yourself- nobody cares anymore. Complain about being oppressed for your sexuality, your race, your gender, and what do you get? "Grow a thicker skin. Get over it." Because it's not shocking anymore. The (insert-whatever-here)archy finds you annoying, not threatening.....and that's because all the taboos have been shattered in the quest to push society's boundaries farther and farther back.

Today, there is only one possible way to get a rise, a real rise, out of the jaded and cynical mass of humanity, and that is to be a clueless, classless, almost deliberately insensitive white person. Your Miley Cyruses. Your Phil Robertsons. Your Rob Fords. Your Justine Saccos. The people who couldn't care less about any of these social crimes, and are unrepentant about committing them.

I would draw your attention to the fact that Rob Ford was declared to be the newsmaker of the year in a year where a future crowned head of England was born, where the NSA was revealed to be spying on Americans on a mass scale, where a typhoon devastated the Phillippines and a new Pope was elected, where the Boston Marathon bombing and the Louisiana shootings took place, where Syria was and continues to be torn apart by war and where Nelson Mandela died. The Lac Megantic train disaster couldn't come close to Rob Ford. The Senate scandal wasn't even in the same ballpark. Not even Justin Trudeau could make as much of an impact. 

What do you do when the familiar and the commonplace- uncool and uncouth white people, the thing everyone, even other uncool and uncouth white people, make fun of- becomes the only thing anyone can talk about? What now, hipsters?

Wealthy, privileged, white people who don't care about how the other half lives have become a punchline and something everyone scrambles to distance themselves from as fast as possible. Let us acknowledge this fact. Let us stop pretending that there are shadow conspiracies that keep these people on top. Because if there are any shadow conspiracies out there, somebody deserves their money back.

But the flip side to this coin is while everyone is trying to distance themselves from Ford, he remains the hottest property in Canadian politics. I pay zero attention to the celebrity industry, I proudly shun TV, and now even I know who Phil Robertson is and what Duck Dynasty is.

Why? Because we know that all these social rules and all this sensitivity and caring about feelings is a big, fat, joke. And Rob Ford gets all the attention because he's the only one in this city who doesn't pretend to care.

That's the face of a man who is counting the ceiling tiles because he finds that to be more interesting that whatever nonsense you're spewing. He's not even going to try to acknowledge you, and he's going to make an obvious show of not caring. Don't you wish you could be Rob Ford and just stare at the ceiling when someone's boring you? Don't you wish you had the nerve to say that you think an entire class of people are just not natural the way Phil Robertson did, and then say you're not backing down when you get called on it, or stick your tongue out and come in like a wrecking ball like Miley Cyrus and become a pop culture touchstone?

Now, the good news is that the rest of us are content to just sit around dreaming about how wonderful it'd be to just go around not giving a wet fart for other people and their concerns. The rest of us don't have the benefit of being able to actually do that kind of stuff, even if we have the opportunity. We're too busy being nice to others because that's what's expected of us. You can buy bell bottoms or get whatever body part pierced, but nobody is so bold as to actually imitate Rob Ford and think they're going to get away with it. And despite what the Principled Conservatives think, nobody is going to ride into office telling it like it is. You can fantasize about implementing work-to-rule or about ripping people's burqas off or about telling Quebec to va a diable all you like, but we know you're not actually going to do that, so STFU.

But- and this is the bad news- the fact that we all harbour some kind of grudging, subterranean admiration for these people who revel in their own grossness, who ENJOY being rude, is terrifying enough. It shows you just how fragile this consensus really is. It shows you how we are all just about two steps away from clapping people we don't like into concentration camps. You can be as open-minded as you please, but you're never going to get away from this part of yourself.

And as we move into 2014, and ever closer to the moment when somebody finally decides that they are going to impose his or her will on Ontarians, on Canadians, and on all of humanity, feelings be damned, I predict that we will see more of these bozo eruptions from people who just can't be bothered, and, in turn, more outpourings of emotion, more fixation, by the general viewing public. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Silent Night

Lots of talk this December about how Canada is becoming a leaner and meaner place supposedly due to Scrooge-y conservatives slicing away at the valuable social safety net that unites us all. This implies that in the golden days before right-wing Tea Partiers rose to prominence, Liberals- the country's natural and rightful stewards- ensured that all were taken care of, disparities did not exist, people didn't struggle for and with low-paying jobs, and all was basically well and good until they came and messed it all up.

Well, that might be. Or maybe.....Canada has always been like this. Maybe what we Conservatives are doing is pulling the wool from people's eyes and waking them up to the harsh realities of what living here is and has been like for many. Maybe poverty is a part of life. Maybe hate is an emotion we all feel. Maybe we'll always have disparities in wealth, and maybe we can't help using up more of our natural resources than we "should". Maybe what Liberals externalize as malign Conservative influence is within each and every one of us. Maybe Justin Trudeau himself is capable of being an even bigger control freak than Stephen Harper, and will implement a "basic dictatorship" which will "turn on a dime" to suit his whims.

But we'll never know, because Liberals are not capable of admitting this possibility to themselves. No progressive can handle the proposition that the aim of the game is not to perfect this world, but instead to fight the demons within ourselves, and once we get the monsters under control things will take care of themselves. It is too hard for them to acknowledge that all of us can, and do, oppress others, despite lifetimes of pledging fealty to social justice and the whole gamut of high-flown causes.

We have guys like Bob Chiarelli who blame everything on Mike Harris, and blame nothing on the government they are part of. As far as Chiarelli's concerned, his government can't be responsible for anything despite having been in power for a decade, because it wasn't a conservative government. If they are in power for another decade, everything they fail to fix will still be Mike Harris' fault and nothing will be their fault. Because conservatives are the cause of everything that goes wrong, nothing that goes wrong can be the fault of someone who isn't a conservative. Q.E.D.

Similarly, the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minds of Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne comes from their absolute belief that oppression and bad stuff has its origins in something called "the system" and not in the hearts of man. The system is designed and conceived of by.....well, I would say big corporations, but big corporations are made up of people, creating a massive conundrum (for how could people ever do such things, being basically good?), so instead I will say, "basically good people corrupted by a system which has.......some kind of mysterious origins. Anything, so long as we don't have to say that people are inherently capable, and sometimes more than just capable, of evil."

They don't think too hard about this because they have guys like Rob Ford, Stephen Harper, and Tim Hudak to point at and say, "Shame!" Shame on you for not having a perfect belief in the pure goodness of humanity, untainted by capitalism! This lack of a perfect belief in how people are just wonderful is the Original Sin of conservatism. All the rest of it- the Senate scandals, the crack, the mole on Tim Hudak's face- all of it derives from a lack of understanding of how SYSTEMATIC FACTORS are responsible for everything that goes wrong. Remove the systematic factors and the beauty of humanity will shine through! Remove capitalism and the obsession with owning stuff and things like crime and poverty and racism will melt away! And if they don't, well, at least we got rid of capitalism!

Some time ago, another bold reformer rode into office on the slogan of "Yes We Can", pledging to make America more equal and break down the walls between rich and poor. And on that day, he cemented his place as one of the great progressive heroes. Whatever he did between the day when he was elected and when his term finally came to a crashing end mattered not. Progressives, practicing their gifts for ignoring the paradoxical, continued to make apologies for him- a spying scandal here, a drone strike there, one or two botched health care insurance rollouts -all of it mere drops in a bucket. You can't get cynical about hope and change just because Obama told us we could and then couldn't, or didn't, because if you do, you're a conservative, and that's just the worst.

So for Prince Justin, the supposed heir apparent, and for Kathleen Wynne, the forger of (forged, not-real) consensuses, there is an overwhelming beatific positivity not shared by conservative meanypantses or, as it happens, NDPers who are a little too concerned about inequality. It seems as though these NDPers have noticed as well that Liberals tend to write checks their asses can't cash, and sometimes they can't swallow their discontent at this and temporarily join with guys like Tim Hudak in making life difficult for Liberal governments. Thomas Mulcair also refuses to line up behind Team Liberal, and, as Bob Rae inadvertently let slip a few weeks ago, he and his supporters, who aren't "on the list of who voted", will pay dearly for it. It's because of him that the NDP is a negative, divisive party instead of Jack's party, after all. You could be forgiven for thinking that if Mulcair had been happy about the Senate scandal, he would have done better in the recent byelections!

So you don't just have to be a conservative. You can be a union member upset about wealth disparity, alienated voters who voted for Ford, upset Natives, minorities who were the target of discrimination when coming to this country and afterwards, someone caught in a welfare trap, or any of the other nattering nabobs of negativism who can't get themselves on the Trudeau love train, who cannot reconcile themselves to the fact that Canada is basically perfect (despite attempts by Angry People to ruin it), and who let themselves be prisoners of their own cynicism (however justified that cynicism may be), then you are doing it wrong. Being overly positive and not getting worried about things like the deficit and other stuff is Canada. Getting concerned about stuff is NOT Canada. OK?!

The people who are upset about stuff really don't have any comeback for the assertion that they're bringing everyone down with their negativity. Those angry people, as opposed to happy, happy Liberals. And we need guys like Trudeau to defend us against these negative people who keep trying to poison the well, and to reassure us all that it's a simple matter of voting Liberal and all will be fine.

So on we go, refusing to see that we're the cause of these problems. We're the ones that allow the Liberals to sing us softly to sleep while they don't really fix anything, and when we get cranky about Liberal governments messing things up, we let ourselves be told that it's the conservatives' fault.

And is this not far worse than any cuts to a safety net? Is it not far worse to have a province, a country, of people walking around believing that they're fine, that they don't have to change or do anything for themselves, and that some insidious system that they in no way contribute to is holding them down? That no one is responsible for anything, that everyone is entitled to a pain free existence, and that evil and cynicism is so far removed from their day-to-day that the existence of Rob Ford is shocking and horrifying?

A culture of people doped up on hope and warm fuzzies. A long, long silent night where everyone knows that something is terribly wrong but nobody makes a sound. This is the Liberal gift to the world, this holiday season.

Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Jungle

Now that the Rob Ford tornado has blown out of the area for the moment, leaving a fresh trail of devastation everywhere, it is time- as is the case after any natural disaster - to see if there is anything that can be salvaged.

Let us begin with the fact that despite all the carnage, Rob Ford retains a measure of popularity. This is an extremely significant discovery, one that should (but of course won't) turn the entire political establishment upside down.

If Rob Ford can emerge from the last couple of weeks with people still behind him, then it raises questions about whether there is a point at which everyone says, "OK. No more." Is there such a point of no return? Will anything cause the Ford faithful, the real and true believers, to say enough is enough? Probably not.

And, it must be said, there is an equally large segment of people for whom everything Ford does is wrong, and wrong before he does it. Tomorrow, Ford could invent a totally new energy source. It's not likely, but there is a chance it could happen, and if he did, these people would never use it, just because Ford invented it.

So if there is nothing that can be said to convince Ford lovers and haters that the other side has a point, then we need to reexamine a few assumptions.

The first assumption is that the reason why a politician, or campaign, or idea doesn't catch on is because the messaging is flawed in some way. Or, if a politician, campaign, or idea does catch on, it's because the messengers were on point. But with the case of Rob Ford, the Ford haters have a message, and it's been stuck to better than the best political campaign could hope for. The Ford haters say that the man is simply unfit for office and shouldn't be there, and they give reasons to support it. It's not a question of whether his decisions are unpopular- it's whether the guy can get through a day without detonating a massive PR bomb that totally obscures anything else.

The second assumption is that the reason things are the way they are is that people are misinformed or uninformed. Lefties like to use this excuse, but right wingers do it often as well. The reason why we have (problem) is because the media doesn't report on it enough. There is an agenda at work to keep the real reason for (problem) out of the headlines. The agenda is systematic and put into place by powerful interests, and "the grassroots" can't get a fair shake. But for the past few weeks, the Rob Ford coverage has been nothing short of a constant feed. Every detail has been put out there, reblogged, retweeted. It's been on The Daily Show, folks. Nobody can say that the supposedly bought and paid for media has treated Rob Ford lightly. And yet, there he stands, stripped of power but still enjoying the support of people ready to believe that he's the victim of a conspiracy.

Finally- and here's where things get scary- we have to ask ourselves if it makes sense debating things with people at all when the question of Rob Ford still remains unsettled after all that has happened.

Because democracy gives voting power to people, it kind of follows logically that for democracy to work, people have to use that power appropriately, or in some way approaching appropriately. We -especially conservatives- assume that people are smart enough to make their own decisions and vote appropriately, and if they don't, they need to accept the consequences and do better.

But that's not what's been happening. We have people in every province beset by terror, voting in massive stampedes this way and that without any thought to what the message is or where the message is coming from. That is the behaviour of herds of animals, not people. 

After the last round of by-elections, Justin Trudeau didn't win any new seats and was declared the victor. Nobody said that Harper's handling of the Senate scandal, or the delivery of any "message" through whatever medium, or the efforts of this or that campaign worker or team, kept Brandon Souris in the CPC fold. The Liberals didn't actually win in Brandon Souris, but it was close enough not to really matter- Justin Trudeau is the winner and will be Prime Minister soon. Continue on as you did before.

Tim Hudak has been banging away at scandals, waste and mismanagement, overspending, job losses, and the like for two years since the last election. Yet PC Party "grassroots" have a problem with the guy, and can't seem to agree on a way for him to get it right, nor can they figure out who'd they'd rather have instead of him. Every other week the man is beset by some upset party person who has been wronged or slighted and decides to run to the media to voice their complaint. They complain Hudak is a wimp, while focus groups turn up the opposite result- that Hudak is too mean and snarly. What's the problem here? Is it "messaging?" Is it "media bias"? Or is it the fact that the Ontario voter is so terrified of the unions and of tumbling into the economic abyss that they cannot be talked to, cannot be convinced that Tim Hudak's favourite topics are worth discussing?

How many scandals, waste, overspending, etc. have to happen before Ontario says, "Enough is enough?" Is there a threshold? Is there a point of no return? If we get the message right and if the Toronto Star stops being a bunch of dicks to the PC Party, will Tim Hudak fly to the top of the polls? Well, I have to take a lesson from the Rob Ford situation and say no. If people love or hate Rob Ford and won't hear a word of the other side, then there's no reason to expect that they are any more rational about the question of what the hell we're going to do about all this debt.

If I needed more proof that people are not rational about the question of what we're going to do about the debt, I could consider that there is precisely nobody in the whole of Ontario that is willing to give up anything without a bloody fight to the very end. Nobody says, "OK, the economy is in the toilet, let's do what we need to fix it. Let's invest more. Let's take a tax hike. Let's make do with less." Kathleen Wynne is on her knees before the unions because she has absolutely no authority as Premier to say that the party is over, because if she does the unions will take another riding away from her. Hudak's views on unions are problematic amongst the PC Party grassroots, the same people who gripe about Hudak not being conservative enough. And the unions are of the opinion that any cutbacks constitute a war on the middle class and put us right back to a time and place where the poor were in effect wage slaves to the rich.

We have evolved as a culture to the point where Rob Ford is the worst thing that you can encounter all day, and where the issue of whether video games depict women properly, or anything relating to Miley Cyrus, is a subject of intense debate. Yet somehow all this will be lost if we permit the tiniest of cuts, the slightest change to the way things are. A little oppression is as bad as all of the oppression. A lessening of oppression does nothing; evolving attitudes and openness does nothing; better communication and increased standards of living does nothing; technology and science and literacy and all these things do nothing. Then, as now, 100 years ago, the issue is the divide between the 1% and the 99%, or the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, or whatever you wish to call them. Life is hell, jobs are not voluntary, oppression is the order of the day.

Don't go blaming capitalism, the Toronto Star, or mediums and messages for your problems. Settle the question of Rob Ford, or an absolute standard will imposed on us from without, from a power beyond control. If we don't want that, then it's up to us to make a better choice. If we in Ontario give up control to the unions, that is our own fault. If we give ourselves over to Trudeau and make him our king and hope we will be better off for it, we will be sorely disappointed.

Get to work and master yourselves, or give yourselves over to the jungle, to the force of nature, and be ripped apart. Your call.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Fault Lies Not In Our Stars

We choose our culture.

The left believes that our messed up culture is the result of the 1% foisting things on us we don't want. Powerful privileged people control our world and exert such a degree of control that we don't even notice all the ways in which we are being controlled. Our minds are battlegrounds. Our bodies are battlegrounds.

Paradoxically, they also believe that mass popular uprisings- emphasis on the mass, because none of us are as strong as all of us- can and have improved our culture. If a mass popular uprising leads to widespread death and repression and people being generally worse off than they were before, that's because 1) the uprising didn't go far enough, i.e. it didn't remove capitalism entirely, and 2) people not on board with the uprising sabotaged it from within or without, thus proving the absolute power of the people doing the oppressing in the first place. 

And these two beliefs, hand in hand, are so very powerful because they remove all responsibility from the individual.

Nobody- not even conservatives- wants to be responsible for their actions. Freedom is great, but responsibility.....not so much. If there's one thing we all get, left or right, it's how there are ALL of the reasons why whatever happened to us was the result of something utterly beyond our control.

None of us, for example, is responsible for the Rob Ford story. Not Ford himself (who's in the grip of something bigger than himself he can't control), not Doug Ford (who was only protecting his brother), not the Toronto Star (who do Activist Journalism which is super important), not the people who voted for him (because he was authentic and the message of stop the gravy train "resonated"), not the international media (who grabbed this story and lifted it up for the world to see) so that now, going forward, the Rob Ford story will be the new standard in what Canadian political journalism looks like. After Ford is gone, we will have to elect some other bozo just so the media will have something to play with. And then nobody will be responsible for the fallout from that either. It's not our fault- it's what's expected.

The Liberals are not responsible for Justin Trudeau's general vacuity, for events hosted by the Liberal Party of Canada that are advertised as if they are meant to procure women for the Liberal Leader, for the ongoing debts of the other leadership hopefuls, for an absence of policy, for being out of power since forever, for anything at all. 

You don't tell people who are below the poverty line that maybe they could make changes that could benefit themselves because their poverty is in no way, shape or form their fault. You don't tell Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin that maybe they should have realized that what worked in the world of broadcast journalism doesn't work in the Senate.

You don't tell Kathleen Wynne that the economy is important because she's off making ads about running down a country road. She's the Premier, and it's the Premier's job not to fiddle about while the province slowly crumbles, but here she is with an ad about running. Running is a nice activity that doesn't hurt anyone and nobody can be blamed for having a nice run. Everybody runs! Why do you hate running? The PCPO will close and/or privatize running!

None of this, of course, really obscures the fact that there are, and there must be, hard, brutal consequences for actions. The province will burn. That is obvious, especially since people unable to accept the fact that the PCPO lost the last election two years after the fact are busily leaking election plans to the media.

But when Ontario does burn- likely after yet another mass popular NDP-and-union-fuelled uprising gone wrong- it will be so, so important for each of us to be able to put up our hands and say, "It wasn't me! It was the one-armed man!"

We just had Remembrance Day, where we're supposed to remember the horrors of war and all that kind of stuff, and in some vague way think about what it means to go to war and put your comfortable life aside and take responsibility for your life, the lives of your fellow men and women, and the lives of the people on the other side and who you're protecting, and about how we're supposed to be carrying the torch that these soldiers threw to us from failing hands, or something. Whatever.

Then after that ordeal is over, let's go right back to being like Kathleen Wynne in that ridiculous ad, so utterly insubstantial as to not even register, running down a deserted road that leads nowhere, talking about goals that don't exist, looking all the while like you are doing something so meaningful and so significant that you have to make an ad about it and share it with Ontarians who have bigger problems.

We choose our culture.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Silence Of The Lambs

We have:

-reality-show style accusations that Mike Duffy was forced- under great duress and in a truly diabolical fashion- to accept more money than most of us see all year for expenses he racked up (and no doubt he was forced to rack them up, too!)

-a Native uprising in New Brunswick that gets neither the Natives nor the New Brunswickers anywhere except hating each other worse than they did before

-a Premier of Ontario who is so disingenuous that she announced an Open Goverment Initiative- not an Open Government Initiative, you see, but an Open Goverment Initiative- because the idea of providing transparency into some parallel not-real thing that isn't quite "Government" to distract people from That Power Plant is so typically Kathleen Wynne that it's hard to believe the damn thing was a typo and not intentional

-a by-election in Toronto Centre that resembles one of those movies where two rival dance crews battle for supremacy and where there is no real story and no reason why we should care about any of the "actors" involved and yet we have to go through the exercise of pretending to care, except instead of rival dance crews serving one another we've got Chrystia Freeland and Linda McQuaig seeing who can pretend to care about poor people more whilst doing nothing


-a recent provincial election in Nova Scotia where the Liberals won a crushing majority, because, well, Justin Trudeau

What is the common denominator? All of this insane behaviour is the result of panicked rushes towards or away from something. Kathleen Wynne REALLY REALLY REALLY wants to prove that she isn't totally disingenuous and just ends up drawing attention to the fact that she is totally and utterly and completely disingenuous. An entire province of people didn't want to think too hard about the election they were in, so they engaged in a stampede to the Liberals as an offering to Trudeau. Everybody you know thinks Justin Trudeau is just the tops. They can't tell you why. They just know everyone around them thinks so, so they'd better think so too.

Duffy and Wallin and Brazeau racked up expenses and jet setted around the country because, well, that's what happens in the Senate. Duffy, if he's to be believed, accepted the money because that's what you do, that's what's expected. It's all part and parcel and somehow all the shenanigans that have taken place in the Senate before these three got there, in which guys like Michel Cogger ended up with an actual rap sheet, don't apply. None of them seemed to have the first clue that something like this could happen to them before it was too late.

In Toronto Centre the NDP have concluded that they are 100% right on the subject of scrapping the Senate altogether, and they're going to pound their pointy little heads against that wall from now till the end of November to no discernible effect. One NDP greybeard actually came into my place of business today fresh from the campaign office and started yammering to everyone he could find on the subject of consigning the Senate to the history books. And though nobody disagreed with him, you can be sure that Dame Chrystia Freeland will be the next MP for Toronto Centre, thus continuing the long, long, long, long, long streak of above-it-all Rosedale Liberals in that riding notwithstanding any Liberal contribution to Senate sleaze over the years.

The brain trust advising Duffy, Wallin et al., the voters of Nova Scotia who hoped Prince Justin would favour them by booting the NDP out, the Natives out in NB who think the rest of Canada will rise up alongside them, the lemmings in the Premier's Office who are so eager to prove their commitment to transparency that they forgot how to spell the word "Government" correctly and the phony war between NDPers and Liberals who want basically the same thing in Toronto Centre all have one thing in common, and that is that they follow the leader and do what they're told, confident that nothing could possibly go wrong. They don't know what's happening, so they follow the person at the front of the line who looks like they know what's happening.

Something about huddling together in a room with like-minded individuals removes the ability to step back and say, "Wait a second, what we're doing here is totally kookoo bananas." That's all it takes to turn YOU into a sheep being herded with all the others.

And who's doing the herding? People who think they know what's going on, and don't. Issuing threats of death from above and "If you don't do this or support him or her, here are the consequences." Making people believe that their careers and the safety of those they care about are at stake. Getting people to terrify themselves into doing unspeakably dumb things, with these scandals being the result. Spinmasters at the mercy of other spinmasters who are at the mercy of other spinmasters.

What a shame for all of these nominally progressive people, believing in the basic good of humanity, to discover that they are motivated by fear of punishment and social censure by their fellow humans, pushed to extremism because they feel- and have good reason to feel- like no one will listen, rooted to the spot, terrified to move a muscle until some overseer cracks the whip and sends them scurrying this way or that.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Balls To The Wall

You mocked him in your cups for not being conservative enough. You accused him of being too wishy washy and too afraid to present real conservative policies. You sniffed at him for not differentiating himself from the Liberals and the NDP.

Now that Tim Hudak has said the he is absolutely, positively, no-way, N-O-T spells not backing down on yanking back the curtains on the unions, you change your tune. Whoa whoa whoa, says "the grassroots". Let's not start getting crazy here. This could be another faith based schools or worse. We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Suddenly we are a divided party again, not two weeks after joining hands and singing Kumbaya in London. But then, we didn't really fool anyone, did we? 47% of us don't believe our own talk about being rough-and-ready conservatives who want to bring on Common Sense Revolution 2.0, because we're frightened of the big bad unions. So why should anyone else believe our talk?

And lest you think that these dissenters are the same bunch of Red Tories that have been ruining everything, I have not forgotten about how, while we were frittering away the days before the non-event that was London, the news broke that the King of the Principled Conservatives, that bold defender of the common vox populi Randy Hillier, was concerned that siding with Ellis Don would make us look like a bunch of uncaring bullies.

I had to read the headline three times to make sure the sun wasn't playing tricks with my eyes.

For this is Randy Hillier we're talking about here. The guy who believes in "non-violent civil disobedience". The guy who put a dead deer on Leona Dombrowsky's lawn, while the rest of us usually settle for a burning bag of poop or a ding-dong-ditch. The guy who ran Norm Sterling out of his riding is worried about the party handing unions a loaded gun that could be used against us in the next election. It is to laugh.

Let's refresh our memories with some of the policies Mr. Hillier put forward in his erstwhile run for leader of the PC Party of Ontario back in 2010.

  • Allowing Ontarians to vote to elect their senators;
  • Enacting a law, which he proposed to call the Freedom of Association and Conscience Act, which would allow health care professionals and other government-paid individuals to refuse to provide services to which, for religious or moral reasons, they were personally opposed (such as doctors and nurses refusing to perform abortions and marriage commissioners refusing to perform same-sex marriages);
  • Abolishing the Ontario Human Rights Commission and allowing all legal proceedings under the province’s Human Rights Act to be dealt with in the regular court system.
  • Allowing the sale of beer and wine in corner stores;
  • Restoration of the spring bear hunt;
  • Ending the closed shop in unionized workplaces;
  • Reverse the ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides;
  • abolition of the province's property tax assessment agency (MPAC);
  • Increasing the speed limit on Ontario highways;
  • Allowing the de-amalgamation of municipalities which had been forcibly amalgamated in the 1990s;
  • Cracking down on the aboriginal occupations in places like Caledonia

  • Had Hillier become leader of the PCPO (something the Principled Conservatives have wished for once or twice), instead of the guy we've got now, I'm sure he would have backed off on all of these fine Principled Conservative policies. After all, who wants to look like a bunch of hard-nosed, uncaring meanypantses by "ending the closed shop in unionized workplaces"? Not Mr. Hillier, that's for sure!!

    How did it ever come to this? What kind of a world are we living in when unabashed rural radicals like Randy Hillier get their knees-a-knockin' when the unions start talkin'? What kind of an epic letdown must it be to hype yourself up for the revolution only to find that the party of the bosses is more afraid of you than you are afraid of them?

    When 47% of the PCPO is afraid of putting their money where their mouth is on unions, then it's time to stop all talk of corporations being above the law. The Occupy people can stop mounting the barricades, because we've apparently decided that this union-bashing is just another silly game we play. We didn't mean it, honest! It's just really, really hard to let go of all this money. Please don't hurt us!

    You will note that nowhere did Mr. Hillier say that he was worried about handing the Liberals a loaded gun. He's not afraid of the Liberals. The Liberals are off babbling pleasantries about how they're not going to run a negative campaign......and for once, I have no reason to doubt them because we all know that that task will be left to the WFC. Unless the unions decide it's time for Premier Horwath. Or maybe they'll just kill us all and let God sort it out. Ours not to reason why.

    Everyone from Randy Hillier to Kathleen Wynne is terrified of the unions. Everyone understands that these people run the province. Everyone, that is, except Tim Hudak. Because you asked for it, the man is (I hope) going to take this ball and run with it as far as he can get. There'll be no cushy afterjob in the public sector a la Michael Ignatieff for Tim Hudak if he fails. He might have to leave the province altogether like Laurel Broten did.

    But dammit, he's going all the way on this one, or so he says, even as the PCPO wiffles and waffles around him. And for that, for a stand that might make him Premier or might be utter suicide, I say, Kudos to you, Tim Hudak! Shine on, you crazy diamond! And then won't we all feel guilty with ourselves for complaining about Tim Hudak's lack of conservative principles if he and the family he loves so much are made examples of by the unions so that none of us PC'ers ever take it into our heads to meddle in their affairs again.

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    Nap Time's Over

    Yup. If anyone thought this new temporary cooperation between the PC's and the other parties was going to last more than five minutes, well, along comes another by-election to put us right back on the war footing. And you know how these Liberals work- they never have one byelection at once- especially not one in Tim Hudak's backyard- so someone else is going to take a dive. My money's on Harinder Takhar.

    Oh, and coming off the heels of the London convention where all doubts were put to rest, of course everyone's going to have fresh questions about Hudak's leadership in the event that this byelection in his own backyard not go the way that it should! Yaaaaaaay!

    I'm sure Craitor's heading for the exits is totally above board. After all, Queen Kathleen is all about a new spirit of cooperation, which would imply allowing the PC's to take a breath after the crazy past few months they've had, right?

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    What If They Held A Revolution And Nobody Came?

    I have been expending a considerable amount of effort trying to not comment on the three ring circus that has been the run-up to this week's PC Party Policy Convention, but then I chanced to happen across this article in the London Free Press stating that half of the proposers of the world-famous dump Hudak motion would not be showing themselves at the convention.

    A month ago, these people set off a pipe bomb that has
    a) ensured that nobody will be wanting to talk about policy at this policy conference and everyone will want to talk about the leader
    b) caused day after day of ghastly headlines
    c) created a situation where every time the question of Hudak's leadership died down, someone had to kick the can and bring it right back up again

    Now that the party has given them an opportunity to debate the motion on the floor, half of them have decided that they don't want to debate the motion. They don't want to become lightning rods for discontent (after proposing a motion that was a lightning rod for discontent). There is an extremely cumbersome process that involves lobbying and all kinds of work for their motion to succeed. They've got their reputations to worry about. If there's a mess, it's Hudak and co.'s job to clean it up.

    It would seem that in an ideal world, all you have to do is propose an amendment and be hailed by the commons for speaking truth to power. You'll get carried to London on the shoulders of well-wishers, and you'll all receive medals for being so brave as to suggest that Hudak be replaced by no one in particular, so long as it isn't Hudak.

    But we don't live in an ideal world, and we don't have some conservative superhero, some blue-tinged Justin Trudeau it would seem, running the party, doing all the work and taking all the criticism whilst everyone else reaps the benefits.

    A lot has been said about the machinations of central party, but until we have a group of people who can do the job better than the group currently running the show, the "grassroots" has no business putting forward any further motions or challenges to the leadership, the presidency, or any other office- although they will keep trying, of course. They have had their chance, not once, but twice, and they made a colossal hash of it both times. And even though we have gone through this rigmarole once already, and will be going through it again on Sunday to the same effect, the whiners are still not satisfied. They will continue to gripe passive-aggressively about the controlling hand of Central like teenagers being told they can't go to the Justin Bieber concert.  

    It's really sad, because nobody disagrees with the fact that the leader and the people around him need to pull up their socks. But at the same time, nobody wants to talk about solutions for fixing the mess the province is in. Nobody wants to prove that they could come up with better ideas than what the leader's office is putting out. And despite all the complaining about the leader, nobody else is offering themselves for the job. No saviour is descending from the heavens to lead the flock to the promised land.

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Everything That Rises Must Converge

    A fundamentalist is someone who:
    -believes that there is a vaguely defined campaign of evil to oppress, silence, and generally make them feel bad and responsible for their own situation
    -is obsessed with purity
    -comes up with reasons why they are justified in being intolerant
    -rejects moderate voices and is deeply suspicious of anyone who tries to reach out to them
    -creates "safe spaces" wherein their doctrine is paramount, because they reeeeeeeally hate having to justify their nonsense with factual stuff to those who may question them
    -does not interact with members of other groups, especially those they think are oppressing them

    and most importantly:

    -moves to oppress as many people as possible as soon as they attain some small measure of power.

    Who fits this definition? Religious bigots? Occupy Movement activists? Union frontliners? Principled Conservatives seeking to purge various parties of Red Tories? Of course, this is a trick question, because they all fit the definition, and they all fit the definition because, however they dress, whatever their skin colour or gender or orientation may be, whether they believe in a supreme deity or not, and whatever their level of education or income or privilege may be, THEY ARE THE SAME.

    In Quebec, doctrinaire leftist politicians are imposing a hard line on immigrant behaviour and dress and this has a lot of people confused. But there is no need to be confused, as these doctrinaire leftist politicians are no different from any other type of fundamentalist. 

    We have a collective problem as a society accepting that any person on the left could be a fundamentalist. That's why we ask dumb questions like, "Why doesn't the left condemn human rights abuses by religious fanatics in (insert country with non-white majority here)?" The reason why they don't condemn those abuses by religious fanatics is because they themselves are fanatics. They desire power, and they desire bloody revenge against their oppressors. They desire to get their hands on the handle of the hammer of the state and to use it indiscriminately against their enemies. We know this.

    We know these things, and yet we still have trouble attaching the label of "fundamentalist" or "intolerant" to the PQ, or basically anyone on the left. This is what is known as pervasive left-wing bias.

    We also have a problem with the PQ being a pack of racists because they can count among their number many prominent Quebec intellectuals. Somewhere along the way we decided that intellectual leftists are not supposed to be racists, and yet, here we are.

    The reason why the PQ are racists is because while they may be university educated, they enforce the same kind of separation between themselves and the outside world that you would find in any one of the religious communities they are trying to stomp out with their Charter of Values. When you don't engage in dialogue with the other side, you imagine all kinds of horrible things about them, and you are very receptive to "evidence" that they are plotting against you. This is how an entire province is put on edge by the presence of the word "pasta" on a menu at an Italian restaurant.

    This puts the lie to the popular leftist notion that education is some sort of antidote to racism or sexism or homophobia. The real antidote to these social ills is talking to the people outside your social group and learning more about how their thinking works, and educating them about how your thinking works. If you understand how something works, it's not scary.

    But as I said above, the fundamentalists don't want to "educate their oppressors" because that means that they would have to come out of their little cocoons of like minded people. Also, convincing like minded people that they are being oppressed by a shadowy conspiracy of privileged people is great for business and helps recruit volunteers. Consider any bit of Ontario union propaganda in this light, and a lot of things begin to make sense.

    And should a group like the NDP gain control of the Ontario government, there can be no doubt that they will impose their own intolerant, fundamentalist agenda on Ontarians. We know this too. We've seen it happen.

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    Blurred Lines

    Today I'm going to talk about the left's response to something actually popular instead of Canadian politics, so you have your chance to stop reading now should you choose to do so.

    Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke are two people who currently have extremely boring hit songs on the radio. At the MTV Video Music Awards this week, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performed a mashup of their boring songs, and at one point during the performance Miley Cyrus rubbed her butt on Robin Thicke's genitals. This caused the entire Internet to explode into a million offended pieces. As I write this, nobody is not offended by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.

    Left-leaning people on the Internet are super-dee-duper offended. They were already kind of offended at the two songs separately. Robin Thicke's boring song has a video where models dance topless and features lyrics about women being animals and men not being able to tell whether women are good girls or if they really want "it." Miley Cyrus's boring song has a video where she "twerks"- a type of jigglybutt dance that is practiced by and apparently reserved exclusively for women of African descent. The fact that Miley Cyrus, a white woman, did this in her video is problematic because it constitutes "cultural appropriation", which is basically the idea that people are not supposed to dress like, talk like, dance like, or do anything that is done by another culture without express permission.

    So taking these two and putting them together onstage was like provoking a fistfight between two nuclear explosions. First people attacked Cyrus for being trashy onstage. Then people attacked the people attacking Cyrus for not calling Robin Thicke out for his own raunchiness. Then people attacked those people for focusing on sexism and ignoring how racist the entire spectacle was. Before long, everyone was just calling each other racists and sexists and slut-shamers. It was a 137-car pileup of identity-politics players. It got to the point where left leaning people wrote entirely serious articles about how it was good that everyone was so offended, but how it was bad that those people were offended about the wrong things.

    (This is totally unrelated, but leftists use the word literally a lot when they complain. Have you ever noticed that?)

    As a result of this kerfuffle, the performance was literally all anyone could talk about. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, and every online magazine are awash in talkity talk about Miley Cyrus rubbing her butt on Robin Thicke's genitals. I don't know what "media hits" are, but I bet this performance has an awful lot of them.

    Having viewed the assault on rights and dignity that was Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at the MTV Music Awards and having, as a movement, sworn Never Again, the left might have decided to  completely disappoint the evil corporaciopatriarchists who- bereft of conscience- designed this orgy of privilege, calculated down to the last detail to cause maximum hurtfeels and to generate an ever increasing embarrassment of riches for the invisible empire of sin that rules us all by.....ignoring it entirely. No pileup of outrage means no "media hits" and therefore no incentive to wait a few years and then do the whole thing again and make another boatload of cash.

    Instead, those who viewed that performance as a sexist, racist, slut-shaming crime against humanity that exposes any number of secret agendas are busily making sure that this grows into the biggest news story ever by complaining ever more loudly about the performance and how people are offended by the wrong aspects of the performance and how that offends them even more. Whoopsy-doodle!

    Back in the day, savvy promoters could always count on the Right to get offended at their pushing the envelope and do half their work for them. When the Christians started talking about how Janet Jackson's boob being exposed by Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl was bringing the family down, they knew they had made it, baby. Now they have something even better- angry leftists on Tumblr fighting each other about which ways this performance reinforced systematic oppression.

    None of these unbought and unbossed lefties would ever dream that they are making the rich richer with their combatting of all of the oppression. Every one of these people believe themselves to be on the cutting edge, and yet they are played against one another so easily that it's almost not fair.

    They build their own prison, and then they rail against The Man for putting them there against their will.

    I bring you this very silly example to show, once again, that it is possible to play these factions against one another by exploiting the fault lines between them. But we here in Ontario don't want to do that.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    A Dirty Shame

    It is hard to overstate how important the practice of shaming is to the left. It is the foundation of everything they do, to themselves and to their opponents.

    Shaming is distinct from attacking. Shaming an opponent is a practice unique to the left. When conservatives attack people, they attack things about the person, things the person did or didn't do, say or didn't say, or things the person believes. Those on the left do all this and more, but they also attack feelings in addition to more tangible things. They think that by making people feel bad about themselves, they can make them do things more easily, and they are absolutely  right.

    Conservatives do not try to make liberals feel bad about themselves. Instead they want to talk about scandals, or waste, or jobs, or other abstract things, forgetting that there are people who do not care about scandals, waste, or jobs. But everyone has feelings.

    Shaming is a deliberate practice. This is not just some reactive hitting out. Leftists love making conservatives feel guilty. Leftists know that if they use certain words and phrases, we will back down and apologize. It is so deliberate that they can configure Twitter bots to do it for them.

    One time, I was sitting in a pub in the midst of a gathering of Liberal and Conservative partisans. I was talking to a woman who has recently been promoted from oft-quoted ministerial spokesperson up to the Premier's Office. Somehow the subject turned to women in politics. We had been speaking in reasonably calm tones of voice when- as if she had just remembered to do this- she fixed me with a terrible look and belted out, "I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DON'T WANT MORE WOMEN IN POLITICS". I was so stunned by this outburst that I forgot, temporarily, that the candidate I was working for at the time was herself female. This was an attempt at shaming, and it worked to the extent that I could have had a ready reply for her, but because I was surprised, I didn't. The thing I remember most was how it seemed like a practiced movement- like a golf swing. It more than likely was, and it was not the last time a Liberal has tried this with me.

    Liberals know that even though we supposedly reject the liberal consensus, we want to be liked by others. We don't like being thought of as racist, sexist, homophobic, and all the rest of it. So we try to demonstrate that we are not, and the Liberals declare that we have a hidden agenda.

    Hidden Agenda, as a strategy, is old and boring, but it still works. It works because it puts us on our back foot, and it puts us on our back foot because we don't like having to prove that we are not racist, sexist, and homophobic. You cannot stay on message when you have to constantly prove that you are not racist, sexist, and homophobic.

    Some conservatives make the mistake of thinking that all they have to do is try really hard to not say anything that is socially unacceptable. For example, John Tory hates being shamed so much that he does more than any other person I know to prevent himself from saying or doing things that are offensive to others. This doesn't help him at all, though. During the 2007 election, the OLP sold Ontario voters the patently ridiculous notion that John Tory was a secret social conservative, and the Ontario voters bought it.

    By contrast, Rob Ford is immune to being shamed. He does not appear to feel the emotion at all. I do not know if Ford is just not capable of being shamed, or if he's figured out a way to not feel it. The how is not as important. So long as Ford isn't shamed by anything, whatever his opponents try to tar him with just bounces off. The Toronto Star in full outrage combined with rabid media attention and former Ford loyalists running for cover does not matter worth a damn as far as Ford is concerned because Ford is not concerned. And because the left has no other tricks in their bag besides trying to shame Ford out of office, he's not going anywhere.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, we are not Rob Ford. Don't deny that you cringe inwardly, if even just a little, every time that the Star reports that Ford Did A Thing. And even if we were composed entirely of Rob Fords, that might not get us very far either. The Alberta Wild Rose found out to their dismay some time ago that if you don't condemn some obscure blog post made by a candidate to the effect that gay people will- through magical procedures that are unclear- end up in a lake of fire, you very well might lose an election.

    Because, even if the party leadership decides that the idea of there being a lake of fire in hell (a place which may or may not exist, depending on whom you ask) reserved exclusively for gay people is too ridiculous to require condemnation, the voters will be too ashamed to be seen voting for that party. Even if nobody knows how they voted, the people voting for the party with unacceptable social views would be too ashamed of themselves for having voted the way they did.

    So because trying to avoid doing shameworthy things doesn't work, and because we can't all be Rob Fords, and because the voting public certainly can't all be Rob Fords, the solution is to develop our own methods of shaming those on the left. But as I've documented more times than I care to count, we don't want to put those on the left on their back foot. We don't want to hurt their feelings. We just aren't capable of living with ourselves for having ideas that aren't popular with people. When people say we are "mean-spirited", it hurts our feelings and we have to make the sad feels stop.

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Long Division

    Try as I might I cannot understand the line of thinking suggesting that since we are in difficult times economically, we need to avoid difficult policies that might be "divisive" and cause "social unrest".

    Does the average voter assume that we can put off the hard solutions forever? Do they think we can just wait this out? Is the social unrest happening elsewhere in the world something that can't happen here?

    Kathleen Wynne thinks so. She thinks she can build bridges and work across aisles, have conversations and consultations, and move forward. But her efforts have fallen somewhat short. The unions, ever hungry for more privilege, continue to press her sorely.  Municipalities are mad about wind turbines, parents are upset about tragedy-stricken daycares, and full-day kindergarten is an expensive nightmare. Things don't look like they are going to get better for Kathleen Wynne despite what may or may not be sincere attempts to fight off social unrest.

    Furthermore, the voters have been chipping away at the Ontario Liberals for years. They have lost ground with each subsequent election and round of byelections ever since 2007. They lost their majority in 2011, couldn't regain it in 2012, and with the losses of Etobicoke Lakeshore, Windsor Tecumseh and London West, let it slip even farther away. A good portion of Dalton's team has moved on, Don Guy is off doing his thing elsewhere, and OLP standouts (I can't believe I just wrote that) like Bentley, Duncan, Pupatello, and Sorbara have bowed out. The OLP can still fend off a challenge but less and less people are parking their votes with them. Because the Liberals did so much to infuriate the unions and everyone else during the 2012 political season, their claim to be the protectors of public peace is even more shaky.

    As we have seen, the NDP wants to put in divisive policies of their own. As a given, as per their own rhetoric, they want the rich to suffer. They make up all kinds of reasons as to why it's a good thing for the rich to suffer, but if you don't want a government that will set one group of people against another, you can't expect that from the NDP. The last time we had an NDP government in Ontario there was actually more social unrest than there had been in a long while.

    What if the PC Party of Ontario tried sincerely to rid themselves of policies that were hard to swallow? Nobody remembers anything about John Tory's platform from the 2007 election except faith based schools, and that's because there was nothing of note and nothing all that offensive or divisive except for faith based schools. We had pages and pages of bland, inoffensive policies and one divisive policy, and that was too much for people. So that doesn't work either.

    Then we have the argument that Hudak, being too snarly and negative for some, needs to put forward a "positive economic vision" for Ontario. But why should he do that when journalists are engaging in brain-twisting analysis of why Hudak comes across as "inauthentic"? Disingenuity comes more naturally to Kathleen Wynne, it would seem.  

    So none of the options before the people of Ontario will keep the rising levels of social unrest at bay. Divisive policies of one type or another will become the order of the day if this trend continues. The strands are fraying. Nobody can claim, least of all after the byelections earlier this month, that Ontario is becoming a happier, more chilled out place where people don't have to work harder and harder to keep themselves from seeing the truth.

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    London Confidential

    Only in the PC Party of Ontario could you have an attempted leadership coup "organized" by people who insist on speaking to newspapers "on condition of anonymity." This, after they, um, signed their names- which I hope were their real names, not their ultra-secret codenames- to the leadership review motion in question.

    How in the name of heaven are you supposed to organize delegates to support your motion and fundraise to send those delegates to the convention- especially when you KNOW central party doesn't want your motion anywhere near the floor- when you don't even make yourselves public? No Twitter accounts, no e-mail addresses, no websites? No designated point people? Just going to coast along until September on the assumption that "the grassroots" are behind you, huh? What a bunch of Double-O-Stupids.

    Take a hint, Hudak haters: As long as this low-level cloak and dagger nonsense is the best you can do, Tim isn't going anywhere.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Nobody Goes To Jail

    There are no "low information voters." The problem is not "media bias." The problem is not that people don't know about the gas plant scandal or the email deletion scandal or any number of Liberal scandals. The problem is that there is more corruption, lawbreaking, and general bad behaviour in politics now than there has ever been, and nobody gets punished for it.

    The voters have accepted that in a world where everything is the next Adscam but nobody ever goes to jail or suffers serious life consequences as a result of whatever wrongdoing may or may not have happened, it is utterly pointless to pay attention to the constant scandalmongering of opposition parties, because they know nothing is going to come of it, win or lose.

    Whatever level of government you are at, wherever you live, political partisans are whacking each over the head with each other's scandals as hard as they can. For every ORNGE, there's a Walkerton. For every Mike Duffy, there's a Mac Harb. For every Rob Ford crack video, there's a David Miller garbage strike. Everybody is up to their waists in the same muck while complaining that it's the other guys who smell bad, not them.

    Driving this madness is the perception amongst politicos that voters are tired of scandal (which is true) and that the solution is not to send the scandalmakers to jail, but to replace them with a different group of (what will eventually be) scandalmakers, because everyone (especially these selfsame politicos) knows that after a time, governments buckle under the weight of scandal. Then the politicos throw their hands up in wonderment and ask themselves why the voters stick to the devil they know.

    And it's important that a change in government is the only consequence that can come as a result of political screwballery- that, and no more- because once people start getting sent to jail for this kind of thing, it's going to be inconvenient for a whole lot of people. A whole caste of government workers without the ability or will to survive in the private sector or in the regulated professions will suddenly have to be under the microscope. Useless nephews and relatives will be out of work across the country. The PR fraternity (all of whom have their own dirty laundry which I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate being put out into the public eye) will suddenly experience a big drying up in client revenue, because the law is the law and precedent is pretty hard to handwave away with a few strategically placed press releases.

    Not only that, but how in the hell are we ever going to get top quality candidates to put their lives on hold for the prospect of holding political office if they know they could end up in jail someday? In a world where Ken Kirupa gets called a no-name candidate by the Toronto Sun just because he isn't Doug Holyday, we can't afford to do anything that will alienate the Chrystia Freelands of the world from making the jump. No, indeed- that future is too scary to contemplate seriously.

    Under these circumstances, the thing most people do is blame Tim Hudak and the people around him and assume that if only Tim would just get the message right the province would be a sea of Tory blue. If these people had knocked on any doors in the past month, however, they might have discovered a whole range of voters who had decided that "they're all the same" and that it made no difference who was running, or who was leading, or what the message was, or what scandal was currently taking up how much space in which newspaper or TV news program that was driving whatever agenda.

    Meanwhile the NDP continue to mobilize their people and take ridings from the Liberals, while their leader gets plaudits from the media for her "positive approach" which isn't a positive approach at all because she believes that everyone who isn't a union hack is a puppet of the 1%. Instead of hacking away at scandals, she wants to redistribute privilege, which is understandably a very tantalizing prospect for the many underprivileged people we have in Ontario as a result of the Liberal reign of error. And when privilege is redistributed- through use of guillotines, if necessary- you had better believe that lots of people are going to suffer for having offended our new union overlords.

    Not the stuffy, slow-moving rule-of-law type of justice we would have expected from a functional society, but how long has it been since Ontario's been functional?

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    August 2, 2013

    Three things that have not stopped in Ontario ARE:

    Creeping union control of the province

    passive aggressive griping about Hudak,


    people reflexively voting Liberal just because.

    Ah, well. Carry on as you were.

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    For Those About To Rock.....

    This is the greatest goddamn music video of all time, and I salute the individuals involved. (Well, I don't salute some of the people depicted in the video, but still. LOVE THIS.)

    I hope they'll be blasting this on repeat in the Etobicoke Lakeshore campaign office, which is where I'll be tomorrow.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    There'll Be No Shelter Here

    The NDP in Scarborough Guildwood can afford bus shelter ads. BUS SHELTER ADS. I found this to be so amazing that I took a picture and decided to share it with you. Here it is:

    "Vote for us and we totally won't blow tax dollars on expensive stuff we don't need!"
    You incredible bunch of failbots. You're fighting the Liberals tooth and nail and you have all this union cash flow and you decide to use it on this instead of something like, oh, I don't know, GOTV? You really think plastering Adam Giambrone's bizarre cube-shaped head on one or two bus shelters is going to be the difference maker? Look at his head! It's got right angles! Right angles, I say!
    Yup, this is totally a party that is in touch with oppressed people who are desperately trying to stretch a dollar. You've got a white woman and a dudebro who bigfooted a woman of colour local activist for the nomination so that they could get back at the Liberals for poaching Ken Coran. If you want to convince people that the NDP have learned from the mistakes of the Bob Rae days, this is the way you want to go!
    Whatever. Keep on splitting the vote, guys, it's what you do best.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    The Honeymoon Goes Sour

    So, Liberals are frantically trying to hold onto 5 seats and are pulling out all the stops to try and get voters to reward their incompetence, and what does the Premier and leader of their party say?

    "There’s no way whatever happens in these byelections that there will be a Conservative or an NDP government so it’s a pretty risk-free way for people in ridings to send a message to government about upping a game."

    Hooooo boy. I can tell you that the Liberals did not appreciate hearing that today. How are they supposed to scare voters with visions of Ford Nation descending on Queen's Park when the Premier is telling everyone that these byelections don't matter??

    Hundreds of trendily-dressed Liberals are pounding the pavement in 90 degree heat, consuming gallons of hair product and caffeinated beverages in a futile effort to remain fabulous, and Queen Kathleen basically says that their efforts don't matter because the by-elections don't matter.

    I ask you: When Alison Redford and Christy Clark were facing annihilation, did they say, "oh well, can't win 'em all?" Sandra Pupatello would have made Doug Holyday cry for his mommy and turned Adam Giambrone into apricot jelly. But no- the Liberals had to go and "make history."

    It's really sad to see how much this Premier couldn't care less about the rank and file......hahahahaha. Nope. Sorry, couldn't keep a straight face for that one. It's actually really really funny.

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Liberals Get the Giam-bone

    Hellooooooo Scarborough vote split! With the kind of luck the OLP has been having with their candidates, I wouldn't be surprised if John Fraser gets stuck inside- and is forced to campaign in- the life-size Dalton McGuinty costume he keeps under his bed.

    Gotta believe that this jabroni's sudden interest in Scarborough is retaliation for the OLP poaching Ken Coran.

    This dalliance with the unions is working out sooooooo well for the Liberals!

    Musical Chairs

    How long do you figure it'll be before someone points out that Peter Milzcyn hasn't resigned his seat on city council yet either? (Well, someone else, anyway.)

    Anytime, guys. It's not like you have a byelection to win.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013

    Theory of Public Participation

    There is way too much garbage flying around with these byelections to keep track of it all, so I would just like to step back for a moment and acknowledge how wonderful it is to be actually involved in the political system. I'm going to be involved in these by elections, in addition to just writing about stuff related to them and other political things here.

    That may not sound like something to be very proud of, but let me assure you that it puts me miles above the thousands of people my own age who cannot be bothered to knock on a single door or engage with one single voter with the intent of changing the political system that they rail against on a daily basis.

    I write stuff here about how awful it is that unions think they can conquer our province and appropriate privilege for themselves, but as much as I don't like them, I have infinitely more respect for them for actually GETTING INVOLVED than I do for all the other hipsters "fighting oppression" with tweets, with marches, with posters, with reddit threads, with conferences, with inventing words that nobody's ever heard of. If you have time to do all of this stuff, but you can't find the time to actually engage politically where you might change something, then yeah.....your "oppression" is basically your own fault.

    The time I put into being a party member does more to change the way this province, this nation, is governed, than anything it is that these people are up to, because they can't be bothered to get involved in the political system. Not trying to create a new political system out of nothing like the Occupy fools did- getting involved in the existing one. They want to "stop Harper" or fight the Republicans from the safety of their computers and Twitter accounts? Don't make me laugh.

    Silly ass articles in newspapers that talk about how Twitter causes revolutions and shakes governments to their core make me absolutely furious. Twitter does nothing. PEOPLE shake governments. PEOPLE cause revolutions. Politically involved people who spend their time being involved in the affairs of their own governments, not those who use cute hashtags or post Youtube videos.

    Oh, the hilarious excuses people come up with for not actually doing anything. Politicians are all the same. I don't want to compromise my principles. I don't have time. The system is too corrupt. No- YOU are too lazy, or scared. You are LETTING these people get away with creating this so-called systematic oppression that enrages you so.

    There can be no greater proof of how those on the left (and, it must be said, the right as well) don't actually want social change than how they devote all of this time to coming up with ways of expressing their feelings about how society is screwed up, but don't actually step into the political arena because they don't want to associate themselves with uncool people like me who actually do stuff instead of just talking about it.

    Political activism is unsexy, populated by mostly unsexy people. It is not something that you can just pay lip service to or do for one afternoon with your skinnyjeaned friends. You don't make buckets of money doing it. You shut your mouth and you go to work, because changing the way a country is governed is the most goddamn important thing in the world. Politically involved people have trouble keeping marriages and relationships together for this very reason. If you want to be fabulous, or build up your resume, you probably should be doing something else.

    Jerkass comedians like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart who spend their time getting hugely paid while smugly mocking the right think they are changing our political system for the better. They think they're making history, but they aren't reducing the population of the right at all. After they're done making fun, the political right still exists, and is still going to try again, and they're going to try until they get what they want. Because while watching Jon Stewart skewer Bill O'Reilly for the 1000th time is hilarious and makes you think social justice is happening, it isn't, because Jon Stewart is passing no laws and getting nobody elected or de-elected.

    No, people want to remain at arms' length from the kooky world of politics while griping about what a mess it all is. That makes a lot more sense than actually doing something to change the way things are. Maybe, in the near future, once Canadians don't have to imagine they're living in a banana republic, but actually are living in one, they will take their governance a bit more seriously.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013


    Rob Ford "ally" Peter Milczyn (the Toronto Star's words, not mine) and Civic Action CEO Mitzie Hunter- Civic Action being John Tory's outfit, of course-  are now Liberal candidates alongside union commissar Ken Coran, who, as it was recently revealed, backed the winner in the NDP nomination race for the very riding he plans to run in.

    Milczyn is hilarious:

    "Mr. Milczyn does not plan to give up his council seat to run, noting that regular meetings at city hall will soon stop for the summer. Mr. Milczyn, an architect who chairs the city's planning committee, said the jump to provincial politics was unexpected.“Over the course of the last week I was approached by a number of people – insistently so. It's an opportunity to move ahead,” he said."
    Yeah, no biggie- some people came and asked, so I figured, what the hell, I'd do the jump to provincial politics. It's not like city council is sitting or whatever, so if I lose, I'll just go right back to my old job! It's not as nice as an MPP post, but it'll do just in case I don't win! Which I will!

    And when you think about Coran backing the NDP candidate that he will be running against....he's really doing the same thing as Milczyn, isn't he? All this talk about parties and principles really doesn't add up to much after all, does it? We are ALL on the same team- the GOVERNMENT team. (And those who aren't are in for an eternity of pain.)

    Sure, cynics like me can speculate that the unions are just keeping their bases covered, whereas Milczyn doesn't like the current closeness between Ford and the PC Party, and Hunter is running to stick it to the knuckle-draggers who undermined her boss John Tory at every turn while he was PCPO leader, but that's just sour grapes.

    I need to stop being so serious, serious, serious about things and realize that we live in the most perfectest province in the most wonderfullest country in the entire universe!

    Saturday, June 29, 2013

    Heads Will Roll

    All good and honest Liberals, wherever you are- make like Laurel Broten, like Margarett Best, and head for the exits. Get out while you still can, lest you face the guillotine.
    We've got a union boss, one who protested against the very government he plans to become a part of, one who took credit for denying the Liberals a majority last year, making a bid for Chris Bentley's seat. And local Liberal riding associations have the temerity to complain??? When's the last time you saw that happen? Oh Chris think the party once had a huge problem with your leaderly ambitions.
    And to think the OLP could have had Sandra Pupatello, but turned away from her because she wasn't interested enough in having conversations and hearing everyone out before making decisions.
    Well, I'm sure the voters are good and pissed off now! Those unions are in for a world of hurt!
    Yeah, OK. That was a little too much to hope for.


    Monday, June 24, 2013

    The Gordon Ramsay Problem

    For a very long time now- years, even- I have been searching for the perfect way to encapsulate a problem opposition parties and leaders face, using a symbol that people can understand.

    Most people look at opposition politicians and write them off as whiners and complainers who just want power for themselves. Too glib, too negative, too focused on capturing soundbites, too unfocused on policy. So many reasons why we can't vote for the prospective Other Guy despite all the free-flowing anger people have towards governments.

    Then, I was watching TV at a friend's house and I discovered Gordon Ramsay, foul-mouthed top chef and star of approximately 100 different reality shows.

    I don't watch a lot of reality TV (I consider it bad for my soul) and I had never heard of Gordon Ramsay until I accidentally happened upon an old episode of one of his reality shows and saw him absolutely demolish the completely-out-of-his-league individual in the clip above. Ramsay crushes him so hard that I felt almost physically ill watching it.

    Watching this man in action and learning more about him was fascinating and terrifying. Look at him reduce an angry and tired woman to a smouldering wreck. Look at the way he effortlessly grabs her wrist when she tries to slap him. Here he is humiliating another chef challenging him to a fight- just by doing nothing. Here he is verbally stomping a mudhole into a paying customer (well, at least I think it's a paying customer- these shows have some pretty obvious scripting, but we're not going to get into that today). People are made to look stupid just for having stood up to him, despite how harsh he is. You would think that there would be some people calling him out for being a bully, but all he seems to get is praise for dedication to his craft.

    Now think to yourselves how it would go for you if you tried to treat your incompetent employees or co-workers that way. You want to yell and swear at that one person who keeps screwing up? Wanna fight back against a Level 5 jerkwad customer calling you all sorts of names and calling your competence into question? You're not going to do that. You already know why not- because if you did, you'd be the one who got in trouble. Your rudeness would be the issue, or an issue, not his or her incompetence. Does it matter if you, like Gordon Ramsay, just want to get it right? Do you win any points from people for having your heart in the right place? Nope. You're supposed to motivate people without getting angry. That's what leaders do. Except we're fine with Ramsay tearing people new orifices left and right.....and documentaries about him take pains to point out that, well, he's a really nice guy outside of the kitchen, and he has a really tragic backstory, so he can't be all that bad!

    Doesn't seem fair, does it? When did we get to the point where you couldn't call out incompetence without being called out yourself for being overly negative and harsh? And why is it that when Gordon Ramsay does it, people start commenting on Youtube videos for him to go into the political arena with guns blazing and clear everyone out instead of calling for him to be medicated?

    Well, here's the hard truth: You're not Gordon Ramsay. Gordon Ramsay is a goddamn apex predator. Look at him. He's a 6'2, clean-cut, blond and blue eyed master chef (one of the best in the world) and ex-athlete worth millions of dollars with a sexy foreign accent and a deep booming voice, all of which combine to make women positively drip with excitement. You look like nothing next to him. You have no business wishing you could be like him.

    And if you're going to criticize someone for incompetence- even if you are 100% right- you had better be an apex predator yourself. We, the reality TV loving public, demand no less.

    The incomparable War Room Boss demonstrates this beautifully with his defense of the Wynne government over the deleted power plant emails. We have a Privacy Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, whose job it is "to uphold and promote open government and the protection of personal privacy in Ontario." She did so with respect to the Wynne government. And she may be Raffi's sister, which is kinda cool, but she's by no means an apex predator. What did the War Room Boss do? The same thing he did to John Gomery during the sponsorship scandal- go after the fact that her report had flaws and that the way she went about putting it together left something to be desired. By the end of it you completely forget that the Wynne government may have done something illegal.

    Then, he posted this: "If you start criminally investigating every pol who deletes email, you’d better build a lot more jails. They’re gonna fill up fast. #onpoli" In other words, let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone. So, if you're going to cast that stone, you- not the person who did the incorrect deed in the first place- had better be without fault, or at least look the part. 

    In the nether regions of our brains, we know that attractive, dominating people are more deserving of respect and acclaim and to have their negative qualities and behaviours ignored. Maybe if our politicians looked more like reality TV stars, we'd have more people actually listening to what they said. Or rather, pretending to listen while being enthralled by how flawless they look and sound. We'd also stop worrying about ethical lapses and treat ridiculous public statements and out-of-control behaviour like tabloid news.

    What Canadian politics needs is not better people- it's better looking people. 

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    Era Vulgaris

    What was life like before the Rob Ford circus came to town? I can hardly remember. It seems like some long-ago, dimly remembered past Age of Man.

    Nothing, nothing but Rob Ford stories as far as the eye can see and as far as the ear can hear. Until we're all past sick of it. But they don't care. The pack of jackals continue to rip and tear at this story, to breathlessly report every single detail, to leave us time and time again with blue balls, agonizing over what's going to happen next. Inserting themselves into the story, naturally. Making themselves the story, the story of Rob Ford vs. The Media. Of course.

    What must it be like for them to have completely lost any sense of proportion and regressed back to some primitive state where there was absolutely no room for anything else but Rob Ford? Where eating, going to the bathroom, and showering takes second place to Rob Ford?  It must be like some sort of Burning Man ceremony, like some drugged-out ancient religious ritual.

    And what do they have to show for it? Did these hunters bag their prey? Did they get Ford? Well, he's still Mayor. Instead, a guy is dead, and a bunch of staffers resigned. One life lost, a bunch of others forever altered. Not what the future Pulitzer winners at the Star and Globe probably wanted, but they're not going to let a few bystanders get in the way of their paper chase.

    And no, Premier Wynne. You will not have the opportunity to live out your fantasy of removing Ford from office. Oh, we know you would so love to show that big brute Ford who wears the pants around here just like you did to Paul Godfrey when he got all saucy a few weeks ago, but that would just ruin this entertaining train wreck for everyone. It can't always be about the short-term thrill, darling. Like the great Buddy Cole once said, "I may have been born yesterday, but I still went shopping." (.....actually....that doesn't make sense, even in the original context. Oh well.)

    Gotta love the suddenly cautious tone of that Globe editorial saying that Wynne ordering Ford off the field would be an unwanted intrusion, given that the city services are actually running "as smoothly as they ever do." This, after saying the previous day that Ford needed to resign no matter what.  Ford's personal life is a disaster, sure, but it doesn't seem to be affecting the way the city is actually run all that much. The city certainly isn't considering a unilateral HST hike to pay for transit.....which makes even less sense when you consider that the point of the HARMONIZED sales tax is that it's supposed to be HARMONIZED. That means it's supposed to be the same across Canada, except Queen Kathleen is once again all about unilateralism.

    Is the Star going to call for Wynne to wave her magic wand and make this Ford issue disappear? No? Martin Regg Cohn is suddenly all about respecting the division of powers? How bizarre- when Wynne does her Marie Antoinette impression with respect to Paul Godfrey or jacking up the HST, the Star and Globe are nowhere near as quick to put the brakes on. One of these things is clearly not like the others.

    For actual critical news reporting, we have to go not to one of the Big Four newspapers, but to Huffington Post Canada. They think the Rob Ford story is distracting everyone from the Wynne government getting into trouble over deleting emails related to That Power Plant. How is it that an online news website can find time to actually do a non-Rob Ford political story, and a bunch of rapidly-declining broadsheets have nothing else on their minds?

    Shall we say that the media are putting "profits before people", and engaging in "a race to the bottom", as they are perfectly content to let hardworking staffers get caught in the crossfire? Or perhaps we need to go a little further and say that this story has become a daily fix, and although they know it's bad for them, they don't want to let go. They could let Wynne stage an intervention here, but no.....everything's fine.