Over the weekend I was listening to an interview with Celina Caesar-Chevannes. Remember her? She’s the former Liberal MP for Whitby, Ontario who also served as a Parliamentary Secretary in the Trudeau Government. That is, until she made the conscious decision to not seek re-election in 2019. In a somewhat bespoke exit, she left the political stage.
Now she’s back with a book, Can You Hear Me Now? to tell us all about her own experience as a woman trying to toe the party line.
You may also have forgotten that Caesar-Chevannes’ story followed on the heels of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott’s decisions to leave the Liberal Caucus, and their positions in the cabinet. These were monumental moves that could have had serious consequences for these women. Sadly, their courage failed to move the needle for women in positions of leadership.
I always wondered why the public wasn’t more deeply concerned about this clear sign of toxicity on the Hill. Maybe it was because the SNC Lavalin scandal took up all the 280 allowable characters in a Tweet? But I was always struck why more of the of focus was never placed on what was an undeniable sign that Trudeau’s leadership was showing significant cracks. Especially in how he handled women in his Caucus and Cabinet.
It’s no wonder to me that toxicity on Parliament Hill continues with more poisonous headlines. From high on her perch falls the Governor General Julie Payette. Her secretary Assunta di Lorenzo tumbles, conveniently after. Now, Rideau Hall is slowly putting the pieces back together again. This will be difficult, as the wounds of toxicity almost always fester, run deep, and are far reaching.
Most fascinating is the carnage of women who have fallen on their swords, or unceremoniously exited the political arena. What does this say about the promising 50/50 male to female balance that the PM so proudly touted? Maybe it’s a sign that we aren’t ready to accept the consequences of female competence at the table. Or is there something these women lacked that caused their demise? Unable to handle the pressure? Lacking in skills?
In leadership theory, toxic workplaces are generally thought to be caused by a leader who is too controlling, critical, harsh and unapproachable. They also become toxic when a leader is too lax, cannot make difficult decisions, or handle tough conversations. In my experiences of being a leader, and being a follower, this has always been proved true.
The toxicity on the Hill stems from Trudeau himself who – not unlike many others – strayed from the core values that make up good leaders. That happens often enough, but it fascinates me that he never really seems to get the message, and neither does the collective electorate.
I’m even more captivated by the history of these women being served up on a silver platter. Perhaps they were offerings, to distract us from what is really going on. Not to say that Julie Payette is a victim. She is not. She made some damaging mistakes.
But I do see very clearly the connection to women falling from high places, around a leader who does not seem to be able to provide an example of what good leadership looks like. Nor is he able to retain competent women around the cabinet table.
In this case, we might do well to evaluate the big picture and what it means. I’m talking about the Double Bind of Leadership. For women, this a tough thing. We’re expected to be competent to stand a chance at getting the position. On the other hand, if we are perceived as overly confident, or too competent, we are sometimes seen as unlikable. If we try to temper unlikability by being more feminine, we risk being perceived as too soft, and not competent.
It takes people – and especially men – to set the example of being truly cognizant of unconscious bias. This doesn’t occur just because we think it should. A woman’s voice and her ideas are often unheard in meetings and around the boardroom table. Women don’t need to think too hard to recall being spoken on top of, or mansplained to.
And it’s not just up to men either. Women have to learn how to better foster alliances that will help magnify their voice, or else be shuffled towards that chopping block.
Canada’s proudly feminist prime minister talks a good game about supporting women, but when the chips are down, they are the first ones to take the blame for his own mistakes.
Christine Cusanelli is a columnist for the Western Standard
SLOBODIAN: CBC won’t win any Pulitzers with its Freedom Convoy coverage
“Perhaps Trudeau should rethink the isolation decision and man up to face the massive convoy he called a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views” that do not represent Canadians.”
Canada’s on the brink of the main attraction of the biggest event that has rocked this nation in a long time.
The Freedom Convoy has inched so close to the capital, one can almost smell the aromatic diesel wafting into the hallowed halls of Parliament.
The truckers are protesting draconian vaccine mandates that stop them and Canadians of all walks of life from earning a living and simply living free.
The convoy’s expected to converge on Ottawa Sunday.
History is about to be made in a spectacular way.
Naturally, the CBC — the nation’s woke public broadcaster that inhales $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars, a good chunk of that from the truckers whose intentions it has grossly misrepresented — is on top of the news.
The CBC combed through 82,500 (now at 88,000-plus) donations to the convoy’s GoFundMe standing at $7 million raised, to deliver a shocking expose in a story headlined: Large number of donations to protest convoy came from aliases, unnamed sources.
Your tax dollars at work.
A legion of CBC employees must have been assigned to research that hard-hitting piece of journalism one could interpret as another feeble attempt to discredit the integrity of convoy, the fund, and countless supporting patriotic Canadians.
“At least a third of the donations to the GoFundMe campaign set up to support the convoy of trucks headed to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandate came from anonymous sources or were attributed to fake names, according to an analysis by CBC News.
“While thousands of Canadians and Canadian businesses have dipped into their pockets to fund the cause, thousands of other donors to the campaign are listed simply as ‘Anonymous.’”
Someone should tell CBC that’s par for the course. Many who donate all fund-raisers do so anonymously because they don’t want someone like, say, CBC reporters poking their noses into their benevolent business.
The reporter revealed that donations made used the names of other people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie, Fidel Castro, Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and naughty words used as names.
The investigative arm of the CBC swiftly moved to action and contacted Tam’s office, the Prime Minister’s Office, and other donors listed for confirmation on whether they made the contributions.
Seriously, does the CBC think Trudeau is a generous closet patriot?
The CBC supposedly unbiased reporter also wanted to know “what, if anything” GoFundMe plans to do about the “violation of its terms and service” regarding “the Freedom Convoy’s page using invented names or the names of other people.”
As for using no names at all, the CBC, that bastion of openness and accountability would never use anonymous sources. Oh wait, it does that all the time.
That’s acceptable media and CBC policy, but people who donated $5 or $10,000 to the truckers must be outed, denigrated, hauled into the public square, and perhaps even flogged, because surely, they are supporting something really, very sinister.
Meanwhile, a most unfortunate turn of events will prevent Trudeau from meeting with throngs of Canadians from all corners of the land.
You can imagine how disappointed he’ll be to have to miss a magnificent opportunity to finally, for once, shine like a strong leader of this great nation.
Apparently, Trudeau came in contact with a phantom someone somewhere who tested positive for COVID-19, so must isolate for five days.
Darn. What wretched luck.
What are the odds?
There’s not been even one report of COVID-19 exposure among the tens of thousands of truckers and supporters that have mingled and been in close contact for the past several days.
Nope, no details on who the COVID-19 infected someone is who put Trudeau in jeopardy, or on how they are doing.
Our condolences to the double-vaxxed Trudeau who also got a booster shot.
Canadians need to know — where do we send cards and notes of support to our beloved prime minister? A vacation spot like Tofino or Costa Rica?
His home silly.
“I feel fine and will be working from home,” Trudeau tweeted.
But health authorities have been telling Canadians that if they’re asymptomatic, there’s no need to stay home and isolate.
Perhaps Trudeau should rethink the isolation decision and man up to face the massive convoy he called a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views” that do not represent Canadians.
Speaking of home, the usual suspects who can’t resist stirring up trouble at environment, and all other protests, will be crawling out of mom’s basement or their lairs in the woods, to inject themselves into the planned peaceful protest.
They’re gonna have to clean up if they want to pose as truckers and wear something other than the usual black attire and hoods and masks that hide their identity.
Some will be easy to spot. They’ll be the ones with small animals nesting in their hair.
They’ll have crazy eyes and vocabulary naughty enough to make the truckers blush.
They’ll be the pansies who torment people in other peaceful protests.
Our truckers, who are heroically fighting for Canadians, will crush them with the tips of their thumbs if they get out of line and try to make the convoy and Canadians behind them look bad.
But count on it, these losers will try.
And the likes of CBC will breathlessly give them credibility — but won’t bother to find out their names.
Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
MORGAN: The establishment has lost control
“Alternative media is giving the public a means to bypass the establishment media and citizens are flocking to it.”
In 1999, the Alberta Independence Party (AIP) was founded by myself and a handful of others. We had a shell of a website, a few bucks, and a lot of ambition. With months of work and promotional effort, we amassed a couple of hundred members but were generally unheard of. There was just no way for a modest movement like ours to get into the public eye.
That changed when our website caught the eye of a journalist with the National Post who wrote a column about us. Suddenly things snowballed and I spent weeks doing interviews with media outlets across the country. Our membership quickly swelled into the thousands and the donations began rolling in as Albertans discovered us.
The vast majority of the press about us was negative. I recall one column with the Globe and Mail that began with “Cory the Kid and his pipsqueak party” before it started to get negative. I did a CBC appearance in the Calgary studio where they sat me on a tiny, uncomfortable stool and had a panel in Toronto spend half an hour explaining why I was an idiot and an extremist. I felt outright pummelled when I finished that one.
I took that abuse and absorbed that negative press back then because it worked for us and there was no other way to reach the public. We would see a surge in memberships and donors after every appearance in the mainstream media because viewers saw through the bias.
It quickly became apparent that there had been a massive appetite for an independence-minded party in Alberta at that time, but until the mainstream media took notice of it, we just couldn’t tap into that base. There was no way to bypass the establishment media and they were the gatekeepers of information to the public at large.
That has all changed.
Just look at the explosive growth of the Truckers for Freedom convoy. Despite being initially ignored by the media and later eviscerated by it, the movement has raised over $7 million from almost 100,000 people in a short two weeks. Having a grassroots movement grow like that in such short order would have been impossible twenty years ago.
Alternative media is giving the public a means to bypass the establishment media and citizens are flocking to it.
Just look at podcaster Joe Rogan. His viewership now dwarfs that of CNN despite years of efforts by the woke establishment to cancel him. Spotify paid $100 million for exclusive rights to Joe Rogan’s show. The debacle was laughable and a little bit sad when Neil Young gave an ultimatum to Spotify and demanded the host either dump Joe Rogan or Young. Spotify pulled all of Young’s music without hesitation. Young made his career by writing songs in opposition to the establishment and now he ironically is fading away as a defender of the establishment today.
Maxime Bernier’s PPC failed to win a seat in the last election but they still gained considerable support across the country for such a new party. Again, this sort of movement would have been impossible to create so quickly twenty years ago.
When we were organizing the AIP, only 25% of our members even had email accounts. We had to reach out by mail and phone while donations came slowly by cheque. I can only imagine the growth we could have had if we had the communication and fundraising means provided by social media today. The AIP flared out and faded away within a year due in no small part to my own inexperience in leading and organizing a party. Perhaps we could have created something more enduring if we had access to the types of networking and communication tools available today.
As the growing Trucker’s for Freedom convoy continues its inexorable march towards Ottawa, the panic from the Canadian establishment has been palpable. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the convoy as being a collection of extremists and has since gone into hiding due to apparently coming in contact with a person who tested for COVID-19. Mainstream media is alternating between trying to frame the convoy as being extreme, dangerous, and even racist for some reason.
All the establishment efforts to slow this juggernaut are failing. If anything, efforts to hinder the convoy are only galvanizing the supporters further.
Time will tell how productive the convoy’s efforts will be once it hits Parliament Hill. I am watching with eager anticipation and a little trepidation. I don’t want to see anything violent or negative breaking out and I know that is always a risk even if the vast majority of participants are rational.
The convoy has already changed Canada forever. It has proven that no efforts from the political or media establishment can stop a movement anymore if that movement has popular support. Communication, organization, and fundraising are all impossible to stop as a myriad of options now exist in the digital world. Canada’s powerbrokers are shaken right now. They don’t know what to do and it looks good on them.
Modern technology has truly taken the power from the establishment and put it squarely into the hands of citizens. Now we just have to learn how to use that power positively.
Cory Morgan is Assistant Opinion & Broadcast Editor for the Western Standard
CARPAY: Alberta abolishes the presumption of innocence
“The Provincial Administrative Penalties Act makes Albertans guilty until proven innocent. “
The Provincial Administrative Penalties Act was rushed through the Legislature in June of 2020, while constitutional lawyers had their hands full with lockdown measures, and were busy defending people who had been issued huge fines for exercising their Charter freedoms, like protesting peacefully outdoors. Passed under the ever-popular banner of cracking down on impaired driving, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act makes Albertans guilty until proven innocent. Alberta’s provincial traffic court will be practically abolished, even for drivers facing severe penalties such as the loss of their driver’s license. Instead of being charged with a traffic offence to which one can plead “not guilty,” Albertans will be presumed guilty upon receiving a “notice of penalty” from the police.
Albertans wishing to try their luck at proving their innocence must pay a non-refundable fee of $50 to challenge a penalty of $299 or less, or pay a non-refundable $150 to challenge a penalty of $300 or more.
Instead of appearing in-person before an impartial judge in traffic court during public and transparent proceedings, Albertans who have been “notified” of their penalty by a policeman will have only a private or secret telephone or zoom encounter with a provincial government employee called an “adjudicator.” The government (as the policeman) says you’ve broken the law and has already found you guilty, and now the government (by way of one of its employees) decides on whether you have sufficiently proven your innocence. This is like judge John Green ruling on a case where John Green is himself the plaintiff: the bias is obvious.
The Provincial Administrative Penalties Act destroys judicial independence because the government employee “adjudicator” is subject to performance reviews, promotions, and (potentially) dismissal. Politicians and senior bureaucrats would not dare to instruct an independent traffic court judge, but they can easily pressure an “adjudicator” to see to it that more Albertans pay more fines.
Section 18(1) states: “The burden of proof in a review is on the person requesting the review.”
The accused person no longer has the right to see all of the government’s documents that are relevant to her case, including documents that might assist her defense. Further, the accused no longer has the right to see relevant documents prior to the “review.”
Section 18(4) of the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act expressly abolishes the rules of evidence. The “adjudicators” need not be lawyers and can consider improper evidence such as hearsay. Section 14 declares that any document “confirmed” by a police officer is “deemed to have been made under oath.” The officer’s notes, and any hearsay provided by an anonymous witness, can be “confirmed” by the officer, and will then be treated by the “adjudicator” as though it is sworn testimony. Perversely, while the “adjudicator” is asked to believe and trust documents provided by police as though sworn under oath, the already-guilty recipient of the “notice of penalty” cannot cross-examine the police officer or any other person who makes assertions or accusations. This shows how biased this new “review” procedure is: all police evidence (including third-party hearsay) is declared to be reliable and trustworthy, yet that very same evidence cannot be challenged by cross-examination. It’s “heads I win” for the government and “tails you lose” for the already-guilty Albertan who received her “notice of penalty.”
No person may be cross-examined. So, if “Jane Smith” photographs or writes down your license plate and calls the police to accuse you of driving erratically or dangerously, a policeman can, if he believes Jane’s story, find you guilty of a traffic violation immediately. The policeman can come to your house and give you a “notice of penalty” by which you are instantly guilty of whatever Jane Smith accused you of. You can then pay a non-refundable $50 or $150 for a “review” (not a fair trial) before an “adjudicator” (not a judge), but neither you nor your lawyer can cross-examine Jane Smith about her accusations against you.
The Provincial Administrative Penalties Act allows for appeals, but specifies that the Court of Queen’s Bench must consider only whether the adjudicator’s decision is “reasonable,” and must disregard any errors in law (like admitting hearsay as evidence, for example).
“But it’s only traffic court,” argues the Alberta government. “We are not killing the presumption of innocence for criminal matters.” Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party fail to understand that the presumption of innocence operates as a shield between the individual and the overwhelming power of the state. It stops the government from handing out fines arbitrarily and from imposing penalties easily. It protects citizens from wrongful convictions and unjust punishments, whether “criminal” or not.
The presumption of innocence is vital to a free and democratic society because it places necessary restraints on a powerful state which, if left unchecked, can easily crush an individual. Section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that “any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the presumption of innocence is not limited only to criminal law, but extends to any offence that can result in punishment, stating: “It cannot be seriously contended that, just because a minor traffic offence leads to a very slight consequence, perhaps only a small fine, that offence does not fall within section 11. It is a criminal or quasi‑criminal proceeding.”
So why is Alberta ditching the presumption of innocence? Because provincial traffic court is expensive, says the government. But government revenues from traffic fines exceed the cost of operating traffic courts, by many multiples. Millions of tickets are issued to Albertans each year, of which only 3% end up in court. If traffic courts are too busy, police can easily help solve that problem by targeting theft, vandalism, break-and-enter, assault, murder and other crimes, rather than devoting huge swaths of police resources to speed-traps and other traffic enforcement.
Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney and acting Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Sonya Savage claim that “serious criminals are getting back onto the streets because the courts are bogged down with traffic issues.” But traffic matters are dealt with in traffic court, not criminal court. If the ministers are truly concerned about “serious criminals” on the streets they can easily increase criminal court capacity by appointing more judges and hiring more prosecutors, and they can direct police to focus on serious crimes rather than on traffic offences. There is no need to abolish traffic court, or make Albertans pay $50 or $150 just for a chance to try to prove their innocence in a biased “review” process.
Albertans have been told since March 2020 to give up their Charter rights and freedoms, and to submit to permanent lockdown policies, because hospitals are overcrowded. This absolves the government of its failure to increase hospital capacity in the past 22 months. In similar fashion, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act abolishes the Charter right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, under the pretext of saving money and keeping serious criminals off the streets. Both claims are disingenuous. There is simply no need to violate Charter rights and freedoms because of government negligence or incompetence.
John Carpay is a Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca)
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