Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rough material -- Canada and war in the 21st century

In his 2012 book What We talk About When We Talk About War, Noah Richler analyzed the re-making of Canada into a “warrior nation.” He described the hyping of the “Vimy Myth,” the idea that Canada was forged on a World War I battlefield when, for the first time, all of the Canadian contingent fought together and took a hill defended by well-entrenched, determined German soldiers. Propaganda from the time doesn’t fit with the Vimy Myth. Canadians, even in the Second World War, were portrayed as junior partners of the British Empire. And it’s arguable that Canada showed its first signs of independence during the Chanak Crisis, when, for the first time, the Canadian government said no to a British request for troops. But no matter. Vimy symbolizes glorious sacrifice, not independence. It’s about strength. And it ascribes some sort of meaning to a war that, especially after the passing of a century, seems like such an utter waste of blood and money.[i] But the Vimy Myth is really an antidote to the Liberal-era worship of peacekeeping and peacemaking.
Richler attributed the phrase to former Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier, an officer who was never mistaken for a social worker. He coined in 2007 and used before the Conference of Defence Associations and on the speaking circuit. The phrase was so catchy that Hillier used it in his 2010 book Leadership:  50 Points of Wisdom for Today’s Leaders. Hillier used Vimy as a sort of magic moment in which Canadian soldiers perform admirably and Canada’s wartime officer corps, so often trashed by the British in both world wars, shone. After Vimy, Canadians had a seat at the big war conferences and got to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which formerly ended that war (and set the stage for the next one). Vimy, Richler said, was used by Hillier to create a model for the new, fighting Canadian Forces that had previously “meandered aimlessly, perceived as essentially just another department of government.” So it really wasn’t independence that Canadians were fighting for. It was international influence. And that influence had to be paid for constantly. Canada had made that payment in the Second World War but in the post-war years had failed to pull its weight in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While liberals liked peacekeeping, being part of international missions to dangerous places like the Balkans in the 1990s made no impression on our allies or enemies. The country needed a fighting force, especially after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when Canada went to war in Afghanistan. ( Richler 70-71)
            The Vimy Myth, as Richler points out, was one of the cornerstones of a new “warrior nation” Canadian self-image. One of the best examples of this mythology finding its way into the arts was the 2007 movie Passchendaele, filmed in Alberta in 2007. It was a remarkable film that won several Canadian awards. The film gathered up and re-used First World War mythology, including a variation of the story of “the crucified Canadian,” a story that motivated many Canadian units to stop taking prisoners on the Western Front.  In the culminating scene in the movie Sgt. Michael Dunne (played by writer-producer Paul Gross) dies after saving a man who had been flung by an exploding shell onto a cross of debris erected in No Man’s land. Dunne drags the injured man back to the Canadian lines as German soldiers watch in silence, their rifles and machine guns stilled. (In the wartime myth, a Canadian was spiked to a barn door with bayonets by leering German sadists. The story cropped up in both world wars and was believed by many Canadian soldiers.  The Dominion-Historica Institute used the film as a teaching aid, issuing material to go along with the film as part of its “Passchendaele in the Classroom.” “Of all the Allies, the Canadians were the most feared,” Gross write in it, repeating the popular view that the war represented the country’s “coming of age” and that “our notion of what it means to be Canadian was forged in the crucible of the Western Front.” Gross received an Order of Canada soon after the Passchenaele project. (Richler 86.) The conservative Canadian military clique, with its media boosters like Jack Granatstein and Mark Steyn, is a formidable group, as journalists who have crossed them have learned at great cost and pain. Yet in Britain and Germany, historians abandoned the myth of a heroic First World War long ago and the United States pretty much ignores the entire conflict as a sort of military-political train wreck.
            Canada clings to it because the country’s leaders believe it needs war heroes. After Canadians began fighting in Afghanistan, journalists set out to make two groups of heroes. One group was the journalists themselves, who tried to be as swashbuckling as the great 19th Century colonial correspondents who filed from that same nasty little corner of the world. The other heroes were the dead. Using the same propaganda constructs that Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Northcliffe used so well for the British in the First World War, the dead were not – as confidential military reports of the First World War called them – “wastage.” And they were not “killed.” They made “sacrifices.” The Highway of Heroes, the stretch of Highway 401 in southern Ontario leading from the big air base at Trenton to the media capital of Toronto, was re-named “the Highway of Heroes,” and people stood on bridges over the highway not to see the triumphant return of the living but to wave to the dead. Richler examined then-Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford’s rephrasing of Capt. Nichola Goddard’s death in Afghanistan as “heroic” rather than “tragic”: “Her death, wrote Batchford  in May 2006 was “not a tragedy at all [but] an  honourable death, a soldier’s death, in the service of her country and of another, Afghanistan, she had come to admire and love.”  There could be no question of this new definition of heroics. (Richler 204-205). There would be no decoration ceremonies to remind the Canadian people of killing. Instead, the government wanted people to see each dead soldier as a sort of payment for our nationhood.
            A new war museum opened in Ottawa, mainly because of the lobbying of Granatstein. The new road built beside it was, of course, called Vimy Place. The museum’s tone was upbeat up-beat about war.  Canada’s peacekeeping, and the idea of peace and loss itself, was kept down to a dull roar. There is little in the museum to suggest war causes actual death and maiming: almost no mention of military medicine, for instance. There’s virtually nothing about displaced people (who made up such a large group of Canadian immigrants) or of domestic opposition to any war.
At the same time, the Vimy Myth crowd went to work to dismantle what was left of the country’s self-image as a peacekeeper. Sean Maloney, a professor at professor at Kingston’s Royal Military attacked Canada’ss “feel goodism” and the “hollow fa├žade” of peacekeeping’s “myth-making exercise.” Canada may have been involved in peacekeeping for years and had even built a now-ignored monument to it within sight of Parliament Hill, but what Canada really needed to do to be a real power was to link itself to the hard power of NATO (Richler 67) The attacks of 9-11 helped move that along. The Canadian Forces began recruiting infantry, changing its ads to focus on combat rather than on peacekeeping and learning trades and leadership.

[i] For the best study of the re-making of war memory, see Vance, Jonathan, Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning and the First World War (1997).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Some notes about newspapers

I made these notes after crunching numbers in Martin P. Wattenberg, Is Voting for Young People? (Third Edition). New York: Pearson, 2012. The numbers in brackets are page numbers.

Newspapers were in decline long before the Internet came along. In 1957, 76 per cent of Americans read a newspaper every day. Twenty years later, that number had dropped to 63 per cent.  The number hovered just above 50 per cent through the 1980s and early 1990s. Readership finally, permanently, dropped below half in 1996 – still in the pre-Internet age for most people -- and touched bottom at 37 per cent in 2000, when high speed Internet started becoming fairly easily accessible in cities, but only for desktops and laptops. There was a bit of a dead cat bounce through the 2000s, but the reality is that modern newspapers had lost half their readers before news web sites became available to most people. Smart phones, iPads, facebook, twitter and easily accessible free wireless didn’t kill newspapers. They were already dead. (11) The Internet could be blamed by newspaper editors and publishers to cover up years of poor management and disastrous leveraged buyouts that were usually paid for with newsroom jobs and local coverage. In fact, if the Internet hadn’t come along, most newspapers would have had to do some serious soul-searching to determine why their readers had abandoned them, or, to be more accurate, had never acquired the habit of reading them. For example, in the first four years of this century, just 19 per cent of Canadians aged 23 to 31 read a newspaper every day. But older people were still buying them. In the same years, 72 per cent of people in their late 60s and early 70s were regular newspaper readers.(13) People weren’t walking away from newspapers. They had never read them in the first place. And young people had abandoned newspapers before the arrival of the Internet. In the early 1980s, 59 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 read newspapers. That’s 20 per cent more than all of the people who read them now. (And Canadians were always miles behind the Swedes, with 90 per cent of Swedes in the 18-29 age group being regular newspaper readers in the early '80s. (Some 96 percent of Swedish seniors read them). By the early years of the 2000s, the figure for young Swedes was down to 37 per cent.) The problem was not just confined to Canada. The newspaper, throughout the developed world, went into a death spiral when Pierre Trudeau was still working on the Constitution and Gerald Ford was president of the United States.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hanged, drawn and quartered...

Yes, it did happen here. And I spent the morning writing a bit about the Bloody Assizes in Ancaster, Ontario, in 1814 when eight "traitors" -- actually mostly gripers and some criminals, and one actual spy -- were hanged in an execution that was so badly botched that one of the spectators was killed by a falling beam. The convicts were then disemboweled, their bodies were chopped into quarters and their heads were cut off and stuck on stakes.
It's part of a chapter I'm doing in Kill the Messengers on commemoration of the War of 1812 as "Canada's War of Independence."
While I knew the medieval sentence was passed in Canada in colonial times -- the last that I know of was in 1838, and commuted -- I didn't know it had actually been performed.

I suspect there are no plans to commemorate the Bloody Assizes of Ancaster in any forthcoming Heritage Minutes.

Snakes on a plane

At least two of these people should have gone to prison.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Will Harper Quit?

Here are a few reasons why he'll stay:

1. Stephen Harper is in his early 50s. That's awfully young to retire. And what else would Harper do for a living? Unlike most living PMs, he's not a lawyer, so he can't end up as a letterhead partner at a big firm. And he can't be a lobbyist for five years, even if he wanted to. And I'm sure he doesn't.

2. Harper's career, even as Prime Minister, was geared to winning a Conservative majority and crushing the Liberals. Quitting just past the half-way mark of the first majority would be a terrific failure.

3. Every Tory I know believes Justin Trudeau will defeat himself, just by talking. When the going gets tough, they imagine Trudeau being tag-teamed by Harper and Mulcair in the leadership debates, the same way Harper and Jack Layton crushed Michael Ignatieff.

4. The Harper family is happy in Ottawa. It's unlikely they'd stay here if Harper quit, so resigning means moving, taking the kids out of a good high school, and much more disruption in their lives.

5. Harper has never given the slightest hint that he's leaving. While he's always kept his own counsel, it's important to keep in mind that the only people who say he's going are the people who would love to see him gone.

6. Harper seems to actually believe the federal budget will be -- or appear to be -- balanced by election day. The economy should also be a bit better. Some more trade deals might be signed. That should offset some of the problems caused by the Senate scandal, which has now become so intricate that few people understand it anymore, and most of those who try to follow along put the blame on Mike Duffy and the rest of the senators who are under investigation.

I could be wrong. I'm a terrible predictor of this kind of thing. But as I work on Kill the Messengers, I grow more convinced that Harper is among the most stubborn people I've ever seen. To him, politics is applied game theory, and he's not about to walk away from the table.  

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Blog again?

I might start up the blog again, since it seems to get a steady stream of traffic of people checking back. If I do, it will mainly be a discussion of what's happening on the Hill. I have a spring deadline for my book on Harper's information control, which will be published by HarperCollins as Kill the Messengers. There should be an Amazon page on it soon. 
Here's the Quill and Quire piece on the book deal. And here's the Hill Times story, which is behind a paywall. The newspaper has a rather generous trial offer, so if you don't want to subscribe, you can still read the piece.
This is my first modern political book. In some ways, I had to be talked into doing it, since modern politics is an ugly, dirty business. At the same time, the idea of taking propaganda and censorship concepts and seeing how they are used in modern Ottawa was intriguing, and I think the book has a fair chance of being a commercial success.
So, if people are interested, I'll blog on the topics of politics and political books. I have a stack of new ones by other authors that I'm digging through.The new crop, by authors including Joe Clark (How We Lead: Canada in a Century of Change), Susan Delacourt (Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them), Paul Wells (The Longer I’m Prime Minister), Brad Lavigne (Building the Orange Wave), and Chris Turner (Harper's War on Science), are quite good. Don Lenihan's provocative 2012 book Rescuing Public Policy: The Case for Open Engagement, is pretty much out of print but you can download it here for free. We're seeing a trend here toward books that take the juvenalia out of politics and return it to the realm of grown-ups.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Simple Jack?

 Politics Chatter 

POLITICS CHATTER: Pondering the wisdom of casting Jack Layton as a saint in CBC TV’s upcoming biopic “Jack”

Rick Roberts plays Jack Layton, while Sook-Yin Lee takes the part of Olivia Chow in the made-for-TV movie "Jack"
Politics Chatter by contributing editor Mark Bourrie is published weekly at Follow him on Twitter @IsotelusRex.
Well, all we need is the blessing of the next Pope, and Jack Layton will officially become a saint.
The CBC has worked hard to fast-track the canonization. On March 10, TV viewers will forgo the delights of NetFlix and TLC’s Gypsy Sisters, to sit, enthralled, in front of the magic box, watching a biopic called JACK, the story of Jack Layton’s rise to greatness.
Read the rest at

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Today's National Post Full-Page Piece

(Sorry for the formatting mess. Not much I can do about it, I'm afraid)

Mark Bourrie: The war that made Canada

Mark Bourrie, National Post | Feb 7, 2013 12:01 AM ET | Last Updated:Feb 6, 2013 5:43 PM ET
More from National Post
A 1770 painting by Benjamin West called The Death of General Wolfe depicts his death at the battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. That battle was part of the Seven Years’ War.
National Gallery of CanadaA 1770 painting by Benjamin West called The Death of General Wolfe depicts his death at the battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. That battle was part of the Seven Years’ War.
Will the Canadian government celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war that really made Canada?
Except for a brief, small exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, it’s not likely.
The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, settled the Seven Years’ War. That was, in many ways, the First World War. It was fought in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, parts of Africa, India and on the seas. About 500,000 soldiers were killed in total, along with tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of civilians.
It’s the war that ended with most of what’s eastern Canada and part of the U.S. northeast handed from France to Britain. Quebec is still trying to adapt to the severing of those bonds with the mother country. For most of their history, the descendants of the settlers of New France have fought against the political, cultural and social impact of the “conquest.” It was, for good or ill, the defining moment in Quebec’s history.
On the other hand, the Royal Proclamation, which set out the rules for the government of the new British North American lands, is one of the most liberal manifestos ever issued by any government that had just taken control of an enemy territory.
It’s an astounding document that, in itself, had far more impact on the development of Canada than any single piece of legislation, and was certainly more important to the development of modern Canada than, say, the War of 1812.
The Royal Proclamation established the first legislature in Quebec (which included what’s now Ontario and a chunk of what’s now U.S. territory). Property rights were protected. So were the rights of Catholics — in fact, more so than in Britain itself, and with far more generosity than the British treatment of Irish Catholics.
Indian “tribes and nations” were guaranteed their right to negotiate treaties with the government, making this a sort of Magna Carta for Canada’s aboriginal people.
The Seven Years’ War left deep physical scars on Canada. Some 260 soldiers died with Wolfe and Montcalm at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 (which is listed in just about every study of the most important battles in world history, and the only battle in the Seven Years War that most military historians remember.) Another 550 soldiers were killed the next spring, on the same ground, at the Battle of St. Foy, before the British fleet arrived in 1760 and settled the fight over Quebec.
All told, about 5,000 soldiers and sailors died in the fighting in North America, about 1,000 more than were killed in the War of 1812. (And the War of 1812 numbers are skewed by the big British losses at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, which had no Canadian involvement nor any influence on the outcome of the war.)
Civilian casualties also were far heavier than in the War of 1812: Quebec City was smashed by three months of bombardment from the British fleet and from artillery batteries Wolfe built on the south side of the St. Lawrence. British troops burned the farms and villages on the Isle d’Orleans and in parts of the St. Lawrence Valley. The resulting shortage of food, compounded by hoarding and the vigorous black market operated by New France’s leaders, added to the death and misery.
(My own family has an interesting set of links to the war. One of my ancestors was captain of the militia at the Quebec City suburban siegneurie of Charlesbourg, so was almost certainly involved in the defence of Quebec. On the British side, Nehemiah Gilman of Exeter, N.H., a maternal great-uncle eight generations back, was captured and killed by native warriors at Fort William Henry in 1757. That’s the massacre lying at the heart of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.)
Britain did very well in the Seven Year’s War, capturing Canada, Cuba, the profitable sugar-producing island of Guadeloupe, and a good chunk of French-held India. But during the conflict, it was by no means clear that Britain wanted to keep New France: The surrender documents signed during the war by British and French commanders in Quebec City and Montreal have many stipulations that were dependent on the outcome of peace negotiations.
Between the summer of 1760, when the war effectively ended in Canada, and the signing of the treaty three years later, the British army didn’t seriously meddle in New France. Most French merchants stayed put, relying on British guarantees that they could go back to France if London decided to keep the colony.
High school children may snicker when teachers mention in passing that Britain chose to keep Canada rather than hold onto the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. But a close look at New France and Guadeloupe shows the French probably got the better part of the deal, at least in the short term.
Guadeloupe, at the time, was one of the most valuable pieces of agricultural real estate in the world, producing both sugar and cotton. New France, on the other hand, always was a net loss to its colonial masters, who had to send troops to protect a fur trade that fed a dying hat industry. Keeping it safe required the upkeep of a northeast Atlantic naval squadron, and the construction of fortresses at Quebec and Louisbourg capable of withstanding bombardment from enemy warships and gigantic mortars that were carried by men o’ war and set up in coastal batteries.
Ownership of New France by the French tied down a French army that had to sit defensively on a large, unproductive area of real estate. Strategically, the French could never do more than hold what they had and pester the Hudson Bay Company in the subarctic. They could not muster the power to drive the British colonists from their thriving and much more populous territories along the Atlantic coast. In fact, for most of the French period, they couldn’t even protect French settlers from the Iroquois.
France walked away from the negotiations with the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. They, too, seem insignificant now, but they were the core of the lucrative French fishing operations on the Grand Banks that were guaranteed by the Treat of Paris (along with the right to land on the coast of Newfoundland and set up fish-drying operations). Later, the French islands became highly profitable smuggling ports, especially during the Prohibition period. And they were a spy haven when they were controlled by Vichy France, the Nazi puppet regime in the Second World War. France still owns them, and the islands elect a member to the National Assembly in Paris.
Some 40 years after the Treaty of Paris, Napoleon took a look at the map and realized the old New France was a trap. And so, in the negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, Napoleon turned down the Britain’s offer to return Canada. For good measure, he sold Louisiana, too.
Conventional wisdom in the United States says Napoleon was snookered on that deal, but the Emperor knew full well that he couldn’t afford to defend a vast swath of nothingness in central North America. Better to sell it for hard cash than to have it snatched away, by the Americans, the British or Spain.
Guadeloupe was, in economic terms, a much better prize. British troops had seized the place at about the same time they took the St. Lawrence Valley. British planters and slave traders began investing heavily in the island. During the three-year British occupation of Guadeloupe, they brought 40,000 African slaves to the island and bought the French plantations at bargain prices.
The investment paid off. British industries and sugar planters turned a profit of more than 300,000 pounds a year during the time Britain occupied the island. (For an idea of the buying power of that money, a one-pound coin, or sovereign, contained about ¼ of an ounce of gold and paid a soldier for a month.)
All of the sugar islands were valuable, as former Trinidadian prime minister Eric Williams pointed out in his pivotal 1964 volume on colonial Caribbean economics, Capitalism and Slavery. For example, between 1763 and 1773, the sugar imported from Grenada (a place less valuable than Guadeloupe) was eight times more valuable than all of the imports from Canada.
There was considerable debate in Paris and London when the treaty-makers were doing their work. Voltaire wondered why France would be interested in “a few acres of snow” when it could have sugar. An anonymous London pamphleteer asked “what does a few hats signify compared to that luxury, sugar?”
(Maybe, over the years, the French should have sent out more geologists and fewer fur traders. They missed out on the great gold fields of northeastern Ontario, where, in 1907, William Wright stumbled down a hill and landed on a 15-centimetre wide vein of gold. They failed to find the bonanza at Silver Islet near Thunder Bay, where a vein of pure silver lay in plain sight, or the silver at Cobalt, scattered in tarnished lumps on forest floor. And they didn’t even search for the copper that Native people had been mining for centuries along Lake Superior.)
Yasmine Mingay, public affairs manager for the Canadian War Museum, said the museum won’t be doing anything to mark the anniversary, which will be this coming Sunday, Feb. 10. She said the museum covered some of the ground in an exhibition six years ago.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization (soon to be the Museum of Canadian History), is also giving the treaty a pass, but will be exhibiting a copy of the Royal Proclamation next fall “for a few weeks.”
So much for the war that, in time, would give the world the nation we call Canada.
National Post
Mark Bourrie is an Ottawa-based historian and journalist. His most recent book, Fighting Words: Canada’s Best War Reporting, was published last fall by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @IsotelusRex.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Chinese Food and Tears

Looking forward to a nice dinner from my favorite take-out joint, the Yang Sheng in Ottawa.

Sometimes, thinking about dated stereotypes makes me cry. So do heartfelt apologies that somehow don't warrant being included on Top Ten apologies pages.
(BTW, no one ever noticed the sexist stuff).

Sweet and sour pork, egg roles, pad thai...  yum!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quill and Quire carries an announcement for Kill the Messengers


Welcome Warren Kinsella Reader(s)

A slew of great columns by some of Canada's sharpest minds debunk the myth of Warren at
I'll update it from time to time, but few people really write much about the self-proclaimed "Prince of Darkness" anymore. 

It's Official: My First (Modern) Political Book


Canadian English-language rights to KILL THE MESSENGERS: STEPHEN HARPER’S ASSAULT ON YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW by The Fog of War author and censorship, propaganda, and information-control  expert Mark Bourrie, about how the federal government operates in secret and undermines the democratic process, eliminating public servants and processes that fail to toe the party line, have been sold to Janice Zawerbny at Thomas Allen Publishers by Denise Bukowski at The Bukowski Agency, for publication  in fall 2014, in advance of the next federal election.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Crooked Politician Will Provide

My latest piece from

POLITICS CHATTER: The crooked politician provides all (if you’re a reporter with bills to pay)

Years ago, when I was a skinny, skittish young cub reporter, I found myself kicking a chair and cursing at some outrageous stupidity committed by a politician. A long time has gone by. I no longer remember who I was angry at or the nature of his transgression.
But I do remember, as clearly as the day it happened, a wizened old city editor beckoning me over to his desk. Moving a couple of ashtrays aside so he could set down his coffee, he leaned over, his yellow teeth shining in the green light of the primitive video display monitor, placed his right hand on my shoulder, and uttered these words, which I recount here exactly as he told them to me:
“Embrace the crooked MP, bonehead mayor, the greedy Indian chief, the smug and profligate premier, my son. Let them roam in packs across the land.
“The crooked politician will provide all.
“The crooked MP gives our children straight teeth. He digs our swimming pool. He fills our mutual funds and RRSPs.
“He puts clothes on our backs. Food on our tables. Gas in our cars. The crooked MP makes the car itself and fixes it when it breaks.
“The bonehead mayor gives us trips to Jamaica and puts new roofs on our cottages. She makes us bookcases and fills them with books. She pays the hydro and phone bill.
“Someday, she will buy you an iPhone 5, whatever that is, and pay your monthly cell phone bill.
“The greedy Indian chief provides for us even in the most lean of times. He fills our pages when there is nothing but weather stories and tracts about the meaning of Santa.
“The smug premier makes our suits. He crafts nice watches. He feeds our pets, fixes our appliances, cleans our carpets. He makes donations to charities in our name, gives toonies to panhandlers, and buys  General Tao’s Chicken and delivers it to our homes when we are too tired to cook.
“So be careful what you wish for, my son. Do not hunt these great and generous creatures to extinction. Embrace them, nurture them. Let them run free to do their work.
“Just do not love them.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Kill the Messengers

In early 2015, my book on Stephen Harper's lock on government information and the crippling of the press, which is no longer able and willing to do its work as one of the watchdogs of government, will be published by a respected national publisher.
I hope to hear from reporters who have been intimidated by the Prime Minister's Office and/or by flacks from any party. I'm also looking for people in the bureaucracy who have been gagged. My book will tell their stories and discuss the impact of media control and ratfucking on Canadian democracy. It will argue that openness and truth -- in both government and media -- are the only way out of the political malaise in which we find ourselves.
You can reach me at with your stories.
I'm re-starting this blog as a way of connecting with facebook friends and twitter followers. I decided last week to close my accounts on the two social media sites and resume blogging. This way, I can reach more people and still converse with friends and contacts through my email account and blog comments.
If you have ideas for the books, let me know. And I appreciate any flowers or brickbats that you might like to send.
As well, please follow my Politics Chatter blog at and my work on