This afternoon’s CTV True North political panel

Had a blast on Todd van der Heyden’s show this afternoon with NDP’er Rebecca Blaikie and one of the nicest Tories around, Michael Taube.

We start talking about Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s by-election night comments around the 7 minute mark. I mention Wilfred Laurier shortly thereafter.

Clip can be found here.

To be poor

It’s been awhile since I’ve been poor but once you’ve used a food bank you never really relax (because you know just how easy it is to find yourself there). But after reading this post the other day I can smell the welfare office like it was yesterday. It wasn’t just the smell of stale brown bag lunches and baby spit up either – it was the smell of hopelessness and defeat.

You see, when I was much younger I made a decision that many people thought was the wrong one. I will be forever grateful that I made that decision but it put me – us – on a journey of poverty that took many years to climb out from.

Blogger Linda Tirado’s piece on poverty talks about the hopelessness and absolute exhaustion associated with it, and she’s right. Sitting in that welfare office twenty years ago, with its bullet proof glass, stern clerks and wailing babies, was one of the lowest points of my life. You wait for your name to be called yet cringe when it is – that simple act of someone saying your name out loud in a welfare office always felt aggressive.  Each month I’d become more and more beaten down by being so fucking poor that I couldn’t ever see the way out. Each day was an exercise in emotional survival.

Despair was always stalking me. I didn’t know how I’d get us out of this. Hell, I didn’t even know how I was going to pay the phone bill. But I couldn’t give up, no matter how much I wanted to sometimes.

But I got lucky and did find my way out. I worked my ass off – got sick a few times in the process – and just kept going. I managed to finish a degree just over a decade ago and I cried while waiting to walk across the dais to collect my diploma from the university president. “Well done,” she whispered in my ear.

I didn’t do it alone. Many people – people I will never meet – helped me. The unknown people who made it public policy in BC in the 90s to cover daycare costs while single parents were in school. The people who helped me navigate the financial aid system. The men and women who dropped off Christmas hampers each year. The professors who encouraged me to keep going. My kids who gave me love, and hope.

Read Tirado’s story. It’s important.

Exposing Rob Ford

This, I’m sure, will become a daily post – there are so many lies and half-truths that it’s hard to keep track. But since Rob and Doug Ford seem to believe that the more you tell a lie the more true it becomes, a big fat reality check is needed on the garbage they spew.

Today’s Rob Ford lie:

Ford told media outlets that he was elected with the largest majority in history.

Here’s the truth:

It’s a whopper of a lie! Rob Ford was elected with 47% of the vote. This means that he did not actually get a majority. The majority of Torontonians voted against Ford.

In the last 60 years of mayoral races in Toronto, the following people did better – and had a stronger mandate – than Rob Ford:

David Miller
Mel Lastman
June Rowlands
Art Eggleton
David Crombie
Philip Givens
Donald Summerville
Nathan Philips
Alan Lamport
Hiram E. McCallum

And there is the truth about this Rob Ford lie.

“I don’t think there are words for what just happened”

I am a huge Katie Simpson fan. Simpson, who’s been doing amazing work for CP24 with her Rob Ford coverage, is seen here reacting on live TV to Ford’s comments about, um, how well fed he is at home.

What Lindsay Mattick Davidson and the Globe didn’t tell you

Today, the Globe ran an opinion piece by Lindsay Mattick Davidson, one of the Justin Trudeau “ladies night” organizers. She, apparently, is unhappy with those of us who criticized the invitation and is now whining – in print – that politics is “ugly.” What’s really ugly however is when you pen an op-ed and don’t disclose your ties to the organizer, who in this case is Amanda Alvaro.

You see, Alvaro – who is no stranger to politics – runs a Toronto PR shop called, Narrative. Mattick Davidson, referred to by the Globe as a “public relations executive,” is Alvaro’s vice president. That’s right, she’s second in command over at Narrative. And today she was defending her boss.

Here at Daisy – the Toronto firm where I’m a VP – we always disclose where we work to the media, and if there’s a client conflict. Every single time.

Mattick Davidson should have disclosed the name of her firm. So should have the Globe.

Harperites’ hypocrisy

On Monday, long-time Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis said something regrettable on television. Stupid, too. And then he did something that politicians don’t do enough these days – he immediately apologized.

But then the Harper machine got on it. There’s a petition out there calling for Karygiannis’ resignation and a fundraising letter, under Tory minister Julian Fantino’s signature titled, “Fire Him Now.”

As I said on Sun today, Karygiannis did the right thing by apologizing for said stupid comments, but we shouldn’t take any lessons from the Conservatives on this, given their astonishing track record. Here are just a few highlights:

Karygiannis’ comments were insensitive, disrespectful and just plain wrong. He apologized. Conservatives want him fired.

Conservative ministers make racist comments, suggest that cancer is sexy and joke about the deaths of 17 Canadians and nothing happens.

I’m not defending Karigiannis’ comments – and no one should – but the hypocrisy of this government is astounding.


Because Margaret Wente quoted me in her column today.

This was, according to Warren, the final straw:

Sometimes a guy can’t catch a break.

“Justin. Unplugged.” read the eye-catching invitation to a Toronto fundraiser held last week. The come-on offered well-heeled professional ladies (their word, not mine) the chance to hear the “future prime minister of Canada” address such hardball questions as, “What’s your favourite virtue?” and “Who are your real-life heroes?”

Ladies, sometimes I cringe for my sex.

“To be honest, when I first saw the invite – complete with Warholian photos of Justin – I thought it was an attack ad, thought up by the Conservative Party’s war room,” blogged government-relations expert Lisa Kirbie. And she’s a liberal.

It went downhill from there. During the event, Mr. Trudeau was asked which nation’s administration, besides Canada’s, he admires most. “Not the fluffy questions some were expecting!” exclaimed Amanda Alvaro, the host. Justin’s response to this brain-buster showed why he can’t be trusted to go around unplugged.

“You know, there’s a level of admiration I actually have for China,” he said. He went on to observe that dictatorships are able to do things faster than democracies, like going green and investing in solar panels. Sensing that he was neck-deep in the swamp, he tried to recover, but it was too late. Everybody pounced on him – Conservatives, New Democrats, Tibetans. Right-wing pundits posted photos of smog-choked Chinese cities, where people die of air pollution by the thousands. An Asian-Canadian coalition formed to fight Chinese oppression held a press conference that was covered by the CBC. They demanded an apology and a meeting to describe their personal experiences of persecution. “Can I use the word ‘foolish’?” said one.

In the big scheme of things, this is a nothing. But it’s trouble Mr. Trudeau doesn’t need. It reinforces the impression that he’s the guy in short pants. He’s supposed to be the master of social media, but thanks to ladies’ night, he’s been trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.

Anyone who watched Question Period during the Senate scandals could see that Mr. Trudeau was totally outclassed. As the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair dissected Stephen Harper’s changing version of events with surgical precision, Mr. Trudeau came across as an earnest amateur. When debate time comes around again, those two will carve him up. Poor Liberals. They have the wrong leader.

As Mr. Trudeau spent all weekend gamely tweeting to defend himself, Mr. Harper stroked some of the ethnic groups his party has courted with such success. He showed up in Toronto to celebrate Diwali, where he declared that India is at the centre of the government’s Asian policy. He spoke at the Ukrainian Canadian Congress convention, where he got five standing ovations.

Perhaps wisely, Mr. Trudeau has mostly stayed away from boring policy stuff. After all, his strongest asset is supposed to be his personality, and the next election is far away. Still, I am beginning to suspect his policy needs work too. A couple of weeks ago, he said he thinks Canada should put a price on carbon – even though the main (and only) effect would be to raise prices for consumers while making Canadian industry less competitive. Mr. Harper, meanwhile, is going to campaign on unbundling your cable fees. If Mr. Trudeau plans to fight for the middle class, maybe he should think up something else.

As Ms. Kirbie blogged the other day, Justin’s biggest political problem is that he looks vapid and lightweight. The trouble is, whenever he takes a stab at saying something really substantive, he winds up looking … vapid and lightweight.

That’s a problem. Even when he’s only talking to the ladies.

PS I’m now taking applications. Line forms to the left.

Ontario PC party campaign itinerary leaked

And they think having beer with the media and posing for photos with soccer moms will be Hudak’s path to victory. Wow.

Compare and contrast

What Justin said Thursday night about territorial governments in Canada, during his “ladies” night event:

“But if I were to reach out and say which…which kind of administration I most admire, I think there’s something to be said right here in Canada for the way our territories are run. Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon are done without political parties around consensus.”

And then, on Twitter, the very next day:


About those China comments

Justin Trudeau – and the team around him – have found themselves under some criticism this week. First with the “ladies” night fundraiser’s condescending invitation, and then, with the much more troubling comments our leader made at said funder.

This is, verbatim, what Trudeau Jr. said at the event in response to a “un-fluffy” question asked by event – and evite – organizer Amanda Alvaro:

Question: “Which nation, besides Canada, which nation’s administration do you most admire, and why?”

Answer: “You know,  there’s a level of of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say ‘we need to go green  fastest…we need to start investing in solar.’ I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted that I find quite interesting.

But if I were to reach out and say which…which kind of administration I most admire, I think there’s something to be said right here in Canada for the way our territories are run. Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon are done without political parties around consensus. And are much more like a municipal government. And I think there’s a lot to be said for people pulling together to try and solve issues rather than to score points off of each other. And I think we need a little more of that.

But Sun News can now report that I prefer China.”

Trudeau apologists immediately went to work on Twitter and other social media sites to defensively point out that Justin was “joking.” Joking. Seriously everybody, he was JOKING! OKAY?!

But those of us who haven’t, you know, checked our critical faculties at the door, suspected otherwise.

And then Trudeau, at a Quebec event this weekend, clarified by saying, “his comment was a reflection on [China’s] growing economy.

So, not a joke.

It was a mistake, a big one. And to have Team Justin groupies insisting it was a joke, or to dismiss it as some sort of Sun News gotcha attack, was stupid.

It’s going to be a long two years until the next election if this is the strategy.