Friday, August 25, 2006

All the Wrong Clips

For days now we’ve been subjected to endless repeats of clips from films such as Risky Business and Top Gun – plus the lame puns (like the title of this post) stemming from said movies’ titles – all in an attempt to illustrate the Paramount/Tom Cruise split, which may not be a real firing but a case of Paramount beating Cruise to the punch. The spin that came out of the Cruise/Wagner camp is that they were poised to being able to finance their own productions, eliminating the need for Paramount’s financing.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see any news, entertainment or talk show use the most apt Cruise clip: the scene in Jerry Maguire immediately after sports agent Maguire has just lost his remaining star client – a high school quarterback expected to go number one in the NFL draft -- to the sports management firm that just fired Maguire. This occurs on the eve of the NFL draft. A clearly panicked Maguire is shown asking aloud “How do I spin this?” His soon-to-be ex-fiancĂ©e, played by Kelly Preston, scoffs: “Oh honey – it’s spun.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ontario Liberals on the side of bloated boards and impecunious trustees

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the news that Ontario education minister Sandra Pupatello has appointed a so-called “fact finder” to examine the operations of the Toronto District School Board. But I do know that she could save herself a lot of time and money by reading the report of auditor Lawrence “Al” Rosen, commissioned by the conservative government of Ernie Eves in 2002 to do the same job. (I also know that she and the McGuintyites have less than zero credibility when it comes to school board accountability, but more on that later.)

The report is not listed on the current education ministry website (no releases prior to the McGuinty regime are), but can be found here. The nearly 300-page report is a merciless detailing of the bloated cost structure of the board, and the defiance of its trustees against the conservative government’s attempt to implement equal funding for all students in Ontario, and amalgamation of the predecessor Metropolitan Toronto board and six lower-tier boards.

Rosen found that, despite having been handed over $900 million in transition costs to ease the amalgamation, little had been accomplished in that direction, and the lion’s share of those monies had spent outside the classroom. It was clear from the report that the board was simply waiting out the conservative regime for a provincial government that would be more indulgent of its high costs and refusal to cut programs not offered to children in other boards.

I remember reading the report in its entirety when it was released, and the resulting headache from repeated dropping of my jaw. I did not have the stomach to read it again, but here are some choice excerpts from the executive summary:

“. . . we have serious concerns that a disproportionate share of available funding dollars have been, and are being, diverted away from the classrooms. . . . Over three-quarters of the nearly $900 million that has been spent to date did not go to direct classroom activities.”

“Some TDSB Trustees do not agree that they have broad responsibilities, such as to Ontario’s taxpayers. Where economies and efficiencies exist within TDSB, they ought to be pursued. Based on the evidence that we saw, the Trustees’ voting patterns do not show a steady progression of trying to obtain efficiencies and to transition to the government’s educational definition and funding program. Meetings of the Trustees too often seem to be dysfunctional and are not focused on improving the education of students.”

“The TDSB has elected to operate a number of supplementary programs, unlike other Ontario School Boards. The Trustees, and at least some of the senior Staff, somehow continue to believe that permanent changes to existing delivery models are not necessary, because additional Provincial funding will be forthcoming.”

“Over the past four transition years, the Staff failed to identify and recommend the requisite dollars of budget efficiencies that would have enabled the TDSB to operate within its available resources. The Trustees, as a group, have demonstrated a clear reluctance to accept necessary structural changes, such as necessary school closures. Many Province-wide standards were partially or fully ignored by TDSB at the very same time that the Board was accepting and spending the transitional funding of over $900 million. In essence, the taxpayer-funded transition dollars were not used for their intended purpose.”

“given the repeated decisions of the Trustees to not provide a balanced budget for 2002-2003, we are not confident that cost savings will be approved. A deficit is contrary to the Education Act. Accordingly, we are recommending to the Minister that control and charge over the administration of the affairs of the TDSB should be vested in the Ministry . . .”

“ . . . the majority of the TDSB Trustees have simply ignored the Government’s concept of having education equality across the Province.”

“Inappropriate financial management therefore is the major reason for the deficit budget for 2002-2003.”

In the wake of Rosen’s report, and given the board’s refusal to prepare a balanced budget, the Eves government appointed former municipal councillor Paul Christie to supervise the affairs of the board. They appointed supervisors for the Hamilton and Ottawa public boards also.

Given that we are seeing the same headlines threatening pool and school closings, it is evident that, despite the efforts of Rosen and Christie, the Toronto trustees succeeded in stonewalling any real changes, while they awaited the arrival of a more compliant provincial government.

And that’s what they had every reason to expect they would get from a McGuinty government. In opposition, the McGuintyites accepted the board’s threats on their face, made common cause with defiant trustees at every turn, and condemned the supervisors as an assault on local democracy.

Throughout the 2003 election campaign the Liberals pledged to remove the supervisors and did so shortly after being elected, as shown by this release. In fact, firing the supervisors was the first act of McGuinty’s first education minister, Gerard Kennedy, and came barely a week after the new government was sworn in:

Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy announced today that supervisors are no longer in control of the Toronto, Hamilton- Wentworth and Ottawa-Carleton district school boards. The process to restore local authority is beginning immediately.

"We clearly stated during the provincial election that our goal is to ensure that important decisions about schools in Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto are made by trustees elected by the voters," said Kennedy. "They are in the best position to make the decisions needed to improve student achievement."
--Liberal government release, October 31, 2003

In addition to their pledge to let trustees run boards in defiance of provincial policies, the Liberals have overturned the Harris government’s $5,000 per year cap on trustee salaries and, even worse, are paying trustee salaries out of provincial government coffers. Not requiring public officials to pay their own salaries out of their own budgets must be some kind of new standard in violating the principles of responsible government and public accountability.

Having so publicly set a tone of “trustees can do no wrong,” the Liberals can hardly now send in a team of bean counters with slide rules and clipboards to breathe down the necks of their erstwhile comrades.

In fact, two former TDSB trustees from that era now sit in the McGuinty caucus: Donna Cansfield (who voted with the trustees who wanted to balance the budget) and Kathleen Wynne (who voted with the trustees in defiance of the government). Gosh, I wonder what they think of all this. I hope the media will call them and ask them.

In any event, it hardly matters what abuses Pupatello’s crew finds. She and her government have no credibility to confront school board mismanagement. To do so would be the political equivalent of stopping and turning an oil tanker. Some oil is going to be spilled and, judging by the history of this issue, Pupatello and McGuinty are the ones who will get dirty.

Some of my views are echoed by Eves-appointed supervisor Paul Christie in the Toronto Sun today:

Union power and extreme left-wing politics will prevent the McGuinty Liberals from solving the Toronto District School Board's emerging budget crisis, says the man who tried to fix the problem for the previous Conservative government.

“There's a delicious irony in all of this," Christie told the Toronto Sun yesterday

Former Tory education minister Elizabeth Witmer appointed Christie as supervisor in 2002 to eliminate a $90-million deficit in the TDSB budget.

Christie said he found roadblocks at every turn as he sought savings and efficiencies. CUPE held incredible power in the decision-making process at the board and fought the budget-balancing exercise, he said.

"To be incredibly insensitive and insulting, there was a time when the TDSB was the largest corporation in the world run by janitors," Christie said. "I suspect that the influence of CUPE is no less now than it was then."

The only other natural place to find savings was through "school consolidations," he said.

But parents objected vehemently to any closure, even though many downtown schools were at 60% capacity.

"They've got an infrastructure that would serve ... 100,000 more kids than they've got," Christie said.

To illustrate the last point: this summer I have regularly walked from downtown Toronto to my home in the west end, taking side streets when I can to avoid pedestrian traffic. I noticed that on almost every side street there is a public school. I consulted a city map book and found that, in the area bounded by Bathurst, Dufferin, Bloor and Queen Streets – a square measuring 2 kilometres on each side – there are 22 public schools. According to the TDSB website, 13 of these are in the public board.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mr. Personality loses another 350 Ontario auto jobs

From Canadian Press:

DETROIT (CP) - Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) announced sharp cuts in its North American production Friday that will force partial plant shutdowns in the United States and Canada in the fourth quarter, resulting in 350 layoffs in Windsor, Ont., alone.

The move comes amid reports that Ford will cut 6,000 more salaried positions in North America, just a few months after the troubled automaker announced a major streamlining at its U.S. and Canadian plants.

The new plan will result in temporary halts in production at assembly plants in St. Thomas, Ont.; Chicago; Wixom, Mich.; Louisville, Ky.; Wayne, Mich.; St. Paul, Minn.; Kansas City, Mo.; Norfolk, Va.; and Dearborn, Mich.; Ford said.

At the Windsor engine plant, Ford will move from a three-shift operating pattern to two shifts, said Ford Canada spokesman John Arnone.

“There will be an impact to approximately 300 workers - they will be laid off in October as a result of this action.” And at the Essex engine plant, also in Windsor, he added, “approximately 50 employees will be impacted.”

The layoff impact at the St. Thomas plant is still to be determined.

This latest loss of manufacturing jobs comes on the heels of Dalton McGuinty being named “Personality of the Year” by a five-year-old semi-monthly periodical entitled Foreign Direct Investment. The reason they picked Dalton? According to the Toronto Star’s story: “for making Ontario a more business-friendly jurisdiction by promoting research and innovation.” And just how did he make Ontario more business-friendly? By naming himself Minister of Research and Innovation. Yep, nothing attracts investment like another line on the Premier's business card.

The Star story quotes the editor of the magazine:

This is not a scientific process where we do some kind of ranking or use an exact (measurement). We’re travelling around all the time and what we’re covering is foreign direct investment so we’re looking at markets all around the world and their suitability for investment and ... what kind of face they’re showing to foreign investors,” she said.

Given the 80,000 manufacturing jobs lost on his watch, it’s lucky for McGuinty that the award is not based on any objective criteria – nor any criteria at all, apparently. The Star story cites the provincial government’s support for the MaRS discovery district in Toronto and McGuinty’s travels on trade missions – all stuff that Mike Harris did.

But, to give McGuinty his due, Mike Harris didn’t implement the biggest personal income tax increase in Ontario’s history, merely the biggest personal income tax cut. Perhaps the handful of CEOs who subscribe to Foreign Direct Investment don’t concern themselves with the take home pay of their local workers. No wonder they found McGuinty so simpatico.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

McGuinty’s backward priorities continue to bear rotten fruit

Facts are inconvenient things, is everyone’s favourite saying these days. And it is a saying that continues to come to mind when one observes the record of the McGuinty Liberals in Ontario, who continue to write cheques that their competence can’t cash.

For example, facts on the ground continue to put the lie to the McGuinty government’s claim that it is tough on crime. Today, the Toronto Sun is reporting that a McGuinty-appointed judge ordered a police officer to check his firearm before testifying in an impaired driving trial:

Ontario Court Justice Melvyn Green told a flabbergasted cop witness in a routine impaired driving case Tuesday to “check (his gun) somewhere.”

Const. Chris Horton walked a gantlet of criminals as he stored his gun in a basement storage locker, the cop union says.

Transcripts from Tuesday’s impaired trial of Stephen Bodington at 1000 Finch Ave. W. court show Green told two cops who were set to testify that they must remove their guns and store them “somewhere.”

Green told prosecutor Nenad Trbojevic to “tell” cop witnesses that he did not want “anybody testifying while wearing sidearms.”

When Green was later advised by Trbojevic that on-duty uniform police officers are policy-bound to carry firearms, Green said while it “makes sense, I just do not see the need for them to wear them while they testify.”

Confusion over Green’s unprecedented order led to Bodington’s trial to be adjourned and put over for another five months, which prompted Bodington’s lawyer to suggest the case could be open to a charter challenge because of unreasonable delay.

The Sun also delves into Green’s career as a defence counsel:

During 25 years of work as a criminal lawyer, Green has handled some top -- and controversial -- criminal cases. Green was one of three lawyers who took the case of cop killer Clinton Gayle to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2001. Gayle is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years in the June 1994 murder of Const. Todd Baylis. The appeal court rejected defence arguments that the jury that convicted Gayle at trial should have been better screened to prevent any racial prejudice.

Green managed to overturn a 20-year prison term for Cuong Phu Ta, who as a teen was convicted of attempted murder after he walked into Brockton High School with a sawed-off assault rifle in 1994 and shot a vice-principal and another person. After Green’s appeal, Ta was found not criminally responsible, removed from prison and put into a mental hospital.

Green also took an active role in the Canadian Arab Federation’s challenge to Canadian citizen Maher Arar’s torture in his native Syria following his detention in New York while on a stopover during a Geneva-to-Toronto flight.

But Green’s most notable legal roles were as senior counsel at Justice Horrace Krever’s commission into Canada’s HIV tainted blood system, his co-presidency of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) and as counsel for Ontario’s Criminal Lawyer’s Association.

Now, I am not going to hold the man’s record as a defence attorney against him (though it no doubt helped shoot him to the top of Attorney General Michael Bryant’s judicial appointments list). But Green’s insistence that officers check their firearms is groundless, arbitrary, and just plain boneheaded on its face.

Firstly, Green has just handed defence counsel a new tool with which to attempt to delay trials. And it is clear from the crown prosecutor having to educate him that he had not put a lot of thought into the request (now that's the kind of guy we want on the bench).

More importantly, requiring police to store and retrieve their weapons before entering a court room would increase the already substantial time and costs associated with police testifying in court: time and money that would be taken away from such mundane stuff as catching criminals.

This latest embarrassment for the McGuintyites comes barely a week after the Toronto Star ran an above-the-fold story noting that, of the 32 people charged in a Toronto murder this year, 21 were under a court order, some multiple orders:

“In every case I’ve had this year, we’ve had to tell a victim’s family that the accused was out on bail,” said Toronto homicide Det. Stacy Gallant, who has worked on five cases this year.

“We’ve had to say we believe if this (the accused) person had been kept in jail, their son or daughter would still be alive.”

“We’re seeing a number of murder cases where accused people are out on previous bails,” said Staff Insp. Brian Raybould, the head of the homicide squad.

“I’m not talking about theft under. They are on bail for very serious offences, firearms possession, sexual assault, violent crimes. Why are they on bail?”

In May, Attorney General Bryant released a long list of initiatives in an attempt to convince the public that the Liberals are getting tough on gun crime, including “Bail Blitz Teams” designed to “expedite the bail court process at certain sites for criminal cases, including those involving guns.” Given the Star story, it looks like criminals are being put through the bail process -- and put back on the street -- pretty quickly. Good work, Bryant!

The foregoing can be contrasted with the McGuinty government’s bizarre decision to redesign the Ontario government’s four-decades-old trillium logo to more closely resemble the Ontario Liberal party’s logo, including awarding their favourite ad agency $219,000 to do the deed. Talk about assbackwards priorities. When even the mentally challenged can manage to put their underwear on before their pants, what's McGuinty's excuse?

And all this is feeding into a Toronto by-election campaign that began yesterday, to fill the seat that Gerard Kennedy was finally shamed into giving up several months after he began running full time for the federal leadership.

Ironically, crime was an issue in the York South by-election that first sent Gerhard to the Legislature in 1996. No surprise, given the riding includes depressed neighbourhoods such as Jane-Woolner and some pretty rough establishments on Weston Road. But, shortly after Kennedy won the seat, there were two murders in the riding and Kennedy never said much about crime again. Then in the 1999 general election he switched to the more placid constituency of Parkdale-High Park (though it does include some rough areas), York South having been eliminated through redistribution and reduction.

Friday, August 11, 2006

McGuinty chooses chaos over (court) order – again

What with jihadists hiding explosives in PowerAde and Dippity Do containers, and the imminent possibility of World War III – or the Second Coming, take your pick – it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Dalton McGuinty has turned out to be an even more pathetic premier than could have been anticipated by the most die-hard Harrisite.

But, as was said in Death of a Salesman, “attention must be paid,” even to the Willie Lomans of the world.

The tally of election promises broken by the Guinster (or “S***head” as my old boss used to describe him) and his Fiberal brothers and sisters is somewhere north of 50. Having failed to fill the purported $23-billion “gap” between what Ontario taxpayers pay to the federal government and what the federal government hands McGuinty to blow, he is now trying to tee up the federal Conservatives to take the fall for his own failure to deliver on his health care promises, despite having been in office nearly three years and implementing the largest personal income tax increase in Ontario history (another broken promise, by the way) – an increase that he said was to pay for his health care promises.

But nowhere is Premier Pinocchio’s craven nature more evident than in his government’s hot-potato-style handling of the native occupation in Caledonia. After the OPP failed in their initial attempt to clear the occupation in the spring, protests and blockades have lingered, with violence and tension ebbing and flowing, and the non-native community’s frustration growing, as they wonder what they did to deserve being abandoned to a Hobbesian nightmare (other than live in a Tory riding).

Frustrated that his original Order, that natives leave the site, had still not been enforced, a month or so ago the presiding judge called all parties on the carpet to explain themselves. Then a few days ago Judge David Marshall ordered the government to stop negotiating until his original Order had been satisfied.

Of course, the government could have thought to stop negotiations themselves until the natives obeyed the Order. And they had an excellent basis on which to do so: the government has now purchased the disputed land from a private developer. The smart negotiating move would have been to ask the natives to show similar good faith by ending their occupation.

But that would have made too much sense. And instead of welcoming the judge’s latest order as a welcome spine donation, which provides them with the legal cover to demand that natives obey the law, the Fiberals are appealing the judge’s Order so that they will be free to continue negotiating with scofflaws.

In an open letter yesterday to McGuinty, PC Leader John Tory astutely points out that the only time anything constructive occurred on this file was a brief moment when the Fiberal government had the cojones to demand something in exchange for something:

I would remind you that the last time we saw any real progress in this dispute was when your government briefly stepped away from the negotiating table and said it wouldn’t return unless a particular set of conditions were met. You said at that time “we are no longer prepared to continue negotiations until two important conditions are met: First of all, the barricades must come down, and they must stay down; and secondly, we are asking the leadership to co-operate in any way with the Ontario Provincial Police so that they might apprehend the individuals involved.”

(The remainder of Tory’s letter is below. It will likely be posted at the Ontario PC Party website shortly.)

Clearly, McGuilty’s crew is paralyzed by the fear that death or serious injury will occur if the original Order is enforced and any attempt is made to remove the natives before they’re good and ready. More importantly, the natives know this, and are acting accordingly.

There is often an attendant risk when police enforce any warrant or order. But that is a risk that police officers knowingly and willingly assume. And society demands that this risk be assumed, because order depends partly on the expectation that open defiance of the law will be stopped, then punished. When that expectation breaks down, you get Caledonia. And possibly you get more of them.

As a non-lawyer, it seems to me on the face of it that the government may well have a good argument, that a judge has no business telling them whether or not they can negotiate with a native group. But as a Conservative, it will be amusing to watch the Charter party argue against what might be loosely termed “judicial activism.”

August 10, 2006

Hon. Dalton McGuinty
Main Legislative Building
Room 281, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Re: Restoring the Rule of Law in Caledonia

Dear Premier McGuinty:

I write you today to urge you to use the time provided by the decision to appeal Justice Marshall’s recent court ruling to achieve a restoration of the rule of law in Caledonia and to better protect the safety of people on all sides of the dispute. I think all of us would agree that the incidents which have been taking place up to and including recent nights are not acceptable in our province. I have repeatedly stressed, as you have, the need for calm, but calm can only prevail when civility and the rule of law prevail.

This situation has gone on for months and in my view, it is reaching another crisis point. I believe it is a fundamental role of your office to uphold and promote respect for the rule of law across Ontario and that is why I am asking you today to adopt a more pro-active approach which can both help restore the rule of law and continue us along the path to a long-term resolution. The rule of law is still being ignored in Caledonia and I urge you today to use the period of suspended negotiations to address these issues of lawlessness so that negotiations can ultimately resume within a more orderly environment.

I would remind you that the last time we saw any real progress in this dispute was when your government briefly stepped away from the negotiating table and said it wouldn’t return unless a particular set of conditions were met. You said at that time “we are no longer prepared to continue negotiations until two important conditions are met: First of all, the barricades must come down, and they must stay down; and secondly, we are asking the leadership to co-operate in any way with the Ontario Provincial Police so that they might apprehend the individuals involved.”

While I would argue that those very reasonable requirements were not met completely when negotiations were permitted to resume, it was at that time, when you did in fact set out some conditions precedent to negotiations, that the last tangible, visible progress was in fact achieved.

I would repeat my proposal that you immediately get personally involved and call all sides in this dispute into your office. I urge you to tell them as Premier that in order for Ontario to return to the negotiating table and achieve the peaceful resolution we all want to see, you require the following conditions be met by the collective leadership of the Caledonia area:

1. An end to “unscheduled gatherings” on all sides (many of which are taking place in close proximity to the disputed lands) which are increasing tensions and make violence more likely;

2. All participants agree to noise and activity limitations at night for a period of time to allow residents to try to resume living normally;

3. Removal of all barricades, signage of all kinds, etc. on and surrounding the site (this will also help address the fast approaching issue of kids returning to school);

4. The protestors leave the occupied land not later than the time at which negotiations are to resume, with assurances in hand from you, in writing if necessary, that the land in dispute will be held by the Government of Ontario in trust, that there will be no action taken in respect of that land pending the conclusion of the land claims negotiations and that the land will be dealt with in accordance with the ultimate determination of the land claims process, which can hopefully be expedited. Since the governments are parties to the land claims negotiations, it may well be that you would put the land apparently owned by the Ontario Government into the hands of an independent trustee acceptable to all participants in those negotiations.

Together with you, I remain committed to a peaceful resolution of this matter but I also have a very genuine concern about respect for the rule of law and the creation of precedents we will later regret. I am happy to discuss this further with you should you wish to do so and to assist in any reasonable way in the achievement of a peaceful resolution and the restoration of civility and respect for the rule of law in every corner of the Caledonia area.


John Tory
Leader, Progressive Conservative Party

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The World’s Whiniest Band

Despite strong sales of their album “Taking the Long Way,” the Dixie Chicks’ summer tour is turning into a real-life version of the mockumentary “Spinal Tap,” in which the self-proclaimed“World’s Loudest Band” limps from one cancelled gig to the next.

The Chicks have cancelled 14 dates mid-tour, including scheduled stops in Kansas City, Houston, St. Louis, Memphis and Knoxville, due to poor ticket sales. But no matter what happens, somehow I don’t think their last gig will be at an Air Force base.

Their management says that they have replaced the cancelled gigs with additional Canadian dates. No doubt the Chicks’ appearance on CBC Sunday Night was in hopes of boosting ticket sales. (And way to tell our Canadian stories, CBC!)

They are also scheduled to appear at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, in support of the documentary “Dixie Chicks: Shut up and Sing.” I wonder if it will include footage of their management’s conference calls about the cancelled gigs? Maybe they’ll save that for the sequel, “Dixie Chicks: Failure to Hatch.” I hope they recreate the pod number from “Spinal Tap,” with all three of them trying to fight their way out of giant eggs. Now that’s a bootleg DVD I’d pay under the table for!

I wasn’t particularly outraged when lead singer Natalie Maines declared onstage a few years ago (at a European tour stop) that she was “ashamed” that President Bush was a fellow Texan. Ho hum, just another American entertainer attempting to ingratiate herself with the sophisticated continentals: yeah, I live in a 5,000 square foot house and drive an SUV, but I hate Bush so I’m really one of you.

But Maines’ initial apology didn’t cut it for a lot of country fans. The band was dropped from many country radio playlists and became a juicy target for conservatives.

Deciding to turn a negative into a positive, the Chicks promptly did a 180-degree turn and tried to portray themselves as victims and martyrs, appearing nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine with epithets such as “free speech” and “censorship” painted on their bodies(I bet those colours did run). Oh, the humanity. Tell it to the chicks in Iran, sisters.

To accompany the release of their current album, the Chicks concocted an elaborate set of talking points, which included (1) we were never really a country act and (2) we don’t want fans who don’t like our politics (viz. George Costanza: “I am breaking up with you!”)

The album’s first single, “Not Ready to Make Nice” is a tour de force of self-pitying lyrics combined with self-righteousness vocals, including timeless poetry such as “I’ve paid a price, and I’ll keep paying” and “I’m still mad as hell.”

Yes, Natalie Maines is willing to pay the price, but for concert goers the price was just too high. The Chicks may have attracted some new album-buyers among the ranks of Bush haters, but the poor ticket sales suggest that it won’t be enough to make up for the loss of country fans who shell out for concert tickets.

As record company flack Bobbi Flekman (played by Fran Drescher) asserts in “Spinal Tap,” “Money talks, and bull**** walks.”

Friday, August 04, 2006

Holy Shiite.

“I [am] right there alongside [producer] Robert [Lantos]. . . . after a lifetime of being a Liberal, I have made the switch,” Ms. [Heather] Reisman wrote. “Feels strange, but totally and unequivocally right.”

A recipient of the e-mail confirmed that Ms. Reisman, who was the Liberal Party of Canada’s policy chairwoman in the 1980s and who worked for Pierre Trudeau in his first election in 1965, had sent the e-mail to several friends, and that she has told others the same thing.
--“Liberal power couple back Harper on Mideast,” Globe and Mail, today

Schwartz and Reisman’s support for Israel is well known, but I am stunned that they would leave the Liberal party over this issue alone.

And does this mean we can’t call Reisman’s bookstore chain “Indhimmigo” anymore?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cosmic convergences

There is no shortage of conspiracy theories in the world today, and this one certainly pales in comparison to the ominous “end times” talk going ‘round, but how can it be a coincidence that, on the very day that Mel Gibson (allegedly) delivered himself of a crazed, alcohol-fuelled rant, Toronto Councillor Rob "Matt Foley" Ford was the cover subject of the Toronto Star’s Eye Weekly magazine?

From the Eye profile, for the benefit of those who had forgotten (or missed it the first time):

May 2006: A complaint is filed with the city's integrity commissioner that Rob Ford, drunk at a Toronto Maple Leafs game, was abusive to neighbouring spectators, shouting "You right-wing communist bastards," "Green Party fucking rules," before being ejected from the game. Ford initially tells reporters, "I wasn't even at the game, so someone's trying to do a real hatchet job on me." The next day, he admits he's lied (while denying some specifics): "I'm going through a few personal problems, but it doesn't justify, you know, getting drunk in public and acting like an idiot, if you ask me."

Pass out the tin foil hats.