By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
Alice Funke offers a guide to riding boundary process and some interesting background on the current fuss around Saskatchewan.
Far from the earshot or awareness of Ottawa, the last highlighted sentence set off a prairie firestorm, because of what it meant. To local Conservative Party activists in Saskatchewan it meant that party headquarters had dropped the ball on the pre-submission phase, and that from that point forward they would be fighting a rear-guard action. Fingers were pointed during a behind-closed-doors meeting for over an hour, with Ottawa bearing the brunt of the blame and resentment. Party Operations Director Jenni Byrne is said to have demanded in return that she wanted to see 8,000 submissions in the public hearing phase against the ending of the rurban seat boundaries.
… The Prime Minister asserted yesterday that 75% of interventions in the public hearing phase had opposed the rurban boundaries, but CBC Saskatchewan reporter Stefani Langenegger questioned on Twitter after her interview with Justice Mills whether those numbers were a bit of a stretch. They certainly didn’t include any of the pre-submissions from the first round of public input. The Prime Minister and party robo-calls also claimed that the old rurban boundaries represented the history and traditions of Saskatchewan representation. This is a little ironic, as when the 1966 redistribution (the first conducted under the newly independent EBRA) recommended two rurban seats each in Regina and Saskatoon, then-Conservative leader John Diefenbaker complained that they did not follow the “historical” precedent until 1966 of all-urban Regina and Saskatoon seats, proving that where you stand depends so often on where you sit.
By Rosemary Westwood - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:40 AM - 0 Comments
John Diefenbaker’s house needs some fixing, but paying for repairs isn’t cheap
John Diefenbaker’s house has a crack in its foundation. The sunroom paint is peeling away, while the house itself lists northward. For the Prince Albert Historical Society, which maintains the home where Canada’s 13th prime minister lived from 1947 to 1975, that means a grant-writing marathon in the hopes the Saskatchewan or federal governments will cough up some of the estimated $400,000 needed to keep a piece of Canadian history in good repair. The society shouldn’t hold its breath, though. “It’s a very negative period” for heritage funding in Canada, says Christina Cameron, the former head of national historic sites at Parks Canada and now a professor at the Université de Montréal’s school of architecture. The high value that Canadian politicians profess to put on our history, she says, “doesn’t seem to translate into money.”
Dief’s old digs are far from the only historic site in need of TLC. Last summer reports revealed the dilapidated state of graves belonging to several former prime ministers, including deteriorating marble on Sir John A. Macdonald’s family plot and rust on Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s grave. Parks Canada, tasked with maintaining prime ministerial resting places and 167 other historic sites, saw its budget slashed by $29 million. For now, the city of Prince Albert, which owns the Diefenbaker home, is chipping in for the repairs. So too is a non-profit architecture society. The non-profit model has worked well in the U.S., where despite the American obsession with all things George Washington, donations and ticket sales—not tax dollars—provide upkeep for his estate and grave. A solution perhaps, to straighten up the Chief’s old house.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:12 AM - 0 Comments
He may be the leader of the third party, but everything goes quiet when he rises to speak
Shortly after Bob Rae was first elected in 1978, John Diefenbaker, the former prime minister who remained a MP until his death in 1979 at the age of 83, imparted two pieces of advice: “Don’t take any s–t from anybody,” and “Go for the throat every time.”
These might be words to live by, but Rae looked elsewhere for inspiration—to Allan MacEachen, the legendary Liberal, and Tommy Douglas, the patron saint of the NDP. MacEachen was a commanding presence who taught Rae you couldn’t be yelling all the time, that you had to have “more than one gear.” Douglas was disciplined and practical. He cracked jokes and didn’t hold grudges. And it was Douglas who told him to eschew notes when speaking in the House. “Because as soon as you start to do it, he says, you lose all the spontaneity and all the effect,” Rae recalls.
Here are the makings of a master of the House.
By Charlie Gillis - Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Finally, George Dryden has real evidence that he’s related to former PM
A lot of people laughed. Internet trolls, talk-show callers, the self-appointed guardians of a dead prime minister’s reputation—they’ve all had their cracks over the past year at George Dryden and his claim that he’s the unacknowledged son of John Diefenbaker. Les MacPherson, a former newspaper editor from the Chief’s old riding of Prince Albert, Sask., admitted in an op-ed piece that Dryden looks like Canada’s 13th prime minister. “But so does my brother’s bloodhound, Beau,” he wrote. “It’s possible that the Dryden family’s milkman in 1968 looked like Diefenbaker, too, but that doesn’t mean they were related.”
The barbs could sting, the 43-year-old Dryden admits. “More than anything, it made me angry,” he says. But they failed to divert him from his mission, and this week the yuks are all his. On Aug. 28, Dryden emerged relieved and triumphant from the offices of a Toronto firm that had compared his genetic profile and that of an unidentified member of Diefenbaker’s extended family. The finding? Clear indications of common ancestry, typical of far-ﬂung branches of the same family. “There is a familial linkage,” Harvey Tenenbaum, director of operations for Accu-Metrics, the nationally accredited company that performed the analysis, told Maclean’s. “I can’t say what it is, but it’s more than just strangers passing in the street.”
Tenenbaum cautions against leaping to conclusions. “They could be fifth cousins,” he said. “It’s impossible to pin down.” But to Dryden the results represent an enormous step forward. Stymied, stalled and plain unlucky in his attempts to obtain usable DNA samples of Diefenbaker himself, the Torontonian was running out of clues to justify his mission. Diefenbaker has no known direct descendents with whom to compare genes, and a previous test of cells gathered from personal articles that once belonged to the former PM, now stored at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon, was inconclusive. He did test negative last winter against a sample of male DNA gleaned from the handle of a clothes brush. But the brush appeared to have been used by more than one person. No one could be sure whether the DNA tested was Diefenbaker’s.
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
DNA test shows George Dryden belongs to the PM’s family
Maclean’s has been following George Dryden’s search for a familial connection to John Diefenbaker for over a year. For more on how Dryden obtained DNA that links him to the late prime minister’s extended family, his mother’s relationship with Diefenbaker, and the political intrigue behind the saga, read the current issue of Maclean’s magazine, on newsstands tomorrow.
A Toronto man who believes he is the son of John Diefenbaker now has a persuasive piece of evidence to back his claim, Macleans.ca has learned: DNA analysis indicating that he is related to the late prime minister’s family.
Last Tuesday, George Dryden received results from a DNA lab that compared his genetic profile to that of an unidentified male member of Diefenbaker’s extended family who lives in southern Ontario. The relative’s sample came from a discarded Q-tip, which was obtained without consent by a private investigator experienced in paternity cases. It was then sent to directly to a Toronto firm where DNA analysts identified “genetic overlap” pointing to common ancestry.
“There is a familial linkage,” Harvey Tenenbaum, president of Accu-Metrics, told Maclean’s for a story appearing in this week’s issue of the magazine. “I can’t say what it is, but it’s more than just strangers passing in the street.”
Tenenbaum cautioned that the results don’t definitively prove that 43-year-old Dryden was fathered by Diefenbaker, who was married twice and had no children by either of his wives. Dryden “could be fifth cousins” with the man from whom the sample was obtained, Tenenbaum said, adding: “You’d really need a sample from John Diefenbaker, or a member of his immediate family, to do an accurate comparison.”
By The Canadian Press - Friday, August 31, 2012 at 8:42 PM - 0 Comments
SASKATOON – A man who believes John Diefenbaker may have been his father is…
SASKATOON – A man who believes John Diefenbaker may have been his father is getting another chance to prove his theory.
The Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon has discovered a lock of hair labelled as belonging to Canada’s 13th prime minister.
George Dryden of Toronto has been trying for more than a year to establish whether he is Diefenbaker’s illegitimate son.
He earlier had DNA tests done on some artifacts at the centre — such as a hatband and hairbrush —but the results were inconclusive.
“This looks to be a much more promising avenue for Mr. Dryden,” centre director Michael Atkinson said Friday after the discovery was announced.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 2:14 PM - 0 Comments
Whatever the impact of the attack ads run against him, one historical note on the challenge facing Thomas Mulcair. He will be attempting in 2015 to do something that most leaders of the opposition fail to do: lead their parties to a general election victory on their first try.
By my count, between 1921 and 2011, 15 opposition leaders* who had not previously been prime minister led their parties into elections. Ten of those leaders failed to lead their parties to government on that first try: Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion, Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, Preston Manning, Robert Stanfield, Lester B. Pearson, George Drew, John Bracken and Robert Manion. Only two of those ten went on to become prime minister after losing the first time: Messrs Harper and Pearson.
On the other hand, the five who won were Jean Chretien (1993), Brian Mulroney (1984), Joe Clark (1979), John Diefenbaker (1957) and Mackenzie King (1921) and all of those five defeated governments that had been in power for at least two terms.
When Mr. Chretien become prime minister, the Progressive Conservatives had been in power for nine years. When Mr. Mulroney became prime minister, the Liberals had been in power for 20 of the previous 21 years and won six of the previous seven elections. When Mr. Clark became prime minister, the Liberals had been in power for 16 years covering five elections. When Mr. Diefenbaker became prime minister, the Liberals had been in power for 22 years covering five elections. When Mr. King became prime minister, the Conservatives (on their own and then as a coalition) had been in power for 10 years covering two elections.
When Mr. Mulcair faces the Conservatives in 2015, the Conservatives will be at the end of their third mandate and been in power for nine years.
*Preston Manning was not technically the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in 1997. Officially that title belonged to Gilles Duceppe, but the Bloc Quebecois had no chance of forming government and at dissolution the Bloc and Reform Party had the same number of seats.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservative MP for Calgary Centre rose after QP today to announce his resignation. Mr. Richardson was first elected as a Progressive Conservative in 1988—here is his maiden speech—but he first worked on the Hill as an executive assistant to John Diefenbaker and later served in the Prime Minister’s Office of Brian Mulroney.
Last spring, he sought the Speaker’s chair, finishing third in balloting. He will be returning to Alberta to serve as principal secretary to Premier Alison Redford.
Below, the text of Mr. Richardson’s remarks in the House. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 11:17 AM - 0 Comments
A statement from Heritage Minister James Moore and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on the Charter.
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act of 1982, which was formally signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on April 17, 1982, in the presence of tens of thousands of Canadians on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
This anniversary marks an important step in the development of Canada’s human rights policy. Building on Diefenbaker’s Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960, the Constitution Act of 1982 enshrined certain rights and freedoms that had historically been at the heart of Canadian society into a constitutional document known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Constitution Act of 1982 empowered our government to amend every part of Canada’s constitution, for the very first time.
As we look ahead to Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017, we encourage all Canadians to commemorate the milestones that have built our nation and made us the great country we are today.
By John Geddes - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
There’s some loose talk going around about Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney being perhaps the best ever in that job. Kenney’s fans especially like his recent move to speed up the processing of refugee claimants, the better to send the rejected ones packing fast.
Beyond any debate over the merits of Kenney’s policies, it seems a bit strange for today’s Conservatives, who have made something of a idol out of former Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker, to be forgetful of the towering achievement of Dief’s immigration minister, the late Ellen Fairclough.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:58 AM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of the Prime Minister’s remarks at today’s summit.
Au-gee-na-pee. Bienvenue, Mesdames et messieurs. Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is indeed a pleasure to welcome you … on the traditional territory of the Algonquin … to this historic Crown-First Nations Gathering. And it is especially appropriate to do so in this building. Un édifice dont le nom honore la mémoire du Premier ministre John George Diefenbaker, l’instigateur des relations de l’ère moderne entre la Couronne et les Premières Nations. A building whose name honours the memory of a prime minister who cared deeply about the things we are gathered here to talk about: respect, rights and opportunity for First Nations Canadians.
John George Diefenbaker was, in many ways, the initiator of the modern era of Crown – First Nations relations. It was he who named the first First Nations member to the Parliament of Canada, Senator James Gladstone in 1958. And, of course, it was he who, two years later, extended to aboriginal Canadians living on reserves the right to vote in national elections. In addressing that long-standing and fundamental injustice, he was a man ahead of his time and in many ways, an apt inspiration for today’s proceedings.
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, January 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM - 0 Comments
Test results a disappointment for Toronto man
A Toronto man’s quest to determine whether he is the son of John Diefenbaker has hit a roadblock, as DNA tests failed to prove he is the offspring of Canada’s 13th prime minister.
The findings are a setback for George Dryden, who has been led to believe by family members that Diefenbaker is his biological father. But he said he’s not giving up.
“It’s more a frustration than anything,” Dryden said in an interview. “This DNA company we used is famous for getting DNA from dinosaur fossils and from lost tribes. But we’re going to take steps to follow other leads.”
Dryden, 43, had pinned his hopes to tests on samples from the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, a museum and educational centre in Saskatoon, Sask. which has a number of the late PM’s personal articles.
Testers from Warnex PRO-DNA took 10 samples from a variety of items at the centre, including hatbands, a wristwatch band and the stem of a pipe. In the end, though, only the handle of a clothes brush yielded high enough quality DNA for analysis.
Dryden tested negative against a sample of male DNA found there. But then things got complicated. The handle showed DNA from more than one person, so lab staff cannot be sure the sample in question came from Diefenbaker. In other words, they can’t say Dryden is not the former PM’s son.
All of which leaves George Dryden in limbo.
He had established in August through DNA testing that he is not the child of Gordon Dryden, the man George grew up believing was his father, who also happened to be the long-time treasurer of the Liberal Party of Canada.
And Diefenbaker was his only solid lead. Before marrying Gordon, Dryden’s mother Mary Lou was active in the Progressive Conservative Party and was seen at public functions at Diefenbaker’s side. Members of her family told George last year they’ve long suspected Diefenbaker is his father.
The result could also affect a civil suit George has launched against members of his own family, alleging that Gordon mistreated him and connived to keep family wealth out of his hands because he knew George was not his son.
In late November, a Superior Court of Ontario judge ruled the case cannot go ahead, but George has appealed.
Dryden says he will pursue other means of determining his parentage in the meantime, including gaining access to his mother so he can ask her once and for all who his father is.
Mary Lou is frail, and has been living at a long-term care facility in Toronto. But Gordon Dryden has power of attorney over her care, and has ordered staff to keep George away from her.
Dryden also hopes to persuade living relatives of the late PM to consent to tests. He has even heard there are other people who suspect Diefenbaker may have fathered them, and will try to make contact with them, too.
As it stands, Diefenbaker has no confirmed offspring. He had no children by either of his two wives, and died in 1979.
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, December 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM - 0 Comments
A court ruling says parents can keep a child’s lineage secret—even if he claims he’s Diefenbaker’s son
A Toronto man who believes he is the son of John Diefenbaker cannot sue members of his own family for allegedly cutting him out of an inheritance, an Ontario judge has ruled.
George Dryden says he will appeal, noting that his basic allegation remains untested—namely, that the man he grew up believing was his father mistreated him, and connived to keep family wealth out of his hands because he knew George was not his son.
Dryden alleges that his non-biological father, Gordon, knew all along that George is the child of Canada’s 13th prime minister. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 11:51 AM - 71 Comments
Every once in a while, a mysterious Conservative emails a bunch of people to remind them that Stephen Harper is about to pass another prime minister in the longevity stakes. I got onto the recipient list when Harper passed Alexander Mackenzie in the autumn of 2010. Since then he’s passed Lester Pearson and R.B. Bennett and now he has John Diefenbaker in his sights.
Turning to the noted authority on Prime Ministerial longevity, Wikipedia, we learn that there will now be a bit of a pause until Harper begins catching up to the PMs who served two full majorities: Louis St. Laurent, Robert Borden and Brian Mulroney, at intervals through 2014 in a manner that should help goose the sales of the by-then-brand-new paperback edition of my next book. Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, November 7, 2011 at 6:13 PM - 0 Comments
Man claiming to be Diefenbaker’s son says he was unjustly cut out of inheritance
If you thought you’d heard the last of Mel Lastman, think again. The paternity case against Toronto’s diminutive former leader has arisen 10 years on in the case of a man who believes he is the son of the late prime minister, John Diefenbaker. It could prove pivotal to Geroge Dryden’s legal and financial fortunes.
Louie v. Lastman came up as lawyers squared off over whether Dryden should be able to sue members of his own family, whom he alleges cut him out of an inheritance because they knew he was an illegitimate child. “He stands in the same position as [plaintiffs] in the case of Mel Lastman,” Clare Burns, the lawyer representing George’s non-biological father, Gordon, told the Ontario Superior Court in Toronto. “This court was clear in that case that concealment of paternity is not a cause of action.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 16 Comments
The Public Safety Minister, responding to the NDP’s Joe Comartin during QP yesterday.
Mr. Speaker, I do respect my colleague opposite but I know that he comes from a long and distinguished career of defending criminals, as a defence criminal lawyer. Our perception is a little bit different.
After howls of complaint from the opposition side of the House, Mr. Toews allowed that Mr. Comartin had pursued an “honourable profession.”
By Alex Ballingall, Jonathon Gatehouse, Cathy Gulli, Nicholas Köhler, Chris Sorensen, and Patricia Treble - Friday, September 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
A murderess goes to school, Toronto city hall smells a rat and Michaele Salahi’s husband stops believin’
Siren car swan song
The last of America’s most popular police car, the Ford Crown Victoria, rolled off an assembly line in St. Thomas, Ont., last week. The Ford plant closure, first announced in 2009 at the nadir of North America’s manufacturing doldrums, puts 1,100 people out of work in the rust-belt town, best known as the place where Jumbo, the P.T. Barnum circus elephant, died after being hit by a train in 1885. Big and blocky, the Crown Vic had long been popular with police departments and cab companies for its durability and roominess. Still, it got just 10 km a litre and had sold poorly—yet another dead jumbo in St. Thomas.
It was just six weeks ago that Mike Tindall married Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter. But the honeymoon is definitely over for the muscular captain of England’s Rugby World Cup squad. While out celebrating a tournament-opening victory over Argentina this week, Tindall and his teammates got tipsy and scrummed several young ladies in the bar. Good clean fun, until the papers back home got hold of the photos of Tindall canoodling with a “mystery blond.” We are not amused.
Shortly before U.S. Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor for rushing into an Afghan “killing zone” to rescue 36 troops in 2009, the 23-year-old and his family met privately with President Barack Obama. They weren’t alone. João Silva, a New York Times photographer whose legs were blown off by a land mine last October in Afghanistan, was invited by Meyer and Obama to capture the meeting. Silva found the assignment—his first outside the confines of military hospitals where he is undergoing extensive rehabilitation—difficult on prosthetic legs. Though the photographs were deemed “strong” by his paper, Silva said, “I wasn’t getting the shots. I was missing the shots.”
Billionaire boys’ club
RIM’s fall from tech-industry grace has hit a symbolic milestone for Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, co-CEOs of the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, who have lost their status as billionaires. Both Balsillie and Lazaridis own ﬁve per cent of the company shares, a chunk that was worth an estimated US$1.9 billion in February. Now their shares are worth about US$640 million, according to Bloomberg estimates. This month, Jaguar Financial even advised RIM to sell itself off. With Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based phones chipping away at RIM’s former glory, maybe BlackBerrys just aren’t as sexy anymore.
Kristoffer Clausen became a folk hero in his native Norway when he spent a year living off the harsh land with just a rifle, fishing rod and a dog for companionship. A book recounting his adventures, which began in 2009, became a bestseller and spawned a TV series and even a sponsorship deal. However, a local newspaper recently revealed the story was just too good to be true. It turns out that he’d supplemented his spartan live-off-the-land lifestyle by shopping in malls, living in a Swedish cottage for a month and even renting a car. “I’m sorry for doing it,” he finally confessed. “I’ve been an idiot.”
Don’t stop believing
If the myth persists that housewives lead boring lives, look to Michaele Salahi for proof of the contrary. The star of the (cancelled) Real Housewives of D.C. was reported missing by her bankrupt wine merchant husband Tareq after she disappeared last week. Six hours later, the rakish blond turned up in Tennessee—where she was romancing Neal Schon, guitarist of the ’80s band Journey, who described their relationship as “intimate and passionate.” This attention-grabbing charade should come as no shock: Salahi and her husband crashed a White House dinner in 2009, claiming they were invited, and she once fibbed about working as a Washington Redskins cheerleader. Why lie when your real life is this unbelievable?
Alberta’s great race
Gary Mar had a good week. The prospective leader of Alberta’s indefatigable Progressive Conservative government handily won the first round of voting in the party’s leadership race, winning 41 per cent of the tally at a convention in Calgary. Just a few days later, Mar gained requisite right-wing “cred” when two fellow leadership candidates—Ted Morton and Rick Orman—emerged from his campaign bus to give him their endorsement. The upstart Wildrose party has threatened to dig into the PCs’ right flank with rhetoric that echoes that of the Tea Party. So it’s little wonder that Mar was all smiles as he and his two big-name supporters spoke of his fiscal conservatism and economic level-headedness. After all, if Mar wins, he’ll immediately become Alberta’s newest PC premier: perennial top dog in the province.
Rehab? No, no, no.
Canada’s youngest multiple killer, who went by the online handle Runaway Devil, has resurfaced as a freshman at a Calgary university. The girl, who can’t be named by law, was just 12 when she convinced her 23-year-old boyfriend, Jeremy Allan Steinke, to kill her mother, father and eight-year-old brother inside their Medicine Hat, Alta., home back in 2006. Her 10-year sentence, part of which was spent at an Edmonton psychiatric hospital, will be completed one year after she is scheduled to graduate in 2015. But the girl’s lawyer now says her rehabilitation plan has been derailed after the Calgary Herald revealed details about her studies. A sentencing review has been postponed.
Jacqueline Kennedy was just 34 and four months a widow when she submitted to a recorded interview with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a historian and one-time aide to her husband, president John F. Kennedy. The chat is part of an oral history of Camelot released last week that reveals a woman of sharp judgment. Indira Gandhi, later India’s PM, was “pushy” and “bitter.” French president Charles de Gaulle was an “egomaniac.” Martin Luther King Jr., meanwhile, was “a phony” who carried on extramarital affairs. She reserves her harshest criticism for former Canadian PM John Diefenbaker, whom she met during a visit with her husband in May 1961 and calls “painful.” During a lunch, the Dief “insisted on telling all these Churchill stories . . . calling him old Winston or ‘the old boy’ or something.” Boring.
It took two brothers, Bill and Eric MacDonald, whose lives both revolve around the same street in Stratford, P.E.I., a whole week to realize that each of them had adopted orphaned baby raccoons one day this past summer. Bill, 69, found his outside BJ’s International Truck Centre, the family business, and took him in, buying kitten milk and a small bottle. He and his wife, Joan, named him Rambo because, Bill says, “he destroys everything,” including eating two keys off Joan’s laptop. One day, Eric, 72, who lives across the street, visited Bill’s office and spotted Rambo. “He thought it was his ’coon,” Bill says. Eric had adopted Rambo’s brother the same day and called him Rascal. But Bill and Eric must soon release the animals. Rambo already weighs 10 lb. “After they get a year old they get to be ferocious,” says Bill.
Wives on the bus
When world leaders and dignitaries gather, there is plenty of pomp to the affair: red carpets are rolled out, ﬂags are raised, armoured cars convoy. Unless, perhaps, the politician is a woman. Last week, during a gathering of Pacific nation leaders, Julia Gillard, the prime minister of Australia, was kicked off the “leaders’ bus” and redirected to the bus for political wives. Gillard’s aide corrected them, and the PM took her hard-earned seat.
Toronto City Hall has long had problems with mice and squirrels—never, you might be surprised to learn, with rats. But last week, a big bruiser of a rodent found its way into budget chief Mike Del Grande’s office, and later bit a city worker sent to remove it. The interloper was just one episode in a whole panoply of goings-on at City Hall, where Mayor Rob Ford—he of “gravy train” fame—has been attempting to push through budget cuts. Quipped left-leaning Coun. Adam Vaughan of the animal: “It was looking for gravy, it didn’t find any so it ate a city worker.” The rat was put down. Even dead, he is likely more popular than the mayor, whose approval ratings have tanked.
Golf’s next great?
Teen golf prodigy Alexis Thompson became the youngest ever LPGA Tour winner last week, stunning the golfing world. The 16-year-old—who, at 12, became the youngest woman to qualify for the U.S. Open—called the win the “best feeling ever.”
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 8:40 PM - 3 Comments
A man claiming to be the Chief’s son will get access to the former PM’s DNA after all
A Toronto man who believes he is John Diefenbaker’s biological son will get a chance to prove his lineage after all.
The Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon, Sask., agreed today to grant access to personal artifacts in its collection to help George Dryden obtain a DNA sample and determine whether the late prime minister is his father.
“As previously indicated, we have sympathy for Mr. Dryden’s situation and are willing to help where possible,” wrote Michael Atkinson, the director of the centre, in a letter to Dryden’s lawyer Stephen Edell, and obtained by Macleans.ca. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:14 AM - 2 Comments
How tough is Justin Trudeau?
When Montreal Liberal MP Justin Trudeau… was in Toronto
How tough is Justin Trudeau?
When Montreal Liberal MP Justin Trudeau was in Toronto recently he attended a Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival event, which was held at CTV’s downtown studio parking lot. He was introduced by CTV anchor Andria Case, who noted that the MP’s late father, Pierre Trudeau, had been instrumental in opening the doors to immigrants from the Caribbean. Justin Trudeau also lent his support the same day to Rugby Canada, which was holding a fundraiser and awareness campaign for Prostate Cancer Canada. In the middle of Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square under a scorching sun, organizers had set up a ScrumMaster machine with several cushioned pads so people could simulate a scrum and measure the force they delivered when they ran into it. When Trudeau took a stab at it (in bare feet, after removing his sandals), organizers moved two of the cushions closer together. “Sure, emphasize my small frame,” joked the MP, who ultimately scored 1,095. Even one of the beefy rugby players only got a score of 1,105. Steve Jones, president and CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada, was on hand. He noted that Jack Layton was the person who really helped propel the issue of prostate cancer into the political spotlight. Prostate Cancer had MPs wear striped blue ties and scarves after Layton first announced he had the disease. (Layton recently took a leave of absence as leader of the NDP to battle a new cancer.) “Jack’s situation made it a real issue,” says Jones. Since then, Jones says, his organization has been able to take the blue tie and scarf awareness campaign across the country; several provincial legislatures have adopted it for a day. Layton also appeared in a print awareness campaign dubbed “It’s our time,” which encouraged people to get tested.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:08 PM - 8 Comments
JJ McCullough questions some of the gushing over our apparently monarchist Prime Minister.
Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 1999, Opposition Leader Harper said he enjoyed the experience, but nevertheless felt the need to preface his comments by warning that “I’m not a strong monarchist, I’m really not.” In his wonderfully cynical 1997 US speech on the Canadian system of government, all he could likewise muster about the role of the Crown was a dryly comic observation that “our executive is the Queen, who doesn’t live here.” At his first throne speech, Harper similarly ditched the longstanding practice of wearing a full Victorian “morning suit” with striped pants and vest, outraging some monarchists at the time for his sartorial casualness on a royal occasion.
As far as I can tell, dismissive gestures like these are every bit as relevant to Harper’s understanding of the monarchy as his other, more cloying noises of support. Like most members of the Canadian political class, Harper politely respects the monarchy to the extent he is supposed to. He has no desire to change the status quo, but is not unaware of its absurdities and ironies, either. This is a position of pragmatism and institutional conservatism, and the republican in me doesn’t care much for it. But robust monarchism it is certainly not.
That first quote from Mr. Harper is actually from a 2002 interview, in which the leader of the opposition pronounced his meeting with the Queen to be the highlight of his year. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 27, 2010 at 1:36 PM - 0 Comments
Neil Reynolds pines for the days when our politicians were (likening female colleagues to prostitutes?) wittier.
We don’t need a better kind of good behaviour in the Commons. We need a better kind of bad behaviour – in the Commons generally and in QP specifically. We especially need a better kind of invective. Canadian MPs have demonstrated occasional brilliance in putting down their honourable opponents. (One classic: Prime minister John Diefenbaker’s reference to MP Flora MacDonald, his colleague, as “the finest woman ever to walk the streets of Kingston” – an excellent example of an insult that offends a person and a place at the same time.)
Whatever your definition of wit, we need to retire the idea that the British Parliament is some great temple to lively and smart repartee which we should strive to emulate. For one, it shouldn’t matter—if we’re not happy with our lot that should be enough to seek change, regardless of how it compares to how it is elsewhere. For another, the Brits have more than enough of their own problems. Indeed, their current Speaker came to his post with an explicit call for reform amid much lamenting about the decline of the institution. There are plenty of reasons why there’s might seem a more interesting debate—not least being the tremendous amount of close coverage that is dedicated to PMQs—but for the most part, I suspect, we here in the colonies are simply fooled by the fact that a British accent makes everything sound wittier.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
According to Statistics Canada, the census last asked about toilet ownership in 1961. The question that year asked “whether there was an inside flush toilet and whether there was one or two or more.”
The Prime Minister at the time was noted nanny statist and famed Ottawa elitist John Diefenbaker.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
From the official government lines distributed over the weekend.
The Ignatieff Liberals promise to force all Canadians to answer personal and intrusive questions about their private lives under threat of jail, fine, or both.
Though the threat of imprisonment is included in the Statistics Act of 1970, no one has ever apparently been sent to prison for refusing to answer the census. The threat of a fine appears in both the Statistics Act and the Census Act of 1870. Until 1951, the census was conducted every 10 years, afterwards every five years.
The following prime ministers then—assuming the threat of a fine was not momentarily suspended between 1870 and 1970—would seem to have forced Canadians to answer personal and intrusive questions about their private lives under threat of jail or fine: John A. Macdonald (thrice), Wilfrid Laurier (twice), Arthur Meighen, RB Bennett, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent (twice), John Diefenbaker, Lester B. Pearson, Pierre Trudeau (thrice), Brian Mulroney (twice), Jean Chretien (twice) and Stephen Harper.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM - 88 Comments
Glen Pearson considers himself as a “doe-eyed” 59-year-old.
I have brought all these experiences with me into politics, so I have a bit of trouble viewing myself as naive. But if the author was saying that I wouldn’t play along with the political system that surrounds me in Ottawa, I suppose that’s true. Nevertheless, I don’t want to lose that more innocent view I have of Parliament just so I could be a seasoned performer. To the House of Commons I brought the view that Parliament mattered far more than any politician or bureaucrat. Undertaking the massive challenges that face Canadians at the moment calls out for the very best in us, including our ideals. I know very well how brutal the Diefenbaker-Pearson years were now that I’m older, but I still recall the respect they permitted a little boy to witness. Ottawa can rip that respectfulness out of you, however, if you just play along, and soon enough skepticism and rank partisanship can become your worldview – not a good thing for any public servant. Ideals aren’t about naivete, but about our resolve to put the public good above all else. To lose that is not about losing your ideals but more about losing yourself to those crass political practices that inevitably diminish us as observers in Ottawa. I pray every day that God will protect me from a fate as disillusioning as that.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:40 PM - 44 Comments
The prepared text of Michael Ignatieff’s speech to the Canadian Club this afternoon.
I’m here today to talk to you about Canada’s place in the world—how we’ve lost it and how we can get it back.
The world is changing, and Canada has to change with it. Our identity as a people will be defined by the place we find in the world that is taking shape on the other side of this global recession.
Canada was born inside two Empires, the French, the British, and we have matured beside the most powerful nation in history, the United States.
What happens to our identity, our place in the world, when the centre of gravity shifts to Asia? When India and China become the powerhouses of the global economy?
We should have nothing to fear from the rise of these new powers. A new world creates new opportunities for Canada. Opportunities to trade, to learn, and to create the global architecture of security for this emerging new world. But only if we have leadership that seizes these opportunities.
Ce que nous faisons à l’étranger contribue à nous définir. C’est le reflet de notre personnalité. C’est le reflet de ce que nous pouvons apporter au monde pour qu’il soit meilleur. C’est le prolongement de ce que nous sommes comme peuple.
By and large, Canadian politicians scarcely utter a word about Canada in the world on the hustings. It doesn’t seem important. It is.