By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 82 Comments
Glen Pearson deals with defeat.
It was expected by most that I would win and the media sent its staff to my campaign office to cover the victory party that wasn’t. It became clear as the evening progressed that the vote split between myself and the NDP was proving fatal. Yet I’d had something of a premonition of the outcome during the last few days of the contest. At doors I canvassed I kept hearing certain stories about how I spent too much time in Africa, or that my voting presence in the House wasn’t too impressive. When I informed them that I only spent one week a year on that continent (Sudan), and that I take it on my holiday time over New Years and on my own dime, I could sense the hesitation in their voice. “Oh … that’s not what we heard when the Conservatives phoned us last night.”
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 6:07 PM - 70 Comments
Aslam took three friends into the meeting with her, including another woman who was kicked out of the April 3 rally. ”I feel like now I’m more angry. We didn’t even get an ‘I’m personally sorry for you’,” Aslam said.
Aslam says she has already voted in an advance poll, but wouldn’t say how she’d voted. Pressed by a reporter, she said her complaint Sunday was about Harper as a person rather than as a leader. ”I’m not saying [that] I’m not thrilled with his policies and his ideas, but personally, him as a person, honestly, if I kicked you out of my house for no reason, I would apologize,” she said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 5:44 PM - 122 Comments
Stephen Harper’s press secretary is offering to set up a meeting between Mr. Harper and the young woman ejected from a Conservative event this week. The NDP meanwhile has sent out the following picture and note.
Stephen Harper didn’t want Awish Aslam at his London rally this week. Awish Aslam, a second-year political science student at the University of Western Ontario, told reporters she and a friend were trying to attend a Sunday rally with Harper when they were asked to leave by an RCMP officer.
Jack Layton had no such problem at his rally in London. That’s Canadian Leadership.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 8:44 AM - 148 Comments
The London Free Press recounts the stories of two individuals who say they were ejected from a Conservative rally after they were accused of being sympathetic to other parties.
Aslam and a friend registered online to attend Harper’s Sunday rally — part of the restrictions the Conservatives place on such events. Aslam said her friend’s dad is a card-carrying Tory who showed them how to sign up online.
About 30 minutes after arriving and signing in, with thundersticks in hand, the two girls were asked by a man to follow him out of the rally, Aslam said. Though confused, they complied. In a back room, Aslam said he ripped off their name tags, tore them up and ordered them out. “We were confused. He said, ‘We know you guys have ties to the Liberal party through Facebook,’ ” Aslam said. “He said . . . ‘You are no longer welcome here.’ ”
Aslam and her friend both attended last week’s Liberal rally in London, where they managed to snag a picture with Ignatieff that both posted as their Facebook profile pictures.
By Leah Mclaren - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
London seems to be on track to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Even the newts have been taken care of.
On a dark, drizzly evening last week, several hundred Londoners gathered near Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square to watch a ceremony to unveil a broken clock. “It is tremendously exciting since this reminds us of how much we’ve still got to do before the Olympics,” London’s famously shambolic Mayor Boris Johnson announced as the cameras rolled. “We’re on schedule, with an iron grip on the budget so far—but really it’s all about sport and beating France!”
To be fair, the Omega London 2012 digital countdown clock was not broken at that moment, but stopped unexpectedly less than 24 hours later—499 days early for the city’s planned Olympic opening ceremonies on July 27, 2012. And despite this minor glitch, London seems to be in good shape well in advance of its big moment on the world stage.
The same day the clock flopped, the first advance tickets went on sale. Roughly 75 per cent—some 6.6 million—of tickets to the Games will be up for grabs to the public, through an application process which closes in six weeks’ time. Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, told the BBC sales had so far been “steady—with no reports of anything untoward.” In honour of the 500-day milestone, foreign press were also allowed a rare glimpse into the Olympic Park located in the city’s formerly industrial and increasingly rejuvenated East End. During a bus tour guided by Sarah Weir, head of arts and culture for the Olympic Park, reporters were assured that preparations were on schedule, with construction 75 per cent complete.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:32 AM - 1 Comment
Where do oil-rich princes and potentates go when they’re shopping for a safe European bolthole?
Moammar Gadhafi may prefer living in tents when he visits the West, but his son Saif likes British red brick. In 2009, he plunked down $18 million for an eight-bedroom mansion in London’s tony Hampstead suburb. Gadhafi, like so many of his region’s oil-rich princes and potentates, knows the value of a safe bolthole in Europe’s banking and retail centre—regime change so often comes without warning. (During the first Gulf War, the Saudi royal family bought 10 homes on “billionaire’s row,” Bishops Avenue. Just in case.)
Indeed, sizable chunks of the most exclusive areas of the British capital have been snapped up by the mega rich of the Middle East, either as investments or for their personal use. The emir of Qatar shelled out more than $55 million for a 200-year-old fixer-upper at 100 Park Lane. His PM, and cousin, signed up for a $65-million-plus apartment at a prime new development, One Hyde Park, which he is backing financially. The head of finance in nearby Sharjah, part of the United Arab Emirates, also bought a flat there. In 2009, a Saudi royal got planning permission to knock three houses in Belgravia into one $80-million “super home,” complete with a two-storey below-grade complex. Gamal Mubarak, son of Egypt’s recently ousted ruler, also owns a piece of Belgravia, namely a luxurious pied-à-terre at 28 Wilton Place.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 17, 2011 at 4:32 PM - 144 Comments
Not to be entirely outdone this day, the Liberals have released the following video of Michael Ignatieff skating about in a hockey jersey, high-fiving children: all no doubt intended to contrast with a Prime Minister who is “not a great skater.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
The inquest into the horrors of 7/7 is expected to last for up to five months
Five years have passed since London’s transport system was hit by four suicide bombers during morning rush hour. Now, the official inquest into the 7/7 attacks is underway. In the Royal Courts of Justice in London, witnesses have been sharing tales of horror and heroism from July 7, 2005, when 52 people died, and approximately 700 were injured.
Gerardine Quaghebeur, a doctor, stayed to try to comfort the dying following an explosion on the London Underground’s Circle Line. Martine Wright, a former marketing manager, told how she’d been sitting six feet away from Shehzad Tanweer when he set off his suicide bomb. She lost 10 pints of blood and both of her legs; Elizabeth Kenworthy, an off-duty police officer, ran back to the blackened scene and used a belt to keep more blood from spilling out of Wright’s body. One tube operator, Timothy Batkin, recounted hearing the screams: “It was a chilling, haunting cry for help, something that still makes my blood run cold.” The inquest is expected to last for up to five months.
By Leah McLaren - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Saudi royalty meets the British justice system in a bloody case of murder at a five-star London hotel
Last week at the Old Bailey courthouse, a prince was jailed for life.
Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, 34-year-old grandson to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a member of one of the richest and most powerful families in the world, was convicted of murdering his manservant in what Crown prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw described as “a really terrible, a really brutal attack.” It took place last February, when Bandar Abdulaziz, 32, was found beaten and strangled to death in a room at the ﬁve-star Landmark hotel in the upscale central London district of Marylebone. At the time, Saud co-operated fully with police, appearing “shocked and upset” at the death of his companion who, testimony revealed, often slept on the floor at the foot of his bed like a faithful dog. But during the October trial, a different story emerged.
The prince was revealed as a decadent playboy involved in a sadistic sexual relationship with Abdulaziz, a poor orphan—one so psychologically oppressed he did not even put up a fight to save his own life. While a post-mortem revealed Abdulaziz died with chipped teeth, split lips, a fractured rib and severe injuries to his head and internal organs, the prince had not a mark on him. The victim also had strange bite marks on both cheeks, which the prosecution argued were proof (in addition to sexually explicit photos of Abdulaziz on the prince’s phone) that the abuse had “an obvious sexual connotation.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM - 0 Comments
Joe Fontana coined a new phrase in his Mayoral race tonight and for those tired of London’s ever climbing tax rates, Fontana`s “Taxication” sounded like music to their ears. When elected Mayor, Mr. Fontana declared he would put before the new Council, his plan to take London on a four year tax vacation.
“It will be Taxication in London”, he said, speaking to a crowd of about 250 supporters. “London must get its spending in check and it must give some relief to overburdened taxpayers. Assessment growth in London averages only 1.5% each year, and we need to do better. City revenues will have to go up by growing our economy, to cover increasing costs, but individual tax rates will be held down, to give London homeowner’s amuch needed respite and to bring commercial and industrial taxes into a more competitive place with other municipalities in the 401/402 corridor.”
By Leah McLaren - Monday, October 25, 2010 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
Some London politicians have the answer for dealing with a snowfall: give everyone a free shovel
That’s the message one local government is giving London residents worried about what is predicted to be an unusually snowy winter for the British capital.
Camden Council, which accounts for a large swath of north and central London including Covent Garden, Bloomsbury and Primrose Hill, has unveiled a plan to encourage residents to shovel their sidewalks by providing them with the tools to do so. More than 2,000 wooden-handled, plastic snow shovels have been purchased by the local authority to be handed out for free to residents, shopkeepers or community groups.
It’s a nice gesture, by Canadian standards anyway. And a helpful one for a nation that is better accustomed to umbrellas and wellingtons than to windshield scrapers and Sorels.
But here in Britain (where even the short-range weather forecast is notoriously unreliable), the program has sparked anger among some local residents. They think it’s the government’s job to deal with snow—a rare occurrence in the south of England, and one that invariably sets off a wave of public panic before temporarily grinding the country to a halt. (Last winter’s unusually cold and snowy winter resulted in the closure of schools, businesses and public transit and reportedly cost the country as a whole more than $100 million in road repairs.)
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 3, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
More from the Prime Minister’s swing through southwestern Ontario.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you they are not a coalition — they work together on everything,” he said.
Harper accused the three other parties of “obstruction for the sake of obstruction.” They should never be given the chance to govern Canada, he said. ”We have to defeat the coalition and ensure that we have a Conservative majority that can keep this country moving forward.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 13, 2010 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
In the latest print edition of Maclean’s there are something like 1,300 words, under this byline, about Michael Ignatieff’s summer. Here, for your amusement, curiosity or comparison, is the indulgently long version, including a never-before-seen alternate ending.
It could be read as the latest in a series that includes previous sketches in September 2008, February 2009, June 2009 and October 2009. It could also be read as a reference to my favourite rap song of 2008.
Anyway. Make of it what you will. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 11:27 AM - 0 Comments
Last night, he drew a crowd of perhaps 400 to the market square in downtown London. After an eight-hour bus ride from Ottawa he was not quite electric on the stage, but he waded in before and afterwards and shook hands and posed for pictures and marvelled at a bobblehead likeness of himself that someone had brought for him to autograph. Inside the market he talked garlic imports with two gentlemen from the agriculture federation. Before boarding the bus he stopped to talk with a group of pensioners who wore matching t-shirts calling for changes to the Bankruptcy Insolvency Act. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 12:19 PM - 0 Comments
Greetings from downtown London, Ontario. The Liberal Express and my vacation have arrived in roughly the same part of the country and since you can never fill a magazine piece with enough local colour, I am once more on the road.
Actually, to be perfectly honest, I’m here primarily because tomorrow’s tour stop at the Comber Fair happens to coincide with the opening heats of the Comber Fair demolition derby. I somehow managed, despite more than a decade spent living in Essex County, to not once make it out to Comber to attend the demolition derby. And so now being paid to possibly attend the Comber Fair demolition derby didn’t seem like the sort of opportunity I should frivolously pass up.
Mr. Ignatieff is due at the market here in London around 4:45pm. Tomorrow morning there is a breakfast event in London, then the fair and then a rally with Paul Martin in Windsor.
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 10:50 AM - 3 Comments
China wants a high-speed train connection to the West
It sounds like the stuff of an Agatha Christie novel, or Edwardian travelogues that unfold over weeks rather than days. But if high-level negotiations between China and 17 countries throughout Asia and Europe bear fruit, passengers could one day traverse the 8,100 km between London and Beijing in just 48 hours, travelling at a blinding 400 km/h.
The idea is part of a proposed high-speed rail expansion that would connect China with the West and see all roads leading to the Middle Kingdom. One would link Singapore to Beijing; another would run through Russia to Germany. Still another would link China to Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. Another prospective partner is India, which appears willing to overlook tensions with Beijing to tap expertise China has gained during construction of its domestic high-speed network. While the projects could take a decade to complete, all parties appear to be in a hurry. “We’ve already carried out the survey work for the European network,” says Wang Menshu, a senior consultant on China’s railways. “The central and eastern European countries are eager for us to start.” China is even offering to build lines in exchange for natural resources rather than capital investment, says Wang.
The network’s completion would help cement China’s position as the world’s economic centre of gravity—a prospect that doesn’t thrill skeptics worried by the country’s growing might. But others are encouraged by Beijing’s leadership on the railway initiative. “If they’re putting their own resources into it, and if they’re acting collaboratively—taking these other governments into their confidence—these are good signs,” says Amitav Acharya, a professor at the American University in Washington. “China has to be at centre stage in Asia, and something like this is a big symbolic step for them.”
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Canada’s women speed skaters demand perfection. Even winning medals wasn’t quite enough.
The chant was sandwiched between a rousing, singalong of O Canada with the house oom-pah-pah band, and an even lustier rendition of Queen’s We Are the Champions (extra emphasis on “No time for losers”). It lasted maybe 30 seconds, starting out in the grandstands by the backstretch, then spreading quickly around the smooth curves of the Richmond Oval. Christine Nesbitt had just delivered Canada’s third gold medal of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, topping the podium by 0.02 seconds in the women’s 1,000-m speed skating race, and the delirious home crowd was already looking ahead. “We want more! We want more!” they screamed.
Nesbitt didn’t need to be told. Fulfilling the prophecies and clinching the event she was touted to win—the 24-year-old from London, Ont., hadn’t lost a 1,000-m all season long—wasn’t much of a relief, or a release. There were some Kodak moments, as her mother Judith, an elementary school teacher, came to the trackside for a quick hug and to show off the “Go for gold Christine” banner her students at Lord Roberts French Immersion had drawn up on a white bedsheet. Nesbitt also entered into a lingering lip-lock with her boyfriend, Dutch long-tracker Simon Kuipers. But that was about it for passion.
At the flower ceremony—the medals would come later that night at BC Place—silver winner Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands leapt onto the podium and thrust both arms in the air. The best Nesbitt could muster was a tight smile and a wave. If you had just arrived at the rink, you might have thought they were standing on the wrong spots.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 1:55 PM - 208 Comments
With 51 precincts reporting specific estimates—restricting the count to media-reported figures and, where available, police counts—it’s possible to account for approximately 21,000 anti-prorogation protestors at yesterday’s rallies. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 27, 2009 at 8:28 PM - 8 Comments
Chris Selley sees hope—or at least something completely different—in David Cameron’s Britain.
“Reticent” isn’t a word that comes to mind. What comes to my mind instead is that if either Michael Ignatieff or Stephen Harper had given that interview, Canadian politics-watchers would still be picking themselves up off the floor, and the appropriate war room would be tearing into the other guy like a pack of half-starved wolverines…
Anyone who reads a newspaper knows lean times are coming to Canada too, one way or the other—tax hikes, spending cuts, or some combination of the two. The difference between Ottawa and London is that in London, they’re actually talking about it. Indeed, to hear Cameron talk, he actually thinks he’s telling the British people what they want to hear.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 9:21 AM - 50 Comments
Elizabeth Renzetti sketches Michael Ignatieff’s return to England this week.
Not many of Mr. Ignatieff’s former London associates would have pictured him on a podium, engaged in partisan debate. “I don’t think anyone foresaw him strutting across the stage of international politics,” said Mr. Loader, who was one of the creators, 20 years ago, of the BBC’s live culture program The Late Show . He hired Mr. Ignatieff as one of the four hosts, and the former academic quickly “became the good-looking intellectual one. He was quite well-known, he had a reputation as something of a cultural polymath.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 4:05 PM - 23 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 11:16 AM - 21 Comments
Michael Ignatieff visits the University of Western Ontario.
Tax increases to improve employment insurance or to slash the deficit are not on federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s agenda during the recession, he insisted yesterday in London.
Dealing with both issues will be costly, but the time to do it is when the economy begins to recover, he said. ”No one in their right mind wants to shut off the recovery by raising taxes in any form,” he said.
Ignatieff said the $80-billion deficit run up by the Conservative government troubles him. ”No responsible politician looking at that number can excuse forever and a day raising additional revenue . . . No Canadian is going to believe you.
“Once recovery is underway and we are still stuck in a structural deficit, then we would need expenditure review, cutting back government expenditure.”
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 10:41 AM - 19 Comments
1:55:28 PM…: The lunch break is over and the briefing session has, presumably,
1:55:28 PM: The lunch break is over and the briefing session has, presumably, resumed, but those acquainted with ITQ and her allergy to sitting inside when there are events to be liveblogged has joined a small G20Voice breakaway sect, and is now playing hookey in The City, which is where The Protests are supposed to happen (or Happen). We’re a miscreant band of rebels from the G20Voice briefing, some of whom are dutifully photoblogging the annoyingly controlled chaos that is not so much breaking loose as politely introducing itself through the winding streets of the financial sector. It’s definitely a bigger and more diverse crowd than you’d find on the Hill at any given rally, but not exactly the blood in the streets that was billed. Has anyone coined the phrase “protest porn”? Because I think the leadup to this definitely applies. Anyway, we’ve now wandered off in search of a wily band of climate change protesters, which is also giving ITQ a rather unique introduction to London. Forget Big Ben – what does that sign say, and why is it upside down?
And yes, if I see a pro-G20 “Capitalism! Give it one more chance!” demonstration, I’ll totally stop by.
2:19:30 PM: As one of my fellow protest tourists just pointed out, using the megaphone to shout the phrase, “We have workshops!” is not the most effective street outreach strategy. Also, there was almost a confrontation between an angry man in a wheelchair and the climate change activists who have blocked off the street, but then he changed his mind, called off the blocade running and is currently smoking a cigarette.
2:24:16 PM: Off to try to catch a “horse charge”, which is exactly what it sounds like, and which will apparently be happening back at Bankers Are Evil headquarters. Every now and then we pass a cluster of suit-clad bankerish looking people huddled in alleys outside Hy’sian restaurants, who are clearly the target of the sprinkled pockets of carefully choreographed rage. They look just like Hill staffers watching a noontime protest — not angry, just wondering whether it’s worth going back to work. After living through the chaos of O-Day, I can empathize. Being inside the security cordon is so much less exciting than you’d think. Continue…
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 10:38 AM - 13 Comments
12:05:46 PM:… Oh my. I’m — not sure what I’ve gotten myself into. Or
12:05:46 PM: Oh my. I’m — not sure what I’ve gotten myself into. Or rather, what we’ve all collectively gotten me into. I do hate ending sentences with a preposition, but I haven’t slept since yesterday morning, so cut me some slack. Anyway, after an adventurous wander through the ultrahigh security zone that is Westminster, I’ve made it to the briefing, just in time for the tail end of a presentation by Save The Children, which is quite insistent that we – the G20Voice bloggers – make sure that the leaders meeting tomorrow are reminded that the economic crisis isn’t the only one. I think that pretty much sums it up; as I’ve already noted, I was a bit late. Aside: Even for an O-Day survivor, it’s quite surreal outside this oasis of earnest, well-meaning calm that is the Methodist Central Hall. Everywhere you look, there are police – bobbies, I guess, but it feels so pretentious to call them that – strolling in pairs, huddled in clumps, standing at tube stations, alone but steadfast and waving at the people in the trains going by. Oh, and being accosted by rapidly-approaching-frazzled Canadian journalists asking timidly for directions, of course. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t able to help because, as the first one so besieged explained, they’ve been brought in from all over the country, so in most cases, aren’t any more well versed in Londonian urban geography than I am. Okay, so this event – the prebriefing – has, while I was typing the above missive, now transformed from presentation to roundtable. Well, it’s in the process of transforming; it’s a very consensus-keen group, so the question of whether to break off into table-sized chats or hold a room-wide plenary is being debated, in the politest possible sense of the word. Right now, however, someone whose name I didn’t so much miss as was never given at all – at least, not while I’ve been here – is waxing angrily eloquent about Germany, and its resistence to adopt the proposed financial regulatory system proposed by the other European countries. It’s an “overarching denial”, apparently. Anyway, the moderator throws it to the floor, and the guy sitting next to me eagerly seizes the microphone to agree with him: if there is insufficient stimulus for developing countries, the future is bleak for dealing with IMF loans and — saving the children. Oh, and apparently this session is being livestreamed – so if anyone out there is watching, you may get to see me — or at least the top of my head, bent as it is over this BlackBerry. I don’t think anyone in this room disagrees with the main point — that tomorrow’s meeting has to deal with the issues facing the developing world. “It’s going to be a mess,” another speaker predicts. Not sure if he means the conference or, you know, civilization as we know it. “We need signposts at this summit.” Continue…