Monday, June 17, 2013

So What?

Apparently, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's sense of entitlement has finally landed him in water hot enough that he's felt himself starting to cook just a little.

Right now the story is the hottest thing in Canadian politics: a New Brunswick-based charity, the Grace Foundation, recently asked Trudeau to return the $20,000 (!) speaking fee he charged them to appear at a fundraiser. Trudeau walked away with $20K in his pocket. The charity lost money.

Conversely, Trudeau's supporters think that they've found their retort to the controversy: that Judith Baxter, a member of the Grace Foundation's board of directors, has connections to the Conservative Party. She's even been photographed in the Prime Minister's office.

As it turns out, each camp in this debate -- those criticizing Trudeau, and those alleging a nefarious conspiracy between the Conservative Party and the Grace Foundation -- have to answer a key question:

So what?

This question can easily be mistaken for one of dismissal, and it's frequently used that way. But in reality, when we hear stories like this one, it's the very first question we should ask ourselves. So what? As in, so what does all of this actually add up to?

Let's start with Trudeau. Justin Trudeau, son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Old-money trust-fund kid. Charges thousands of dollars to appear at speaking events, frequently as fundraisers for charity. He actually doubles his speaking fee after being elected as a Member of Parliament. Many of these charities lose money on the events for which Trudeau was ostensibly supposed to be a major draw. Trudeau is asked to return his fee. At first he refuses.

So what?

Well, there are obviously some serious questions to be asked about just how genuinely Trudeau believes in public service. Sure, his time is worth money. Everyone's is. But Trudeau's an old-money millionaire. He doesn't need it. The charity, meanwhile, works for a very good cause. And they could use the money far more desperately than Trudeau could.

Not to mention the very serious question of Trudeau's approach to charitable giving. Does he believe in it or not? What claim does Trudeau have to a party that frequently promotes itself as a force of generosity in Canadian society if he, himself, profits from charitable causes at their expense rather than giving even his time to them? Just what would the prospects for Canadian charities be under a Trudeau government?

That's my personal answer to the "so what" question regarding Trudeau. Other people's may differ.

Now on to Judith Baxter. Her visit to the Prime Minister's Office. She received a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal from Heritage Minister James Moore. Her husband sits on the board of Moore's Riding Association.

So what?

Perhaps in a social media environment, where the desire to draw nefarious conclusions constantly overrides the need for anything resembling actual evidence, this is sufficient to draw that conclusion. But so far those peddling this theory have cited no evidence of any actual wrongdoing. Their sole scrap of evidence is that of association. So if Judith Baxter -- who is only one member of the Grace Foundation board -- is guilty of aynthing, it's mere association.

That's not a very conclusive answer to the "so what?" question. In fact, it's the kind of answer that turns the "what if?" question from one that can be extremely revelatory to one that is, by default, dismissive.

If only Justin Trudeau were so fortunate. These questions leave him looking far less like the innocent victim of a conspiracy and far more like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Stephen's Choice

In the wake of the tale swirling around Edmonton-St Albert MP Brent Rathgeber, one thing is becoming crystal-clear:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a choice to make: the Conservative Party of Canada -- his very own creation -- can live or it can die. And he has to make that choice pretty much right now. Yes, it is that simple.

The story is alarming: Rathgeber had a private member's bill before Parliament that would require the government to publicly list any federal government employee who earns $144,000 or more. Seven Conservative MPs voted in committee to bump that threshold up to $400,000. There wouldn't be very many public servatns on that list. In terms of determining what it costs to pay the wages of Canada's public service it wouldn't be spectacularly useful information.

So Rathgeber decided to resign from the Conservative Party caucus. He insisted that the seven MPs who voted to gut his bill did so under instructions from the Prime Minister's Office. But apparently the Prime Minister himself may never have been involved. The directions -- effectively orders followed by seven elected Members of Parliament -- are said to have come from appointed PMO staffers.

That is so backward it isn't even funny. Since its inception as a country Canada has ostensibly been a democracy. That means that appointed staffers in the office of the head of government should, if anything, take their direction from elected officials. Not the other way around. Otherwise, it isn't democracy.

That's a big part of the principles that the modern Conservative Party was supposed to have been founded on. And if Prime Minister Stephen Harper cannot find it in himself to -- as hinself an elected official -- set this balance of power right, he will have so thoroughly lost sight of the most fundamental principle that justified his leadership not only of his party, but of this country. And if that's happened there's not a single reason for any Conservative MP who continues to cherish the principles on which this party was founded to continue following him.

Can the Conservative Party survive in its current form without Stephen Harper's leadership? At this current time, I don't think so. Even if Harper were no longer party leader his leadership -- in some form -- would still be integral to the party's continuing ability to function. If Harper undermines his own credibility, he will be undermining the party's prospects of survival.

So Harper has a choice: he will either work this issue with Brent Rathgeber out, restoring the balance of democratic power, or he won't. In doing so he will choose whether the Conservative Party, in its current form, will live or if it will die.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why Rob Ford Wasn't Wrong to Call the Media "Maggots"

Media outlets have made quite a bit out of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford calling journalists "maggots." Some of them even made that remark the headline of their stories about Ford addressing the public via radio -- which reminds you what the media think this story is really about.

Perhaps it's not hard to see what they're so upset about. After all, calling the media maggots isn't very nice. Why, the media aren't maggots at all. They're human beings, right? Right?

Actually, I'm not so sure they are human. At least in any meaningful sense. To explain why, I'm going to pick on Cjenk Uygur.

The reason why I'm going to pick on Uygur is pretty much the following: he calls his YouTube channel "The Young Turks" but it just so happens he is not young. He's 43 years old. He's got old balls. And while his YouTube channel does, from time to time, feature younger commentators, he's the only one I've ever seen there who's actually Turkish. I'd say that Uygur has an integrity problem. I'd also question whether he's meaningfully human.

So let's take a ride in the not-so-wayback machine and watch one of Uygur's segments on the so-called "crack scandal":
For a moment, let's set aside the fact that Uygur doesn't mention even a single so-called "crack" that couldn't easily be explained away with just a little logical thinking. For a moment, let's put ourselves in Uygur's shoes.

Okay. You at least aspire to journalistic credibility. You'd like to think of yourself as a journalist. You even once landed yourself a gig working as a substitute commentator on MSNBC (although that didn't work out). You think of yourself a journalist. You'd even like to be a journalist.

Now: you're on your inaccurately-branded YouTube channel talking about potentially career-ending allegations for which, it turns out, there is actually no evidence. There is actually more evidence for the existence of sasquatch or UFOs than there is for the allegations you're reporting on. Do you:

A.) Adopt a sombre tone, considering that you're reporting on unproven and -- more importantly -- unsupported allegations?

Or do you:

B.) Grin widely and laugh a lot, relishing every alleged sordid detail of these allegations, despite the fact that they're unproven and -- more importantly -- unsupported?

Why, as it turns out, Uygur opted for the latter. He clearly took very profound pleasure in reporting on this story, despite the fact that there is to date -- and will seemingly remain -- not an iota of evidence to demonstrate that there actually is a story. Toronto's left still prays that this story will destroy Ford's political career and force him out of the office that he won fair and square. And maggots like Cjenk Uygur are enjoying every second of it.

Uygur even went so far as to snicker when Ford skipped over any questions regarding the alleged crack video, which allegedly exists and is allegedly of him, by asking "anything else." I can't imagine how Uygur himself would feel if it were he who was falsely being accused of using crack. Perhaps he'd take a little less pleasure in that particular scenario. But it didn't prevent him from taking an almost-psychopathic degree of pleasure in Rob Ford's situation.

Gee. It's almost enough to wonder why a growing segment of people around the world -- 49 percent in Toronto alone -- don't trust the media anymore.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Keeping Justin Trudeau in Context

 So today the Justin Trudeau bots took to social media to harp about his comments in Vancouver. They actually insisted that these comments were to eliminate the "misconception" that Trudeau has no substance.

Quite the contrary: Trudeau revealed the nature of his substance long, long ago: when he revealled to Canadians something that most of those who support him have yet to admit to themselves: that if you don't live in Quebec, he's just not in this for you. If anything, he's preoccupied with maintaining Quebec's unfair advantage in the Senate. In the past he also inferred that only Quebecers should be allowed to run Canada.

"We all serve the same people," Trudeau declared today. But in context of Trudeau's past remarks allow me to amend his comments to reflect what Trudeau is really all about.

"We all serve the same people. I serve the people of Quebec and I intend to maintain every advantage they have over provinces like Alberta and British Columbia. And because Quebecers are better than non-Quebecers, and because Canada belongs to Quebec, you're expected to serve Quebecers, too."

Think this is unfair? Keep in mind that Trudeau has said all of these things himself, although never all at the same time.

It should remind every Liberal Party supporter outside of Quebec of a simple, undeniable reality: if you live outside of Quebec and you plan to vote Liberal, you're an idiot. And if you're that big an idiot, bend over. It's going to be a rough ride.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I Have Acquired the Rob Ford Crack Video

Brace yourselves, Gawker and Toronto Star. You done got scooped. By none other than yours truly.

I'll be the first to admit that when I first heard about the allegations of a video on which Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoked crack and called Liberal leader Justin Trudeau a "faggot" -- words I've heard bandied about on Twitter, not my own. (With experience I've come to despise that word, personally. No joke.) Even putting myself in the shoes of a person who hates Ford, I couldn't overlook some very common wisdom: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

But as it turns out, the video is real. I've managed to acquire it, and for a far cry short of the $200,000 that drug-dealer-fundraising-for Gawker managed to cobble together.

The video is below. Brace yourself, Fordnation. I am about to rock your world.

Of course it isn't Fordnation's whose world has just been rocked. It's Fordhaternation. And they don't even know it.

Of course that video wasn't of someone who is allegedly Rob Ford allegedly smoking something that is allegedly crack. It's in fact very famous purported footage of sasquatch caught on film. But as it turns out, for all practical purposes this very much is the Ford crack video.

Think about what the story is to date: two Toronto Star reporters and a Gawker reporter claim they've seen a video of Rob Ford smoking crack. Unlike Roger Paterson, they don't even have the footage to "prove" what they've seen. But they insist that it exists. And they continue to insist that it exists despite the fact that some Toronto drug dealer apparently won't come out to claim the $200,000 all the drug-dealer-fundraising-for lefties of Toronto have scraped together for him.

A little fishy, no?

So this is the story that the Star thinks they have. Of course, they don't have the video, which means that they don't actually have the story, even as they plaster "crack scandal" all over any news coverage of Ford that they happen  to publish. (All of which focuses in on this alleged scandal, because that's all they're willing to ask Ford about; it's a professionally undignified means of creating their own news.)

This is what they have to substantiate it: a hypothetical, as-yet unseen and unverified video. A dark, shaky, low-rez and quite-likely-fake video. Not a damn bit different from what all sorts of people used as "evidence" that Big Foot is real. Except that odds are you've at least seen the Paterson film at least once. And keep in mind there's more than just one sasquatch video.

And all of this is what the psychotic denizens of the Toronto far-left -- and the Canadian far-left as well -- have bought hook, line and sinker.