Ontario election 2018, II : Is it turning into the Conservatives vs. New Democrats struggle Stephen Harper dreamed of ????

Posted: May 24th, 2018 | No Comments »

Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley welcomes then Conservative PM Stephen Harper to Calgary Stampede, July 2015.

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON., MAY 24.  [UPDATED 1 PM ET]. According to CBC poll analyst Éric Grenier’s latest calculations, the rounded-off polling averages for Ontario election 2018 are now Ford Nation PCs 37%, Andrea Horwath New Democrats 36%, and Kathleen Wynne Liberals 21%.

M. Grenier explains the future between now and the June 7 election day with : “Doug Ford’s numbers have been trending downwards since the start of the campaign and are beginning to put a PC victory in some doubt. Nevertheless, the PCs lead where the bulk of the seats are located … After first taking support away from the Liberals, the NDP appears to be eating into PC support. If this continues, the odds of an NDP victory will increase.”

Meanwhile, the latest Maclean’s-Pollara Ontario poll for May 21–22 has Andrea Horwath New Democrats 38%, Ford Nation PCs 37%, and Kathleen Wynne Liberals 18%. And the latest Leger poll has PCs and NDP tied at 37% with the Liberals at 21%. (Leger finds as well that “a sizable number of voters — more than one third of those asked — have yet to make a final decision.”)

Warren Kinsella has also stressed that the PC vote “is spread out in a way that is more efficient” than the NDP vote. And Éric Grenier’s latest calculations are still suggesting a PC majority government of at least 63 of 124 seats in the legislature.

It is still not exactly easy to believe that a government led by Andrea Horwath is finally going to be the result when all the votes are counted on June 7. Grenier’s May 24 poll averages nonetheless suggest that both Liberals and PCs are losing ground, while the New Democrats (and to a much lesser extent Mike Schreiner’s seldom-noticed Green Party) are gaining.

If current trends continue over the remaining two weeks of the campaign, the prospects of at least a PC minority government may increase. And Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein’s calculation of 10 days ago now, suggesting that the PC s won’t be able to make a minority government work, still looks provocative. (“Unless the PCs win a clear majority of 63 of the Legislature’s 124 seats on June 7, it will likely be either an NDP majority or minority government.”)

From an Ipsos poll released May 9, 2018 when the official election writ was dropped in Ontario and the sign campaigns began.

At the same time, there are moments when I wonder whether what’s happening in Ontario right now is actually coming very close to Stephen Harper’s old dream of a Canadian political system that congenitally pits Conservatives against New Democrats, who the majority of voters are finally bound to view as unrealistic socialist utopians (or something of that sort).

There may or may not be some prospect that the leaders’ debate on TV this Sunday, May 27 (6:30 to 8:00 PM) will add a fresh edge to the race. Meanwhile, I am hoping that Mr. Harper’s old dream remains locked in the closet to which it was consigned by the 2015 federal election. While I continue to wonder and wait … wait and wonder …  (and remain personally convinced that a Premier Horwath could certainly not be any worse than a Premier Ford).

Ontario election 2018, I : On the apparent inevitability of the Donald Trump clone north of the North American Great Lakes

Posted: May 13th, 2018 | No Comments »

Premier Kathleen Wynne (l) and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Mitzie Hunter (r) with friends.

[UPDATED MAY 19]. I will still be voting for Kathleen Wynne in the Ontario election this coming Thursday, June 7, 2018.  (Or more exactly, for those less familiar with the system up here in We The North, I will be voting for her Liberal party candidate in the electoral district where I reside, on the north shore of the fourth largest of the North American Great Lakes, as measured by volume of water.)

To me Premier Wynne is the one seriously class act in Ontario politics today. And she has done a better job than any other prospect in sight of governing Canada’s most populous province through challenging times, and in the interest of the great majority of its ordinary citizens (among whom I of course count myself).

The province’s economy, broadly speaking, is doing well. (The latest statistics,  eg,  show below average unemployment rates for all of BC, Quebec, and Ontario  — along with 9,300 net new jobs in Ontario for April 2018 alone, and 133,400 new jobs in the province since April 2017.)

Ms Wynne’s government, which seems to me to have been more mindful of the interests of the province’s diverse business community than some branches of this community have been willing to credit, has also tried to help those adversely affected by an economy that is both growing and changing dramatically (adding to GDP while “creatively destroying” other parts of itself).  [For more after the UPDATE click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below.]

. John Barber from Lakefield, Ontario.

UPDATE MAY 19 : Citizen X, author of this piece, also wants to highly commend John Barber’s May 17 article in the Toronto Star : “Kathleen Wynne was the premier we didn’t deserve .” It apparently says everything X finally wanted to say about Premier Wynne and more, and “much better than I managed.”

Here is a quick taste of Mr. Barber’s tribute : “Certainly four years of Premier Doug Ford will be more than enough to clear the air. But even before that, I suspect Wynne will emerge in hindsight as the bold leader of the most capable and effective government Ontario has enjoyed since the heyday of the fabled Big Blue Machine.  She will be remembered as the best of her generation … Ontario at its best.”

Kathleen Wynne and William Davis, last modern master of the Big Blue Machine.

Mr. Barber concludes : “She failed because she was too ambitious, she failed because she never resorted to easy deceptions. She failed because she’s a woman, and because she’s gay. She failed because she’s Ontarian, at the mercy of Ontarians, and we’re as ugly as anyone … The future will judge, and what it will say is that we didn’t deserve her.”

Citizen X cites for his necessarily modest commendation as well the short bio of John Barber that accompanies this Star opinion piece, for any who may be unfamiliar with his long and distinguished career as a Canadian journalist : “John Barber chops wood, varnishes boats, and yells at clouds in Lakefield, Ont.”

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Can Justin Trudeau really be defeated in the next Canadian federal election?

Posted: May 8th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Justin Trudeau and family visit Taj Mahal in India, February 2018.

Has the prime minister of Canada reached rock bottom in his current troubles when no less than the UK-based Guardian complains : “Justin Trudeau is waging a phony war against inequality”?

And, after some two months too long in the wilderness, does Prime Minister Trudeau (II) now have nowhere to go but up?  (Or is he inexorably going down, from here on in?)

To start with, less than three weeks ago CBC opinion poll analyst Éric Grenier reported : “A new poll suggests the federal Liberals have recovered from their post-India slump, regaining a commanding lead over the Conservatives … It also indicates that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s base of support has gotten softer — a sign that his ill-fated trip to the subcontinent might have had a longer-term impact.”

For the recovery side of the picture see “Liberals 41, Conservatives 29, NDP 16, Green 8 … Nanos Weekly Tracking, ending April 13, 2018 … (released April 17, 2018 – 6 am Eastern).”

Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump at the White House, October 2017. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images.

And then see “Liberals 39, Conservatives 31, NDP 18, Green 6 … Nanos Weekly Tracking, ending April 27, 2018 (released May 1, 2018 – 6 am Eastern)” — for some potential “longer-term impact.” For a much worse view of continued softening in Liberal support see the latest Forum Research federal poll, released on April 27 : “Conservative Majority if an Election Held Now.”

And finally, for something in between, see the Ipsos “online survey of 1,907 Canadians conducted between April 24 and 30, 2018,” and released on May 4 : Liberals 36, Conservatives 35, NDP 20, Green 6. (Oh and BQ 3 — and all summarized by Global News with “Liberals gain more public approval as memory of India trip fades: Ipsos poll.”)

There is also an argument that, regardless of the trip to India, Justin Trudeau is at that point in his term of office when things start going wobbly. Éric Grenier investigated this claim a month ago now, in “For Trudeau, a normal mid-mandate slump in the polls? Not really … The Liberals’ slump … is not unheard of at this stage of their mandate, but it is far from routine.”

A very young Justin Trudeau in canoe with his father.

Two recent mainstream media pieces have nonetheless pondered this theme : “‘Time has run out’ on Trudeau government, says Harper’s ex-chief of staff,” by Monique Scotti at Global News ; and “Justin Trudeau fighting ghost of Stephen Harper, struggling with ghost of his own father … As first mandate ticks down, the PM is starting to think about how he’ll be remembered,” by Susan Delacourt in the Toronto Star.

Yet there seems some sense as well in which various elements in the Canadian political system have been doing their best to groom Justin Trudeau for the same kind of safe-to-hate-object in public life that Kathleen Wynne has lately been saddled with in Ontario.

He is not a formidable gay woman with a public same-sex partner in later life. But he has been someone who talks about ideals that are always hard to realize in the real world of politics.

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Toronto van killings : strong city that ignores painful truths joins real global village at last

Posted: May 2nd, 2018 | No Comments »

It was strange being in the USA (well, California at any rate) when a 25-year old man from Richmond Hill was reported to have deliberately driven a rented van along the sidewalk on north Yonge Street in Toronto, killing eight women and two men, and injuring another 16.

At least the TV we were watching in Petaluma, CA (CNN, MSNBC — same as we watch in Toronto actually) — noted the kinder and gentler way the Toronto police soon enough got their man (with special reference to the deft use of minimum force by Constable Ken Lam).

Yet catching up on what had happened when we returned to town several days later was not altogether easy.

There was a “Toronto Strong” vigil at Mel Lastman Square on north Yonge Street, on the evening of Sunday, April 29 — not quite a week after the tragic events of Monday, April 23. At the same time, a headline on a recent Globe and Mail article by Elizabeth Renzetti pointed to a feeling I share : “Toronto may be strong, but so is the drive to ignore painful truths.”

I haven’t actually read this article. You have to pay for that. I put so much on the net for free myself (whether readers want it or not of course) that I find it impossible to pay for anything else.

Wayne Adam from faraway Danforth and Greenwood holds up a Canadian flag at vigil remembering the victims of deadly van attack, at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto on Sunday, April 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn.

But the day after we were back from California I went drinking (very moderately at my age) in the Toronto Annex with old friends. We talked about almost everything else in the news at length. But we said nothing about the tragic van killings on north Yonge Street. Ms Renzetti’s local “drive to ignore painful truths” was too strong …

Even several days later, early in May 2018, exactly what drove “accused killer Alek Minassian” to do what he did on north Yonge Street in Toronto (and then unsuccessfully ask Constable Lam to shoot him) is a story with complex depths. It will take time (and a weakening drive to ignore painful truths) to discover and even longer to understand.

Already, however, it does seem that the event has been plausibly enough placed politically, as it were, in the larger universe of crazed mass murders of our time, in North America and beyond …

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Off to Trump’s America again in .. just what is going on there anyway (& in good old ontariario too) ????

Posted: April 17th, 2018 | No Comments »

Petaluma, California in the late 19th century.

In some ways we cannot really say that almost all of us in the Toronto editorial office here will be headed for Trump’s America on April 18, 2018, for one of our regular conferences with our growing technical staff in northern California.

California generally is not really in Trump’s America, of course,  and northern California especially (except in the more seriously rural places?). Our technical staff have in any case recently relocated to Petaluma — “a city in Sonoma County, California, part of the North Bay sub-region of the San Francisco Bay Area, located 37 mi (60 km) north of San Francisco. Its population was 57,941 according to the 2010 Census.”

Our expanding technical staff were particularly attracted to Petaluma by the availability of increasingly large real estate packages at (well, sort of) reasonable prices — and by the location of the Lagunitas Brewing Company on one edge of town.

California Governor Jerry Brown and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speak to reporters after a "fireside chat" on climate change in downtown Toronto on Monday, April 16, 2018. (KRISTIN RUSHOWY / TORONTO STAR).

Meanwhile, we will be travelling to the Golden State bearing something of a disrespectful embarrassment from We the North of the Great Lakes. See : “California governor snubbed by Progressive Conservatives … The Ontario government asked for Jerry Brown to be allowed to address the legislature, but the PC party refused to allow it.”

Meanwhile, we are also leaving with various recent New Yorker headlines ringing in our ears. See, eg : “Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency” ; and “James Comey’s Blistering Interview About Donald Trump.”

We remain at a Show-Me-the-Money stage in all this, though we’d agree the forces against President Trump seem to be gaining some momentum at the moment.

Our views are increasingly blunted as well by the growing realization that there is a perhaps even extremely good chance that Canadian Trump follower Doug Ford  — older and (possibly?) somewhat wiser brother of the late wild and crazy Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — will be “Progressive Conservative” Premier of Ontario (like a state governor, sort of) before the local elementary schools start their summer holidays this year.

Downtown Petaluma today by the water, at night.

We will be pondering and discussing all such weighty and other important matters during our Petaluma conversations. We’ll be back on the north shore of Lake Ontario later in April. And on current calculations we’ll be ready to report on the further adventures of the universe as visible from our we-the-northern regional observatory early in May.

As on past occasions of this sort Bunting will be staying behind to guard the office furniture. But he’ll just be keeping a light in the window, nothing more.

He is advising all those who seriously require something to help put them to sleep on a troubled night (or morning) to consider his esteemed colleague Randall White’s recently completed Part III of his Children of the Global Village work in progress, on “The Dominion of Canada, 1867–1963” — a snapshot history of the growth of democracy in the first 96 years of the modern Canadian confederation, in six chapters :

1. First self-governing dominion of the British empire : Further founding moments, 1867–1873

2. Arduous Destiny : Canada’s alternative to the Great Barbecue, 1873-1896

3. Sunny Ways : Imperial Preference, New Boom, and Last Best West, 1896–1911

4. Our Lady of the Snows, 1911–1921

5. Age of the Incredible Canadian, 1921–1948

6. Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963

(O and btw : Happy 70th birthday in the Buckhorn woods Spirit of CHW : “In the morning the sun was up and the tent was starting to get hot … The sun was just up over the hill … There were birch trees in the green of the swamp … He built a little fire and put on the coffee pot.” )

Putting David Livingston in jail is what’s really harmful to the future of parliamentary democracy in Ontario

Posted: April 11th, 2018 | No Comments »

David Livingston, former premier Dalton's McGuinty's chief of staff from 2012 to 2013. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press).

I would like to offer a brief dissenting opinion to today’s Ontario Court of Justice decision reported in “Former top Ontario Liberal aide sentenced to 4 months in jail for role in gas plants scandal … David Livingston was chief of staff for former premier Dalton McGuinty.”

I am not offering my opinion as a lawyer or a judge. I am just an Ontario voter in his  early-close-to-mid 70s. At the same time, I do have a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. And rather long ago now (during the later phases of the old Progressive Conservative dynasty), I spent about a dozen years as an enrolled member of the Ontario Public Service.

I have subsequently worked as a public policy research consultant for a wide variety of clients at all three levels of government in Canada. And I am the author of a number of books on Ontario and Canadian history and politics, from which I still receive (very) modest sums of Canadian dollars more or less regularly.

I should also perhaps say that all I have read about the 4-months-in-jail decision of Justice Timothy Lipson is the CBC News article alluded to above. I am similarly not intimately familiar with all the details of David Livingston’s case.

I have, however, long been following both his case and the larger so-called “gas plants scandal,” with something approaching a professional (and a voter’s) interest in sound and wise Ontario public policy.

I believe I am qualified enough to offer the following two-part opinion on what is essentially a public policy argument for David Livingston’s 4-month jail sentence (also understandably being appealed by his lawyer along with his original conviction) …

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Does Doug Ford actually resemble old Dief the Chief in Canada, 1957–63, and not Donald Trump in USA today?

Posted: April 8th, 2018 | No Comments »

Doug Ford takes questions during pre-budget lock-up at Queens Park Legislature in Toronto, Wednesday, March 28, 2018. CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS.

The other night on TV the eminent and excellent CBC News poll analyst Éric Grenier advised that, based on current polling data, the coming June 7 election in Canada’s most populous province is “Doug Ford’s to lose.”

This has various people nervous, including us. However you look at it, the new provincial Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford is Ontario’s version of the right-wing populist crusade that Donald Trump speaks for in the USA right now.

This crusade also has various things to do with Brexit in the UK, the recent Italian elections,  and on and on, possibly even back to Narendra Modi’s (at least somewhat Hindu nationalist?) BJP government of the world’s largest democracy, in the modern Republic of India.

We strongly believe that repeating these right-wing-populist-in-power adventures north of the North American Great Lakes can serve no useful public purpose, and will certainly bring some real harm to the great majority of we the people of Ontario.

We who are writing this in particular live and work in Toronto — capital city of the Canadian Province of Ontario. (Canadian provinces are more or less comparable to American states, though Ontario has a larger budget than any state of the union except New York and California.).

For us the prospect that even former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s somewhat older and wiser brother Doug will be Premier of Ontario before the Summer Breeze starts to blow raises thoughts of moving to California, at least until Premier Ford self-destructs or otherwise leaves office.

Meanwhile, our counterweights colleague and eminence grise Randall White dropped around to the main office yesterday with the latest installment of his work-in-progress on the history of Canadian democracy, tentatively entitled Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

If you go to “Long Journey to a Canadian Republic” on the bar above (or just CLICK HERE), you will find a short introduction to the democratic Dr. White’s project, along with the “Prologue : too much geography.”

This is followed by links to the currently completed six chapters in Part I, four  chapters in Part II, and the first five chapters in Part III on the old Dominion of Canada. You will now find as well a link to the final Chapter 6 in Part III  : “Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963.”

After a few words in the office, we caught up somewhat later with Dr. White and his irresistible business manager at the Tim Horton’s across from Kew Gardens, to hear a possibly less bleak and daunting theory of Doug Ford in Ontario in 2018.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker, 1957-1963.

White’s latest chapter of the Children of the Global Village project, he noted, ends with the 13th prime minister of the 1867 confederation in Canada, John George Diefenbaker from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. And there are a few things that Diefenbaker in the 1950s and 1960s and Doug Ford today have in common.

They are both Progressive Conservative populist leaders. And no one talked about a “Diefenbaker Nation” back then, but Dief the Chief certainly had one. (You can read all about it  in “Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963.”)

Diefenbaker had problems actually governing, that Dr. White thinks could eventually befall Premier Doug Ford in Ontario as well. But in the end, we asked, does Dr. White think Doug Ford may actually be more like Diefenbaker back then than like Donald Trump today?

He just laughed and said “No … whatever the other similarities Diefenbaker was progressive in a way Doug Ford has shown no serious signs of being yet. And he was not the same knee-jerk, open-for-business, free-market salesman Doug Ford is. Rob Ford may have done Trump before Trump, but Doug Ford is finally just imitating Trump — and he’s nowhere near as rich.”

Scene of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday, April 6, 2018, on the way to a game with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

(Later White phoned in a final note about John Diefenbaker from Prince Albert. Were he alive today, the 13th prime minister of Canada would be deeply distressed by the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday, April 6, on the way to a game with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The RCMP has now confirmed 15 fatalities and more than a dozen other injuries. Somewhere out among the stars the heart of the late populist Prime Minister Diefenbaker is feeling the pain of his friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens in 2018.)

Blue Jays 2018 : Stocked with talent and caveats, they could be either contenders or pretenders .. or just a team in limbo

Posted: March 29th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

Dalton Pompey at World Baseball Classic, March 2017.

From the outset of 2017 something was amiss. The day before the first full-squad workout in the spring, all-star Josh Donaldson suffered a tear in his right calf and did not find his stride until late July.

Then Canadian Blue Jay prospect Dalton Pompey suffered a concussion at the World Baseball Classic and spent the entire year on the disabled list. Later in March, Roberto Osuna and Francisco Liriano suffered neck and back injuries that left them chasing full strength on the mound to begin the season.

Next, and most crushing, Aaron Sanchez developed a blister far bigger than any previous one on his pitching hand and spent the whole year in search of a solution.

Then the bell rang, and the team with the oldest players in the majors limped out to a 1-9 start from which they never recovered.  Doomed before they’d even cracked the roof at the Rogers Centre for the summer.

The losses continued to pile up for the underperforming Blue Jays, who were mired in last place in the American League East for every single day of the season, save the last when the Jays handed the basement over to the equally woeful Baltimore Orioles.

Then somehow, the Blue Jays extended their losing streak beyond the baseball season and into the offseason with the widespread purging of 20 back-office employees by CEO Mark Shapiro in October.

Good people at their jobs were let go. Reasons were not really given. Explanations were not provided.  On the surface, the moves came across as petty, even mean-spirited, as in the case of visiting clubhouse manager Lenny Frejlich, one of the few charter employees with the club.

Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins came to the Jays from Cleveland following the 2015 season and have been accused by many observers of wanting to mould the clubhouse in their own image, bringing in cronies and getting rid of as many old -guard employees as possible.

They fired a bunch of long-serving back-office people, none of whom actually made baseball decisions or were tasked to hit home runs, for no particularly good reason other than they could do it. Or maybe it’s got something to do with “culture”—  a word that these days gets thrown around so often by this management team to explain away bad decisions that it’s beginning to sound Orwellian.

“Jose!..Jose!..Jose! ... 54 HRs in 2010 and one memorable bat flip in the magical 2015 season.”

The offseason also saw the loss of long-time Blue Jay favourite Jose Bautista, whose contract was non-tendered by management after a less than spectacular 2017 in which he hit .203. He will be remembered for thrilling Blue Jay fans for over 10 years in which they serenaded him with “Jose!…Jose!..Jose!”, highlighted by 54 HRs in 2010 and one memorable bat flip in the magical 2015 season.  A place will be made for him one day on the Blue Jay Level of Excellence.

Further losses to the team included one broadcaster (Gregg Zaun) getting swept up in the #MeToo tsunami for his “inappropriate behaviour and comments,” and also to long-time radio broadcaster Jerry Howarth, who after 36 years of being the voice of summer for the Blue Jays, retired before the start of spring training due to ongoing health concerns.

But perhaps the greatest loss of the offseason occurred on Nov 7 th, 2017 when former Blue Jay great Roy Halladay perished after crashing his plane in the Gulf of Mexico …

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Is Stormy Daniels on the edge of a real political career at last?

Posted: March 24th, 2018 | No Comments »

Some time ago (and along with others no doubt) I began to ponder the possibility that in order to defeat Donald Trump and his wrong side of history, democracy in America has to come up with someone who is both as crazy and yet strangely talented as he is.

After I saw an especially good “Real Time with Bill Maher” episode one Friday night a while back, I came up with the too crazy thought that maybe Bill Maher should be the next Democratic candidate for president.

When I raised this prospect with friends over drinks they laughed so loud that I had to stress I just meant it as a joke. But now Entertainment Columnist Vinay Menon’s Toronto Star report this past Friday has pointed to a new and possibly slightly more suitable candidate.

See Menon’s : “When Trump looks in the mirror, he sees Stormy Daniels … To glimpse Stormy Daniels on prime-time television is to realize what Donald Trump is now up against: himself.”

(And note of course that the lovely Ms Daniels will be on “60 Minutes” tomorrow night!)

A slight amount of research on the web will also reveal that Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford from the wrong side of the tracks in Baton Rouge, capital of Louisiana) has already had the kind of getting-your-feet-wet pass at a political career also known to the early Donald Trump.

Stormy Daniels with her lawyer Michael Avenatti (l) and Anderson Cooper( r ), who interviewed her for 60 Minutes, March 25, 2018.

See, eg, this report posted with a flourish of footnotes on Wikipedia : “A group of fans attempted to recruit Daniels to run against Republican Senator David Vitter in Louisiana in 2010.[8] The recruitment process was centered around the website DraftStormy.com.[22] On May 21, 2009, she formed an exploratory committee.[23] Daniels was unaffiliated with any party until April 2010 when she declared herself as a Republican.[3] She made several listening tours around Louisiana to focus on the economy, as well as women in business and child protection[24] and stated that if elected, she would likely retire from the adult industry.[25] In August, 2009, her campaign manager’s car was blown up, although no one was in the car at that time.[26] She announced on April 15, 2010, that she would not be running for Senate, saying she could not afford a run for the Senate seat and stating that the media never took her candidacy seriously.[27]”

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Jill Lepore’s three lectures in Toronto .. in the shadow of the new Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford ..

Posted: March 21st, 2018 | No Comments »

The thing to remember about the United States of America when it intermittently seems on the verge of civil war (metaphorically at least?) is that it is in the end a very complex place, full of many different real-world human beings.

For every “Ugly American” there are at least a few and often enough many more who remain attractive and full of humanity and common sense, regardless of “race, creed or color” ; “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” ; “sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin” ; or “national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status.”

As one attractive example, Jill Lepore — Harvard University professor of American history and New Yorker magazine columnist —  was supposed to give her “End of Knowledge” contribution to the F.E.L. Priestly Memorial Lectures at University College in the University of Toronto around this time last year. But extreme late winter weather cancelled her flight from Boston.

Her three “End of Knowledge lectures” — on “Facts,” “Numbers,” and “Data” in more or less chronological order — were put ahead to this past March 13, 14, and 15, 2018.

Even this time a late-season blizzard in Boston came close to canceling the trip. Happily Ms. Lepore managed to catch a plane to Toronto the day before.

University College Toronto at night.

I and I would guess most others who made their way to the venerable two-tier University College lecture hall called “UC 140” at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the middle of March, found her late afternoon talks altogether worth the wait.

(And that was only partly because it is always agreeable to sit on contemporary lecture-hall furniture, amidst awesome wood paneling from an age when high local carpentry skills were more common than they seem today.)

Jill Lepore herself began her first talk with some brief thoughts about the attractions of spending time in older buildings on the downtown U of T campus — and how bringing together the academic community, a great variety of students, and curious citizens of the surrounding city (my own classification) was what finally made the “universe” of the university real.

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