Trudeau’s First Cabinet

In which the author responds to random people on the internet as though they were one huge, multi-headed, flame breathing goblin.

Depending on how stupid you are, you have may have spent some part of today wondering how many of the women in Justin Trudeau’s newly appointed Cabinet were put in their positions simply to fill his much-discussed quota.

In the days leading up to today’s swearing-in, you may have reasoned that Trudeau and his team must have faced at least one choice between a guy they really wanted to appoint and their to create gender parity at the ministerial level. Was it Adam Vaughan or Andrew Leslie who got the boot? Was Bill Blair left aside in favour of a woman? And which of the women that were appointed got their jobs because they were really the best? Who was Male Choice #1 and who was the Female Quota Filler #10?

Have you considered that Trudeau may have started his process by selecting from the women in caucus? “Hey, Gerry,” he might have said, “why don’t we find 15 well-suited roles for the women in caucus and then fill the rest of the positions with the men? Y’know, instead of doing it the other way around like always.”

Or, maybe the choices were more obvious than that. Maybe Trudeau had 20 women in mind, or more, but had to pare it down to leave enough room for the guys. Maybe he’d have intended to appoint 25 women to Cabinet, but some of his picks failed to win a seat in the general election.

You’re no more likely to know Trudeau motivations or reasoning than you were Harper’s, Martin’s, Chretien’s or any previous Prime Minister. Maybe all the choices, male and female, were made to fill quotas. Can you envision Justin, Gerry and Katie sitting on the plane sketching out such a list? “We’ve should have two Sikhs, two indigenous persons, two people with Montreal accents, one from Montreal, but with a non-distinct accent…”

Just because Trudeau made a promise for gender parity doesn’t mean it was hard to keep and presuming otherwise is where you find the real sexism and misogyny in this debate; that finding 15 women for Cabinet posts was a big challenge, especially when you have to pick them from amidst all those fine men. Conceivably, Trudeau was so comfortable making the promise because he knew it would be easy to keep.

This could be a cynical political play, but if so, it’s a very short game. The bump he gets from good feelings will be gone by the time the Speech from the Throne is read a month from now and any points he may have scored with women voters don’t have much value on the first day of a 4 year mandate.

(Also, his purely political plays, like support for C-51, are usually accompanied by a long, loud farting sound, and no such emissions was heard on the grounds of Rideau Hall today.)

Maybe Trudeau really does encapsulate the best of the his mother and father. The reason with the rebellion. Compassion with will. Or maybe he’s a simple guy who decided to make a simple gesture. Or maybe he’s Gerry Butts’ puppet. Or maybe he’s playing a game so long only he can see the outcomes. Or. Or. Or.

Or perhaps it’s time to stop expecting women to prove themselves to men in traditionally male-dominated sectors, like politics. And yes, the road to equality of any kind, gender-based, racial, sexual, etc., may be paved with quotas but it’s only because white men have such a hard time getting the fuck out of the way.

Your concerns about Trudeau and the sad, male caucus members left out in the cold says more about your attitudes toward women than it does about Trudeau’s politics. Deal with that, already.

A Very Late Election Wrap-Up

Inequality and problems with governance ensure Ford Nation's longterm survival, despite Rob's "loss" of power.


Credit: Spacing Magazine

In December of 2013, in a piece on this blog, I wrote quite pessimistically about how our crap candidates and the cynical elections they sire. John Tory was painted as a hero Toronto needs right now, if only he’d run. Karen Stintz chose to run because she saw it as the next logical step. To where? Who knows? And Olivia Chow, so reticent to run you wondered why she needed so much convincing. With a field including a drug addict, a career also-ran, Council’s most ambitious member and a seemingly decent candidate who couldn’t make up her mind, I tempered my hopes that the 2014 campaign might provide a renewing fire, burning off deadfall from the Ford years.

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David and Goliath

Updated: 2014-10-26 @ 10:43PM -0400

At this point, whether or not anyone believes Jian Ghomeshi’s story is irrelevant. We haven’t seen anything resembling evidence of his misdeeds, or proof that he’s innocent of them. We don’t even have a clear statement from the CBC telling us why he was fired, nor any reason to believe one is forthcoming. All we do have is a couple of vague press releases and Ghomeshi’s own statement. Having taken stock of our limited resources, it’s a little early to hold him up as a victim or to brand him a criminal sex offender.

All we have is Ghomeshi’s statement, and considering the context of the allegations — a relationship gone bad, an alleged smear campaign — that’s a poor position on which to base an opinion. So, while we really shouldn’t bother evaluating the content of a hastily prepared yet exceptionally well structured plea for sympathy, we can certainly evaluate mechanics are work here, specifically the structural and cultural imbalances that heavily favour the well-loved, male, celebrity radio host.

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Measuring Failure in Measurable Terms

Analyzing the NDP's long-term potential might be the key to determining its leader's future.

“I can fit the NDP’s increase in vote share in the palm of my hand.”

On Twitter yesterday, after going on a long-ish tear about a piece Neil MacDonald wrote about rape culture for the CBC and my distaste for the intellectually crippling effects of nostalgia on baby boomers, I switched gears and starting talking about the NDP’s fortunes, or possible lack thereof.

The prevailing wisdom among journalists and columnists is that the NDP lost very badly. Not only did the (once and future) 3rd party, which held the balance of power in the 40th Parliament of Ontario, trigger an election by rejecting a bespoke budget, they also apparently pivoted to the right, bungled the campaign, alienated good chunks of their base and transformed themselves from power brokers to has-beens.

Some of these points are more debatable than others. Yes, the NDP did trigger an election the electorate didn’t (at the time) seem to want, and yes they rejected a budget that was essentially written on orange paper. But sparingly discussed is the cost to the NDP of being a power broker too long, when people may eventually only see them as kickstand, and kickstands don’t become governments.

As to the bungling of the campaign, I think all 3 parties ran pretty lacklustre, amateurish campaigns. Who thought “What Leadership Is” was a killer slogan? Who thought repeating “Makes Sense” a zillion times could make up for the absence of a platform, sensible or otherwise? And the Million Jobs fiasco? More that enough has been said about its cynical lunacy.

But what about the contention that the NDP lost a good chunk of their base and that the loss of those votes might banish the NDP to the hinterland? Does that prove out? I wondered about that…

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Mansplaining Men to Men

The news of yet another mass shooting in the United States, this time in California, and the rantings of the misogynist demon accused of committing the crime, revived a debate on Twitter between those who make broad and defensible generalizations about men, and those who don’t like being lumped in with the vicious fuckers who commit countless acts rape, spousal abuse, sexual assault, emotional assault, physical violence, stalking, harassment, and murder, to name just a few of crimes visited upon women every minute of every day.

This collision of the frequently abused and the easily offended has created the phrase, “not all men”.

Here’s an example…

Woman: “I don’t have to protect myself from rape, men have to stop raping.”

Man: “Hey, not all men rape. I’ve never committed rape in my life.”

Woman: “The vast majority of rapes are committed by men. Men need to deal with that shit.”

Man: “Making generalizations doesn’t exactly help your credibility. #NotAllMen”

If you’re a guy who’s never raped, killed, assaulted, demeaned, or in any other way abused or violated a woman, the subject of any generalization about the violence men visit upon women is not you. Do you love and respect the women in your life? Good you you, bucko. Just keep on keeping on, it’s not about you.

And you don’t have an obligation to defend males, either in small groups (Canadian Men!, Toronto Men!) or large ones (All Men, Everywhere!). As we just discussed, you, me and all the other men who don’t commit atrocities against women now know that women aren’t talking about us. The men who are being referenced are evil shit-eating motherfuckers who neither deserve, nor would appreciate the spirited defence you were about to kick off with that “not all men” line.

With so many vile men out there, it’s understandable that women might choose to speak in generalities rather than taking the time to identify the innumerable strata of men, which range from pretty good to fucking awful, with all degrees of despicable found in between.

But we don’t have to worry about that; we members of the “not about us” club can join in a modest, but not over-long bit of self-congratulation for our general decency toward women. (And “General decency” is about as far as we should go with the self-congratulating. Unless you’ve never talked down to, or discounted the opinion of a female co-worker, or presumed familiarity where it didn’t exist? Instead of taking offence, why not take stock.)

We men run the entire world, make most of the rules and change them regularly to suit our tastes. Even day labourers without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of have integral advantages over most, if not all women. Men do not need reinforcement, gender takes care of that for us.

As Superman’s nephew said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. So just because you aren’t the topic of this conversation doesn’t mean you can sit on your ass and allow the women you supposedly love and cherish be abused; and statistically some or all of the women close to you will suffer some abuse in their lifetimes. A sickeningly high number of rapes and other assaults go unreported because the woman who’s been assaulted doesn’t think she’ll be believed. If you want to stay on the good side of this thing, you gotta earn that shit.

Finally, if you find yourself taking potshots at people for making generalizations about men when, seemingly, those same people resist generalizations about themselves, just go back to the top and re-read this whole thing. You haven’t got it yet. Give it time, though. You’ll get there, sport.

Edited: May 25th, 2014…when you write in the middle of the night, typos will happen.

The #voteTO Candidate Power Rankings – May 5, 2014

In what should be a regular feature on the site, but probably won’t because I’m awful at updating consistently, here are this week’s Toronto Municipal Election Candidate Power Rankings…

Serious Candidate: David Soknacki (Policy Serious), Olivia Chow (Front-runner Serious)
Joke Candidates: Karen Stintz, John Tory
Not In On The Joke Candidate: Sarah Thomson
Rob Ford: Rob Ford
Alternate Rob Ford: Doug Ford, Don Andrews

Deserves More Attention: Morgan Baskin
Deserves Less Attention: Ari Goldkind
Most Twitter Accounts: Kevin Clarke


Ford, the Press, and the 12th Man

The news business is a business, and businesses have to find ways to make money. Obvious as that may be, I regularly have to remind myself that as honest, intrepid and incorruptible as the members of the City Hall Press Gallery may be, they are, in the summation, agents of competing, for-profit businesses.

And those businesses are, inarguably, having a rough go. Every month we’re told that readership is down, ads are down, jerks on the internet won’t pay, and the end is nigh. All of that is probably true, which is why Rob Ford is, for people in news, especially print news, manna from Heaven. Ford is, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to the news business in Toronto, ever. Ever.

It’s no wonder the press wants to keep Ford in office. The Mayor is a one-man headline-writing machine. Even in the pre-crack days, he was always saying or doing something newsworthy. Remember when the silliest thing Rob did was flip the bird at other drivers? How about the time he was reading documents while plowing down the Gardiner? Oh, the good old days. Of course we know now he was probably either stoned off his ass or drunk as fuck in those incidents, but we were more innocent then. They Mayor was just a dangerous lunatic, not a dangerous drug-addled, drunken lunatic. Simpler times.

Now that we’ve been dropped into the crater of a post-crack world, Ford has gone from being good for the news business to being the news business. Policy? What’s that? Votes at Council? Only important in the context of Rob and/or Doug’s looney position on a given matter. For the last 2 years, at least, the daily schedule at City Hall has broken down, roughly, like this:

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Letter to Q, re: Rape Culture Debate

There are, I think, two things to consider when choosing to air something like today’s Q panel regarding rape culture: first, are we addressing an important issue, or talking around it? Second, will the contrasting ideas that might be presented move the conversation forward? In my view, your debate failed on both counts. Debating the existence of rape culture is a lazy way of being seen to talk about something important without actually having to address its ugly causes and tragic results.

Sexual assault does exist on college campuses, sexual assaults continue to go overwhelmingly unreported, and we, as a culture, freely joke about prison rape, as though it’s somehow justified and thus, less heinous. This is indicative of a culture takes rape seriously only in principle (“Rape is bad!”) but not in practice (“You shouldn’t have dressed like that.”). A show, such as yours, that claims to present progressive content, as any arts program must, should have the good sense to avoid discussing the existence of something they is regularly and tragically proven to exist.

Women aren’t sexually assaulted because they walk through parking lots and men aren’t blameless because they get drunk; rather these are symptoms of a culture that consistent fails to act to protect victims and punish rapists. A national broadcaster should strongly consider the implications of handing over its broad forum to regressive ideas about the cause and prevention of rape, ideas like those presented on your program today by Heather MacDonald.

Your debate failed to directly address an issue of great social importance, and Jian, in his role as moderator, failed to guide the debate away from dangerous generalizations (“If rape culture existed, parents wouldn’t put their kids in school!”) and back toward a meaningful discussion that advanced our understanding of our culture’s shameful disregard for the victims of rape.

However well intentioned you might have been in presenting this piece, the end result was a disservice to women and a discredit to the show.


Joshua Hind

Return of the Action Items

I was in Montreal this past week and I contacted the wonderful people who are now hosting my old radio show, The Friday Morning After, to find out if they wouldn’t mind me sitting in on the show. Well, turns out they not only didn’t mind but wondered if I would do 20 minutes on something. I chose 4 somethings.

Sit back and listen to my very rusty radio delivery. Oh, and find out about the oil sector writing curriculum in Alberta, the feds imposing lifetime gag orders, and a quick chat about electoral sign defacement. That stuff is important too.

For more information on the Morning After shows, go to

Build it, jerks!

Thursday’s Globe and Mail will bring another in a recent trend of thin arguments in favour of reasonably debatable development projects, written by Marcus Gee.

In his latest, Gee, who has recently used his column to attack critics of the Bathurst St. Walmart project and the island airport expansion, has turned his sights on anyone who dares ask irritatingly detailed questions about the Mirvish/Gehry project, a set of 3 super-massive towers, complete with a truly Gehry-esque crumple of newspaper at the bottom, proposed for the northeast corner of King and John. The project, which would include an art gallery/tax write-off (something dutifully noted by anyone writing in favour of the project), would, in it’s currently proposed form, require the demolition of a number of heritage buildings, as well as the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Writing with exactly the right level of exasperation, Gee bemoans Toronto’s small-mindedness and nitpicking, the sum of which he describes as “pettifogging”. (One suspects he wrote the entire column just to have a chance to use the word pettifogging, thinking it might make him sound Conrad Black-ish.) Not only does Gee think the City of Toronto is making life too hard for Messrs Mirvish and Gehry, he also tries to convince us that the specific concerns with the project, as raised by Toronto’s planning staff, are frivolous.

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