During your press conference on March 27th you made several false, misleading and defamatory allegations about me. You alleged that I personally “oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of documents” and that criminal conduct took place in my office. The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party repeated these false allegations on its website and in a public mailing.
These allegations and accusations are false and utterly unsupported, and you ought to know it.
Yes dearie, he ought to know it. You ought know that this is the dumbest thing imaginable. A politician calling another politician a liar and a criminal is so much sewage under the bridge. No one would pay the slightest attention. On the other hand the Premier of Ontario, arguably the second most powerful individual in the country, threatening to sue a political rival is news. It's news that will stay news. Expect the Tories to play martyr during the Writ Period. They tried to bring out the truth and Kathleen Wynne tried to silence them!
In response Tim Hudak dug in his heels. I mean what did you expect him to do? There are many harsh things one can say about Timmy Hudak, and I've said most of them on this blog, but he ain't a political novice. He likely knows more than has been publicly revealed. He also knows that should the Premier actually try to sue the Leader of the Opposition, an event without precedent in Canadian history, she would be regarded by the general public as a thin skinned bully.
Now that the Tory leader has shrugged off the Wrath of Wynne, the Premier looks foolish. He calls her a lying crook, she demands he backdown and he says try and make me. In political discourse fair comment is a pretty big field in Canada. Even if it got to trial the odds are in Tim Hudak's favour. The whole thing is cowardly, stupid and pointless.
We have learned one thing from this silly diversion: The Tories have finally gotten under the Premier's skin. During her year and a bit in high office Wynne has been remarkably unflappable. The slings and arrows of political fortune have bounced right off her. That's part of the trick of staying in power, not looking guilty even if you are guilty. Until this threatened legal action the Premier acted pretty darn innocent. Now she looks as guilty as sin.
It's been so many years since this government took power. So many bloody times it looked like the end was near. That the many crimes and countless lies had at long last finished this corrupt and incompetent regime. Even the best liar gets caught out eventually. Hopefully this is that time for the Liberals.
In exactly 100 days, the Royal Navy’s biggest ever warship will be named by the Queen, who will smash a bottle of champagne on the 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier’s bow and name the vessel after herself.
The ceremony will mark 16 years of work on the £6.2bn project which now employs 10,000 people at 100 firms working in every region of the country.
When the HMS Queen Elizabeth becomes operational in 2020, she will deliver a radical change in the Navy’s capabilities, with her 4.5 acres of flight deck and 40 F35B joint strike fighters able to deliver bombs with pinpoint accuracy hundreds of miles away.
Or an even more radical idea, and I believe the correct one:
Stop broadcasting the CBC altogether and move everything online. Take it off the air.
This is the so-called “Netflix Solution.” Eyeballs are going there anyway. Not only would it save $200 million a year in distribution costs, more importantly, it would finally force the CBC to make some long overdue, tough choices about how to serve Canadian audiences in the 21st century by replacing the present commercial dross with excellent and challenging programs.
This comes on the heels of news that the BBC is about to loose its fabled taxing powers:
The Government has indicated that it will back a Bill, brought in by the backbench MP, Andrew Bridgen, to decriminalise non-payment of the Television Licence Fee. Instead of being dragged through the courts, defaulters will simply have their access to the BBC switched off – in the same way that Sky withdraws its services from those who don’t pay their subscriptions.
But seriously, who wouldn't want Peter Mansbridge on demand?
In 2011-2012 the Mother Corp had revenues of $1.8 billion. Let's assume that the CBC does in fact become the second coming of Netflix. Currently the American online service charges its subscribers a princely $8.00 a month. Let's be very kind to the state broadcaster and assume that Canadians are willing to fork over $10.00 a month to keep alive their beloved broadcaster. That would be $120 a year. Dividing $1.8 billion by $120 gives us 15 million. That's the number of Canadians who would have to subscribe to a CBC online service to make it break even.
Keeping in mind that the CBC rarely cracks the Top 30 in Prime Time, it doesn't look too good for this "hallowed" Canadian institution. Almost every household in the Dominion will have to sign up for CBCFlix in order to make it financially viable. Stranger things have happened admittedly. Like the career of Louis Del Grande on Canadian television. If you don't know who that is, count yourself lucky. Back in the 1980s there were five channels in Toronto and one of them, mercilessly, was the CBC.
But let's be even more kind to the state broadcaster. We are nothing if not kind. Of the Mother Corp's $1.8 billion in revenues about $1.1 billion comes from the taxpayers. That means that the broadcaster collects something like $700 million from advertising, royalties and sales of those swank CBC coffee mugs I love brandishing about the office. Let's say that the CBC still continues to collect that non-governmental revenue. Now divide $1.1 billion by $120 dollars and you get 9.1 million needed subscribers to keep the lights on at Front Street. That's the population of Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick.
Now put on your venture capital hats for a moment and tell me what's wrong with those numbers? While mulling that over keep in mind the last time you watched the CBC for its non-sports programming. I'll give you a few minutes. Please take your time.
This brings us back to the proposed CBCFlix. Not only would you be able to get George Stroumboulopoulos whenever you'd want to get your George Stroumboulopoulos fix, you'd also have access to the fabulous treasure trove that is the CBC's extensive archive. Think about it. But not for too long. Thinking about the future of the CBC is the third leading cause of migraines in Canada.
Who wouldn't want to spend a beautiful summer afternoon watching, one more time, The Beachcomers, Seeing Things and, of course, The King of Kensington. It'll bring a nostalgic tear back to eyes of many Canadians, remembering bitterly all the tax dollars wasted on this low quality rubbish. Lord knows 1980s American television was hardly a Golden Age, but I'd rather see Knight Rider once again than watch Louis Del Grande run around Vancouver at three in the morning.
This is, as the old saying goes, a dog that won't run. A rather mangy flea bitten government subsidized dog at that. The CBC might survive in a shrunken state. Though I don't see how. Rick Mercer can easily get his own You Tube channel, he'd probably make more money doing so. Peter Mansbridge is sufficiently in love with his own voice that the lack of an audience won't bother him. In fact it hasn't bothered him for years. Wendy Mesley's hair stylist would suffer, but there is no shortage of middle aged women in Toronto looking for his particular talents.
The idea of the CBC, the maple syrup drenched bromides aside, has always rested on a tremendous conceit: That ordinary Canadians left to their own devices won't watch Canadian television. That unless Canadianism is shoved down their throats they'll thoughtlessly become Americans. A fate worse than death for members of the Canadian Establishment.
This conceit is older and deeper than merely the state broadcaster. The political and cultural elite have always had a sneaking suspicion that Goldwin Smith was right, that Canada is an artificial creation that will, at any moment, be smashed to bits upon the tides of continentalism. This explains their fanatical loyalty to so mediocre an outfit as the CBC. Their paranoia, hilarious in retrospect, that if Canada struck a free trade deal with the Americans we'd be finished. As if one of the most successful nation states in history would dissolve because its citizens could now buy cheap American crap rather than more expensive Canadian crap.
Nations, like men, do not live by auto parts or Mr Dressup re-runs alone. This is something the Canadian elite has failed to grasp for nearly a century and a half. Canada exists because Canadians want it to exists, not because our tax dollars are spent dusting Peter Mansbridge's formidable pate.
But even in these weaker performances you see flickers of the great, defining characteristic of his best: his ability to project the sense of characters who have a life independent of the needs of the film. Colonel Nicholson in A Bridge on the River Kwai(1957) is the finest example, with a stiff, resilient, very British devotion to a soldier's code that incubates into something insane. William Holden and the rest of the gang are perfectly fine as far as the stock types of war movies go, but the film stands or falls on Guinness: Nicholson could so easily have been either risible or pathetic or implausible; instead, it's a beautiful, exquisitely balanced interpretation.
Former Alberta premier Alison Redford personally ordered a luxury penthouse 'premier’s suite' to be built in the provincially owned Federal Building now under renovation in Edmonton.
Documents obtained exclusively by CBC News under freedom of information legislation show Redford’s executive assistant, Ryan Barberio, personally ordered changes to the building’s floor plan by direct contact with the architecture firm in charge of refurbishing the Federal Building.
The Queen would not have been so bold. Then again she only reigns by the Grace of God.
These scandals are not about the money. A few hundred thousands is nothing in a province as rich and important as Alberta. Oil Patch CEOs spend greater sums on even more impressive luxuries. Even those fortunes pale before the billions wasted every year on the inherent inefficiencies of our socialized health care system. Few people grasp just how big modern government really is, or how colossal fortunes are squandered casually. The sluggishness of our economy is in no small part due to the great burden these inefficiencies place on the taxpayer and consumer.
So why get worked up about a premier's deluxe apartment in the sky?
Partly it's about the sense of entitlement. Seeing other people spend your money lavishly while you slave away at the 9 to 5. This is a galling injustice. A deeper resonance, however, comes out of frustration. The ordinary citizen sees a vast government that is essentially out of control. They cannot articulate why they feel this way, why it seems that the harder they work the less they get. It becomes easier in these circumstances to personalize what you don't understand.
Socialism and capitalism are big sweeping concepts. An entitled preening hypocritical bitch is not. We've all met people like Alison Redford. The mechanical smile and the eyes searching for any sign of weakness. The quest for power is sometimes a pursuit of ideals. In modern politics it is more often a sign of mental illness. If you've ever worked with power lusters up close, in the corporate or political world, you know how they make your skin crawl. They are the most unsettling when trying to be friendly, when trying to conduct themselves in the manner of decent and civilized human beings.
The act of ingratiation itself is transparently phony, going well beyond even the most artificial forms of courtesy. What you see in that moment is the gaping hole where a human soul should be, even a tortured one. Instead there is the nothingness that comes when everything has been disciplined toward a single goal: Power over other human beings. Not power to accomplish things. Not to win a war. Not to improve the lives of ordinary people. Not to add something of tangible value to the sum of human existence. Power for the sake of power. The ultimate expression of nihilism.
We loath Alison Redford not because she is a Red Tory, there are plenty of those in Canada and most are decent people with muddled thinking. It has nothing to do with her politics, her policies or her remarkable sense of entitlement. We hate her because she is nothing and that nothing now rules over us.
From the time he was a boy, acclaimed travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor wanted to live like a character in a novel. Somehow, he found out how. During his lifetime, he was stabbed in Bulgaria, car-bombed in Greece, targeted in a blood vendetta, and hunted by German soldiers after kidnapping their commander on the island of Crete and handing him off to a waiting British submarine during World War II. But his story started in 1933, when at 18 he was focused on the single goal of walking across Europe, “From the hook of Holland to Constantinople.”
You'd think saving that many people would make his name a household word:
Borlaug under-estimated the success of the programs he brought to the developing world. As Gregg Easterbrook reported in The Atlantic Monthly, in 1950, there were 2.2 billion people in the world and they produced 692 tons of grain. By 1992, there were 5.6 billion people and they produced 1.9 billion tons of grain. That is, there was a 220 per cent increase in global population, but a 280 per cent increase in global wheat production. For numerous food staples, this pattern held true. Furthermore, this increase in food production necessitated an increase of cropland of just one per cent due to Borlaug’s more efficient agricultural techniques and improved genetic strands.
The widespread ignorance of this hero bodes ill for our society. It speaks of a culture with inverted values and a subtle bigotry that goes almost entirely unmentioned. If you want to know why we live in a morally and intellectually declining world, the low profile of this man is a pretty good starting place.
1) He was an agronomist. People worshiped Steve Jobs because he gave rich Westerners lots of cool toys. But in the grand sweep of history improved agricultural techniques have done far more for mankind than any fancy phone or electronic tablet. Without cheap food nothing else is possible for a society. Not industrial development, not a middle class and certainly no clean and comparatively pleasant office jobs. Nope. Without the work of the agronomists we'd all live much worse lives, assuming most of us would have lived past infancy. But agriculture just isn't sexy. It's dirty and smelly. This is combined with the unfortunate conceit that farmers are dumb yokels. Despite the fact that the typical farmer in modern North America has more real skills than the typical office worker.
2) He was an American. While people the world over still adore American popular culture they regard it as ephemeral. It's hard for many people in Europe and the developing world to admit that their lives, and those of their countrymen, rest upon the innovations of an American genius. This refusal to give Yankees their due is a bit comical. Much of the modern world would be impossible without American genius. But nationalistic pride gets in the way of a lot of things.
3) He wasn't a development aid scrounger. As has been noted in many places in recent years, development aid is a racket. The bureaucrats and politicians who administer these schemes are unindicted racketeers. They know that their "work" provides little real value to anyone but themselves, and certainly almost nothing to the intended recipients. They are the real pirates in neckties. Someone who genuinely helps the poor of the world is an implied threat. Compared to their pious sounding words, actual accomplishment is a dangerous embarrassment.
4) He made the poor independent. In the psycho-drama of the modern Left the world is comprised of three broad groups: 1)Poor victims, typically ethnic and racial minorities. 2) Evil Rich White Men. 3) Enlightened Utopian Altruists. They naturally assign themselves to this last category. In their narrative of the universe it is they, and they alone, who must help the wretched of the earth. A great measure of their self-worth, as well as net worth, comes from attempting to help the less fortunate. Should the less fortunate ever improve their fortunes, the self worth and net worth of the Enlightened Utopian Altruists would implode. If there is no one left to help, their raison d'etre vanishes. This was perhaps Norman Borlaug's greatest crime. He taught poor people how to feed themselves, removing the role of the western alms giver.
5) He wasn't a celebrity. He didn't appeal to the lowest common denominator. He didn't say stupid or absurd things on television. Instead he made a real difference in the lives of billions. In our present tense culture that's simply past understanding. If it does not amuse, entertain or flatter us it isn't worth the bother. Previous generations made an effort to look up. Our culture makes a point of looking down into a dirt far deeper, and far less fertile, than that which engaged the energies of Norman Borlaug.
6) He didn't save a lot of white people. It is human nature to be self-absorbed. Part and parcel of a good education is to acquaint the student with the big wide world out there. But sometimes self-absorption leads to something a bit less understandable. There is a old rule of thumb: Think the opposite of what they say. When a woman keeps telling you she's a lady, she ain't a lady. When a politician keeps telling you he's a leader, he's a coward. When a businessman keeps telling you he's honest, he's likely a crook.
Now think about the rhetoric of the modern Left. What is the one term they fling at conservatives and libertarians without the slightest hesitation? Racism. Modern North America is the least racist society in human history. It's not even close. Yet the Left never stops talking about racism. There is a racist beneath every bed and buried in every closet in the land. We are flooded with racist rhetoric at a time when racial minorities have been given more legal rights than at any time in history. For years I thought this was the Left simply trying to smear the Right. Mulling it over I think it's much, much worse. The Left isn't trying to smear the Right so much as it's projecting its own deep seated contempt for minorities.
Let's say you were moved by the plight of modern American blacks. You saw the breakdown of the black family, the revolting tragedy of the public schools and the quiet decimation of future generations of blacks through wide spread abortion. What would be the logical course of action? Strengthening the black family, discouraging single parenthood, smashing the public schools monopoly and attacking the abortion culture. The Left will propose none of these things. Partly this is because of immediate political self-interest, but that carries us only so far.
The Left has given up on minorities. It is a tendency among all elites to have a paternalistic contempt for their social inferiors. Having spent trillions of dollars on the War on Poverty, and almost as many trillions in foreign aid, very little has been accomplished. Those with a modicum of modesty would step back and re-think their approach. But elites rarely have modesty or much in the way of self-awareness. The problem is never their theories, it's the stupid people who just won't live up to their expectations.
This is the implicit bigotry of the modern Left. They hate blacks, Hispanics and certain Asians because they have refused to response correctly to their tender ministrations. American black culture has withered and become immensely vulgar under the tutelage of the Left. Much of Africa fared much worse after de-colonization than during the colonial period. The Left could choose either to blame socialism or blame blacks. They chose that which was most dear to them: A failed theory rather than a living human reality.
A man who saved the lives of the most despised among us is unlikely to be remembered well.