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Whole Stupidity

Wednesday next week Canadians from coast to coast to coast will stop and take time to participate in the act of remembrance. Even in these strange times of COVID-19, Canadians will take time around the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month to remember those who have fought for our freedoms and served to protect us. Even in this age of growing partisanship and division, this is still one of the few unifying events that we have.

As a part of this act, we wear our poppies to show respect for those veterans, many of whom are family and friends. My daughter was telling me before I dropped her off at school this morning that her class were going to be making their own poppies today in class, to remember. And even while we adjust to this pandemic and try to make the best of these hard days, we still put on our poppies to remember. Yet this morning I came across a story that just blew my mind in its sheer stupidity and is blowing up all over social media:

I’ve never shopped at a Whole Foods in my life but this commercial grocery giant, owned by the tech giant Amazon, has managed to do something that is nearly impossible in this day and age; piss everyone across the political spectrum off. Don’t believe me? Here is just a quick sampling from this morning so far:

Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, journalists, Indigenous peoples and more, the condemnation of this piece of policy stupidity on the part of this massive corporation has been downright universal. In this age where it seems like social media isn’t lacking for someone to “other side” almost any topic, as I write this, I’ve yet to see someone step up to the plate to do that. And in one foul swoop, Whole Foods has managed to unite the vast majority of Canadians behind a simple sentiment; F*ck Whole Foods!

According to the CBC piece reporting this, “an employee of the Whole Foods in Ottawa says she was told by a supervisor that wearing the poppy would be seen as “supporting a cause.”” The piece goes on to quote the employee stating she was told that “if they allowed this one particular cause, then it would open up the door so that they would have to allow or consider allowing other causes”. Amazingly, the company itself confirmed that the poppy was not “comply” with their policy.

Regardless of how you feel about poppies, this “excuse” is just downright stupid (and I’m sorry if I repeat that word a lot here…. It’s just so apt). Using the “slippery slope” argument when it comes to respecting our veterans and their sacrifice is amazingly tone deaf and offensive to just about everyone. As Canadians, we may disagree about when our soldiers are sent to serve or the policies that they serve under. But what we almost all agree upon is that despite of the decisions made above them, we all respect those who step forward to serve. We thank them for their sacrifice and remember that, always. That’s not a matter of any partisan disagreement and for Whole Foods to act like wearing a poppy would bring some about is just stupid.

And of course, it’s not that Whole Foods isn’t anti-poppy per se. As the CBC story points out, Whole Foods does support the Legion’s national poppy campaign and gives towards it. Whole Foods even pointed out that “employees at each of its stores will observe the traditional moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.” Somehow in their eyes those acts won’t “open up the door” to showing support for anything else or won’t fling open pandora’s box. Yet somehow the simple act of wearing a poppy will? Again, that’s just so bloody stupid and it all even makes less sense when you add that context to it all.

I’d hope that Whole Foods backs down for this act of corporate and communications stupidity before this morning is out. How they managed to get themselves into this idiotic box of their own stupid creation is mind-blowing. The fact that pretty much all of political Canada is united in calling out this corporate giant on a single issue tells you all that you need to know about how dumb this is. But it’s not just dumb, it’s disrespectful to those who have served and an insult to those who are still serving.

It’s personal to the majority of Canadians. I wear my poppy on November 11th thinking of my late grandfather Alfred Holmstrom, who served and was wounded in the Second World War. Most of us have family members that we point to that we remember at this time, even if we disagree on the politics of wars and conflict. We normally gather with those who we disagree with on the 11th, around the local cenotaph, and remember those who fought so we could have democratic right to disagree amongst ourselves. And with this move, Whole Foods has managed to disrespect all of that. It’s stupid, just so very stupid, stupidity on the level that people won’t forget quickly or forgive easily. We’ll see what they do but whatever pain Whole Foods gets from this, they deserve it, and that’s totally on them alone.

UPDATE: 10:20 am, November 6th, 2020: It turns out that Whole Foods has responded to the Toronto Sun on this story and amazingly, they’re doubling down. I’ve got no words for this level of stupidity because this is just so dumb on their part.

Update: 3:00 pm EST, November 6, 2020: After a full news day being knocked around by all of political Canada and being unanimously scolded in the House of Commons, Whole Foods has finally backed down, reversing their policy that started all of this.

Talking the US Presidential Election with Rob Snow

Yesterday I joined Rob Snow on 1310 News’ “The Rob Snow Show” along with Zoe Knowles for the “Political Fix” panel. We talked about Tuesday’s Presidential Election in the United States, where things currently stand, what we expected from the day & where it all might lead once there is a result. You can listen to the audio by clicking below, starting at the 21:00 minute mark.

Talking Potential New COVID-19 “Tiers” in Ontario & the US Election with Kristy Cameron

Yesterday I joined Kristy Cameron on CFRA’s “Ottawa Now” along with Kate Harrison & Lindsay Maskell. We talked about the latest news on COVID-19 in Ontario, the potential of new COVID-19 tiers, how are those any different than the stages that already exist, the lack of trust in Premier Ford to follow through and stick to this and the big US Presidential Election. You can listen to the audio below starting at the 17:00 minute mark.

Talking the US Election 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 Alise Mills. We discussed tomorrow’s big Presidential Election in the United States, what to expect and how things feel very different this time, and the Alberta NDP bringing forward a motion calling on Jason Kenney’s UCP to condemn Western separatism. You can listen to it all below.

The Dishonourable Senator from Northwestern Ontario: Breaking New Ground Stateside

For those who have been regular readers of this space know that I’ve had a fair bit to say about the dishonourable Senator from Northwestern Ontario Lynn Beyak. It seemed that her awful story of ignorance, unwillingness to give a fulsome apology and her attempts to save her Senate seat while avoiding taking any responsibility for her actions might have come to an end. Back in June was the last time I wrote about her, talking about her unacceptable apology as she tried to save her seat in the Red Chamber.

After that time, things went quiet on the Beyak front and honestly, that was one of the highlights of my summer. To not have to talk about her misdeeds was good, as it felt like she might finally be fading into background and out of the spotlight of Canadian politics. But today she sprung back onto the scene, thanks to an interesting story from Justin Ling printed by Vice Canada. Beyak is back, and it looks like she’s taking things international, in a way that raises a few interesting questions all its own:

Yep, it shouldn’t come as a shocker that Beyak is a Trump supporter, that part really fits everything we know. The fact that she might have wanted to give his campaign money probably wouldn’t shock either, but as she should have known (or figured out quickly) is that it’s illegal for non-American citizens to give money to American campaigns. Given that she ran for political office a few times and lost before getting her plum patronage appointment to the Senate, she should have been familiar with the concept of citizens of foreign nations not being able to give money because it’s the same law here in Canada.

Of course Beyak has come out with a weak excuse that just adds more fuel to this dumpster fire. Her Senate office is quoted in the piece stating that it was her who did it and “a donation was made in error”. But there is a problem with that excuse, which becomes pretty clear when you read this except from the story:

“In early May, Senator Lynn Beyak made a $300 contribution to the Republican National Committee, per a publicly-available Federal Electoral Commission filing. Beyak listed their profession as ‘retired,’ and their mailing address as a post office box on Davis Point Road, in Dryden, New York.

But the address and zip code do not point to any actual location in the state. There is a town of Dryden in New York, but no Lynn Beyak resides there.

There is, however, a Davis Point Road near Dryden, Ontario. A phonebook listing, that matches the street address from the GOP donation receipt, corresponds to Lynn Beyak, a sitting member of the Canadian Senate. The postal code from Beyak’s Elections Canada donation records also correspond to the address on Davis Point Road.”

Source: Vice News

Look everyone, it’s one thing to make an honest mistake, that does happen. Yet normally when you make such a mistake, you don’t put in a false address. The fact that she couldn’t make a donation with her legitimate address, because the website wouldn’t accept an Ontario one, should have been all she needed to know that she couldn’t donate or at least should have triggered her to ask a few questions and see why she couldn’t.

Yet instead of taking that piece of information and walking away, she put in an address, with a fake zip code, which she had to know wasn’t legit. Dryden, New York is very, very far from Dryden, Ontario, and it’s not like she chose a community just across the border in Minnesota, so there seems to have been some thought given to this. That is the kind of act that takes you away from making a simple mistake, and puts you towards something that could be more nefarious. And in doing so, this Senator has gone from simply making ignorant statement to possibly having broken American election finance laws, if it were to be prosecuted. Quite the leap if you ask me.

But there is another wrinkle in this story that opens up another possible pandoras box. As the Vice piece notes, this apparently illegal donation was reported to the Federal Election Commission in the US and is still sitting up on their website. Don’t believe me? Here’s a screen shot of it:

Source: FEC website

Yep, that’s pretty clear evidence. But here is the pandoras box part of this story that raises some interesting questions elsewhere. Not only did Beyak appear to make an illegal monetary donation, but the Republican National Committee also appears to have accepted an illegal monetary donation from a foreign national, who just happens to be a politician sitting in a foreign Parliament even though she is suspended. She’s not “retired” as her donation above indicated, unless that’s her own backhanded way of telling us that she’s finally resigning her seat. Of course, the jokes about a Senator saying she is actually “retired” do write themselves and I invite you to do that.

In the meantime, not only has Senator Beyak managed to break new low ground by appearing to break election law in another country, but it also raises legit questions about how many other foreign nationals might have done similar things as her. That, of course, raises all kinds of new questions about Trump’s foreign entanglements and swampy behaviour. What a way to show the candidate you back support, to open them up to even more questions of potential illegalities and corrupt behaviour.

So while Senator Beyak has been our shame in Northwestern Ontario for a while now, she has now managed to make an issue of herself on the international scene. 2020 man, it keeps bringing the twists. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing if this senator’s “accidental” donation draws enough attention to that pandora’s box she stumbled into, and if she is not alone in doing what she appears to have done. Either way, it’s another twist in this story, just one that I don’t think many of us saw coming.