Giambrone, Paikin and responding to responses…

There’s something about Adam Giambrone’s last second run for the NDP nomination in Scarborough-Guildwood that really bothers me. In a post that’s rightfully received a lot of traction on social media, Audra Williams (@audrawilliams) does the heavy lifting of describing why Giambrone’s surprise appearance in Scarborough feels so greasy. Williams spreads a wide net, highlighting Giambrone’s personal failings, his ethnicity (or lack thereof) and the failings of the nomination process. But for me, it’s all about a process that seems at best to have been gamed, and a worst, rigged.

Zach Paikin, a person who fits both the old (money) and new (sex/race) definitions of privilege wasn’t comfortable seeing his Giambrone besmirched in this way and took to the Huffington Post to respond. His response, which I’ll pick apart in this post, is an object study in how not to defend someone.

First, why are we talking about Adam Giambrone at all.

A party insider, Giambrone, who was, until his nomination, in charge of finding and vetting candidates for the NDP, sees an opportunity, in the form of the recently called by-elections, to get back into the poltical spotlight. Seeing no particular conflict of interest, Giambrone nominates himself to be a candidate, mobilizes sufficient support and knocks off his competition, Amarjeet Chhabraa, candidate who presumably was also vetted by Giambrone.

Willaims, the aforementioned blogger, go about detailing why this seems to greasy and Zach Paikin, the…whatever he is, takes to HuffPo to offer a vigourous defense of Giambrone.

Paikin begins by assuring us that he’ll try to set aside his political feelings (he’s a “card-carrying Liberal” — Liberals give out cards?) and be objective about the whole thing, but later discloses that he and Giambrone are old drinking buddies. Not disclosed, but equally relevant, is that Giambrone was a featured speaker at Paikin’s laughably poncey Rosedale Club. So, while Paikin may take off his Liberal hat, he’s clearly using his position to defend his pal. Fair enough, I suppose. But it’s nice to know this kind of thing going in.

Paikin sets out 6 points for refuttation (really 5, he does one point twice) and I will address his comments on those same points. Let’s dig in…

1) “Giambrone has zero ties to Scarborough” 

To this first point, Paikin replies, “So, what?” Well, I guess if opportunism is your game, then “So, what?” would be an appropriate answer. We’re a long way down the “running where you don’t live” rabbit hole to get into too much of a twist about this issue, but I can assure you that “HE DOESN’T EVEN LIVE HERE!” is a line all the parties have used at one time or another when the situation suits them.

2) “Giambrone is a “white dude.”

Again, it’s a “So, what?” asnwer. As I said above, the macro details of this nomination are so shady that one doesn’t even need to understand that he butted in front of a woman belonging to a visible minority to get mad about it.  Now, he did butt in front of a woman belonging to a visible minority, but the party allowed and supported it. So at whom should we really be directing our anger? A greasy party employee/candidate, or a greasy party?

What’s so funny about Paikin’s response is that he brings up that Giambrone has a funny last name and is probably the descendant of an immigrant, which makes him a totally rad multi-culti candidate. I guess I shouldn’t expect a kid who organized a discussion on native issues and invited Ernie Eves and Jon Kay to be featured speakers to understand why that argument is so silly.

3) “Giambrone ‘previously ran for Mayor but then had to quit the race after lying about sex.'”

Paikin suggests the media shouldn’t have broken the story about Giambrone’s sex life and that he’s already “paid the political price.” I wonder if young Zach would say the same thing about the reporting on Rob Ford’s drug problems. Not that I think a crappy personal life and a drug addiction are parallels, but some people might think they are. That’s why it’s nice to have the news report on all these things. I don’t expect politicians to have perfect home lives, but I do expect to be relatively stand up about it. Giambrone wasn’t. That’s relevant.

4) “Giambrone ‘was co-chair of the Candidate Selection Committee of the NDP'”

OK, I have to print Paikin’s response verbatim because he says it all.

“I’m shocked! A person using their official position within a political party to advance their political career! That has never happened before!”

That’s your response, Zach? Dirty politics are politics as usual and that makes Giambrone’s conduct acceptable? Jesus, I don’t want to make jokes about Paikin being a stereotypical Liberal, but sometimes obvious material has to be done because it’s just so damned obvious.

What’s equally hilarious is that Paikin’s response tells us that he also believes Giambrone used his position in the NDP to get ahead. Sheesh, some friend Zach turned out to be! The next time they meet at the pub for pints of champagne it’s gonna be awkward.

5) “Giambrone had initialy encouraged his would-be opponent to run for the nomination.”

Without citing any evidence, Paikin claims that Giambrone’s opponent for the nomination, Amarjeet Chhabraa, didn’t sell enough nominations and that’s why she lost. Are we to believe that the NDP runs its nominations process like a high school funding drive in which the best seller wins? Of course we know that isn’t the case, so what do memberships have to do with anything?

Oh, I get it…Chhabraa didn’t sell enough memberships so Giambrone had to sweep in and save the day, is that it? Paikin’s position seems to be that his drinking buddy gamed his position within the NDP to win the nomination in Scarborough-Guildwood, but only did so because he had to save a flagging membership drive. Have I got that right? Drivel.

6) “Giambrone is a ‘White Guy.'”

The white guy thing again. This really pisses Zach off. After making an attempt at humour (don’t quit your day job, Zach), Paikin decides to play Mr. Congeniality, suggesting that we ought to judge people based on their ideas, not their identity.

You hear this a lot from Paikin, usually in defense of his silly “Rosedale Club”, a suit-and-tie only, scotch and cigars gabfest organized by Paikin as a way to hobnob with important people, feel important himself, and get writing gigs. To him it’s obviously not inappropriate to organize a discussion on native issues and not invite any native people, because white guys have good ideas too. Well, sure, if the bar you’re setting is, “ideas, in and of themselves, are enough” then I suppose anyone’s ideas on any subject are valid. They’re not, of course. If Twitter teaches you anything (those who are paying attention, anyway) it’s that there a lot of people who know a hell of a lot more about any particular subject than you do, and you ought to listen to those people.

But forget all that. Paikin’s buddy needed defending and young Zach was equal to task. Well, if the goal was to out Giambrone as a political insider who used his position and priviledge to get something he hadn’t earned, then it was a job well done.

Like I said…the pub’s gonna be some awkward for a while.

5 thoughts on “Giambrone, Paikin and responding to responses…

  1. Pretty good response. A couple of things though:On point 5b(?) I think what he was trying to say is that if she had sold enough memberships to the party, those people she had gotten to join the party (ostensibly to support her nomination and campaign) would have overwhelmed whatever support Giambrone had been able to drum up in a day. That, in fact, is how many nomination battles work. It is usually not a battle among candidates of who can convince existing riding members to vote for them, but often of who can sell the most memberships before the nomination meeting. a perfect example of this is longtime PC MPP Norm Sterling losing his nomination to Jack McLaren of the Ontario Landowners Association before last election because McLaren had a small-but-organized pocket of support that he mobilized for the nomination.

    Also, being a card-carrying anything means you hold a membership card in that particular party. Who knows with Zach though, maybe he does give out cards. I really can’t defend anything he does, nor would I want to try.


  2. It was a by-election so regular rules not in play regarding selling new memberships. read the ONDP constitution

    Also gambrone drafted a fake letter that the girl was trying to blackmail him except that he spelled her name wrong. CHARACTER, INTEGRITY and CLASS is in question..

  3. Jon, is it possible – just possible – that *both* Williams’s original post and Paikin’s rebuttal are deeply problematic in a number of ways? For example, isn’t it rather peculiar that eye casts as far as Ottawa South to accuse the ONDP of harbouring latent racism, but somehow skips over the candidate running in a much nearer riding to her: Pak-Cheong Choo, who’s running in Etobicoke Lakeshore for the NDP? Of course, you could say that the party is simply dumping ethnic minority candidates in unwinnable seats in some kind of box-ticking exercise, but then I can’t think of a harder seat to win than the one vacated by a Liberal Premier (not that NDP candidates are afraid of tough odds). I wouldn’t say Scarborough—Guildwood is very much easier for the ONDP to win than Etobicoke Lakeshore is, incidentally. So the NDP-as-straight-up-racist angle kind of takes a torpedo hit there. Accuse the NDP as straight-up sexists? Which party has more women MPPs than any other? The ONDP.

    The ONDP has definitely got problems. The party doesn’t match the make-up of the province, either in the party or in the caucus. We’ve done better than others, but nowhere near as good as we should be doing. I intend to work in whatever way I can to change that. I firmly believe that the members are willing to open their minds and take a (belated) step into the present. I don’t plan to do it with a bullhorn, and polarize people.

    Paikin’s an idiot. There would be nothing I would want less than a Paikin article defending me, and I look forward to him being beaten soundly in the race for the federal Toronto Centre seat.

    Bill: I don’t think anyone’s arguing that Giambrone messed up big-time in 2010, including himself. I remember a fulsome apology at the time. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I became and remain a New Democrat because of love, hope, and forgiveness. You close your mind to people and ideas when you act and speak in judgement. You open it when you let forgiveness in.

  4. The Ontario NDP’s website is and its constitution found at‎. You obviously didn’t bother reading the constitution, which states nothing about exceptions being granted for any kind of nomination meeting.

  5. The constitution states nothing about any exception to the 30-day minimum of being a member of the party in order to vote at a nomination meeting.

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