Tuesday, July 6, 2021

How Trump's White Supremacist Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6th 2021 - New York Times' Visual Investigations

This is required viewing for all who care about equality, justice, and the rule of law, and how all were undermined and attacked by the deeply immoral narcissist, would-be-dictator Donald Trump and his racist/White supremacist supporters on January 6th of this year.   Watching these 40 minutes - meticulously compiled from real videos shot by the rioters themselves and other available video - will leave you fully informed about how outrageously close these pigs came to destroying American democracy that day, including the shameful and pathetic response from U.S. police and military authorities tasked with protecting the Capitol building.    

Trump and his supporters remain a massive threat to democracy, the rule of law, and justice not only in America, but across the world.  Donald Trump has not been held accountable for how he incited this treasonous and violent mass crime to take place based on his pathetic lies about the election.  Trump's time in prison for these crimes and his many other crimes needs to come as soon as possible.  Republican Party officials who empowered this maniac and are still placating his racist/violent supporters, and even now continue to cover up this mass crime, also need to be arrested for treason and put into prison (let alone pay politically for this outrage.)   

Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others who organized this riot, kept its momentum alive over hours in this attempted coup, should be considered treasonous terrorists who must be rounded up and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the safety of our society and democratic values.  

We must stop these evil people!  We should consider ourselves living in a time equivalent to the 1930s, when a massive threat to democracy was not yet fully realized.  These White supremacists are on the move and planning their next crimes as we speak.  People of colour, Jewish people, LGBTQ people already know well the dire threats we face from these evil folks.  It's time for everyone who values justice and equality to understand the massive threat these folks pose to all and demand a full crackdown against White supremacy terrorists.  Complacency could lead to our literal destruction as a democracy.   I hate to be melodramatic, but I have no choice.  Naivete needs to be overcome in favour of informed action against these real threats to our lives and decent, progressive, democratic values. 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

It’s now confirmed: Doug Ford has a fetish about using the Notwithstanding Clause to override your rights…

The Notwithstanding Clause in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms was supposed to be used sparingly such as in cases where human safety could be endangered if governments didn’t act in response to possible court rulings.

One example could be to protect children were child pornography somehow legalized by a court in favour of freedom of expression. 

But of course courts have been quite reasonable balancing rights while protecting vulnerable Canadians and the greater good going back decades.  

It was Quebec that enjoyed using the Notwithstanding Clause the most to override language rights to bolster its vulnerable Quebec culture.  I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat: if the only way your language and culture can survive is to systemically oppress all other cultures and languages, then maybe your language and culture isn’t really worth saving. 

Quebec recently oppressed religious and expression rights again by banning any outward religious expression in the public service, a law that has negatively impacted mostly on Muslim women who now can’t work in certain public sector jobs.  

But Doug Ford in Ontario wins the prize for worst excuses to use the Notwithstanding Clause.  He first tried to do it in 2018 when a court tried to stop his vindictive, purely political attack on local democracy in Toronto in the middle of a municipal campaign.  Ford was motivated solely my malice and revenge against former enemies running municipally whose races Ford simply squashed.  It certainly wasn’t about helping Toronto.

Ford's first instinct was to use the sledge hammer approach of the Notwithstanding Clause to resolve the issue to his liking.  However an appeal court ruling set aside his need to use the notwithstanding clause that year.  This case is still before the Supreme Court now.  But the incident illustrated clearly how eager Ford is to override basic human rights when they conflict with his agenda. 

But this week’s move by Ford to again invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to greatly limit the ability of unions and other groups from running ads critical of the government 12 months ahead of the election proves the first attempt wasn’t some one off. 

No, Ford is showing his true self again.  When other reasonable options like appealing this ruling still exist, Ford instead jumps to override the Charter.   

The first 2018 attempt was merely gratuitous and disturbing. The second time now proves Doug Ford has some kind of fucked up fetish when it comes to stripping you of your rights. 

The bullying and disrespect so ingrained in this flawed imbecile’s psyche is now on full display.  We saw it too when he tried to ramp up police arrests of citizens out for a drive in the second wave of Covid-19 and wanted to close provincial borders with police barricades.

His instincts are cruel and nasty.  He’s dangerous and his hands on the levers of power resemble those of a dangerous, spoiled child’s hands.  

The sooner this buffoon is removed from those levers of power, the safer and healthier all Ontarians will be.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Canadian Media Guild local at CBC Toronto Has A Long History Of Celebrating Pride

CMG volunteers in 2014 World Pride parade

Happy Pride Month to everyone!

As some of you may know already, I have been volunteering for a few years as Treasurer on the Location Executive Committee at CBC Toronto for the Canadian Media Guild (CMG).   I've been very happy to put my principles into action and work on behalf of my colleagues.   

This year, Covid-19 has again prevented public gatherings to celebrate Pride.   That includes for our local union, which has a history of celebrating this festive season.   

I posted this piece today on the local CMG website.   I'm happy to provide a link to it here as well.  Here's an excerpt: 

"This June marks Pride Month across Canada and in many parts of the world.  It's a month to celebrate the history, courage, and diversity of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, of which I am proud to be a member... 

"Our CBC Toronto location unit of the Canadian Media Guild has a long history of joining in this celebration...   

"Prior to the pandemic, that included regularly participating in the annual Pride Parade in Toronto... 

"One of our biggest parade turnouts was in 2014 when Toronto hosted World Pride.  Many guild members will remember carrying our banner down Yonge Street on that hot day and later gathering together for food and drinks to celebrate...

"...Both the union and our employers must all do better to promote respect and inclusion and fight all forms of hatred and discrimination.  That awareness and determination must extend to the 2SLGBTQ+ community, both in terms of how we are treated and also how we treat each other...

"There's much more work to be done.  We will continue to do that work." 

Et en français aussi.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca suddenly and thankfully starts to show real potential

 

I was unequivocally clear in my post early in 2020 criticizing Steven Del Duca as a candidate for the leadership of the decimated Ontario Liberal Party.

The post got a lot of attention, some praise but also criticism.  Many agreed with my assessment of Del Duca's flaws.  Others accused me of hurting the party by being so critical of one of its leadership candidates (their arrogance assuming Del Duca's inevitable victory irked me greatly at the time, although admittedly they weren't wrong about his chances.)  

My words in early 2020 were an honest reflection of my thoughts at the time, spurred on by a desire to stop Del Duca's momentum and wake up Liberal supporters into choosing someone better.  It didn't work.  Del Duca went on to easily win the Ontario Liberal leadership on the first ballot in March 2020, just before the pandemic lock down really kicked in.

Until recently, I had been resigned to the sad opinion that Del Duca's Liberals would never present much of a challenge to the governing PCs, nor even the opposition NDP.   I predicted that next year's Ontario election would largely be a repeat of the 2018 vote, with a likely re-elected PC majority with the NDP easily coming in second.  

But after about 14 months in the leadership, I must admit my thoughts have changed about Del Duca.  What changed my mind?  His late April interview on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin linked above and here.  If we see more of this, Del Duca may have a fighting chance.  

What I saw in this interview were finally the inklings of a clear and coherent message that may indeed gain great traction among Ontario voters.  

Del Duca presented a clear-minded, thoughtful, intelligent narrative, even talking about his own self-awareness, and Doug Ford's lack of it.  It was a message honed to highlight the strengths of his candidacy, and to my surprise, he was convincing. 

Sure, Del Duca is the opposite of charismatic.  Paikin even jokingly asked him about that in the interview.  If Del Duca is wise (and we know he is), he'll continue to play off the humour of such suggestions.  

For we know that Ontarians don't particularly care if their premier is charismatic.  Ontarians mostly just want competence and managerial ability.  Ontarians don't want to constantly worry about how provincial affairs are being managed at Queen's Park; we just want to know that the folks in charge are fair-minded and running things well. 

No doubt, more and more Ontarians are realizing that isn't the case today.  We are currently struggling through the third wave of Covid-19 in Ontario made far worse by the flawed leadership of Doug Ford.  If there were mistakes that could be made by the province in guiding us through this pandemic, Doug Ford made them.  

The Ford disaster reached its crescendo in mid-April when, as things looked their darkest, Ford announced he would now set up provincial border stops, empower the police to pull over (Black) people, and shut down playgrounds and tennis courts.  Absolutely tone deaf.  It took one day for Ford to flip flop on the new police powers, and several more for Ford to finally promise three days sick leave for Ontario workers. 

Suddenly, all the good will Ford had built up over the last year since Covid began faded.  We were reminded Ford is a man governed only by flawed, unsophisticated, pro-business-at-all-costs ideology.  Ford doesn't have a thoughtful bone in his body.  His bravado is only matched by his bullshit.  The emperor has no clothes and Ford is never going to change.  

Against Ford, Del Duca is suddenly looking like a better option.  If Del Duca continues to improve his game, he is going to provide voters wary of another Ford government with a tempting alternative.

But what of Andrea Horwath and the NDP, you might ask?  Sure, they'll continue to have many supporters who likely won't be much tempted by Del Duca.  Before my recent change of heart, it was mere desperation that I pinned my hopes on the NDP to potentially oust Ford from office

But I have to admit I think Horwath has likely reached her peak.  Even amidst Ford's current troubles, her rhetoric sounds canned and unconvincing.  It seems clear to me her best chance to win was in 2018 when she did well but still lost.  It wasn't even close.  I hoped she would step aside after 2018, but she hangs on.   

Ontarians simply are not inclined to hand over the provincial government to the NDP.  Not this incarnation of the NDP, at least.  (Things are different in western Canada where the NDP is more centrist and has a tradition of occasionally winning.)  

We shall see what happens in 2022.  

Regardless, Del Duca finding traction with voters will undoubtedly help get rid of Doug Ford.  It'll help resuscitate the Ontario Liberals and put them back in the game in their former strongholds in and around Toronto, Ottawa and elsewhere.  I'm not predicting Del Duca mania similar to Justin Trudeau's 2015 majority victory.  But I'm certainly no longer predicting disaster.  Far from it.  

Please consider me now cautiously optimistic again about Ontario Liberal fortunes.  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Exhausted and going a little crazy in these Covid times, but at least I now have my AstraZeneca vaccine appointment

I regret really letting health care officials have it with my last post.  

Like all of you, I'm exhausted after a year plus of this pandemic.  The massive flaws of our species are on full display everywhere you look.  

The only thing that gives me solace when I observe Dumpster Fire Ontario under the current provincial government is the fact that so many other jurisdictions have it worse.   

Take most of America, which is thankfully finally using its superpower might under President Biden in the right ways and vaccinating the willing, despite the broken, misguided efforts of Republicans to undermine the recovery with their ideology.  Other countries like Brazil are in the worst of it, thanks to the deadly combination of the psychotic idiot they have as President and the 55% of the general population that voted for him in 2018, many of whom shockingly are still believing Bolsonaro’s lies and apologizing for him. 

Compared to those places, Ontario has it good.  It could be far better, of course.  The Ford government should've taken the science seriously, protected people including our most vulnerable fellow citizens over maximized profits for the few.  But if they had done that, they wouldn't be a government led by Doug Ford, after all.  No doubt, Ontarians are waking up fast to the massive deficiencies of Dougie.  Was kicking out Kathleen Wynne really worth this?  Not for a second.   

I lost it last week having to endure the technical torture of Unity Health's feeble booking site after waiting so long to become "eligible" for a vaccine here.  Then Ontario announced Sunday night that 40+ residents can get the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies starting Tuesday.  And today, I'm thrilled to say I was able to find a pharmacy that would book me for one before the end of April.  I'm thrilled.  Thank you to everyone who helped me in this.  Fingers crossed that the appointment doesn't get cancelled or some other screw-up hinders my vaccination. 

I'll look forward to my first dose and joining the ranks of the luckier.  It's true so many other more vulnerable people who have to put themselves in danger every day just to make a living deserve a vaccine sooner than I.  It's also true that Ontario shouldn't be in this bad a situation.  There's no excuse one year in for our provincial government to have made this many mistakes.  Doug Ford should resign now.  

None of this is fair.  I'll try to reflect on that.  And remember to be kinder and appreciate more often the good things I do have.  And not forget we're all in this together. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Liars

 

I sent this message a few minutes ago to Unity Health Toronto, the alleged providers of health care in my Toronto Centre community.  I think it speaks for itself.  

From name: Matt Guerin

Comment: I just logged onto my three local vaccine clinic appointment booking links available through Unity Health as we've been told by your website and by local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam that new Covid vaccine appointments are opened up every Thursday at 7 pm.

I used 3 different tabs to check each of the 3 clinics that are allegedly offering appointments now to 48 year olds in my Covid hot spot postal code M5B.  No appointments were available when I checked all three clinics at 6:45 pm (just like it's been all week). I stayed on the tabs, refreshed a few times, and kept checking and checking. 7 pm came and went.  No new appointments appeared.  There were no appointments period.   Despite being told pretty publicly that new ones would be added Thursdays at 7 pm.  I gave up at 7:31 pm. 

There have been too many lies spread around during this pandemic. Our premier is a buffoon liar who has screwed up Ontario's response to this pandemic.  Other public officials have completely let us down too, from the federal government to local officials.   I'm disappointed to find out that Unity Health is now also providing false information and false hope out there to the public when we're desperate to be vaccinated. We don't need more lies.

Shape up. If new appointments are to be added Thursdays at 7 pm but zero appear at that time, you are liars. Stop lying.

 ***UPDATE APRIL 17***

I logged onto their site tonight.  Unity Health will only book 7 days in advance.  Each day, the calendar moves one day ahead, and just minutes ago after midnight Saturday April 17, the 24th became available to be clicked on for the first time.   And wouldn't you know it - on all clinics, there are ZERO appointments available for the 24th already, even though it was impossible for anybody to select the 24th until 14 minutes ago.  

This proves my point.  If anyone can possibly get through this bullshit Unity Health has put up as our only way to book a vaccine, it's a miracle. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Corrupt Doug Ford government siding with big business interests and hurting ordinary Ontarians on Covid, Highway 413 and most everything else

Considering Doug Ford and the Ford family's criminal history, is it any surprise that Ford's Progressive Conservative government would be up to its eyeballs in corruption?  

This exhaustive investigation by the Toronto Star and National Observer lays bare the actions of the Ontario Tory government and its corrupt big business land developer friends since Ford's Tories came to office in 2018.  

Reading it makes me angry.

"Eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate near the proposed route of the controversial Highway 413, a Torstar/National Observer investigation has found.

"Four of the developers are connected to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government through party officials and former Tory politicians now acting as registered lobbyists.

"If built, the road will raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut across 85 waterways and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan. It would also disrupt 220 wetlands and the habitats of 10 species-at-risk, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

"One developer, John Di Poce, employed the head of the Ontario PC party’s fundraising arm for several years and three other developers employ the chair of Caroline Mulroney’s 2018 PC leadership campaign as a government lobbyist. Mulroney is now Ontario’s transportation minister and will play a key role in future decisions about the 413 highway.

"Another of the developers, Michael DeGasperis, hosted Ford and PC MPP Stephen Lecce in a private luxury suite at the BB&T Center in Miami to watch a Florida Panthers’ NHL game in December 2018. In a statement, spokespeople for Ford and Lecce said both politicians paid for their own tickets to the game and no government business was discussed.

"That was shortly after the Ford government had resurrected the proposed 413 highway."

We've already seen the impacts of "unappealable" Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs, in many parts of the province where environmental laws designed to protect us all, not to mention local rules, have been washed away in favour of fast-tracking whatever land developers want.  

Now it looks likely the corrupt Tories are going to push forward with the unnecessary Highway 413, destroy acres of precious farm and wetlands, just to get their select corrupt big business developer friends even richer than they already are.   

This is hard to swallow on top of Ford's mishandling of the pandemic, constantly favouring the worst instincts of big business against the health of all Ontarians - closing down too late and then opening up too early again and again as variants of Covid-19 rip through the province.  As more enlightened leaders like New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern have shown us, we needed hard lock downs early in order to keep case levels and community transmissions down.  Not in Ontario or other places like it governed by conservatives.   Ford kept hesitating despite his fake words, implementing half measures and sowing confusion, resulting in a tragic second wave and now an exploding third wave.  The new deaths that will occur because of his incompetence, as well as the lifetime health impacts for those who survive this third wave, are his responsibility.     

Is there hope for the future?  Not as long as this pro-big corruption PC Party stays in power.  Even if Ford were somehow kicked out and replaced as PC leader, this is a party whose ties to the ultra-rich and corrupt elite in Ontario are unseverable.  For example, the ties between Caroline Mulroney and the forces pushing for Highway 413 are now obvious.  Let's not forget she's also the daughter of one of the most corrupt Prime Ministers this country has ever seen (and whose decision to sell off Connaught Labs in the 1980s undermining Canada's ability to manufacture vaccines really isn't aging well, don't you think?) 

Under our pathetic electoral, winner-take-all system in which 59.5% of Ontario voters only received 39% of the seats (Ford's Tories won a 61% majority with only 40.5% of the votes), it can be disheartening for those who want just, equitable, fair government that doesn't merely do the bidding of corrupt big business. 

What are our options?  

The Ontario Liberals, to their credit, did do some good things in office from 2003 to 2018, including reject Highway 413.  But they also did a lot of crappy and corrupt things that have yet to be forgotten by the wider public.  Every time I try to add credit to my Presto card to take transit in the GTA, I'm reminded of the crappy deal the Ontario Liberals handed to commuters here.  

New Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who as Transportation Minister was happy to change official plans in order to benefit himself politically, doesn't seem like the tonic we need after Doug Ford's corrupt Conservatives.  Del Duca's ties to the same land development cartels are probably as strong as Ford's.  Still, perhaps he'll draw enough votes away from the corrupt Tories to deny the PCs a majority.  

After the 2018 election, I was so disappointed with Andrea Horwath's defeat, I sort of gave up on her.  Yet, perhaps I was too hasty in that estimation.  Horwath remains as Ontario NDP Leader.  She's as clean and uncorrupt as any leader can get.  Maybe it is time for Horwath.  She's already gained so much ground, winning 40 seats and 34% of the vote in 2018, dominating urban areas of the province from downtown Toronto, parts of the 905, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, London, Windsor and most of northern Ontario.   The road to power is a lot shorter for the Ontario NDP than it is for the decimated Ontario Liberals.  A government led by Horwath would put the corrupt interests currently controlling Doug Ford on the outside looking in. 

That could only be good for Ontario, even if just for one term.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing (voting Tory, voting Liberal) over and over and expecting a different result.  I'm thinking outside the box again.  

June 2022 can't come soon enough.  I just pray and hope that Andrea Horwath puts in the work, hones a clear and compelling anti-corruption message and platform, recruits strong candidates in crucial ridings who look like cabinet ministers, not anti-poppy nut bars you wouldn't want to let babysit your kids.   

Because without one strong option for change, sadly this corrupt present in Ontario will continue to be our future for many years to come. 

**** UPDATE April 7, 2021

This is more like it.   Too little too late?  For the sake of all of us, I hope not. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

My favourite films of 2020...

Scene from 'Supernova'
2020 was a tough year.  So was getting a chance to watch the many 2020 flicks that got released as theatres were completely shuttered, and not all flicks are available on the streaming service of our choice. 

So this list, which usually comes out late December or early January, is now here on March 1, the day after the Golden Globes.   I've stuck to my instincts drawing up this list, picking the favourites that meant the most to me personally, trying to ignore the hype which so frequently trips me up.   UPDATED April 18 with new top 10 entry, Minari.  This follows adding Palm Springs as well a few days ago.  

1: Supernova, it could've easily been maudlin and melodramatic, but instead this is one of the most beautiful portraits of love I've seen in years, and the same sex nature of the central relationship between Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci is pretty much irrelevant to the restrained proceedings, such a breath of fresh air, stunning acting and cinematography.  Love wins my heart over more acclaimed, darker stuff. 

2: Promising Young Woman, make sure you know as little as possible about this film before you see it and its shock value will be most greatly experienced.  Unforgettable.  Very dark but as timely as it gets, putting center stage a tragedy all too familiar but never quite explored like this. 

3: Nomadland, yes the hype is well-deserved, this moves at such a gentle, poetic, almost hypnotic pace, I was in awe and carried along.  Frances McDormand gives Prime Frances McDormand here and it's wonderful to behold. 

4: Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed is sexy and perfect in this touching, deeply powerful portrait of an average guy/talented drummer who suddenly loses his hearing.  The sound editing is perfection.  I can't imagine a more compassionate and realistic portrait of something most of us would dread to experience.  A must watch.    

5: Tenet, Christopher Nolan's latest is also his most beautiful film.  If you're going to embrace a bizarre scientific premise in your story, this is how you do it.  It unfolds with little explanation and is confusing at first, but eventually I totally got into its rhythm before the end of the first viewing.  Subsequent viewings cemented my love for this film.  Oh and being able to stare at John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, not to mention a cast of other Nolan regulars, was a lot of fun.  

6: Minari, very cute, gentle, sweet, enjoyable experience watching a Korean family re-start their lives on a 1980s Arkansas farm, perfect performances from everyone

7: Judas and the Black Messiah, Daniel Kaluuya is mesmerizing in this, I could tell watching his power on screen that he'll probably be winning awards for this portrait of a natural born leader who takes his place in the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, only to be betrayed by a troubled FBI informant. 

8: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, short and sweet, makes it point and then finishes, Chadwick Boseman is fabulous here as is Viola Davis. 

9: Palm Springs, Adam Samberg is great alongside co-star Cristin Milioti in this funny, and thought-provoking piece about a man and a woman (and one or two others we see) caught in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop.  I so needed this charmer during Covid Wave Three, thank you!  

10: Violation, dark, dark, dark, but strangely satisfying, its objectification of the naked male form, also the perpetrator in this story, was long overdue.  Perhaps I would've liked it more had I seen this after Promising Young Woman.   

And the rest in order of preference: 

Monsoon, a slow burn that really drew me in, a love letter to lost homelands, this story chronicles the beautiful Henry Golding's return to Vietnam, a place he left as a child with his family.  There, he enjoys a hot affair with the stunning Parker Sawyers.  Beautiful story, beautiful cinematography, beautiful men.  

One Night in Miami, impeccably polished, well-acted and written, it's fun being a fly on the wall listening to these conversations, although I wished for more actual drama.  

Mank, interesting, but not as interesting as I was hoping, and definitely not the sum of its parts.  David Fincher has done much more interesting films than this.  

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, Andra Day along with the incredibly hot Trevante Rhodes of Moonlight fame are awesome in this biopic about the Jazz legend's struggles with racist U.S. authorities and her own demons.   

The Mauritanian, great, restrained flick about a wrongfully imprisoned man stuck in Guantanamo for years.  Also loved Jodie Foster. 

Antebellum, fascinating, surprising allegory of how the legacy of racism impacts on the present day.  Modern day queer goddess Janelle Monáe is stunning in the lead role.

Ammonite, interesting watch, Kate Winslet can do no wrong, not riveting but still I had no difficulty finishing it. 

The Social Dilemma, a completely accessible documentary with dramatizations that make clear to the masses how social media giants like Facebook have been not only hurting all of us, but undermining democracy itself. 

The Trial of the Chicago 7, I'm not a fan of Aaron Sorkin's writing, it's always too showy, too smart for its own good.  Plus scenes in this flick kept repeating over and over, perhaps it was true to the actual trial transcripts but it was annoying.  Sacha Baron Cohen did bring his dialogue to life, as did many, but I didn't buy Eddie Redmayne in this for a second, he kept trying to seem likeable and palatable to the masses, miscast in my opinion. 

News of the World, what's with older straight male directors obsessing this year over relationships between old white straight dudes and prepubescent girls who don't speak much if at all?  Still I enjoyed Tom Hanks in this flick which was interesting some of the time.  

Death to 2020!, the tonic we needed at the end of last year.  

Love and Monsters, its special effects are superb and made me squeamish when I watched the trailer, I almost didn't start it.  But Dylan O'Brien's gorgeous talents and a friend's recommendation helped me press play and I wasn't let down.  Lots of fun.  

Still Processing, a short film by Sophy Romvari I saw at TIFF 2020, this really moved and impacted me with its unique portrait of the director coming to terms with her family's tragic past.

Greyhound, great little WWII flick about the Battle of the Atlantic, gripping, well-done. 

Uncle Frank, didn't break much ground but superbly acted and lovely all around. 

Summer of '85, the hottest French boys you could imagine have a tortured affair, mostly pointless though, so it needed either way more story or way more nudity to be memorable.  

Ava, I could stare at Jessica Chastain, aka 'Brandy' in this flick forever.  A lot of fun. 

Hillbilly Elegy, finally watched it and liked it, although Glenn Close's best moments don't happen until near the end, but was glad when they did.  Still, this movie wasn't good enough to win Oscars, so sadly Glenn will be empty-handed again on April 25, I predict.

Escape from Pretoria, lovely Daniel Radcliffe doing lovely things in a South African prison, get your minds out of the gutter. 

Cherry, I had no idea this film contains uber hottie Tom Holland's first nude scenes, which make this film a landmark.  But sadly, the film is otherwise godawful.  So I recommend you just search for the Holland nude clips online and skip this torturous depiction of two loser addicts.     

Falling, a bit too tortured of an experience, can't really recommend it. 

Songbird, not the greatest, a bit too timely this portrait of a love affair during a horrendous pandemic, but this flick gives us the first look at KJ Apa's beautiful butt, so I'll forgive it for anything. 

Rebecca, meh.

Want to see as soon as possible:

Da 5 Bloods

Pieces of a Woman

MLK/FBI

On The Rocks

The Father

French Exit

Possessor

Disappointing: 

The Boys in the Band (remake)

The Midnight Sky

 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

As this horrific year comes to an end, thoughts on what to expect politically in 2021 and beyond

My favourite image from 2020, courtesy of CNN.com
My favourite image of 2020
I always liked odd-numbered years better than even-numbered years.  Not sure exactly why.  It was superstition on my part, not based on anything real.  Until 2020, that is.  Now my preference for odd-numbered years has been reinforced with a vengeance.  I can't wait to bid farewell to 2020 and see what lies beyond.   

Covid-19 has changed everything.  That is an understatement, of course.  The painful losses of loved ones have been worsened by the social isolation of our times.  We are only beginning to understand how life will be different going forward, assuming the vaccines now being approved for mass distribution prove to be effective.

The economic devastation this year caused by the pandemic has been sad to watch: Hard-working entrepreneurs seeing their life savings disappear and businesses close, millions of people losing their jobs, others forced to keep working for low wages and putting their lives at risk.  

There have been many mistakes made by governments as well as individuals.  Overall, Canada has managed somewhat adequately, although some regions better than others.  

Justin Trudeau took on the pandemic with a focus not before seen in him and has emerged as a stronger, more dependable leader not afraid to take drastic actions to get Canadians through this pandemic.  Trudeau's agenda has been underlined by a remarkably simple assertion: let the government carry more of the debt and decline during this pandemic period rather than off-loading that debt and decline onto individuals.  

The government has the ability to carry such debt more effectively over the long-term and with much lower interest rates than citizens could ever enjoy.  Thus, because the general public is going to come out of this year far better off than they might've, thanks to programs like CERB and other supports that kept many businesses afloat, our buying power remains mostly intact.  When lock downs end, our ability to kick start the economy back will be much stronger.  

The austere, conservative, help-yourself approach to public policy would've left millions buried in debt, losing their homes and collapsed the whole economy into a depression that would last for years.  I'm thankful our governments have mostly done the right thing in Canada on this.  

Thus, it seems to me that Trudeau enters 2021 in a stronger position from one year ago.  

New Conservative leader Erin O'Toole was the best choice the opposition Conservatives could've made this year.   O'Toole is an immense improvement over the hapless Andrew Scheer.  And O'Toole was infinitely preferable, in my mind, to the somewhat sleazy Peter MacKay.  O'Toole is, at least, a decent man who learned a lot from his failed 2017 leadership bid.   

In victory, O'Toole still has proven less adept at controlling the crazy, social conservative base of his party which helped elect him, instead choosing to indulge or tolerate them like you indulged your crazy old uncle at holiday parties prior to 2020.  That failure could continue to cloud O'Toole's more moderate positions and messages.  

2020 also brought considerable challenges and opportunities to provincial politicians in Canada.  Some thrived, like B.C.'s John Horgan whose strong performance as premier catapulted his NDP to its strongest majority victory in history.  Other premiers like Blaine Higgs and Scott Moe used their pandemic performances to win new victories (although Moe has been less great since his October re-election, as the pandemic's second wave hits Saskatchewan badly, and his neo-conservative impulses to promote "free-dumb" over common sense prove fatal.) 

Ontario's Doug Ford surprised many this year with a mature approach to managing the pandemic's early months.  It was a side of Ford few if any had ever seen before.  I joked it was like Christine Elliott had switched him from 'adolescent' to 'adult' mode and then broke the remote.  

Of course, Ontarians know Doug Ford well and haven't forgotten his adolescent side.  

Ontario's approach in recent months as the second wave ramped up has been less than stellar.  Tougher measures could've been implemented much sooner to make the second wave less severe, and prevent the kinds of sustained lock downs we'll be seeing now well into 2021.   

Ford doesn't face Ontario voters again until 2022 (more than likely), but there's no doubt Ford ends 2020 a stronger leader than when he entered it.  His disastrous first year in office left his party collapsed in public opinion, but now the Ontario PCs are back on top of public opinion polls.   

Ford is also stronger thanks to the Ontario Liberals' decision in March 2020 to elect the uninspiring Steven Del Duca as their new leader.  (Sadly, better, more formidable candidates who could've seriously challenged Del Duca never stepped forward.)  At year's end, Del Duca's few public comments remain as robotic as ever.  I'm not optimistic about the Ontario Liberals' chances of making much of a comeback under this guy in 2022.  (I'll only say that I still plan to vote for the Ontario Liberal candidate in my riding of Toronto Centre, David Morris, as he is a great individual and would do well for our riding, certainly better than the current NDP incumbent Suze Morrison.)  

Sadly, Andrea Horwath remains as Ontario NDP Leader well after her 'best before' date.   The perfect storm of 2018 in which she failed to win despite a highly questionable PC leader in Ford and a long-tainted Liberal administration on its way out, proves Horwath can't get it over the top.  Yet she stays.  

The best thing Horwath could do for Ontario progressives in 2021 is to resign and make way for a more palatable NDP leader (like maybe Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife) who might have a better chance of convincing Ontarians it's time for something different.  But sadly, I'm not expecting Horwath to leave.  

As for what I do expect in 2021, I agree with many commentators that Justin Trudeau will likely engineer a federal election toward the end of the spring, and I predict he'll end up winning it easily.  

I doubt Erin O'Toole will find a cogent message that reassures Canadians he'd manage these times better, and be much more than a federal tool for Jason Kenney's now discredited agenda.  NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will continue to do well as a third party but probably won't have much of a breakthrough either.  We shall see.

UNITED STATES POLITICS

I entered 2020 with great trepidation about the year ahead in American politics.  

Would the cancer that is Donald Trump con the American people into giving him a second term? 

A year ago, Democrats seemed undecided about which standard bearer they'd pick as their presidential nominee.  

Many centrist Democrats seemed scared to embrace Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.  Even some supporters of those two worried about their abilities to win over American voters against Trump.  In the end, Joe Biden won over the moderate middle of his party in the early primaries of 2020.  

Then Covid-19 hit and changed everything. 

Donald Trump could've pulled a Doug Ford and risen to the occasion, but Trump proved too stupid, arrogant and drunk on his own bullshit.  This is what happens when you live in a conservative bubble surrounded mostly by sycophants who are even stupider than you.   

Had Trump taken the pandemic seriously and been seen to have taken tough action to keep Americans safe (ie. acted more like a Democrat), he'd probably have won re-election like most incumbent presidents do.   

But instead Trump followed his pathetic, petulant instincts.  He had convinced himself his incredible luck in 2016 was thanks to his assumed genius.   His slow motion disaster of a performance on Covid-19 this year - his petulance, his constant lying to the public, his promotion of conspiracy theories and crazy ideas - made the crisis worse at every turn.  

Once the depth of the uniquely American devastation caused by the pandemic had sunk in by June, combined with Trump's pathetic responses to this year's burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, it became clear a majority of Americans, including a majority of independent, non-affiliated Americans, wanted him gone. 

All that was needed to ensure Trump's defeat was a decent performance by Joe Biden.  And Biden rose to the moment and campaigned brilliantly with a simple, yet resonant message: "Let's return decency and competence to the White House."  He bolstered his candidacy by choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate.  

I can't emphasize enough the immense accomplishment of knocking off an incumbent president.  It's rare in American politics, and Trump's defeat is the one major saving grace for 2020.   

Despite Trump's horrific flaws and clear incompetence, I was horrified that 46.8% of Americans still chose to vote for him.   And despite his clear record as a habitual liar and con man, I remain horrified that so many conservatives in America still believe Trump's self-serving lies about the election. 

I didn't really want to know how low a leader like Trump could go and still garner massive support from Republican voters.  But now we do.  

That mass delusion is something to be feared as we move forward into 2021. 

No doubt, the Trump facade needs to be further destroyed.  This political defeat should only be the beginning of the end for Trump and his cohorts.  Regardless of Trump's plan to pardon his friends, his family and even himself from federal crimes, I hope and expect state and local prosecutors will now pursue charges against Trump and his cohorts and make them finally pay for their crimes.    

I hope libel lawsuits against the horrific Sidney Powell and the Trump campaign for their lies about the election continue to ramp up and drain the Trump movement of every penny.  

I frankly don't care what Republican idiots and fans of Trump think any more.  They are clearly part of the problem and will not offer any help to the rest of us as we move forward. 

No matter what we do, the right-wing idiots will keep believing what they want to believe, ensconced as they are in their neo-con bubbles.  So it's better for us to do what we know is right and make the Trumpians pay for their crimes.  

Our best hope as progressives and centrists is to continue to work hard to represent the interests of ordinary people, to act with honour and integrity, and to fight hard to discredit and outnumber those on the other side who've gone crazy.  So the fight continues.  

I end 2020 with a cautiously renewed sense of hope for American politics, as well as world politics.   Trump's fascist tendencies bolstered similar right-wing dictator wannabes the world over.  Idiots like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil mimicked Trump's game.  Now I'm more confident that Steve Bannon's fascist playbook isn't going to end the way he and others like him hoped.  

We won the battle in 2020 but the war is far from over.  

 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Dear conservatives, Donald Trump was a bridge too far...

Like many, I am so thankful that the U.S. election went the way it did.  

Also like many, I was disappointed it wasn't the humiliating defeat the monstrous orange-haired beast currently occupying the White House deserved.  

It was a clear defeat with a margin of about 51% for Biden to 47% for Trump.  Yet that was one point higher for Trump than in 2016.  Despite possessing less maturity than your average teenager, despite woeful incompetence and recklessness managing the U.S. response to the pandemic this year, causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths and massive economic collapse, not to mention years of spouting racist and other bigoted bullshit and endless lies, Trump got nearly 1 out of every two American votes.  

Luckily a popular vote victory this year did match up with the electoral college, but only barely.  Biden's wins in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada were razor thin.  

How could someone so monstrous get so much support from voters?  

Sadly, it's because most conservatives simply don't care too much about bigotry.  For too many of them, bigotry simply is not a deal breaker, if they even acknowledge it at all.

I watched Kelly Jane Torrance of the right-leaning New York Post editorial board appear on a CBC TV political panel this week after it became clear Trump was likely heading to defeat after a close result.   When asked how it might be possible to govern such a polarized country going forward, she stated governing will be more difficult if Democrat pundits and politicians continue to call "nearly half the country racist."  

They're not racist, she inferred.  "People are voting for Trump for various reasons.  A lot of people are voting for him because they like his policies."

I'll never understand how one can vote for a politician you know is racist, or has been using racism to gain greater political power, as Trump objectively has always done.  

It's a deal breaker for me.  Same goes for homophobic politicians.  That's why I'm a liberal.  The importance of equality trumps any personal gain.  I would not support a bigot just to get a tax cut. 

I guess that's the main difference between me and most conservatives.  

I have conservatives in my own family who voted for Stephen Harper after he called same sex marriage a "threat to a genuinely multicultural country."   

When questioned about how they could vote for someone who said that when you have a gay relative they love, I was told they too were voting conservative for other reasons and I shouldn't try to hold them to account for everything their favoured politicians have said and believe.  I suppose that is fair.  When I vote for anyone, I'm not necessarily endorsing every single thing that person has ever said or done.  

To their credit, those same family members and many other conservatives have condemned Donald Trump for years.   There are, indeed, many other instances of conservatives standing by fundamental principles such as basic dignity of individuals and respect for equality, and speaking out against those espousing bigotries.   The Republicans behind this year's Lincoln Project are just the latest shining examples.

To be honest, here in Canada I don't know of any mainstream Conservative party leaders I'd describe as bigoted on par with anything close to Donald Trump.   I'm glad Conservative supporters in Canada tend to be reasonable in making their final leadership choices, especially recently.   Erin O'Toole did win as a conservative populist throwing bits of red meat to win over the sizable socially conservative base of his party.  But he has taken a more inclusive approach to leadership than his predecessors.  There are, of course, a handful of Canadian conservative backbenchers who frequently spout nonsense - here's looking at you, Sam Oosterhoff and Randy Hillier (who was kicked out of his Ontario PC Party after years of outrageous comments.)  

The late Rob Ford, Toronto mayor from 2010 to 2014, was more of Donald Trump's style, including the buffoonery.  But he got sick and didn't run for re-election in 2014.  John Tory put an end to his brother's mayoral ambitions that year instead.  Then Doug Ford went on to become PC leader and got elected Ontario premier in 2018.  While more Trump-like in the first year of his term, Doug Ford seems to have found his "adult mode" button in recent months, leading efforts to combat the spread of Covid in Ontario.   

But Donald Trump is a different story.  So completely inept, selfish and explosive in terms of his bigoted rhetoric, he was a bridge too far.  Nothing could justify this horror we've seen the last four years.  

For most progressives, the last four years have been tantamount to extreme torture.  Donald Trump should never have been elected but he was because many people on the right who should've known better didn't bother to listen to their better judgments.   Tax cuts trumped decency. 

But isn't decency a key foundation of conservative ideology?  It ought to be.  

If racist bigotry or any kind of bigotry isn't a deal breaker for you - and you still vote for the bigot in the end - then, I'm sorry to say, you are part of the problem.  If the country is more divided, it's your fault.

Until conservatives refuse to back bigots just because they are promising them tax cuts, they will not have my full respect.  

Respect works both ways. 

I'm done with anyone who equates lies with truth.

Truth is objective.  The last four years, it's an objective truth that many innocent people have been tortured by a monster most Republicans helped put in office.  

How did this fool foist himself on the modern Republican party and the public?  

Donald Trump never won more than a minority of Republican support in the earlier 2016 primaries, but that was enough to sweep control of the party because of its winner-take-all voting system.  As a result, loyal Republicans were pressured to side with him.  Most did.  Conservatives in Canada have long ago embraced more just voting systems such as preferential balloting in leadership races to ensure majority support carries the day and not just a horrifically deranged minority.

Nobody wants a polarized country with one side failing to listen to and understand the other side.  I do try to respect conservatives, even social conservatives.  I listen often to conservatives and have learned a lot from them in life. 

But I can't yield on fundamental justice and equality issues.  Racists are not qualified for office and should never be tolerated.   I really wish that belief was shared and acted upon by a vast majority of conservatives, instead of just a bare majority which seems the case now, sort of...

Conservatives, if you want respect from us, start showing respect consistently.  

When people choose not to follow the same course in life you chose for yourself, please respect them for it.  Don't patronize and attack them as inferior to you.  Because we are not. 

There should be a reckoning for the fiasco of the last four years under Trump.  There may still be a reckoning for Trump and his family personally.  But that's going to play out slowly over time, if at all.  

Conservatives know they screwed up with Donald Trump.  After the rare one-term defeat of a sitting president, Trump will soon join a list of humiliated former leaders.  He deserves to be there.  (This of course assumes he doesn't try to mount a coup d'etat over the next two months.) 

I'll be curious to see how Republicans decide to move forward post-Trump.  I hope they choose a less dangerous path for us all. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Annamie Paul's Green Party leadership win gives Toronto Centre by-election voters historic opportunity

I've been a Liberal most of my life.  At one time, I was even employed as a backroom Ontario Liberal.  

But on occasion, usually for strategic or personal reasons, I've voted for the NDP, like I did somewhat reluctantly in the 2018 provincial election as it seemed the best way to stop Doug Ford's PCs.  

In the 2019 federal election, I even voted in my riding of Toronto Centre for Green local candidate Annamie Paul (pictured).  In fact, that followed me voting for her nomination as the Green candidate as well.  I joined the Green Party on a lark that year to see what things are like in that party.  To my pleasant surprise, I found a local nomination meeting in which ordinary members had control over the proceedings, including a unique question and answer session with the prospective candidates.  That experience contrasted massively with the sardine-style Liberal nomination meetings I've attended in the past, in which candidates' speeches are usually of almost no consequence as hundreds of instant Liberals are typically recruited and brought into meetings long after the speeches are done to decide the results.  That is, of course, if local members are allowed a vote at all on their local Liberal candidates.   

Paul won that federal Green nomination in Toronto Centre in 2019 after greatly impressing local Green members with her eloquence, considerable experience, and charisma.   Later that year in the election, she managed to do slightly better than the Ontario average with 7% of the vote against 58% for Liberal Bill Morneau in the typically Liberal stronghold.  I didn't renew my Green membership this year and didn't take part in this 2020 leadership race.

But I'm not surprised at all that Annamie Paul's considerable strengths as a person and a politician translated into her victory as the new federal Green Party leader yesterday. 

Bill Morneau's sudden resignation in late summer as Finance Minister and Toronto Centre MP has led to the quick by-election in the riding set for October 26th, just over three weeks from now.  Paul had already won the local Green nomination again for the by-election, but now will be running as the Green Party leader.  That ensures the 2020 by-election will be much different than 2019.    

I never had much respect for Bill Morneau's political skills.  His retail and communication skills as Minister of Finance were weak.  Furthermore, I had always resented how Morneau had been parachuted into Toronto Centre with the decks stacked in his favour by party central, despite living elsewhere and clearly being out of line with the more modest demographics of the riding.  He would've been better suited in a suburban riding, in my opinion.   I voted for Annamie Paul in the 2019 federal election mainly as a protest against Morneau locally.  Had I lived in most other ridings, I probably would've voted Liberal in 2019.  

Toronto Centre has enormous social and economic problems.  The crisis of housing and homelessness is reaching new heights this pandemic.  I've always wanted a strong, local leader to step forward who will prioritize the urgent needs of the people who live here, not view the riding as a stepping stone to advance their careers.  Sadly, the Liberal Party keeps on appointing star candidates from afar as our local candidate.  

Such is the case again with the appointment of Marci Ien, a high-profile broadcaster who used to co-host Canada AM on CTV.  Ien seems smart and accomplished, but doesn't live in the riding.  Her strongest local connection may only be having attended Ryerson University back in the early 1990s.  

But with local resident Annamie Paul's victory as the new Green Party leader, I must say that the decision for me is now clear: I will be voting for Paul in this by-election.  Furthermore, with the Green Party leader now on the by-election ballot, this will sway a huge number of Toronto Centre voters to also support Paul.  

It remains to be seen if the NDP and the Conservatives will offer Paul the courtesy of not contesting the by-election.  In the past, when party leaders have attempted to win seats in by-elections, opposition parties have sometimes stood down and not challenged them.  The Greens did that for Jagmeet Singh in 2019 by not contesting his by-election fight in Burnaby, BC.  So far, the NDP has said it will re-run its local NDP candidate Brian Chang in Toronto Centre on Oct 26th.  That decision alone will make victory more difficult for Paul.

But we will see how the next three weeks go.  There is virtually no door-knocking or hand-shaking going on in this by-election.  Phoning and emailing is of course happening.  With the new, very eloquent and clearly intelligent Green leader contesting the by-election, we can expect a surge in media interest which will give Annamie Paul more publicity and focus the minds of by-election voters.  

By-elections tend to have poor turnout at the best of times.  It's entirely possible that Paul will be able to pull off a historic by-election win in Toronto Centre to follow up her historic Green Party leadership win.  

Paul is impressive and it would be ideal to see someone of her caliber win a seat in the House of Commons.  That would advance the cause of the environment at this crucial time, without really changing the make-up of the federal government.  That, to me, would be far more significant a result than adding yet another Liberal backbencher to the federal Liberal caucus, even though I do have great respect for Marci Ien.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

New Conservative leader (and formerly moderate) Erin O'Toole uses social conservatives to win power

New Conservative leader Erin O'Toole
Once again, the power of social conservatives to determine the outcome of Conservative party leadership races in Canada knows no bounds. 

This week, after voting just over 40% of the Conservative leadership raw vote between two clearly unqualified socially conservative candidates, social conservatives propelled winner Erin O'Toole to victory on subsequent ballots over the perceptibly more moderate Peter MacKay.  

Yes Derek Sloan and Lesley Lewis were very unqualified leadership candidates.  

Sloan barely got elected to Parliament last year from Northumberland county in Ontario, and has since gone on to spread considerable and typical socially conservative B.S., doing his best imitation of the orange sociopath in the White House, including stupid comments earlier this year about the scientific origins of homosexuality (please leave the science for scientists!)  Sloan's biggest claim to fame: spreading racist doubt against Canada's Chief Medical of Health Doctor Theresa Tam simply because she was born in China.  Therefore, she couldn't be trusted to defend the health interests of Canadians, Sloan insinuated.  

In response to this crap, 15.6% of Conservative party members voted for Sloan this summer.  That translated into 14.3% of the points across the country.  This percentage was on par with the votes received by Brad Trost, another dimwitted so-con back in the 2017 Conservative leadership race.   The Conservative leadership voting system gives all 338 ridings equal points regardless of the number of memberships held locally.  All ridings get 100 points contributing to 33,800 points across the country.

Lesley Lewis' results were even better.  Despite never being elected to anything, and despite being unable to speak any French, Lewis garnered a scary 24.7% of the raw vote in the Conservative leadership race on the first ballot.  That vote was concentrated in certain pockets of the country like Saskatchewan (where she won the points outright on the first ballot) as her points across the country were only 20.5%.  

Lewis was well-spoken as a candidate in English, and I will admit she did manage to sound more reasonable on many issues than Sloan.  Her position on same sex marriage was discriminatory, an irony not lost on me as she's a Black woman.  (UPDATE: I've been taken to task for emphasizing her gender and race, which is ridiculous because both were very much relevant to how she was perceived in this race.  Lewis very much presented the professional, sophisticated, immigrant Black woman who could re-define the image of the typical Canadian conservative.  Yet she still possesses anti-gay positions including opposition to same sex marriage.  It has been suggested her "personal" position is not relevant as she promised she wouldn't re-open the marriage issue (the same policy held by Andrew Scheer) and allegedly does no harm.  In truth, it does a lot of harm.  Any opposition enunciated by political leaders to same sex marriage reinforces disrespect against all gay people, which is the opposite of the "respect" Lewis claimed she would offer for "everyone."  When political leaders take these positions, it sadly reinforces existing resentments and bigotries in society, and gives tacit permission for those bigotries to continue, which in turn leads to continued and justified violence and discrimination against queer people.  Most of the conservatives guilty of this will, of course, never see the violence they helped promote with their ideologies, which again is part of the problem, because then they will pretend it doesn't exist (see the Republicans in the U.S. for many examples of this.)   I also see the effect of Lewis' race and gender as having given permission to the white anti-gay so-cons in the party to continue to hold their positions and vote for her, and even feel good about it.)

Nevertheless, I will admit that Lewis is an accomplished person and would make a decent Conservative Member of Parliament, based on her experience (as we know many Con MPs still harbour the same anti-gay positions on marriage).  But like I said, she speaks no French and has never been elected to office.  The notion that she should be Conservative leader this year is foolish. 

Yet the so-cons, plus probably some other more moderate Conservatives, still cast ballots for her in huge numbers, challenging the two front runners, Erin O'Toole and Peter MacKay. 

Erin O'Toole, of course, is no social conservative.  Yet he's clearly smart and learned many lessons from his failed 2017 leadership run when he sounded decidedly more moderate, and more in tune with mainstream Canada.   After seeing the massive amount of votes for unqualified social conservative candidates in 2017, O'Toole clearly decided he needed to reach out to these people and win subsequent ballot support for this year's run.   

Thus, O'Toole pretended this year he was a so-called "True Blue" conservative, taking regressive positions on public funding for Canada's public broadcaster, for example, and promising to "Take Back Canada," whatever that means.  It was coded language designed to appeal to the substantial bigoted base of his party.

I'll never understand how moderate conservatives can stand next to and empower bigots like this, who so clearly make up a sizeable minority of the party.  Truth be told, conservatives once they win elected power, tend to ignore social conservative issues.  See Ontario Premier Doug Ford as the latest example of this.

No doubt, O'Toole, now safely in power, is free to remind us that he's "pro-choice" and intends to walk in Pride parades, unlike his predecessors Andrew Scheer and Stephen Harper. 

In truth, I've liked O'Toole for a while.  He seems like a decent man and is also a more natural fit for leadership, including stronger communication abilities than both Scheer and Harper.  He comes from a fiscal conservative, not social conservative wing of the Ontario party.  Thus, I don't really worry too much about what O'Toole might do should be actually win an election.   I doubt he'll ever shut down Canada's much-loved public broadcaster (you can't shut down and sell the English CBC and still leave the French equivalent SRC seriously viable as a company, as he promised this year). 

O'Toole's campaign this year simply exposes how shrewd a strategist he can be.  He used social conservatives to get over the top in this unique race.  And politics is ultimately about winning.  I can't fault him for being a good strategist.  

He's still got a lot of work ahead of him to get known and define what his leadership would mean to mainstream Canada.  On that front, he'll struggle against a fairly entrenched Liberal incumbent whose support went up this year thanks to Justin Trudeau's stewardship during the pandemic. 

Still, O'Toole is leaps and bounds better than Scheer, who reminded us all again how pathetic he is during his farewell address to the party on Sunday night.  For that, at least, I am grateful.