Medicine Hat Byelection Another Demonstration of Trudeau Wasting Taxpayers’ Money

The Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner byelection is being held today after a month-long campaign in which the Liberal Party of Canada has been devoting significant resources and money.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took time off from his hectic schedule and prime ministerial duties to fly to Medicine Hat earlier this month to campaign with Liberal candidate Stan Sakamoto. The visit—drawing a large crowd of 2,500 constituents (i.e. Hatters)—was somewhat surprising as the riding has been a Conservative stronghold for the last 44 years.

Furthermore, the last federal election in the riding the Liberal candidate at that time only received 17.9 per cent of the vote compared to deceased MP Jim Hillyer’s 68.8 per cent.

In an article with a misleading headline from the Medicine Hat News site (“PM’s trip cost taxpayers nothing”) an LPC spokesperson claimed “taxpayers will not be on the hook” for the cost of PM Trudeau’s trip. In the same article a PMO staffer explained that the LPC would reimburse the cost of travel for the PM and his accompanying staff to Medicine Hat. This is deceiving because Trudeau can only fly on government aircraft—which costs tens-of-thousands-of-dollars per trip—and “the longstanding practice” for non-governmental flights is that the party reimburses the federal government the equivalent cost of a commercial flight to the same destination.

Sheila Gunn Reid, a reporter at The Rebel, estimated the actual cost of Trudeau’s trip—$14,400 an hour while in the air—at over $120,000 for the one flight to Medicine Hat. Reid questioned how the LPC could afford to reimburse the trip when the cost goes well over the $78,000 campaign spending cap. However, the LPC’s campaign is only reimbursing the commercial equivalent cost, so taxpayers will be left likely paying well over $200,000 in flights so the PM could campaign in a deeply conservative riding.

Unless Trudeau and Sakamoto are able to charm many more thousands of Hatters into voting red this byelection it would appear the trip was a large waste of taxpayers’ money (if you believe taxpayers should be paying for partisan trips in the first place, or PM’s should devote time to campaigning), especially when the Liberals already have a strong majority and the riding is non-consequential for them, other than perhaps bragging rights.

On top of the gross waste of taxpayers’ money, Trudeau’s staffers, Liberal MPs and their staffers all spent evenings calling constituents in the riding. Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale and Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr both recently visited Medicine Hat to campaign with Sakamoto as well.

Not to be outdone, late last week the Conservative Party of Canada had Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose door knocking with CPC candidate Glen Motz. Several days prior, former speaker of the house and MP Andrew Scheer—now a candidate running in the CPC leadership race—campaigned with Motz.

All of this excessive time and money spent on a riding that’s not likely contestable reiterates the notion that the Liberals have never quit campaigning since winning the federal election last year.

5,723 constituents voted in advance polls in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and those results will be made public at around 8:30 p.m. local time tonight, the same time polling stations close. The results of the polling stations and the byelection winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

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CBC Bungles Upcoming Rollout of Opinion Section By Publishing Liberal MP’s Staffer’s Spin Piece

(Update at end of article.)

If anyone still thought CBC’s decision to launch an “Opinion site” next month was a good idea, an op-ed published by the CBC today should set her/him sober.

The hit piece—and yes, I’m aware this response is a hit piece as well, but at least it is published on my own independent blog, not paid for by taxpayers—entitled “Canadian Taxpayers Federation has 5 members—why should we care what they think?” was written by Dougald Lamont, a senior policy advisor for Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette.

Beginning the comedy of errors in this article’s encapsulation of why the CBC should not be in the business of telling us what to think, the public (de facto state propaganda) broadcaster described the Liberal MP’s staffer as “a lecturer in government and business relations at the University of Winnipeg and a long-time Liberal working in policy and communications.” This vague bio fails to disclose that Lamont works for a Liberal MP. CBC simply stating he is a “long-time Liberal working in policy and communications” does not suffice. Why not be crystal clear and put “former campaign director of communications and now senior policy advisor for Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette”?

Yet, far more egregious than the above quibble is the CBC’s publishing of (and paying for?) an article from a Liberal operative attacking the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in the first place. The CBC struck gold when it actively and successfully campaigned for the Liberals in last autumn’s election; Trudeau’s government delivered on its promise to return the favour to the CBC by giving it an additional $150-million-a-year in funding for the billion-and-a-half-dollar-boondoggle annual government subsidy (it’s actually more than the official stated amount of $1.2 billion).

The irony only gets richer when you realize that the CBC is sometimes—and its benefactor, the Liberal government is consistently—the target of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation because of its glutinous waste and lack of transparency. So is it appropriate for the CBC to publish a hit piece on the CTF from a Liberal staffer who hyperbolically declares the CTF as having a”…radical right-wing ideology that drives inequality by making the rich richer while neglecting the poor”?

From the fierce Twitter response it would appear a resounding no. Below is a small sampling of the generally unfavourable response.

Ezra Levant, the founder of The Rebel—a rightwing online news source, tweeted, “CBC takes a $1.2B taxpayer bail-out every year. They use that money to slander the taxpayers’ watchdog.” He also tweeted, “The Liberal government now employs more than 50% of working journalists in Canada. That corrodes democracy.”

From columnist J. J. McCullough: “The CBC running an editorial telling us to ignore a taxpayers’ watchdog group is so contrary to everything journalism is supposed to be.” He followed that with: “The CBC may as well run an editorial telling us to ignore the auditor general. Did you know he’s only one man?”

And from left-leaning Vice News reporter and editor Justin Ling: “oh god is this what the CBC’s opinion section is gonna be like?”

And finally from journalist David Akin: “I’m taking issue a) with CBC running op-eds b) CBC failing to disclose author’s employer, a Liberal MP.”

The publishing of the Liberal spin doctor’s op-ed comes at an awkward moment in time for journalism, where the government’s Canadian Heritage is currently consulting the news industry on the future of journalism and is looking at further subsidizing the profession, which Ezra Levant points out is already heavily supported by the government.

At the end of last month, iPolitics (a news startup) publisher James Baxter spoke to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. In his address he explained how the CBC and government subsidies kill competition and growth of new media.

“While the CBC has done many wonderful things… it is not some wonderful, benevolent entity. It’s an uber-predator.

Because of the nature of its web content, the CBC… crushes the Globe and Mail, Postmedia and … yes … iPolitics.

Funding the CBC has a profoundly chilling effect on would-be entrepreneurs in this country, particularly when there are no undertakings as to how and where that money will be spent.

Investors are justifiably reticent to put their money into (the) market — even where there is a clear void — because of the likelihood that once they prove there’s a market, the CBC will begin shifting funds there to compete.

That is the single-biggest obstacle to there being a vibrant and innovative marketplace of ideas in the media space.”

With the CBC’s recent announcement of creating an opinion and columns section it appears the uber-predator is only going to further encroach on and devour the independent news startups’ territory.

Even more disconcertingly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly is on record saying she wants the CBC to be more like Vice News, the ultra-leftwing media outlet that cheered for Trudeau and the Liberal party in its coverage of last election. All signs point to the Liberals likely further contributing to defanging and neutering the watchdog press.

But returning to the Liberal MP’s staffer’s op-ed published by the CBC today. In the CBC op-ed Lamont criticized the CTF for not being transparent enough about where its donor money comes from. The irony is that the CBC is incredibly secretive about how it spends taxpayers’ money and how it generates its revenue (other than the government subsidy). In the CBC op-ed Lamont criticized the CTF—and independent non-profit—for being run by “5 people”, yet the CBC president is appointed by the PM as well as gets its mandate from and is funded by the federal government.

To further respond to today’s CBC op-ed, I asked CTF’s Vice President, Communications Scott Hennig some questions via email.

Me: Is it important that the CTF receives no government funding?

Hennig: It is absolutely important. You can’t be a government watchdog if they are holding the purse strings. We cherish our independence. Of the CTF’s 30,663 donations in 2014-15, 30,156 (or 98.3%) of them were in amounts smaller than $1,000. Those donations totaled $3,799,760 (or 81%) of our total revenue for the year. That means that we also received 507 donations in amounts over $1,000. That works out to 1.7% of all donors and brought in $813,579 or 17% of our total revenue. In terms of averages, for those 30,156 donations under $1,000, the average donation was $126. For those 507 donations over $1,000, the average donation was $1,604.69. We believe we have the best possible funding model: independence from government and tens of thousands of small donations. And we don’t issue tax receipts.

Me: What is your response to the charge that the CTF has a “…fairly radical right-wing ideology that drives inequality by making the rich richer while neglecting the poor”?

Hennig: Right and left wing labels are very restrictive. We’ve been in coalitions with groups that would identify on all ends of the spectrum, depending on the issue. As for the rich vs. poor thing, I just look at some of the issues we take on, like the carbon tax. Raising gasoline and home heating taxes are easily afforded by the rich, but they’re devastating for the poor. We also regularly attack corporate welfare, which only helps the rich shareholders of these companies at the expense of the little guy who pays the taxes. That said, our income tax system often is punishing to those with above average incomes. If we want to attract and retain doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs in our country, we need to be more competitive and not have our tax system drive them to the United States.

Me: How often and for what does the CTF criticize CBC’s use of taxpayers’ money?

Hennig: Rarely. I recall that we nominated some CBC executives for a Teddy waste award many years ago (–no-more-butlers-and-champagne), but in my view this isn’t about CBC vs. CTF.  We regularly work with CBC journalists on all kinds of stories. In fact, here’s one that was just posted today: If you’re attempting to establish that this is some sort of CBC axe to grind, my quotes won’t likely assist you. CBC like every other media outlet is seeing web traffic as the driver of ad revenue and they are looking for additional content that will drive that traffic. Groups or individuals that will provide cost-free content in the form of op-eds are welcomed by many media outlets. The CTF takes advantage of this every week. A person who doesn’t like the CTF and who, frankly flatteringly, spent a pile of time thinking about us wrote a[n] op-ed and offered it to CBC and they said thank you and ran it. We look forward to opportunities where our op-eds will run on CBC as well. While I don’t share the author’s opinion, he’s entitled to it. (His only big factual inaccuracy was related to us shutting down the Manitoba office in the 90s. That didn’t happen.)

Me: Would you say CTF is more impartial than politicians, and why or why not?

Hennig: Probably. We certainly aren’t worried about re-election and we don’t look for wedge issues that will gain us a temporary voting block. We don’t care about what colour of a pin the politician is wearing on their lapel, we praise good ideas no matter the party and criticize bad ideas. Opposition politicians often won’t praise a good idea the government has, and governing politicians won’t praise a good idea the opposition has. That said, we certainly are consistent. If having a set of principles and being consistent makes a group not objective in someone’s view, they’re entitled to think what they want.

Me: Do you agree CTF spokespeople get more coverage than elected officials?

Hennig: Yes, we absolutely do get more coverage than most politicians. Not all, but most. We’re a well-run organization with a highly talented staff that makes it their business to call it like it is, which many politicians won’t.  

I also wrote a letter to the CBC ombudsman with four questions—included below—regarding the op-ed and CBC’s new opinions section. I will update when I hear from the CBC.

1) Was it appropriate to have a Liberal staffer write an article for the CBC? And was the bio of the author of the piece explicit enough in its disclosure that he works for a Liberal MP?

2) Was the Liberal staffer paid to write the piece?

3) Should Canadian’s expect similar columns from the new opinion and columns section?

4) Where in CBC’s mandate does it say that the public broadcaster should be producing op-ed content?

UPDATE: CBC last night revised the bio of Dougald Lamont. “Dougald Lamont, a long-time Liberal working in policy and communications, is a lecturer in Government-Business Relations at the University of Winnipeg and a policy adviser to Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette. These are his own views, not those of his employers.

The bio should’ve always had his Liberal employer first because of the nature of the piece. However, that’s only if you think the piece is somehow appropriate in the first place for our public broadcaster to publish.

Note to reader: I will be launching a crowdfunding account for this blog in the near future, but for now if you’d like to support my work please go to Loonie Politics and become a member. A subscription costs $5 a month, but with the promo code Gordon the yearly membership only costs $40, and I get a portion of the proceeds. On top of getting original content by me, you’ll also get pieces from veteran columnists Warren Kinsella and Michael Taube, as well as other up-and-comers like J. J. McCullough, editorial cartoons by Jeff Burney, and podcasts on the latest in politics. Click here to subscribe

Dear CBC: Colin Kaepernick’s Socks Rock The Socks Off Justin Trudeau’s Socks

Dear CBC Execs,

Let me start off by saying you are doing an exceptional job on covering the heroic saga of Colin Kaepernick’s Rosa Parks moments of bravery. But driving home today, while faithfully tuning in to CBC Radio One, I found it tremendously problematic that your news updates about Kaepernick didn’t mention his most recent act of daring valour: his wearing of socks covered in white pig cops.

I thought there must have been a simple mistake since I know you guys are still severely underfunded and understaffed, and the extra $150 million-a-year to your $1 billion-a-year federal funding is a drop in the bucket of what you guys deserve to reach your full potential (Artic Air would be a total hit show if it had a few more million for its special effects budget). So I checked on the CBC site and was perturbed to see zero CBC pages–out of 1,600 results for keyword search of “Kaepernick”–on Kaepernick’s dazzling socks.

Despite my disappointment, I still tuned in to CBC Radio’s “q” podcast this afternoon.

(I know last time I wrote you I declared I was boycotting the show after you execs racistly fired the African-Canadian Shad aka Shadrach Kabango–all while hiding your minority-oppressing-agenda with the excuse that he had lost the 28 per cent of “q”‘s listeners that are clearly bigots–but I will hold off on my “q” ban until the delightful interim host and coloured-person, Piya Chattopadhyay, is replaced by the bland, cis, heterosexual, heteronormative, privileged WASP and non-coloured-person, Tom Powers (even his surname denotes his white patriarchal power for god’s sake! [No disrespect meant towards Muslims’ God, Allah–peace be upon him–of course. By the way, great job not showing those Eurocentric drawings desecrating Muhammad drawn by those asked-for-it murdered cartoonists.] I still can’t believe you’ve axed Shad after you picked him for his illuminating rap lyrics and African “heritage”. I thought you prejudiced CBC execs would be aware from Canadaland’s recent exposé, “Just How White is the CBC?”, that you have a lack of diversity crisis! You need to put out more “any race but Caucasian” job postings like you did that one time. And don’t try and justify you’re inexplicable firing of Shad by saying he remains part of the CBC family and that he’ll have a new show. Be honest, you’re taking him off his prominent spot on a prime-time show because you want to ghettoize him. It’s a disgrace, you closeted white supremacists.)

Anyway, today’s “q” episode brightened my day when the brilliant Piya announced that she and the “sports culture panel” were going to discuss the Kaepernick controversy and his hegemony-defying socks.

I was relieved to find out that everyone on the panel was “team Kaepernick”. I always feel like I’m in my safe space when listening to CBC Radio because all of the hosts and guests think the right way and come to the correct consensus right from the start.

The agreeable panel was right on the money that the “biracial” Kaepernick is an eloquent and articulate messenger of truth.

“[H]e gave this really thoughtful answer about how he doesn’t want to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses people’s colour and he has continued explaining thoughtfully on his twitter account ever since then.”

The host of “q” also picked such a succinct quote of Kaepernick’s that will go side-by-side Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” in the annals of history, and it’s worth repeating.

“I mean ultimately it’s to bring awareness and make people, you know, what’s going on in this country. There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust and people aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that–you know–in this country that stands for freedom, justice, liberty for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”

Damn good poetry. Right up there with “Drakespeare”, as CBC so rightfully nicknamed the modern-day bard, Drizzy.

The “q” panel was also so correct in pointing out how the millionaire players like Kaepernick are exploited.

“A lot of people in the NFL are sympathetic to Colin Kaepernick. A lot of us who have been polling NFL players and general managers, the distinction is so incredibly stark, it says volumes about an NFL where 68 per cent of the players are black, 17 per cent of the coaches are black, and 24 per cent of front office executives are black, and zero per cent of owners are black. And you see how this absence of diversity tickles it’s way down.”

The panelist was so on point to point out that the 12.5 per cent of African Americans in the US are over-represented in the NFL’s lowly ranks of millionaire players, coaches, and execs, but that there are ZERO black owners. Jay-Z, Kanye, and Oprah need to break this glass ceiling of injustice. The panelist should’ve just come out and said it: NFL owners are the modern-day plantation owners and the multimillion-dollar-a-year-contracted players, like the overpaid, bench-sitting Kaepernick, are the slaves. Like the one panelist pointed out, fans and owners just “want players to be savages.”

The “q” panelists kept speaking truth to power when they highlighted Kaepernick’s brilliance and dismissed his racist detractors.

“Look, Kaepernick’s future, I think he is playing chess, I think he’s got this mapped out five moves in advance…what he’s trying to do, really clever… So many of the right wing hacks in the media they play chess like they’re Wreck-It Ralph, like, ‘DUHHH, DUHHH, DUHHH.’ You know, every move. And he’s playing three-dimensional chess. It’s going to be fascinating going forward.”

I love it when CBC panelists don’t beat around the bush when addressing the stupid and inherent racism of all conservatives–“conservative and/or racists” as another “q” guest put it. CBC has been great at filtering out all the nasty American rhetoric when looking through it’s rose-coloured lenses at Kaepernick. The “q” guests were correct in not giving raving nitwits, like this Paul Joseph Watson guy, the time of day. I’m glad the “q” panelists ignored how Kaepernick once got fined for calling an opposing player the N-word. Kaepernick was clearly just shouting out to a bro, it’s not his fault the racist NFL misunderstood. I also commend the panelists virtual omission of Kaepernick’s adoption by a white family. Moronic conservatives misconstrue Kaepernick’s protest as showing ingratitude to his adoptive family, employer, and nation; they don’t realize how miraculous it is that Kaepernick has remained this woke to his oppression, considering the brainwashing and whitewashing he must’ve gone through growing up, and the complacency millions of dollars can induce.

The “q” panelists did a great job downplaying the grand-master Kaepernick’s demotion to backup QB last season, probably because they know its part of the mastermind’s elaborate plan to suddenly rise up from mediocrity to become an all-star quarterback again, all while being a social justice warrior fighting for the many injustices throughout America. If the super-talented Kaepernick gets released by the NFL we’ll all know why. It’ll be because the owners wanted to gag a messiah of our generation under the false pretext of poor performance; his martyrdom will not be in vain.

Finally, 18 minutes into the “q” segment, the moment I’d been waiting for, Piya got to the trailblazing socks.

“We wanted to mention Kaepernick’s socks. He had been wearing these socks that have cartoon pigs with police caps on top of them. It’s come to light and people are saying, ‘Look at this guy, he’s such a terrible human being.’ But one thing that stands out for a lot of us–and I don’t follow the NFL that closely–is whether it’s other players or NFL execs or his former coach, who have been criticizing Kaepernick for stepping out of line, the thing that stands out for me–and many other controversies in the NFL–is the desire for this league to maintain control. What is the league so worried about?”

I was hoping Piya’s question was rhetorical, but the panelists were sidetracked from discussing Kaepernick’s magnificent culture jamming socks, and instead tried explaining why the sinister NFL owners want complete control over their multi-billion-dollar-valued league’s brand.

I couldn’t believe CBC failed again on reporting this radically cool act of rebellion. I thought they were sure to cover it as rhapsodically as they did our dear leader’s stylish socks. (Speaking of our dear leader–the natural successor and son to our nation’s deceased supreme leader–I loved the news on how he coached basketball with Denis Rodman in Beijing, and that the Chinese think he’s brilliant and handsome. I’m sure he wowed fans with his slam-dunking skills, too.)

Anyway, Kaepernicks clever cotton homage to Black Lives Matter was amazing and it’s a shame you CBC execs failed to cover it after the attention you gave Trudeau’s socks. Blacks are getting shot on the street by cops like almost as much as they are shot by one another. Never mind that stupid Harvard study that found whites are shot more than blacks by cops, and at almost a similar rate population-wise. What do people from Harvard know? Also, that Uncle Tom police chief in Dallas said some traitorous things about the BLM movement’s rightful hatred of all these pig cops.

“What we’re trying to do here is above challenging. It is. We’re asking cops to do too much in this country… Every societal failure, we just put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding. Let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas we have a loose dog problem. Let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools failed, give it to the cops. Seventy per cent of the African American community is being raised by single women, let’s give it to the cops to solve that as well. That’s too much to ask, policing was never meant to solve all those problems. And I just ask for other parts of our democracy as well as the free press to help us–to help us and not put that burden all on law enforcement to resolve.”

What a useful and totally unwoke idiot for the white oppressors. Single-parent families can be just as effective in raising children as the outdated nuclear family. This stereotype needs to be debunked and stamped out.

Look, it’s obvious there is an epidemic of racist white cops going around hunting and slaughtering stand-up black citizens with reckless abandonment. This is a black and white issue. All cops are pigs and all blacks are innocent victims, end of story. So execs, CBC is pretty good at presenting the objective truth, but in this case you need to set the record straight and give wall-to-wall coverage of Kaepernick’s socks.

Yours faithfully,

A Devoted CBC Listener

PS: I forgot to mention how great it was when the “q” panelists mocked the talentless Tim Tebow–a Christian redneck relic of last century–for being a failed try-hard QB (something the great Kaepernick will never end up as) and for attempting a new career as a professional baseball player. What a loser!

PPS: Also loved how the one “q” panelist pointed out that Kaepernick’s admirable act of sitting during the national anthem has nothing to with the military and that wars have nothing to do with the rights Americans are afforded by the constitution.

“This whole thing has terrified me. Absolutely terrified me. Because this has been a protest about police violence, and it has turned into something where it’s like Colin Kaepernick versus the military. That’s been imposed on this. As if we have our freedoms because of the military and not because of the constitution. That’s a very disturbing mindset.”

Exactly. Those impatient Yankees didn’t have to fight in the American Revolution to gain independence (or the American Civil War to free slaves). They could’ve just politely done another century of servitude, paying the leaching United Kingdom until finally given permission to be independent, like we did. The World Wars didn’t mean much either in the preserving of their constitution.

Note to reader: I will be launching a crowdfunding account for this blog in the near future, but for now if you’d like to support my work please go to Loonie Politics and become a member. A subscription costs $5 a month, but with the promo code Gordon the yearly membership only costs $40, and I get a portion of the proceeds. On top of getting original content by me, you’ll also get pieces from veteran columnists Warren Kinsella and Michael Taube, as well as other up-and-comers like J. J. McCullough, editorial cartoons by Jeff Burney, and podcasts on the latest in politics. Click here to subscribe

Trudeau’s Liberals Should Learn the Importance of being Earnest and Frugal

During yesteryear’s federal election, Justin Trudeau lamented the financial struggles of the middle class. He claimed that his party was going to take the reins of power and assist the financially distressed. He also declared that his government was going to be far more transparent than the “secretive” Harper government.

Now nearing a year in power, the Liberal government all too frequently seems to forget the middle class’s hardships (never mind the dire circumstances of much of the lower working class and homeless) and is no sanctuary of openness.

Of course, though, the Liberals’ deserve credit for following through on lowering the middle class income tax from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent (although cutting other tax breaks) and enacting a new Canada Child Benefit, which took effect last month.

However, government handout and minor tax cut aside, the general economic outlook still looks bleak for many Canadians. The recent job numbers from Statistics Canada revealed 31,200 jobs were lost last month, the national unemployment rate rose to 6.9 per cent, and the number of full-time Canadian workers dropped by 71,400. Furthermore, many Canadians’ wages have stayed stagnant for years in contrast to rapid inflation. According to a new Fraser Institute study, the average Canadian family now spends more on taxes ($34,154) than on housing, food, and clothing combined ($30,293). To top it off, oil continues to slump and new pipeline development looks more than ever a pipe dream.

When all of these sobering statistics and realities are taken into account, it’s no surprise that everyday Canadians are angered when politicians are caught glutinously wasting taxpayers’ money on frivolity; especially when these same politicians are saying they sympathize with Canadians’ financial plight.

That’s what makes Trudeau’s case so curious. He has shown zero ascetic restraint in indulging in the public purse since being sworn in, yet is hardly affected politically. Trudeau has taken six vacations since taking office, including most of this summer, and has had the gall to justify his lax work schedule as necessary for good “work/life balance”. The average Canadian probably can’t relate to having the luxury of taking (fully paid) months off at a time, especially when only ten months into a new job (if they can even say they have full-time employment at that).

Other Trudeau extravagant personal expenses on the taxpayers’ dime include the estimated tens-of-millions of dollars for the 24 Sussex Drive renovation, charging taxpayers for two nannies, renting out an entire resort for–one of several–cabinet retreats costing $150,000, and spending over $100,000 for a family and friend trip to the Caribbean.

Beyond his own expense claims, our PM doubled Canada’s contribution to the “fast-start climate financing” of international development projects up to $2.65 billion over the next five years, pledged another $32 million to development projects in South East Asia and Africa, rewarded the CBC–a broadcaster rife with recent scandals and ratings failures–with another $675 million (of a total of $1.9 billion earmarked for new cultural spending in the next five years) to its billion-dollar-a-year-boondoggle budget, is donating billions to resettling tens-of-thousands of Syrian refugees, and earmarked an extra $60 billion in infrastructure spending (though much of this money may end up a cost sink instead of an economic plus, and critics believe is an excuse to hire Liberal-allied companies and unions to pay them kickbacks for their allegiance).

All of these excessive budgetary expenses have already resulted in a $30 billion deficit in this year alone ($20 billion more than projected by Trudeau). And although the reader may find some of these massive expenditures noble, I find it ignoble to spend more on foreigners than on your own compatriots suffering from economic malaise. Furthermore, Trudeau’s father was the last PM to put us in such a massive deficit that took decades to recover from, so Canadians should prioritize fiscal restraint and not repeating history above our glowing hearts.

Despite Trudeau’s lavish lifestyle and his economically masochistic national budget, the push pollsters (their results skewed in favour of the Liberals in the past, but that’s for another article) and the ga-ga-for-shirtless-Justin media claim Trudeaumania is still alive and well, as his approval rating apparently remains well above 50 per cent and coverage remains fawning.

It must be handed to the Prime Minister’s Office–along with the assistance of a cheer-leading, $150-million-a-year-richer-thanks-to-wonderful-Trudeau CBC et al.–for being able to constantly inundate us with feelgood PR stories that go viral. It helps that the press has so far been willing to compromise itself by going along with the carefully stage-managed access.

But the press shouldn’t kid itself that endless photo-ops means transparency. A Globe and Mail journalist covering Trudeau’s personal photographer asked Trudeau a single softball question (“[W]hat is it like being the most photographed person in the country”) and was scolded by Trudeau’s policy director: “That was kinda bullshit.” The director then insinuated and threatened pulling access to Trudeau from the Globe. So apparently sunny ways is only as sunny as the light shone on Trudeau.

The PMO’s thin-skinned response to a flattering question seems odd and incredibly insecure when the bulk of coverage has been fawning.

Trudeau hanging out with Obama. Trudeau cuddling two baby pandas. Trudeau hugging and getting approval from Gord Downie.  Trudeau “explaining” quantum physics. Trudeau declaring he’s a feminist. Trudeau marching in the Pride Parades in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Trudeau wearing flashy socks. Trudeau doing a yoga pose. Trudeau greeting refugees. A shirtless Trudeau photo-bombing a wedding.

These stories’ gimmicky charm(?) have lulled a majority of Canadians into an approval of Trudeau ranging from lukewarm to idolatrous. For now, it appears many Canadians and reporters are willing to overlook or defend Trudeau’s questionable and intemperate spending because of the way he makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

However, In spite of Trudeau’s early immunity to scrutiny, his cabinet ministers do not have the same celebrity status and charm to distract from gross indulgence in taxpayers’ money.

Trudeau’s cabinet ministers, Jane Philpott and Katherine McKenna both felt the wrath of the exploited taxpayer when their extravagant expense claims were made public.

Now bear with me as I recap these expenditures. No matter how trivial these costs may seem in the grand scheme of the billions spent by government, there is an important lesson to be learned.

Health Minister Jane Philpott got caught–like Winnie the Pooh’s head in a honey pot–charging taxpayers $1,700 and $1,900 highly inflated bills  (by as much as ten times market price) for daily limo service from a Liberal supporter and volunteer from her riding. The ostensible kickbacks to a party faithful are now being investigated by Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson to see if she violated the Conflict of Interest Act by giving “preferential treatment”. To further complicate matters for Philpott, she potentially mislead parliament when she signed a document claiming she didn’t expense any limo services. Her office is now adamantly arguing the semantics of what a limo is by claiming she instead billed for the car service of a “Lexus Sedan”, thus not obligated to disclose it when questioned. Philpott has agreed to pay the money back, which is basically an admission of guilt, but in what other job than a politician can you basically embezzle money and then simply pay it back when you’re caught red-handed?

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is feeling some severe political climate change since it came to light that she hired a personal photographer during COP21 climate summit and burned $6,600 of taxpayers’ money. The third-rate photos posted on flickr were defended by McKenna’s office as an actual saving for taxpayers because she didn’t have to expense the flight and accommodations of a personal photographer from back home. The outrage over ridiculous expenses has only heated up for McKenna since new revelations from yesterday show the federal government’s expense bill for Paris COP21 was just shy of $1 million. A lot of that tab was racked up by McKenna’s piglet bureaucrats, with three of them burning $12,000 just to satiate their refined palettes over the two week summit.

Overall, these personal expenses are minuscule in the grand scheme of the government’s coffers, but these abuses of the taxpayers’ money only creates an atmosphere of distrust towards a new government attempting to be above the intense cynicism of today’s politics. At worst, this greedy waste of taxpayers’ money makes one wonder how they are managing contracts worth millions and billions of dollars, especially when they are planning to have a string of deep annual deficits.

Justin Trudeau’s best friend and the PMO’s Principal Secretary, Gerald Butts, the alleged brains behind Trudeau’s government, displayed the cynical hypocrisy of Trudeau’s utopian government. Complaining about an article covering the expense controversy, Butts tweeted “[the] story made it seem like a new practice with this govt. (It isn’t)”. So essentially all the talk of change by this Liberal government doesn’t apply to the way they abuse taxpayers’ money.

Other interesting responses to the controversial expense claims came from mainstream journalists. A quintessential example was Walrus Magazine’s editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay’s response to McKenna’s photography debacle. Kay tweeted: “Dear media, there are Cdns who pay similar amounts to get weddings/corporate events photographed[.] Who the F cares?” Kay of course doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds. The Walrus has long been deemed a foundation by the government, giving it tax exempt status, and it is now getting a large contribution from Trudeau’s government to host events across Canada for the nation’s 150th anniversary celebration next year. And that’s exemplary of the problem: too many journalists and media organizations are in some way paid by the government. Canada needs a press that is full of adversarial watchdogs willing to pressure the government on issues and hold it to its ideals, not a government-dependent, lapdog PR media that dismisses, excuses, and apologizes for the government’s abuses of power in blase fashion. (Two great examples of new independent online media organizations are Canadaland and The Rebel Media, and both push well above their weight in breaking stories.)

Too complicate matters, Trudeau promised transparency, but has thus far failed to deliver. Trudeau struck down Harper’s transparency act that forced union bosses and reserve chiefs to disclose their organizations and bands’ finances. Furthermore, Trudeau has done nothing to address the parliamentary Board of Internal Economy that shrouds MP’s finances from public scrutiny. As the Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Aaron Wudrick, said over email, “The default positions should be transparency; any exceptions need to be justified by reference to exceptions with defined parameters.”

Ultimately, however, it’ll be up to Liberal government whether they continue to fritter taxpayers’ money away and if they choose to keep MPs’ expenses hidden from the public eye. Justin Trudeau should learn from Oscar Wilde’s sole novel’s protagonist. Dorian Gray appears publicly to be an honourable man of eternal youth, but underlying superficial appearances he is dissolute, lazy, narcissistic, and corrupt. With each misdeed his self-portrait–representing his inner character–degrades. Eventually the painting becomes too ghastly for the original, pristine subject to look at, and he is the author of his own demise.

Trudeau still has three more years, possibly many more, to determine his self-portrait–the true picture beneath all the selfies and perfectly-edited photos courtesy of his 24/7 personal photographer. He’d best heed the importance of being earnest and frugal.

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10 Hitches With CBC’s 10 Canadians ‘Face-to-Face’ With PM

Before unmasking last week’s riddled-with-loopholes CBC special, “Face to Face with the Prime Minister”, I’d like to commend the 10 participants of the show for having the courage to go on national television to share their hardships with millions of Canadians, and for also earnestly trying their best to hold our new PM to account–despite the cards being stacked against them and there being little of a track record to review. The participants are all far more lionhearted than myself and many of our compatriots. Bravo to these 10 Canadians for seizing the opportunity to stand up for what is dear to their hearts. So please do not misconstrue the below in any way as an attack on these wonderful Canadian citizens.

That being said, the way the CBC and Justin Trudeau and co. set up this supposedly avant-garde interviewing process–according to Peter Mansbridge, “like nothing you’ve ever seen”–they should be ashamed of themselves. This piss-poor yellow journalism reeks on so many levels. So without further ado, allow me to turn this gimmicky production inside out with a gimmicky top ten listicle of its abominations.

1) Peter Mansbridge And CBC Are In Bed With The Liberals:

The CBC coverage of last election cycle should leave no doubt in Canadians’ minds that the CBC is the cheer-leading captain of our new government (The CBC’s Insolent Election Bias is a post of mine on this subject that garnered ten-thousand hits).

Leading up to the election, the Conservative Party of Canada ran an attack ad using a snippet from a Mansbridge interview with Justin Trudeau. Now, being in the news business and a supposed consummate professional, Mansbridge should have known about copyright law and fair dealings (a law that allows one to use parts of others’ works). CBC and The National do this all the time when borrowing footage from other news organizations in their coverage. That’s why it was so shocking when internal emails (obtained by Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley) revealed Mansbridge complained to management about the CPC’s ad and worked actively with the rest of the media consortium in having them removed from all the major Canadian networks.

Mother Corp. wasn’t done there in protecting Trudeau from unflattering attacks though, it then had its legal counsel ask YouTube and Facebook to remove the ad as well. (Yet, ironically, CBC was A-Okay with producing its own two-minute attack ad, containing many clips of Harper repeating “friends” to audiences, and then posting it on its own Facebook page). Facebook and YouTube politely declined the CBC’s ludicrous complaint, while probably wondering to themselves how a public broadcaster could be so thick as to not understand how fair dealings works.

But the above is only a glimpse into how much our public broadcaster and Mansbridge are intertwined with the Liberal Party of Canada. Canadaland, a new digital Canadian media website, reported that Mansbridge officiated the wedding of Justin Trudeau’s Director of Communications, Kate Purchase (though years before she was employed with Trudeau). Her father, Bruce Anderson, is a close friend of Mansbridge and had a cozy gig on Mansbridge’s The National for years as a political analyst (aka Liberal spin doctor), but he suddenly departed from the show–at the same time as the scoop was released, coincidence?–citing conflicts of interest. These close familial family connections put into question Mansbridge’s claim that he “played the ‘you talk of transparency and openness, so prove it’ card” in gaining exclusive access to Justin Trudeau on the day of his swearing in as PM. It’s a bit rich that this challenge to the PMO is what “curr[ied] favour” instead of Mansbridge’s family friend connection to Purchase.

The resulting coverage of that day, where a highly unprofessional Mansbridge gushed and fawned over the new PM, only confirmed the falseness of Mansbridge’s article, which bragged about how he scored his exclusive through his journalistic expertise and mettle. But Mansbridge wasn’t done with his vainglorious tales, in a recent article hyping up the “Face to Face” program, Mansbridge claimed CBC was “doubl[ing] down” on its challenging of the LPC’s transparency. In reality, the CBC and Mansbridge only “doubled down” on their own dishonesty.

Underneath the facade of Mansbridge’s baritone-silky-smooth-voice-of-truth and mock-earnestness, there is an underlying deceitfulness. Mansbridge has never publicly disclosed his personal connection to Trudeau’s Director of Communications (just like he’s never publicly disclosed how he’s received hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in speaking fees from the corporate world of Canada). It’s not really surprising that Mansbridge–The National’s anchor for eternity, starting since 1988!–has gotten away scot-free with ethical breaches for so long, it goes along with the pattern of CBC cult of personality that led to the disgraceful behaviour of the likes of Gian Ghomeshi, Evan Solomon, Rex Murphy, and Amanda Lang. It’s about time Canadians realized Mansbridge isn’t Canada’s trustworthy Walter Cronkite, but instead our own phony Brian Williams.

Here are some final notes on CBC’s incestuous ties to the LPC: A couple of CBC executives took leave-of-absences so they could campaign with the LPC; The union representing many CBC journalists registered to campaign against the Conservatives last election; A former CBC journalist who covered federal politics recently wrote about how the new defence minister is “bad ass” is now working and writing press releases for that very same “bad ass”; And the LPC has promised to give the CBC an additional 150 million dollars to its one billion dollar annual subsidy (essentially bribing the network for immensely favourable coverage of Trudeau).

2) The Participants Were Embedded In A News Junket:

I did some digging into what was included in the ten Canadians’ trip to Ottawa. From what I found, the trip appears to have been an all-expenses-paid junket, which by all fair guesstimates cost taxpayers tens-of-thousands-of-dollars (I’m awaiting a response from CBC regarding costs, etc, but I’m not holding my breath).

What I do know is the participants were flown from all over the country and were put up in the Ottawa Sheraton for several days. Many of the contestants posted star-struck selfies they’d taken with our selfie-indulgent PM and the so-called venerable Mansbridge. In this setting of idolatry it would be nearly impossible to pierce through the impenetrable atmosphere-of-adoration with barbed questions.

It also appears that the contestants’ (let’s be honest, the special broadcast was reality TV) questions were groomed by CBC producers and Mansbridge whom appeared to go over the contestants’ questions in a boardroom before shooting the interviews. It’s surprising how little specific examples and follow-up questions the ten Canadians asked considering they most likely had professional journalists assist them in the preparation of their interviews (CBC claims Trudeau’s people had no input or knowledge of the interviewers’ questions, but knowing Mansbridge’s connection should you believe the network?) It’s almost as if the producers were content with the ten Canadians asking personal questions (without rebuttals to talking points) that Trudeau could easily spin and skirt around.

Finally, after conducting the interviews, the interviewers were wined and dined at a ritzy restaurant near parliament for a champagne toast (the evidence is available on social media sites, but I opted not to publish it out of respect for the ten Canadians’ privacy). It’s not too far-fetched to imagine CBC literally dressed up the ten Canadians in new threads for their TV appearances. Now, under the pampering and careful eye of the Mother Corp., do you think average Joe Canadians are going to be in the mood for an antagonistic rumble with its darling, smiley Trudeau? It also doesn’t help the cause of accountability when the vast majority of the hand-picked contestants showed an affinity towards Trudeau on social media in the past few months.

CBC’s preening of these ten Canadians severely undermines its claim that Trudeau’s government is taking a “gamble” and huge “risk” for the sake of “transparency and accountability” by participating in the TV special. The “Face to Face” program was really nothing more than a carefully curated and constructed propaganda piece for Trudeau.

3) Why The Reality TV Feel?:

Further incriminating evidence supporting the propaganda charge against CBC’s special, “Face to Face”, is the reality-TV-like-quality of the production. It was odd that Peter Mansbridge and producers thought it appropriate to start each interview with the repetitive camera shot of the PM’s-glossy-wooden-door-with-gilded-lettering being opened by each contestant and then Trudeau purring each time, “Welcome to the Prime Minister’s office.” The accompanying music gave it the feel of some tacky reality TV show, instead of what it should’ve been, serious interviews about serious issues affecting millions of everyday Canadians.

Let’s contrast the CBC’s TV special’s gimmicky production values with some of Mansbridge’s tough words in his most recent promotional article:

There’s one other interview format that most PMs do like, though. It comes at Christmas when the prime minister’s staff wants the interview sitting next to a roaring fire and a decorated tree.
Somehow those sessions rarely lend themselves to any productive accountability.
In 2014, after arguing with the prime minister’s office about the background, we managed to shoot the interview in such a way you didn’t see the fire or the tree, and we managed some good exchanges with Stephen Harper, some of which resulted in comments that still haunt him today.

So Mansbridge was opposed to warming up a frigid Harper by a fire, but with Trudeau it’s suddenly okay to create an hour-long reality TV show? This is first-rate hypocrisy.

To make matters worse, another CBC promotional article hyped the TV special by claiming they scoured the nation coast to coast to coast to find the top ten best Canadians to represent us all, and then they would all get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the PM–how glamorous. It was reminiscent of the five golden tickets from the children‘s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

4) Green Interviewers Cannot Possibly Hold A Slippery Thespian Politician To Account:

Some contestants left their interviews still in a Willy-Wonka-like wonder for our PM, while others left their interviews dismayed and disillusioned by an exposed Wizard of OZ; however, they were all left feeling many of their questions remained unanswered.

They shouldn’t feel discouraged though, many politicians and journalists can’t get a straight answer from the cliche-happy Trudeau either. The former part-time drama teacher seems thus far to be proving the trite adage wrong: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. (As a teacher myself I’m allowed to use this glib expression.)

Trudeau’s acting chops were enough to convince enough of the public into voting him into the PM’s office, but we’ll see how long the man can keep up the performance. To many of us, Trudeau’s perspicacious capacity for platitudes has already become a worn out routine.

One of the victim’s spouses of the Berkino Faso massacre hung up on Trudeau because the PM’s condolences came off as phony pretentiousness. It probably didn’t help that when Trudeau first addressed the nation about the tragedy, in a mosque, the PM thought it was appropriate to go around taking selfies with the crowd.

Perhaps its this type of discordance between the PM’s cheap talk and his un-statesman-like, contradictory behaviour that is most jarring about the CBC’s TV special. Trudeau dodged and blatantly lied to many of the guests in his office, and below I’d like to point out his most glaring offenses.

5) Virtue Signalling Over Actually Helping The Average Indigenous Person:

Trudeau’s interview with Nikki Faser was a heart-wrenching scene. The young indigenous mother, who lost an aunt and cousin too soon to the streets, came to ask Trudeau how he is going to ensure that indigenous women in the future–like Fraser’s daughter–won’t become an all too common and tragic statistic.

Trudeau, corny and glib as always, told her “indigenous lives matter”.  He then championed his government’s future public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, saying “everyone” will be involved in the process. Knowing how public inquiries go, this process will undoubtedly last years if he proposes to include everyone involved. And as nice as this virtue signalling by Trudeau appears, inquiries don’t solve immediate problems.

Trudeau’s answers pleased Fraser, and I’m sure many other indigenous people. For people surrounded by tragedy, recognition of your communities’ plight is a welcome change.

But excuse me for not being sold. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission didn’t solve the problems facing indigenous people today, and none of these endless apologies, inquiries and reparations ever will.

What is needed is a federal government with the stomach to abolish the racist and archaic Indian Act. A federal government willing to challenge the nepotism and corruption of many of the bands. European settlers of the past, our ancestors, as well as living Canadians and the federal government throughout history all deserve the lion-share of the blame for the current state of affairs of indigenous people today–but all perpetrators, whether white or indigenous, should be held to account.

That’s why it was so puzzling that Trudeau’s government decided that First Nations’ bands shouldn’t have to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which forced indigenous governments to make financial disclosures. Apparently Trudeau only meant most Canadians would get a more “transparent and accountable” government under his watch.

Another contradictory move by Trudeau, as pointed out by Jesse Brown on his Canadaland podcast, is his Liberal government’s friendliness to John Furlong, the head organizer of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a man accused by many indigenous people of committing physical, sexual and emotional abuse against them while he worked at a residential school.

It’s actions like the above that should make one skeptical of Trudeau’s warm and fuzzy rhetoric on indigenous people. Indigenous people are likely being set up for a huge letdown in the coming years when their great expectations give way to disheartened disappointment.

6) A Prime Example Of A Low-Skilled Canadian Victimized By Liberal Policy:

Neil Piercey, 58, had some bleak and blunt questions for PM Trudeau. Piercey, from London, Ontario, is barely scraping by after using up his pension to help pay for his mortgage. He has nothing saved and is approaching retirement age. Working in manufacturing most of his life, Piercey has been a victim of a drying up manufacturing sector within the city. One of the explanations for why manufacturing hasn’t bounced back in Ontario, despite the incentive of a weak dollar, is the off-the-dial electricity costs in one of the most indebted sub-nations in the developed world.

Gerald Butts is Trudeau’s best friend and top adviser (some say de facto PM because it appears he calls the shots on many things–like feeding Trudeau the asinine “because it’s 2015” line), and was the former adviser to Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario Liberals and an architect behind their failed green energy policy that has contributed in putting the province in dire straits today. Under this context, it is even more cringe-worthy when Piercey, voicing his fears of losing his home and ending up homeless, asks Trudeau what help he can expect from his government and Trudeau answers by saying there is no “quick fix” and that the government was looking into it and needs to work on “investing in skills” that young people will need for the job market. Apparently people like Piercey, victims of Trudeau’s best friend Butts, shouldn’t expect “sunny ways” any time in the near future.

7) Trudeau’s Surprisingly Uninformed Response To Secondary Education Questions:

Charlotte Kiddell is a 24-year-old undergraduate student who interviewed Trudeau on student debt and affordable post-secondary education. A CBC followup article revealed Kiddell left her interview unsatisfied with many of Trudeau’s canned responses (such as “It’s 2016”). I was actually slightly surprised how unspecific Trudeau was on this file because he was the education critic for years while an opposition MP during the Conservative government. I thought he would be better briefed on the subject. Though one shouldn’t be too shocked because Trudeau did happen to have one of the worst attendance records of all of the MPs of the House of Commons at the time. I guess he was busy racking up six-figure speaking fees from school boards and charities, amounting in hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in extra income from his side gig.

Probably the most revealing part of this interview was the giggly exchange at the beginning of the interview, when Kiddell said she saw him earlier in the day “photo-bomb[ing]” a tourist. Trudeau’s response was priceless:

“I came in, and the woman, who was…who I took the picture with recognized me, but the one taking it didn’t. So I sort of smiled, she took the picture right away and I kept walking, and I kept walking and counting down in my head, ‘three, two, one,’ and I heard–‘Oh my god’–and that’s the explanation anyway.”

“That’s so cute,” gushed Kiddell.

“You’ve got to enjoy this job and stay connected to people, and that’s why I’m so glad you decided to participate in this.”

(Barf.) A little less “cool” and flirty selfie-PM and a little more diligence and respect for the highest job in the land, please.

8) Affordable Child Day Care For All And Trudeau’s Two Nannies:

Jenna Fray, a 31-year-old with a young family, interviewed the PM about how he is going to help middle-class families. He explained the new tax cut for people in the second income bracket and the new Child Care Benefit (CCB) “for families not making over two-hundred-thousand dollars a year.”

The irony in his caveat of ineligibility for CCB is that it doesn’t apply to Justin Trudeau. A perfect rejoinder from Fray would’ve been: “Why do you think it’s acceptable for you to have taxpayers cover the cost of your two nannies, especially since you made a show of donating your childcare benefit and claimed people like you didn’t need help paying for childcare?”

Fray responded much more politely by saying her calculated savings under the new plan would only be enough to afford one month of childcare costs and wondered why affordable childcare wasn’t available to everyone.

Somehow Trudeau believes the third thing to help middle-class families like Fray’s is through massive “investment” (read cost sink) in infrastructure projects, like public transportation, as if this will make up for Fray’s eleven more months of childcare costs she’s struggling to afford.

Fray, still clearly perturbed in how she can afford childcare, asked Trudeau for compassion and to remember families like hers.

“Jenna, quite frankly, the day I forget about you and your family, and all the people like you, is the day I’m no longer worthy of sitting in that chair.”

Trudeau’s saccharine response was just too rich.

Trudeau’s actions do not show him prioritizing people like Fray and her family. Here’s a PM who made sure his childcare costs were retroactively covered back to the day he took office, had his mother announce he wasn’t moving into 24 Sussex until it’s renovated, scheduled a photo-shoot with Vogue shortly after winning the election, spends countless time taking selfies with adoring fans, gave back excessive sick days (costing taxpayers’ hundreds-of-millions of dollars) to civil servants, gave away billions of dollars to foreign developing countries’ infrastructure projects, is spending billions of dollars on a rushed refugee program, and took an over 300 person delegation (more than several other countries combined, excessively wasting taxpayers’ money) to the Paris climate talks–yet Jenna’s family is supposed to get by paying for childcare with a measly extra eight-hundred dollar or so tax break.

The scene with Fray and Trudeau was like the extravagant Marie Antoinette and her immortal words: “Let them eat cake.” Let’s hope Trudeau gets the proverbial guillotine in four years’ time.

9 & 10) Wishy Washy on Alberta’s Woes And Combat Against ISIS

End note: Several of the participants of CBC’s “Face to Face” were contacted for this article. Two responded and seemed open to an interview, but neither have responded after I followed up. I will update if CBC or any of the participants respond to my questions.

Way overdue followup: After writing over three-thousand words on this article I ran into my own hitch with finishing up my last few months teaching in South Korea and never got around to finishing 9 & 10 on the listicle. I guess I also fatigued from already belabouring the absurdity of the TV special in this lengthy article.

Below is a response from Jihane Elatifi, a participant in the “Face-to-Face” TV special:

1) What did you think of PM Trudeau’s answers to your questions and what is your overall opinion of our new PM since meeting him?

I thought he didn’t answer them frankly. I wanted his own opinion and feelings on certain matters. I did not want him to deliver the usual speech – which is why I interrupted him several times. Unlike a few other participants, I’ve always had a positive opinion of PM Trudeau and always voted Liberal. Also, I had seen him working in the Papineau riding in Montreal, had friends who volunteered for him and he was always open to dialogue. I think we also just passed the 100 days mark of his government being in power, I expect less talk and more action now.

2) How were you chosen as one of the participants to interview Trudeau?

Luck and word of mouth 😉

3) How long was the preparation for the interview, and did Mansbridge or other CBC employees coach you on how to conduct an interview? What kind of preparation was involved?

Peter Mansbridge just came in and say hi, we asked him questions about his job, etc. We didn’t really get to speak to him a lot. As for the CBC staff, they briefed us, but did not impose any questions or forbid us to ask any questions. Of course, they had to avoid overlaps in terms to the subjects addressed by each of the Canadians. The fact that they didn’t try to impose anything on us and let us express ourselves the way we wanted was also one of the reasons why I chose to participate. This was not a staged, rehearsed or directed conversation…We all came with our own agendas.
4) Were you happy with what made the cut for the show? How did the other participants feel about the process?
Absolutely, it was a great experience. The best experience was meeting all the other participants. I sincerely miss them and we keep in touch via a giant email thread 🙂 – I do not want to put words in their mouths, but I feel like generally everyone was happy with the selection process. The one thing that may have been a frustration was the lack of time (we all had 10 minutes).
5) How long was your trip to Ottawa? Did CBC cover all expenses? What was included in your trip for taking part in the show?
I live in Montreal so I did not spend the entire 4 days in Ottawa, some people came from places that were far from the capital, other participants had to leave and couldn’t be there on Sunday either. Expenses covered were basic for me: food, train and room. I spent two nights in Ottawa, came in early and left early in the morning because i had work.

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Elections Canada’s Disguised Shame

So Elections Canada is boasting a 71 per cent increase in voter turnout at advance polling stations, even though masked clowns, ghosts, scarecrows and mummers (apparently some sort of Newfie costume) are making a mockery of our democratic tradition.

To reiterate what I reported a couple days ago, the Fair Elections Act has made voting extremely easy for the sake of curbing low voter turnout, all at the expense of the process’s integrity.

It’s worth repeating the disillusioned words of my anonymous source (anonymity granted for obvious reasons) from Elections Canada: “[I]n an attempt to make voting easier the whole institution is easier to fraud. An example could be if someone or even a group was persistent in wanting to vote numerous times they can appear at every polling station with stolen ID. With pieces of mail now qualifying as ID it would be simple to gather or steal.”

Now, hypothetically speaking, dumpster divers everywhere can filch two valid pieces of ID (out of dozens of options, such as an empty prescription bottle and a bank statement) from someones trashcan and show up to vote. Especially fervent fraudsters could dress up in an array of costumes with face-coverings and could go door-to-door trick-or-frauding, no one would be the wiser. As I reported in my earlier post, a reporter already proved that a voter doesn’t have to reveal his or her face to vote, a disguised person’s promise will do.

But even the less sophisticated fraudster can get away with democratic murder in plain sight. “[I]f a voter appears with ID that is definitely not their own they simply could make a scene. Unofficial instructions are to diffuse the situation and allow them to vote. Avoid any possible media coverage that will put EC in a bad light,” said the EC employee. No need to trouble yourself with the hassle of dressing up, just act menacing enough without a mask and EC will cower to you.

Evidently, EC’s desperate eagerness for higher voter turnout and good PR has resulted in it throwing all caution and scruples to the wind.

My source got back to me shortly after reading my latest to further clarify a few things on just how rotten the EC has become. He informed me about how employees at the institution scramble to try and keep egg from EC’s face.

“I had seen Ezra’s interesting and comedic report on the reporter voting in a niqab. Of course everyone involved at EC went completely out of their way to accommodate the situation so as not to cause a media event. Funnier that it was [in itself] a media event, although they were unaware at the time.” So apparently employees did find it strange that burly man in a niqab showed up at their office, but they bit their tongues, followed unofficial protocol and welcomed the intruder.

(On a less humorous note, another journalist–this time a woman–voted while niqab-clad and got to skip the pathetic formality of swearing and oath.)

My informant also clarified how the absurdity has reached Kafkaesque proportions: “The mandate of EC is established by the Canada Elections Act and the Fair Elections Act. The act simply determines that identity must be established, the Chief Electoral Officer determines policy on ‘how’ identity can be established.” I wonder if the CEO, Marc Mayrand, is regretting his loose translation of what constitutes IDing someone.

However, regrets or not, Mayrand has an army of ghosts, zombies and werewolves to vanquish on October 19. Over 7,000 Quebecers have pledged to dress up and vote on election day in protest of the recent niqab developments. Maybe their prank will also help draw enough attention from the mainstream media on the sorry ID requirements.

“If [the pledge is] carried through it will cause huge administrative delays if the voter only has a drivers license as ID, as they would need to compete additional paperwork as the photo part of the ID would not be sufficient. But it may also prove a point about lax identification policies.”

Canadians from coast to coast should get in the spirit.

Dress Up and Vote! (or The Canadian Rocky Voting Horror Show)

“Vote! Vote! Vote!” shrieks the CBC at Canada’s youth this election campaign, still haunted by the conservative ghouls’ violations of the last election that resulted in the horrifying budget cuts of the Corpse.

The Mother Corp’s Rick Mercer is leading the social justice warrior crusade in getting Canada’s youth to do a zombie march to voting stations across the country on October 19.

“[O]ne thing we know about non-voters is voting is contagious. If you take 3 or 4 people and they’re non-voters and you put a voter near them, or around them, or someone that talks about voting, the chances of them voting–the non-voters–goes up,” expounded Dr. Frankenstein while on Rosemary Barton’s Power & Politics.

Mercer went on to explain the contagion’s success to a cackling Barton (I’m using some seasonal hyperbole, get over it): “So the idea is if you’re a voter you should talk about it and let people know you’re voting, so if you go to … it allows you to take a picture and imprint it with “I will vote October 19″. Then you can share that on social media. It’s already been a tremendous success with 140,000 Canadians have done it,” Mercer explained, bursting with pride at his mad genius creation.

Mercer doesn’t appear concerned whether the Canadian youth from the ages of 18-24 are informed on any of the issues, just as long as they participate in his slacktivism and turn out to vote this time around (1.8 million youth voters or 60 per cent were no-shows in 2011, this author included).

“Maybe we’re shaming them into voting, I don’t know. But as long as they vote, I don’t care.”

This speaks volumes because Dr. Frankenstein’s own network rejected airing two national leaders’ debates last month, opting instead to air a documentary about exotic pets and rerun Murdoch Mysteries episodes. (You don’t want your minions thinking too much.)

So what was the real reasoning behind the public broadcaster’s defiant refusal to show the debates? The official reason is that the network wouldn’t have had editorial control over the live debate. Why this would be a problem in a debate (where dialogue is supposed to be unpredictable and out of a host’s control) is beyond a sane person rationalizing. What’s obvious to most is the CBC threw a hissy fit, like a child deprived of candy on Halloween, because it lost the right to host the debates this federal election. But I still think there is also some truth to the CBC’s pretentious, official excuse.

The amount of electrocuted and torqued election coverage by the CBC has not gone unnoticed. In my widely-read post from last week, entitled “The CBC’s Insolent Election Bias”, I elucidated on the foggy pro-Trudeau and anti-Harper propaganda the CBC has consistently spun this grueling campaign cycle. Justin Trudeau de facto bribed the CBC with a promise of an extra 150 million dollars annually (despite the CBC failing to recognize its record low viewership and ad revenue) if he becomes PM and the union for many CBC journalists is actively campaigning against the CPC. Thus it makes sense that the CBC wouldn’t want the highly unpredictable and gaffe-prone Trudeau potentially exposed to tough questioning that isn’t coming from Trudeau’s affectionate Mother Corp. Better Mother Corp feed its infected zombies filtered and flattering snippets of Trudeau the dilettante.

But we’ve lost our way in this bizarre freak show. So back to the CBC’s frenzied and zealous crusade to get green, low-information youth out to vote. On The National, the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge hosted a special At Issue panel where the three left wing commentators bemoaned the past low voter turnouts.

Andrew Coyne had a mad solution to top Dr. Frankenstein’s: “[W]e whould look at mandatory voting. Obviously we’re not going to throw people into jail or anything, but kind of as a nudge … it’s just kind of pushes you along and says ‘look, there’s an election on, everybody is voting, you should vote as well.”

No need to try cheap gimmicks in order for the left to get its untapped boon, just make it illegal for low-information voters to sit on their asses come election day.

Mansbridge followed this up by asking Coyne why people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on the web. Never mind the numerous ways online voting could make the process vulnerable to massive voter fraud, Coyne’s only quibble against it was that the “solemnity” of the act of voting in person would be lost. Then Mansbridge pointed out that Coyne online shops, so what’s really the difference between the two acts?

It’s this kind of blind fervour for greater voter turnout that has resulted in Elections Canada identification requirements being relaxed to what, I would hazard to guess, is a lower standard than many African countries. Only a couple of pieces of mail with your name and address are now required.

But don’t take my word for it. I’ve been corresponding with an Elections Canada employee whom I’ve granted anonymity for obvious reasons. Here’s the employee’s stark take on the rotten state of our voting institution:

“My personal feelings are that in an attempt to make voting easier the whole institution is easier to fraud. An example could be if someone or even a group was persistent in wanting to vote numerous times they can appear at every polling station with stolen ID. With pieces of mail now qualifying as ID it would be simple to gather or steal. Another example could be if a voter appears with ID that is definitely not their own they simply could make a scene. Unofficial instructions are to diffuse the situation and allow them to vote. Avoid any possible media coverage that will put EC in a bad light.”

A preview of how ridiculous things have gotten was captured in a recent video stunt by The Rebel Media. One of the media organization’s  male journalists, wearing a full-face-covering niqab, arrived at an EC office to vote and trick-or-treat early. The staff didn’t bat an eye at his arrival and presented the niqab-clad man with the options of revealing his face or swearing an oath that it was indeed him (our damn over-politeness biting us in the ass again). The reporter opted for a pinky promise, and then he was off on his merry way.

However, the real monster mash will take place on October 19. 7,000 Quebecers have made a pledge to show up to vote dressed up in Halloween costumes in protest of the recent niqab developments (perhaps devolution). I’m sure the CBC will be thrilled when Donald Trump, Ahmed Mohamed, Caitlyn Jenner, Darth Vader, Casper the friendly ghost, and the Scream guy show up to vote.

The little smoke-and-mirrors show that was ominously called The Robocall Scandal pales in comparison to the type of fright we might be in store for when we practice our hallowed democratic tradition this October.

Footnote: Please remember these wise words from Mercer: “So for those of you who are feeling worn down by this campaign and want to–to zone out and stay home. I feel your pain. I never thought I’d say this, but I would rather drink paint than hear the following is a paid political announcement. We must remain vigilant. Remember, this is not their election, it is ours. They do not get to choose what this election is about. We do. Just like we get to choose who runs this country. That’s our job–all we have to do is show up and do it.” Vigilant indeed. Also vigilante. I don’t think the argument that many Canadians lost their lives so that we could vote meant tossing away standing on guard to fraud. It sickens me how much we’ve cheapened the vote for the sake of high turnout.