Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Did Wells decline to put his name forward for the Supreme nod?

Well, in the all the election fooferaw I missed this:

[Newfoundland justice minister Jerome] Kennedy says he put forward three names and all three did not want their names listed. He says upon further consultation, the names of Justice Leo Barry and Justice Malcolm Rowe were put forward.
--VOCM Radio, September 6

Over the weekend, [fisheries minister Loyola] Hearn attempted to quell anger in his home province by saying: “Why didn’t Newfoundland get the Supreme Court judge? Because at least two of the top people didn’t want it.”
--Globe and Mail, September 10

So it’s possible that Clyde Wells was among those approached by the province’s justice minster, and declined to allow his name to go forward.

Why? Maybe his age (he's over 70 -- Supreme Court justices must retire at 75). Perhaps he didn't feel he had the energy for the gig. Perhaps he thought the Harper government would never name him (for the reason I suggested in my earlier post). Perhaps he didn't want to submit to the questioning of MPs. We may never know.

Good news for all you Heather Mallick fans!

Teaching column-writing course at U of T

I notice that there has been some spirited commentary on the BT blog roll lately about the English stylings of ex-Toronto Sun, ex-Globe columnist Heather Mallick.

Well, try to stand erect and lissen up, fellow knuckle-draggers! Thanks to the magnanimity of her ladyship -- or the continuing decline of the media industry -- now we low foreheads have an opportunity to learn how to write just like her, and at a bargain price to boot:

The U of T offers a shiny new course this fall called How To Write A Column.

The outline: “Good column-writing is rare, and it isn’t easy.”

(Oh, baby.)

“Find your distinct voice and style, and write in a clear, persuasive way.”

(Damn straight.)

“You will be asked to write and polish one column per week.”


The prof is Heather Mallick, one of the finest writers I know, and I’m sure it’s worth every bit of $569 for the term.
--Mike Strobel, Toronto Sun, September 5

Sadly, I will not be participating, as I paid well in excess of that for my Ryerson journalism degree – and look where I ended up. But there's still hope for you young guys. So go forth and divide. Starting October 6th.

But seriously, those of you who think Mallick deserves to go to hell, take it from me: teaching retirees with $569 to blow will seem like hell for someone of her towering self-regard.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Now THIS is plagiarism!

I caught Susan Ormiston’s “Ormiston Online” on CBC's The National earlier. Congrats to Steve Janke for his mention, but I thought the last video – a lame re-subtitling of a clip from the film "Downfall" intended to make Stepher Harper look like Hitler – looked strangely familiar . . .

(See below. This wasn't picked up by the BT aggregator for some reason . . .)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Now THIS is plagiarism!

Liberal uses same clip from "Downfall" that was used in Hillary Clinton YouTube

I caught Susan Ormiston’s “Ormiston Online” on CBC's The National just now. Congrats to Steve Janke for his mention, but I thought the last video – a lame re-subtitling of a clip from the film "Downfall" intended to make Stepher Harper look like Hitler – looked strangely familiar . . . (Warning: language)

If there’s anything lamer than comparing Stephen Harper to Hitler, I guess it’s stealing somebody else’s lame YouTube. (If video link doesn't work, try here.)

P.S. Somebody even used this clip against Brett Favre, fer God's sake. I hope John Madden doesn't find out.

P.P.S. And Chelsea football club. And a bunch of other videos I can't be bothered to go through. Just search YouTube for "downfall."

Star publishes mockery of Finley's accent

Why not? Everybody does it

I've long thought that the only two ethnic groups you can ridicule with impunity are the Irish and the Scots.

Recently, Conan O'Brien observed on his show that the only ethnic group they make fun of that never complains to the network is the Irish.

The Scots in particular have taken a beating: the entire Shrek series plus a number of other Mike Myers characters such as Stuart Mackenzie (pictured), the Extra chewing gum commercials with an animated, apparently Scottish stick of gum, the Keith's beer commercials starring the fellow recently convicted for possessing child pornography.

As Bill Bennett might say, where is the outrage?

Anyhow, that bastion of political correctness, the Toronto Star, ran a profile of Conservative national campaign manager Doug Finley on the weekend, a profile that portrayed him as ruthless in dispatching undesirable candidates, including this bit of colour:

Finley finally “lost it,” according to [former Conservative candidate Mark] Warner, a scene Warner says he can't forget, complete with heavy Scottish brogue soundtrack.

“Wheeerrrrrrrrr have you ever run before? Wheeerrrrrrrrr?

Tell me, wheeerrrrrrrrr? Wheeerrrrrrrrr?”

Friday, September 05, 2008

No ermine for Clyde Wells

As I expected, the Atlantic seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Michel Bastarache will not be filled by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Clyde Wells (now Chief Justice of the Newfoundland Court of Appeal). Prime Minister Harper has nominated Nova Scotia judge Thomas Cromwell.

I am of course not privy to the government's deliberations on its nominee. But it would be politically tone deaf for Harper to go into an election in which Québec is a key battleground, by handing such an appointment to a figure who played a key role in killing the Meech Lake accord.

Given Wells’ age and the fact that there is but one “Atlantic” seat on the court, Wells is unlikely to ever be appointed.

I appreciate that many people – including many former Reformers – were deeply opposed to Meech Lake and believe that its defeat reflected the opposition of many Canadians (or at least their lack of understanding of the accord).

But Wells not only reneged on his promise to hold a vote in the Newfoundland legislature on the accord, he behaved in a regrettable manner, as shown in these excerpts from Brian Mulroney’s autobiography:

Quoting Wells: “I will honour the commitment to take the proposal [reached at the June 9-10 first ministers’ meeting] back to Newfoundland to place it before the cabinet and to ask for legislative approval in a free vote, or to put it to a referendum. I must say that a referendum now is almost out of the question.”
--page 781

After this conference [of Eastern premiers and governors], premiers Peterson, McKenna and Ghiz all called Lowell Murray and advised him that they did not believe Clyde Wells intended to hold a vote, They also told Murray that I should not go to Newfoundland, as it was a trap. And on June 20, Bill McNamara, an accomplished young lawyer who had become a strong Meech supporter, called his classmate and friend Deborah Coyne to suggest that, given the unanimous agreement, they bury they hatchet and join forces in supporting the initiative prior to the vote. “There is not going to be a vote,” Wells’s constitutional advisor told McNamara firmly.
--page 786

Just prior to leaving his [Wells’s] home to head for the airport (I had thanked Eleanor warmly and signed her guestbook “With gratitude for a delightful evening,” I recall), I said directly, “Clyde, this vote tomorrow is of great significance to Canada. On a scale of 1 to 10, can you indicate to me now how the vote will go?” He replied, that it will pass? A 5!”
--Mulroney’s Personal Journal, July 26, 1990, page 788

In a most illuminating exchange, Bill Cameron of The Journal in a CBC TV interview three times says to Wells, “But, Mr. Premier, you had the prime minister down to speak to your legislature and then you invited him to your home for dinner. Did you, Mr. Wells, at any time tell the prime minister of Canada during these hours you were together that you intended to cancel a historic vote the very next day?

And three times Premier Wells replies, “Honestly, Bill, I just don’t remember.”

--Mulroney’s Personal Journal, July 26, 1990, page 792

And that is exactly what Wells did. He walked into the Newfoundland Assembly and adjourned the House, thereby depriving the elected members of their right to vote on a major constitutional change that he himself and signed and sworn he would put to a vote.
--page 792

With that Meech Lake was killed off; it didn’t fail. I had three times succeeded in securing unanimous agreement. Yet Meech was suffocated in a cruel act of political infanticide by the premier of Newfoundland. With that accomplished, Wells flew off to the Liberal leadership convention in Calgary, where he was greeted by Jean Chrétien with the memorable words, “Merci, Clyde, pour ton beau travail,” (Thank you, Clyde, for your good work.)
--page 792

Dr. Roy has also posted on this.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Buzz Buzzes Off

Celebrating a career spent defending inefficiency

The media noted that today was Buzz Hargrove’s last Labour Day parade as head of the Canadian Auto Workers. So, on Hargrove’s retirement, let’s look back at the incident that inspired him, as he related in his 1998 biography:

The sweeper’s name was Gino. He was a short, stout, bald-headed Italian guy [good colour, Buzz!] whose job was to keep a certain floor area clean of dust and debris. Gino could sweep his area in four hours out of an eight-hour shift. The rest of the time he would read pocketbooks. Well, given that he could get through his day’s work so quickly, management started pushing for him to sweep a larger area. But when they came with their stopwatches and clipboards, Gino would sweep exactly his area of responsibility and make it take eight hours.

Management knew he was capable of sweeping a larger area and was challenging their authority. They suspended him for a day. If he continued to ignore their order to sweep a larger floor area, they would continue to suspend him. In no time Ken Gerard was facing off with a big, tough-looking plant superintendent by the name of Ed Charette. These two had earlier had it out in a bar over another plant issue and Ken had beaten the stuffing out of Ed. [now there’s the CAW thuggery I remember from the 1996 OPSEU strike!]. So management now backed off. Under supervision, Gino swept his floor area for the next three nights in exactly eight hours. Ken stayed around and made sure Gino was not hassled by management. In a few days, Gino was again sweeping his area in his usual four hours [and presumably reading for the remainder of his shift]. Management was nowhere to be seen.

For a young buck like me who had never had anyone in any job come to his assistance, I was fascinated that the union could play that kind of role. I thought of that supervisor in the pipeline camp in Alberta. If there had been a union steward standing up for me at that creek in minus 30 weather, I would have been able to say “no way” and still keep my job.

I know people will jump on the Gino story to show how much boondoggle unions support, how lazy workers keep employer costs high. But that is not the point here [not until the company goes under, anyway]. What we are talking about is power. If you do not fight, you lose. The company holds the power [no, the consumer does]. The amount of power a union has depends solely on the extent to which we can build solidarity with our members. Gino’s fight was not over the size of the floor he would sweep. It was over who had the power to demand what a worker had to do.
--Labour of Love, Buzz Hargrove with Wayne Skene, pp. 54-55

A good student of Marxism would recognize Hargrove’s analysis as a lesson in indirectly “seizing the means of production.” But socialism failed to spread worldwide and CAW plants were hard-pressed to compete against automakers whose managers did not have to put up with such bull. Thanks to Buzz, there is a lot less floor-sweeping or other union work in the auto sector worldwide.