I never lose sight of the fact that whatever his tactics or short-term strategy, Kinsella’s agenda is to advance the cause of the Liberal party, federally and provincially, and promoting him does Conservatives no long-term good. I also remain mindful that he earns his living lobbying the federal and provincial governments on behalf of various clients (though he does not have any active federal lobbying registrations).
What distinguishes Kinsella from most Liberal spinner-slash-lobbyists is his impressive hypocrisy. Some years ago Kinsella earned some journalistic credibility for himself by writing a book about the threat of hate groups in Canada, such as the Heritage Front. How odd, then, that someone ostensibly devoted to tolerance would ridicule a party leader’s religion during an election campaign. I’m not a member of the Stockwell Day fan club, and I don’t share his religious beliefs, but Kinsella’s mocking of Day’s faith during the 2000 election was one of the vilest moments in recent Canadian politics, on par with the PCs’ 1993 election ad showing Chrétien’s contorted face.
Another of Kinsella’s literary endeavours was a book about his political exploits, called Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics. Yet over the last two years the author of that tome has regularly whined that he is thisclose to quitting the Liberal party, because those mean Martin girls keep kicking his ass and the asses of his friends, such as Sheila Copps and Herb Dhaliwal. There’s a word for a guy who brags about kicking asses but can’t take an ass-kicking himself. That word is pussy.
More recently, and less than a year after working on the 2003 campaign of Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory, Warren led a squad of provincial Liberals who attempted to brand the new Ontario PC leader as “Richie Rich” because Tory was guilty of (1) being born into a successful family and (2) being a successful CEO of Rogers Communications. This was a transparently Roveian attempt to undercut an opponent’s strengths. To be sure, John Tory’s success and pedigree do put Dalton “Pinocchio” McGuinty – an erstwhile strip-mall lawyer from suburban Ottawa – into a bad light, or at least a worse light. (Warren the Proletarian, by the way, lives in a house in Toronto’s bucolic Beaches, assessed at $778,000.)
As if this weren’t enough, Kinsella has managed to limbo below the minimal ethics usually observed by freelance political fixers, by dishing about one candidate to another. Last year he admitted to having appeared before the McGuinty cabinet to give them the inside dope on John Tory, gleaned from Kinsella’s experience on Tory’s mayoral campaign. Classy. Not to mention a cautionary tale to anyone considering inviting Kinsella into their campaign.
So with all this as a preamble, it is absolutely necessary to talk about Warren Kinsella today, because I am going out on a blogospheric limb with my belief that Kinsella is the so-called “insider” behind The National’s “Campaign Confidential.”
My hunch began around the third instalment, which used the word “guy” in referring to party leaders, a term Kinsella typically uses. The general tone and language in subsequent instalments reinforced my hunch. There were even a few sly Chrétien references: “Nervous Nellies” on December 15, and “mean ads” on January 2, referring to the PCs’ infamous 1993 Chrétien TV commercial.
Now we have this January 9 item on Kinsella’s own website, about his scheduled election night appearances:
“ . . . on election night 2006, I won't be guesting on Global again. Apparently I'm on CTV earlier, and CFRB later. And then something else late that night.”
Never one to miss an opportunity to promote an upcoming appearance, it is odd that Kinsella would omit the specifics of this one. Being the author of “Campaign Confidential,” and the CBC’s promise to reveal CC’s identity on election night, might explain why.
So that’s my admittedly circumstantial, hunch-based case. But no matter who the author is, “Campaign Confidential” has been reliably lame, an uninspired stream of bromides and clichés about campaigns and players past and present, that could have been written by any columnist, let alone a supposed insider.
There has been nothing particularly insightful or revelatory about “Campaign Confidential.” If Kinsella is holding the pen/mouse, how could there be? He is about as close to the inside of the Liberal campaign as a flagpole on Hans Island. CC has contributed little to the campaign discourse, unless you count the confirmation of the old dictum that “those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.”
If Kinsella is the name behind “Confidential,” the Martin people will be furious, and rightly so. Kinsella has a decade or more of cumulative animus against these guys, mostly because they have been organizing Martin’s second leadership campaign since 1990, and they succeeded in forcing Kinsella’s hero, a prime minister who had won three majorities, to announce his retirement two years before he really wanted to.
This animus is well-known, verging on notorious. In his commentary during the election, Kinsella has all but shouted that he wants Martin to go down in flames. If the producers of The National allowed him to write “Campaign Confidential,” it does not reflect well on their fairness or judgment.