Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mike and Bob: revolution and adultery at U of T

Forgive me for not being surprised at the hypocrisy of the McGuinty Liberals, who have attempted to smear PC leader John Tory with Tory’s own youthful admission of his law school toking. After all, is this not the crew headed by Premier Pinocchio, who also “partoked” as a youth, and recently lauded his health minister, Furious George Smitherman, for admitting to a drug addiction?

Fiberal hypocrisy aside, it is propitious that today’s electronic version of the University of Toronto’s Varsity should include some of the published musings of Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, when they were BMOCs at the University of Toronto. Some excerpts (registration may be required):

If the present administrative system of our society is incapable of salvaging the century, then we must have political and social revolution, a revolution shaped not by an ideology but shaped by the problems we must face. A re-organization of society to snuff out the population bomb, to rebuild the cities, to halt our ecological rape.

Revolution may be impossible within the system. Revolution occurs (here I am more than usually derivative) when elements of the administrative system become demonstrably dysfunctional to the people at large. Thus, the question of whether a revolution in Canada is possible is not answered by saying that radicals across the country are busy outlining an ideology and a strategy for that revolution. Revolution will become possible when ordinary people decide that the system is not realizing the goals that it has set out for itself.
--Michael Ignatieff, Source: The Varsity Review, Sept. 22, 1968

Holidays are essentially hypocritical, in that we feel and say and do friendly things that we hate doing the rest of the year. Freud has said that tribal holidays represented an institutionalized form of de-repression. In other words you could make love to your neighbour's wife one day a year, but never on any other day. Hence the mistletoe. A pretty unsatisfactory replacement, I'd say.
--Bob Rae, Source: The Varsity Review, Dec. 18, 1968

I daresay there are few among us who would not be embarrassed if confronted with our undergraduate pontifications. Prose that appeared bold and profound in its time, may shout "retard" and not soixante-huitard today. Luckily, most of us will not run for leader, and can remain blissfully smug for the rest of our lives.

Woo HOO! Van Loan in cabinet

“Every cloud has a silver lining” is a rule that seems to be more honoured in the breach than in the observance, but not today.

The unfortunate – yet so principled it turned Belinda’s blonde hair brown – resignation of Michael Chong has a happy by-product: the elevation of York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan to cabinet. In a political universe increasingly dominated by so-called “stars” who frequently explode or turn into black holes, Peter is one of those brilliant, talented, quiet workhorses whose effort always exceeds their expectation of reward.

I didn’t meet Peter until I was in university, but he was already a leading figure in Progressive Conservative youth politics. He joined the party in high school (I believe he was just 15). While still a high school student, he became Toronto and District youth chairman, building a strong organization and riding associations. For years “T&D” had a successful boat cruise every summer.

Peter was at the centre of the fierce youth battles that marked the early 1980s in Ontario, which were played out not only in party youth elections, but also in the federal leadership review votes of 1981 and 1983, and in the 1983 leadership that elected Brian Mulroney.

Luckily for the party, Peter was not one of those precocious tiny Tories who flame briefly then disappear before they reach 21. He successfully transitioned into major league politics, running for president of the Ontario PC party in 1994. He was up against the older, better-connected lawyer and lobbyist Jeff Lyons (a former employer of Peter’s, in fact). But through hard work and superior organization, Peter prevailed, and was later acclaimed to a second term.

When people think of the Common Sense Revolutionaries of 1995, they usually conjure up names such as Tom Long, Leslie Noble and Guy Giorno, and rightly so. But the organizational and grunt work of people such as Peter was instrumental in getting those ballots into the boxes. Despite having supported Mike Harris’s leadership opponent, Peter’s knowledge, candour, and skill in building the party made him a trusted figure.

Still, all this was technically a hobby, next to Peter’s full-time career as a successful municipal lawyer at the national firm of Fraser Milner Casgrain, where he worked with Ignatieff fixer Senator David Smith. (How ironic that an episode that was sparked by Michael Ignatieff Ignit-ing the Québec “nation” debate should end with Smith’s former law partner being elevated to cabinet.)

Unlike most busy lawyers, Peter saw no reason to end his education with law school. In addition to his degrees in political science/geography and law, he earned degrees in urban planning and international relations – while in legal practice. He has also taught at the University of Toronto and been asked to lecture Stephen Clarkson’s political science students. I have no doubt that someday Peter will add PhD to the many initials that follow his name.

But it hasn’t been all Diet Coke and popcorn for Peter. Until John Tory’s accession to the Ontario PC leadership in 2004, Peter had the distinction of supporting a losing candidate in every single leadership contest since he first toiled for Joe Clark in 1983. He supported Dennis Timbrell for provincial leader twice in the mid-80s, Dianne Cunningham in 1990, Jean Charest in 1993, then Hugh Segal in 1998, and Elizabeth Witmer for provincial leader in 2002.

I will never forget one night on the (second) Timbrell campaign in 1985. Approximately 600 media packages had been prepared to be mailed out, but the “senior” campaign had neglected to include the all-important (in Peter’s eyes) youth package. So the seniors made us a deal: we could steam open the packages and insert the youth materials – and we had one night to do it. An electric kettle was set up in the centre of the youth office and we steamed open the envelopes, inserted our materials and sealed them back up, well into the night. No doubt some of the media outlets receiving the kits wondered why the envelope looked like it had been sealed by a rabid dog.

After playing a key role in restoring the conservatives to power in Ontario, Peter could have easily retreated to the backrooms, or focused on other endeavours. But in 1999 he set out to capture the presidency of the federal PC Party. The party had slightly recovered from its annihilation in 1993, but it had lost its leader Jean Charest to Québec politics, and had just elected 60ish Joe Clark to replace him (and, as I am always obliged to say, voting for Joe in 1998 is the only vote I wish I could take back).

It was a hotly contested race between Peter and Oakville businessman and former PC candidate Stephen Sparling, but Peter ended up with approximately 70 per cent of the vote. In fact, it turned out to be the last contested presidential race in the PC Party’s history. Peter had a detailed platform, but one of his key promises was that he would forego the usual $80,000 annual salary paid to the party president, in deference to the party’s multi-million dollar debt. (When it was revealed the following year that the party was supplementing Joe Clark’s salary by more than $150,000 annually, it made for a poor contrast, to say the least.)

Unfortunately, Peter’s success in the provincial party was not mirrored at the federal level, despite his efforts. In early 2000, just a few months after Peter was elected party president, the Reform Party would morph into the Canadian Alliance and launch a leadership race. The effects on Progressive Conservatives in Ontario were particularly painful. Peter saw dozens of friends, candidates and MPPs he had helped, abandon the federal PC party to support CA leadership candidate Tom Long.

Then in the fall of 2000, Peter was accused of disloyalty to the leader. The allegations were untrue, but Joe Clark’s public comments made it clear that he did not trust his party president, and Peter felt he had no option but to resign.

Joe Clark regarded his achievement of 12 seats in the election that soon followed – the bare minimum required for party status – to be sufficient victory. And he held on to the leadership until just prior to a scheduled review vote in 2002. But after yet another near-death experience, and with fundraising stagnant, many in the party felt that some type of accommodation would have to be reached with the Canadian Alliance.

In 2001, Peter participated in an effort labelled Forward Thinking, aimed at getting the party to look at working with the Alliance. Several PC MPs were receptive, but Clark and many remaining party stalwarts, not to mention the Orchardistas, would not be moved. Clark’s intransigence, coupled with new CA leader Stephen Harper – who campaigned on a plank of “not playing telephone tag with Joe Clark” – made the prospects for accommodation seem utterly hopeless. In any event, a provincial leadership was underway during this time, meaning there was little time to stew over federal matters.

When Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper made their historic agreement in October of 2003, Peter led the Yes! campaign to ensure the deal would be ratified overwhelmingly by the party. Never one to presume an easy victory, it was his idea to publish a full-page ad in the Globe and Mail listing several hundred recognizable names who supported the pact. This ensured that there was little reneging when the inevitable harping and second-guessing took place leading up to the December vote. When the results of the ratification vote were announced in Ottawa, Peter’s hand was among the first to be shaken by Peter MacKay.

When Peter set his cap for the nomination in York-Simcoe – home of his family’s farm – he brought to the nomination campaign the same running-from-behind attitude that he applied to all campaigns. On nomination night it ensured him a first-ballot victory. What a thrill it was during the 2004 general election to see a huge semi-trailer parked on the east side of Highway 400, announcing his name and slogan “Change for the Better” to hundreds of thousands of commuters and cottage-goers. He handily defeated the Liberal candidate.

Peter managed to increase his margin of victory in his re-election effort in January, despite devoting some of his time to the central campaign. When Peter was not named to cabinet in February, I tried not to be too disappointed, knowing that – barring a sex change – Peter’s appointment would not fulfil any demographic imperatives. But I knew that Peter’s time would come. And so it has.

Monday, November 27, 2006

“There are a lot of dumb bastards in the world. Lou is one of the smart ones.”

. . . is one of many entertaining quotes in a lengthy Ken Auletta profile of CNN windbag Lou Dobbs in The New Yorker.

For those of you old enough to remember the Mary Tyler Moore show: Dobbs has always struck me as having something of the Ted Baxter about him, i.e. he thinks success is 50% looks, 50% charm, and 50% bravado.

One of CNN’s funniest programming decisions occurred when they revamped their evening lineup and scheduled Wolf Blitzer’s new show, "The Situation Room," in two parts on either side of Dobbs’ 6:00 p.m. slot (4-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.). I guess Lou would not be moved.

Hey, nothing says a network is behind a show like chopping it up from its inception. The move reminded me of David Letterman’s first show on NBC, a morning affair in the summer of 1980. The show was 90 minutes long, but affiliates had the option of airing 30, 60, 90 or – as Dave often joked – none of the show.

Justin Trudeau, Puppetmaster

Take that, Bob Fulford! Justin Trudeau has just registered his first measurable achievement in public life: forcing a first-tier leadership candidate to take a position in defiance of the Liberal caucus and the party’s acknowledged expert on constitutional matters.

Update: From today's Star:

Cementing himself as the candidate of the Pierre Trudeau wing of the Liberal party, sources said Kennedy conferred with the former prime minister's eldest son, Justin, about the issue over the weekend.

Justin Trudeau has already endorsed his candidacy and today Pierre Trudeau's former principal secretary, Tom Axworthy, will also climb aboard the Kennedy bandwagon.

From CTV.ca:

Liberal leadership hopeful Gerard Kennedy has decided to buck the tide of political opinion, coming out against a parliamentary motion recognizing Quebecers as a nation within a united Canada.

The Canadian Press has learned that Kennedy will issue a statement Monday opposing the motion, just as the House of Commons prepares to debate the surprise resolution introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week.

In so doing, Kennedy will become the only Liberal leadership contender to reject the motion, which has been embraced with varying degrees of unease by his seven rival candidates, Harper's Conservatives, most Liberal MPs and the New Democrats. Even the separatist Bloc Quebecois has come on side.

Kennedy has only two per cent support among Quebec delegates to the leadership convention in Montreal and, therefore, little to lose by distinguishing himself from his rivals.

He could also be hailed as a hero by the so-called Trudeau federalists in the party, who agree with the late Liberal icon Pierre Trudeau's adamant rejection of anything that smacks of special status for Quebec. The former prime minister's sons, Justin and Alexandre Trudeau, have spoken out against the motion. Justin last week endorsed Kennedy.

Kennedy’s stance would appear to be a complete 180 from his previous attempts to cool the passions stirred when Michael Ignatieff first Ignite-d the issue. From the Globe:

The resolution could reignite a divisive convention battle that the Liberals thought they had narrowly avoided when Mr. Harper unexpectedly introduced a motion calling for Quebeckers to be recognized as a nation within a united Canada — countering a Bloc Québécois version. A similar Liberal Party resolution, endorsed by Mr. Ignatieff, sparked a backlash against his campaign from Liberals outside Quebec, and his rivals, notably Mr. Rae and Mr. Dion, criticized the Liberal motion as divisive.

Mr. Kennedy, who had acted as peacemaker in that battle and preached a calming of emotions, may now emerge as the leader of those who oppose recognizing Quebec as a nation, although campaign insiders said he does not want to be a rallying point for opponents.

Dead men tell no tales, the saying goes. But in the Liberal party they can still vote (hello, Joe Volpe!). And sometimes they set policy for leadership candidates.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"I was not deemed to be a Star person"

The December Report on Business Magazine (in today's Globe and Mail) has a little surprise tucked inside its back cover: an interview with recently-exited Toronto Star editor Giles Gherson. Some of the Qs & As:

Were you upholding the principles of social justice laid down by legendary editor Joe Atkinson?
The paper under my editorship was pursuing the Atkinson principles in a fairly aggressive way. We were doing socially progressive journalism.

Yet some people in the organization felt you weren't?
I think that was a canard. It was said by some people, but if you look at the record, they would be very, very hard-pressed to make the case. If you look at stuff we did on the working poor, the health care system, the education system for natives, and others, it was vigorous and effective.

So what should you have done differently?
In terms of substance, nothing. We moved pretty fast; I thought we had a lot of momentum. But if you want to talk about politics—which I can't get into—yes, some things could have been done differently. But that was not my battle. These were discussions in the upper reaches of the company.

What would be your advice to your successor, Fred Kuntz?
Stay the course. Fred has a longer tradition at the Star. I was a change agent from the outside. I found the newsroom extremely welcoming, but I know in the organization as a whole, I was not deemed to be a Star person. It's no accident that my successor, and Michael's successor [Jagoda Pike], are both from within the company. The Star has a very strong sense of itself, its culture and tradition. The question is whether that can lead to the kinds of changes necessary at a time of huge upheavals in the newspaper industry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

“From the pages of the medical journal Duh . . .”

. . . or so would go Norm Macdonald’s punchline when he anchored SNL’s Weekend Update, after reading an item about a painfully obvious fact that some institution felt compelled to go out and research anyway.

Today, the above-the-fold front page story in the Toronto Star is that people who live in wealthier neighbourhoods enjoy better health, supported by a study released yesterday by CIHI:

In general, residents of neighbourhoods with a higher-than-average percentage of postsecondary graduates and a higher than-average median income are more likely to report excellent or very good health status and to be physically active, and less likely to report being smokers.
--“Improving the Health of Canadians: An Introduction to Health in Urban Places,”Canadian Institute for Health Information, page 27

You don’t say. Maybe it’s because, if they live in those neighbourhoods, they are more likely to be wealthier and better educated themselves and therefore their health has nothing to do with the neighbourhood they live in, but with their own personal circumstances. Ya think?

This is sadly typical of many studies that end up proving a mere correlation between two facts –not a causal relationship – usually to serve the political agenda of whomever is doing the study.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Richards: It’s Bush’s fault

Watching Michael Richards’ apology last night on Letterman, I was not surprised when, barely a minute in, he tried to cast George W. Bush as the iceberg to his Titanic:

There’s a great deal of disturbance in this country and how blacks feel about what happened in Katrina, and, you know, many of the comics, many of performers are in Las Vegas and New Orleans trying to raise money for what happened there, and for this to happen, for me to be in a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, you know, I’m deeply, deeply sorry.

And I’ll get to the force field of this hostility, why it’s there, why the rage is in any of us, why the trash takes place, whether or not it’s between me and a couple of hecklers in the audience or between this country and another nation, the rage...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Star bloggers MIA

The Toronto Star’s blog page has really fallen down of late.

The last entry in the Star’s political blog, maintained by the staff of their Ottawa and Queen’s Park bureaus (comprising at least ten reporters and columnists), is dated October 23rd. It’s not as if those legislatures have been in recess. And hey, aren't the Liberals picking a new leader? What produces more dirt and rumour than a leadership race?

In even worse shape, however, is the blog of media columnist Antonia Zerbisias. In late August, the Zerb notified readers that she was taking some time off. In October she promised to be back by Halloween.

Three weeks hence, there’s been nothing (leaving aside the tribute to Sid Adilman) save a tedious, 200-plus comments thread, which includes a few from the Zerb herself, such as this November 6th comment: “Everything is fine. Just chillin!”

That’s a relief. But if I still subscribed to the Star, I’d be pretty peeved.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jack Layton: I couldn’t imagine Stephen Harper at a pub

Or so Layton supposedly told a table of University of Toronto students, according to this article in The Varsity.

Talking and laughing with a handful of students at a local pub on Tuesday night, and dipping his famous moustache into a glass of red wine, Jack Layton joked he couldn’t imagine Stephen Harper in a similar setting. The NDP leader has a knack for talking to young people that’s coming in handy on a current campus tour that has him crisscrossing the country from Dalhousie to UBC.

Layton and NDP MP Olivia Chow, Canada’s most famous political couple, are touring universities while parliament is out of session in an attempt to shore up support for a federal election that, Layton hinted, could come as early as next spring.

What a heck of a guy! Especially when you remember that Layton is – as the Varsity’s stenographer describes him – “the third most powerful man in the country.”

I'm not sure Layton's the third most powerful guy in his own household.

“I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its incompetence”

That’s erstwhile Ontario Liberal party keynote speaker James Carville, speaking of imminent Liberal party keynote speaker, DNC chairman Howard Dean. From today’s New York Times:

State Democratic leaders are saying Howard Dean, the party chairman, is not receiving the credit he deserves for the triumph.

Offering a rather different view, two leading party strategists rebuked Mr. Dean on Wednesday, saying the Democrats could have captured 40 House seats rather than 29 had Mr. Dean bowed to demands by Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, leader of the effort to recapture the House, to put more money into Congressional races.

“I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its incompetence,” one strategist, James Carville, said of Mr. Dean.

So it was that Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster, and Mr. Carville used the forum of a Monitor Breakfast, a gathering of newsmakers and reporters, to say Mr. Dean wasted an opportunity to make historic gains by refusing to take resources out of his effort to build up parties in all 50 states and put them into Congressional races.

Mr. Greenberg said that Republicans held 14 seats by a single percentage point and that a small investment by Mr. Dean could have put Democrats into a commanding position for the rest of the decade.

“There was a missed opportunity here,” he said. “I’ve sat down with Republican pollsters to discuss this race: They believe we left 10 to 20 seats on the table.”

Mr. Carville, whose close ties to former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York have prompted speculation that he is attacking Mr. Dean on their behalf, said the Democratic National Committee had taken out a $10 million line of credit and used barely half of it.

“They left money on the table,” he said.

Asked whether Mr. Dean should step down, he responded, loudly, in the affirmative. “He should be held accountable,” Mr. Carville said.

In an interview later, he asked, “Do we want to go into ’08 with a C minus general at the D.N.C.?”

Aides to Mr. and Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Carville had not cleared his attacks on Mr. Dean with them.

Carville was also on CNN’s "The Situation Room" last night, repeating his criticisms of Dean.

This, and the less-than-enthused reaction of some Liberals to Dean's appearance, could make for some interesting news when Dean speaks at the leadership convention two weeks hence. But then perhaps Dean will follow Carville’s example, and refuse to take questions from lowly Canuck scribes.

Dr. Roy is also on the case.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lies, damned lies, and Toronto Star headlines

Some days, they make it just too easy:

HEADLINE: Ottawa to share Caledonia costs: Ramsay

EXCERPT: “They’ve agreed to pursue the cost-sharing aspect of managing the dispute to date and in the future and we’re very pleased about that,” [Ontario native affairs minister David] Ramsay told reporters yesterday. “They’ve agreed in principle that they will talk to us about that rather than saying no. I think what that means is they’re prepared to enter into some cost sharing. What that will be will be decided by our officials.”

A spokeswoman for Prentice, who is in China on government business, declined to discuss details of the conversation between the two ministers and their officials. “It was a private meeting and we’re quite content to keep the contents of that meeting private for the time being,” said press secretary Deidre McCracken.
--Toronto Star, today

HEADLINE: Ottawa ‘understands’ occupation, McGuinty says

EXCERPT: Ottawa has a new understanding of the urgent need to end the nine-month aboriginal occupation in Caledonia following recent, low-key meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Indian Affairs minister, Premier Dalton McGuinty said today.

Although Harper didn’t agree to pay the $40-million cost of the occupation when the pair met Nov. 4, McGuinty said he expects to see the federal government show new determination to end the long-running dispute.

But the two levels of government still appear to be singing from different songbooks. Deirdra McCracken, a spokeswoman for Prentice, said she doesn’t know what Ramsay meant in his comment about Ottawa’s new “leadership role.”

The federal government will continue to sit at the negotiating table, as it has from the beginning, she said.

“If we had something to announce coming out of that meeting, we would have done so,” McCracken said. “We’ve been at the tables now, just as long as Ontario has . . . We have played an active role so far in the negotiations.”
--Toronto Star, yesterday

UPDATE: Shoulda finished going through the Star's website before posting. Here's the hat trick:

HEADLINE: Tough week on by-election front

EXCERPT: It hasn't been the best of weeks for Liberals in the federal by-election campaign in London North Centre.
--Toronto Star, today

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That's right -- I am breaking up with YOU

Whatever, Garth Costanza.

But I do have one question for the Prince of Garthness: When independent MPs succeed in "break[ing] the Party stronghold and bring[ing] about what the people want - free votes, more free thought and a better political system" -- then who runs the government and who is accountable for government decisions?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Union control?! What union control?

I am shocked – shocked! – to hear of a possible “takeover by teachers’ and staff unions” at the Toronto District School Board, if union-backed trustee candidates are successful in Monday’s municipal elections. From today’s Star:

“If parents knew in this election there is a prospect their school board could be run by a union, there would be outrage across the city,” parent Dan Lang says.

“The union is employed by the board. It’s a conflict of interest. It’s like developers buying councillors,” said Lillyann Goldstein, whose son attends Northern Secondary School.

But Jim McQueen, former head of the secondary teachers’ union Toronto local who is now running for trustee, said no union takeover is afoot.

“These people can make these accusations but unless they have some credible proof that the board is being taken over by the unions, it has to be rejected.”

While union backing of school trustees is not new in Toronto, politicians and parents on both sides say the move is more deliberate, and intense, in this election.

Those endorsed by the Campaign for Public Education — a union and parent coalition — are being accused of flouting board policies that prohibit campaigning on school property and vandalizing election signs.

The campaign, backed by the board’s support workers’ and teachers’ unions, has ads in community newspapers attacking some incumbents, including those who favoured balancing the board’s budget last month.

Those trustees, including Chair Sheila Ward, say they don’t have the deep pockets of unions to fight back. Nor do they have access to the board’s 35,000 unionized employees.

Ward said she — along with Trustees Howard Goodman, Gary Crawford, John Campbell, David Shory, Scott Harrison and Gerri Gershon — are worried voters who aren’t directly involved in the school system won’t know what to believe.

“A number of us are waking up in the middle of the night, wondering what to do and how to do it,” she said

Anyone reading auditor Al Rosen’s 2002 report into the board’s bloated contracts would know that the takeover happened long ago. That, and the past conduct of trustees such as, oh, Sheila Ward, would suggest that many trustees were content with this state of affairs, until they ended up on the wrong side of the union endorsement list.

As I noted in August, during my summer walks home along the side streets of west-end Toronto, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every single street had a public school on it. When I consulted a map, I counted 22 schools in a square measuring 2 kilometres on each side. But you know what the great thing is about half-empty schools? They all need to be staffed, cleaned, maintained and repaired. That’s jobs for the boys, folks.

Despite two headline-making budget deficit crises in four years, the board has never tackled its cost structure, cut all programs that are not funded by the province, nor rationalized its stock of emptying schools. That’s why my stock response to anyone who complains about Mike Harris’s record on education is this: “He didn’t go far enough!” i.e. abolish school boards.

Given the current state of affairs, actually controlling the trustees would seem to be a mere formality. Time once again to link to my award-winning (no, really!) op-ed, “Take back our public services.”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Shut up and Retire

Klein also pointed out that Stronach, who had been dating Leafs tough guy Tie Domi, had been a Conservative when she roasted him, but was now a Liberal MP.

"I wasn't surprised she crossed over," he said, setting up the punchline. "I don't think she ever did have a Conservative bone in her body -- well, maybe one."

Klein paused, waiting for the laughter to fade, then said: "Speaking of Peter MacKay... While the last comment was clearly audible in a televised recording of the speech, Klein's spokesman, Marisa Etmanski, said he skipped over the reference to Stronach's former boyfriend, the Conservative foreign affairs minister -- although it was included in his prepared written remarks.

Etmanski said the bawdy line had the crowd roaring and prompted one person sitting near her to spew.
--Toronto Sun, today

Monday, November 06, 2006

Toronto Star demonstrates the correct method for calling a woman a bitch

From Jennifer Wells' quickie review of the new biography of Lord and Lady Black by British author Tom Bower:

Barbara Amiel: Lady Black or Cruella De Vil?

Bower argues the latter while slathering on salacious details of what he claims are Amiel’s many sexual conquests.

Yes, there is a laundry list of leg-overs printed here.

And Bower casts her as frequently, and nastily, ill-tempered, screaming, he writes, at her senior butler: “Andrew! The towels are in the wrong place!”

This recalls Leona Helmsley foaming over water droplets on the lettuce, Martha Stewart excoriating her husband for failing to stack firewood with precision and Joan Crawford’s murderous anger should anyone make the mistake of placing a wire hanger in her closet.

It is, writes Bower, Andrew the butler who would take new household staff up to the roof of the home at Cottesmore Gardens in London. “Make sure the landing lights are on at all times,” the butler would instruct, “because Madame takes off from here on her broomstick looking for cats. She needs the lights to guide her return.”

So that's how it's done, kids. And take note, Norman Spector! But then I guess it also helps if the woman in question is already reviled in media circles.

Lord Black’s response to published excerpts of the book is here. (h/t Adam Daifallah.) Full disclosure: When I ran for OPCCA president in 1987 (yikes) one of Lord Black's companies donated to my campaign.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Never mind McGuinty’s broken promise to fix the funding formula, I’M running against Mike Harris!

Read this boneheaded non-sequitur from the campaign flyer of Toronto public school trustee candidate Nellie Pedro. Then tell me I’m a bad citizen for deciding not to vote in the trustee race:

Having been a provincial Liberal candidate in 2003, I remember my party’s promises including the “Excellence for all” and “Funding Schools for Success” that stated, “We will not let schools fail because of a flawed funding formula. We will create a fair model to reflect the local needs of diverse communities.” However, Toronto’s schools continue to suffer the impact of Conservative cuts to public education that I fought against.

Come again? I guess I can understand a lame attempt to blame Mike Harris coming from one of McGuinty’s 2003 candidates, but why mention McGuinty’s unfulfilled promise to change the Harris government’s per-pupil funding formula?

Pedro’s flyer also has a clever graphic of her name printed onto an old-fashioned school slate. Resting on a corner of the slate is an eraser – a rubber eraser. Okay, maybe Pedro doesn’t know that rubber erasers are for paper, not slates. Or maybe it’s a subliminal message that no matter how many times she runs and loses, we can’t erase her.

Under Pedro’s photo is this grammatically challenged blurb: “I’m looking forward to once again represent the people of Davenport at the TDSB.” Sigh. And I’m looking forward to moving to the 905 in a couple of years.

As I noted in August, the Toronto public board has never addressed its bloated cost structure (which was exposed in detail in auditor Al Rosen’s 2002 report), not even in its most recent budget “crisis” when it was looking at an $84-million deficit.

Unfortunately, Pedro is no worse than the other trustee candidates in my ward. All are running on similar Beer-and-Skittles platforms, promising to defend Toronto’s existing unfunded programs, and bring in even more.