Monday, December 31, 2007

Telegraph names General Petraeus its first Person of the Year

Nuts to you, Time!

From today’s Telegraph:

Today, we put him in the spotlight again by naming Gen Petraeus as The Sunday Telegraph's Person of the Year, a new annual accolade to recognise outstanding individual achievement.

He has been the man behind the US troop surge over the past 10 months, the last-ditch effort to end Iraq's escalating civil war by putting an extra 28,000 American troops on the ground.

So far, it has achieved what many feared was impossible. Sectarian killings are down. Al-Qaeda is on the run. And the two million Iraqis who fled the country are slowly returning. Progress in Iraq is relative - 538 civilians died last month. But compared with the 3,000 peak of December last year, it offers at least a glimmer of hope.

To appreciate the scale of the task Gen Petraeus took on, it is necessary to go back to February 22, 2006. Or, as Iraqis now refer to it, their own September 11. That was when Sunni-led terrorists from al-Qaeda blew up the Shia shrine in the city of Samarra, an act of provocation that finally achieved their goal of igniting sectarian civil war.

A year on, an estimated 34,000 people had been killed on either side - some of them members of the warring Sunni and Shia militias, but most innocents tortured and killed at random. US casualties continued to rise, too, but increasingly American troops became the bystanders in a religious conflict that many believed they could no longer tame.

Things are far from perfect but, after four years in which events did nothing but get worse, the sight of a souk re-opening, or a Shia family being welcomed back home by their Sunni neighbours, has remarkable morale-boosting power.

Where once Iraqis saw the glass as virtually empty, now they can see a day when it might at least be half full.

Hat tip: NRO's Web Briefing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The most hated person in Dallas since J.R. Ewing

If that's not what they're calling Jessica Simpson in Dallas tonight -- they should.

The tuna enthusiast and champion hair flipper was in attendance today at Texas Stadium in Dallas to watch her latest boyfriend/prey, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo played his worst game of the year, which was only Dallas’ second loss of the season (to the Philadelphia Eagles, 10-6):

Romo was 13-of-36 for 214 yards. All three pickoffs came on balls forced to Owens. He also was sacked four times, all on the final two drives, when his banged-up hand bothered him so much he dropped a ball while cocking to throw.

His quarterback rating of 22.2 was easily the worst of his career. His previous worst was at home against Philadelphia last December, another game attended by a starlet love interest. It was Carrie Underwood then, Jessica Simpson now. When cameras spotted Simpson in the first half, she tugged the front of her pink No. 9 jersey, then mouthed the word “Romo!”

Well, at least she didn't have to spell it.

Now, in fairness, Jessica Simpson does have loads of beauty and talent. Compared to her sister.

But she is a painfully transparent starf***er, having unsuccessfully pursued Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, before latching onto sensitive singer-songwriter John Mayer. (But he eventually wised up.) Both "relationships" were punctuated by media leaks that obviously came from Simpson's camp.

Now, I don’t really care if Jessica Simpson ruins John Mayer’s career. But my Cowboys? Time to hit the road, Jess.

Update: Chelsea Handler agrees with me:

"Jessica Simpson attended boyfriend Tony Romo's football game. The Cowboys quarterback had the worst game of his career. It's a bad year for the name Simpson. Even O.J. is pissed, he feels like they're making his name look bad."

By the way, I recommend Handler's nighly show on the E! Network, seen in southern Ontario on CH at 12:00 midnight. Her topical panel at the top of the show is very funny, and she has continued to have new shows throughout the writers' strike. (I also recommend E!'s "Talk Soup," which is like three Kimmel monologues in a row.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Well, Chrétien did publish two ghostwritten memoirs . . .

Allegations that someone at the CBC is the Wayland Flowers to the Liberals’ Madame (ask your grandparents) bring to mind this clip from last week:

Steve Paikin: They wanna call you. Are you prepared for that?

“Fifth Estate” producer Harvey Cashore: Well, I’ve gotta, you know, think about what that means. My job as a journalist is not to go speaking to, you know, to be a function or an arm of a committee like that. My stories speak for themselves. So I would say what I’m excited about is they have the power to subpoena people who I couldn’t talk to. Let’s hear what they have to say.
--“The Agenda,” TVO, December 6

Video here. The above excerpt is about three-quarters through.

Now, of course I’m not saying that Cashore himself had anything to do with ghosting or suggesting Liberal questions to Brian Mulroney (and if they were the questions about the wireless spectrum decision, I very much doubt he did). But it will be interesting to see if there’s any response from the CBC.

Update: The Conservative Party has complained to the CBC, and the CBC is investigating. (h/t: Stephen Taylor)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Liberals tried to delay Mulroney’s appearance until after David Johnston’s report

Afraid Mulroney’s testimony will weaken case for public inquiry.

CBC's Cashore suggests he would not testify voluntarily.

This little nugget, reported on TV yesterday by CTV’s Bob Fife and Globe and Mail reporter Brian Laghi, appears to have flown under the radar:

“Actually Lloyd, the Liberals tried to block Mr. Mulroney’s appearance until late January, after the independent investigator sets the terms of reference for a public inquiry. They were afraid that if he shows up Thursday and he shows he didn’t do anything illegal, that the public inquiry wouldn’t be held. The NDP wouldn’t go along with this.”
--Bob Fife, CTV News, December 6

Presumably, this discussion took place at the in-camera meeting of the committee’s steering committee, after Karlheinz Schreiber gave his testimony Thursday.

Video of Fife’s report is here (titled “CTV News: Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reports 3:21”). The above comment starts around the 2:40 mark.

The Globe’s Laghi also mentioned the Liberals’ attempt to delay Mulroney’s testimony, on “Mike Duffy Live,” but video is not available.

Interesting. The party that insisted on having the ethics committee conduct hearings and got Schreiber out of jail with a rarely-used Speaker’s warrant – all while knowing that a public inquiry is coming – tried to delay the appearance of one of the key witnesses after only three days of hearings.

Another interesting shoe yet to drop in this story is whether the journalists of interest, such as Stevie Cameron and “Fifth Estate” journalists Linden MacIntyre and Harvey Cashore, will testify before the committee or a public inquiry.

Cashore appeared on TVO’s “The Agenda” last night, and suggested he would not testify voluntarily, but demurred when host Steve Paikin asked him what he would do if served with a Speaker’s warrant:

Paikin: You know who else they [the committee] wanna call (points to Cashore).

Cashore: Uhm, me. Yeah. (laughs)

Paikin: They wanna call you. Are you prepared for that?

Cashore: Well, I’ve gotta, you know, think about what that means. My job as a journalist is not to go speaking to, you know, to be a function or an arm of a committee like that. My stories speak for themselves. So I would say what I’m excited about is they have the power to subpoena people who I couldn’t talk to. Let’s hear what they have to say.

Paikin: I’m sure you’re thrilled about that. But what happens when the Speaker issues his warrant to get you and put your butt in that chair? You gonna go?

Cashore: Well, we’ll have to see what happens. We’ll have to see.

Paikin: We’ll have to see what happens? What kind of answer is that?

Cashore: (laughs) I’m being a politician!

A link to video of the December 6th show is here. The above exchange is about three-quarters through (there is no time counter on the video).

My guess is that no reporter will appear voluntarily before the committee or inquiry, and would fight a Speaker’s warrant in court.

But it would be interesting to see whether the committee would even take steps to obtain Speaker’s warrants for journalists. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lend me your vote – and some binoculars

Rae veteran Irene Mathyssen didn’t see what she thought she did on Moore’s computer

As an unjustly-persecuted American politician once asked, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”

Perhaps that would be making too much of the swiftly-evaporated voyeurism charge, levelled by rookie Ontario New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen against BC Conservative MP James Moore (for which she has now apologized). But there are few allegations that can be made against a male politician that are more damaging than that he might enjoy pictures of attractive, nearly nude women.

What’s interesting here is that Mathyssen went beyond saying it was inappropriate to view such material on the floor of the House of Commons. She argued that such material is inappropriate anywhere:

“It reflects an attitude of objectifying women and we know that when women and other human beings are objectified and dehumanized, they become the object of violence and abuse.”

As it turned out, however, Mathyssen was more Mr. Magoo than Sherlock Holmes: Moore soon realized that the photo Mathyssen had spotted from several desks away was of Moore’s dog and former girlfriend, who was committing the secular sin of wearing a bikini more than 100 metres away from a gay pride parade (the girlfriend, not the dog).

So, if you’ll forgive me, I couldn’t help but think that Moore could have easily deflected the allegations by saying that he was looking for information about the gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgendered communities. Or that he was looking at photos from the 2007 London Pride festival. Mathyssen marched in the parade, and placed an ad in its directory (page 52).

Irene Mathyssen was a cabinet minister in the late-and-unlamented, one-term government of one Robert K. Rae, now carefully drafting the Liberal policy platform for the next general election, which must be just good enough to allow Stéphane Dion to finish second in a minority Parliament. Tonight, he must be grateful that at least he doesn’t have to deal with the likes of Irene Mathyssen anymore. She was Rae’s minister without portfolio for culture, tourism and recreation from October 1994 to June 1995.

Mathyssen’s sputtering outrage over girlie pictures is typical of the attitude that prevailed in the Rae government and still prevails among Old Democrats and Liberals. The Rae government published the notorious Words that Count Women In, a painfully silly “guide to eliminating gender bias in writing and speech” (no, really). Also on its watch, Ontarians witnessed the absurdity of a sex scandal in which a minister had to resign, even though there had been no actual sex performed.

Today, the Liberals were quick to demonstrate that they could still give as good as the Dippers, with MP Karen Redman recklessly piling onto Moore, based solely on Mathyssen’s assertions.

You’d think the Dion Liberals would be more careful these days, having lately been embarrassed that their game of Six Degrees of Schreiber is not turning out how they had hoped. Oh, I forgot: the capacity for embarrassment is unnecessary ballast, to be shed early on the way to becoming a successful Liberal politician.

And now even Mark “Nancy Drew” Holland is pleading that an inquiry, not the ethics committee, is the place to question Schreiber. Um, yeah, that’s what the government said. But in fairness to his suggestion, the benefit now would be that the committee would be free to turn its attention to simpler but more pertinent matters, such as requiring all male Conservative MPs to submit to lie detector tests to determine whether they watched all or part of the "Victoria’s Secret" fashion show on TV last night.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vote for Schreibergelder!

(But only if you really want to)

My recommendation – “Schreibergelder” – is in the running at Andrew Coyne’s “Name That Scandal” vote. The final four:


Frankly, I’m surprised I made it this far, as I got little support at the original post. But hey, I’ll take it!

Vote here.

“Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”

More bad spelling* from the Liberals

A federal Liberal Party mailing from leader Stephane Dion into a Vancouver riding about the controversial InSite safe drug injection site is under attack as "fear mongering" by the Conservatives, while the New Democratic Party calls it a "waste."

And the mailing, which misspells the word "minister" in referring to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a "rush job" and "confusing," say the two parties.
--24 hours Vancouver, today

* see also the post below

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bad timing for glad tidings

McGuinty Fiberals holding fundraising "celebration" on anniversary of Montreal Massacre

Well, I guess this is par for the course for a Premier whose advisers make misogynistic comments about female MPPs. Below is the graphic and text from an e-mail I received from the Ontario Liberal Party.

Also, their graphics people can't seem to spell "holiday."

Join us for the
Ontario Liberal Party
Holiday Celebration!

Celebrate the holiday season with fellow Liberals, including caucus members, Party President Gord Phaneuf and the Premier, at the 2007 Ontario Liberal Party Holiday Celebration.

This year's celebration takes place Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Intercontinental Hotel 225 Front Street West, in Toronto.

Tickets are $75 each or $750 for a table of ten.

To find out more, please call 416-961-3800 or 1-800-268-7250 or

You can click here for a form and fax it to 416-323-9425. Tickets are limited, so hurry.

Have a happy holiday season and a tremendous 2008!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kindly resume sorting your recyclables

Halifax rejects Celine Dion, and vice versa

I’m a Celine Dion fan. I admit it. I went to Las Vegas solely for the purpose of seeing her show (and didn’t gamble a dime). I bought a program, a mug, and a keychain.

Of course, I am well aware that some people don’t like Dion’s music and/or her. They find her saccharine, bombastic, irritating, etc. They find her husband creepy. Whatever. It doesn’t bother me that other people don’t like her.

Frankly, it irritates me that Bill Clinton seems to come to Toronto every six months or so to speak at some event (for a fee in the neighbourhood of $100,000, I hear). Clinton is a narcissist who embodies everything that is wrong with his generation, plus he bombed my relatives in Serbia. So I really don’t have time for the guy.

But if a ballroom full of fools wants to pay $500 or $1,000 to have Bill Clinton look down their wives’ dresses, I really don’t care. So why should a few reporters in Halifax care whether people want to see a Celine Dion concert?

Celine Dion has never encountered such a negative reaction to a proposed concert as she did from Halifax, her husband-manager has told a Montreal journalist.

In response to a question from La Presse reporter Alain De Repentigny about the cancelled show on the Halifax Common, Rene Angelil said in French: If we’re not welcome in Halifax, we won’t go.

“Si nous ne sommes pas les bienvenus à Halifax, on n’ira pas,” Angelil said in the article posted Sunday on the Cyberpresse website.

This contradicts promoter Gillett Entertainment Group, which said the concert was cancelled Friday because the venue was not suited to the show’s elaborate production needs.

Gillett couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday, but the promoter confirmed to a Halifax newspaper last week that Dion will play a free show on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City for its 400th anniversary celebration Aug. 22, the day before she was scheduled to play on the Common.

Angelil saw negative stories about Dion’s Halifax concert from two different journalists, he said.

“I asked him, ‘Well, maybe two journalists expressed their opinions; it doesn’t mean that the people wouldn’t go and see her sing,’” Repentigny said.

“He said, ‘If it sparks controversy there, if it’s a problem, we won’t go.’”
--Halifax Daily News, today

“Chuck Norris doesn’t endorse. He tells America how it’s gonna be.”

Mike Huckabee has launched his first campaign ad, which premiered on yesterday’s “Fox News Sunday.” It is inspired by the Chuck Norris facts” that have been around for a few years now, and features the man himself.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

British Legion bars wounded soldiers from Remembrance Day parade

Government policy does not permit serving soldiers to march

From The Guardian:

Serving soldiers horrifically injured in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts have been refused permission to join today’s main Remembrance Day parade, prompting angry accusations that the government is ‘ashamed’ to have them seen in public.

Jamie Cooper, 19, the youngest Briton seriously injured in Basra, had hoped to join the march past at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. He is one of a number of young soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan the Royal British Legion had wanted to include in Britain’s centrepiece remembrance ceremony.

But last week, the head of the Legion contacted Jamie’s father, Phillip, to say that government rules for participating in the parade stipulated that only veterans, not ‘serving soldiers’, could take part. Last year 1,500 civilians were among the 9,500 allowed by the government to participate in the official march past. ‘I am absolutely outraged,’ Cooper said. ‘I would not have made an issue of it. But Jamie, who is thankfully recovering well from his latest major operation, said to me: “Dad, do you remember how we always used to go to Remembrance Day when I was younger? Do you think we could go this year?” He feels strongly about it, because he has lost friends on the battlefield and wants to pay tribute to them.’

It is also understood that several soldiers currently recuperating from serious injuries at Headley Court, the military rehabilitation centre near Epsom in Surrey, had wanted to attend, but were also not able to join the official parade.

Cooper said that when he raised the possibility with the Legion, the veterans’ organisation was very supportive and initially suggested that he join the main ceremony at the Cenotaph.

But Peter Cleminson, chairman of the Legion, later phoned ‘apologetically’. Cooper added: ‘He said that he wished he could have arranged for Jamie to take part, as well as some of the others who are recuperating at Headley Court. But he said that the government is in charge of the parade guidelines, and the policy is that no serving soldiers can participate.

The Royal British Legion is running an Honour the Covenant campaign to improve support for British soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It said that Jamie Cooper had been offered, as an alternative, a vantage point to watch the march past on a specially raised viewing platform.

‘Participation in the march past is subject to ticketing in order to maintain the dignity of the event and keep numbers within the bounds of safety,’ a spokesman said.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two treats for Carroll

Between salary and pension, Barrie cabmin to collect over $200K per annum -- more than the premier

Premier Pinocchio has appointed newly-elected Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll as minister of culture and seniors’ minister. A former MP and Paul Martin minister, Carroll was defeated in the 2006 federal election. Accordingly, she is entitled to the following payments:

MPP plus cabinet salary: $161,000
MP pension: $49,573

Total: $210,573

This is more than the premier's salary of $196,620.

This issue did come up in the local campaign, at one of the all-candidates’ meetings. I could not find a local news article, but here is an account from an October 2nd letter to the Barrie Examiner:

At last week’s candidate debate at Barrie City Hall, Ms. Carroll, with a face as red as her party’s colours, defended her federal pension by saying she gets a “small” amount.
--Marv Breault, Barrie

Another letter was published on October 9th:

Aileen is collecting a pension from the federal government, reportedly in the range of $49,000.

She apparently considers that that is only a “small” pension, although I would doubt many of the pensioners in this riding would agree.
--Ian J. Rowe, Barrie

A photo caption in the October 9th edition read “Some Barrie residents question why Carroll, a former Liberal MP in the area, is running for a seat in Queen’s Park when she already has a “small” pension from her years of service in the federal ranks.”

But the editors of the Examiner did not agree with their correspondents (who may, in fairness, have been PC partisans). In an October 5th editorial, they implied that Carroll’s pension was not a major issue:

The same goes for the city hall meeting, where Liberal candidate Aileen Carroll had to answer questions about her federal pension - which she is entitled to because she served as this area’s MP.

It resulted in shouting and accusations involving most of the candidates at the debate. What it didn’t result in was non-partisan, undecided voters finding out anything they needed to know about the candidates that might help them decide how to cast their ballot on Oct. 10.
--“Focus on the real issues,” editorial, Barrie Examiner, October 5, 2007

No doubt comparisons will be made to the Harris-era MPPs currently sitting in the Harper cabinet. All three of them were first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1995. The following year, Mike Harris kept his promise to abolish MPPs’ indexed pensions for those first elected in 1995 and replace them with RRSP contributions equivalent to 5% of MPPs’ salaries, locked in until age 55. Further to the pay increase introduced by the McGuinty regime last year, this has now been doubled to 10%.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On account of a boil, 85 million were lost

“The bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day,” Marx wrote to Engels

In case there were any who still doubt that the compassion purported to be at the base of communism is a flaming lie, here’s a dermatologist to present Karl Marx’s flaming boils:

Karl Marx, who complained of excruciating boils, actually suffered from a chronic skin disease with known psychological effects that may well have influenced his writings, a British expert said on Tuesday.

Sam Shuster, professor of dermatology at the University of East Anglia, believes the revolutionary thinker had hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) in which the apocrine sweat glands – found mainly in the armpits and groin – become blocked and inflamed.

“In addition to reducing his ability to work, which contributed to his depressing poverty, hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem,” said Dr. Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

“This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing.”

Dr. Shuster based his diagnosis on an analysis of Marx’s extensive correspondence, in which he wrote to friends about his health and described his skin lesions as “curs” and “swine.”

“The bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day,” Marx told Friedrich Engels in a letter from 1867.

Now, normally I would not endorse a dermatologist extrapolating the diagnosis of a skin condition to a psychological condition, but that last quote would seem to confirm that Marx was gonna make somebody pay for his pain. According to the Black Book of Communism, between 85 and 100 million paid with their lives.

Luca Manfredi has also blogged on this.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jimmy Kimmel banned from “Monday Night Football”

Jokes about Theismann’s departure and sports betting not appreciated by ESPN suits, but Theismann seems unfazed

This is a story from last week, but I didn’t twig to it until Terry Bradshaw showed up on Kimmel last Friday (I should really start reading the sports section and not just, you know, watch the actual games).

Unfortunately I didn’t see the original incident because when “Monday Night Football” moved from ABC to ESPN (TSN in Canada), I got out of the habit of watching it, and now I’m down to basic cable so I don’t even get it. The story broke in the New York Times, of all places (free registration required):

Jimmy Kimmel’s appearance on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was his last.

Kimmel, the host of ABC’s late-night talk show, was put on early in the third quarter with the Giants leading the Atlanta Falcons, 21-10, ostensibly to enliven a rout.

He joked about where Joe Theismann was (fired and replaced by Ron Jaworski); cracked that it was Tony Kornheiser who got Theismann axed; asked Kornheiser and Jaworski if they bet on games (they played along); and said, “I’d also like to welcome Joe Theismann, watching from his living room with steam coming from his ears.”

The last remark was ignored by Kornheiser, Jaworski and Mike Tirico.

Jay Rothman, ESPN’s “Monday Night” producer, called Kimmel’s comments “classless and disappointing. It was cheap. The more he went on, the worse he got.”

Kimmel will not be invited back, Rothman said.

Coincidentally, yesterday’s Times carried a profile piece about Kimmel’s show. There was also a good piece about the “Monday Night Football” incident on, featuring comments from Kimmel:

For a man banned from the most famous sports television property in history, Jimmy Kimmel seemed to be holding up fine Wednesday afternoon. “Technically, couldn’t you say Joe Theismann has also been banned from Monday Night Football?” Kimmel told in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “If he showed up, they probably would not let him in. I was hoping to get banned from a casino first, but I suppose it’s satisfying in a way to be banned from any television show. I don’t know what I did exactly but apparently it was horrific.”

“As far as sports journalism on television goes, there are so many parties attached to so many other parties that everything you say has major ramifications. When I was at Fox it was the same way. You can’t make fun of Jerry Jones because he’s the head of the committee that decides which network gets the NFL. There are sacred cows and that’s just not honest broadcasting. There really isn’t a place for honesty. That’s why everyone goes so crazy when somebody like Mike Vick does something that is universally reviled. That’s when everyone gets up on their high horse and lambastes him because they know that they can. Everybody is so careful the rest of the time. God forbid, you say something that is not part of the script. It might be the most politically correct of all arenas.”

Opinion on Kimmel’s appearance seemed to split along old and new media lines. Mainstream outlets from Newsday (“a tad obnoxious and overbearing, tossing out cringe-inducing cracks about Joe Theismann and Mormons, among other targets”) and the Orlando Sentinel (“cheap shots were not funny but were cowardly”) took the comic to task. The sports blogsphere seemed unfazed. If anything, Kimmel is guilty of doing what he has always done: cracking jokes and causing trouble.

Speaking of causing trouble, when Terry Bradshaw came out on Kimmel’s couch Friday (that doesn’t sound right, but never mind), he immediately began needling Kimmel about the ban, then presented him with a framed photo of Joe Theismann, inscribed by Theismann with: “Thanks for having my back – love your show.”

This morning, Kimmel made the first stop in his week-long suicide mission of co-hosting “Regis & Kelly” in New York, then flying to Los Angeles the same day to tape his late night show.

I guess that Kimmel is not to everyone’s taste, but I am a huge fan, especially of his monologue and comedy bits.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maybe this is why "Monday Night Football" avoided Buffalo for 13 years . . .

From a fascinating piece at, about drunkenness and other bad behaviour at NFL games, and how teams are addressing it:

Walking through the parking lot before the game, I witnessed a scene all too common at NFL tailgates: home fans taunting the visitors with four-letter expletives. What made the scene here particularly appalling was the target--a family of Cowboys fans with two small children. And the taunt, repeated throughout the stadium by Bills fans, questioned Dallas quarterback Tony Romo’s sexual orientation (think of what rhymes with “Romo”). I wonder how the parents explained that one.

So what was the tally at the end of the first “Monday Night Football” game in Buffalo in 13 years? There were 58 arrests, 111 ejections and 46 turnarounds at the gate. The charges included three for assault, six for obstructing governmental administration, 17 for resisting arrest, two for criminal mischief, 31 for disorderly conduct, two for exposure, 14 for harassment, 19 for criminal trespass, one for criminal possession of marijuana, and one for unlawful possession of alcohol (underage drinking).

I saw no evidence of this on the game's broadcast, which I watched in its entirety. But reading about this behaviour makes me feel a little less guilty about the Bills' last-minute loss to my favourite team. I attended a Bills game last fall, at which I did not witness any rowdy or illegal behaviour. But then I wasn’t wearing any gear of the opposing team.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Dang, Dang and Double Dang

Western Standard to cease publishing print magazine

From publisher Ezra Levant at the Shotgun (h/t: SDA):

To my deep regret, the Western Standard has decided to stop publishing our print edition.

It's a purely financial decision. Even though our advertising revenues were stronger than ever, with marquee brands like GM, Mazda, BMW and Air Canada filling our pages, and even though we had the most loyal subscribers in the business, with an unheard-of 80% renewal rate, we just weren't close enough to profit.

Over the course of those 82 issues we printed 150 million pages of great conservative news and views, plus 40 million page views on our website, plus hundreds of hours on our various radio shows. We were also truly national -- with 20% of our readers in Ontario, and 19% in B.C. Those are impressive numbers, but it was the independent, tell-it-like-it-is quality that I'll remember.

Thank you to our entire extended family -- staff, subscribers and investors for an amazing project, the effects of which will continue to echo for years to come.

Another classic SNL digital short

Samberg has Ahmadinijad’s number. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This was the highlight of Saturday Night Live’s season premiere.

Friday Night Lights

Powerful NBC series debuts its second season tonight

Tonight at 9:00 p.m., season two of this beautifully written and acted series, about high school football in Texas, premieres on NBC and Global. Its themes and values run counter to what usually prevails on commercial television, and they are woven into the scripts in ways that are subtle yet genuine.

If you missed the first season, the DVD was released in August and should be available in rental and retail outlets, and online.

Update: Rebecca Cusey has a piece about the show on National Review Online today. An excerpt:

And this respectful treatment of Christianity is intentionally done. Executive Producer and Director Jeffrey Reiner, a self proclaimed New Yorker, announced that the producers went to Texas and met many people as research for the show, saying:

One of the characters is going to find God. And I think a lot of shows would use that to kind of poke fun at it, but I find that I meet the preachers, and I meet people somebody might call kind of weird or zealous. But they're not, you know, and we just end up meeting them as people.

Maybe it’s a revelation into the mind of many people in Hollywood that Mr. Reiner was surprised to find Texas Evangelicals normal, but hats off to him. He was willing to go, to explore, and to create an excellent show that addresses and respects Christianity. Moreover, he created a show that realistically depicts the struggle and the beauty of family life, as well as the toil of high school years lived without parental love and support. In doing so he glorifies what others shows scoff at, and in doing so he offers something remarkably fresh and original. Hollywood would be a better and more interesting place if others followed his example.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Clarence Thomas’ autobiography sounds like a corker

The Washington Post got its hands on US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, which goes on sale Monday. (No doubt Indigo will display it as prominently as the Clintons’ doorstops.)

Thomas is appearing on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, and on Rush Limbaugh’s syndicated radio show Monday (noon to 3:00 p.m. Eastern). You can hear a live stream courtesy of Detroit radio station WJR. From the Post’s preview:

After the death of his grandfather and grandmother in 1983 and with his first marriage on the rocks, Thomas says he had a fleeting thought of suicide. “I’d actually reached the point where I wondered whether there was any reason for me to go on,” he writes. “The mad thought of taking my own life fleetingly crossed my mind. Of course, I didn’t consider it seriously, if only because I knew I couldn’t abandon [my son] Jamal as I had been abandoned by C,” which is how he refers to his father, M.C. Thomas.

Racial imagery abounds in “My Grandfather’s Son,” a continuation of his description of the Senate hearings as a “high-tech lynching.”

“As a child in the Deep South, I’d grown up fearing the lynch mobs of the Ku Klux Klan; as an adult, I was starting to wonder if I’d been afraid of the wrong white people all along,” he writes. “My worst fears had come to pass not in Georgia, but in Washington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony.”

Thomas writes that he did not watch Hill’s televised testimony against him at his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and so he does not respond in detail to her charges except to call them lies. He describes Hill as “touchy and apt to overreact” and says: “If I or anyone else had done the slightest thing to offend her, she would have complained loudly and instantly, not waited for a decade to make her displeasure known.”

He writes that Hill did a “mediocre” job at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he was chairman, and misrepresented herself at the time of the hearings as a “devoutly religious Reagan-administration employee.” “In fact, she was a left-winger who’d never expressed any religious sentiments” and had a job in the administration “because I’d given it to her.”

*“Whoop-dee-damn-doo” was Thomas’ private reaction to the 52-48 Senate vote to confirm his appointment, after bruising confirmation hearings that he famously described as a “high-tech lynching.”

The outlier poll?

Is McGuinty going to lose only 2% of the votes he got last time? I doubt it

A few people seem to think that the provincial vote on October 10th is a forgone conclusion, based on a poll with a 3.5% margin of error that shows the McGuinty Fiberals have increased their support by . . . 3%, to 43%.

I find it hard to believe that the Fiberals are going to lose just 2% of the vote that they had in 2003, when they got 45%. This poll may well be the one in 20 poll results that is, er, wrong.

Ask yourselves this: what has Dalton McGuinty done in the last week that would result in a spike in support? Er, coldly brushing off a terminal cancer patient? Yeah, that was a real leadership moment.

When I saw that, I couldn’t help but think of how John Tory used to get the odd call at home from customers when he was Rogers Cable president, or how he spends an hour a day personally responding to e-mail.

McGuinty’s haughty “That’s not true” -- aimed at a cancer patient without McGuinty even breaking stride -- was staggering in its dismissiveness. Even poor Terri McGuinty was looking at her shoes. I bet Premier Pinocchio had to read her an extra poem in bed that night. (Full disclosure: I am helping out the PC campaign and several candidates.)

Finally, for those still in thrall to this poll, you might want to note that it also found that 74% of Conservative supporters say they are “absolutely certain” to vote on election day, compared to 68% of intended Liberal voters. Telegraphing to PC voters that they needn’t bother voting is a pretty good way to ensure that they won’t.

Footnote: This poll – and all election polling, for that matter – also provides an interesting lesson in one of the phenomena not addressed by MMP: people who don’t bother to vote because cocky pollsters and media outlets have told them how it’s all going to turn out before the fact.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Watson refuses to apologize for false smear on PC candidate Mike Patton

Claimed Patton wasn’t communications director in Nepean, Patton proves he was

Ottawa-area Liberal MPP and Minister of Finger Wagging Jim Watson is in trouble in his riding, so it’s not surprising that he came out last week with an attack on his PC challenger, Mike Patton. Watson claimed that Patton had misrepresented a position he had held with the City of Nepean on his campaign literature. The mayor of Nepean at the time, now a Watson supporter, told the Ottawa Citizen:

“It’s a false statement,” Ms. [Mary] Pitt said yesterday of Mr. Patton’s claim. “He was never, ever hired as director of corporate communications.” She said that Mr. Patton was retained on contract as a special consultant to fight amalgamation.

“He was terminated by council after a very short time. It did not last very long, it wasn’t working out,” she said.

Last week, Ms. Pitt, who has publicly endorsed Mr. Watson’s campaign, confirmed with the former chief administrative officer Robert Letourneau and the then-director of human resources, Grant Armstrong, that her recollections were correct, she said.

Mr. Watson said yesterday that Mr. Patton should correct the biography.

“It is obviously a serious offence to embellish one’s résumé. In this case, Mr. Patton and the PC party should correct the situation right away,”
the Liberal candidate said. Mr. Watson said that campaigning for office was like applying for a job, which requires a résumé to be 100-per-cent accurate.

“Otherwise, it’s not fair to the employer,” he said.

Patton has now produced unbiased evidence that he held the position. As the Citizen reports today:

One of Mr. Patton’s volunteers found a Nepean Clarion article on microfiche that highlights the hiring and appointment to the position, replacing the outdoing director, Andrea McCormick, Mr. Patton said in a statement.

Nepean’s then-mayor Mary Pitt has supported Mr. Watson’s claim, saying Mr. Patton was hired on contract as a special consultant to fight amalgamation and was shortly thereafter “terminated” by council.

“I remember, as if it was yesterday, Mary Pitt ... offering me the position of director of corporate communications, and accepting the job on a contract basis,” Mr. Patton said.

“If her memories of the event are less clear than mine, perhaps it’s because it wasn’t as important to her as it was me.”

Ms. Pitt has publicly endorsed Mr. Watson.

Mr. Patton claims his rival has fought an ugly campaign, adding his supporters have felt harassed and intimidated by Mr. Watson when he appeared at their doors.

“I was extremely hurt by these allegations because my word and my integrity mean everything to me,” he said.

Despite this evidence, Watson refuses to apologize for his smear against Patton.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

McGuinty hits iceberg named Kwinter

Liberal cabmin says he would be a “hypocrite” to say that he is against faith funding after he supported it

Today, Globe and Mail Queen’s Park columnist Murray Campbell discusses the McGuinty campaign’s blasé attitude in the face of stagnant polls:

Dalton McGuinty’s suggestion yesterday that he’s comfortable with voters handing him a minority government is interesting enough. But the Liberal Leader’s admission that he has no intention of changing his campaign style in the face of such a verdict is astonishing.

It’s another indication that the Liberals are, in effect, navigating without instruments in the Ontario election campaign by ignoring the unpopularity of their leader.

This is an uncomfortable truth for the Liberal Leader’s loyal coterie, but the fact is that he is disliked by lots of people who voted for him last time. Perhaps it’s his health tax, perhaps it’s the way he comes across on television, but it’s undeniable.

Mike Harris was widely disliked, too, but he had a reputation for doing what he said he would do and he won a second mandate. Mr. McGuinty’s record means that many voters simply don’t believe him when he makes pledges for the next four years. And yet the Liberals have put him front and centre in this campaign. He alone is featured in party ads and his cabinet team, which is as strong as they come, is rarely called upon for support.

Campbell finishes off by saying, “Unless he finds a second gear for his campaign, Mr. McGuinty could be encountering that iceberg on his own.”

That iceberg may have come in the guise of long-time Toronto Liberal MPP and community safety minister Monte Kwinter, who has reiterated his support for funding faith-based schools. Kwinter was quoted yesterday in the North York Mirror:

…Kwinter was the only member of the Liberal caucus to vote with the last conservative government for a tax credit for faith-based schools. “Constituents in my riding supported it, and I’m their representative so I supported it,” he said. “Certainly I would be a hypocrite to say that suddenly I don’t think that it’s something that should be done.” Kwinter noted he has six grandchildren in faith-based schools.

Kwinter’s words are exceedingly careful, but they are analogous to PC MPP Bill Murdoch’s statement earlier this week that, based on his constituents views, he could not vote for faith funding at this time. Over to you, Premier Pinocchio.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Antiques, real and virtual

This is funny on so many levels:

“Appearing at the St. Lawrence Antique Market, [George] Smitherman said . . . .”
--Liberal campaign health care release, today

Whether it’s antique Liberal ideology on health care, or an older gay gentleman at an antique show, never let it be said that Fiberal foghorn George Smitherman is afraid of looking like a stereotype.

And by the by, Smitherman is the health minister who gave the green light to two privately financed and built hospital projects in Ottawa and Brampton.

And John Tory's war room has quickly put out a release, quoting an Ontario government health official:


(Toronto, ON) – Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman aren’t being honest when they say that allowing private facilities to provide publicly funded, single-tier health care is a bad thing for patients.

Fortunately, there’s John Leatherby of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, who offers an honest assessment of the situation in this article from the Halifax Daily News:

“Other provinces - Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, for example - have been paying private centres to do day surgeries and diagnostic tests for years.

“Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spokesman John Leatherby says using private clinics for simple procedures lets hospitals spend their operating-room time on more complex surgeries. That way, a hospital OR is used only for the surgeries that need the full emergency capabilities the hospital can provide.

“Does that mean it's any cheaper? Or faster?

“Leatherby says it's hard to tell. The newly opened Kensington Eye Institute, which does only cataract surgeries, has a faster turnaround time than hospitals, but isn't cheaper. Ontario pays private MRI operators less than it pays for the same service in hospitals, but Leatherby can't say how much. Diagnostic radiology, however, costs seven per cent more in a private facility than in a hospital.

“Ontario has never studied the cost of doing surgeries outside a hospital instead of in it. Leatherby says that's not the point.

“‘It allows simple surgical services to be moved outside hospital to community-based facilities, providing easier access for the patient, closer to home,’ Leatherby says.” (July 23, 2006)

Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman will say anything to win this election – even if it means denying their own record.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What did I tell you? McGuinty loses debate, ads go more negative

As I predicted below, Dalton McGuinty’s poor debate performance would lead to Liberal ads turning more negative.

I’ve just seen a new ad on Global TV, from McGuinty proxy group “Working Families.” It is a harsh attack ad, comparing John Tory to Mike Harris. It’s not even up on their website yet.

This is at odds with Greg Sorbara’s claim yesterday that McGuinty is on track for another majority. As they say on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” Really?!! And, as Liberal warhorse Gerry Phillips likes to say, "listen to what they say, but watch what they do."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Liberals didn’t lower expectations enough

Look for McGuinty’s ads to turn more negative – soon

Wow. I just watched the Ontario leaders’ debate, and Dalton McGuinty came off even worse than the carefully-lowered expectations set by his spinners. He was defensive, shrill, and looked like he was about to cry most of the time. He frequently “turtled” – looked down at his own chest to avoid the gaze of his opponents and the cameras. Even in the post-debate newser, McGuinty was nervous. It was not his night.

John Wright of Ipsos-Reid was on CP24 for the post-mortem, and all but said John Tory won the debate, though he may have gone over the top near the end. If Tory came off that way, it was primarily because McGuinty looked so weak and kept backing away from debating him. Wright also commended Tory for using his post-debate newser to keep driving his campaign messages.

Of course, much will depend on how the media spins the night, but I don’t see how McGuinty can salvage much from this. If they drop below the 40% poll figure they’ve managed to sustain thus far, they will start running ads that are more overtly negative than McGuinty’s current passive-aggressive sermons. When that happens, they will cede the moral high ground they’ve claimed for themselves. Then the real descent will begin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Miller Days: city workers get paid, but don’t have to deal with annoying citizens

About a month ago someone suggested to Toronto mayor David Miller that he could help Toronto’s budget problems by instituting the equivalent of Rae Days – forced, unpaid vacation days for city staff, to reduce payroll costs. Miller scoffed at the idea.

But with his brilliant scheme to shut down community centres one day a week, Miller has managed to implement something worse. Community centre staff still get paid for working Mondays, and have to show up, but they lock the doors behind them. These staff are all members of the Miller-boosting Canadian Union of Public Employees. The “savings” in shutting the centres down comes from laying off part-time staff who provide programs on Mondays.

Update @ 10:45 a.m. Thursday: Miller is having a newser where he has just announced that the centres will be open Mondays for activities that are run by outside groups.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Glass Houses

McGuinty’s mouthpiece has stones, and should be careful where he throws them

Former journalist and failed by-election candidate Ben Chin called in to CITY-TV’s lunchtime news show today to attack Toronto councillor David Shiner. Shiner appeared on the call-in segment to discuss David Miller’s failed attempt to hike taxes and subsequent slashing of services (a politically dumb gambit aimed at punishing the councillors who opposed his tax hikes, but puts zero pressure on the province – but never mind).

Chin’s beef seemed to be that Shiner is a candidate for Ontario PC leader John Tory (in the Willowdale riding) in the October 10th provincial election while continuing to do his job as a city councillor. Shiner wore a tiny “PC” lapel pin during his appearance, but did not – that I saw – mention his candidacy.

A brief scan of the Liberals’ MPP and candidate list, however, reveals a tidy handful of Liberals who held municipal or school board positions while running on Premier Pinocchio’s slate in 2003:

Kathleen Wynne
Donna Cansfield
Wayne Arthurs
Brad Duguid
Lorenzo Berardinetti
Bill Mauro
Mario Racco

Oh, and what about McGuinty’s current “star” candidate in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Rick Johnson? Johnson is the current vice chair of the Trillium Lakelands District school board, and president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association. How’s he managing to cover those duties while on the campaign trail?

A final note on the low-profile Mario Racco, who ran several times for federal and provincial nominations while a Vaughan city councillor. His behaviour in 1994 was particularly egregious: Racco ran for re-election to Vaughan council in the 1994 municipal election, while simultaneously running for the provincial Liberal nomination in York Centre. He was re-elected to council in November, then continued to run for the nomination that was scheduled for December. He lost the nomination to Mario Ferri, who lost in the general election to Al Palladini (who I worked for when he was Mike Harris’ transportation minister).

Update: According to today's release from the Fiberal campaign, Rick Johnson has resigned as head of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, a post to which he was acclaimed just three months ago (er, thanks for all your hard work!). Oddly, the OPSBA's website does not mention his resignation.

“Here Charlie Brown, I’ll hold the football, and you come running and kick it!”

McGuinty hoping voters will be fooled again by another no-tax hike pledge

Four years to the day after he signed a pledge not to raise taxes, Premier Dalton McGuinty is promising the same thing again.

“We won’t have to increase taxes on a go-forward basis,” he said while campaigning for the Oct. 10 election today at an Ottawa elementary school.
--Toronto Star online, today

Monday, September 10, 2007

Check me out -- please -- at TVO’s Ontario election blog

I have been asked by the Ontario PCs to represent the John Tory campaign on the “Election Battle Blog” hosted by TV Ontario’s “The Agenda.”

I understand the first postings will appear sometime today, with bloggers from the PC, Liberal, NDP and Green parties answering the question: “What do you think will be the most important issue of the 2007 Ontario election campaign?” Members of the public will be able to comment on the posts (free registration required).

Friday, September 07, 2007

Union ad suggests McGuinty responsible for 1993 hospital expansion

What did Fiberals have to do with Sick Kids’ atrium? Er, nothing.

Well, if this doesn’t prove that the so-called Working Families Coalition are puppets of the McGuinty Fiberals, I don’t know what does.

The coalition’s health commercial includes a photo of the Hospital for Sick Children’s Atrium, the hospital's last major expansion. While it is on screen, the meat puppet reads the line: “local hospitals are expanding” or words to that effect (for some reason, the ad scripts are no longer up at the coalition’s website).

Unfortunately for Premier Pinocchio and his union Geppettos, the Atrium was opened 14 years ago, in 1993, when McGuinty was a rookie opposition MPP.

So-called Liberal platform: $14.7 billion. McGuinty’s signature? Worthless.

How odd that the McGuinty Fiberals have chosen to use Premier Pinocchio’s signature throughout their so-called platform, released yesterday. McGuinty’s scribble is featured on the document’s cover, and twice again inside.

Next Tuesday, September 11th, Ontarians will be reminded of another occasion on which McGuinty put pen to paper and made a written promise, precisely four years prior. That time, it was a promise to abide by the Taxpayer Protection Act, and hold a referendum on any tax increases. As we all know, his excuse for breaking his promise was that the budget was not balanced, but for the next five months, right up to three weeks prior to his first budget, McGuinty continued to promise that he would not raise taxes.

It is interesting to read the various endorsements throughout the so-called platform, the first of which is from Michael Fullan, McGuinty’s education adviser (page 6). Ontario public accounts for 2005-06 show a payment to Michael Fullan Enterprises Inc. via the Ministry of Education, in the sum of $58,915 (page 86).

Another endorsement is from the late author June Callwood, who is not billed as “late” in her quote. Dead men tell no tales, as they say. But they can endorse Fiberal election flyers, apparently.

As some media and PC leader John Tory have already noted, the release of McGuinty’s so-called platform was also the occasion of yet another broken promise, this time McGuinty’s promise to review his health tax.

He now says he will review it but not repeal it (er, what’s the point of the review, then?), saying he needs “every single penny.”

As they say on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”: Really?!

Really?! He needs every single penny, but he gave $219,000 to his pal’s advertising agency to change Ontario’s logo?

Really?! He needs every single penny, but he spent $6,000,000 to remove the “C” from OLGC?

Really?! He needs every single penny, but he gave $32 million to Liberal-friendly groups, without proper documentation, giving at least one of the groups six times more than they asked for?

Really?! He needs every single penny, but at the end of the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years, he shovelled $1.6 billion and $1.1 billion respectively out the door at the last minute?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fiberals fib again

McGuinty barred PC staff from his news conferences when he was opposition leader

Here’s the whopper du jour from Premier Pinocchio’s war room:

He [Liberal campaign spokesman Ben Chin] said the political parties have had an agreement for at least a decade to allow volunteers from the opposing parties to trail their rival leaders, documenting their speeches and public appearances.
--Ottawa Citizen, today

Actually, when McGuinty was opposition leader, he barred PC staffers from news conferences and other events he held in Liberal premises at Queen’s Park, such as his office. I believe the policy started after the 1999 election, went on for several years and was known to the Queen’s Park press gallery. I know because I worked for the PC caucus at the time. I believe it was resolved when the Premier’s Office was forced to bar the Liberals in retaliation. Of course, the Liberals pretended that we were the ones who initiated the whole drama.

I’m guessing McGuinty’s greyer henchpeople didn’t inform the guileless Ben Chin about this little bit of history. You have to feel for a man who’s being sent out to lie to the media.

Adding to the fun of this campaign are Dalton McGuinty’s many “vintage” whoppers – or should that be “Whoppers Classic” – i.e., the promises he made last time and hasn’t kept. The Ontario PCs are issuing regular releases highlighting various broken promises from McGuinty’s last election outing. Here’s today’s:

September 5, 2003: Dalton McGuinty makes another promise to the people of Ontario

“Ontario Liberals will introduce a hard cap of 20 students per class, in every classroom in the province during the critical first five years of a child's education.”

As of today, 35% of classrooms covered by Dalton McGuinty's promise have more than twenty-students in them.

You can receive news releases directly to your e-mail by signing up for Canada Newswire’s “Portfolio e-mail” at and subscribing to “John Tory 2007 Campaign” (you can also sign up for the other campaigns’ releases).

Friday, August 31, 2007

Smug alert!

Leadership neutral McGuinty won't escape the smell of his own broken promises during “carbon neutral” campaign

This is one of those items that one feels obliged to double-check to confirm it is real, and not an item from The Onion or a purloined "South Park" script.

Earlier this week, the McGuinty Fiberals issued a news release claiming that they will be running a “carbon neutral” election campaign, “conserving energy and buying carbon offsets” to help combat global warming.

No doubt they will try to get away with counting all associated costs as party administration or travel expenses, which are exempt from campaign spending limits.

This is the funniest claim from the release:

Campaign staff will also conserve energy by turning off computers, televisions, office equipment and lights when not in use.

Wow. They’re going to turn printers and photocopiers on and off between jobs? I’m guessing . . . not.

Sadly, the release is silent on how many carbon offsets would be required to offset the environmental impact of McGuinty’s broken promise to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2007, his broken promise to phase it out by 2009, and relying on U.S. coal-fired plants that will be spewing emissions and carbon dioxide into our airshed until at least 2014 (McGuinty's next target date, honest!) and thereafter. I say "at least," because generating coal-fired power is one thing, importing it is quite another.

You have to admit, however, that, the zero-impact theme is fitting for Premier Pinocchio, who has so far also run a leadership neutral administration. If you’ve had no impact on Ontario for four years, I guess the least you can do is have no impact on the environment on your way out the door.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Choice for the McGuinty Song

Henry Rollins’ “Liar” describes Fiberal-in-Chief to a “T”

I was a bit late to the party on this, but the Ontario PCs have been holding a contest on their website,, to pick the song that best describes Dalton McGuinty, aka Premier Pinocchio. You have until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow to cast your vote(s) and tell your friends. (Full disclosure: I help out the Ontario PCs from time to time.)

There are some excellent choices, such as Eurythmics’ “Would I lie to You?” and Naked Eyes’ “Promises Promises.” But the one that most accurately portrays McGuinty is Henry Rollins’ classic “Liar.” Here’s the video, and some of the lyrics:

because everything I say is everything you’ve ever wanted to hear
so you drop all your defenses and you drop all your fears
and you trust me completely

I’ll hide behind a smile
and understanding eyes
and I’ll tell you things that you already know
so you can say
I really identify with you, so much
and all the time that you’re needing me
is just the time that I’m bleeding you
don’t you get it yet?

if you’ll give me one more chance
I swear that I will never lie to you again
because now I see the destructive power of a lie
they’re stronger than truth
I can’t believe I ever hurt you
I swear
I will never to you lie again, please
just give me one more chance
I will never lie to you again
I swear
that I will never tell a lie
I will never tell a lie
no, no
ha ha ha ha ha hah haa haa haa haaa
oh, sucker
I am a liar
yeah, I am a liar
yeah I like it
I feel good
ohh I am a liar
I lie
I lie
I lie
oh, I lie
oh I lie
I lie
ohhh I’m a liar
I lie
I like it
I feel good
I’ll lie again
and again
I’ll lie again and again
and I’ll keep lying
I promise

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Miller saving money by closing library that's already closed

Since starting this blog, my letters to the editor have been few and far between, but I couldn't resist firing off this one that appeared in the Toronto Sun today:

Anybody home?

The city recently released a detailed list of service cuts, including the libraries that will close on Sundays. One of those listed is the Bloor/Gladstone library, which actually has been closed, since December, for a major renovation and addition. When I last passed by there, the foundation was being worked on.

I don't care what Sue-Ann Levy says about David Miller's Harvard degree. We are darn lucky to have a mayor who can figure out how to save money by closing libraries that are already closed.

Joan Tintor

(Harvard rules)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pierre Trudeau’s former sister-in-law outraged at Conservatives’ sale of federal buildings

James Sinclair was Margaret Trudeau’s father. That makes Janet Sinclair Pierre Trudeau’s one-time sister-in-law: facts that the Vancouver Province didn’t see fit to mention in their story. But I will, for the benefit of you young ‘uns.

A daughter of James Sinclair, the former federal cabinet minister for whom Vancouver’s Sinclair Centre is named, is appalled that Ottawa has sold the building and nine others to a West Vancouver company.

“We are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to not sell the Sinclair Centre or the other buildings and keep these public assets that benefit all taxpayers,” said Janet Sinclair.

“My late father would be shocked . . . not because it’s named after him but because he was dedicated to public service and that’s what this building does as well -- serve the public as a valuable asset for all time.”

The government has sold the Sinclair Centre, another building at 401 Burrard St. and seven others across Canada to Larco Investments Ltd. of West Vancouver for $1.64 billion. It plans to lease them back for 25 years for $1.3 billion. The deal closes in October.

Sinclair’s statement was released by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents federal workers.
--Vancouver Province, today

Friday, August 17, 2007

Richard Bradshaw, R.I.P.

This Friday Night Lights-free cruel summer just became a lot crueller. Canadian Opera Company general director Richard Bradshaw has died unexpectedly at the age of 63, on the cusp on the COC’s second season it its new facility, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

I am hardly opera expert, but I have been a COC subscriber (and modest donor) off and on since 1992. Under Bradshaw’s leadership, the company made a quantum leap artistically, while living through disappointment and then eventual triumph in building Canada’s first ballet-opera house.

In the 1980s there were grandiose plans for a $350-million dollar ballet opera house at the southeast corner of Bay and Wellesley Streets, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. Unfortunately, funding for the project was an early casualty of the Bob Rae government.

According to an article in Toronto Life last year, Bradshaw called the Safdie palace a “Taj Mahal” one minute and a “white elephant” the next. Bradshaw said the veto forced them to rethink their priorities and concentrate on what they really needed, as opposed to every last bell and whistle.

Thanks to the decision of the National Ballet of Canada to be merely a tenant and not an equal partner in the project, the COC was left alone to raise the funds required for the new building. Bradshaw set about the monumental task, which included securing commitments from the federal and provincial governments.

Though Mike Harris is known more for his appreciation of professional wrestling and action movies (not that there’s anything wrong with that), he saw the benefit of the facility to Toronto, and the government eventually agreed to donate the site at Queen and University (where a former courthouse stood).

Artistically, Bradshaw helped launch the COC into the first tier of opera companies with productions such as Bluebeard’s Castle/Ewartung. He started working towards last year’s monumental staging of the Ring Cycle by including the individual Ring operas into the COC’s season, several years ahead of the target date for performing the entire cycle in the new building.

People who are better versed in opera than I am will comment more authoritatively on his artistic record, but I will note that Bradshaw was a champion of the work of British composer Benjamin Britten.

While Britten’s operas offer little in the way of soaring arias or memorable overtures, their stories are usually powerful. Billy Budd – based on Moby Dick author Herman Melville’s novella – is the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage, even though the set consisted solely of a flat, unadorned “deck” (the opera is set on a British navy ship) on a hydraulic lift. It also featured Russell Braun, now an international star in his own right. (The 1962 film, starring Peter Ustinov, a very young Terence Stamp, and Canadian actor John Neville, is also good.)

The free concerts Bradshaw staged at Harbourfront were intended to appeal to new subscribers and the young, but unfortunately the seats were often staked out hours in advance by longtime subscribers and other freeloaders – hardly Bradshaw’s intended audience (I never attended any).

Given Bradshaw’s accomplishments as both an artist and arts manager, I was fearful that a richer, bigger company in the US or Europe would steal him away. But I never heard a word of this in the media, though there must have been times when it would have been to Bradshaw’s benefit to leak to that effect.

In 1994, the COC distributed a CD of arias from its upcoming 1994-95 season, including one from my favourite, Eugene Onegin (which will be performed again this coming season). At the beginning of the CD, one can hear Bradshaw’s beautiful speaking voice describing the season ahead. What a tragedy that his voice has been silenced so early, at the peak of his abilities.

I saw Bradshaw coming out of the Four Seasons Centre one weekday earlier this summer, and suppressed the urge to call out to him, “Great season, maestro!” How sorry I am that I did.

Bravo, maestro, bravo.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

McGuinty took eight months to release his platform

“Certified Fraud Examiner” okayed McGuinty’s numbers – well, that should have been our first clue

I see the McGuinty Fiberals are out with a 4:30 p.m. (!) release attacking the purported tardiness of John Tory’s platform costing. I guess when the boss is two time zones away lobbing spitballs at Ed Stelmach, things tend to slip a little. (Correction: one time zone away. Sorry. jt)

But even if John Tory weren't to release his costing until election day, it would still be sooner than the Fiberals released theirs prior to the 2003 election. (And by the way, where is Premier Pinocchio’s platform for this election? Oh, that's right, making another set of promises might prompt unpleasant memories for voters.)

Anyhow, the facts are these: In late September 2002, Dalton McGuinty released the first of five platform booklets, on education, which ended up being the second most expensive component of his platform. The most expensive – health – was released in March 2003. The last of the five pieces was released in April 2003.

Not until May of 2003 – eight months after releasing the first portion of his platform – did McGuinty release his costing document, “The Ontario Liberal Financial Plan.” As you may recall, this was the set of numbers endorsed by forensic accountant and “Certified Fraud Examiner” Jack Marmer (dang, we should have read that fine print!), and two economists.

Of course, some may argue that McGuinty released his costing a month after he released the last piece of his platform. A platform that took eight months to roll out. Can you believe some people say this guy lacks leadership?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cruel Summer

No “Friday Night Lights” until October

My shrubs are scorched, Terrell Owens is hurting, September Vogue is weeks away, and now this:

Please be advised that due to scheduling conflicts, Friday Night Lights has been removed from our regular program schedule until further notice. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

Please be sure to tune in Friday nights this fall for an all-new season of Friday Night Lights beginning October 5th.

Thank you for watching Global Television.


~Viewer Contact
Global and CH Television

Global had been airing repeats of season one since May but stopped a few weeks ago. NBC had also shown a few reruns on Sunday nights, but that didn’t last long.

The DVD of season one is coming out later this month (right around the time Vogue does). I may have to break down and buy it, despite the threat that Rosie O’Donnell may have a guest spot in season two.

P.S. ESPN columnist Bill Simmons is on the same page re. O’Donnell.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Academia misfires again

Political correctness finally shuts down U of T rifle range

The only athletic trophies I earned in my adult life were courtesy of the Hart House rifle range, which I discovered as a frosh at U of T many years ago. I won’t tell you how many years, but suffice to say that some shooters liked to relax between targets by smoking – indoors – a few yards back from the three firing positions.

After several threats to do so, U of T has finally managed to shut down the facility. University assistant vice-president Rob Steiner gave the official spin:

“It was generally felt that the presence of a gun range on campus 80 years ago might have been consistent with our academic values ... in the last 10 years those values started to deviate.

“This is really a values issue. This is not a safety issue as strictly defined. If there had been a safety concern it would have been shut down right away.”

He said the decision can not be appealed.

The university said that Hart House Rifle and Revolver Clubs, which have produced a number of international competitors, including at least one Olympian, will have to shut its doors on Sept. 30.
--National Post, today

In my day, the range attracted a varied cast of characters, many of whom were alumni, post-graduates and never-graduates. The ones I met included a palaeontologist, a guy who was fluent in Russian, a guy who worked for Canada Post and his criminology-student girlfriend, a guy training to be a minister (Presbyterian, I think), and a hilarious Chinese guy with a massive handgun collection that included 18 stainless steel revolvers.

But the fun was not confined to the U of T range. Somehow, I managed to get onto the University of Toronto rifle team. We participated in a couple of tournaments at Fort York. We got to go to a tournament in Quebec, where I distinguished myself by shooting into the target of the guy next to me (it was a longer range than I was used to), yet still managed to win a ladies’ medal. Deciding I hadn’t caused enough trouble, I got into an altercation with an official over the placement of a red “L” by my name on the scoreboard (indicating my status as a lady contestant) because I thought there would be no gender distinctions in shooting. When I joined the campus Tories in my second year, my interest in shooting faded, though I did hold onto my Firearms Acquisition Certificate for 10 years.

Naturally, the closing is being lamented by those associated with the club:

But those who shoot at the clubs say it’s absurd to shutter a safe and popular facility just to be politically correct.

“Ordinarily when a licence gets revoked there is a reason, but in this case there was no reason,” said Kris Coward, a doctoral candidate in mathematics, and a member of the clubs for the past four years.

“It was politically incorrect to have a club on campus.”

He said security at the range is very tight, and club members are required to take a safety course before they can fire a round.

“We still have liquid nitrogen on campus, are they going to get rid of that?”

Avianna Chao recently won a gold medal at the Pan American Games and is vying for a spot on the 2008 Olympic team.

She has competed at the clubs and said closing the facility will hurt the students.

“It’s a good facility, it’s affordable. It’s in a very controlled environment. We were actually looking to set up a junior program at U of T. We thought it would be a great place for developing future athletes.”
--National Post, today

Ironically, Hart House holds a well-attended Remembrance Day service every year, just above ground of the range where many of the fallen were trained in riflery.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More bad economic news from Dalton McGuinty

Ontario posts second-lowest increase in weekly wages

Today, Statistics Canada reports via The Daily on the average weekly earnings of payroll employees. In absolute weekly earnings, Ontario is second only to Alberta ($798.45 and $818.87, respectively). But in terms of growth over the last year (May 2006 to May 2007), Ontario is second last.

The year-to-year increase in average weekly earnings for all of Canada was 2.9%. The only province that did worse than Ontario’s 2.4% increase was British Columbia, at 2.1%.

Yes, even the Atlantic provinces beat Ontario, with increases ranging from 2.8% (Nova Scotia) to 5.1% (Prince Edward Island). This adds an ironic twist to the gaffe of Thornhill Liberal MPP Mario Racco, who last year embarrassed McGuinty just prior to a premiers’ meeting with this outburst:

“Tell me something, what’s the economic status of the Maritimes? Are they ‘have’ provinces or ‘have-not’ provinces? How is their economy doing? Why is it that Ontario has been doing much better than them?”
--Toronto Star, July 19, 2006

Coincidentally, today’s Daily also includes a report on canola processing, entitled “Crushing Statistics.” Indeed. Here are few more, from a column last week by the Toronto Star’s Ian Urquhart:

Rising along with interest rates and the Canadian dollar are concerns at Queen's Park about the impact on the Ontario economy.

Once the "fat cat" of Confederation – and still considered that in the rest of Canada – Ontario is now looking more scrawny than plump.

In an historic first, the province's unemployment rate has been higher than the national average for six straight months this year and now stands at 6.5 per cent, compared to 6.1 per cent nationally.

Alberta, the real fat cat, is faring best with an unemployment rate of just 3.8 per cent.

Even Quebec is gaining ground, with an unemployment rate now just four-tenths of a percentage point higher than Ontario's. (The spread between the two provinces last year was four times wider.)

And in another historical first, Montreal now has a lower unemployment rate than Toronto (6.5 per cent compared to 6.9 per cent).
--Toronto Star, July 20, 2007

The McGuinty Fiberals ran their last election, and their administration, on health care and education, perhaps assuming that Ontario’s strong economy could be taken for granted. This is a classic Liberal mistake, also made by the last Liberal premier, David Peterson.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nobody’s Baker

Maybe this is why Premier Pinocchio’s female MPPs are quitting . . .

Well, I don’t break my rule against mentioning WK lightly, but seeing as I recently wrote about the exodus of MPPs from McGuinty’s caucus (especially women), the tie-in is obvious. Many on the blogroll have already opined on this; I encourage you to check out their posts, as well as that of WK nemesis Mark Bourrie. (Full disclosure: I help out the Ontario PCs from time to time.)

I just caught Sheila “Nobody’s Baby” Copps giving a spirited defence of her pal Kinsella on Hamilton’s CH Live @ 5:30 (he was legally registered to vote in her Hamilton riding for her ill-fated 2004 nomination showdown with Tony Valeri). The show is replayed at 11:30 p.m., for those who are interested.

For another hairline-raising story of war room tactics gone wrong, check out today’s Wall Street Journal editorial, about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s communications aide Darren Dopp’s intricate set-up of State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Host is Right

Conservative* actor/writer Drew Carey to be new “Price is Right” host

I guess this is why Carey was booked to be on Letterman tonight. Carey is also a former Marine who has performed for American forces in Iraq.

I wasn’t a fan of his recent TV outing, the improv show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” but I love “The Drew Carey Show,” which ran from 1995 to 2004. Sadly, the syndicated reruns do not seem to be airing in the Toronto area at the moment.

*Carey has also described himself as a libertarian, which he explains is a conservative who still gets high, or words to that effect (I am going from memory).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

John Lovitz on his quasi-smackdown with Andy Dick

Includes backstory of when they worked together on "NewsRadio"
If you follow the entertainment media, you may have seen some stories about a supposed fight between comedians John Lovitz and Andy Dick. Lovitz gave his version of events on the Dennis Miller radio show yesterday (scroll down to the “Audio Highlight: John Lovitz vs. Andy Dick”).

A few months ago, Dick made a notorious appearance on my favourite late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, during which he had to be physically removed from the set for continually touching Ivanka Trump.

By the way, I recommend Miller’s daily radio show, which went on the air in March. He gets excellent guests, including Mark Steyn, who seems to be on every other week or so (and, coincidentally, is on today). An audio file of the day’s show is available online as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. Previous shows are also archived.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another female MPP abandons Premier Pinocchio

From the Toronto Star:

Yet another Liberal MPP is calling it quits from Premier Dalton McGuinty's team.

Judy Marsales (Hamilton West) will announce at a riding association meeting on July 25 that she is not seeking re-election, the Star has learned.

"She wanted to come here to make a difference and she feels she has, but now she's going to be cheerleading for Hamilton from the sidelines," a source close to the first-term MPP said yesterday.

Marsales, 55, who runs Hamilton's largest independent real estate business with 45 salespeople and a third office opening in September, is said to be tired of the daily commute to Toronto and tedious night sittings at the Legislature.

Marsales was first elected in 2003.

See below for yesterday’s posts on the exodus of Fiberal members.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

If McGuinty is sailing to re-election, why are so many of his crew abandoning ship?

Chambers the latest to dive off Premier Pinocchio’s poop deck

Fiberal retention rate compares poorly to that of Harris (and even Eves)

There are some who believe that the 50-plus broken promises of the McGuinty Fiberals have now faded into the mists of time, and that another majority is his for the taking come October 10th.

Well, that’s one theory. It is a theory, however, that does not seem to have penetrated the plaster of the government caucus room, judging by the steady stream of Liberal MPPs who, for one reason or another, have chosen not to run on the Promise Breaker ticket come Labour Day.

The latest overboard is first-time MPP and children’s minister Mary Anne Chambers, who will not seek re-election in Scarborough Guildwood, where the Progressive Conservative candidate is former Toronto Police staff superintendent Gary Grant. (Full disclosure: I help out the Ontario PCs from time to time.)

Chambers has offered illness as the reason for her retirement. “I don’t really want to go into the details. I’m not dying or anything like that,” she told the Toronto Star. “I really have to slow down and pay attention to my health. It’s been a while since I’ve done that.”

Since the McGuinty government’s election four years ago, there has been a steady exodus from the Liberal caucus, whether by outright resignation, or retirement as of the general election. The exodus is not only heavier than during the comparable period of the Harris government, but even heavier than occurred among PC MPPs during the PC government’s second term.

Economic development minister Joe Cordiano quit. Markham MPP Tony Wong, frustrated at having been left out of cabinet, quit to run for Markham council.

Gerard Kennedy left to run for the federal Liberal leadership and will run federally in the next general election. Mississauga MPP Tim Peterson quit to sit as an independent and will run as a PC in October. Ernie Parsons and Richard Patten are also retiring.

Then there are the ladies: democratic renewal minister Marie Bountrogianni, Hamilton MPP Jennifer Mossop, and the aforementioned Chambers. Bountrogianni and Mossop have both said they want to spend more time with their kids.

The Fiberals have also lost three seats to the NDP in by-elections: Hamilton East, Parkdale-High Park and York South-Weston, though the Hamilton East by-election was precipitated by the untimely death of Dominic Agostino in the fall of 2003. (Over their eight years in office, the PCs lost only two PC seats in by-elections.)

How does McGuinty’s retention rate compare with those of the previous PC leaders? Well, during Mike Harris’s first term (1995-1999), there were no PC resignations (though there were five by-elections that resulted from Liberal and NDP resignations).

The only PC incumbents who didn’t run again in the general election of 1999 were, if I’m not mistaken, Toronto cabinet minister Al Leach and Brantford MPP Ron Johnson. We did lose some MPPs through nomination races between incumbents (the Legislature was being reduced from 130 seats to 103 in the next general election, in accordance with a – gasp – election promise) and of course some incumbents were defeated in the 1999 general election. Though we did pick up about half a dozen new MPPs.

In 2000, Hamilton-area MPP Toni Skarica quit over the amalgamation of Hamilton (which amalgamation the Fiberals have not reversed) and his seat was lost to the Liberals. Ernie Eves announced his retirement in early 2001 but the PCs retained his seat in a by-election. Al Palladini died suddenly in 2001 and the by-election to replace him gave the seat to the Liberals (Greg Sorbara). Mike Harris retired in 2002 and his seat was (barely) retained by the PCs in a by-election. David Tilson resigned to make way for new leader Ernie Eves, who won Tilson’s seat in a by-election.

Approaching the 2003 general election, Oakville MPP Gary Carr decided not to run again, because he had a hockey coaching gig in the UK (which ultimately didn’t pan out). But by this time he hardly counted as a PC MPP because (1) he was Speaker and (2) he had publicly attacked the government.

Cabinet minister Chris Hodgson announced he was not running again, but his seat was retained by the PCs in the general election. Former cabinet minister John Snobelen, who had been spending a great deal of time away from the Legislature, announced he would not run again in early 2003. His seat was lost in the general election. Energy minister Chris Stockwell announced he would not run again, after criticism of his travel expenses. Etobicoke MPP John Hastings decided not to run again (both Stockwell’s and Hastings’s seats went to the Liberals). All four were MPPs who had served at least two terms.

So, to sum up, during the first PC mandate, no PC MPPs quit. Heading into the 1999 election, two PC MPPs declined to run again. During the second PC mandate, two PC MPPs quit (Harris and Skarica); Eves quit but returned, and Tilson only quit to make way for Eves to come back. Going into the 2003 election, four PC MPPs (not including Carr) declined to stand for re-election.

During McGuinty's first term, four of his MPPs quit (Cordiano, Wong, Kennedy and Peterson). Going into the 2007 election, five Liberal incumbents would rather not stand for McGuinty again. So far. Perhaps the prospect of being the turkey at the McGuinty family Thanksgiving table is an unappetizing one.