On Monday, Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet, promoting indigenous services minister Jane Philpott to treasury board, demoting justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to veterans’ affairs, and sidelining the increasingly embarrassing Seamus O’Regan from veterans’ affairs to indigenous services. Two newcomers to cabinet were appointed: Montreal MP David Lametti is the new justice minister, and Nova Scotia’s Bernadette Jordan is taking on the new portfolio of minister of rural economic development.
Trudeau probably would have preferred not to create a new portfolio, but a larger shuffle (some were hoping that immigration minister Ahmed Hussen and environment minister Catherine McKenna would be moved) would have been ill-advised. The last thing the Liberals need is ministers making gaffes in new portfolios in an election year. They will have enough trouble dealing with Trudeau’s. A big shuffle might also have suggested – God forbid – a government in disarray. And, regional sensitivities being what they are, and every Liberal seat in Atlantic Canada being Liberal red, Trudeau could not leave Nova Scotia without a seat in cabinet.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in politics is to re-fight the last campaign, or so the experts say. Nevertheless, it looks like in this year’s federal election, the Trudeau Liberals are planning to re-fight not just the last campaign, but also the 2008 campaign.
In a December interview with the CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Justin Trudeau claimed that “I’m always going to look for ways to bring people together, to involve them in the solutions, and demonstrate that Canadians deserve better than politicians who play the fear and division card every time they can.”
If “bringing people together” and “fear and division” sound familiar, it’s probably because they were among Trudeau’s most frequently-invoked catch phrases during the 2015 campaign, along with “sunny ways.”
The National Post ended 2018 by publishing some excellent reporting on the Liberal government’s innovation and infrastructure spending. Hopefully it is not because the Post will be hesitant to do this kind of reporting in 2019, once they are collecting the federal journalism subsidy that PostMedia’s CEO fought so hard to secure.
“Experts warn Ottawa’s latest innovation fund could be falling under political influence” was the not-so-shocking headline on the article about spending from the Liberals’ Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), announced in 2017. Set to spend about $2 billion over five years, so far the fund has spent $845 million on 32 projects, according to a public database.
If your Boxing Day was spent cleaning up, at a mall, or on the couch watching the world juniors, you might have missed the Global News/Ipsos poll on the carbon tax that Justin Trudeau has staked his re-election on.
The results make for some grim reading for the Liberal government. Its proposed carbon tax for 2019 – which would add 4.42 cents to the cost of a litre of gasoline – would prompt only 18% of motorists to switch to more fuel-efficient cars or alternate modes of transportation. The survey found that even if gas went up to between $2.00 and $2.25 a litre, only 30% of Canadians would switch cars, use public transit or cycle.
Perhaps it is one of the hazards of age, but every year it seems to get harder to look back and find anything positive about the 12 months that have just passed. Crime, cruelty, poverty, terrorism, cyber-everything, government failures, violent protests, disasters natural and unnatural, fears for the future – the miasma created by all of them seem to obliterate whatever points of light still shine in our fallen world. And so, in the spirit of despair, let’s remember the top blow ups of 2018:
Justin Trudeau’s Image: Trudeau began 2018 already under a cloud, thanks to the ethics commissioner’s late-December ruling that he broke multiple federal ethics rules when he accepted a ride on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter and stayed on his private island over the holidays in 2016. Then came India. Trudeau took his family and their colourful Bolly-togs to India for a nine-day road/disaster movie that left Conservatives across the country yelling “We told you he was a clown!” to their coworkers and screens. During the trip, it was revealed that someone in the government had invited Jaspal Atwal – a man convicted of trying to murder an Indian cabinet minister on Canadian soil – to a Canadian government reception in New Delhi. Atwal was even photographed with Trudeau’s wife, Sophie.
Justin Trudeau is doing his traditional year-end interviews, wisely attired in a business suit and not a Santa suit or Kwanzaa-inspired dashiki. Despite his sober attire, Trudeau’s year-enders are worth a look, as they are the last before he and his opponents face the voters in November.
The most interesting so far is his sit down with CTV’s Evan Solomon. Some might dismiss Solomon as a typical representative of the Media Party, but he is a competent interviewer, and managed to elicit some interesting responses from Trudeau.
Western Canadians will be sorry to learn that Trudeau, having failed to get the promised shovels in the ground for the Trans Mountain pipeline this year, is not promising to get them in the ground in 2019. After being asked twice, Trudeau would only say that “We’re working through the blueprint that the Federal Court of Appeals put forward to try and make sure that it gets done the right way and that’s the approach that we can take.”
Telecommunications manufacturer Huawei is China’s largest private company. Founded in 1987, it now employs 180,000 people, is the largest telecom manufacturer in the world, and is the second-largest supplier of smartphones worldwide. It is a sponsor of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. If you did not know it was a Chinese company, you might assume it was just another Asian maker of smartphones, like South Korea’s Samsung.
On December 1st, Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver. The arrest followed an extradition request from the United States which, according to media reports, wants to charge Meng with fraud and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. An alleged Huawei subsidiary, Skycom, allegedly sold telecommunications equipment to Iran, and Meng allegedly lied to financial institutions when securing loans for the alleged sales.
Comedian Trevor Noah (left) and Justin Trudeau (right). Last week was a pretty sorry one for the Canadian economy. On Monday, GM announced it would leave Oshawa after more than a century of building cars and trucks there. On Friday, Canada, the United States and Mexico signed a replacement agreement for NAFTA, despite US tariffs […]
In its fall economic statement, the Liberal government announced three measures to prop up Canada’s struggling newspaper industry. Non-profit journalism outlets will be able to issue charitable tax receipts and in turn receive funding from charitable organizations. Subscribers to digital news media will get a temporary, 15 per cent tax credit. The big one, however, is a new, refundable tax credit to news organizations. According to the government’s economic statement, this tax credit will:
…aim to support Canadian news organizations that produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians. The refundable credit will support labour costs associated with producing original news content and will generally be available to both non-profit and for-profit news organizations. An independent panel will be established from the news and journalism community to define eligibility for this tax credit, as well as provide advice on other measures.
The price tag? The total cost of these measures is expected to be $595 million over five years. While some of this will be in foregone tax revenue, the refundable tax credit means the government will be cutting cheques to media organizations.
On Monday, Calgary city council voted unanimously to abandon its bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi and his council colleagues had no other option after losing last week’s plebiscite, in which 56 per cent of Calgarians voted ‘no’ to hosting the games. What a contrast to the frenzy in Toronto, prior to it losing two summer Olympics bids: in 1990 (for the 1996 games) and again in 1997 (for 2008).
Of the games’ anticipated cost of $5.1 billion, Calgary was expected to contribute $390 million. Alberta and the federal government were on the hook for $700 million and $1.423 billion, respectively. To put Calgary’s contribution in perspective, the city’s entire operating costs for 2019 are budgeted at $4.1 billion, and its capital expenditures at $1.7 billion.
Calgary 2026 chair Scott Hutcheson regretted that the debate over the bid had become sharply divided: “I think building a dream and articulating that with our social media-type of environment today and a populist movement makes it more challenging”, Hutcheson told the Calgary Herald. “Almost on every issue, things are polarized today in a new way.”
Over the weekend, western leaders (and Vladimir Putin) attended various events to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. As with most such gatherings these days, it became all about Donald Trump. On Saturday, Trump was criticized for being a no-show to an event at a cemetery where many American war dead are buried. Critics charged that he feared wetting his pompadour in the rain. Then Trump and Melania were late to Sunday’s Armistice Day ceremony. Explanations centering on security were ridiculed. And on it went.
French president Emmanuel Macron used his remarks on Sunday to warn the assembled leaders against nationalism, which he described as the “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests.” The consensus seems to be that his remark was aimed at Donald Trump, who unabashedly identifies himself as a nationalist. Macron’s remark will have absolutely no effect on Trump, except perhaps to lower Macron further in his eyes.
Does Liberal virtue signalling turn your stomach? You better stock up on Pepto-Bismol then, because we are going to be fed even more sugar-coated Liberal vanity over the next 12 months.
The Trudeau government is expected to introduce its Poverty Reduction Act this week, which will set Canada’s first official poverty line. Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos said in an interview with the Huffington Post last week that having an official measure and target in place will force the government to be accountable for its poverty reduction goals.
Is Justin Trudeau worried about next year’s election?
That would be one explanation for his petty, off-brand decision to call a by-election to fill just one of the four empty seats in Parliament. It keeps NDP leader Jagmeet Singh hanging on –possibly as long as next March – before he can run for the Burnaby South seat vacated by Vancouver’s new mayor Kennedy Stewart.
It was announced over the weekend that voters in the late Conservative MP Gordie Brown’s riding of Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes will choose a new MP on December 3rd. As a side note, it seems to me that when the number of MPs is getting larger (the House of Commons may well surpass the American lower house in my lifetime), the names of ridings should not be getting longer and longer. Brown’s riding used to be known simply as Leeds–Grenville.
It was barely a month ago that I observed in this space that Justin Trudeau seems determined to re-fight the 2008 election on the same carbon tax that defeated Stephane Dion. That was Trudeau’s first election, which can be the only logical explanation for his nostalgia.
He confirmed my suspicions about redeeming Dion on Tuesday, when he announced his “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.” Despite this Dr. Seuss-like pan-bamboozler of a name, the Liberals have already lost the first battle of the war they have launched: nomenclature. Everywhere beyond a one-mile radius of Parliament Hill, it is being called a carbon tax, just as Dion’s “Green Shift” was. Not to mention that ‘pan-Canadian’ is a rather deceptive name for a scheme prompted by a desire to rein in four recalcitrant provincial governments. ‘Pan-conservative’ might have been more honest.
When it comes to climate change, the Trudeau government insists that we must act today lest the planet be uninhabitable in a few decades. Yet the Liberals continue to wave away the short-term economic and fiscal calamities that they are courting daily with their reckless financial decisions.
We all remember Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promise to run deficits of no more than $10 billion a year for three years, and return the budget to balance in fiscal 2019-20. That promise went out the window in finance minister Bill Morneau’s first budget, and subsequent budgets have promised no return to balance. When the $17.5-billion deficit for 2019-20 is added to the total, the Trudeau regime will have posted $72.8 billion in deficits over its four-year mandate. The federal finance department has projected that there may be federal budget deficits for the next 30 years, which would coincide with the oldest baby boomers approaching 100.
I remember once serving as a scrutineer for an incumbent city councillor. One of his challengers was a young pastor who had never run for office before. At the poll I was watching, I stood alongside a young lady who was scrutineering for this novice candidate. After observing the voting for a while, she naively asked me: how do the poll clerks know that voters are Canadian citizens? Like the jaded veteran I was, I told her coolly: they don’t.
People don’t have to prove they are Canadian citizens to vote in federal elections either, even though only Canadian citizens can vote. All they have to prove is who they are and where they live. If they have a driver’s license, that covers both bases. If they don’t, there’s a long list of ID to choose from, from which they must supply two. The 48-item list includes passports, health cards, social insurance cards and the like, and goes all the way down to a letter confirming residence in a homeless shelter. So long as one of the two shows their current address, they can vote. And even if they don’t have something with their address on it, another voter at the same poll can vouch for their address.
September not only marked the start of a federal election year, it also marked the beginning of Justin Trudeau’s two-year campaign to get Canada a temporary seat on the United Nations’ Security Council for 2021-22. Ten foreign affairs bureaucrats are working full time on
the bid. The campaign also features a maple leaf logo in multiple colours, though the predominant hue is a dark red that looks more like dried blood than the traditional true red of our flag. It’s an unfortunate choice, given the UN’s stated objective of increasing the peace.
Trudeau has been gunning for the security council seat since before the 2015 election, when Canada’s failure to win a seat in 2010 was a handy dart to hurl at then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In 2010, Canada was up against Germany and Portugal for two of the council’s 10 temporary seats (the five permanent security council members are the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia). The security council votes on issues such as suspending economic and diplomatic relations between countries, imposing blockades, and authorizing the use of armed force.
In the slowly unfolding farce that is the Justin Trudeau era, the rare successes stand out. So get ready to spend this entire week hearing about Canada’s barely salvaged trade deal that replaces NAFTA: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
In the same way that Doug Ford’s plan to cut Toronto council in half seemed to overshadow everything else he implemented in his first weeks in office, Trudeau managing to hitch Canada to the month-old US-Mexico deal at the 11th hour may temporarily sideline the government’s many poorly handled files. These include Tori Stafford’s killer now being housed in a native ‘healing lodge,’ the impending pot legalization on October 17th, and the backlog of dubious asylum seekers.
This is the strategy Justin Trudeau is gambling will win voters over to his besieged carbon tax in next year’s election, as he explained it to Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells in a lengthy interview last week. The high-minded piffle was reminiscent of erstwhile Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s ill-fated Green Shift platform from the 2008 election, in which Trudeau was first elected to Parliament.
Like Trudeau seems poised to do, Dion tried to convince Canadians that they would pay more taxes and end up with more money in their pockets at the same time. How? By taxing industrial carbon emitters. Dion claimed his carbon tax would subsidize a tax cut to people in the lowest three tax brackets, fund a new child tax benefit, and increase benefits to seniors and low-income families. With that kind of sales pitch, it’s hard to believe the guy lost.
Surprising more than a few people, Maxime Bernier has made good on his threat to start a new political party. It is called the People’s Party of Canada, and has a logo eerily similar to the old Reform Party logo.
Many doubted Bernier’s promise to build a party from the ground up, which was his parting – and unscripted – shot from his bombshell news conference on the eve of the Conservative Party convention in Halifax last month. Quitting the caucus after several testy months and some controversial tweets on multiculturalism, Bernier declared the Conservative Party “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.”
Even the most sympathetic observers will concede that Justin Trudeau has had a pretty bad few weeks, thanks to the Federal Court’s delay of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and the worrisome NAFTA negotiations. But besides the imminent legalization of pot, Trudeau still one thing going for him: the NDP.
The federal NDP caucus will be in British Columbia this week to strategize for the upcoming session of Parliament and next year’s election. “No one’s afraid of admitting there are challenges and things we need to work on,” NDP caucus chair Matthew Dubé told the Globe and Mail. Good. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
The New Democrats under Jagmeet Singh have a lot to recover from, if they hope to pose a serious threat to the Liberals’ re-election next year.
As Canadians anxiously await the restart of Canada’s trade negotiations with the US tomorrow, many smart observers have concluded that we will have to sacrifice our protected dairy industry to protect our auto industry.
“They [Canadians] have tariffs of almost 300 per cent on some of our dairy products. We can’t have that. We’re not going to stand for that,” Trump said at a news conference last week. “I think with Canada, frankly, the easiest thing we can do is to tariff their cars coming in. It’s a tremendous amount of money and it’s a very simple negotiation. It could end in one day, and we’d take in a lot of money the following day.”
Trump was exaggerating the ease and payoff of this scheme, of course, and overlooking the impact of auto tariffs on the US auto industry and American consumers. But it is no exaggeration to say that the tariff he is threatening would be devastating to Canada’s auto assemblers and parts manufacturers. TD Economics estimates that tariffs of 25% on vehicles and 10% on parts would cost Canada at least 160,000 jobs, the bulk of them in Ontario.
It is tempting to finger Donald J. Trump and Justin Trudeau as the only villains in this late-August NAFTA conflagration. There is certainly no shortage of evidence to support the shorthand indictments of each leader. Trump has been untruthful and mean. Trudeau has been arrogant and naïve.
Since he announced his run for president over three years ago, Trump has been railing against ‘unfair’ and ‘stupid’ trade deals which he believes are taking America to the cleaners. Many Americans agree with him, which is one of the reasons he prevailed over Hillary Clinton in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
A few thousand Conservative party members, MPs and Senators are heading for Halifax later this week, for the party’s first national convention since Andrew Scheer was elected leader last year. The news leading up to the convention and the convention’s agenda, combined with a couple hundred MPs and reporters in one place, promise lots of opportunity for conflict.
With the election campaign just over a year away (or sooner, if the Liberals see an advantage), the conflict that Conservative brass will want to highlight is that between Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau. No doubt Scheer’s speech on Friday night will contrast him and his potential government most favourably against Prime Minister Personal Day and his crew of bunglers and lightweights.
Last week the City of Victoria voted to remove the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that had stood next to the entrance of its city hall for 36 years. Two days later, Sir John A was horizontal on a flatbed truck, laying on a bed of foam on top of a wooden pallet. At least they put a Tory blue blanket on top of him.
Council had voted 8-1 to take down the statue, on the recommendation of its “city family” panel, comprised of the mayor, three councillors and three indigenous representatives. It was the panel’s first recommended act of reconciliation.
There has been much excellent commentary over the last week on the Trudeau-Freeland-Saudi Arabia conflagration, so much so that I hesitate to add to it (the commentary, that is, not the excellence). But Saudi Arabia’s reaction to tweets from foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland has overshadowed pretty much everything else on the national scene, and even made it into the US and British media. And when the American media are talking about us, it’s smelling salts all ‘round. The Hill Times recaps how it all began:
The blowback from Saudi Arabia started over tweets from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Global Affairs Canada last week that expressed concerns about the arrests of women’s rights activists, including Samar Badawi, and calling for their “immediate release.” Ms. Badawi’s brother, Raif, who has a Canadian wife and children, has also been sentenced to a 10-year prison term and 1,000 lashings for his criticism of the regime.
There are now five vacant or soon-to-be-vacant seats in the House of Commons, the most recent being the Montreal seat of erstwhile NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, who announced his retirement from Parliament last week. On Sunday, current NDP leader Jagmeet Singh tipped the media that he will be running in Burnaby B.C., another one of those vacant seats.
Another MP retirement was announced last week, this one closer to home. York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan, who has represented the riding since the 2004 general election, is retiring from the House of Commons on September 30th. He has joined the Toronto law firm of Aird & Berlis to resume his municipal and land use planning practice.
Over the weekend, the CBC website carried a story originally reported in La Presse, about gifts that Justin and Sophie Trudeau received at last month’s G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Québec.
Unfortunately, the CBC buried the lede: Donald Trump gifted Justin Trudeau with a photo from the 1983 G7 meeting attended by Pierre Trudeau, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders of the day.
If there is any comfort to be found after the shooting in Toronto on Sunday night, it may be in the fact that the shooter, had he survived, would have been put away for at least 50 years. Having murdered two people in cold blood, he likely would have received two consecutive 25-year sentences for murder.
Consecutive sentencing (at a judge’s discretion) came into effect in 2011, thanks to Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. While all opposition parties said they supported the measure, some MPs could not suppress their true feelings. During debate, Liberal Marlene Jennings said: “This bill addresses a relatively minor concern, therefore, and would affect relatively few people.” She continued: “We think it is contrary to the principle of rehabilitation to completely eliminate any possibility of parole in sentences that could reach more than 50 years.”
Between Justin Trudeau’s fights with Donald Trump, and his maladroit musings on the Kokanee Grope, it’s been easy to lose sight of the struggles of Jagmeet Singh, the Brampton MPP who captured the NDP leadership less than a year ago.
Singh has been trying to win over the NDP caucus and prepare the party for next year’s election, even agreeing to forego a party salary. This is no small hardship, given that Singh has no pension from his time as an Ontario MPP, no other apparent income, and was recently married. His in-laws must be thrilled.
Starbucks has announced it will eliminate plastic drinking straws from all its locations by 2020. The move comes on the heels of Seattle – Starbucks’ birthplace – banning plastic drinking straws and utensils. I remain hopeful that someday Starbucks will eliminate the burnt taste from its coffee as well.
Plastic straw bans have become the fidget spinners of 2018: suddenly everywhere, with everyone wondering where they came from. According to the CBC News website, they came from a 2015 video that showed rescuers removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nose. That led to cities such as Fort Myers, Florida banning plastic straws, while other cities are considering similar bans.
Despite my confident prediction last week, Justin Trudeau’s “Kokanee Grope” refuses to disappear into the British Columbia mist.
To recap: In April, the satirical magazine Frank posted a 2000 editorial from the Creston Valley Advance in B.C. The editorial accused Trudeau of “groping” the paper’s young female reporter, who was covering the Kokanee Summit, a music festival that Trudeau attended as an onstage guest. Trudeau was accepting the festival’s donation to the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign, which was building a backcountry cabin in memory of Trudeau’s late brother Michel and other avalanche victims.
As if Justin Trudeau hadn’t done enough to disrupt my always-shaky peace of mind, he’s added another offense: he’s revived my pity for Patrick Brown.
It was just five months ago that two anonymous accusers ended the political career of then Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown. Each woman alleged that Brown had pressured her into sex several years prior, with one woman claiming she was still a high school student at the time. Brown’s political staff and MPPs abandoned him, and he resigned as leader. A few weeks after CTV aired the explosive story, Brown refuted the allegations with witnesses and other information that suggested the incidents could not have taken place. One of the accusers later admitted that she was not in high school at the time.
When it was revealed a week ago Monday that Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow had suffered a mild heart attack, it was a startling but almost fitting coda to the drama and verbal fisticuffs that surrounded the G7 meeting in Quebec. Luckily, Kudlow was released from hospital two days later and is expected to be back at work soon.
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne, linking to a news item about Kudlow’s heart attack, tweeted: “You come at the prime minister of Canada, you’d best not miss.” Coyne was referring to Kudlow’s appearance on American television the day before, in which Kudlow had attacked Trudeau for having “really kind of stabbed us in the back,” adding that Trump “is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around.”
You can say one thing about this year’s G7 that you couldn’t say about most of the previous ones: it was newsworthy. Sunday gave interested parties and observers the opportunity to react to and analyze the bad feelings and ugly words that erupted after the G7 meeting of world leaders in Charlevoix.
And there was a lot to analyze, because Sunday was like those tell-all shows The Bachelor/Bachelorette does after the finale, so the contestants can say what they really think of each other, in case their passive-aggressive antics during the competition didn’t make that clear.
“May all your disgraces be private” was Mayor Quimby’s birthday wish to his nephew Freddy, in that episode of The Simpsons where Homer Simpson was a juror on Freddy’s assault trial. But like all great Simpsons episodes, that one came before the internet took off. Now, however, everybody’s disgraces are public and – thanks again, internet! – can never be buried.
With polls suggesting the threat of an NDP government after Thursday’s Ontario election, the PC campaign has released the not-so-private disgraces they uncovered about some of Andrea Horwath’s candidates and potential cabinet ministers. Some, such as the workplace discrimination and bullying complaints against Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MPP Paul Miller and Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor, were already known. But the newly-discovered ones reflect the extreme environmentalism and anti-military attitudes that are typical of the hard left.
It sucks to have to root for Justin Trudeau.
But now that his ego has written a $4.5-billion cheque that the rest of us are going to have to cash, what else can we do? On Wednesday, Trudeau’s finance minister Bill Morneau and natural resources minister Jim Carr were trotted out to announce that the federal government is solving the Trans Mountain pipeline impasse by buying the entire project from Kinder Morgan. The government is also providing loan guarantees to ensure pipeline construction gets underway this year.
The first thing I need to say is: it’s about time, you SOBs.
The Nobel committee gave Obama the peace prize before he even did anything. Here I am, Canada’s hottest progressive politician for four decades, and what do I get? Bupkes. I didn’t even get to be Governor-General. Too bad I didn’t say I identified as a black woman. But this is nice. Heck, any time I can get a free meal that hasn’t been thrown at me by CUPE it’s a good night.
Looking forward to taking a legal toke on July 1st? Don’t buy a new bong just yet.
Just over a year ago, the Trudeau government announced that it would make marijuana legal by July 1, 2018. After discarding our beautiful Dominion Day for the dull and generic Canada Day, and reducing the 150th anniversary of Confederation to a sad exercise in shame about native Canadians, the Liberals seem intent on wedding what’s left of our national holiday to glassy eyes, stinky dreadlocks and Doritos.
Oh, but that’s an outdated, unfair portrayal of cannabis users, you say? We’ll see. But just seven weeks out from the Liberals’ target date, completing the necessary legislation, regulations and infrastructure for legal pot is proceeding like a foot race at a nursing home.
I should have bought the book a week ago.
Tuesday afternoon, I picked up Jordan Peterson’s blockbuster book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Despite perusing it until 3 a.m. Wednesday, I had yet to reach the chapter that tells you how to deal with the brutal unfairness of a death too soon, too soon in more ways than one: Ontario MP Gord Brown’s came less than 24 hours after my purchase.
I knew Gord a little in our days in youth and campus conservative politics in the 1980s. Gord was then known as Gordie Brown. As if having the quintessentially Canadian given name ‘Gordon’ wasn’t enough, he carried the diminutive forever associated with Gordie Howe. Erstwhile foreign affairs minister John Baird was then known as Rusty Baird, and I had styled myself rather pompously as Joan J. Tintor, always refusing to disclose what the ‘J’ stood for. Gordie decided that it stood for Juanita, and mischievously addressed me as such from time to time. (Today, both of us would be accused of anti-Latino stereotyping.)
Macaulay Culkin, the most successful child star of the 1990s, was on the Ellen DeGeneres show earlier this week. Culkin mostly stays out of the spotlight, but has been gamely making the talk show rounds this week to promote his podcast/website, “Bunny Ears.” Bunny Ears is Culkin’s most serious hobby – as he calls his pursuits – since he basically retired from acting over 20 years ago.
During her interview with Culkin, DeGeneres flashed some throwback photos and asked Culkin for his reactions: sort of a celebrity Rorschach test. When a photo appeared of Culkin posing with Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser), Will Smith (the Fresh Prince of Bel Air), and Jaleel White (Urkel), Culkin quipped: “That is the most 90s photo I’ve ever seen,” and “I’m probably wearing Reebok pumps.”
Mad Max got his sanity back.
Quebec Conservative MP and recent leadership runner-up Maxime Bernier has halted publication of his book Doing Politics Differently: My Vision for Canada, which was to be released in November. Bernier’s decision came after a preview chapter of the book caused an uproar in the Conservative caucus. The chapter discussed Bernier’s long-time opposition to Canada’s supply management regime for dairy, eggs and poultry. In it, Bernier partly blamed his narrow loss in the leadership race on “fake Conservatives” in rural Quebec, who joined the party “only interested in blocking my candidacy and protecting their privileges.”
While Conservative leader Andrew Scheer declined to comment on the book excerpt, it was discussed vigorously in Conservative caucus on Wednesday, and Bernier put a stop to the book soon after. On Twitter, Bernier wrote “This book and the ideas it contains are very important to me. But now is not the right time to publish it. After consideration, for the sake of maintaining harmony within our party, I have decided to postpone its publication indefinitely.”
“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” A well-known life lesson from Maya Angelou, widely popularized by Oprah Winfrey. You might call it an Oprah-fied version of: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. George W. Bush famously mangled it thus: “Fool me once, shame […]
Remember the early 90s? Among the top TV shows were Roseanne, Murphy Brown, and anti-racism riots in Los Angeles and Toronto.
A quarter-century later, Roseanne is back with boffo ratings. A rebooted Murphy Brown is also on its way, in which Murphy’s adult son will no doubt prove that Dan Quayle was wrong about single motherhood (social science data be damned). Anger about racism is back too, though one hopes without the riots.
In what seems like an attempt to tide us over until The Bachelorette starts, men are fighting over women in the halls of power in Canada. And, as on The Bachelorette, the fights are just about as sincere.
This week’s bout was on Parliament Hill, where Conservative MP Lisa Raitt ran a reality check on finance minister Bill Morneau’s recent budget, which is going to make all women go to work, whether they or their families like it or not (she who does not toil outside the home does not count, I guess). At a finance committee meeting, Raitt pointed out that Morneau had a lousy record of hiring women, both as a private employer and minister of the Crown.
There hasn’t been much hubbub around Canada’s Senate since we were dissecting the living arrangements and expense reports of Conservative Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, and Liberal senator Mac Harb.
At the height of the Duffy scandal, then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made the bold move of kicking all the Liberal senators out of the Liberal caucus, rendering them independent Liberal senators. I guess the Senators Formerly Known as Liberal would have been too cute by half, and Trudeau pretty much has a monopoly on political cuteness for the foreseeable future. Trudeau promised that, if elected, he would end the appointment of partisan senators. Instead, his appointments to the still-unelected Senate would be based on merit, and vetted and recommended by an independent committee. Sort of an Order of Canada without the jewellery.
You have to admit the socks had a good run.
There were the Star Wars socks with OG androids C3PO and R2D2. There was Chewbacca. There were the multi-coloured, striped Ramadan ones. There were yellow ducks at Davos. And by golly, how the media – even in other countries – ate it up like foot fetishists, while grumpy old Conservatives cringed. But it all came crashing down around Justin’s bare feet in India.
“You buy the ticket, you take the ride,” goes the old warning. For erstwhile actor and highly-paid public speaker Justin Trudeau, this could translate as: When you elect a model, you get a fashion show. And in India, what a show it was. A different, elaborate Indian-themed ensemble every day, complemented by lovely wife Sophie and their three cute children, similarly garbed. And, as a final flourish, an impromptu dance onstage at a dinner in New Delhi.
Last week the federal government and Bank of Canada unveiled the latest re-design of the $10 bill, featuring Viola Desmond. Desmond replaces tired old nation-founder John A. Macdonald, whom the government had already started “disappearing,” Where’s Waldo-style, on a new $10 bill issued just last year. On that $10 bill, Macdonald was thrown into a lineup with three other former parliamentarians. Quick – name the other three! Just kidding. Of course you can’t.
Do not let anyone tell you, however, that this is some kind of insult to Sir John A. Reportedly, Macdonald is to be moved to the $50 note, and Wilfrid Laurier from the $5 to the $100. No, this is really a step up for Macdonald, who will be honoured in your wallet for years to come, every time a convenience store refuses your $50 bill.
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