Politics 31 results

What makes a political campaign ugly?

Politics: The art of the campaign You know the gloves are off when someone makes a comparison to Hitler. It's already happened in the race for the Republican nominee, but Rod Mickleburgh reports it can happen anywhere when tempers flare and common sense is thrown under a campaign bus driven by fear. By Rod Mickleburgh Forty years ago this month, all these things really happened. The premier of British Columbia waited for the provincial election results with his wife and kids in a nondescript Coquitlam motel room behind closed drapes, the windows covered over by aluminum foil to discourage possible snipers. Plainclothes members of the RCMP prowled the corridors, making sure no one approached the premier’s room to try and make good on several anonymous death threats Dave Barrett had received. It was a fitting end to the nastiest, most laced-with-hysteria election campaign in B.C.’s long polarized history. The man under police guard was Dave Barrett. For the past ...

When reporters and politicians rub elbows

Tribute: Bill Bennett A labour reporter looks back on an oddball friendship with a right-wing leader, and the good old days when labour reporters still existed By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER -- For some reason, Bill Bennett seemed to like me. In the few times we encountered each other, we got along. Goodness knows why, since, as a labour reporter, I had little time for the wealth of anti-labour legislation that came down the legislative pipe during Bennett’s 11 years as premier of British Columbia, topped by his outlandish, 26-bill “restraint” package in 1983. It went far beyond “austerity”. One of the bills gave his government the right to fire public sector workers without cause and lay them off without regard to seniority. Among the first to be shown the door was BC Government Employees Union vice-president Diane Woods. Nor was that all. On that single unforgettable day, the government also wiped out the Human Rights Commission (employees fired on the spot), gave ...

Three movies that helped me understand terrorism

Brazil, The Green Prince and Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam If movies are empathy machines, can they help us understand the incomprehensible reality of intentional violence against the innocent masses? Veteran film critic Katherine Monk says maybe, and offers a list of titles that helped her gain a better understanding of the big picture. By Katherine Monk A drunk man reels backward in a burka as the random thump of a bass drum ricochets through the basement walls, sweating from the heat of writhing humanity. “This one is called Sharia Law in the USA!,” screams the shirtless, bearded man on the mike. “I am an Islamist! I am the Anti-Christ!!” It’s a scene from the 2009 Omar Majeed documentary Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, a film that didn’t make much of an impression the first time I watched it, but something pulled me back to the movie about young, thoroughly westernized Muslim men who found a sense of tribal belonging in a form of vocal and violent ...

Syrian refugees face a new life and old ghosts

Fear of the 'foreigner' all too familiar Recent Remembrance Day tributes included a special acknowledgement of 120 Japanese-Canadians who fought for the Allies while branded "enemy aliens" By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Last week, two days before the numbing atrocities of Paris, I went to the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese-Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. It was a simple, almost homespun occasion, far removed from the military-like precision of the packed event at the main cenotaph downtown. A black-robed priest gave a purification prayer, clapped three times and performed a spiritual cleansing by waving about a long baton festooned with white paper streamers. He then talked six minutes past the proscribed 11 a.m. time for the two minutes of silence. No one seemed to mind. Beside me, a teen-aged girl wiped away tears, while an elderly Japanese-Canadian woman in an ordinary gray kimono stood with head bowed, eyes tightly closed. There was also a ...

Dog by Dog points a paw at AKC

New doc exposes dogs as cash crop The American Kennel Club, big agri-business and -- surprise! -- the Amish emerge as chief enemies of the humble and lovable canine in a new documentary aimed at changing how the consumer purchases a pet.   By Katherine Monk VANCOUVER – It’s enough to make you burn your VHS tape of Witness and boycott the Westminster Dog show, because according to a new documentary film, the Amish of Pennsylvania and the American Kennel Club resist efforts to curb puppy mills. “It’s about money. Dogs are a cash crop” says Christopher Grimes, the director behind Dog by Dog, a feature documentary airing on PBS later this year. “Papering dogs is a big part of the American Kennel Club’s budget… and for the Amish, they will do what is most profitable, and right now, they can get $3000 for one puppy. They have no other commodity that they are raising that can command the same price.” On the surface, there’s nothing inherently ...

Lest We Forget

First-hand history lessons Every Remembrance Day, reporters are asked to speak with those who witnessed history from the trenches, today, Rod Mickleburgh looks back at his personal archive and the stories that still haunt his Boomer-peacenik psyche By Rod Mickleburgh There’s nothing quite like the experience of talking to a veteran. They have so much to tell us of a time we peacenik baby-boomers simply can’t comprehend. Death and carnage and mayhem all around them, seeing buddies blown up or shot before their eyes, killing enemy soldiers themselves, and yet they carry on with the fight. Not quite the ordeal of finding a downtown parking spot. Over the years, I’ve interviewed veterans from the Boer War (no, I wasn’t there…), World War One (the worst of all wars), and the Second World War against fascism. Never have I failed to come away in awe at their courage in signing up, the hell they experienced, and their vivid recollections of a distant past. My own ...

A Haunted House of Commons

Halloween on The Hill After a gruelling campaign and a hard-fought battle, half the capital looks like an Edvard Munch painting or a Walking Dead extra, but everyone will look right at home on All Hallows Eve -- a night that gives everyone a chance to wear a mask and ask for handouts By Chris Lackner OTTAWA -- With many incumbents swept away in the Liberal tide, there are plenty of long-faced ghouls and goblins wandering Parliament Hill these days. On Halloween, they’ll be able to blend in. After an epic campaign full of tricks and treats, the kids in the red costumes went home with the biggest haul on election night – enough to gorge themselves for four years. But Halloween provides a well-deserved gift to Canadian politicos of all colours. After being stuck playing themselves for 11 weeks, they can wear any mask for one special night. The faint-of-heart can become the fearsome, the politically dead can rise again as the undead – and Canadian pollsters can finally show ...

Justin Trudeau: Is he just like us?

Talking 'bout my generation When he is sworn in as Canada's 23rd Prime Minister November 4, Justin Trudeau will assume the reins of power and speak for Generation X -- but how much of an X-er is he? We made a checklist. By Katherine Monk Canada’s Prime Minister-designate has already been called the voice of his generation, and at the age of 43, that places him in the middle of Generation X — which only seems fitting given he’s the child of a West Vancouver dynasty, another one of Douglas Coupland’s obsessions. But as an X-er, I wanted to make a checklist of the traits that define our oft-cited but little understood generation, to see if our new voice will be speaking for us, and the cluster of people and experience that make us who we are. Justin Trudeau: Is he just like us? He grew up when Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister. He looks good in a suit, but not like he was born in one. He’s into being a parent. He’s got a kid named Xavier. The older generation ...

Liberal Sweep!

If the election were an Oscar race... Ex-Press film critic Katherine Monk says Justin Trudeau and the Liberals would walk the red carpet to the podium thanks to campaign spots that banged the magic gong of belief   By Katherine Monk They can be as intoxicating as a deep whiff of gasoline — a head-rush that makes you step back with a dizzy feeling, and a brief sense of awe. Political ads are high-octane experiences that fire your brain cells with all the engineering of a German automobile, as well as all the crafty deception. The very best ads are a high form of propaganda that can be called art (as long as you’re willing to defend Leni Riefenstahl and Triumph of the Will as a great piece of cinematic persuasion), and as the Canadian election campaign draws to a close and the pundits have had their say, it's finally time time to look at the past 80 days through a slightly different lens: That of the film critic. Sure, I may not have the insights of Chantal Hébert ...

Guide to the 2015 Canadian election

The Ex-Press takes its democratic duties seriously, and is happy to bring you this definitive Guide to the 2015 Canadian election. As a responsible media outlet, we feel obliged to offer readers our considered opinion as to the party and leaders best suited to govern our country. Such choices are always difficult. However, we have been inspired by the Globe and Mail of Toronto, which has endorsed the Conservative Party but not its leader, Stephen Harper. “His party deserves to be re-elected. But after Oct. 19, he should quickly resign,” the Globe wrote. Up until now, members of the Ex-Press editorial board did not realize such distinctions were possible. Now that we know, we are pleased to offer you our choice for Oct. 19. Ex-Press believes that the best choice for Canadians is an NDP government, however, with a different leader: José Bautista. Both deserve consideration but surely Bautista’s beard is less flawed than that of the present NDP incumbent, Thomas ...