Talking Erin O’Toole’s Woes as Conservative Leader & Jagmeet Singh’s Rise as NDP Leader with Rob Snow

Back on Wednesday I joined Rob Snow on CityNews Ottawa radio’s “The Rob Snow Show” along with Kate Harrison for the “Political Fix” panel. We talked the about the current state of the leadership of Conservative Erin O’Toole, why is he lagging in the polls, what the fall out might be if he adapts a carbon tax policy, how this situation has been a decade of Conservative policy denial coming back to bite him, why is Doug Ford so much more popular than O’Toole, how the NDP is rising in this moment, why that is, how many Orange/Blue switchers are out there in Canada’s electorate and more. You can listen to the audio by clicking below, starting at the 23:30 minute mark.

Undermining Democracy in Manitoba

The past year was a hard year for the state of democracy around the World and when 2021 got here, we were all hoping that this year would be better. Instead the World witnessed one of the most disturbing things that we could with the storming of the United States Capitol. It was a low water mark for democratic norms around and showed just how fragile our democracies can be.

What we saw play out in Washington should have been a wake-up call to all democracies not just about the dangers of conspiracy theories, but of more. It should have been a wake-up call about the danger of hyper partisanship and seeing your political opponents as enemies instead of fellow citizens with disagreements on policy. It should have been a wake-up call about running transparent, accountable government and the dangers of doing the opposite. Being on this side of the border, it should have been a wake-up call and a screaming example of “Don’t do this” here. Yet yesterday a story came out from this side of the border that has left a lot of people screaming alright, for good reason, and shows that a certain political leader in this country has learned nothing so far this year:

Folks, I can’t tell you just how disturbing and unprecedented that this move by Manitoba’s Conservative Premier Brian Pallister is. This is the kind of act that is not excusable at all in any democratic society, period. As CBC Manitoba reported yesterday, “Manitoba’s government is limiting debate over 19 new bills by not making any text available for opposition parties or the public to review”. All they are doing is introducing these bills with their titles and nothing else, leaving the actual content of these bills until they come up for debate at second reading. That means that the public has no idea what is in these bills and won’t for months after they were tabled in the Manitoba Legislature.

No government in Canada does that at all, because of just how anti-democratic that it is. Seriously, how is it that in a democratic society you can introduce legislation formally in a legislature or parliament and not tell anyone what’s in it? Well Premier Pallister is able to do this because the “current rules of the legislature do not expressly forbid bills from being introduced in this way”. Seriously, this is dirty crap of the worst kind. It’s unethical, it’s anti-democratic and screams of a serious kind of arrogance on the part of this Premier. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, let Pallister’s speak for themselves:

“We’re ready to play nice, but we’re also the elected government of Manitoba, so I would encourage the Opposition not to try to pretend that they are the government. They are not.”

Source: CBC Manitoba

That is the kind of arrogance that leads to this crap and is quite stunning coming from a politician who spent his entire Federal political career in Opposition. You’d think that someone with his experience would have a better appreciation for the work of all elected people in a chamber, but clearly not. Nope, he’s frustrated than the Official Opposition is doing its job, holding his government to account. He doesn’t like that he can’t do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He seems to think that because his party won the most seats in the Manitoba Legislature that he’s an Emperor who owes no answers or excuses to anyone for anything.

Of course, he’s not that at all and by saying what he just said about the Opposition, he clearly doesn’t understand that as Premier he’s just the first of many MLA’s in that place. He clearly doesn’t understand or like that those Opposition MLAs are not less than his own. Personally, I can just imagine how Pallister would have acted as an Opposition MP if he had heard Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin had said what he just did with a straight face.

Needless to say, this story would be bad at any time, but it’s even worse in the current context. We’re already seeing many democratic norms being eaten away at and this does nothing to help that. There is no way in which it is proper or responsible for a Premier in this country to try to hide bills from the people to stop them from opposing him. Furthermore, it doesn’t say anything good about what’s in that proposed legislation if you feel that you need to go to these links to keep people from seeing it or opposing it. If he seriously thought that this is what the people wanted or was a good idea, he would proudly table all of the language and stand behind it, like every government leader in the history of this country has done. Brian Pallister isn’t doing that he, which tells you a lot more not just about his anti-democratic tendencies but also the nature of the bills themselves.

This is dangerous from Pallister and I’m glad to see so many people calling it out from all parties, including Conservatives. There is no proper excuse or rationale for doing this, none. In Parliament, bills are posted online for people to read within hours of their tabling in the House of Commons. All other legislatures do similar. There is no reasonable excuse for not doing the same here. Pallister’s attempts to give some here just showed a worse side of himself, which is saying something for a guy who has proved to be one of the coldest and hardest partisans in any Premiers office across the country. This is bad, even by his standards. The saying that “democracy dies in the darkness” is sadly true, and any political leader who tries to advance their agenda by keeping it hidden in the darkness is no friend of democracy. If Pallister really believes in what he’s proposed in these phantom bills, then he should have the courage to stand behind them and put out the full text of each one. If not, he’s just showing himself to be a coward who is unworthy of the office he holds, or any other elected office in this democratic country.

Talking the State of COVID Vaccine Deliveries with Kristy Cameron

Yesterday I joined Kristy Cameron on CFRA’s “Ottawa Now” along with Kate Harrison & Lindsay Maskell for the “Political Heat” panel. We talked about the latest on the state of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries, how the diverse slate of vaccines is showing itself to be useful, the case for vaccinating teachers among essential workers, will people want to go to festivals and concerts this summer before COVID passes before we veer a bit into talk about boybands. You can listen starting at the 16:00 minute mark.

Talking the State of Canada’s COVID Vaccine Rollout & the Investigation of Alleged Misconduct in the Canadian Forces on “The Arlene Bynon Show”

This morning I joined Arlene Bynon on “The Arlene Bynon Show” on Sirius XM’s Canada Talks 167, along with Will Stewart. We discussed the current state of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination roll out, the concerns around mistrust in the process, the need for clear communications from government, what the impact of this miscommunication could be for all of us, the latest investigation into alleged misconduct in the Canadian Forces, why this is so important, how the government failed again in vetting for a senior position and why Canadian Forces members deserve so much better from our political leaders at times like these. You can listen to it all below.

When Your Heroes Show They Aren’t

Sometimes getting older sucks, like really bad. The older we get, we learn more but at the same time the older we get, the way we are forced to view some of those who we respected and maybe idolized changes. This is especially true when it comes to the world of sports or the arts. We all have those people whose work or ability we’ve loved. We all have those athletes and artists that we truly call ourselves a fan of.

And sadly the older we get, some of those who we idolize, whose jerseys we wore, whose music we bought or whose posters hung on our walls, show a true side of themselves that puts all of those past feelings to waste. In the past few years, it feels that we have had more of those moments and in a few cases when they happen, they are such a disappointment that it just feels like a blow to the morale. I had that experience late this week, when one of my favourite footballers of all time said things that just ruined my fandom of him forever. With a short clip of less than a minute, years of cheering this guy on went poof. That player? Well it was Swedish international footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović, and these were the offending words:

The whole idea of “shut up and dribble” is one that has deeply offended my basic political sensibilities for a very simple reason; in a democratic society, the ability to speak up is important. It doesn’t matter about your profession, your age, your gender or even your eloquence. What matters is being involved and sharing your view. So this idea that professional athletes should just “shut up” because they are athletes has always bothered me. Athletes have just as much right to speak up about conditions in their communities as anyone else and have just as much ability to take part in the political discourse of a community as anyone else.

Many pro athletes like LeBron James, who Ibrahimović calls out, may have greater privilege in money and resources, but these people are still a part of their communities. They still have family and friends. And they still face the systematic injustices that others do. There are too many examples of athletes being abused by the authorities for simply being the people they are. I think of NBA players like Thabo Sefolosha and Sterling Brown, both of whom were assaulted and worse by the police, and for them, being highly paid athletes didn’t save them from the same treatment that other African Americans have faced in their country. In Sefolosha’s case, the assault by officers of the New York Police Department was so vicious that it caused a nearly career-ending injury, and I would argue that after that police-induced injury he was never the same player again. How many millions of dollars did that assault cost him? And in the case of Sterling Brown, as a headline on a good piece on his case put it, he’s “lucky he wasn’t killed by Milwaukee police”.

And yet Ibrahimović still said what he said, as if somehow athletes are protected from the outside world and that they bear no greater responsibilities. I’m not shocked that Zlatan said something that was selfish and self-centred because, well, that’s what he’s known for. The dude refers to himself more in the third person than Michael Jordan ever did and as much as I liked him as a footballer, Ibrahimović has never been the “best in the World” player that he’s described himself as. He’s very, very good, but not the best, sorry. The point is this dude is amazingly disconnected and truly living in his own world. He is coming from a place of extreme privilege that most of us could only dream about, and that includes most athletes. And that’s what bothers me the most. It’s one thing for him to be an ass or full of himself, that’s par for the course. But his inability to recognize his own privilege and then impose that on others, assuming everyone else is like him, is what bothers me. Dude had the right to share his view, but in doing so he clearly told on himself, showing himself to be the one who really hasn’t thought anything through or knew what he was talking about. LeBron James on the other hand, this response from him to Zlatan’s comments proves just how wrong he was:

LeBron James may be LeBron James, but he still comes from a community that struggles and he’s trying to do what he can to help make it better. He’s putting his money where his mouth is, trying to improve access to voting, creating business opportunities for his community and helping to give youth access to higher education. If the person who did that was a CEO or the owner of a chain of McDonalds, we’d hold them on high as a good example of our community. We would ask them to speak up and be a part of our political discourse. Yet if that person is an athlete they should shut up? Sorry, that’s just crap, plain and simple. That right there is all the more reason why they should speak up. They should speak up because it’s not all about themselves, but about the greater community. They should speak up, and this post from former NBA player Jeremy Lin from the other day is a great example why:

Whatever our background, we all have experiences that maybe the majority in society don’t understand. When you’re a part of the minority, the majority may not see your struggles or know what your community is experiencing or feeling. All across North America, we’ve seen Asian communities faced increased incidents of racist attacks because of COVID-19, incidents that seem to be getting worse, not better as time goes on. Those incidents are happening everywhere, including on the basketball court to Lin. In Zlatan’s view, Lin should just “shut up and dribble”, as if somehow that racism he faces doesn’t actually happen to him. He’s asking people like Lin, James and other athletes to “shut up” because of how uncomfortable it makes him feel, someone whose never faced the kind of discomfort of racial slurs or discrimination at all.

What Zlatan doesn’t get is that life is political by its very nature and to be engaged in it should be as natural as breathing. He also clearly doesn’t get that the privilege and monetary rewards that come with being a professional athlete doesn’t remove them from facing the same racism and prejudice that others in their community faces. And any student of history would clearly know that racist people and systems don’t spare people because of their wealth. That money doesn’t bring respect for those athletes, sparing them the pains and such that others face. He clearly doesn’t get any of that and if for that reason for whatever, Zlatan may want to stay quiet from here on out. But he is clearly in no position to tell others in his profession how to express or not express themselves politically. Most athletes get that having earned such a professional life, they have an inherent responsibility to give back to their communities as best as they can, and that’s not limited to make donations to the local Boys & Girls club. That can easily include speaking up for them because sometimes the greatest investment an athlete can make in their community is speaking the truth aloud. And for that reason, I’ll spend more time cheering on folks like LeBron James and no more pulling for Zlatan. Not all of our heroes are who they appear to be, and as disappointed I was to learn that this week, I’m glad I know it now.

Talking House Vote on China & Cheryl Gallant’s Comments with Kristy Cameron

Yesterday I joined Kristy Cameron on CFRA’s “Ottawa Now” along with Kate Harrison & Lindsay Maskell for the “Political Heat” panel. We talked about yesterdays vote in the House of Commons regarding China, how the abstention by the government on the vote was a deeply questionable move, how the abstention did nothing to help Canada’s position, Cheryl Gallant’s disturbing conspiracy theory comments, why they should be repudiated, why they shouldn’t be swept aside, why our elected leaders should be setting the best example possible for young people getting into politics, Ted Cruz’s Mexican get away and the plight of Snowflake, the Cruz family dog. You can listen starting at the 16:00 minute mark.

Talking the State of Canada’s COVID Response & the Future of the Canada/US Relationship “The Arlene Bynon Show”

This morning I joined Arlene Bynon on “The Arlene Bynon Show” on Sirius XM’s Canada Talks 167, along with Alise Mills. We discussed the current state of Canada’s COVID-19 response, the state of vaccinations, what more needs to be done, the state of Canada’s relationship with China, todays House vote on China, how our leaders should be responding, what are the limits to what Canada can do alone, tomorrows first Trudeau/Biden meeting and what will this mean for the future of the Canadian/US relationship. You can listen to it all below.

Setting a Bad Example at the Conservative Campus Club

We live in dangerous times and after everything we saw play out in the United States in December and January, I would have thought that would have been pretty clear. Words matter and peddling conspiracy theories or outright lies about political opponents or just groups in general can lead to very serious consequences. You’d think that those who are elected to serve in our Parliament would be at the top of that list who understand that, yet to say that is to clearly not know some of those who serve there.

As someone who spent a decade working on Parliament Hill, I got to know many great parliamentarians from all parties, even those I heartily disagree with. Most MPs are good people who practice their politics in a responsible way. They treat their opponents as fellow citizens they disagree with, no enemies of the state. They disagree with opinions or ideas on the other side, not see conspiracy and while innuendo around every corner. And most of all, they tend to act like decent human beings. But that’s not the case for all, as there are exceptions to every rule, and how a party deals with those exceptions says a lot about them. Today another example of that exception rose to the surface, one that will raise legitimate questions for her leader:

Yep folks, that’s long serving Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant putting her foot into it again. This time it appears to be during a conversation with what looks to be campus Conservatives at Queen’s University in Kingston. Or at least that’s what this piece of information here would tell us:

Source: Queen’s University Conservative Association

What is it with Conservatives putting their feet in their mouths in front of campus clubs? What is it about that environment that leads them to make such statements? Erin O’Toole had his turn at this back in 2020, when he showed a truer side of himself as he tried to play “normal everyday campus dude-bro” with the campus club at Ryerson. And this time we get Mrs. Gallant doing the same. But let’s be clear about something here, this is not her first offense or close to it for that matter. This is far from her first strike, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

During this appearance, Mrs. Gallant throws out every trope and conspiracy theory about “progressives”, calling them “cultural Marxists” that have apparently taken over every single university administration except for one. She says that they’re trying to silence conservatives and “put their agenda to work before people catch on”. According to Gallant, during the pandemic we’ve seen governments try to “seize more and more power” and then accuses the media of being “bought and paid for” by Justin Trudeau, pushing a bigger government agenda. Oh and she’s not done yet everyone. She goes onto call Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a “radical environmentalist who has now  become censor in Chief”, going onto spew a whole lot of untruths about the governments Bill C-10, which updates the Broadcast Act in Canada. Because, you know, the internet is now a thing.

She claims that he wants to take Google and Facebook “every time you want to search for an article online”, which isn’t what the bill does but hey, this is clearly a fact-free discussion they’re having. She says then that if these tech giants have to pay their taxes that they will withdraw services in Canada and that would prevent people from getting news. And here is where the crazy coup de grace comes. She asks, apparently seriously, why would Justin Trudeau want Canadians not to be able to search the internet for news articles when an election comes? Hmmm, yes, you see the bigger picture now?

Christ man, this is nutty stuff, yet that collage of conspiratorial crap is exactly the kind of thing this MP has been peddling for years. To hear her say it, you’d think that there was no way at all of Canadians to read news if it wasn’t for Google or Facebook. She makes it seems like news outlets or networks online don’t have their own places where their stories or posted or these specific things call web addresses that you can just type into your web browsers. Or better yet, that Google is the only search engine on the planet. Sure I’m not a fan of Bing myself, but come on, at least act like it exists. There are so many levels to this insanity that it’s mind-blowing.

But it’s the last part of this that bothers me the most after everything that we’ve seen in the past four years, especially the last two months. According to Gallant, this is all a part of some big master plan by “progressives”, “Marxists” and Justin Trudeau to dupe Canadians into re-electing him. That all this non-sense is real and that it’s all organized by this big, shadowy organization with the sole purpose of taking out conservatives. That is the stuff of conspiracy theories and seeing things where they don’t exist. It’s either that or I must not be as important as I think because I never seem to get invited to these big planning sessions about the future and the demise of conservatives. No, it’s not that, it’s all conspiracy crap.

But for Erin O’Toole and his party, this presents another problem, not just for his leadership but for how he’s trying to present his party to Canadians as a whole. Cheryl Gallant has done and said crazy stuff before. She’s made no apologies for her approach and her distain for her fellow parliamentarians or fellow citizens that she disagrees with. She has no problem in demonizing them like this, and clearly has no problem doing it for the amusement of impressionable youth in a campus club, which is even worse. In talking to such groups, she’s supposed to be setting the example for this up-and-coming generation of politicos, not making disgraceful crap comments like that.

It’s that kind of crap that leads to what we’ve seen stateside and we’re seeing more and more here in Canada. And that leads me to wonder what, if anything, Erin O’Toole will do about this. Is he doing to discipline Mrs. Gallant? Strip a portfolio or committee assignment? Remove her from caucus or bar her from running for them again? If Mr. O’Toole’s past actions have taught us anything so far, it’s not likely any of those things will happen here. It took a donation from a white nationalist to get Derek Sloan tossed from the O’Toole caucus, so as much as I’d like to think that he will do the right thing here, I doubt that he will.

In the meantime, this is just another example of everything that is wrong about our politics these days. These are exactly the kinds of incidents that any responsible party or party leader would be policing themselves and dealing with appropriately. It shouldn’t fall to the public to demand better from them, they should be demanding better from themselves. And that goes for all parties. This is the kind of rot that leads to far worse, and continues to set a terrible example for the next generation. When we act like this crap is normal and acceptable, it becomes normalized in the younger ones that come behind us. If that isn’t a good enough reason for Mr. O’Toole to act here, then there isn’t likely one good enough for him. And that might be the saddest comment of all.

The 100th Birthday Middle Finger

It’s mid-February and we’re close to a full year into this bloody COVID pandemic. Here in Eastern Ontario, we’re getting hit with our largest snowstorm of the season so far and in many parts of Canada, it’s been frigid cold for a couple of weeks. Needless to say, for many of us our nerves are starting to fray just a tad. Burn out doesn’t quite cover how many are feeling and really folks, we could all use a holiday, right? Well for most Canadians yesterday was that day, as we all got a stat holiday to spend time with the family.

In Ontario, we call it Family Day and it was a time to reconnect with our loved ones and get a little extra rest. But given that we are still dealing with COVID, having a holiday didn’t mean taking a holiday from staying safe. Nope, it meant staying home, taking care of one another and following COVID protocols. This year the most important thing that we could do for our families was “to celebrate with ONLY those you live with.” Don’t believe me? I borrowed that phrase from this guy:

Yeah, Premier Ford says to stay home to protect folks and is even thanking us for doing it. Aww geeze, what a swell guy right? Here we are staying hunkered down at home and I’m sure that he’s doing his part while doing the same. He must be protecting his family and other families by celebrating that day with only those who he lives with, right? Yeah… well, about that:

Okay, I’m pissed. Seriously effing pissed off right now. Maybe it’s the snow, maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s that I’m still stinging from not being able to say my last goodbyes to my late grandmother (who would have turned 94 on February 9th). Maybe it’s all of those things. But seriously, what the actual f*ck?!?!?! Not only is Dougie giving everyone the middle finger on this Family Day weekend as he tweets at us all to stay home, but he’s also doing it in plain view, for CTV News cameras to see him doing it.

And what is the reason why he did this? To wish former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion a lovely 100th birthday. My mind is effing blown at this, and this is no knock-on Hurricane Hazel. Seriously, we’re in a global pandemic, where we’re all suffering and the leader of the province of Ontario decides to break these rules, he’s yelling at all of us to follow to visit someone on their 100th birthday? You know, the exact same kind of person who is at the highest risk of getting and dying from COVID??? And no one grabbed this guy by the scruff of his neck and said, “No Doug, don’t do it”.

If Doug really wanted to do this, he could have visiting Hazel the same way that so many of us have been forced to meet with our elderly loved ones; he could have done it over Facetime, he could have called, he could have stood outside the window in the cold while she was safe inside. Nope, instead he goes over to her house delivering presents in one of the most tone deaf and ignorant moments I can possibly think of. Add to that the juxtaposition of his Twitter message, telling us to “celebrate with ONLY those you live with”. I’m pretty sure that goes for birthdays as much as it does for Family Day, but I’m sure at some point we’ll be told they’re not the same and treat it like some cheap loophole.

Seriously folks, my patience for this kind of crap is near its end. We’re coming up on a year now and almost all of us have had to make do when it comes to these things. We’ve all had loved ones that we couldn’t see on their birthdays, or at Christmas, or Thanksgiving and that will soon again be the case at Easter. Many of us have had to watch from a distant as our beloved elders have suffered alone, but we’ve done it to ensure that they could live to get through this awful moment. Most of us get the sacrifices that we have to make right now, and we take them seriously,

But then something like this crap happens, man oh man. I don’t know what you say to this crap. Seriously I’m as gob smacked as I’m fuming mad. This is exactly the kind of crap that undercuts any good work or measures that are being taken. This is the kind of stupidity that makes more people check out on doing their part. This is exactly the kind of thing that drives people up the wall. And this is exactly the kind of thing that is so stupidly simple to have avoided happening. Seriously, this is the kind of mistake that you make when you’re not serious about this issue.

It doesn’t matter if this was careless or not giving a flying f*ck about applying the rules to themselves, it’s a huge middle finger to the people of Ontario at the worst possible time. As we are seeing the worse variants taking hold and the worst still ahead of us, right now people need to trust that their leaders are doing as they tell us to do. Instead we get Dougie dropping off birthday presents to a famous centenarian, with a TV crew in tow. It’s because of stupidity like this that I’m less and less confident about this governments ability to deal with this crisis properly. As a result, I’m more and more worried about what is going to come, and I know I’m not alone in that. If Doug Ford could manage to do the very meager basics of his job here, which is basically following his own bloody rules, that might be different. But apparently, he can’t, because he keeps showing us over and over again with this latest episode. I keep holding out hope for better, but like my patience, that’s running out too.

Talking COVID Vaccination Priorities in Stage Two with Kristy Cameron

Yesterday I joined Kristy Cameron on CFRA’s “Ottawa Now” along with Kate Harrison & Lindsay Maskell for a rare Thursdays mini-“Political Heat” panel. We talked about the news of federal guidelines around Stage Two of COVID-19 Vaccination priorities, what this might mean for the attempt to get people vaccinated, the importance of getting this right, the need to guard against people trying to game the system, the importance of having the vaccines to actually follow through on it and the other things we need to do during this period to help us get back to normal that governments have been avoiding. You can listen to the audio below starting at the 16:30 minute mark.