Thursday, May 31, 2007

The $100K Breakfast Club

Gerard Kennedy’s legacy: lawless schools, see-no-evil administrators

From Wednesday's Toronto Star story about the “lawless” C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, where Jordan Manners was shot last week:

“My experience is that the safe schools policy was followed,” said board superintendent Verna Lister*.

*According to the 2006 Public Sector Salary disclosure, Lister was paid $136,616.54 in salary and $5,316.26 in benefits last year. In 2006, the Toronto District School Board had 504 employees who were paid in excess of $100,000, totalling $54,696,949.63 in salary and $582,065.16 in benefits.

Donna Quan*, safe schools superintendent for Toronto, said Jefferys was an outstanding school and urged concerned teachers to discuss their problems with administration and the school board.

“We’ll be glad to meet,” Quan said. “It’s important to have courageous conversations.”

*$136,616.54 in salary and $5,366.66 in benefits in 2006.

Suspension rates across Toronto were down 29 per cent in 2005-06 from the year prior. Various school administrators now prefer alternatives, such as in-school suspensions.

The drop occurred the same year the Toronto District School Board settled a complaint from the Ontario Human Rights Commission for suspending a disproportionately high number of black students, in November 2005. [Local school trustee Stephnie] Payne supported a lawsuit in December 2005 against Louie Papathanasakis, then-principal of Emery Collegiate Institute, who called police on students who were accused of assaulting another student. One was later convicted.

[Former Jefferys teacher Sandra] Fusco said the settlement, combined with discouragement from administration, denied teachers leeway to suspend disruptive or violent students.

“We were told that there’s an initiative in the board to use alternatives to suspensions,” said Fusco, referring to a staff meeting at the school when Anne Kojima* was principal.

*$105,763.53 in salary and $100.80 in benefits in 2006.

The main source for the article, Jefferys teacher Dave Plaskett, tells the Star he is speaking out after teaching at the school for 25 years because: “I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Plaskett, who plans to retire this year. [Clearly this man has never seen a cop movie.]” There has got to be some changes.”

One of the principles of the Harris government’s 2001 Safe Schools Act was that specific transgressions would bring specific punishments, for example, swearing at a teacher would automatically result in a one-day suspension.

These clear rules, however, were not welcomed by school boards or teacher unions. I remember one teacher union boss saying that teachers did not want the ability to suspend students. As per usual, nary a peep of dissent was heard from individual teachers, about the combative dismissiveness of their leaders.

Already insulated from daily brushes with menacing teenagers, the union bosses and boards believed they had bigger fish to fry, namely the Harris government’s plans to cut administrative costs, implement per-pupil funding, lower average class sizes through having teachers teach an additional half-class, implement a new curriculum, standardized testing, teacher recertification, etc.

Admittedly, the government’s promised “strict discipline” schooling for expelled students was not (to my knowledge) up and running by the time the government changed hands in 2003.

The McGuinty Fiberals conducted a quickie consultation/review on the act, the upshot of which was the act was too prescriptive and lacked flexibility. So they stripped the legislation of its clarity, and dressed up their announcement with the gainesburger that “cyber-bullying” would be included in the new legislation (but of course, whether cyber-bullies actually get punished depends on the attitude of the principal at the school involved -- just like at Jefferys).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A big slab of red meat for the Bush derangers, 9/11 truthers, et al. . . .

Norman Podhoretz predicts Bush will bomb Iranian nuclear facilities “within 21 months”

From the Wall Street Journal (warning: long piece):

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush made a promise:

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.

In that speech, the president was referring to Iraq, but he has made it clear on a number of subsequent occasions that the same principle applies to Iran. Indeed, he has gone so far as to say that if we permit Iran to build a nuclear arsenal, people 50 years from now will look back and wonder how we of this generation could have allowed such a thing to happen, and they will rightly judge us as harshly as we today judge the British and the French for what they did and what they failed to do at Munich in 1938. I find it hard to understand why George W. Bush would have put himself so squarely in the dock of history on this issue if he were resigned to leaving office with Iran in possession of nuclear weapons, or with the ability to build them. Accordingly, my guess is that he intends, within the next 21 months, to order air strikes against the Iranian nuclear facilities from the three U.S. aircraft carriers already sitting nearby.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

“Mr. Kuntz, it’s Giles Gherson* on line 1”

Toronto Star sidelines its own investigation in exchange for a Fiberal promise

The Toronto Star seems to have declared its day care exposé – two years in the making and involving one of its top investigative reporters, Dale Brazao – er, over, after just one page A1 story. From my free copy of today’s Star:

The wall of secrecy surrounding abuses in daycares has tumbled less than 24 hours after a Star investigation documented troubling problems in centres across Ontario.

Parents concerned about the quality of care their children are receiving in licensed centres will soon be able to visit a ministry website listing serious incidents and inspection findings.

Mary Anne Chambers, Minister of Children and Youth Services, said yesterday her ministry will launch the website by the fall. Chambers is also considering a stronger colour-coding system in which a red licence posted at a daycare would indicate a serious problem.

Wow. They’re promising a website. And they’ll think about a colour-coded system! Well, that’s that, then. Move along, folks, nothing to see here. Because Dalton McGuinty keeps all his promises, right? And never mind this, from Monday’s story:

Children in provincially licensed daycares have been hit, kicked, allowed to play in filthy conditions and fed allergy-triggering food that nearly claimed their lives.

A Star investigation based on thousands of never-before-released daycare incidents and inspection reports has uncovered a myriad of serious problems including children wandering off unattended, being forcibly confined in closets and storage rooms as punishment, and served meals prepared in mice-infested kitchens.

But even in the most egregious cases, the provincial Ministry of Children and Youth Services is often slow to act.

Daycares with a pattern of problems are allowed to operate for months or even years on provisional licences, while children are exposed to substandard conditions, internal government documents show.

"The conditions you highlight are unacceptable and we take it seriously," said ministry spokesperson Tricia Edgar.

"It is a concern. We're going to be looking at this. I can give you our assurance that we will do that. It isn't consistent with the health and well being of kids."

The records are typically kept secret. Parents who trust their children with a licensed daycare have no way of finding out if their daycare is exemplary or riddled with problems.

The Star obtained the records – which relate to the last three years – following a series of freedom of information requests that took more than two years.

I’m guessing that Ontario opposition leaders John Tory and Howard Hampton are feeling just as burned as the Star’s reporters, Brazao and Robert Cribb.

*Gherson is the former editor-in-chief of the Star, who since April 2nd has been toiling for Premier Pinocchio, as deputy minister and associate secretary of communications in the cabinet office.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Seacrest Out, O'Donnell Follows

Who would have thought that the "American Idol" finale would be the same day as Rosie O'Donnell's last appearance on "The View?"

Late news today from ABC that Rosie O'Donnell won't be coming back to ABC's "The View" after Wednesday's blow-up with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, even though her final show was originally to be June 20. (The show's website, for some reason, says that O'Donnell's last day will be this Monday.)

This means that O'Donnell will not have the opportunity to comment during the show about the story in today's Page Six, alleging that her writer defaced Hasselbeck's photos. Neither will she have the chance to moderate the promised 9/11 conspiracy segment, in which physicists from Yale and/or Harvard were to explain how Building 7 of the World Trade Centre was actually collapsed by explosives on 9/11. If I may take a page from Rosie's Big Book of Rhetorical Questions: who's the coward?

I've seen a strain of commentary, on both my blog and elsewhere, that suggests the "fight" with Hasselbeck was staged to goose ratings. I think O'Donnell's premature retreat tends to put the lie to that theory. Leaving this way, O'Donnell looks like she is running away after losing a fight to a conservative. (Not my take, by the way, I just think that it was a rare occasion on which Hasselbeck stood up to an attempt by O'Donnell to box her in and make the debate about her. Hasselbeck merely put the focus back on O'Donnell, where it belonged.)

Rosie O’Donnell has a writer???

Caught drawing moustaches on Hasselbeck’s photos at ABC studio

Rosie O’Donnell’s high school-esque demands that her View co-hosts stick up for her no matter what she says or does (or in some cases sustain the pretence that she doesn’t mean what she says) have been nicely complemented by the grade-school hijinks of her entourage. Today we learn courtesy of Page Six that O’Donnell’s writer at "The View" was caught defacing photos of Elisabeth Hasselbeck:

Yesterday, Rosie’s chief writer, Janette Barber, was allegedly escorted from the building after she was caught drawing moustaches on photographs of Hasselbeck that hang in the “View” studios.

The Post’s Adam Buckman reports ABC confirmed in a statement only that “photographs at ‘The View’s’ offices were defaced. Rosie O’Donnell was not in the building. ABC Legal and Human Resources are investigating the matter.” Barber is an old friend of O’Donnell who worked with her years ago on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”

There were also rumors O’Donnell was so angry after her argument with Hasselbeck that she trashed her dressing room, although ABC denied the tantrum.

I wish I could generate some Captain Renault-style shock that one of O’Donnell’s peeps would pull such a stunt, but I just can’t.

I will, however, contrast O’Donnell’s exit strategy with Star Jones’ behaviour last year after she was fired from "The View." O’Donnell is leaving voluntarily, walking away from ABC’s offer of a three-year, $30-million dollar contract. Yet she seems intent on literally and figuratively smashing everything she can on her way out. From the Page Six story:

As for O’Donnell, she’s been posting comments on her personal Web site,, fueling speculation she might not return to “The View” ever again. Her scheduled last day is Wednesday, June 20.

When one fan wrote, “Work isn’t worth that battle,” Rosie replied, “Agreed.” Another wrote, “Please walk away. It’s not worth it.” Rosie replied, “Well, you know when it’s time to go.”

To a fan who asked when she would return, O’Donnell answered, “No idea.”

Yesterday, O’Donnell posted a video that may have symbolized how she’s feeling about “The View.”

The tape consisted of ducks swimming in a pond accompanied by an audio track of the John Mayer song “Vultures,” whose lyrics include “How will I hold my head to keep from going under?”

Officially, “The View” expects O’Donnell to return to work on Tuesday.
Well, we'll see. Decency would demand that she show up for at least one day, to apologize to Hasselbeck for her flunky's behaviour. But for all we know, O'Donnell is still mad at Hasselbeck, and is not going to give her the satisfaction of an apology. Further, O'Donnell's anger at Hasselbeck seems largely based on Hasselbeck's refusal to apologize for the attacks of Fox News and others on O'Donnell. And returning to "The View" would only help their ratings, so what's the point?

Star Jones, for those who don't remember, was for all intents and purposes fired; her contract was not renewed though she had no desire to leave the show. And she knew that she was leaving several months ahead of her final show. She was asked to finish out her contract and she did so in a professional manner. True, she did announce her departure one day earlier than agreed, and then told other media outlets that she “felt like she had been fired,” and that Barbara Walters “didn’t have her back.” But she has never said a bad word about the show or any of its co-hosts since. Jones now has her own show on Court TV.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An injustice averted, thanks to the Harper government

What Bob Rae’s quick-and-dirty Air India review would have missed

From the editorial in the May 28th issue of Macleans:

Yet after all this formal scrutiny, plus countless media treatments and a steady outcry from the families of the victims over the past two decades, the inquiry headed by former Supreme Court justice John Major is still producing new and shocking revelations. Recent surprises include the testimony of Ontario Lieutenant-Governor James Bartleman, who claims he saw a specific threat related to Air India for the weekend of June 22-23, 1985, when he was with the Department of External Affairs but was rebuffed by the RCMP. Last week Serge Carignan, a former Sûreté du Québec police-dog handler, said he had been summoned to Mirabel Airport to sniff for bombs, only to discover the fated plane had already left. None of this had been revealed previously.

Given all this, it is now clear that the Rae report's call for a quick and cheap order-in-council inquiry was entirely wrong-headed. Quick and cheap would have glossed over the massive screw-ups, dissuaded new witnesses from coming forward, and done a disservice to the victims' families. The Harper government was correct in ignoring Rae and instead delivering on its campaign promise to hold a "comprehensive, independent judicial inquiry." After two decades of half measures, Major should take as long as he needs to make sure Canadians finally get the full story. Everything else has been preamble.

In November of 2005, the Martin government accepted Bob Rae’s recommendation to appoint “a Commissioner under Cabinet Order in Council who is given a clear mandate, and an assurance of full cooperation.” Were it not for the Liberals’ defeat in January 2006, that is the type of inquiry that would be taking place now (or God knows when).

And Rae’s conversion to Liberalism in April of 2006 puts his “independent” report of the previous November in a somewhat different context. Would it be unfair to say that, while writing the report, Rae was already a Liberal-in-utero? Again, had the Martin goverment survived, Rae's latent Liberalism may have remained as unknown as the Lieutenant-Governor who barked and the dog that didn't sniff.

True, the inquiry may yet reveal incompetence – or worse – on the Mulroney government’s watch, but it is to the Harper government’s credit that it is prepared to face that eventuality.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Good thing Mickey's no longer minding the Mounties’ trademarks* . . .

Disney CEO says that objecting to Hamas’ use of Mickey Mouse-like character would have had no effect (except getting Disneyworld blown up, maybe).

I remember reading once that there is a cautionary saying in Hollywood about not taking on Disney Studios, that goes something like "don't f--- with the Mouse." Not anymore, apparently. From the Associated Press:

The Walt Disney Co. didn’t speak out when Hamas militants used a Mickey Mouse look-alike to preach Islamic domination because the company felt it would be ineffective, Disney’s chief executive said Monday.

Disney CEO Robert Iger said he and other executives considered ways to react to the recent Hamas show for children that featured someone dressed in what appeared to be a Mickey Mouse costume, railing against Israel and the United States in a high-pitched cartoonish voice.

“We didn’t mobilize our forces and seek to either have the clip taken down or to make any broad public statement about it,” Iger told a gathering of the Society of Business Editors and Writers at the Disneyland Hotel.

“We were appalled by the use of our character to disseminate that kind of message,” he said “I think anytime any group seeks to exploit children in that manner, it’s despicable.”

Still, Iger said it didn’t seem to make any sense for Disney to make any loud public statement at the time.

“I just didn’t think it would have any effect,” he said. ‘I think it should have been obvious how the company felt about the subject.”

Iger's comments were the first from Disney since the images aired earlier this month on Al-Aqsa TV, a station run by Hamas. At the time, Disney did not return phone calls seeking comment, a strategy Iger said the company adopted after some discussion.

Good call, chief. Because Hamas has such a good record of self-correcting its extremism. And it’s not like allowing Western images to be abused is interpreted as weakness in the Arab world, or anything like that.

But then those things are not Iger’s concern. His baileywick is Disney's world – not the world that makes Disney possible.

In addition to handling the careers of Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck (not Daffy, sorry) and Huey, Dewey and Louie, Disney also brings Rosie O’Donnell and her unique views into your living room every weekday, through its subsidiary ABC.

* In 1995 the federal government gave Disney control over the RCMP’s trademarks, such as the Mountie uniform. The rationale was that the RCMP simply didn’t have Disney’s experience in protecting intellectual property. The contract was allowed to expire in 1999 and the RCMP deals with its own trademarks now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Just when you thought there was no fight left in the Bush administration . . .

From Reuters:

The White House on Sunday fired back at former President Jimmy Carter, calling him “increasingly irrelevant” a day after Carter described George W. Bush’s presidency as the worst in history in international relations.

Carter, a Democrat, said on Saturday in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto had declined to react on Saturday but on Sunday fired back.

“I think it’s sad that President Carter’s reckless personal criticism is out there,” Fratto told reporters. “I think it’s unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments.”

Hmm . . . hasn’t McGuinty been doing this for nearly four years already?

In the Commons, the normally astute Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg went to the Tories’ first line of defence, attacking the Liberals for their cuts to students in the past.

This is an increasingly disheartening and pointless strategy, boring and dishonest. The Tories are the government, and they cut many fine groups that the Liberals funded for years. Blame the Liberals for that? Are the Tories smoking crack? Do they think anyone listening is stupid enough to swallow that? They insult their own intelligence by trying to peddle such rotten baloney.
--Stephen Maher, Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Well, the Queen's Park media seem to like the taste of it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Conrad Black, defender of editorial independence

Called David Asper’s Shawinigate op-ed “un-rigorous and hostile to your own employees”

From today’s Globe and Mail:

Mr. Asper’s son, David, a CanWest executive, began taking issue with the Post’s coverage of the so-called Shawinigate scandal, which involved allegations that Mr. Chrétien had improperly helped a business colleague get a loan from a federal agency for his hotel in Shawinigan. At the time, Lord Black and Mr. Chrétien were also sparring over his appointment to Britain’s upper chamber. The Aspers were long-time Liberals and many observers were convinced they would rein in the Post’s coverage.

On Jan. 5, 2001, Lord Black wrote Mr. Asper to complain about David’s interference saying it was “not reconcilable” with the corporate partnership. “I am aware that considerable pressure has been exerted by David on National Post editorial personnel on behalf of Chrétien,” Lord Black wrote, adding that the Prime Minister’s Office “is not composed of reasonable people.”

On March 7, 2001, David wrote a column in the Post criticizing the paper’s coverage, calling it unfair. The Post ran an editorial the same day defending its reporting and taking David to task.

Six days later, Mr. Asper fired off an angry letter to Lord Black threatening to sever their joint ownership of the Post. Mr. Asper called the Post’s criticism of his son “outrageous” and blamed Lord Black for orchestrating the subsequent fallout in other media.

“Neither you nor I would profit from a public battle, which would give great pleasure to those who wish neither of us well, but regrettably, you have chosen to publicly throw a gauntlet, administer a public slap in the face which has both embarrassed, humiliated and held up to ridicule and dishonour both my family and my company,” he wrote. “You will readily understand why I won’t remain silent.”

Lord Black replied: responded the next day, calling Mr. Asper’s reproaches “completely unjustified.” “The piece [David] wrote was un-rigorous and hostile to your own employees with consequences that were foreseeable and predicted,” he wrote. “I did not orchestrate anything.”

Lord Black said senior editors at the Post had told David that if he wrote his article it would “produce great resentment amongst the journalists and would appear to anyone in [Canada] still interested in an independent press to be servile toadying to a rather corrupt regime in what is now more or less a one-party state.”

He added that David was told he should write a “substantive piece,” stating specific reporting mistakes.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Good for Galipeau

But keep your barf bags handy for McGuinty’s reaction

An Ottawa MP has apologized after being accused of assaulting another MP from the city in the House of Commons Wednesday.

Conservative MP Royal Galipeau crossed the floor toward Liberal MP David McGuinty Wednesday afternoon, against parliamentary rules, after McGuinty accused him of not speaking against the government decision last fall to scrap the court challenges program, which is intended to protect francophone citizens.

"The member was clearly out of control, using unparliamentary language, and in a threatening fashion grabbed my left shoulder and only left my side when several of my colleagues urged him to stop and to leave," said McGuinty, who represents Ottawa South.

No doubt McGuinty the Lesser will stage an impromptu news conference, sporting the usual expression of pained piety he wears like a neck brace on a phoney car accident plaintiff.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Don't miss "Friday Night Lights"

Renewed for a second season on NBC, Global to start first-season reruns Wednesday

Global TV is airing reruns of the NBC series "Friday Night Lights" starting Wednesday, May 16th at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Even better, NBC announced today that the show is to be renewed for a second season, and moved to Friday nights at 10:00, replacing the now unbearingly-Bush-bashing "Law & Order" (which has also been renewed).

I hope Global starts with the first episode, which I stupidly missed before becoming hooked on this brilliantly-written show, starting around the third episode. From the show's NBC website:

Expanding on the hit feature film "Friday Night Lights," this poignant series centers on the small rural town of Dillon, Texas, where the coveted state football championship rings are held in the highest regard. Dillon's promising high school team, its star quarterback, and newly appointed head coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler, "King Kong," "Grey's Anatomy") feel the mounting pressure of the town's pride and honor riding on their shoulders as a new football season kicks off.

You don't even have to particularly like football to enjoy it, as much of the drama takes place off the field and stars a great cast of adult and young actors, the young actors getting better as the season progresses. Amazingly, the Christianity that is woven into the life of the town is handled intelligently and respectfully. Catch the show and you won't be sorry.

Postscript: The NBC has finally brought the axe down on the troubled "Studio 60" -- it will end its run this June.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Unread Files

Sun publishes Holland’s denial that he read 174 performance appraisals about 34 Conservative staffers

This clarification appeared in my copy of the Toronto Sun today (in case you hadn’t heard, you can now get the Sun delivered seven days a week in the 416):

On April 3, the Sun published a column by Ezra Levant that implied Ajax-Pickering MP Mark Holland personally read through personnel files of former Canadian Alliance and Reform party staff.

We are advised by Holland and accept that he did not personally read the personnel files but rather they were looked through by a researcher at the Liberal Party Bureau.

Holland has also stated that he only learned of the existence of these files the previous week, and that he has never had them in his possession other than during a news conference.

The foregoing has been Holland’s line since the Case of the Purloined Documents morphed horribly from a story of Conservative negligence, into yet another tale of the Liberal party’s integrity deficit. (The Western Standard’s Kevin Steel provides a good rundown here – free registration required). Shortly thereafter, Holland made good on his threat to sue over Levant’s column.

But contrast Holland’s denials with what he and his fellow junior detective Marlene Jennings told the Ottawa Citizen’s Juliet O’Neill:

Accusing the minority government of “gross negligence”, two Liberal MPs had 10 boxes of Conservative personnel files carted on a trolley for three blocks through pouring rain to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office in order to have them returned.

The files contain highly personal information, judgments on individual employee performance and comments by their peers and supervisors, Ontario MP Mark Holland and Montreal MP Marlene Jennings said. They accused the government of “gross ineptitude” and “cavalier disregard” for privacy.

“If I’m one of the 34 people who had my personnel files left behind I’d be having a lot of questions and I’d be very upset,” said Holland, who noted 174 performance appraisals were among the documents.

Holland and Jennings said they held back another dozen boxes of papers in case they find some “of public interest.”
--Ottawa Citizen, March 27, 2007

I hope Holland had the good sense to ensure that only Liberal staffers read those files too, to preserve his pristine deniability.

Clearly, Holland was – at the very least – well-briefed on the nature and contents of the documents prior to his participation in the Wellington Street photo op. To insist that he be cleared of the sin of actually reading them is the type of parsing that has been missing from public life since the retirement of Bill Clinton.

Further, Holland’s scurrying from a photo op turned sour, and subsequent blaming of political staff, provide an interesting preview of the kind of cabinet minister he might make if he were ever given the chance. A classic case of why politicians who’ve been running for prime minister since high school are my least-favourite kind.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Americans. Writing talking points. For Liberals. (We are not making this up!)

Gore a convenient shield for Liberals’ own failures on climate change

Barely a year ago, Liberal campaign commercials were full of dark innuendo about American influences on the Conservatives. It turns out that the Liberal party that has fallen under American influence.

Twice in the House of Commons yesterday, Liberal members invoked the name of Al Gore – inventor of the Internet and inspiration for the novel “Love Story” – to buttress their opposition to a climate change plan that will “git ‘er done” after the Liberals, by the admissions of such luminaries as Michael Ignatieff and Ken Dryden, “didn’t get it done.”

“Mr. Speaker, Al Gore has said that the Conservatives' platform is “a complete and total fraud”.
--Ken Dryden, MP

“Mr. Speaker, Al Gore and David Suzuki, not to mention every other credible environmentalist in the country, have unmasked the government's global warming plan for the fraud that it is. However, the environment minister still claims that it is a real plan to fight climate change even though it would allow greenhouse gas emissions in Canada to increase for another decade.” [Hey, at least she admitted the “another” part.]
--Karen Redman, MP

Unfortunately, Gore has not learned from his experience with the Internet: he still has trouble getting credit for his genius. All the content in the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” is his, but it was his Hollywood friends who walked away with the Oscar statues. Gore couldn’t close the deal, much like a former Liberal environment minister, whose failure on Kyoto haunts the Liberals like Banquo’s ghost (and whose occupation of the Liberal throne is just about as welcome most days).

Why the Liberals would rely on the knee-jerk rhetoric of a former journalist who now does not deign to answer media questions, flies in private aircraft, and uses enough electricity for 20 families, is beyond me. (Though he recently got approval to install solar panels on his mansion.)

The likely explanation is that despite all this, standing next to the Liberal Party of Canada, Al Gore still looks more credible on the environment. Liberals are so embarrassed about their own record that they would rather shelter beneath the uninformed impressions of a failed American presidential candidate.