Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Iraqi.independence.net

Yes, while we were having our little election, power was handed over from the coalition to the interim Iraqi government. Ah! Peace at last...

But do the Iraqis really have true independence? Or are their resources being controlled by a company out of Texas?

No, no... I'm not talking about oil and Halliburton. I'm talking about the Internet and InfoCom. This is London reports:
Iraq wants to regain control of the internet domain name .iq and the government has officially asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) for the name.

Unfortunately, the domain is currently owned by the Texas-based company InfoCom and, to make matters even worse, its owners are being investigated for allegedly funding the hardline Palestinian group Hamas.

The news means that it could be years before Iraq can get back control of the iq name, news that causes symbolic and commercial problems for some Iraqis.
I find this story fascinating. This ain't your 1920s nation-building exercise, ladies and gentlemen. National identity is based on much more than a physical slice of land.

More on the .iq suffix from Wired.
Toronto Fringe, Day 1: Kick-off

Whew! Finally the election is over and everything is settled in our fair country. No more divisiveness! Ahhh…

Well, one can dream, can’t one?

And now for something a little different: The Toronto Fringe Festival kicks off tonight. Like I did in Montreal, I will be posting reviews and gossip from the fest. Anyone with anything to say, drop me an e-mail at uncascrooge –at-- hotmail.com

For today, I’m posting the three articles I wrote for the National Post’s weekend Toronto section. Happy Fringing.

1) A Guide to Fringing (mentions The Rumoli Brothers, Under the Wild Sky We Hatched);
2) Ten Shows You Shouldn’t Miss (mentions Cuppa Jo, The Curse of the Trickster, Fringe Show: A Love Story, Kentucky Waterfall, Pinocchio, Sabotage: In Fine Form, Simple.Celibate.Sober, R.O.C. - Republic of Confusion, and Uncalled For: Room for Improvement); and
3) The Total Fringe Experience (mentions Twenty-One Rants About Working in a Drugstore, Virginia, Insatiable, The Imponderables, The Sketchersons, The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Showdown From Space, Exposed in High Park, Shakespeare's Comic Olympics, The Rap Canterbury Tales, Waiting for Trudeau, Sleepless: A New Musical, One Man Lord of the Rings, Jem Rolls).

Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Election Aftermath: A Dip for the N-Dippers

Well, maybe the NDP wasn't a winner after all. Actually, it looks like they got screwed -- and bad.

Like the kids in Nightmare on Elm Street, Jack Layton shouldn't have gone to sleep. He woke up this morning to find that an electoral boogieman with razor-sharp fingernails had shorn the NDP of a couple of seats from the night before. Now the Liberals and the Dippers have a combined total of 154 -- one less than what is needed to command a majority of the seats in the house. So much for NDP gaining influence...

It's not exactly the drama of Florida c. 2000, but there will be recounts. The only automatic judicial recount (these occur if the margin is less than one less than one-thousandth of the votes cast) is in New Westminster-Coquitlam, where the NDP's candidate, Steve McClurg, lost by 45 votes against the Conservatives’ Paul Forseth.

The NDP -- who got half the Conservatives' popular vote, but only one fifth of their seats; who got five percent more in popular vote than 1997, but two fewer seats -- deserve to win another seat, but they shouldn't get their hopes up. Out of the eight recounts from the 2000 Canadian election, all the losers stayed losers.

Not that an extra seat for the NDP would mean much, anyway. Paul Martin says he's not going to form a formal coalition with any other party. No big surprise. We already knew that PM PM didn't play well with others...

Post-script

Just one more vent about those who voted Liberal because they fell for Martin's scaremongering that a vote for the NDP was a vote for the Conservatives.

On June 22, in a campaign stop that was covered by media across the country, Paul Martin stood before a crowd of supporters and said: "There are two parties that could form the next government... If you are thinking of voting NDP, I ask you to think about the implications of your vote. In a race as close as this, you may well help Stephen Harper become prime minister."

Where did he say this? At the New Westminster-Coquitlam campaign office of appointed liberal candidate Dave Haggard.

Yep. New Westminster-Coquitlam. Where the Conservatives beat the NDP candidate by 45 votes. How much you want to bet at least 46 members of this riding believed Martin? I hope they're kicking themselves, because, in this case, a "strategic" vote for the Liberals was a vote for Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
Election Day Wrap-up: Winners and Losers

THE RESULTS

Great election, everybody. I think everyone can be proud of their results. Nice job.

No, I'm serious! I don't mean to sound like an elementary school teacher, but every party was a winning party tonight. The Liberals didn't collapse and, in fact, retained most of their power. The Conservatives grabbed 98ish seats, many more than anyone expected eight months ago. The NDP became a serious party again and will have plenty of influence in the next parliament. The Bloc got its best showing ever. The Greens got twice their 2% needed to get funding for the next election. The Marxist-Leninists briefly led in a riding.

And the biggest winner of the night: Chuck Cadman, who now holds the balance of power.

Of course, some people did lose. They were, for the most part, pollsters and professional and semi-professional prognosticators. Anyone who thinks that pundits have any key to insight should check out Colby Cosh's election box. Out of 23 seat predictions, only six had the Liberals winning more seats than the Conservatives. Only one had the Conservatives at less than 100 seats. (Tip of the hat to Robert McClelland at My Blahg for being so on the ball.)

I, of course, was off with my seat projection, too. I believed the polls and the, ahem, bien pensants who said that we were in for a Conservative minority.

And I can't say I'm terribly displeased to have been wrong.

Post-script

Paul Wells has a somewhat surly post-election round-up. One highlight:
In Ontario, Liberal attempts to scare NDP voters into voting "strategically" worked a charm: the NDP vote in my province was down 5% from late polls, and the Liberal vote up by as much. If the NDP voters had only voted for their own damned party, the national results might have been similar — but Jack Layton would have had a bigger stick to enforce his will on Martin. This is New Democrats' reward for being skittish: they shot themselves in the foot.
Absolutely. I was at an election party tonight and discussed this very thing with an NDP supporter who voted Liberal in Trinity-Spadina, where Olivia Chow went down to the ineffectual Tony Ianno by 2% of the riding's voters. She didn't exactly get how a minority government situation worked and so succumbed to the scaremongering.

Once I explained to her that a New Democrat in parliament is equal to a Liberal in this case, she seemed to regret her choice. This is the NDP and the media's fault for not explaining this properly.

Which leads me to my last point for this evening: Minority governments are not bad things. Too often in this campaign I heard about how minorities led to market chaos, ineffective governance, yadda-yadda. I think this result is probably the most representative of what Canadians feel as a whole that I have seen in my lifetime. I'm willing to give minority government a chance to work. And I liked tonight what each party leader said about working with others in a non-partisan fashion. I hope they all follow through on that.

Have a good night!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Election night

For election updates this evening, I leave you in Colby Cosh's hands.

Cosh did not sleep last night. He says it's because it was too hot, but I suspect the Coshster was tossing and turning, giddy with excitement at the prospects of a Conservative victory. So far, the zzz's deficiency has caused him grossly overestimate how many seats Harper will win, make fun of a cab driver's accent, and reveal that he has a fondness for Arby's. I expect the Bloggin' Good Time will only get better as the hour gets later. Have fun.

Tonight, by the way, is the Dora Awards gala at the Princess of Wales. I have the results and am BURSTING to tell you everything, but cannot. So I'm going to run now, before I let it all out. There's one particular surprise that I will write about tomorrow. It's scandalous! (Well... almost scandalous.)
Campaign Diary, Last Day: Slip it in.

This morning, I went to the local polling station, marked an X on my ballot, folded it in three and -- under the watchful eyes of two clerks and a scrutineer -- slid it right into the tight slot of the ballot box.

Look: You can be cynical and hate politics and think all the candidates are crooks and think our electoral system is a bunch of garbage. You can think all of these things and still vote.

Just do it. It's a rush. It makes you feel good, like when you pick a piece of garbage off the street or say hello to a stranger in the park or any other number of moments when you connect with your offline community.

I held the long, thin ballot by its very end and pushed it deep into that box until my fingers hit cardboard. Then I let go and it made a satisfying, soft clunk like a watch dropping to the floor off the side of your bed.

I made sweet love to my country today and it felt good.

Post-script

Paul Wells may be right when he says the first rule of Canadian elections is "Canadian politics tends toward the least exciting possible outcome." But this is the first election that I have been cognizant of in which the outcome was really so up in the air on voting day. And, even though the stakes aren't particularly high this time around, I find it genuinely exciting.

And now, to further reinforce the impression that I'm a big ol' political geek, here is my seat projection, based on hubris and conjecture.

Tories: 115
Liberals: 109
Bloc: 57
NDP: 25
Greens: 1
Independent: 1

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 37: My Local Green Party Candidate is Wide Awake

In a previous post, I accused my local Green Party candidate of being a narcoleptic after watching him zonk his way through a debate on Rogers. Said candidate -- Mr. Mark Viitala -- has responded to my accusation in the comment section of that post:
narcoleptic?
hahahaha! that is sweet. on that show all the candidates were told to just answer the viewers questions...but you saw the arguing that insued...so what is a good green candidate to do? act like a 4 year old? i'd rather stop, drop and roll...thank you very much.
All the best,
Mark Viitala

Green Party of Canada Candidate, Trinity Spadina
Ontario Representative, Green Party of Canada Federal Council
http://www.viitala.ca
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think I have finally come off the fence in this election. As Viitala is the first of my local candidates to post a comment on my blog, he has won my vote.

I will vote for him tomorrow, even though he refused to capitalize any words in his post. I will vote for him misspelled 'ensued.' I will vote for him, even though he wrote, "hahahaha! that is sweet."

Fair readers, this election I ask you to Go Green! You can read the party's platform here.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 35.2: Consider the Wiener


An American-style snack?

You can do better than that. Send in your captions, folks: uncascrooge -at- hotmail.com. I'll put up the best later today.
Campaign Diary, Day 35: Yankee, Go Home!

The latest American to come up here and tell Canadians not to vote for the Tories is Ralph "I-Fucked-History" Nader, reports the CBC. Nader follows such esteemed Yanks as documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and sex columnist Dan Savage in trying to stop the Harper menace. Savage didn't just urge people to not vote Conservative, either; he encouraged his readers to "vote for Paul Martin and his Liberal Party allies. Scandal, schmandal, people!"

Looks like NAFTA has come back to bit the Conservatives in the behind.

If Sam Roberts and Hawksley Workman want to discourage people from voting Tory, s'cool I guess. At least they're Canadians. (I'd rather see them support something rather than scaremonger, mind you.)

But these celebrity moles from south of the border... What do Moore and Savage really know about Canada? (Recall that in Bowling for Columbine Moore told the whole world that Canadians didn't lock their doors.) Nader has at least has written a book about Canada. But that doesn't mean that he has to be so arrogant as to put out a press release about the Canadian election. (Moore made his comments while answering journalists; Savage was answering a letter from a Canadian reader.)

Considering that I will probably make my views known about the American elections and encourage my friends below the parallel to vote for the lesser of two douche bags, I guess I'm the pot calling the kettle black.

But you know what? Now that I've been on the receiving end of unwanted advice, maybe I'll keep my big mouth shut. Mr. Nader's anti-endorsement of Stephen Harper almost makes me want to vote for him.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 34: Right over the plate...

So, he likes American-style sports too, eh?

[Zing! Out of the park!]
Blog News: Sweet Mother of God.

Somehow either I or the Pucks of the Internet deleted my template last night. It maybe have been me. I was adding a few new blogs to my template and I have a feeling I accidentally substracted everything. ARGH!

I'm at work now, but tonight I'll get the comments working again. As for the links, if you linked to from my site before, please drop me at e-mail at uncascrooge -at- hotmail.com.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 33: Gosh! What excitement!

So, the news of the day is... Well, there doesn't seem to be much news of the day today.

Paul Martin did tell reporters, however, that he will "not clutch and grab to hold on to power" if the Conservatives win more seats than him.

Aw! How nice of him! And this after he decided not to shovel the sponsorship scandal under the carpet too! My estimation of Martin increases every day of this campaign....

My favourite part of that Reuters article, however, is this:
A poll published on Tuesday showed the Liberals six percentage points ahead, but an Environics poll on Wednesday had them tied at 33 percent each. "What a final five days it's going to be!" remarked a top Martin aide.
Who is this aide? Jiminy Cricket? Or, perhaps, Senator Jefferson Smith? Can we please quote him or her more often?
Hitchens: Michael Moore Smackdown!

Okay, I've missed three advance screenings of The Most Important Documentary Ever now, so I guess I'll have to await the first public screenings with the rest of the hoi polloi. While I wait to discover the Hidden Secrets of the Bush Regime for myself, I'm devouring everyone's take on Fahrenheit 9/11. When going into a film you should either have read nothing about it or everything about it. At this point, I'm going to have to go with the latter.

On Monday, noted contrarian Christopher Hitchens delivered a resounding smackdown to Michael Moore's latest doc on Slate:
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
Well, I have to go see the movie myself to determine whether Moore really is the new Leni Riefenstahl. Watch this space!

By the way: The headline on this review? Unfairenheit 9/11. GROAN!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new front-runner in the contest for worst pun used in a review of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. The previous front-runner was Mary Corliss of Time Magazine, who reported from Cannes that, "Fahrenheit 9/11 is Moore’s own War on Error."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Teenage Tuesday: Truce in Duff v. Lavigne
Also, Campaign Diary, Day 31: Don't Fall for the Scare Tactics!

Since Popwherry was busy celebrating with the ol' pater familias yesterday, I was enlisted to cover his beat for a day. So I spent Sunday evening hanging out on the red carpet of the MuchMusic Video Awards, screaming teens with camera phones on one side of me, VJs, celebs and ornery sock puppets on the other.

I don't really care whether Hilary Duff and Avril Lavigne ever get along and I don't suppose the readership of On the Fence does much either. But in the interest of increasing my hit count and misrepresenting my life as much more glamorous than it is, I hereby reprint my article from today's paper. (You can skip ahead to the facile election commentary at the bottom of this post, if that's what you're really looking for):
It was fitting that rocker Sam Roberts arrived at the MuchMusic Video Awards last night with the emergency lights of an ambulance flashing behind him, since he could have used a gurney to cart out his awards. [Editor's note: YIKES! What a clumsy lede. But I was on a tight deadline, yo.]

The sensitive, bearded Montrealer, outfitted in a red jacket over black T-shirt with a howling wolf on it, went in with eight nominations -- the most of any artist -- and wheeled out several awards for the video for his song Hard Road, including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Post Production. Diagnosis: Roberts is a bona fide Canadian rock star.

Despite that song's insistence that "There's no road that ain't a hard road to travel on," the sexily unkempt Roberts appeared to have no difficulty navigating the red carpet on Queen Street through a gauntlet of screaming teenagers armed with camera phones, affable-looking VJs and the occasional ornery sock puppet.

While Roberts was the most celebrated artist last night, the big attractions for most of the young crowd that milled about outside of the MuchMusic studio were angry young woman Avril Lavigne, 19, and actress-cum-singer Hilary Duff, 16, true teenage celebrities who have recently slagged each other in the press. Both Duff and Lavigne presented awards last night, and Duff performed a song from her album Metamorphosis.

But those who were hoping for another kitty fight between the two Libras were out of luck. When Duff -- who has also feuded with teen actress Lindsay Lohan -- spoke to reporters upon arriving at the gala, she adopted a very conciliatory and Canadian tone when asked about the pride of Napanee, who once called her a "mommy's girl."

"I probably shouldn't have said what I said," Duff said, referring to her prior criticisms of Lavigne as being mean to her fans. "I hope that [Lavigne] doesn't think I'm a rude person or something.... A lot of that stuff got blown out of proportion."

Upon hearing of Duff's comments, Lavigne, who arrived at the gala with her sister and brother minutes later, cackled. But after being assured by a radio journalist that Duff's comments were on tape, Lavigne, all in black except the skull-and-bones design on her socks, said, "[When I see her] I'm going to say, 'Nice to meet you.' I have no problem with her."

Duff and Lavigne were but two of the big names among the evening's presenters, who included musical talent such as Sum41, Evanescence, Nickelback and neo-dandy Hawksley Workman; as well actors Vivica A. Fox, Tom Green, and Samaire Armstrong from The O.C.

Billy Talent's lead singer Ben Kowlewicz injected a touch of rock-star politics into the evening by sporting a tiny "Stop Harper" button to encourage viewers at home to vote against the Conservative Party in the upcoming federal battle of the bands.
The "Stop Harper" buttons were tres en vogue at the after party. I found two different guys who claimed responsibility for passing them out, one of whom was also carrying around a Jack Layton sign.

Confidential to Layton Dude: A "Stop Harper" campaign will only hurt your precious Jack, as people will vote Liberal to prevent the Conservatives from getting a majority.

I feel this should be reiterated, because I've run into several people, normally NDPers and/or Marxist-Leninists, who are voting Liberal for just that reason. Folks: Our electoral system is not the same as the one in the United States. A vote for Layton is not a vote for Harper the way a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush.

In Trinity-Spadina, for instance, it's going to be either Liberal Tony Ianno or N-Dipper Olivia Chow who gets elected. If Ianno gets elected, it's just one more seat for the Liberals. If Chow gets elected, it's one more seat for the NDP, which you can add to the Liberal total in a minority gov't situation. So, in a way, an NDP seat is just as good for the Libs as a Liberal seat is.

I suppose if you live in a riding where the Conservatives and Liberals are neck and neck, you might want to vote Liberal rather than Green or NDP or something. But, frankly, voting for the Liberals in this election is a sin. You will go to hell.

Don't fall for the Liberals' scare tactics. Vote for who you want to. That's what our moderately-more-democratic-than-the-Americans electoral system is all about.

Post-script

Finally, having completely moved away from the topic of Duff v. Lavigne, I object to Andrew Coyne's lumping together of the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc as "left-wing parties" in a recent blog post. The Bloc is all over the place ideologically (which is why I kind of like them), while the Greens -- I continue to assert rather unconvincingly -- are a post-spectrum political party.

Here's Coyne's dubious math:
Interestingly, if you add the three left-wing parties (NDP-Bloc-Green) together, you get another third of the vote -- 35%, actually -- half again as much as they got between them last time. So it's a three-way split between the right, the centre, and the left. More of the Liberal vote has bled left than right. Indeed, Harper has not been able to match the combined vote of the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives in the last election, though the Conservatives have ran well to the left of the Alliance.

The Harper Conservatives have moved left, the Martin Liberals have moved left, and the Layton NDP has moved left. And the big winner in this election: the Left.
Coyne is absolutely correct... Or he would be anyway, if it was OPPOSITES DAYS. Worst. Coyne commentary. Ever.

Here's how I see it: The Conservatives under Harper are further to the right of the Progressive Conservatives of, say, Mulroney or the Kimmers. This is what Monsieur George Jonas wrote in The Post today, arguing that "Canada is closer to having centre-right government than it has been in 40 years... The core of today's Conservatives, the potential Cabinet... are true-blue conservatives, perhaps with a sprinkling of classical liberals."

As for the Liberals, that they are further to the right under Martin than Chretien seems, to me, a truism. Never mind Martin's wishy-washy campaign rhetoric: Just look at his cabinet.

Then, there's Layton, who I think wishes he was more left than he actually is. I'd say the NDP has moved towards the centre under his leadership, which is probably why the NDP has doubled in the polls from the last election.

It's funny how different people (ie. Coyne and myself) can look at the same thing and see something entirely different. Actually, I think that's beautiful. But that's a topic for another time, when I am less tired and more stoned.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 30: A question.

Okay, so I've agreed to vote for a particular candidate in my riding, in return for a friend of mine voting for a particular candidate in a riding back in Montreal.

Here's the question: Is this illegal? Is vote swapping on the up and up? No money has exchanged hands or anything.
One Island, One Shitty (Situation)

Well, the demerger referendums took place in Quebec yesterday. In Montreal, 15 of 28 municipalities voted to get out of town. To the Toronto Star that means, "The dream of turning Montreal into a 'megacity' went up in smoke..." The Globe and Mail, on the other hand, reports that, "[O]ver all, demerger proponents were stunned by how poorly they fared, and big-city mayors heaved a sigh of relief as the movement largely fizzled."

So it was victory for everyone! Or everyone lost! Or something...

I think everyone lost. For the second time. I was opposed to the mergers when they happened, because, basically, I don't buy the ethos that bigger is better. The merger was done in the least consultative way possible. And it was pretty haphazard the way it the megacity was put together: Westmount got to be its own borough because they're rich and powerful, while my parents' town, Montreal West, was stuck in with larger Hampstead and Cote-St-Luc in one borough. Montreal West as a political entity was drowned. Plus, the suburbs that were off the island weren't included in the amalgamation, despite the fact that they work in Montreal and use its resources, too.

But then, along came the demerger referendums and I was opposed to them too. Why? Because it's not a return to the way it used to be. Now all the 'burbs are directing much tax towards the bigger city (as they should), but they aren't getting representation on the city council equal to what they contribute. No taxation without representation, right? Well that's what the demerged cities have got. Plus, referendums aren't the way to make a city. Look at the maps of Montreal and Quebec City now. They're the municipal equivalent of swiss cheese.

Until I was twelve I lived in NDG. Then my mom remarried and moved to Montreal West. I've always felt like more of a Montrealer than a Montreal Wester, but I do admire the way Montreal West forms such a cohesive community.

People feel attachments towards their cities and neighbourhoods, attachments that are stronger than their attachments to their province or country. During the 1995 referendum, my answer to the silly question: "Are you a Canadian or a Quebecer first?" was, "I'm a Montrealer." Even though I live in Toronto now, I still declare myself a Montrealer at every chance I get.

Quebec politicians are going to leave this question alone for a while now. No political party will want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. I'm glad Montreal Westers got their city back and feel empowered, but the current situation is untenable.

Post-script

Valerie Belair-Gagnon, a megacity supporter with whom I had a great debate on Saturday evening, hopes that anglophones and francophones in post-demerger Montreal will get along, even though they are now, more than ever, living in different cities within one city.

And Kate at Montreal City shrugs: "A hundred years from now, Montreal, Laval, the South Shore and the couronne nord will all be one political entity, and all this fuss will just be a trivia question or a footnote in a history text."
Montreal Fringe: Last Words

My final M.F. entry for 2004: The Frankie award winners, why Blork blogs the Fringe no more, and why I've decided to stop giving space to Donovan King on my blog.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 29: Child porn storm.

On Friday night -- or, rather, Saturday morning -- I wrote a long entry about the Conservatives and the press releases they sent out about child pornography on Friday. But then, at 4 a.m., I woke up in a panic, believing that I had written something terrible and offensive. I went to my computer and yanked the entry.

Looking back on it now, the entry was neither of these things. The gist of it remains relevant now: I have nothing but contempt for those who use Holly Jones' death to score political points.

The Conservatives tried to do so on Friday:
A Conservative press release bearing the headline "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?" was sent to media outlets across the country at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday and recalled at 4:35 p.m.

"Conservative Party would like to recall the message, "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?," the party said.

It then sent the initial accusatory release out again at 4:49 p.m., and recalled it again a few seconds later.

"Today, Martin says he's against child pornography. But his voting record proves otherwise," said the original.
This type of electioneering is pretty despicable. Just as Paul Martin did not kill homeless people, he is not for child pornography. (Nor is Jack Layton. Did the Conservatives retract the press release they issued on Friday titled, "The NDP Caucus Supports Child Pornography?" I can't find it on their website anymore.)

I believe that Harper should apologize. Not to the Liberals and the NDP, but to Holly's mother for using her child's death to win an election in such a crude way.

Mind you, our child pornography laws are pretty messed up right now. There's this absurd argument that if child pornography has artistic merit, then it should be legal. I agree entirely with Andrew Coyne on this issue:
[W]here the state should draw the line is not between possession and distribution, or whether the material has artistic merit, but whether any verifiable harm resulted from its production or consumption ie, whether actual children were involved.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Friday, June 18, 2004

Theatre Friday: Pepper? I put it on my Soul.

Last night was a big night for me, theatrically speaking. It was the first time I have ever seen William Hutt on stage. It was also the first time I have ever seen Waiting for Godot in performance.

"Whaaaaaat?" you say. "Why have we been listening to this man and his so-called theatre blog all these years, when he hasn't even ever seen Godot?"

Hey, hey. Cut me some slack, yo. I've read Godot, written essays about it, even wrote an article for the National Post about its performance history and the difficulties in staging it today. But, yeah. I had never seen it before until last night.

The Soulpepper production, which opened the company's 2004 season last night, was a fine introduction to Godot on stage. Director Albert Schultz played up the humour of the piece and the legendary William Hutt, as Vladimir, was absolutely stellar. Such presence. I see why everyone goes on about him...

My only qualm about Hutt's performance was that he delivered his final speech -- the "gravedigger puts on the forceps" bit -- as if it was a Shakespearean monologue, as if he was Prospero at the end of The Tempest or something.

(Okay, one other little thing: Hutt had to call for a line at one point during the production. I've never actually seen that happen before on the professional stage, so it kind of threw me off for a few minutes. But, I mean, the guy's 84. Give him a break, huh?)

As for Jordan Pettle as Estragon, well, I wasn't really taken by his performance to be honest. It was good at points, but he seemed to be outside of his character, while Hutt was deep inside his. Pettle seemed very tightly-wound and didn't get nearly the laughs he should have on some lines.

Actually, Pozzo (Joseph Ziegler) sometimes acted in a similar "outside looking in" way in the production, leading me to believe that perhaps that was the way Schultz directed it, but Hutt got to do what he wanted.

A fine production, but a bit unbalanced: There was Hutt and then there was the play. I imagine this is why actors of similar statures/ages are usually cast as the two 'waiters" in Godot.

I am being a mite picky, because this is Soulpepper, the company that is purportedly the best in the country. I've only seen a couple of their shows, so I can't echo that sentiment. But WFG certainly whet my appetite for the rest of their season. 'Twas a very satisfying night out at the theatre. I was genuinely moved at the end.

Post-script

My interviews with Mssrs. Hutt and Schultz about Godot.

Interesting fact I learned in researching the Post article: Beckett himself was open to casting an older Vladimir with a younger Estragon and, in fact, that was almost the case for the first English-language production. An American theatre director proposed to put the play on with Buster Keaton and Marlon Brando in 1954, but unfortunately a problem with the rights killed that production, something Beckett always regretted.

The More You Learn...
Campaign Diary, Day 27: Worst. Liberal Campaign. Ever.

If there's one campaign you don't want to emulate, it's the 1993 Tory campaign.

And yet, today the Liberals unveiled a new ad comparing Stephen Harper to Mulroney and Mike Harris, with the slogan: "Think Twice." As Coyne is quick to point out, "...the 1993 Tories [used the same slogan] and at about the same stage in the campaign, too."

Paul Martin: Today's Turner, tomorrow's Campbell.
Montreal Fringe: Yet More!

Check it out: New Reviews of 18 Fringe shows and one Infringement show. Plus, a long, rambling rant about the Infringement Festival.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 25 : If I had a Shovel

Andrew Coyne has the round-up of what every pundit in the nation thought of last night's debate. The debate was so boring that I don't even have two cents about it. So here's my one cent reaction from last night:

"I could have shovelled all this under the carpet. I did not do that."

Whaaaaa!?!

Sorry, Mr. Martin. I was choking on my Fritos. Could you repeat that thing you just said about the Sponsorship Scandal again?

"I could have shovelled all this under the carpet."

Oh! Well, congratu-fucking-lations, Mr. Martin. Way to go! I'm so glad you didn't try to cover up your government's corruption after it was exposed by the Auditor General. Good work!

Notice, by the way, that if he had pushed the Sponsorship Scandal under the carpet, he would have done so with a shovel and not a broom as is customary. There just was too much for a simple sweepin'. Bring out the shovel!

Well, Martin sure was shovellin' something last night. (Hint: The shit.)

Anyway, I'd like to see him adopt this rhetorical tack on EVERY ISSUE. Speechwriters take note:

"I could have invaded Iraq. But I didn't!"

"I could have mooned President Bush during the G8. But, see, I'm a good Prime Minister. So, I didn't do that!"

"I could have introduced legislation to legalize the consumption of human babies. I did not do that!"

"Vote for me. Paul Martin. I don't do evil things."

"But I could."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Montreal Fringe update

Jason C. McLean denies everything!
Montreal Fringe Festival Diary, Day 5

Your latest up-to-date Fringe news: An Infringement Festival show considers jumping ship. Reviews of 7 Sins and R.O.C. Plus, a real surprise: guest reviewer May Bee pans T.J. Dawe's latest show!

Will the Fringe excitement ever stop?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Montreal Fringe Festival Diary, Day 4

Yet more Fringe news! Reviews of Wanting, Father's Day, Tampaxx and Jem Rolls. Plus: Rainer Hersch and T.J. Dawe face off on Hot or Not! again...
Campaign Diary, Day 23: The Geometric Shapes Fight Back

My, oh, my... Has it been 23 days already? Seems like just yesterday, the Prime Minister was doing his slow walk, slappin' high fives on his way to drop the writ.

Oh wait. Did I write "Seems like just yesterday"? Sorry, I meant, "It feels like this goddamn election campaign has been going on for friggin' century and it's summer and it's nice outside and I don't care and if I don't care then I can't even imagine how little those people who aren't normally interested in politics care, 'cuz they must be caring somewhere in the negative numbers, though that brings up an interesting point, because if people start actively not caring about the election, do they then start caring about the election, kind of like how negative infinity and positive infinity meet, and could we actually have the highest voter turnout in history because every cares so little?"

That's what I meant to write.

Here in Montreal, the geometric shapes are fighting back. Almost every election sign in the Plateau Mont-Royal has been defaced with Xacto knifes. Triangles or squares or rhombuses have been sliced out where politicians mouths used to be. The geometric shapes are apparently non-partisan, as this de-mouthing has happen to pols of all stripes, even poor Gilles Duceppe, who has lost most of his facial features to disaffected youth with sharp knives.

The debates begin tonight (French today; English tomorrow) and I really hope that everyone keeps to debating policy. But I'm not so naive. I know Martin will demonize Harper, and Harper will be deliberately vague about his platform, and Layton will charm everyone with a few well-timed strokes of his moustache and then get carried away at one point and say something stupid and all that charm will be for naught, and Duceppe will sit back and be smug and keep his mouth shut if he knows what's good for him.

My favourite headline today about the debates is from the Globe and Mail: Martin has four hours to save campaign, Liberal MPs caution.

Nice try guys, but this election is not an episode of 24 and Paul Martin is certainly no Jack Bauer. This election officially jumped the shark about a week ago, but, alas, does not look like it's going to be cancelled for a while yet.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Montreal Fringe Festival Diary, Day 4

Read the latest from the Montreal Fringe: Reviews of The Imponderables, Uncalled For, Gibberish, and Forking Mona Lisa by myself and my network of correspondents.
Campaign Diary, Day 22: Let's settle this like crazy men...

Well, I arrived in Montreal yesterday afternoon around 5:30, took a cab to catch Forking Mona Lisa, then forwent Fringing for the evening, instead opting to go catch the Internet Wrestling Syndicate's Fifth Anniversary Show way out near Frontenac Metro.

The most shockingly fun part of the IWS show was the final hardcore match, in which five guys spent twenty minutes smashing fluorescent lightbulbs over each others heads, and throwing each other through flaming sheets of glass.

But the funniest part was the first show of the evening, between two teams, one dressed in Quebec blue, the other in black and red shorts. The Quebec team held up a small poster of Gilles Duceppe. The other team brought in a giant election poster for Pierre S. Pettigrew. Both team's heroes had faboo hair, but ultimately the Quebec boys -- wearing shirts with the Péquiste slogan "Reston Forts" on them -- delivered a solid trouncing to the Liberals.

This involved chairs being smashed over their heads.

Screw proportional representation. Let's get IWS to take over from from Elections Canada...

(Come to think of it, this might leave us with an NDP majority. Am I right in thinking that Jack Layton was a wrestler in university?)

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 21: Newsflash! Quebecers are Earthlings, too!

"We aren't going to fool around with this. We have been very clear on that, and that's a major point. It's the future of the planet and the future of Quebec because we're on the planet too." - Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, reacting to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's plan to scrap the Kyoto accord. [Via CP.]

I'm glad that's been cleared up.

Newsflash! Pot Pomade all the Rage!

Just a couple of weeks ago, Marc Boris St-Maurice, leader of the Marijuana Party, told the Globe and Mail: "I don't have time to smoke pot during this damn election."

On Thursday, he told the press: "Whether you're carrying marijuana because you think it looks pretty or because you found it or because perhaps you like to rub it on your hair at night because it smells nice - none of that is relevant. Whether it's for medical use or other use, none of that is relevant. The law is bad and so the offence must be taken out."

Sounds like Mr. St-Maurice has found some free time in his busy electoral schedule...

Friday, June 11, 2004

And you thought all those 'Mourning in America' headlines were bad?

Worst headline relating to Reagan's death so far? Bourque wins it today, linking to an article about Mulroney's eulogy at the funeral: "When Irish Eyes are Crying."

Boo-urns!
Montreal Fringe Diary, Day 2

Read the latest news from the Montreal Fringe: Today's Pick of the Day, and why this year's Fringe is beginning to look a lot like Vietnam.
Campaign Diary, Day 20: Gotcha Journalism and the Internet

Colby Cosh is enjoying his blog's latest moment in the spotlight, following his inadvertant breaking of the Malcolm "Jews: Enemies? Friends" Azania non-story earlier this week. Here's the notable bit from his reaction to the reaction to his post:
The truly laughable spectacle here is Jack Layton having to "distance himself" from ten-year-old remarks made on USENET by one of his candidates; every Canadian political leader is now caught in this crazy trap of having to account for every word ever uttered by each of his 300-plus grunts.
Sigh, it's true. As Andrew Coyne notes: "Are elections in any other country so regularly blown off course by these irrelevant 'gotcha' stories? Does any other country have as lazy and superficial -- or as concentrated -- a media as we do?"

I think the Internet, alas, has exacerbated this type of journalism. (This story did originate on a blog, after all.) Politicians' pasts and present now exist concurrently online. When it comes to youthful indiscretions, the young people entering politics today -- Azania is a mere 34 years old now -- have a distinct disadvantage: their stupid remarks are archived and easily accessible in cyberspace for the rest of their lives thanks to Google's cache.

Frankly, what Azania wrote is not half as stupid as some of the tripe I heard in university. But that's kind of what university is good for: people voicing and debating unorthodox, ground-breaking, politically-incorrect and often idiotic ideas away from the real world where they can hurt actual people. It's called learning.

The former student radicals of the 1960s who now toil in political parties of all stripes across North America and Europe should thank the lord that they were young in a pre-Internet age, a time where they were allowed to experiment and debate without fear that every stoned conversation they had would be used against them down the road. I'm sure half the pithy things I say on this blog will result in my losing my race for school trustee in 2022...
And they're off: The Montreal Fringe begins

Are you ready to rumble? The Montreal Fringe Festival began tonight.

Because they are usually inordinately long, I've decided to move my Fringe-related posts to another spot. Everytime I post, however, I will link to it here.

Read Montreal Fringe 2004: Day 1, featuring a press roundup, my Pick of the Day, and news of that other festival.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 18.9: What ifs.

Okay, so I seem to be having this conversation over and over with my friends about what exactly a minority government is. You have to remember that those of us who were born after 1980 have never lived through one.

Paul Wells -- in his Macleans column, not on his blog -- explains exactly what it's all about. He also puts forth a tantalizing situation wherein Harper's Conservatives are just a few seats shy of a majority:
[H]e need only peel enough MPs away from other parties to reach 155. That's what happened in Saskatchewan in 1999, when part of the tiny Liberal caucus joined the New Democrat government. It's messy, but it requires only that an aspiring prime minister identify which opposing MPs would put a ministerial limousine above their party loyalty.

So the question for Harper might be: who are the 10 most opportunistic Liberals? The mind reels. I'll let you draw your own list. You can be sure Harper is.
Ooh! Sounds fun. Which Liberals do you think would defect to the Conservatives in this situation?

Well, there's pro-lifers like Tom Wappel and Paul Steckle... Evangelical John McKay, the socially conservative Paul Szabo and Jim Karygiannis...

What about socially conservative Albina Guarnieri and Joe Volpe? Probably not, because Martin put them in Cabinet.

Oh I know one! A sure bet. He's a prominent Liberal who is wishy-washy, has a history of being disloyal to his party's leaders, dislikes the left wing of his party, has essentially the same views as Stephen Harper, and is opportunistic.

Dang. What's his name? It's on the tip of my tongue. He's got a bit of a paunch and two first names.

I'm sure I'll think of his name in a moment or two...
The Spiraling Cadaver, or Cool Free Stuff in the Mail!

Gmail Swap works! I invited a nice fellow named Joe from University, Massachusetts, to join Gmail and in return he sent me this:

The book, not the shoe.

Baudrilliard's seminal work of postmodernism includes a chapter that seems appropriate here:

Go, go Simulacra!
Ah, television!

Just saw an interview with Super Size Me's Morgan Spurlock on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The segment was bookended by advertisements for McDonald's on my local CTV affiliate.

I am so very conflicted right now.

Post-script

Hey! Remember that time I interviewed Morgan Spurlock when he was in Toronto?

See, I shook Spurlock's hand and now he just shook Jon Stewart's hand. It's like Stewart and I are now just that much closer.

Also: Has Spurlock's moustache increased in girth over the past couple of months or what? It's friggin' huge!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Campaign Diary Day 18.2: Could a summer election be a good thing for the Green Party?

How'd everyone like the first smoggy day of the year? Smog covered Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and all points in between today, leading Environment Canada to issue the first smog alert of the year today.

Despite having mostly outgrown my asthma, my lungs still had to work overtime today to process the sludgey air. And my eyes have been watering off and on all day too.

Ottawa blogger Marci woke up this morning and was unable to see the Peace Tower because the smog was so thick. "Maybe it is time to vote Green..." she mused.

I'm sure others are thinking the same thing. Maybe the timing is right for the Greens this election, hmm?
Campaign Diary, Day 18: What is the sound of one party flushing?

I'm hearing more and more rumours of a Conservative minority. Is't possible?

Exhibit A: Liberal Senator Anne Cools defected to the Conservatives today.

This ain't any old senator. This is Cools, the first black woman to be appointed to the Upper Chamber. The optics of this are particularly good for the Conservatives right now, given that Liberals are trying to paint them as radical social conservatives (ie. sexist, racist, homophobic).

Stephen Harper is not Stockwell Day. This is not the year 2000. You're going to have to try something else, folks.

Exhibit B: A Liberal riding association (Brampton-Springdale) has decided to throw its support behind the New Democratic Party's candidate.

The riding association isn't rebelling because of Martin's policies. They're rebelling because Martin overruled the nomination vote which selected Andrew Kania as the candidate for the riding. Says Kania: "I was initially told by Karl Litler -- who is currently the Ontario campaign chair -- that I would not be allowed to win in this riding because I was John Manley's Ontario co-chair during the [Liberal] leadership campaign." Smooth move, Litler...

The candidate Kania was replaced with is Ruby Dhalla, a former Bollywood actress who is now a chiropractor in Brampton. Here's a good article on the ins and outs of the nomination battle from The Weekly Voice, Canada's leading Indo Canadian Weekly Newspaper.

Conclusion: Team Paul Martin (the party formerly known as the Liberals) is battling clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right, but his biggest enemy is his own hubris. Politician, heal thyself.

Post-script

And now, because I've finally figured out how to put pictures on my blog, a photo of Paul Martin and Dhalla: Bollywood, Pauliewood.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Meanwhile, back in America...

From the You-Just-Couldn't-Make-It-Up-If-You-Tried Dept., here's a BBC article with the great headline "Bin Laden stars in Rumsfeld pillow talk":
Donald Rumsfeld has admitted that his wife often needles him about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden - often just after they wake up.

"When I walk out of the bedroom in the morning, my wife frequently rolls over and says, 'Where's UBL?'" he said, referring to the spelling "Usama".
The rest of the article gets no less Onion-esque:
"Close doesn't count," he said, according to AP news agency.

"In [throwing] horse shoes, yes, in finding a terrorist person, no. There are a lot of people looking. If he's alive and well out there, he is very busy trying to avoid being caught.

"He is under pressure, but where he is, we don't know. If we knew, we would go find him. [But] until he's caught, he's not caught."

Mr Rumsfeld - who has also acquired a certain notoriety for his verbal convolutions - also explained that he believed Bin Laden would probably turn up suddenly after a tip-off, as in the case of Saddam Hussein.

"The only way we ever found him is finally somebody put enough pressure on enough people to find out that somebody had an idea where somebody might know somebody who might know somebody who would know where he might have been," he said, according to the American Forces Press Service.

But he said people were "working their heads off" trying to track Bin Laden down.
Forgive me for this, but I just got a mental picture of Rumsfeld and his wife having rough sex and she's yelling, "Where's UBL? Where's UBL, motherf--ker!" And he keeps squeaking, "I don't know! I just don't knoooow!"

Monday, June 07, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 16: Could this man be a future prime minister?

Well, not really. However, Ed "Sailor" White, a retired pro wrestler, is running for the Green Party in the newly-created Newfoundland riding of Bonavista - Exploits, however.

Now can we please let Green Party leader Jim Harris in on the televised debates?

Post-script

RE: the Green Party, here's an article detailing how they have been excluded from the debates. And here's Harris's guest post on the subject on BlogsCanada.

I've actually started to warm to the Green Party of late. I like the idea of a party that is post-ideology and refuses to locate itself on the out-of-date political spectrum. Here's a fun thread over at rabble.ca, where a bunch of lefties deride the Greens for lacking "an anti-capitalist class analysis." Sweet!

I won't be voting for the Greens this election, however. I saw my local candidate Mark Viitala on a television debate and I am worried that he is a narcoleptic.
Journalism: Gazoo news

Here's an interesting article in La Presse today about a union ruling from mid-May at The Gazette. An arbitrator ruled that The Gazette was practicing discrimination when it hired Basem Boshra as television critic in 2002, rather than an older reporter who had been with the paper much longer and was a member of the union, Mary Lamey.

When Lamey asked editor Lucinda Chodan why she was not selected for the job (both Boshra and Lamey applied), Chodan allegedly said, "You aren't younger than 35 and you aren't a member of a cultural community." (I'm translating this back from the French translation, so it's a little wonky.)

The union's decision is a good one -- in theory. Race and age shouldn't play a role in who gets hired to a particular job. Yet...

Looking at it from that perspective alone ignores the fact that Basem was a great writer and, I thought, the best new columnist the Gazette had hired in a long time. He introduced a whole bunch of new features to the television column that I thought were great, for instance the Music Video of the Week. I prefered him to either John Doyle in The Globe or Scott Feschuk in The National Post.

Part of the reason that I picked up the Gazette's arts section back then was to read Basem's column. And part of the reason why I liked reading Basem's column was that he was young and had a young perspective. From a young reader's standpoint, it was nice to see a young journalist in a prominent position at The Gazette (and not simply as the token "youth" columnist). It was also nice to see The Gazette start to hire on journalists who weren't your typical West End anglophones and embrace someone from what the Gazette has called the "New Anglophone" population.

Obviously, I'm biased in this case, being a young journalist who knows that it's tough to get hired on a paper that's a union shop. I don't think being young should be keep you from being hired to a job in journalism and I don't think that just because Lamey had seniority she should have got the position.

The best writer should win, of course, but what "best" means in this business is so subjective. In terms of being a columnist, who you are is a big part of what you write. And one's age and background certainly play a role in that. It makes good business sense for newspaper to hire people who appeal to different demographics.

I'm divided on the issue, but there's something about the decision here that doesn't sit well with me. Read the La Presse article and decide for yourself.

Of course, the argument is moot at this point. Since Spring 2003, when Boshra's contract expired, the Gazette has left the television critic position vacant. Television content is provided mainly by CanWest's wire service now, usually from a writer based in Vancouver, despite the fact that television in Montreal is very different from television in the ROC. (One of the things that I liked about Boshra was that he often wrote about what was on the French channels.)

But that's a whole other kettle of fish involving a certain company's continuing belief in convergence, something that I generally don't believe is good for journalists or readers or the bottom line.
Monday Schadenfreude: Election Edition!

Imagine Ed Broadbent rapping.

Oh wait... (RealMedia; Windows Media; Quicktime.)

This has been your Monday Multimedia Schadenfreude.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Mourning in America

I just went on the Internet to find out who the other 8 horses are that Smarty Jones will beat in half an hour, and what do I find out? Ronald Reagan died.

Professor Gil Troy, start your engines...

Friday, June 04, 2004

Theatre Friday: Happy Fringing!

With the opening of the Hamilton Fringe today, Fringing season officially opens in Canada.

As with last year, look to this space for news and reviews and gossip-fueled-by-booze from the Montreal Fringe (June 10-20) and the Toronto Fringe (June 30 - July 11).

Happy Fringing!

Post-script

You'll also, no doubt, find information about the Montreal Infringement Festival here, because, well, I can't stop those globophobic pests from posting in the comments section below. (I mean "pests" quasi-affectionately. I've grown to accustomed reading comments like: "Speaking of the election, Car Stories dropped the writ on finding a new artistic facilitator yesterday. Check out this article written by one of my many alter-egos at www.rabble.ca/babble/ OptatifLaboratoriesUnderFireFromBushRumsfeld andMcFringeInc.html. Cheers, Donovan.")
Comma Cameleon

What is wrong with this sentence:
The highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.
Why, oh why did we stop using serial commas? Using a comma before an 'and' never hurts and sometimes it helps.

Language Hat's latest treatise on "WHY SERIAL COMMAS ARE A GOOD THING." It's an old post now [May 28!] but I've been telling people about it for a week, so I figured I might as well post it here.

NB: This does not give you license to begin nitpicking about my punctuation on this blog. Blogs are exempt from such rigorous standards.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 12.82: How the tables have turned...

Well, well. One day Maclean's bloggojournalist Paul Wells writes the news; the next day he is the news:
So Wells was surprised to be tagged as a Martin "kiss ass" by a protester in Hamilton. The protester had accosted Wells, who was wearing a Team Martin tag like every other reporter on the Liberal tour, to complain that Martin wouldn't stop to hear his beef about Grit corruption.
Protester: "He wouldn't answer my question."
Wells: "First of all, I'm a reporter, and secondly, I've been asking him questions for four years and I haven't had a lot of luck for four years, so bugger off."
To which the protester replied: You're a kiss ass."
"I'm not sure the prime minister would agree," Wells responded.
With due respect to hard-working scribes at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, I'm not that anyone who reads their newspaper who isn't a journalist is remotely interested in this. In other words: Keep it up!
Campaign Diary, Day 12.8: L'Ontario aux Québécois

A friend passed on a link to the Bloc Québécois de l'Ontario, who propose to annex Ontario to Quebec and then separate:
Ontario must undergo radical changes to become part of Québec. We are all aware of Ontario's current cultural deficiencies: puritcanical tendencies, a common law tradition, support for Confederation, etc.
A Bloc québécois government in Ontario will promote the following policies:
-- Lowering the legal drinking age to 18.
-- Lower the de facto drinking age to 14.
-- Implement a Civil Code of Québec (Ontario).
-- Introduce land use planning reform to limit the density of establishments serving primarily donoughts as its principal activity.
-- Reduce spending on roads.
-- Eliminate excessive regulation on minimum apparel requirements in drinking establishments.
-- Reduce university tuition rates to the national average, and once the national average has been readjusted to reflect this, reduce tuition rates to the national average.
It's a spoof, of course, but I'm tempted...
Campaign Diary, Day 12.1: Well, the election is supposed to be about health care...

Strange moment on the Harper campaign today. Outside of a Toronto building downtown, Harper was greeted by a group of pro-choice protestors, but also a man dressed as a Listerine bottle:
As the protesters were were doing their thing, a man dressed as a blue-coloured bottle of mouthwash saw his opportunity to get a little face time with the local news cameras.
"Has anybody seen the Evil Gingivitis?" the man growled to no one in particular. "I know this doesn't have a lot to do with what's going on (here), but has anyone seen the Evil Gingivitis?"
Good god! Can the Liberals sink any lower with their tactics!?!
Campaign Diary, Day 12: Anyone can play guitar

Even Jack Layton. This video of him leading a sing-a-long of "This Land is My Land" is from a few days ago, filmed by the Globe and Mail's Stephen Chase. [Via Pop.]

Anybody have any idea who that is playing the maracas next to him? It looks a little bit like Stephen Lewis, though it's clearly not...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Campaign Diary, Day 11.5: Secrets of the Ya-Ya Politicians

As previously mentioned, Kwangyul Peck, the Liberal candidate for Port Moody - Westwood - Port Coquitlam, really stands out from the pack of wannabe politicians running in the upcoming federal election. That's because he has no fingerprints. Yes, years spent lifting heavy boxes as a vegetable delivery truck driver in New York "resulted in the loss of all of his fingerprints," he explains in his online bio.

This shocking revelation leads to two questions: 1) Where was Peck when Chuck Guité needed him? and 2) What perverse secrets are other candidates hiding from the public?

On the Fence has launched a coast-to-coast investigation to discover the personal trivia the shadowy pols who want your vote don't want you to know. Here are some of the leads we're following:
-- A candidate running in Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte knows all the verses to Barrett's Privateers. All of them.

-- A candidate in Abitibi—Témiscamingue has never sat on a chaise longue.

-- A Conservative candidate running in a Western Ontario riding says to-MAH-to instead of to-MAY-to.

-- A prominent federal party leader is double-jointed. In the knees.

-- A candidate for Edmonton—Sherwood Park gets a little down on Sunday afternoons.

-- An NDP candidate running in Winnipeg has a particular fondness for butter.

-- The top aide to a candidate in the Malpeque riding used to date a dental hygenist.

-- A hopeful in the Sackville—Eastern Shore riding once wrote a fan letter to Phil Ochs.

-- A prominent Maritime Liberal candidate lost on Jeopardy.

-- Several Green Party members in Saskatchewan believe in evolution.

-- A shadow cabinet minister from an opposition party has a son studying drama at UBC.

-- A Bloc Quebecois hopeful near Trois-Rivieres thinks Tiger Woods is "the sexiest man alive."

-- Judy Sgro is coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.
On the Fence will keep you updated as these stories unfold.
Election Diary, Day 11: Scared nuts!

Listen up, Liberals. I want to hear what every party has to say in this election, okay? And then I want to hear your party's informed response.

Calling Jack Layton "nuts"? Sorry, that makes you look bad.

Calling Stephen Harper "scary"? Not impressive, either.

These Liberal ambushes -- sending Dennis Mills to disrupt a Layton event on Sunday; sending Judy Sgro and John McCallum out to disrupt Harper events yesterday -- are the worst, though. As Pogge says, "Why don't we just cancel the leaders' debate and have a steel cage match instead?"

And as Paul Wells puts it, "Folks: keep pulling stunts like this and you won't have any cabinet jobs to hand out after June 28... Oh yeah. Paul Martin had some events today. But you know what? You pull idiotic stunts like this, and Paul Martin gets blown off the top of the news by his hired clowns."

Come on. Debate the ideas. Don't resort to name-calling and this ridiculous ambushing.

Sigh. No wonder people don't vote.

Post-script

I watched the candidates for the Trinity-Spadina riding -- that's my riding -- debate on television tonight. Basically, they all behaved like a bunch of buffoons, especially Tony Ianno and Olivia Chow, who kept nattering at each other and over each other, fighting old battles. Meanwhile, Mark Viitala, the Green Party candidate, seemed to be asleep throughout the show. Conservative candidate David Watters was the most articulate and most likeable of the bunch to tell you the truth, though that's not saying much considering his competition.

Sigh. No wonder people don't vote. Can I abstain?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Catching up with: Brent Tyler.

Remember Brent Tyler, the former president of Alliance Quebec? Yes, the loose-cannon one.

Well, it turns out that, since resigning as president last month, Tyler spends his days surfing the internet, where he came across these comments I made about him: "Brent Tyler is an agressive narcissist who marginalized and then destroyed Alliance Quebec and the legitimate work it used to do... In other words, he was the OLF's best friend. They should thank him for his dedicated service..."

Tyler dropped me a line on Monday in response:
Got this comment from Andrew Coyne's site. I'll have to add "agressive (sic) narcissist" to my collection. What do you base yourself on to come up with this?
To which I responded:
I base it on pretty much every media interview with you I've read, plus what I've heard from others' first-hand encounters with you. Alliance Quebec self-destructed. You were in charge. You should take some responsibility for that.
Tyler, true to his reputation, came out fighting in return:
Every media interview you've read? Name one. Others' first-hand encounters? Name one.
Interesting segue from "agressive (sic) narcissist" to your assertion that AQ has self-destructed.
I can't tell you how flattered I am that you mentioned me. Is there someway I can return the favour and say something about you?
Is there somewhere I can find out more about you? Media interviews? Others' encounters?
It was at this point I realised the guy really was a nutbar like I had read and heard. Still, I responded. Why? Because I'm childish. And he sicced me!
Do you get this angry at everyone who posts anything about you in the comment section of a blog? Gee whiz. I would have thought you would have developed a thick skin by now. You should really adopt the Trudeau line: "I've been called worse things by better people."
Media interviews: I'm thinking mainly here of the ones I read in the Gazette and the Hour over the past couple of years. There was a good one by Martin Patriquin. Sue Montgomery did at least one with you, though I think you stopped returning her phone calls. I didn't keep the clippings.
First-hand encounters: I don't think I'll betray anyone by naming them, especially given your aggressive attitude.
Cheers and good day,
K.
I could have also mentioned the time he was convicted of assault [SEE CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION AT END OF POST] after being "involved in a physical confrontation with a pedestrian who smacked the side of his car." Or the time he was charged with assaulting a McGill Law student. I think those fairly substantiate the "aggressive" allegation I made.
As for being a narcissist, the next e-mail I got from Tyler seems like a good clue:
Angry? Not angry. Curious about how someone gets off calling people names. People they've never met and know nothing about.
Great sources. Montgomery was suspended by The Gazette for incompetence and the best gig that Patriquin can get is a job with a Montreal weekly with almost no circulation.

This is what I wrote about one Montgomery hatchet job on January 16, 2003 in The Gazette.:

"As for the unnamed sources in Montgomery's column, this is the stuff of yellow journalism, dwelling on innuendo, gossip and the obsessions of a few malcontents, rather than reporting on the substantive issues."

I have been called worse things by better people. I wrote to you in the perhaps vain hope that you would think twice before you make gratutiously insults in the future. It only makes you appear like a pathetic self-important little twerp. Instead of getting the attention you so desperately seek, you will only inspire pity.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are the words of the man who purported to speak for English-speaking Quebecers. Man am I glad the federal government cut the AQ's subsidy...
This is where, I suppose, I should have let it die. But, as previously mentioned, I'm childish:
You're clearly deluded. Sue Montgomery, a fine journalist, has been back on the job for a while now and has been praised, particularly for her coverage of the crisis in Haiti. As for Patriquin, he was recently hired as a news reporter by the National Post.
If you didn't want Montreal anglophones like me forming opinions about you, you should have never entered the public eye. There was nothing gratuitous about my comments: I think you severely screwed up Alliance Quebec. And a lot of people think that too.
As for, "Curious about how someone gets off calling people names. People they've never met and know nothing about." Uh, dude, you just called me "a pathetic self-important little twerp." Little did you know, however, that I am rubber and you are glue and whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.
Cheers,
K.
So take that, Tyler!

Next week: Perhaps I shall begin an angry exchange with Howard Galganov?

Post-script

As for Alliance Quebec, things aren't really looking up since Tyler's departure. Today, Rev. Darryl Gray was elected to the leadership and sore loser Giuliano D'Andrea has already promised to launch a court challenge to the results.

Then, of course, there's the whole business of the fact that Gray is to be in court next month to face charges of assault for allegedly slapping his wife in the face.

Sigh. Let's just kill AQ and be over with it, please?

April 6, 2005: Correction and Clarification

Dear On the Fence Readers,

On June 1, 2004, in a blog post about lawyer Brent Tyler, I wrote: "I could have also mentioned the time he was convicted of assault after being 'involved in a physical confrontation with a pedestrian who smacked the side of his car.' Or the time he was charged with assaulting a McGill Law student. I think those fairly substantiate the 'aggressive' allegation I made."

In fact, Mr. Tyler has not been convicted of assault, as he informed me in an e-mail I received April 6, 2005: "I was not convicted of assault. I was given a conditional discharge. If you had read the article in The Mirror that is linked to your Site, you could have avoided making this inaccurate and libelous comment."

According to the 1997 Montreal Mirror article in question, Mr. Tyler was "found guilty of assault and was given a conditional discharge pending a $500 donation to charity." I did not understand the distinction between this and a conviction at the time and apologize to Mr. Brent for the error. I withdraw the comment.

In addition, though the blog post was accurate in June, the charges relating to the McGill Law student have since been withdrawn. Mr. Brent forwards along a Montreal Gazette article dated October 8, 2004:
Brent Tyler, a high-profile Montreal lawyer and past-president of Alliance Quebec, has been cleared of assaulting two young political opponents two years ago. Crown prosecutor Francis Paradis yesterday withdrew the charges before Municipal Court Judge Jean-Pierre Bessette. "We weren't surprised," defence lawyer Daniel Lighter said. "The evidence was weak." Lighter suggested Paradis realized "the political motivation behind the trial." The incident took place during an April 2002 meeting of Alliance Quebec, where the head of the English rights group's youth wing and his brother claim
they were assaulted by Tyler.
Campaign Diary, Day 10: Let's roll.

I haven't mentioned the Marijuana Party yet, so let's give them a little space today, hmm? From The Globe:
The Marijuana Party opens its national campaign headquarters in Montreal today, unveiling its new slogan: "The Marijuana Party: Let's Roll." Party Leader Marc-Boris...
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on. Back this gravy train up...

"Let's Roll?" Remember a little thing called 9/11? Remember a little hero named Todd Beamer? Remember a little American president named Bush and a little war on terror that began with those words?

Yikes, Marijuana Party... What were you thinking? Perhaps you've been smokin' a little Wacky Tobaccy, if you know what I mean? Ho, ho, ho. Firin' up a little reefer, hmm? Hoo, hoo, hoo. Tokin' up? Hee, hee, hee.

Ahem.

Back to the Globe article:
Party Leader Marc-Boris St-Maurice, 35, says the party, which wants marijuana legalized, has more than 100 candidates. To fund the campaign, Mr. St-Maurice, who is a candidate in Mr. Martin's LaSalle Emard riding, says the party will sell marijuana seeds. And he claims it's all business over at his headquarters -- there is no junk food for those who get the munchies. "I don't have time to smoke pot during this damn election," Mr. St-Maurice says.
Ba-dum ching! I guess it's bring your own punchline day here at On the Fence.