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.

Like Jack Layton’s Passing, Jim Flaherty’s Death Exposes the Worst Among Us



The Far Left Proves it can be just as shameful as the Far Right in Canada

By: James Di Fiore



When Jack Layton died his legacy was such that many people who did not share his politics felt the deep sadness one feels when a member of the family passes away. Layton had a quality that blurred political lines and embraced emotional collectivism instead.

Today, another man in politics passed away, and he had much of the same effect on those he worked with, and the people he represented. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suffered a massive heart attack and died at his home at the age of 64.

Immediately the news carried sentiments from people on all sides of the aisle. Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair could barely hold in the tears as he expressed his condolences. One after another non-conservatives told stories of the lovable leprechaun and his ability to connect with his political opposites.

But of course, like seagulls with irritable bowel syndrome on a precariously windy day, bombs start falling from the vitriolic fringe. “Good riddance,” said one genius. “I guess he won’t be able to mess up another budget,” said another. And while we all know the Internet is a place where taking things personally is both silly and pointless, it still remains depressing to know there are people in our midst who have lost the ability to censor their virtual selves.

I am reminded of Christopher Hitchens when he absolutely destroyed Jerry Falwell on the day the good reverend died. I think the difference between Falwell, Layton and Flaherty is twofold: first, Falwell was repugnant and used religious dogma to judge other people. Second, Hitchens was so much more intellectually clever than the sloped-brow contingent online.

It’s been about an hour since Flaherty passed away. I had to stop reading the comments. I had to do the same when Layton passed away. Instead, I’d like to point out something that should give us all pause.

As when Layton died, the one demographic who demonstrated the most poise, the most civility and the classiest sentiments is the same demographic whom we universally chastise on the regular: politicians. Politicians are often dishonest, almost always self-serving and probably wouldn’t blink an eye if their policies made you lose your job. But in a time of mourning they are precisely the embodiment of how people should behave, like in the immediate aftermath of Layton and Flaherty’s deaths.

So do yourself a favour…don’t read the comment section of any media outlet for the next few days. Then, never read them again.

“Rob Ford is a Social NDPer!” – Brother Doug Ford Says

Screenshot 2014-04-08 11.19.35


Doug Ford also claims to work 18 hours a week as a city Councillor

By: James Di Fiore


Toronto Councillor Doug Ford raised eyebrows yesterday when he confessed to calling his brother, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, a “social NDPer” (to his face, mind you), a label Doug says relates to Rob’s constant appetite to help out the less fortunate.


Councillor Ford also said both he and his brother do not employ a public relations team to help with their public images, an unsurprising claim given the off-the-cuff style the brothers tend to utilize when dealing with the press.


“What you see is what you get, what you get is what you see,” Councillor Ford said with a chuckle.


Ford also made the dubious claim of working 126 hours per week (“I work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week!”) and had some interesting comments about the Toronto Maple Leafs, attributing the blame for missing the playoffs on the players and upper management alike. This is interesting given the recent refusal by both Ford brothers to vote for a 10 million dollar municipal loan to MLSE for a new soccer stadium.




Is Russell Simmons the black Perez Hilton?

Uncle Rush ain’t the man he used to be

By: James Di Fiore

Imagine we are back in 1985. Russell Simmons and Def Jam founder Rick Rubin are quietly lighting the match that would set hip hop ablaze. Imagine during that time someone came up to you and said “In 25 years, Simmons will be the majority shareholder of a sleazy tabloid magazine.”

Anyone in their right mind would have dismissed that thought immediately. Hell, you may have even got a smack in the face for saying such a thing. This was the guy who started the careers of Run D.M.C., LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and other legendary acts. Back then, hip hop was not just an emerging musical genre, it was a rallying cry against corporate America. Sure, Run D.M.C. inked a deal with Adidas, but overall hip hop was the closest thing to protest music since the 1960s. The lyrics were not just the often cited biographies of kids living the ghetto experience; there was also the political statements surrounding the idea that black youth were being used by corporate America. The universal idea of predatory marketing and influence over the purchasing choices among the youth by lifestyle brands was not up for debate. Everyone knew it was happening. You either became apathetic towards it, railed against it or fought to become an entrepreneur.

Simmons had always been a good businessman. He first signed a deal with CBS worth $600, 000 when he and Rubin started Def Jam. In 1998, after nurturing the careers of his stable of artists, he sold his stake to MCA for an estimated $100 million, his first windfall made from the scene he helped pioneer.

You can probably pinpoint Simmons’ departure from being a grass roots pioneer and role model at the time he sold his Def Jam stake. While it might be presumptuous to claim he was ever an activist for underprivileged youth, Simmons was at the very least a figurehead in their collective struggle. But slowly his corporatist persona began to shine through. In several interviews he has defended the embedding of products inside song lyrics by artists, a practice that befuddles the hip hop purist. Simmons explains this by saying you should only sell products you believe in, ignoring the basic idea that art and commercialism are two separate monsters. Indeed, an artist certainly has the right to do what they want with their music, but there are many who feel this practice has cheapened hip hop. Not to mention Simmons has often acted as a facilitator between corporations and rappers who are looking to get paid by plugging a fast food chain or fashion line in songs that are easily forgettable and designed solely for the plug.

Simmons is an expert at justifying this kind of predatory marketing. His attitude is shielded by a public image drenched in yoga and activism, a paradoxical partnership where selling products inside music is justified through his apparent admiration for Deepak Chopra and the 99%. Perhaps he is merely the first of his kind; a hip hop mogul with one eye on his bank account and the other on social justice. Reconciling those two seemingly opposite mind sets is one thing, but his latest venture leaves little room for spirituality or the realness of the ghetto.

Enter Global Grind.

Global Grind, for all intents and purposes, is an online tabloid magazine. Taking a page out of US Weekly or Perez Hilton’s site, GG features gossipy stories and provocative headlines, usually centering around Kim Kardashian’s ass or what Beyonce might be wearing. The watered down editorials are designed to reach the largest yet least informed audience possible, making his often repeated claims of being in touch with spirituality either a lie or something he no longer mixes with business. It really is the black National Enquirer.

Supporters will say he is simply continuing his success as an entrepreneur, but eventually one has to ask: how does a man who relentlessly preaches about naturalism, spirituality, yoga and ‘The Secret’-type philosophy reconcile being the propagator of a silly tabloid? How does a man who used to be a beacon in the black community balance that reputation with his several appearances alongside a birther like Donald Trump? Does he define his principles differently than most? Can Simmons throw roses to all sides and expect his fans to continue crediting him as being the guy he was a quarter century ago?

There is a backlash happening since GG first launched. His Facebook page contains daily criticisms from presumably former fans who have had enough of his transformation from pioneer to smut peddler. And while it is likely a staffer who posts his social networking content, his profile has taken a beating among those who once respected him the most.

A gifted orator, Simmons is great at explaining away his evolution, but editorials, headlines and critics are also becoming effective at pointing out his now schizophrenic public image. You can almost picture him doing a downward dog onto a pile of MacDonald’s french fries as cameras record him explaining it all away. That’s all fine and good, but some of us remember the words of Public Enemy, the group he helped put on the map: nowadays, when it comes to Uncle Rush, don’t believe the hype.

He ain’t the man he used to be.

Jack Layton’s Death Means Vitriol Lives On

Leader of the Opposition was last hope in Canada’s deteriorating political landscape

By: James Di Fiore

This is not your mother’s Canada anymore.

All across the country, from conservatives to socialists, the apathetic to political junkies, the universal response to Jack Layton’s losing battle with cancer was unmistakable. Not surprisingly, his supporters were quite emotional, tearing up on live television as they reminisced about their leader, their mentor. Liberal party members were next, echoing the sentiment and paying their respects, calling Layton their friend and a worthy adversary. Conservatives also showed the kind of class we should expect from our leaders, telling stories of battles waged in the House of Commons with a man they held in high regard. It was as if Layton’s passing could serve as a watershed moment of sorts, breaking down barriers between people or at least slowing down Canada’s slide into the depths of polarization. Liberals and Conservatives were certainly not about to trade in their red and blue for bright orange, but for once they were able to speak with civility about someone who they disagreed with politically.

‘Not so fast’, said the loudest, most ignorant and most extreme voices in the country.

In a surreal display of cowardice, and a testament to the internet’s greatest misgiving, up popped the lunatic fringe who expressed glee over the death of their socialist enemy. Sure, there are crazies everywhere, and the internet is crawling with them, but what once seemed like a tiny minority is now appearing to become a growing phenomenon. These aren’t your typical nut-jobs, pranksters or mentally disturbed people – they are regular, every day folks who have decided that since they no longer believe in evil concepts such as political correctness, they are now free to kick a man on the day he dies, especially if that man disagrees with their point of view.

The comments from these regular folks reflect a new way of interpreting the now omnipresent political battlefield. Canada is experiencing a variety of social symptoms where the fabric of decency is being unraveled and restitched with ideological threads once seen exclusively during campaign season. Journalists like Dave Naylor and Christie Blatchford, desperate to differentiate themselves and provide an alternative perspective, tweeted jokes about Layton’s death or penned long winded columns about how the coverage (on the very day our Leader of the Opposition died, no less) was over the top. And while Blatchford has had a wonderful career and is a magnificent writer, her need to appear original and crafty actually made her look petty and amateurish.

Amazingly, and it is worth repeating, it was politicians who showed true leadership when the news broke. In fact, these moments in history often produce an ethical hubris where politicians act like statesmen while bias media organizations and maverick journalists take on the role of children, championing the classic public relations strategy of personal exposure through controversy instead of simply writing and reporting. Opinion news, the new and oxymoronic method of ideologues and partisans, has morphed from a watered down version of journalism to a full time, hatchet wielding concept meant to assimilate people into specific political philosophies. The aforementioned mainstay issue of those with opposite views of Layton is now political correctness. By hiding behind free speech, far right radicals are convincing regular folks to feel infallible if they cheer the death of someone they disagreed with.

Jack Layton’s passing is a stark reminder of how our leadership can sometimes shine, even if some of the people they are leading distort its reflection.

No sir, this is not your mother’s Canada.

Ideologue of the Week – Rondi Adamson

Canadian Ann Coulter wanna-be exemplifies the incorrigible right wing

 By: James Di Fiore

Mostly obscure, staunchly far-right and completely unwilling to break away from dogma, Canadian writer Rondi Adamson is this nation’s version of Ann Coulter, minus the best selling books and television appearances. Her rantings are unwavering and sloppy, as if sloganeering her ideology were enough to keep her fledgling career afloat. She is typical in her undying efforts to brand Canada as subservient to the United States, openly expressing her distaste for the Chretien government’s decision to stay out of Iraq in 2003. Thousands of dead soldiers later, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dead civilians and her view has not changed. While pro-Iraq War personalities like Christopher Hitchens paint a somewhat reasonable case for attacking Iraq, one-dimensional writers like Adamson recite tag lines and stick to Bush Doctrine one-liners as if it were a religion.

After several online conversations with her I have concluded that hidden underneath her gaunt frame is a pull string, allowing her to recite unthoughtful and predictable talking points that could have, and likely were, plagiarized from Ms. Coulter herself. Among the more primitively expressed tid bits from Adamson are her notions that the Sun News Network’s most relevant facet is the attire of their female anchors; that Israel is the world’s greatest democracy (when she is questioned about Israel, she claims that she receives 1000 emails a week, an obvious fib meant to bolster her dwindling popularity), The United States is the best country ever while Canada is to be viewed as Canuckistan; that Liberal Studies are akin to recruiting Maoists and hippies; and finally, that American soldiers who flee to Canada are uniformly dishonest if they claim any wrong-doing whatsoever by the American military. Those miscreants should be deported immediately and tried for treason, according to Adamson.

Unfortunately, this blind ideological stance on everything neo-conservative is not uncommon among Canadian right wingers. Adamson is just a case study. She personifies a political paradox where debate and civil discourse are only relevant when participants are discussing methods of how to enact extreme right wing views. She tries to describe herself as a fiscal-conservative/socially-liberal hybrid, but the only evidence of a socially-liberal bent is her vegetarianism and affinity with animals.

Adamson longs for Canada to become either the 51st state or a carbon copy of its American masters. She believes criticism of Israel is the equivalent to hanging a Hamas flag in your den, and like the Tea Party, she loathes President Obama. She refers to Obama as the Great Windbag (projecting?) and is incapable of rationally discussing any issue brought forth by the president. When conservatives moaned about liberals experiencing Bush Derangement Syndrome, I wonder if they knew they would manifest an accelerated version of the disease as soon as their boy left office. Adamson’s vitriol is so manic, she even expresses rage at the way Obama pronounces the word ‘Pakistan’. Apparently the correct pronunciation is much too Arab for her liking, and she presumably longs for the days when things were simpler, when weapons of mass destruction were ‘nucular’, and when young Canadian men and women in uniform were killed in scores. One wonders if her skeletal frame could even muster the required strength to hold an assault rifle, but her mouth appears just the right size to muzzle the barrel of military generals in scores.

All that and an apparent insatiable appetite for Italian soccer players makes this atheist neo-con (and a crazy cat lady to boot) Canada’s prime example of nutty political extremists. She has blocked me from Facebook after I dared to question Israeli military policies, calling me snide while applauding the violent, profanity laced comments made towards me by FOX News contributor and right-wing conspiracy theorist, Matthew Vadum. Vadum is the genius who stated that community organizing leads to trading crack-cocaine for votes. Here is the message Vadum sent to me after I was blocked by his best gal pal:

You’re a fucking loser. You’re no friend of hers. Leftist piece of shit. Go play in traffic.

But hey, let’s not be too hard on Adamson. She is nice when you agree with everything she believes in or when you talk about feral cats. At any rate, she is Your Daily Oddmanic’s very first Ideologue of the Week. Congratulations Rondi!

To The Tree – The Baseball Diaries

I was a hellion as a kid growing up, just ask my former baseball coach. That’s the word he used to describe me not too long ago, and I agree with him completely.

By: James Di Fiore

I used to have this fear of being seen as needlessly controversial. And it was for that exact reason I always felt like I had perfectly good excuses to open my mouth. Coach had a very big job: keep Jamie in line and properly discipline him if he isn’t. For me, Coach’s stamp of approval was equal to his clear disappointment whenever I would act out, mouth off or get tossed from a game. He had the same role as my father, acting as the catalyst for that stinging feeling in my stomach simply by tossing a look or saying my name in a certain way. Along with my father, who I haven’t spoken to in years, he was likely the second most influential male figure during my teenage years. I just didn’t know it til years later.

I do have a few memories that have nothing to do with arguing with umpires or making my teammates feel edgy. One day my team had a 1pm game against Peterborough, our fiercest league rivals. Peterborough had a hellion of their own, a precocious lad named Jimmy, and one of us was usually given a verbal warning from the umpire or a scolding from one of the coaches. I’ll be honest, I fed off games like this. I needed to win, sporting the on-field demeanor of baseball’s Claude Lemieux, meaning I had skills but also wanted to get inside the heads of the other players. Many times I would merely mouth off for the sake of it. The adrenaline would manifest itself through stolen bases, a thrown bat, a strong throw or a profanity-laced strikeout. It all came from the same place, but Peterborough games were in a class of their own. These games were ceremoniously circled on the schedule and the date that morning was no different. It was July 9th, 1987 – my eleventh birthday.

That morning I woke up to the smell of ham and eggs, a pre-game ritual on the weekend. I had an extra spring of excitement in my charge down the staircase. Childhoods are made with those kinds of mornings. I took my ball and glove to the kitchen, rested them on the table and started to eat. My mother walked by the table and without stopping snatched the glove and ball, handed them to me, and asked me nicely not to use the the kitchen table as my personal locker. Baseball umpires may have been fair game for back-talk, but it was years later before I tried to pull that with my mother. I smiled at her as she brushed her hand through my hair and answered the phone.

My mother took the phone into the other room as I cleaned my plate. It was only 10am and we weren’t scheduled to be at the diamond for another couple hours. I was always so anxious on game day. I would pace the hallway and toss the ball into my glove and imagine throwing a runner out from center field or hitting a ball to the gap for a double. Time would just crawl by it seemed.

And then, sometimes, time can stand perfectly still. My mother walked back into the family room and sat beside me. I could feel her trying to find the words.

“Jamie…that was your grandmother. Your grandfather just passed away.”

My grandfather was my favourite person. There are not enough words, really, except to say that my childhood changed that day. When your favourite person dies on your birthday it can mess with the mind. A few minutes later I saw my father cry for the first and only time. A couple hours later I quietly slipped into my baseball uniform. My mother asked me several times if I was sure I wanted to play that day. In my mind it was never up for discussion.

I arrived at the ballpark. My teammates and coaches were already made aware of my grandfather’s death when it was decided my birthday party would be canceled that night. My mother telephoned all of my friends to tell them ‘there was a sadness in the family’. I was sullen.

The baseball diamond was perfect. The grass was cut, the lines were chalked and the wind made the tall willow trees dance at Peel Park. I said nothing except for a few thank yous during warm up as every teammate expressed their condolences.

Coach wore his sympathy for me on his bearded face when we sat down by the tree for our pre-game pep talk. My coach would yell “To the tree boys!” and we would jog over. Any walking would result in that look only a baseball coach or father can give. The tree was significant too. It represented comradery, strategy and the end of waiting for the game to start. Coach, like my mother, asked me several times if I was sure I wanted to play. I remember sitting with the team by the tree, looking at him and thinking about my father and what I had seen that morning. He probably didn’t know it at the time, but I had transferred my tendency to feel proud or ashamed based on his reactions to my behaviour, and that day I just wanted to make both of them proud. At the end of the pep talk he said “Ok boys, today let’s go out there and win this one for Jamie.” It was exactly what I needed. I was the last to leave the area near the tree, trying to steal a moment I think. I still have that moment, so I guess in a way it worked. I was eleven, wasn’t sure about god or what the right thing to feel was, but I looked up at the sky and imagined my grandfather watching me play baseball.

Memories are funny. At first it is photographic, then it becomes nuanced and filtered through the person you have become. I remember being choked up but have no memory if any tears left my eyes. And for once I wasn’t acting like a hellion on the diamond. I was humbled, went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles and threw a guy out trying to stretch a double into a triple. I sat the final inning.

I’m 37 years old. It’s been 26 years since my grandfather died, since I saw my father cry and when I first realized the importance of outside role models and teachers. I didn’t always show it, but that sting in my stomach never went away when I played for Coach. My attitude got worse, he stayed the same and it would be years until I would fully realize his role in my inner development. Sometimes I wish I had understood the importance of learning lessons as an eleven year old, but only a few get to hear the echoes of those lessons decades later. Fewer actually listen. I can still hear that afternoon quite well. Sitting with me beside that tree are my father, my grandfather and my baseball coach. Call it an omni present pre-game pep talk.

To the tree, boys. 

Who Shot Ya?

A one on one interview with legendary hip hop chronicler, Ernie Paniccioli

By: James Di Fiore
















He may not be a household name, but Ernie Paniccioli may be the most prolific figure in hip hop history. In a scene wrought with complexities, simplicities and an ongoing battle of Real Vs Fake, there are very few true ambassadors who have been there since the genesis of hip hop. There are even fewer who are essentially front-proof, meaning they have been able to remain relevant despite both the pitfalls and advancements within the schizophrenic hubris of hip hop lifestyles. Old School vs New School – Playa vs Hater, Gangsta vs Emo…and the list goes on. But Ernie is beyond those superficial battles and has earned his spot as the night watchman of hip hop, capturing the history and the nuances through the lens of his camera.

Before we met in person, Ernie and I actually got into a heated exchange online regarding race and religion. I will spare you the details except to say that when the dust settled we were able to put those differences aside and come together through mutual respect and a common held passion – hip hop culture. Below is the result of what happens when two men from completely different walks of life recognize the importance of communication.  If you are a hip hop historian of sorts you will be both impressed and envious at Ernie’s life experience, and if you are a youngster still sifting through the crates please take heed and pay close attention…you just might learn something.

Ultimate MC Battle Epic Failure

Cattle-call audition gimmick and amateur judging kills competition


First off, congratulations to Quantum and Charron. It ain’t your fault most of the emcees were garbage…and big ups to White Fang for putting on the best performance. And now to the real story….

Most real hip hoppers knew it from the get go – that The Ultimate MC Battle was just another yawn-fest in a long line of boring competitions the city has seen over the past decade. Not only did the end result seem fixed, or at least judged by meth-heads who didn’t seem to be watching the last round, but the initial line-up was suspect and proves that the open audition format will never yield a good show.


Perhaps most telling in this latest of failed battles were the participants. Other than Bishop Brigante, Canada’s most heralded battler, the entire Ultimate MC team is a who’s who of who cares in Canada’s urban scene. Don’t let the youtube hits fool you, King of the Dot is garbage. Not only does it shine a spotlight on a weak format (they mostly battle in acapella because most of their emcees aren’t skilled enough to stay on beat AND freestyle), but the rappers are unskilled, prototypical rookies that would get eaten alive against a typical, seasoned battle emcee. Brigante, if he isn’t embarrassed, should be wondering how he went from a respected emcee killer to the host of a wack enterprise destined to keep Toronto’s rep as ‘mediocre’ in the hip hop world.


Things were not always this bad. Back in the day Toronto had a communications pipeline that led straight to the 5 boroughs of New York. Artists from T-dot worked with local promoters who brought in some of hip hop’s most legendary emcees during the Golden Era of the music. The list of artists who graced the stage of the Concert Hall reads like a manifest of hip hop history: KRS ONE, Big Daddy Kane, The Roots, Kid Capri, just to name a few. A mutual respect for realness and talent led to collaborations with local artists like Maestro Fresh Wes, Michie Mee and a slew of up and comers still trying to get heard. Today it is the up and comers that can’t hold their weight. King of the Dot exemplifies this ineptness through their habit of showcasing emcees who don’t deserve the spotlight, and Ultimate MC ultimately followed suit.


That’s not to say Toronto doesn’t have emcees with the necessary skills to put on a good show, it’s that the self-proclaimed representatives of the scene don’t know where the talent lives. They seem to only have a pipeline on rappers who can’t rhyme to beats, can’t battle without spitting rhymes that are obviously written and simply don’t have the kind of swagger that creates memorable battle moments. In short, Toronto is currently being grossly misrepresented in hip hop, especially in the battle scene.


Usually, when a genre is being pimped by watered down artists, there is a backlash in the underground. We see it in rock music, electronic music and jazz where a collective frustration towards the mainstream results in a buffet of budding artists and new sounds. But it isn’t every day when the underground hip hop heads would rather listen to the latest Drake album instead of scouring for new, local emcees. The tragedy is nobody thinks there are any local cats anymore, and those that do believe the Toronto underground is alive and well are swallowing the shit fed to them by KOTD, Ultimate MC and rappers who simply can’t spit. Until a scene veteran steps up and calls these fraudsters out we may be stuck with the mediocre moniker for years to come.



The Toronto Election 2010: An Analysis From the Fringe

The 11th hour recap from a guy who won’t be Toronto’s mayor on October 25th

By: James Di Fiore

The night before the election and I did what any fringe candidate would do. I went grocery shopping.

It’s been a crazy ride. Nobody expected me to win, which is probably a solid prediction, but I really can’t complain. I walked to the neighbourhood Metro with a thousand thoughts and flashbacks dancing in my head. I registered in August even though I told everyone I was going to register on January 4th. OK, that was actually pretty funny. But even though I waited so long to register, I was still able to garner a fair amount of press, especially for a fringe candidate.

Several people have told me that I am not qualified to be mayor. They might very well be right, but if you look at what qualifies a person to hold public office, and the general consensus is that most lifer politicians are generally untrustworthy, then I am certain I am different from the cast of characters vying for the top job in 2010. On paper I am a freelance writer and an events producer, but I have never misused public money, I have no criminal record (much to the surprise of anyone who went to high school with me), and I do not have trouble getting along with my professional peers. And since my entire campaign has been directed towards the daunting task of eroding voter apathy among young people, I think my qualifications are sound. I may not win this election, but I am one of many young Torontonians who have made it our mission to shine a spotlight on the one item that defines politics today – young people, the largest demographic in the city, have been left out of the process.

On October 18th, Calgary residents went to the polls in their own mayoral election. Ric McIvor, often compared to Rob Ford, was the right-of-center front runner in all of the polls. Barb Higgins, a former local news anchor, was polling a close second, and a political novice named Naheed Nenshi was a distant third, polling at a paltry 18% just three days before the election.

On September 30th I traveled to Calgary to attend an event and met with McIvor and his campaign manager to talk about the youth vote. I was given a surprising response when I asked what he thought the turnout among young people would be.

“We don’t really try to reach young people. They don’t vote, so why bother?”

Nineteen days later McIvor lost the election to Nenshi who credits the mobilization of young voters as the key ingredient to his victory.

Toronto does not have a Nenshi, and contrary to a sparsely held belief, Joe Pantalone does not resonate with young Toronto voters. Incidentally, Pantalone will still receive a higher percentage than the current polls indicate as there is a movement of anti-strategic voting taking place as you read this. People are growing exhausted at the political construct and the media alike. Toronto is being dictated to by pundits, smarmy journalists, political lifers and their handlers, all caused from a  subliminal consensus that has convinced them of the following: Rob Ford and George Smitherman are the only two politicians who can win this election.

Even the polls are showing a lack of depth as it pertains to critical thinking and execution of facts. EKOS, an otherwise reputable firm, recently admitted to using an automated dialer to conduct a poll that claimed Ford was ahead of Smitherman by 9 points. Of course, these robocalls cannot distinguish between the target receiver of the phone call or a 12 year old child. Additionally, this poll was conducted over a period of 9 days, an eternity in election time when many people change their minds about their choices more than once.

The Toronto Mayoral Election of 2010 is a first of its kind for the people of this city. We are seeing tactics normally reserved for American political races (Rob Ford has also used robocalls to reach thousands of voters) as well as a media who have become cheer leaders for particular candidates not just in their editorials, but in their so-called balanced reporting. So blatant has this year’s biases been that many readers have called for the termination of journalists who have openly endorsed a candidate, not because it hasn’t been done before, but due to the uniformity of opinions in the columns of their colleagues. Like it or not, the media is not only editorializing the election but shaping the outcome. Writers from The Sun took Rob Ford. Star readers think Smitherman is their guy. The National Post also selected Ford, and The Globe and Mail held their nose and took Smitherman. NOW Magazine still doesn’t matter.

And we sit here, looking at suspect poll results, sifting through each newspaper and countless online publications, listening to the incessant sloganeering of each campaign and gasp at how our electoral process devolved into something so blatantly artificial. A glimmer of hope can be found in the 34 candidates who are not projected to make the top three. Fringe candidates, while endlessly marginalized, include a handful of people who have surprised the media and turned more than a few heads in the electorate. What a statement it would be if these candidates collectively stole 25% of the vote. And while I include myself in that figure, the bigger picture is the libertarian idea that the individual still has the ultimate say over how he or she exercises their self given right to vote for whoever they please.

I don’t know how many votes I will receive, and frankly I don’t really care either. During the process of registering, campaigning, encouraging young people to vote, debating the mainstream candidates and writing about this election, I have learned one invaluable lesson: it is much better to be engaged in the political process, however flawed it may be, than to sit idly by and wait for the results determined by the mechanism itself.

On the way out of the grocery store I ran into Olivia Chow who was handing out leaflets for her son, Mike Layton, who is running for council in Chow’s old stomping grounds of Trinity-Spadina. We know each other from when I voted three times in her riding back in the federal election of 2004. I asked how Jack was doing in his cancer battle and wished Mike good luck in the election before sauntering away with my groceries. It was a fitting way to end my engagement in this exhausting political season.

Happy voting, and don’t believe anything you read in the paper today.