Online Extremism: Starring YOU



The latest terrorist attack in Paris was different from previous terrorism related crimes perpetrated by Muslim extremists. There was a decidedly different feel to the crime itself, the reaction by the media, the posturing by western governments and, possibly the most transformative reaction, that of the public, especially in the online world.

In our quest to pair our personalities with technology via social networking profiles and smart phones, we have created a polarization unmatched by any real world interactivity. In the recent past, left and right wing ideologues were easy to spot. They were loud, brash, hateful, judgmental human beings. They targeted each other with dogmatic self-assuredness, recycling their own statistics, their own talking points and their scripted rebuttals to the counterarguments of their ideological opposites. They hogged the newsfeeds, the hash tags and the mainstream media coverage by following one easy to remember method: be loud. To the non-ideological, this became our entertainment and our sources of information. We may not have contributed to the noise, but we were following it intently.

Right wing zealots were always the easiest to spot online. They have very little time for politeness, very little need for opposing views. We used to watch them sing from the same playbook on issues like immigration, taxes, climate change and, of course, Islam. Before the Paris attacks, most of us shrugged at their repetitive musings about Muslims taking over the planet, and now many of us have joined in their chorus. Among these new members of the anti-Muslim flock are actually well minded people. They were not dogmatic conservatives-in-waiting, lying dormant until the piper played his flute. They were regular people, even progressive in their views, who reached their tipping point after seeing the macro reaction to the 129 dead Parisians. We will get back to them in a moment.

Left wing zealots, just as crazed and indignant as their right wing cousins, can sometimes be trickier to spot, mostly because centrists and some moderate conservatives hold many of their values. Their list of important issues includes the opposing viewpoints held by right wing zealots, especially in regards to climate change, and most especially in regards to Islam. To them, Islam is not just off limits, it is already a victim of worldwide disdain, and any criticism should be viewed through the lens of this ongoing state of victimization.

And so, post attack, both these groups were out in full force. Everything was fairly predictable. The right was posting memes, videos and photos that propped up their predispositions about the Muslim world. They referred to Syrian refugees as a poison being plunged into the veins of western societies and the eventual Islamafication of western cultures. The left were draping themselves in the French flag, virtually, and showcasing their humanity by demanding the world not criticize Islam in the wake of the tragedy.

Then it happened. Moderates and normally quiet onlookers began taking sides. Some questioned why countries like Canada were even considering taking in a single refugee now that all those people lay dead in Paris. Other moderates and normally quiet onlookers were openly accusing people of racism and bigotry for discussing the impact religion has on the world. In essence, those who normally watch were suddenly propping up the two fringes that normally take up all the oxygen. It was and continues to be a strange evolution in our online behaviours, where our opinions are now so extreme that they lose their value, their substance.

We should not have to run to the fringe when we want to talk about Islam. We should not be burning down mosques and beating up mothers for wearing a hijab. Simultaneously, we should not yell racism if we discuss the role of Islam in terrorism. Repeating tag lines like “Islam is a religion of peace” is a dangerous way of burying a problem, and not unlike the way we bury our brothers and sisters after a zealot decides to attack.

Vince Staples on 1990s Hip Hop: “Fu*k Your Era”



Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but until yesterday I had no idea Vince Staples even existed. Many reading this still probably have no idea who he is.

But, while skimming through my news feed yesterday I came across a story where this young rapper said the following in an interview with Time Magazine:
“The 90s get a lot of credit, I don’t really know why. Biggie and 2 Pac, those are the staples of the 90s, I think that’s why they get the Golden Era credit.”

Now, normally we can excuse a youngster for having a stunningly superficial idea of what the 90s provided as far as hip hop music is concerned, but this is an artist who is supposed to be buddies with Snoop and lists Lauryn Hill as one of his all time favourite emcees. How he reconciles his distaste for hip hop in the 90s with these two factoids is a mystery, and leads many to believe Staples is merely trolling for publicity.

But this opinion, apart from being woefully ignorant, seems to be a reaction to modern rappers not feeling they are treated fairly by hip hop heads who are older. There are certainly a ton of older heads who simply won’t give any credit whatsoever to the younger cats trying to make a name, a trend that speaks to the romanticization many have with Golden Era music. This close-mindedness is wrong, but this reaction is just as short-sighted.

I had a mini Twitter war with Staples after watching the Time interview where he doubled down on his displeasure of 90s hip hop.

As far as Staples’ music is concerned, I had a listen to a few tracks before writing this article. It’s not bad. Not great either. But that’s a subjective argument, not a blanket statement on every cat coming out with tracks today.

Because anybody who blankets an entire era with a statement meant to downgrade that era is probably just seeking attention. The only other reason would be a dreadful lack of understanding how movements are made and how paths are paved. Staples would be wise to adjust his mindset before he finds himself at an awards show with Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier or any of the other artists from the era that made his even possible in the first place.

The Painful Demise of Thomas Mulcair


By: james Di Fiore

When Olivia Chow announced she would run to become the mayor of Toronto it looked like she couldn’t lose. Toronto had just spent 4 years dealing with Rob Ford, a cartoon-like politician whose exploits need no rehashing.

Toronto knew Olivia. She had a presence in our city for decades. She had a famous husband who propelled the NDP to Official Opposition status and gave them 100+ seats in the House of Commons.

In short, we needed no introductions. We just needed Olivia to be herself.

Instead, in one of the most badly calculated political strategies in Canada’s history, Olivia gave us someone we had never met before. She changed her clothes, her way of speaking, her overall demeanor. She hired political goons while giving her rivals all they needed to completely destroy her.

Chow finished a distant third place as John Tory rode to victory ahead of Doug Ford, the conservative who finished second.

This federal election is showing a lot of parallels.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair had everything going for him. His party was well ahead of the conservatives and liberals in the polls. He had impressed Canadians over the past two years by holding Stephen Harper to account in the House of Commons, especially during Question Period. A majority of Canadians had become wise to the antics of Stephen Harper; his incremental strategy of ushering in anti-democratic policies, his disregard for evidence based decision-making, and his contempt for ethics, especially in regards to the Senate scandal.

Canada finally had a competent politician holding Harper’s feet to the fire, and Canadians rewarded his feistiness by propelling him to the top of the polls.

And then it happened. Harper announced an elongated 78 day campaign, and Mulcair decided to do his best Olivia Chow impersonation by needlessly reinventing himself. He or his handlers decided to abandon the Mulcair that won us over, and place a stiff, faux jovial imposter in his stead. His entire demeanor had all the authenticity of a wax museum figure, and his support began to plummet.

Mulcair had been known for years in Ottawa as Angry Tom, and it was Angry Tom who Canadians needed at a time when they felt exhausted by a prime minister only interested in retaining his power. Moreover, Mulcair’s new persona was matched only by his decision to push the party towards the right, alienating his base and confusing undecided voters who were not looking for outlandish promises like balanced budgets.

Add a masterful Liberal campaign and a surprising performance by Justin Trudeau, and the writing on the wall became ever more clear: the NDP were in third place, and the notion of their first crack at power had all but evaporated.

Campaigns are not all that complex at the end of the day. People are not always savvy, but almost all of us have instincts that tell us who is being real with us, and who is trying to play a role. In this election, Mulcair was playing the role of a guy who wasn’t being himself, and Canadians rewarded him by making sure he would never become prime minister.


Canada Votes: Don’t Feed the Partisans

BY: James Di Fiore

Canadians have often defined themselves through one main pillar of pride; we are not Americans. Some say it stems from an inferiority complex, others simply say it is due to our unfettered sense of civility. In either case, we have often conducted ourselves with an understanding that our politeness and reason would see us through.

Sadly, the days of the polite Canuck are over, thanks to a new divisive attitude fostered by Canadian politics, enabled by social media and abetted by polling companies desperate to remain relevant.

There was a time when most non-conservatives in Canada agreed that the domestic, wacky, political partisans belonged almost exclusively to the far right. The now defunct Sun News Network cemented this idea, and even gave birth to the notion that Canada was only sparsely populated with intellectual lightweights, glaring hypocrites and hotheads who used ban puns laced with spittle when lashing out at the country’s commies and hippies. If a nutty, right wing network can’t survive here, then surely we are still a country of mostly levelheaded sweethearts, right?


This election has unearthed a horrible reality in Canada; Liberal and NDP partisans who are just as unreasonable and rigid as their conservative counterparts. This reality is especially glaring if you participate in social media, where a political cesspool of halfwits, pom pom wavers and disinformation agents pollute computer screens from St. Anthony to Victoria, adding a sheen of shit onto an already nauseating campaign. Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau: all of them, according to their following of amateur pundits, can walk on water, ride unicorns, and have never, ever farted. They’ve also, according to their armies of loyalists, have never shown bad judgment. Not once. Ever.

To the apolitical, the apathetic or the average Canadian voter, this new reality is doing a horrible disservice. Supporters frame obvious gaffes as oppositional propaganda out of blind loyalty, setting the stage for an eventual prime minister who will have a chunk of the electorate that never calls truth to power.

Think of the last nine years as the dry run where conservative loyalists turned a blind eye to scandal after scandal, insuring that at least one third of the nation acted as the enabler for an out-of-control government. This unfortunate landscape, combined with majority status over the past four years, created the building blocks for unchecked power, the kind in which governments can run amok, pass any legislation they want and mold Canadian institutions without the consent of most Canadians or the input from Parliament itself.

The examples are everywhere in this election. Trudeau, who clearly lost a tangible chunk of support due to his bizarre doublespeak on Bill C 51, is propped up by fans – and I use that term literally – who were dead against the draconian legislation when it was announced by prime minister Harper, and have now done their best impression of a veteran politician by collectively flip flopping on the issue. Of course, if Mulcair or Harper had supported legislation they were on record saying they abhorred, those same partisans would be the first to yell and point. Not this election though. Trudeau, who also went on record two months ago chastising Harper’s use of deficits, only to announce his intention to run three consecutive deficits should his party win the election, managed to convince his fans that propping up Harper’s bill was a nuanced approach. Hey, what’s doublespeak to a clan of blind followers in 2015? Trudeau said back in April “Our platform will be fully costed, fiscally responsible and a balanced budget.” Today, Trudeau’s main campaign promise is to run three straight deficits. During one of the debates he even looked straight at the camera and told the country he was the only leader being honest with Canadians. The only thing more rich than that statement is the person who gave it, but his fans didn’t even blink.

Mulcair’s base is also giving their leader a free ride, even as they listen to him make contradictory statements in French and English regarding the Clarity Act. Make no mistake, Mulcair says different things depending on the language of his audience, but supporters give him a pass, knowing the strategy in Quebec has to focus on beating the Bloc and not leveling with all Canadians. The NDP also have the dubious honor of trying to balance their lefty brand with a newly adopted conservative economic plan, complete with balanced budgets and not much for working class Canadians.

As for Harper, his base is probably the most loyal group of followers since the exodus of the rats in Hamelin, ready to mark an X beside a man who has been lying to the country for nearly a decade. He lies to his base to solicit money, he lies to his base about his economic record, he lies to his base about terrorism issues, and has uttered a whole host of other fibs and half-truths designed to compartmentalize the base away from the vast majority of Canadians. It’s an Us VS Them strategy that demonizes non-conservatives, amalgamating the Christians, the racists, the climate change deniers and the wealthy hermits under one roof.

The big political picture is even more disheartening than any one party, especially as NDP and Liberal supporters attack each other with the same mindless rage conservatives have been using against both groups for years. Social media has created a wrestling ring of malicious, ad hominem attacks between people who have more in common than any other political groups in Canada. Make no mistake, the Liberal Party and the NDP are close ideological cousins, yet both are engaging in ludicrous finger pointing and absurd comparisons to the Harper Government. Some of this can be explained by their respective strategies of trying to nibble support from red Tories and moderate conservatives (yes, there are still some left), but much of it stems from a rabid mindset where winning is more important than principles.

Finally, pollsters are the gasoline this political hellfire needs in order to flourish. This race has been within the margin of error for so long that even a 1% lead is treated like a coronation of sorts. Daily polls are poisoning the opinions of casual political watchers, while parties themselves are using polling firms to unleash tactical strategies in a way that throws professional ethics out the window. The polling industry today is comprised of partisans and numerical alchemists, a propagandist arm of politics where results almost always mirror the ideology of the agency or the client.

The one saving grace in this particular election is the likelihood of a minority government situation. Harper has shown the other parties what majority governments can do to manipulate the rules of Parliament, and if one lesson can be realized it’s that one. But we should not risk more unchecked power just because the party wielding it aligns more closely with our views. It’s that kind of hypocrisy that has made this election a melting pot of red meat, scarfed down by partisans whose views span the political spectrum.

Goodbye, hello.


by: James Di Fiore


Nostalgia always gets me in the end.

I’ve been spending the last 5 minutes trying to establish how the smell of our cottage floods my consciousness with childhood memories. Moments earlier my son took his first steps. It’s also his first birthday. The nostalgia trip has taken hold.

I shook off the cobwebs and did a quick inventory of all the coincidences, emotional triggers and skipped beats I just experienced. I don’t know what it means, but it means something. It has to mean something.

I often neglected to find these cerebral silver linings along the way from boyhood to manhood, especially as my relationship with my father deteriorated. We saw each other three times in 20 years. I’ll never know if it was his fault or mine. I’m told it’s both of our faults. If that’s the case it’s double the weight.

He died last year. My sister called and cried as she told me. I didn’t cry. I just wanted to get off the phone immediately. After all, I had been mourning him for two decades already.

He was a good dad when I was little. I remember being in my parents’ bedroom, waiting for him to come home from work and staring at the cars from the bedroom window. Every night he’d flick his headlights on and off. It was our signal…our ‘thing’. By the time I hopped off the stool and ran down the stairs he was walking through the door. The first thing he’d feel was a hug from his 6-year-old son as he dropped his car keys on the coffee table.

One night Dad was late. None of the headlights had flickered. 6:00 became 10:30. Then, finally, I heard his keys in the front door. I ran down the stairs, hugged him, cried because I was 6, and never asked why he was late or neglected to flick his lights. Dad permanently stopped flicking his lights when I was about 8 years old I guess. Not really sure why.

Dad was fiercely intelligent and loved baseball. He was my coach for a couple years and shared my tendency to get ejected from games for arguing calls with the umpires. While unspoken, I think we both liked knowing we shared that kind of fire. We turned our backs on each other eventually in real life, but on the field we had each other’s backs.

Those baseball moments were sprinkled with loads of stressful situations as I grew up. The usual family stuff cemented our detachment from one another. Our relationship became a pattern of silence broken only by me asking for money or him asking me why I didn’t have a job. Neither of us ever had good answers. He’d peel off a twenty and I’d just shrug. That was our pattern, our new ‘thing’, and it wasn’t helping me be a competent steward of my own life. We shared the weight though. The reason why the father and son relationship is so important is due to the enormous impact of guilt and anger each one can extract from the other. It can be a bizarre give and take of utter disappointment sometimes. That’s not an overstatement. Not even close.

So I drifted. I drifted from college to couches to shared accommodations to basement apartments to living with a girl to winging it to staying at my mom’s to finding another girlfriend to trying to break lifelong habits of irresponsibility and emotional distress to reconciling my identity to accepting all my flaws as well as my gifts, to where I am now; nestled inside the arms of a good woman and a 1 year old son to anchor me down.

Easy, yes?


My father was missing. He was not a demonstrative man, or a communicative man, or a positive man, or an emotional man. He made me feel, as a youngster, that I was taken care of and safe from poverty. But as we aged he became more and more withdrawn. I still loved him for who he was when I was young, but that love waned as I reconciled the idea of not having a real father as I grew older. I felt as if he had abandoned me, or was ashamed of me. Or perhaps he was ashamed of himself? I’ll never know.

My father was born in Montreal, same as me, and I know next to nothing about his childhood. His father was a tailor who used to sell Italian suits to Italian businessmen of various industries. Yep, that industry too. His father was also a severe alcoholic. My grandfather meant the world to me, but my father likely despised him. My father never drank. He used to put Kool Aid in his wine glass instead of sharing a toast. Whatever legacy my grandfather left when he died, it was not hereditary drinking…unless it skips a generation. I’m not really sure if that one is an overstatement, to be honest.

I’m an atheist. I think that’s actually hereditary because I believe my dad was too, but he never said it outright. He did swear a lot, especially while coaching baseball or watching hockey. He was a great cook, a computer programmer, and loved fishing. We took annual fishing trips to the French River and stayed at different lodges when I was small. We’d catch a load of perch, some pike and whitefish, maybe the odd trout. The only other time we took long drives was to our baseball tournaments. Dad would talk strategy in the car, telling me why I should throw an 0-2 slider instead of high heat. He was engaged when we talked about baseball. I miss that, to be honest. If I were given the opportunity to speak with him one last time, I’d choose baseball as our topic. Dad didn’t have to feign emotion when talking about what makes a good pickoff move, or how to tell when a pitcher is telegraphing his pitches. I felt his logic, and since that’s all I remember feeling, his logic is what I would want to feel again.

My son was 3 months old when my father died. They never met each other. I’m not sure how that makes me feel. I won’t pretend I know how to feel anything at all when it comes to dad. But, like my grandfather and the bottle, I will not pass down my father’s legacy of being absent in my son’s life. Call it my own glass of Kool Aid. Today I’m toasting my son’s 1st birthday, the intent of never forgetting to flick my lights, and one final goodbye to my father while in the shadow of my son’s first steps.

Well played, nostalgia. Well played.

Election 2015: Public (relations) Enemy #1


By: James Di Fiore

It’s not easy for busy Canadians to closely follow the innards of the Mike Duffy Trial. Most of us work full time jobs, have families to consider, need downtime, and, if we aren’t working that second job or running errands, we’d like to have a decent night’s sleep too.

So, the average Canadian has a fairly low interest in politics these days, but when they do tune in something happens. They can’t quite put their finger on it, but it still manages to thrust them away from the issues and back into their lives with rolled eyes and a cemented apathy towards the items they likely should deem as important. Often, the media is blamed. Sometimes the old reliable adage that ‘every politician is corrupt’ is all we need to feel justified in not paying attention. Those two reasons are both legit and plausible, but they are not the root cause of apathy among typical Canadians.

The real culprit dampening our desire to hone in on the failures of elected leadership is an entirely different beast; the despicable monster known simply as Public Relations.

PR is an industry built on the shoulders of deceit. It’s main purpose: to water down bare bones truth and replace it with an easy-to-digest message. It’s a symptom of a protectionist entity, usually corporate or governmental in nature, whose primary function is to swindle the public by orchestrating words into a state of plausibility, rather than a state of unbridled truth.

In Ottawa, especially over the past decade, the public relations industry has dominated government communications. To many, this sounds like an odd statement. After all, PR has always been the mechanism used to relay information to the public. But modern public relations has mutated from effective messaging into a diabolical game of legalese where the public is deliberately made to believe a narrative that eases them into believing something that isn’t true, or designed to create a staleness only apathy can really cure. The PR in government messaging, executed mostly by politicians with legal backgrounds, serves to protect the interests of the governing party as they work to retain power at all costs. The Duffy trial is a quintessential example, and as we watch the curtain rise we should be able to recognize the extensive damage immediately.

Court documents have unearthed the blueprints used to mislead the public in relation to Senate expenses, the subsequent audit, the ‘media lines’ created for Duffy and conservative spokespeople, and the documented strategies for damage control before, during and after the scandal broke. Emails between conservative parliamentarians, staffers and lawyers show a culture of deception, conducted so reflexively that one walks away feeling like they had no moral compass other than loyalty to their party and, perhaps more tellingly, to their leader, Stephen Harper. Nigel Wright, whose personal PR had created an almost mythological figure that seemed to arrive in Ottawa on foot via the Rideau Canal in the summertime, personifies the power of having a stellar personal brand. Media pundits, politicians, and the corporate elite all sang his praises, despite his admission that he supplied the $90, 000 cheque to a senator who, upon accepting the money, was charged with receiving a bribe. Only good PR could take a man in his situation and spin the script until the public believed he was an infallible soul who merely made a mistake out of a sense of altruism. The evidence now shows Wright was conspiring with his party to trick the public into thinking Duffy used his own money to pay back his expenses, a discovery that proves Wright was more concerned with protecting his boss, leaving taxpayers in the dark and irony in the glaring sun. Punctuating this irony, Wright had the gall to quote scripture from the witness stand, portraying himself as the patron saint of plausible deniability for Harper, and by doing so smacked the manufactured halo that good PR had given him clear off his head.

But wait, what about that apathetic Canadian public? Will this scandal open their eyes to the damage public relations has done to governments in power? Honestly, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Our citizens have Public Relations Fatigue, a condition that works to create a white noise whenever the truth does happen to slip through the cracks. After all, whether it was about fighter jets, muzzling scientists, a gazebo, mission creep, a surplus, or any of the other missteps, gaffes or scandals, this government has always remained consistent in one fundamental area: tell them nothing, pretend you are transparent, spin, pivot and repeat.

However, as we go to work, spend time with our kids, catch some downtime, run errands and tuck ourselves in, perhaps we will finally hear a sound bite from our media that holds our leaders accountable.

Not just for breaking the rules and behaving corruptly, but for utilizing shady PR tricks that enable this behavior in the first place.


The Great Canadian Threeway

Some said it would never be.

After all, these are all very different types of people. They do not have needs that align just right, or any discernable chemistry whatsoever. One is too controlling; one is too rough; and the other is too pretty not to be the constant center of attention. He’s pretty much a tease. When under the same roof they tend to bicker with one another, providing theatrical styles of questions and answers, plus an uncanny ability to appear awkward or overly dramatic.

Incompatible, we said. We’re probably right, but this year’s election may provide just the right setting for this threesome to end up sleeping in the same bed nonetheless.

I predict the three major parties will each win between 90-125 seats and thus comprise the most complicated House of Commons in Canadian history. Canada will be a tripartite state at a time when polarization has never been more popular.

All euphemisms aside, this odd trio of leaders live in a constant state of strategy, mostly due to the government’s neo-PR style of leading. The Harper Government should be a case study for all PR students all across the country, a real life example of how to spin, pivot, flim-flam and deflect until the media is exhausted and citizens are too cloudy to care. Like a good celebrity caught in scandal, the Harper Government ignores its controversies, possibly to their detriment, and now must distract Canadians through national security lingo and fearful rhetoric. Instead of getting in front of a scandal they act like there has never been one.

With the prospect of a spring election nearly dead, Stephen Harper now hopes Canadians – a people not known for their emotional endurance in politics – can remain fearful for another seven months. Lots can happen in seven months, and Canadians are already showing they are not beholden to any given ideology or party, especially after nearly a decade of single party rule, even if half the ride was inside two minority governments.

National security issues have changed the landscape, making Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair the natural spokespeople for the right and left, respectively. Justin Trudeau’s strategy of straddling the ideological fence on issues pertaining to national security is muddying his message. Mulcair has proven that thoughtful debate can co-exist with a staunchly left wing perspective, and, in turn, Harper’s aggressive military tendencies can be propped up by real, defendable arguments. You may not agree with either of them, but both make a decent case for their positions. Just try not to read the polling while parties make their case.

The shifting ground needs to settle, and new realities are shaping the landscape, adjusting the lens we peer through while we mull over whom to support. We tend to take a long time to learn the facts of an issue, or a piece of legislation, if we bother learning it at all, and polling companies do a disservice when they collect their premature and therefore toxic data indicating we support issues we do not yet understand. Those polls are cited for months, even as support for the legislation dwindles, losing undecided voters who feel strongly about whatever issue is being misrepresented. In the case of Bill C-51, Canadians are rapidly sliding towards a lack of support for the bill, making Trudeau’s position the weakest when he voted for legislation he said he did not believe in.

Mulcair stands alone as being secure in his opposition to Bill C-51 from the beginning, and the only leader riding a wave of momentum by an increasingly skeptical public. The NDP have figured out the best way to question a neo-PR government is to apply a neo-prosecutorial style of managing the issues. Mulcair is light on rhetoric, heavy on evidentiary-seeking queries. When Harper answers a Mulcair question in QP, you can almost see his mind analyzing how to dance around Mulcair’s finely placed demands for substantive answers.

Trudeau still has his appeal. His marijuana stance, while caricaturized by the right, does make him attractive to a niche of left-of-center voters who may not normally head to the polls on Election Day. Their “evidence-based policy making” promise allows the Liberals to take advantage of several single-issue voters, a strong positive for a party seeking support from both the left and the right.

As for Harper, he’s all-in. The political chess master has a million pieces on the board but very few pawns left to sacrifice. Nearly a dozen of his handpicked appointees are under criminal investigation, awaiting court appearances, out of public service altogether or languishing inside prison walls. He has all but lost his long awaited surplus and will eventually have to contend with dead Canadian soldiers and dead Iraqi/Syrian civilians from wayward Canadian bombs. After all, this is now the Harper Government’s War, meaning they take full responsibility for its glory and defeats alike.

Later this year, the 20% of us who are flexible with our ballots will sprinkle each party with just enough votes to hand victory to nobody. Perhaps the Conservatives will finish third. Maybe second. Three parties with 100 seats makes the results almost meaningless, and the ferocious partisanship will have to water itself down as two or more parties come together to decide policy. No party wants to draw the ire of frustrated Canadians after a majority of which did not cast a ballot for any one of them. Politicians will pretend to play nice while leaking committee minutes to the media or trading barbs during in-camera sessions.

Now, back to the euphemisms.

All the leaders’ antics on Parliament Hill will be on full display, and it won’t be pretty. It will be nauseating, full stop. They are three entities, bumping and scratching against one another, living in the same House, frothing and spitting, screaming and occasionally using dirty words, bound together on old English wood.

A three-way like no other, destining Parliament to become a very, very seaty place.

Top 5 Reasons Why Kathleen Wynne Won the Election


Perfect political storm vaults Wynne into a majority government

By: James Di Fiore

If political pundits, strategists and pollsters were smart, they’d wake up this morning and call their bosses, hat in hand, and beg for occupational mercy. This provincial election was a great case study in political folly, and while a majority government sounds great for Liberal supporters, there were various moving parts that made it possible, most of which have little to do with the public’s gushing admiration for the Ontario Liberal Party.

So, here are the top 5 reasons Ontarians woke up this morning to a Liberal majority government.

1. Union Support – Like almost everything else on this list, the support by many Ontario unions has a backstory and a slew of footnotes, most notably being the fear of Tim Hudak by public sector employees and unionized workers alike. Traditionally, unions are mostly associated with the NDP, but Horwath’s decision to force an election angered union bosses who were on record praising the Liberal budget as a victory for working class people. Horwath’s decision to pass on the budget secured union support for Wynne and left the NDP searching for an identity.

2. Tim Hudak’s Ineffective Leadership – Hudak has said several times that people often tell him he looks like actor Michael Keaton. Unfortunately for Hudak, voters saw a man who only slightly resembled the actor…and only if Keaton was hit in the face several times with a hard covered copy of The Fountainhead. The embattled conservative leader is a rare combination of scorched earth policies and utter incompetence in connecting with voters who don’t share a Tea Party outlook on life and politics. His resignation as party leader immediately following the election was a smart move… for 2011. In 2014 he’s a man who ran his party into the ground. With no obvious heir apparent, the PCs will be hard pressed to find a compelling replacement.

3. Strategic Voting – This is another Hudak-related phenomenon that compelled the left-leaning electorate to hold their nose and vote Liberal. Social media, mass emails and word of mouth helped secure votes in ridings where the race was too close to call, a strange component of democracy where voters are convinced their support for a candidate they don’t like is more important than support for the candidate they do like. This, combined with a low voter turnout, seemed to favour the Liberals and conservatives who were separated by only 6% in the popular vote.

4. Andrea Horwath’s Ineffective Leadership – She was the first domino in this election after refusing to get behind the Liberal budget, forcing an election almost nobody wanted. She also attempted to drift towards the centre, also known as the far right to most NDP supporters, and in doing so seemed to alienate the party’s base who felt abandoned during the campaign. Truly, if you are too timid to speak directly towards issues that you’ve been championing for years, you’ve probably already lost the election.

5. The Liberals Ran a Textbook Campaign – While many believed anything short of throwing Daulton McGuinty under the bus would not be a strong enough rebuke of the Liberal government scandals, Wynne managed to balance an almost subliminal dressing down of the former premier with a message that resonated with voters. That message – finishing the job and not being tempted by austerity – succeeded in mobilizing the base, as well as the disgruntled supporters of the NDP. Her ads showed a leader who, while aesthetically stiff on camera, managed to come off as authentic, a stark contrast to Hudak and Horwath who both make the act of watching paint dry seem like Mardi Gras.

So when the aforementioned pundits, strategists and pollsters begin hedging their previous predictions or expressing how surprising the election was, they should be at least cognizant of the lack of confidence the public has in each of them. This is especially true for pollsters, who once again prove there is a vacuum in their industry after butchering yet another election that was supposed to be an easy call.

Teachers Group Mails Bizarre Comic to Durham Voters

Screenshot 2014-06-10 16.26.30


Strange newsletter also depicts Hudak as a supporter of racial segregation

By: James Di Fiore

The Durham Local Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario have taken the gloves off in this election, releasing a satirical newsletter depicting conservative leader Tim Hudak as an evil politician who is trying to usher in, among other things, a way to keep white neighbourhoods white via the “right to work” program proposed by the PC Party of Ontario.

Screenshot 2014-06-10 17.02.32

The comic-like publication is an interesting strategy given the mood of voters and their collective frustration towards provincial politics. It covers the usual issues regarding a possible Hudak-led government – austerity, union busting, etc – but then veers into vitriolic territory through the racial segregation implication and other bizarre drawings meant to illustrate the ideology of the PC Party.

It really just needs to be seen. Click here for the full newsletter. 

The Durham Local office could not be reached, but after contacting the Ontario office Government Relations spokesperson Vivian McCaffrey said the following:

“We cannot comment directly on the newsletter but we strongly suggest you contact their office first thing in the morning.”

McCaffrey added that she understands why voters might have strong feelings about the style of the newsletter.

No doubt.

Catholic Church the Last Institution to Pass Judgment on Justin Trudeau



Protecting pedophiles disqualifies Catholic Church from publicly lecturing anybody about abortion


By: James Di Fiore

Let’s face it; Justin Trudeau should have said nothing at all. But, much to the probable dismay of his chief strategist, he went off script and told a reporter that no future Liberal candidate would ever be permitted to vote against any abortion vote, no matter what their conscience says to them.
Now, I’m not sure anybody was under the impression the Liberal Party of Canada was a haven for pro-lifers. I was even surprised to find out there were a couple of sitting MPs who were anti-abortionists. Who knew?

But Trudeau could have said nothing and still charted a path where the party weeds out any potential anarchists on this issue. Or, he could have said nothing and allowed people who are pro-life to vote with their conscience. The point is, he should have said nothing at all.

So we can chalk this up as another Trudeau gaffe. It isn’t a major catastrophe, but it was a gaffe, especially if we define gaffes as uttering something that allows opponents to define you.

But the latest caveat – the public lecturing from senior members of the Catholic Church – is so blatantly hypocritical that Trudeau may want to just let the rest of the issue play out in silence. After all, is there one institution in this country less credible to the idea of decency than the Catholic Church? How can an organization known for enabling and protecting pedophiles lecture a public servant for wanting to keep his party a pro-choice party? Bishop Christian Riesbeck did just that, describing the idea of Trudeau receiving communion as “unseemly” and “scandalous.”

Really? An organization that spent decades putting child rapists into different communities, thus aiding their sex crimes, is somehow attempting to be seen as a moral authority? I guess self-awareness is not the strong suit of the Catholic Church, and with their history of lecturing Liberal politicians for progressive legislation, this latest foray into the political sphere seems dicey at best. The last time the Catholic Church tried to be seen as some sort of moral barometer was when former Prime Minister Paul Martin ushered in same-sex marriage. Well, that was an affront to God, according to Pope Benedict who publicly lectured Canada for going against God’s will. This was in 2005; the same year Irish authorities released a scathing indictment of the church for endangering children by allowing pedophiles to travel to other Catholic communities so they could continue raping and abusing their victims. Pope Benedict should also be remembered as the guy who literally wrote the church’s position on child raping priests; that they should be dealt with by the church and not by the proper authorities. After all, what’s another 100 raped altar boys when you have public relations to worry about?


Trudeau still has to learn the art of saying nothing, but the media, the public or his political rivals – not the most corrupted institution in the modern age – should be the ones to criticize his gaffes. The Catholic Church’s credibility on moralism died long ago, and those Canadians who consider themselves Catholic should think twice before pointing a finger at a politician for wanting abortion rights to remain undisturbed.