This Could Fly To The Moon, Or Be A Lead Balloon

Dear #cdnpoli, meet Northern Lights.

I knew my time working in politics always would lead me a place like this.

After watching obvious conservative Astro-turf organizations like the CTF, National Citizen Coalition, or corporate Trojan horses like Ontario Proud gain legitimacy through media complacency or conservative bias – I decided to see if there is support for a platform to promote fact based resistance and opposition to the faux populism being promoted by Canada’s right.

Yes, there are amazing organizations like North 99 and Press Progress, but there are many other people out there looking to become engaged in either advocacy or the political process as well. I think there is more than enough room out there for another platform to help rally progressives and those who feel left behind by the Conservative Party of Canada after its turn to the extreme right.

Why Northern Lights? What phenomenon better illuminates the night with a fluidity, beauty, and spectrum of colours and nature that represents what we hope to see in Canada – than the Aurora Borealis? Bringing light to the dark with truth and inclusivity.

It quite simple actually. We aren’t Rebels, we aren’t looking to separate, we do not wear vests, We aren’t Proud in Ontario, and aren’t we one of the 6 people actually allowed to be part of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. We do not feel that the only way to achieve our goals is to restrict the rights of others. We feel that the myth of weak progressive is just that. We will leave stereotyping to those on the right. We do not need to demonize a race or group of Canadians to create fear and division. We can make our point by shining a light on the conservative movement in Canada.

So, I hope this is a start. I will make a snowball and roll it down a hill and see if it grows. From what starts from as an initial state of small significance hopefully builds upon itself and grows in mass and and equilibrium into something potentially important – and dangerous to those who spread lies, deceit, and fear for political gain.

So, are you in?

What is next you ask?

  • Lets see if there is support, or ability to grow a following or audience. The Twitter account is live right now. That is where it starts.
  • If we can get a decent following I will be looking for a few people to help me manage/admin the Twitter feed. For example, someone to respond solely to Ontario Proud, someone to respond to Rebel Media, someone to look for amazing Tweets to share or to aggregate #cdnpoli
  • The goal is to establish a virtual real-time war room to combat misinformation on the right, while promoting accounts and Tweets that need amplification.
  • Once we accomplish that, to see where to take this next. We have had an offer to help create a web page from Graphic Fixations, which is an amazing offer and a very strong possibility.
  • The possibilities are endless, perhaps take on Ontario Proud directly by becoming a non-profit organization and registering as a third party in the political process as a long term goal.

So, the snowball is made and I have just started rolling it down the hill, where it goes is up to us. Please spread the word, share, and engage as many people as you can – because this is the type of movement many of us have been talking about or looking for since I joined Twitter.

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A Letter To 16

Dear 16;

I do not write this to embarrass you, or to overshare. That’s the great thing about remaining anonymous on the interwebs. I do not write this as amateur Buddha looking to impart valuable and sage advice. I write this as a parent who loves you and cares, looking to share a few life lessons that I have learned.

I find as I have gotten older, while I still can recall minute details of being a teenager, we tend to start whitewashing a lot of the bad we experienced in those years. Yes, I remember the truly bad times, but a lot of the pressure and anxieties of being a teen have been bumped from my personal hard drive.

I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety that you feel on a daily basis. Not only do you have your future to plan for and scholastic achievement to uphold, there is also the need to fit in and conform. There has always been an element of non-conformity and a dancing to the beat of your own drummer aspect to your personality, but the pressure to conform and fit in is always there – even for the most rebellious among us. So, not only do you have the future and marks to worry about, you have the drama of friendship and those who aren’t friends to contend with. Add the stress and pressure of fitting in in the era of social media, and I don’t know how you do it, I would have collapsed like a house of cards in a hurricane.

This is what I have to say.

I have learned a few things about you over the years. Like me, you are a prolific over thinker. I can often hear that little hamster that runs around the squeaky hamster wheel in your brain from across the house. I can tell when you are nervous or feeling anxiety by the way you pull at the sleeves of your shirts and sweaters. I can tell when you are tired by how big your eyes are. You are one of the most intelligent, driven, and hard working people I have ever known. I also know that these very same qualities that lead you to success, can also be a driver of anxiety and stress. I have learned the hard way in life that you cannot always think your way out of problems, sometimes you need to get out of your head a little and to let go, or to talk to someone. However, I know that as an over thinker it is far easier said than done.

You have always had a curiosity and love of life that has fascinated me. Some of the best days that I have experienced have been spent with you, seeing the world through your eyes. Never lose that. Never let life take that away from you. You have that spark. Surround yourself with those who will help you turn that spark into a blazing fire.

Anyone who tells you to “just smile” should be punched in the throat. It is okay to feel bad, there is no weakness in depression or anxiety. Sickness is not weakness. Also. sometimes the world will beat you down, it is okay to be angry or to withdraw and lick your wounds. Back to the overthinking thing – do not stay in your head for too long, or get lost in there. Never be afraid to talk about your feelings.

Never be afraid to fail.

You once told me that “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them.” Never forget that, we are stupid. I know. I was once one of them. Keep throwing rocks at them – especially the sexist and misogynistic ones.

One last thing. The biggest problems that I have ever experienced in life, especially when it came to anxiety and depression, were made worse because of my inability to communicate my feelings. I chose to not share my problems with those I love, and it was the worst decision that I ever made. Whether it was pride, or the need to appear strong, I don’t know. I just wish that I had trusted those around me more. I am not telling you this for any specific reason. We have always been open and honest in our communication, and that is the foundation of the relationship we have. Just remember that you are never alone. Ever. I am here 24/7, and always will be.

In a moment of difficulty my father once told me this story – and I want you to remember it in times of trouble,

“A person is walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep they can’t get out. 
A doctor passes by and the person shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. 
Then a priest comes along and the person shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey friend, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. and the person says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

I will always climb in that hole with you if you tell me you are down there. So will your Mom. We have both been in that very same hole. Do not be ashamed of being in a hole, be proud for telling someone you are down there and for having the self-awareness to realize where you are.

I will always have your back regardless of what happens in life. You will never be alone. Never forget that.

Guest Post: Sometimes The Abyss Screams Back

Things they do look awful cold
(talkin’ ’bout my generation) 
I hope I die before get old
(talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Pete Townsend – My Generation

I am not trying to be flippant by saying this, and I mean this metaphorically in every way, but I witnessed a familial political shit show of biblical proportions over the Christmas holidays that made me question the very basis of my upbringing. One that shook to me my very core.

We all have those family members who make purposefully provocative or regressive political statements, or post Ontario Proud/Canadian Taxpayer Federation content on social media – and as much as that bothers me, at the end of the day I do not really care. I have no respect for those who communicate in meme at the cost of being informed. I am talking about when the ignorance hits closer to home.

I have been in denial for a long time about my parents move to the political right, which is fine, in a democracy we are all entitled to our own political opinions. It is the reasons why, or lack of reasons that I find so bothersome. My parents have become human Ontario Proud memes. They choose to take up any created conservative outrage as gospel and casus belli to attack me, or my political beliefs.

My parents weren’t always like this. They were both members of unions, and the children of union members who were left-leaning centrists and alternated between voting NDP or Liberal. They were a massive influence on the politics that I have now.

Forget about the Canada Child Benefit, what about Omar Khadr? Forget about climate change, what about the job-killing-do-nothing-will-change-nothing-carbon-tax! Forget about the enhanced CPP actually benefiting them, what about Justin Trudeau dressing funny in India? And when I challenge them it seems that anger has replaced reason or fact. How can they be happy when the man on CTV said that illegal immigrants are being paid thousands of dollars a month by Justin Trudeau to train for ISIS?

That is the insidious nature of angry populism, it condenses a nuanced and complicated political landscape into a few bumper sticker slogans that completely deflect from the real issues facing Canadians. It assumes that Canadians do not have the sophistication to see the reasoning behind specific policy debates. There are often more than two sides to every issue, but this mindless fake populism removes any possible solution, and replaces it with a never-ending cycle of anger. This anger has now taken hold of people I love and I have no idea what to do.

It is not even the fact that they feel this way, it is the impact of that thinking on the future of their grandchildren and those who come next. They do not realize that today’s political thinking is not focused on them – it is focused on future generations. It should be focused on providing a stable environment and sustainable earth to those who come next. Just as their parents accepted the CPP, Canada Health Act, employment standards, Employment Insurance as a safety net for them, the parents of today need to accept that the governments have to start building the social and environmental safety net of the future to benefit their children.

The same people who accepted the U.S.–Canada Air Quality Agreement which helped end acid rain for us, seem afraid of the big thinking that is required to tackle the problems we know are coming. The same people who witnessed man walking on the moon seem to not realize the bill for the environmental damage caused by the progress they they experienced, has now come due. The same people who witnessed Canada repatriate its Constitution and create a Charter of Rights and Freedoms are now so quick to tear at the fabric of Canada over the ability to create pipelines without the consultation of those who will bear the environmental cost. What frustrates me, is the ability to have a debate using this language and logic has been lost to those I wish I could reach the most.

My parents never gave Justin Trudeau a chance. It is almost like they could not accept his age, or that for the first time in years a Prime Minister of Canada wasn’t from their age bracket or within 10 years of their respective ages. They discounted him because they felt he could not understand their concerns without realizing that it was time to have a leader who better represented their children or grandchildren. This misunderstanding has manifested itself in an ugliness that came to a head this Christmas.

I am not sure what to do. Do I fight back, do I scream, do I ignore them, or do I not discuss politics with them any longer? I have never been the type to walk away from an important debate but I am afraid that these people that I love may be a lost cause politically, and that is as painful an admission that I can ever make.

(Neil’s note: This post was submitted to me with the understanding that I post it anonymously out of fear that it could cause a bigger issue for them – but I feel this is a question, or conversation many of us are having now. Thank you for sending this to me.)

…And All I Got From 2018 Was This Sh*tty Hat

I tried to write a post wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year but it always comes out sounding like “A Holiday Wish from Steve Martin” from SNL that starts out nicely and ends with him wishing for world domination and the destruction of his enemies, “…you know, if I had three wishes that I could make this holiday season, first, of course, would be for all the children to get together and sing.. the second would be for the $30 million every month to me.. and the third would be for all encompassing power over every living being thing in the entire universe.” or I sound like Théoden King in The Two Towers…

Rather than going hyperbolic as is my pattern, I have a few points to make about the political zoo that awaits us in 2019:

  • I think when debating those who we disagree with on Twitter, we should start asking: rather than telling me what you oppose, tell me what do you stand for? Opposing is easy, leading is much harder. There is a reason Alexander wept when there were no more worlds to conquer, it meant that he had to lead through ideas and policy rather than leading by conquest and conflict. I plan to start judging the politicians that I support, and those who I reject, by what they stand for and not what they oppose. I think we could easily solve a lot of conflict and misunderstanding that way, or a Turing test for Twitter bots.
  • We have to look at the motivations of the politicians that we support. It is much easier to go with the current and do what is easy. I have worked for politicians who made decisions that they knew would be unpopular and likely to lead electoral defeat, but chose to make that decision because they felt it was right. Are you in government to make choices that may only pay off in the long term? Or those that will keep you in power? I would rather support a one term Prime Minister who did what was right rather than one who thirsts for power above all else.
  • I have worked on winning campaigns and I have worked on losing campaigns, but the campaigns I am most proud of were the ones where we lost on principle rather than winning on a lie. It may sound idealistic, but I truly believe there is a place for idealism in today’s political climate. The day that idealism has no place in politics is the day I walk away.
  • Find the crux, essence, or nucleus of every debate. Strip away the hyperbole, whataboutisms, static, distractions, and find the point of policy in which debate can occur. It isn’t enough for you to say that you oppose carbon pricing – are you against a carbon tax but have other policies that will help combat climate change? Do you have a plan to combat climate change and what is it? Do you not believe in man made climate change? Look for the true debate and not the argument.
  • Pick your battles, some people want to engage in a never ending cycle of distraction and argument with no end. Block or mute those people. Look for those who are willing to engage in a conversation. In my time working in politics, I became a much better debater and a much more informed and educated Liberal the more time I spent around Conservative/NDP staffers. It was a no-bullshit zone where policy and fact was the first rule of engagement, and I had my ass handed to me on a few (many) occasions. I truly learned what it meant to be a Liberal by surrounding myself with people who did not share the same worldview. Find those who challenge you.
  • Take time off when you are feeling overwhelmed. Ask for help when you need it. We need to become a better community, and I promise that I will be there for anyone who needs advice, to disagree with me, or just an ear.

To all those who are riding this crazy roller coaster of Canadian politics with me, thank you. I feel ready for anything that is coming our way. I will do my best to add to the debate, or to fight deceit and misinformation in every form or forum. Godspeed, 2019.

“I am fuel you are friends we got the means to make amends, I am lost I’m no guide but I’m by your side.” Leash, Pearl Jam

The Carbon Tax As Explained By My 16 Year Old

With the seeming inability of Canadian media or Conservative politicians to understand how a carbon tax will reduce emissions, I asked my 16 year old daughter to research the carbon tax for 15 minutes and explain how it works.

It took her about 3 minutes. She also rolled her eyes so hard that I am concerned that the ineptness of Canadian media and Andrew Scheer will cause her permanent damage from eye rolling. Besides the fact that the solutions to, or the consequences of Climate Change will be for her generation to deal with because of our inability to act. Wait until she realizes that reality.

  1. Why should pollution be free? Put a price on it. If you speed you get a ticket and fine, why would the same not be true for poisoning the environment?
  2. Industries can either reduce emissions, or pay the carbon tax. Its called consequences.
  3. The cost of the carbon tax is passed on to us by the corporations, because consequences roll downhill.
  4. Carbon tax revenue is given back to families directly by the carbon tax rebate according to this.
  5. People who get the tax rebate are motivated to change their habits, or to buy goods and services with a smaller carbon footprint.¹
  6. Investment for clean and greener technologies is driven by demand, causing companies with higher carbon footprints to adopt lower emissions standards or be left behind.
  7. Carbon emissions fall.
  8. Duh.

I got the feeling that her entire list would have consisted of “duh”, but she felt that she had to dumb it down and properly explain carbon pricing using facts, and easy to understand words for Conservatives.

Despite the failings of their parents, I think the kids are going to be alright.

Notes:
¹ this is in reference to a borrowed Tristan Hopper analogy about carbon pricing: Consider a scenario in which the government places a $5 tax on bottled water and simultaneously hands every Canadian a $5 “rebate cheque” at the end of every day. Sure, Canadians could keep drinking bottled water with no hit to their bottom line. Or, they could use tap water and save $5 every day. My daughter best used this analogy by saying “or we could use the money to buy a new water cooler or water filtration system and use that to save money later.”

Why Never Again Means Never Again Until It Is Politically Inconvenient

(Neil’s Note: This post was written collaboratively with The Girl Who Waited, who once again manages to help turn my ranting into a coherent and thoughtful posting.)

On June 9th 1939, Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, refused to provide sanctuary to the 907 Jewish passengers aboard the MS St Louis. The MS St Louis was forced to return to Europe where 254 of the predominately Jewish passengers later lost their lives in the Holocaust. 

On May 8th 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he was apologizing for Canada’s failure to help those aboard the MS St. Louis, and for the fate that many of the passengers suffered by saying, “It is our collective responsibility to acknowledge this difficult truth, learn from this story, and continue to fight against anti-Semitism every day, as we give meaning to the solemn vow: ‘Never again.'”

For this, Prime Minister Trudeau was derided by many in the media, and by many in the Conservative Party who called him soft, said that he apologized too much, and that these apologies meant nothing in light of the current problems of the Liberal government according to noted asshole, Don Martin. 

I mean, hadn’t Prime Minister Trudeau personally apologized to gay men and women targeted for their sexuality, apologized for Canada’s 1914 decision to turn away the Komagata Maru ship that was carrying 376, mostly Sikh, migrants, and exonerated six Tsilhqot’in chiefs who were hanged in 1864 for their role in the killing of six white colonists?

So many in the media seemed to forget WHY we need to own up to our past errors, not to simply apologize, but to remember our mistakes and ensure it never happens again. To prevent what George Santayana so poignantly stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

All one needs to do is read the comments on the Tweet by Prime Minister Trudeau announcing the apology to see why this type of historical apology is necessary, and why never again is precarious at best.

When Canada denied asylum to Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis in 1939, we failed the passengers, their descendants, and the community. For this, we will deliver a formal apology in the House for this shameful chapter of our history: https://t.co/3nSCa7Hh7P— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 9, 2018

Some of the comments on the Tweet are horrific. But force yourself to read them.

To further illustrate the need to remember, 10 days before the apology, a white supremacist opened fire on worshipers at a synagogue, killing 11 elderly people in their sanctuary on Shabbat simply because they were Jewish. 

This is not a post about apologies however, it is about leadership. Leadership when it is politically unpopular to make decisions that may only look good through a historical lens – and why Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada fail this test. 

There is a perfect storm coming our way. The rise of global right wing populism mixed with the catastrophe of climate change is setting conditions for a worst case scenario that would make any global catastrophe that has come before, seem like a day at the beach. Only the most flexible ostriches among us refuse to see this reality. 

I offer one simple question. Who do you trust to lead us through this? I mean lead, not send dog-whistling Tweets that bend the very concept of truth and decency – but lead. Not to just talk, but do. Not to appease your base, but make actual decisions on a national level with global consequences.

Here is what we know about Andrew Scheer:

  1. Have you ever once seen him give a press conference where he didn’t look like a scared prepubescent teen about to address his school’s model UN? Have you ever seen him make a firm statement or decision while addressing the media? This story here illustrates Andrew Scheer’s inability to make definitive extemporaneous statements when asked directly. 
  2. He hired the founding director of Canada’s white supremacist media platform, Rebel Media, to be his campaign manager. Spare me your narrative about Hamish Marshall not being directly involved in what the Rebel Media has become. Let me ask you this: someone is building a guillotine and needs your help, so you register yourself as a director of Guillotine Corp, help them create the business plan, help plan strategy, help market the Guillotine, and then help hire those who will use the guillotine – doesn’t that make you somewhat complicit for how the guillotine is used? This is who Andrew Scheer has chosen to give the control of his campaign messaging to. 
  3. His Rebel Media links can also be seen to directly influence how he has dealt with the United Nation’s Global Compact for Migration, in fact the Rebel Media is giving Andrew Scheer his direct messaging in opposing the migration compact. What most logical people see as a necessary tool in helping to deal with the rising level of global migration, the Conservative Party of Canada has turned into a nefarious document that will mean giving up the very sovereignty of Canadian borders even though we know this to be untrue. 
  4. Find me one instance where the Conservative Party has not sold fear as the main part of it’s messaging. The list of things the CPC have demonized in the name of political gamesmanship is overwhelming. Think of each issue from the Canada Summer Jobs attestation, to small business tax code modernization, native healing lodges, and now the Carbon Tax – and how they chose to sell extreme fear and division in the place of offering an alternative policy. It is because their only alternative policy is fear.
  5. Can you imagine any national scenario that Andrew Scheer would stand up to Doug Ford or to Jason Kenney? Imagine Andrew Scheer standing up to another world leader, the way Justin Trudeau has on numerous occasions with Donald Trump standing right beside him? That thought is laughable. 
  6. Andrew Scheer’s only climate change plan appears to be promoting the sale of Alberta oil. He promised a comprehensive climate change plan 230 days ago and counting. Instead of a climate change plan, we get a Toronto Sun cartoon? 

I do not know how any one in their right mind can see Andrew Scheer as a leader of any consequence, and that terrifies me. We are entering a time in global history where strong leadership is required, where decisions will have to be made with an eye to the future and not to appease an increasingly nationalistic base. We need a leader who can stand strong, and be willing alienate supporters for the betterment of all Canadians. We need a leader who will be willing to take on his own party to ensure that Canada meets it’s international obligations to migrants and asylum seekers. If Andrew Scheer could not even stand up to Maxime Bernier, how can we expect him to stand up to the Trump Administration on tariffs or trade disputes? 

The thought of Andrew Scheer leading on this type of level is as ridiculous as it is preposterous. He has shown us who he is over his 14 unremarkable years as a federal politician. He has had a platform to lead and has refused to do so. He has had a platform to show what policy alternatives he would offer Canadians and has chosen to divide and scare. Canadians know exactly who he is, who he represents, and who he is beholden to – and if we elect him to become our next Prime Minister, the very concept of Canada as we know it may die with that choice. 

From Grassroots to Astroturf (The Ontario Proud Story)

“No massive donors. It’s not like one group or another. Small businesses, a lot of people giving $100, $200, or $300, that kind of thing,” Jeff Ballingall on Ontario Proud’s Fundraising. 

“Yeah, its crowdfunding. But no, we have people giving us $5,000 cheques. But no one big donor has given any huge amount.” Jeff Ballingall

I love the smell of pants on fire in the morning!

Remember Ontario Proud? That plucky grassroots organization that helped take down Kathleen Wynne, or so they claimed? Well guess what. It is all bullshit. 

Here are some Ontario Proud donors:

  • Mattamy Homes, at $100,000
  • anti-union contractors association Merit Ontario, at $50,000;
  • Nashville Developments, also at $50,000;
  • Opportunities Asia Ltd. at $30,000;
  • Shiplake Properties Limited at $25,000
  • Seventeen other companies, mostly related to housing development, donated $10,000 apiece.
  • Of the corporate donations received by Ontario Proud, at least 89.7% came from companies involved in the development and construction industries. 

All of these builders and developers were against the Wynne Government’s Employees Right Act. Bill 148. Ontario Proud supported the Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party in the 2018 election, and guess what? The Doug Ford government repealed Bill 148, and rolled back employee protections in one of its main legislative acts. Guess what else! The Doug Ford Government has tabled Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, this bill would allow municipalities to circumvent laws protecting the 7,200-square-kilometre green space. Remember when Doug Ford was caught on video telling developers that he would “pave over the greenbelt“?

I have already sent in a complaint to Elections Ontario regarding the conduct of Ontario Proud in the 2018 election but yet to have heard anything back. I will also send a written request to Elections Canada for an investigation into Ontario Proud and for the disclosure of all money spent by Ontario Proud on activities other than advertising, such as staff salaries, polling, and door-to-door campaigning, as well as vendor information for their contact center operations. 

While we are discussing irregularities, does it not seem highly unethical that Jeff Ballingall used $11,300 of donor money to award business to the Mobilize Media, a company that he owns? It seems like a possible conflict of interest and should be investigated by Revenue Canada and to look into Ontario Proud’s status as a non-profit. It may fit the textbook definition of Conflict of Interest under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.

Why is this important? Because it has been disclosed that Ontario Proud paid One Persuades, who was founded and is co-owned by federal Conservative campaign manager and Rebel Media founding director Hamish Marshall — received just over $30,000 from Ontario Proud to produce ad content. Besides sharing office space at one time, we now have a direct link between Andrew Scheer’s campaign and Ontario Proud – and something about that stinks. This truly does warrant further investigation. and thankfully the Parliamentary committee on ethics is now looking into Ontario Proud

Besides the out of province funding for Ontario Proud, I want the possibility of foreign funding investigated. Ontario Proud has proven that they cannot be trusted, and since Leadnow was cleared by the Canada’s election watchdog of any foreign interference or improper spending in the 2015 election after an extensive investigation – Ontario Proud deserves the same type of scrutiny.

For those interested, here are the financial disclosures made by Ontario Proud to Elections Ontario. Ontario Proud financial sta… by on Scribd

Here is my post about the Conservative Party of Canada, Hamish Marshall, and Andrew Scheer‘s links to Rebel Media.

A huge h/t to Canadaland for parsing and posting the financial disclosures, and to @TheJasonPugh and the many others for all of your work in exposing Ontario Proud and Hamish Marshall. 

Is It Better To Burnout Or To Rage Away?

I am feeling overwhelmed and burned out. And not because of a diabolical political genius. It is because of volume.

Here it is. Andrew Scheer is a fucking bullshitter. One of the biggest liars that I have ever seen in Canadian politics. But here in lies the genius of his non-stop tsunami of lies and misdirection. It is volume. 

For example. Canada is about to sign the UN Compact on Migration. What most logical people see as a necessary tool in helping to deal with the rising level of global migration. Right now there are 258 million migrants around the world living outside their country of birth. Without proper regulation it can overwhelm the infrastructure of host countries and lead to increasing levels of danger for the migrants themselves. Without this document there is vacuum in an issue that needs leadership from the world community. For me it is simple. 

Background. The UN Compact on Migration is non-legally binding. It is based in values of state sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights. It recognizes that a cooperative approach is needed to develop the benefits of migration, while mitigating the risks and challenges for individuals and for countries of origin and destination. It is plan to address what is going to become or has become a worldwide problem. It is like developing a fire safety plan for a school, or a home but on a much larger scale. However, the Conservative Party of Canada has turned this into a nefarious document that will mean millions of brown people and Mooslims stealing your jobs and raping our children while the UN takes over our government.

Let me demonstrate what Hamish Marshall/Andrew Scheer have done to this issue. First, they start with low level dog-whistling from the likes of Michelle Rempel, or Erin O’Toole to whip up with basest, lowest common denominators elements of the conservative movement, and to whip up the Rebel Media type white supremacists news organizations. So, this hate of the UN Compact on Migration starts filtering up among those who lean right, and becomes a story for some in the national news media. At this point Scheer/Marshall start tweeting out their opposition to the UN Agreement with increasing levels of inflammatory rhetoric and outright deceit. 

  1. This will lead to increasing levels of immigration, especially illegal.
  2. This will cost us more. 
  3. This will bring undesirable immigrants to Canada.
  4.  Canada is giving up it’s sovereignty and borders to the UN.

Now that they have slowly moved to outright nationalist language, they start to repeat these points through official Conservative social media accounts, which lends the deceit the veneer of legitimacy. 

Here is where I fail. This is where my old political ways get the better of me. I respond to each tweet, to each lie, I rage against each mischaracterization. However, I don’t attack the lie itself, I attack the messenger. And in that I made a huge error. The more I respond to it, the more the lie is broadcast. I have yet to find an effective way to localize the lie. By localize, I mean to make light of/call out the deceit without giving oxygen the lie itself. I used to believe that it is hard for my opponent to speak with my fist jammed in their mouth, metaphorically of course. I am thinking that I may have adapt my thinking in this, that there is a more effective way.

But by answering each and every lie, I am starting to burn myself out, and I am worried that all of this static will induce apathy in the electorate, and the public at large. And I believe this is the plan

  1. Conservative tells lie.
  2. Conservative media reports lie as truth,
  3. Conservative who told lie uses conservative media story to validate or expand deceit.
  4. Liberals and progressives lose their minds, start arguing back.
  5. Mainstream media gives legitimacy to story because controversy sells.
  6. Some media pundits call out deceit.
  7. Conservative screams fake news, attacks media.
  8. Rinse and repeat.
  9. People who are not in the bubble tune out.

What’s next? I am finding more and more that some days can be overwhelming, especially on social media. The signal to noise ratio is starting to get the better of me. I am not giving up, and I am not suggesting to let the lie win, all I am saying is that I have to find a better way to deal with it. I am acknowledging that some days I feel like am not effective, that I am losing the battle. I have to acknowledge that it can be very disheartening some days. I have to acknowledge that I need to learn how to pick my battles better. That while the fight for truth in politics is worth it, I acknowledge that I need timeouts, and to change how I fight it. 

What is at stake? 2019 is going to be a very important year. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that fight for the very soul of Canada is what is at stake. Can we stem the tide of worldwide right wing populism that is being mimicked by the Conservative Party of Canada? I believe we can. Who do we want to be as a country? Do we want to remain the flawed but fairly open society that has always done it’s best to meet it’s international commitments, or do we want to fall into the same burgeoning isolationist morass the United States has found itself in? I honestly believe that a majority of Canadians love this positive aspect of our national identity and will support it, when the time comes.

The Liberal Party of Canada has to get better at messaging and combating the nonstop deceit and vitriol coming from the right. I feel that in battle of ideas, Justin Trudeau beats an unarmed Andrew Scheer every time. I firmly believe that when the heavy spotlight of the electoral season shines brightly on Andrew Scheer he will be exposed for what he is, and for who he has sold his soul to to get here. But we need Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party to retake the narrative and start winning the battle of messaging, because I feel like myself and the tweeps/citizen journalists/unpaid advisers and pundits/social media warriors who have been doing the heavy lifting the last 3+ years are starting to burnout at a time when we can be truly effective. 

When the time comes, I will be ready to do whatever it is that I do to shine a light on the bullshit factory that the Conservative Party of Canada has become. For now, I have to regroup and figure out how I can do it effectively.

Thank you to all of those who are in the foxhole with me, those who check me, who have my back, who make it fun each day to log into the #cdnpoli arena on Twitter. Know that I have a world of respect for each of you, and for taking this trip with me in this new era of participatory politics. You know who you are.

Guest Post By The Girl Who Waited: I Am Not Mad As Hell, I Am Just Tired Of Your Bullshit

I am finished.

I am sick and tired of people who think that posting memes are constructive forms of debate.

I am sick and tired of people who are driven more by anger than by the quest for knowledge and understanding an issue. Do you feel that only your anger is valid or that people in Alberta have a monopoly on anger?

I cannot cater to the idiotic anymore. To those who reasoned debate is another phrase for the ‘elites’. I used to be someone who searched for consensus but no more. I am drawing a line in the sand. At one time I used to look to reach across the divide to find common ground. No longer. The only reason I will reach across the line in the sand is to throttle you. Metaphorically.

I am sick and tired of men who criticize strong women simply for having a vagina, a brain, and an opinion. And I am sick of women criticizing strong women like Catherine McKenna and Chrystia Freeland for being fearless in expressing their thoughts and opinions without filter. 

I am sick and tired of sexist and misogynistic homophobes who feel that its funny to feminize the name of our Prime Minister or for who pointing out the feminism of our current government is a cause for derision instead of celebration.

I am sick of catering to a Province who seems to forget that while they buoy us in times of boom that the rest of Canada carries them in time of bust. That without Canada they would not have access to the trade deals, and privileged access to certain markets because of what Canada has negotiated together.

I am sick and tired of an obvious point about the possible misogyny, sexism, sexual and physical danger of isolated and male dominated work camps being somehow turned into an insult to men and not the conversation that our broader society has to have about rape culture.

I am sick and tired of politicians who create a fake war on media to hide and distract from their lies and deceit.

I am sick and tired of watching politicians like Andrew Scheer, who have lived in taxpayer funded housing for 8 years with a driver, chef, taxpayer provided nannies, and who likely haven’t had to pay an actual bill in years – claim to be the middle class or to know the plight of the middle class. 

I am sick and tired of watching the middle class be tricked into paying the cost of pollution by large corporations. Those of us who are too purposefully ignorant to understand what a revenue neutral carbon tax means or understand that the longer we wait to combat climate change the more expensive that it will be. You are allowing a political party with NO FUCKING PLAN to criticize a political party who has a plan.

Do people not understand that the doomsday clock is counting down? And you are arguing about how we got here? That it isn’t your fault? Or how much time is left on the doomsday clock instead of realizing that we are here, the clock is counting down and the only way out is together and forward. Old ideas, dogmas, and political differences need to be set aside. Instead, the Conservatives are like idiots at the bar 15 seconds from New Year’s haggling over the prices of champagne.

Here is the “Girl Who Waited’s Guide For Dealing With People Who Cannot Grasp Complicated Concepts And Math Very Good: The Carbon Tax Edition”

  1. Set a price on pollution.
  2. Industries have a choice to reduce the emissions, or pay the carbon tax.
  3. Extra costs passed on to consumers by price increases.
  4. Carbon tax revenue is given back to households directly via tax rebate to offset higher costs.
  5. Small businesses and households have a price incentive to change their consumption habits, or to buy less pollution intensive goods and services.
  6. Demand increases for clean energy technology and for more efficient products and services. More investment for clean technologies is driven by demand.
  7. Demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendly products shifts carbon intensive industries to adopt lower emissions technologies.
  8. Carbon emissions fall.

You see, its a concept so simple that even the most dense conservatives can understand it. Wow, it was hard to keep a straight face there. We all know that there is no getting through to the blockheads on the right. It is time that we stopped looking for common ground with climate change deniers and carbon tax skeptics, and started looking for ways to move forward without them. They have no plan besides the status quo, or criticism for the sake of criticism. 

I am not going to stand idly by while rich white men who are stuck in the past get to determine the future. I am not going to let purposeful ignorance and deceit stand while truth is so easy to find. 

I am not going to stand by and let you ruin the futures of my children, grandchildren, and whoever comes after. Get out of my way or you will learn what fight like a girl means. And trust me, you won’t like it.

My Superpower Is Saying The Wrong Things – A Guide To Parental Political Etiquette

My political nature was given to me by my parents. I grew up in a house where lively political discussion was a part of every family function, and the theme of many discussions at my family’s dinner table. 

From my father I learned passionate, fact based argument. Many times while railing against Brian Mulroney I was encouraged (or told) by my father to listen, learn, and research what it was about his policies that made me dislike him, not to parrot what was being said by the adults. Heady stuff for an 11 year old. It is because of him that I started watching the nightly news so one day I could show my father up and best him in battle of political wills. Yes, 11 year old Neil spite watched the news to better learn current world and political events to beat his Dad. 

From my mother, I learned the compassion and the values that helped shape my very liberal worldview. I learned from my Mother the ability to look at issues from a human perspective, to set aside preconceived notions and prejudices and find the heart of the matter. It isn’t gay marriage, it is love. It isn’t abortion – it is about women’s reproductive choice. It isn’t about the economy or homelessness – it is about basic human rights and values. My mother gave me my lifelong love of reading, and encouraged my search for knowledge by getting me newspapers like The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail – it was like finding a new universe for a preteen from Northern Ontario. 

I do not talk enough about the influence that my Mother had on me, how she remains a voice of reason for me, a sounding board, but that is for another post.

My Mom was a Trudeaumanic, and a lifelong fan of PET. I remember when Bob Rae was elected as Ontario Premier, the happiness my parents felt knowing that someone their age, who represented their values and generation was finally in power. It was their turn. I watched the hope turn to worry and dismay as Mike Harris took over. I am so completely a product of their passions, political anxieties, hopes, dreams, and fears. 

It is because of these things that I feel embarrassed for my conduct during a phone call the other night. I completely missed the point of what someone was trying to say. Its not the first time, and won’t be the last – it was more to the degree that I missed the point that bothered me. 

My Mother told me that she thought Justin Trudeau was in trouble and I reacted poorly – I went into a rant about many things without saying anything. Its like I had an “I smell burned toast” moment. I didn’t catch the point of what my Mother was trying to say until much later, and what I should have said. 

I should have said that on social media – conservatives scream the loudest, and that most people who do not understand the issues almost always default to fear, especially on social media. I should have said to not be concerned about the idiots out there who parrot Ontario Proud posts and childish memes about Justin Trudeau. I should have said that with proper messaging, the Carbon Tax is a winning issue for the Liberals, and that the race baiting and dog-whistling to the lowest common denominator by Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party will come back to haunt them the way it did Stephen Harper.

I should have said that right now, all the attention is on the Trudeau government, and when the campaign starts the focus changes to leadership and ideas, and how the Conservative Party of Canada lack both. That Andrew Scheer will be exposed for the faux populist neo-con pretender that I know him to be.

That is the failing of political wonks like myself. Those who immerse themselves in raw polling data, deeper policy issues, and try to see the micro-trends that push public opinion. Sometimes I can be guilty of being too analytical and not understanding the emotional aspect of politics that others feel. If I had shut up and listened to what my Mother was saying, I would have understood that she was expressing anxiety over the immigration based populist trends seen elsewhere, that she was expressing her concern that it could occur nationally, and that she was giving her opinion that the Trudeau Government has to improve it’s messaging. All valid points. She didn’t need to get a lecture in polling trends for millennials, and an analysis on micro-trends for working class Canadians. It is like I broke every rule taught to me by my parents when it came to family and political discussions. I realized that I need to reconnect with the human aspect of the issues, and of politics in general. 

It leads me to wonder about the political influence I have on my children. I am the type of person who can rant periodically (I know, it’s hard to believe), especially about politics. It is something 23, 16, and now SDIL (step-daughter in law) have seen on many occasions. I think they have always seen the rants for what they are, which is the blowing off of political steam. I hope they have also seen the analytical side, the fact based argument, the research, and the passion, and the conviction of fighting for you beliefs that my parents passed down to me. 

Funny story/Sidebar. The night of the 2015 election, 23 said to me “I hope we don’t have a repeat of the Merlot massacre from the 2011 election.” After working for the Liberal Party in the lead up to the 2011 election, I sat watching the election results, drinking bottle after bottle of Merlot after Stephen Harper had won his majority. It was a moment of intense personal devastation for me and I was given the space to get drunk and mutter horrible things about both Harper and Michael Ignatieff. The sun came up the next morning, and we had a funny tale to tell involving red wine and politics. 

I do not want to be a “TV movie about a failed child star” political parent where I overpower the political instincts of my children or indoctrinate them, although I think I may have pushed them into the left side of the spectrum (if they weren’t already there) with my political activism. They have always been political, I hope to have been a positive influence on them. 

My wife has always been very political astute, she is also Franco-Ontarian, as is 23 and 16. This issue with Doug Ford cancelling the French language university, and The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner that she had such high hopes for, pushed her into overt activism. It also pushed 16 into activism, and I accompanied them both to their first political protest this weekend.

It was such a proud moment for me. It showed me that not only did we do an okay job, but also that the kids would be alright. That Doug Ford had created a generation of young Franco-Ontarians that will be voting age next time, and will not be supporting him.


I also learned that I am not too old to be taught a lesson by my Mother, that I was raised better, and to reconnect with the political values that were passed onto me by my parents.

So Mom, if you could please put in a good word with Santa to get me back on the nice list, that would be appreciated.

Also, thank you for encouraging me to seek a life of knowledge, logic, and reason (even if I always don’t apply that reason and logic to my life). I only hope that I can have the same positive influence on my children as you had on me.