#160 – Putting the FU in Fundraising

 

Oh, a fundraiser from the Minister of Justice! #RealChange and his useless provincial cronies have gotten themselves into hot water over their fundraising efforts. This one is a neat story because the Liberals made what can only be called the weakest excuse of all time for themselves. The story is this – Jody Wilson-Raybould charged $500/plate for lawyers to meet with her at a swanky Toronto law firm. This fairly obviously creates a perceived conflict of interest (which, from personal experience, is counted exactly the same way as an actual conflict of interest) – Liberal-friendly lawyers on Bay St. getting to meet the Justice Minister privately (i.e.: most of us aren’t throwing $500 as an entry fee) on Bay St doesn’t exactly smack of the kind of transparency the Liberals were promising.

Now, Jody and #RealChange had to stupid it up somehow, so they did it by claiming that Jody merely went as an MP and not a Minister. There’s a problem with that. Look up at the top again. See the wording on the invite? “Honourable” Jody Wilson-Raybould is the title used by the Minister. MPs aren’t “Honourable” (neither are Cabinet ministers for the most part, but that’s a side-joke and low-hanging fruit) – note who gets the title and who doesn’t on the role call. So yeah, MP Jody Wilson-Raybould wouldn’t be showing up wearing her “Honourable” tag. Y’know, because lying about that sort of thing and throwing an obvious dummy mistake is less-than-honorable by my books.

And then there’s the other lie. House Leader Dominic Leblanc, besides being a spectacular douchebag when pressed with legitimate questions also made a dishonest statement regarding the way that fundraising is reported. Let’s read what this limp-dicked loser threw down in Question Period:

The member knows full well all of those donations are disclosed, according to law, every quarter. The member can spend the whole evening searching the internet — good news it’s coming to a computer near him.

Except, here’s the thing – the website isn’t exactly clear on who spend what and what they got for it. Here’s the first page of the list of donors from last quarter who wasted more than $500 trying to buy favor from aristocratic asshats.

hbsgln4
Thanks, Nancy, for your contribution towards making Canada even shittier.

I can’t exactly show you how useless the website I pulled this from is, but if you’d like to experience the joys of an almost-impressively shitty search system be my guest. And hey – who needs transparancy with a huge Canadian law firm?  Especially one with a history of helping the ultra-rich to the point where they get stucked with conflict-of-interest charges too! Oh, and it’s totally not suspicious that a lobbyist associated with Torys, John Tobin, gave up his lobbying connections to Justice Canada the day before the event. But as we all know Eastern English Canadians can do no wrong. That’s why #RealChange turned Canada into a utopia on 20 October 2015, right? Anything Conrad Black touches must not need any form of transparency whatsoever. Oh, and these guys worked with the Canadian government on Indigenous legal affairs, so I suspect Mrs. Wilson-Raybould may have been in some…unfortunate company. Just a hunch, mind, but the bullshit detector rails off the charts when it’s pointed towards Bay St., so there it is.

In fact, Gerald Butts’ first project, the Wynne government, got dinged by Democracy Watch for doing the same thing Jody is but on a scale more appropriate for the Wynnepire. Ontario Cabinet Ministers were expected to raise $500,000 a year for Evil Orville Redenbacher, mostly through face-time with ultra-rich people who can afford to pony up but not without a little electoral fuckery too. And to fix the problem, Wynne is going for the classic “pretend to change” method, another Liberal staple. BC went for a different approach, refusing to even make the pretense of reform that Toronto is despite being referred to as the “Wild West” of political money.

With Canadian regulation so weak the the loopholes are pages in listed length and Liberal governments completely addled by image, arrogance, self-aggrandizement, and the stupid belief that people ought to trust the Liberals it’s hard to see Canadian democracy being unbound from wealth anytime soon. The lameness of #RealChange’s excuse reflects a profound disinterest in being upfront despite his claims of “open and transparent government”. A budget full of holes and a Cabinet where a Minister’s ear can be had for costs that few can afford – thank God we replaced that evil Harperman with such a free, open, and honest government! No spin here, no sir.

#112 – Starve the Soul, Feed the Ego Part Four: Banting and Friends

Even though English Canada is suffering an epidemic of diabetes, Canada pays little to no homage to Toronto’s most important discovery – that diabetes isn’t an immediate death sentence. Before the concept of insulin injection came up, coming down with diabetes meant a protracted death by any number of horrific complications. Kidneys would fail, poisoning the body from the inside; feet would explode into necrotic ulcers as their owners mercifully lost sensation and then less-mercifully died of sepsis or secondary infection; people would go blind and basically die as if they were in a horror movie.

Putting an end to this being the inevitable fate of the diabetic is Canada’s single greatest achievement. Canada’s “peacekeeping traditions” (when they aren’t busy playing at white supremacy and slaughtering Somalian teenagers or simply ignoring reports from their own commanders, that is) are, as shown in the brackets, a little dicey for that honor. Fuck Vimy Ridge, fuck peacekeeping – in fact, fuck the Canadian Forces entirely on this one. Nothing Canada or Canadians have ever done has been as universally, globally positive as the discovery of insulin as therapy for diabetics.

I can’t express enough how important this discovery is. It’s like finding a cure for AIDS in terms of medical breakthrough. The mere concept that hormones could be injected for the purposes of medical treatment is an incredible lifesaver. From the use of steroids to stimulate recovery to new experimental techniques, the entire field of endocrinology owes its modern form to Banting, Best, Kollip, and MacLeod’s incredible discovery. And for this, Canada rated Banting below Pierre Trudeau (the guy who fucked up the pharmaceutical industry, inspired resentment in the West, and remains Canada’s most complex leader in terms of legacy) and Terry Fox (a guy who raised money to cure a disease he suffered from and inspired the creation of a charity-industry that 30 years on has amazingly accomplished little more than becoming incredibly rich).

I’m not saying that either Trudeau or Fox don’t deserve recognition. Far from it – if I was sans a leg the last thing I’d be thinking of is running across Canada. Running from Canada, perhaps, but that’s beside the point. But Banting, whose work is rightly recognized and hailed in the United Kingdom, is in Canada recognized with research chairs, elementary schools, and lectures named after him. This is a team that should be on Canada’s currency as the single highest achievement of any Canadian medical research – indeed, of any research of any kind – and 3/4s of the team behind the discovery aren’t even remembered with the “honorary” names and lectures. To the average Canadian, everyone who isn’t Banting is practically non-existent.

So, to the memories of James Collip, John Macleod, and Dr. Charles Best – Canada may have forgotten you or collapsed you into one person, but diabetics the world over and the physicians who care for them are eternally grateful for all of you.

#109 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: Calgary Sports and Entertainment

N. Murray Edwards, the guy who owns this caustic fart of a company, is probably the single person with the most to lose in the tar sands. He’s also the guy behind the company behind the Lake Polley Whoopsiedoodle that we talked about earlier. Meaning, of course, that he has spent hundreds of thousands on the B.C. Liberal Party.

Well, that about does it for this one, folks.

…What, you want an honest recount? Alright, fine. To be honest, the spiteful, hate-filled part of me loves this guy because of how much he slams the fauxgressive nu-left Canadiana bullshit into the dirt. Does he own polluting businesses and lobby for royalties that ensure Alberta can’t afford anything? Check! Do his companies produce weapons and luxury goods for the ultra-rich? Ding! Evil mining company in his back pocket? You betcha! Shady politics? Ka-fucking-ching. Yee-haw, motherfuckers! This guy even owns the Saddledome; the sat-on shape of that building is a perfect metaphor for what hockey does to Canadian thinking. The nu-left can practically smell the brimstone off the guy’s shoes, he checks off so many of the “evil corporate boss-man” boxes.

The rest of me, however, knows this guy and his gig from the get-go. Huge block parties, running a bloody restaurant, pressuring the police to let up on noise complaints around the Red Mile (trust me – although it looks like we’ve gone to Mother Russia, Calgary is still very much in Other Russia – i.e.: Canada), and generally encouraging partying in the name of hockey and therefore profits is not the best idea in the world. Given how Edmonton erupted into riots, perhaps Calgary should be more careful about the whole deal, given that fights are common on the Red Mile during the playoffs.

And that’s really where I drive this spike home. The Flames seek to enact the very worst parts of Canadian hockey culture – the mash of people excited over nothing, the idea that you can’t possibly not want to join the sweaty pile of stupid, the linkage between that excitement and profits going straight into the hands of a person who, like Tanenbaum, may not be playing political snooker with your best interests at heart. Informed decision-making is not in the approved lingo of swarms of inebriated hockey fans, meaning that the guy behind the party is totally ignored. So you’ve got an idle, meaningless crush of people collected to effectively brainwash the brand into. This is no different than Frosh Week except the likelihood that you’re going to be getting any action is way lower.

To show how powerful this idiocy is, the Canadian embassy in Washington flew a Flames flag during the finals that they attended in 2004. How absurd is that? Real, actual, important business gets done there and the best you can think to do with it is to use it as ad space for the Whoo-Whoo Party Express? I honestly can’t tell if Murray Edwards is a genius or an idiot, but he’s good at demonstrating how much the latter English Canadians are.

#108 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: Canucks Sports & Entertainment

Oh look! The owner of the Canucks is something called the “Aquilini Investment Group”. The Aquilini Investment Group is a huge family business headed by Francesco with interests in a whole host of things. Most recently, Canucks Sports & Entertainment has been trying to bring a basketball team back to Vancouver, because the last time that was tried it worked so well that the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. The Canucks are the fifth-priciest team in the league, valued at $800 million. Even more exciting is the fact that the Aquilinis are heavily invested in Vancouver’s unfailing condo market, because why not, right?

When the family isn’t busy financing the never-ending cycle of money laundering encouraged by meaningless and contextless development, the company is hard at work sitting on useless hotels throughout the country and otherwise absorbing money in hopes of following patriarch Luigi Aquilini’s immortal advice: “you aren’t making money unless you’re buying”. Of course, Luigi may have wanted to add “and building useful, long-term investments”, given that his son’s love of condos has punched the group straight into uh-oh country. But he didn’t, so we’re here.

Mr. Aquilini also went after two newspapers for the hideous claim that Aquilini hired a coach. The family went so far as to threaten to sue the paper for defamation. The family also hates disclosing their income or indeed anything about themselves. Francesco won’t even share his birthday, meaning that we don’t quite know how old the guy is. They also didn’t like the idea of providing information about a golf course that they wanted to build in Squamish, BC; apparently, unlike the folks behind the Lake Polley disaster, the Aquilinis didn’t donate enough to the Liberals to get “super-immunity from stupidity” powers from Victoria and the idea was denied because of a lack of information.

Shadowy families controlling hockey clubs isn’t that exciting, really. Nor is the fact that they’re throwing their hockey-money at condos that won’t take off. Even being secretive isn’t the worst idea on the planet, really. But their behavior, including sending a vicious attack lawyer to try to distance the family from the team hiring a coach, demonstrates a reality that the fans of the NHL simply don’t grasp; namely that the whole concept of the Canucks, as with any franchise, is to make money, not to win things. Whether they do well or not is a matter of profits to the Aquilinis and should be regarded as being about that significant to the average Canadian. But that doesn’t fit the Grit and Heart narrative, so the whole “profit” thing for the actual owner gets ignored.

The Canucks have still never won the Stanley Cup, and they play at a teleco-sponsored rink. Seriously – what the fuck is it with Canada and having useless, spiteful, spineless, impossibly-shitty businesses both behind their beloved hockey teams and on top of their beloved hockey arenas?

#101 – Crime Ministers: Arthur Meighen

Arthur Meighen was a shitty Prime Minister.

First off, he was the one who bought the extreme stupidity behind the Citizens’ Committee of One-Thousand and their argument that the Bolsheviks were planning to paint Winnipeg red. He also created the Canadian National Railway, an amazing institution that is now owned mostly by Bill Gates and which continues to create endless delay in creating acceptable mass public interurban transit in Canada. He came to power after Borden resigned in 1920 only to lose power only a year and a half in. Somehow, pissing off Quebec (with mandatory conscription during the War), pissing off labor (see: Winnipeg), and pissing off farmers (tariffs) doesn’t get you elected. Who knew?

Meighen continued to fail after the Chanak Crisis, when he stood accused of blindly supporting British interests despite the whole institution of Parliament and the idea that maybe Canada would want to have some input into a crisis nowhere near Canada and which had no impact on Canada. The accusation of slavish loyalty to Britain comes from his being quoted as saying “ready, aye ready, we stand by you” as his ideal response to Britain offhandedly suggesting that it may want to use Canadian troops. Taking a small note and having it blow up in your face is something special.

Yet this veritable Wile E. Coyote of a Prime Minister had a hard-on for hating Mackenzie King, and so despite being drubbed so hard that he lost his own seat, he won a byelection and came back to Parliament. From there we have little to say about him – he was the immediate beneficiary in the King-Byng Affair when antiquated British tradition was allowed to override democratic principles and put Meighen back in the PM’s chair. Which he then lost immediately, because this is Arthur fucking Meighen son. He then quit the game, bitter and spiteful towards Mackenzie King.

Being the head of two radically unstable governments and being the man responsible for setting up the pins that Jean Chretien would knock down is not the best legacy. The bonus part with the Winnipeg General Strike isn’t good either, even if he didn’t actually issue the go-orders to crush the strike. A forgettable two reigns, the latter installed by the flaccid Governor-General’s office through slavish loyalty to British norms and customs despite being a totally different group of people, for a forgettable person. His rule was not only inconsequential; it was a slapstick comedy of errors.

#100 – Michael Lee-Chin Pulls a Canada

English Canadians seem to have a thing with offering huge sums of money and then only delivering a small portion of that total pledge.

For the record, this year saw Canada fail to deliver $125 million in foreign aid – Foreign Affairs just couldn’t be bothered to reach into its money jar and pull that out like it said it would. Now, I would love to be able to do this with my rent and other bills, responding to the inquiries of assorted Canadian companies by shrugging my shoulders and saying “well, you guys made a profit last quarter. Clearly you don’t need me”. But no Canadian is Canadian enough to claw back money that people have been told to expect without consequence or anyone in Canada noticing. To renege on offers made to the needy, regardless of whether or not you get cold feet, is simply shameful.

The suggestion that one fails to do as they say they are going to, particularly when it comes to funding charity, requires Canada levels at least as high as those of Michael Lee-Chin. A Chinese-Jamaican who moved to Canada, this ~$2 billion fellow made several philanthropic offers, including $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum, one of that province’s few tries at being cultured or indeed civilized. Seeing that the ROM had yet to include a protruding glass cancer sticking out of it, Michael’s donation scored him the right to name that tumor and to set the ROM a’Renovating!

…And then the money didn’t come, forcing the ROM to take on provincial loans. Sure glad that we’re funding this guy’s ego-trip after the money he promised didn’t materialize. Now he’s on a $600,000/year payment plan, which ensures that he will reach his initial obligation in a mere 30 years. Presumably some of that money is going to the essential charity work that is paying off loans that wouldn’t need to have been taken if the rich guy actually did what he said he would do, meaning that all Chin did was to make the ROM pay more for less.

Chin himself got his money from “investment” and mysterious connections to the notoriously money-absorbing Caribbean, meaning that he was stupid lucky and provided nothing innovative to the businesses that he backed. He also dares to criticize people for calling him out on his behavior, suggesting that it would make people not want to be like him. Why we want more people like Michael Lee-Chin, people who demand accolades for providing help* to those who ask for it without actually providing the help, eludes me.Yeah, Mickey – we need more people whose ego costs the public.

Look, folks – regardless of the merits of aid, or of donations, or of anything, you still made a promise and people are still leaning on that promise. It is a colossally dick quintessentially Canadian move to pull the fiscal rug out from someone’s feet, especially when that “someone” is holding a tin for a charitable cause.

#99 – Getting Schooled, Part Six: The Great One (Language)

English Canadians sure are proud to speak English.

Understanding multiple languages is the global norm. Africans tend to speak at least a few languages; Arabs, too, tend to educate their young in other tongues. From Japanese students desperately learning English to Europeans considering which language they wish to pursue for a third or fourth language, most of the world wants to know what the rest of the world is actually talking about. Even Americans are starting to pick up Spanish – heck, the Quebecois have been learning English for decades.

Too bad English Canada won’t join the party.

English Canada has an appalling track record with teaching French (the supposed “natural” second language of Canadians, says Ottawa). Less than half of English Canadians even want a second language, because fuck those benefits and the mobility that comes from being able to do business in different places. Bilingualism is on the rise in Quebec, with nearly half of the province speaking both French and English. Contrast this with Alberta’s amazing 6% bilingualism rate with French and English, or “bilingual by law” New Brunswick’s 33% rate of understanding both languages. Only half of English speakers in Canada are even make proud of having French in the country at all. Because if there’s anything English Canada is good for, it’s whining that people don’t love English enough.

Is learning English a good thing? Of course it is! Learning as many languages as possible is a good thing, really – the problem is that English Canada doesn’t bother with teaching in one langauge well, far less encouraging people to speak in more languages. The cultural benefits of the Cree learning their own tongue, the benefits in terms of actually having a singular national identity that could come from bothering to meet the Quebecois halfway instead of handing out conjugation tables in elementary school and then washing your hands of the French language shortly after kids learn to ask where the bathroom is – nah, those don’t matter because English Canada’s limp-dick business classes don’t want to learn another language. My French education was literally in the form of VHS tapes with English subtitles at the bottom and fucking handouts. I’m pissed because I was cheated out of a third language and English Canada seems to think that this is a good thing.

Instead of trying to learn, English Canadians whinge and wheeze and whine about French. The government of Quebec funds two highly-regarded English-speaking universities in Montreal alone; by contrast, the rest of Canada has one French university and one “bilingual” institution, both of which provide pathetic educations. Clearly the French just hate the English language and everything about it so, so much. Their tiny group of “French-language Gestapo” who make sure that the Sign Law is being followed is obviously a sign that they hate the English. Unlike the massive cultural weight and sneering that English Canada throws at French Canada – that’s just what neighbors do, eh?