Thursday, November 19, 2015

Badass History Quotes

One of the best quotes attributed to a world leader concerning the war against ISIS turned out to be a hoax.

Last week Fox News ran a story claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin said this of ISIS: "To forgive the terrorists is up to God but to send them to him is up to me."

Now you gotta admit that’s an awesomely cool line, but alas it seems this quote actually came from the movie Man on Fire.

So Fox got fooled.

But to be fair to Fox, isn’t Putin the kind of guy you’d expect to articulate such a marvelous, Dirty Harry-style badass quote?

Besides, history teaches us that real life people are perfectly capable of coming up with badass lines that could have been plucked straight out of a Clint Eastwood or Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

To prove my point, here are some of my favorite tough-guy history quotes, in no particular order:

I came, I saw, I conquered.
Julius Caesar

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill

This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!
Spartan King Leonidas
(OK this line is really  from the movie 300, but according to the ancient historians the Spartans were actually the all-time kings of badass quotes, so I'd like to believe this line is historic.)

If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.
 Genghis Khan

Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed.
Pierre Trudeau

War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.
William Tecumseh Sherman

May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.
George S. Patton

No man ever did me so much good, or enemy so much harm, but I repaid him with interest.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla (Roman dictator)

I’m a kind person, I’m kind to everyone, but if you are unkind to me, then kindness is not what you’ll remember me for.
Al Capone

So yeah, pretty cool stuff, huh?

Remember all these lines the next time somebody tells you history is dull.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Taming of the Tories

Friends, Canadians, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s political career, not to praise it.

The evil that politicians do lives after them; the good is oft interred in their memoirs.

So let it be with Harper.

The noble left-wing scribes hath told thou Harper was a black-hearted tyrant who for these past six and three years didst besmirch our wondrous realm with accursed attack ads and with covetous Senatorial minions and with robocalls most foul.

These are grievous faults, and grievously hath Harper answered them.

Come I to write at Harper’s political funeral.

Yea, my brothers and sisters, as prime minister, Harper did our budget bring to a blessed state of balance, he hath resurrected tales of our long forgotten soldierly deeds, acts so valiant as to make Mars himself take pause; and he did cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war upon our enemies.

But left-wing scribes say he was a dangerous man.

And left-wing scribes are honorable people.

Recall as well my fellow Canadians how when Progressive Conservatives and Reformers of yore, did bicker like the Montagues and Capulets and cry and wail their sad fate at the ballot box, how Harper too hath wept and through a labour to rival that of Hercules did he bring these two parties together into a wedded union of electoral majesty.

And thus did he give voters a rival to the Liberal leviathan.

Did this in Harper seem dangerous?

Yet left-wing scribes say Harper was a dangerous man.

And left-wing scribes are honorable people.

You all did see that Harper freed Western grain farmers from the bondage of the Wheat Board monopoly, gun owners from the villainous registry and tax-payers from knavish public subsidies that fattened the purses of political parties.

Danger should be made of sterner stuff.

Yet left-wing scribes say he was dangerous.

And surely, they are honorable people.

I write not to disprove what left-wing scribes hath spoke.

But here I am to write what I do know.

And what I know is this: the fate of politicians lies not in their stars or in their records, but in the polls.

So it was for Harper.

When Canadians did feast their eyes upon the young Justin Trudeau, the fair prince of noble name and beauteous visage, whose youthful charisma did Apollo-like dance upon the rays of the sun and whose well-spoke platitudes did fall upon our ears, pleasing those souls which yearned for change.

So did he promise to end our politics of discontent.

And Harper, the melancholy Conservative, did suddenly seem so stale.

Alas poor Harper we knew you well, perhaps too well.

Out, out, brief mandate!

Now so will Harper and his Conservative band of brothers shuffle off this mortal political coil, and in his place will come Trudeau the Younger, an ex-drama teacher who will strut and fret his hour upon the Parliamentary stage, full of sound and fury and photo ops, signifying nothing.

A borrower and a lender will Trudeau be. And red ink will wash across the land, drowning our sorrows in a sea of fiscal troubles.

Such stuff socialist dreams are made on.

To tax or not to tax, that will be the question? Aye, there’s the rub. Whether tis nobler to keep running into debt or to fleece the pockets of Canadians on the morrow? (Coles note translation: Trudeau will definitely hiketh our taxes.)

Yet, perhaps, I doth protest too much.

For left-wing scribes tell the reign of Trudeau will be all to the good.

And surely, they are honorable people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Political Ads for the Elites

When it comes to politics, we Canadians have to put up with a lot of outrageous nonsense: broken campaign promises, sleazy scandals, Elizabeth May.

But it seems the people most annoyed by certain workings of the democratic process are Canada’s media and intellectual elites, i.e. university-educated professionals who are specially trained to relentlessly lecture us on issues which nobody cares about.

For example, elites are constantly bemoaning the state of Canada’s political advertising, which they argue “dumbs down” our civic discourse and undermines the country’s democratic purity, which is just their elite way of saying, “these ads are bad because they help Prime Minister Stephen Harper get elected.”

Me, I can see both sides of the issue.

On the one hand, I can certainly understand why some people might find political ads annoying, especially since their typically low-budget production values, along with their general lack of creativity, make them look as though they were spewed out by an online random ad generator.

On the other hand, however, as someone who has written political ads in both Canada and the United States, I find the ability to boil down a highly complex and nuanced political statement into a 30 second message that’s so simplistic even a brain-damaged chimpanzee can understand it, a true art form.

For instance, one my ads artistically juxtaposed a photo of Bob Rae and a jackass, a spot which was only slightly less cerebral than another ad I produced which compared MPs to cartoon pigs.

At any rate, since I firmly believe elections should be enjoyable for all Canadians,  including elites, I say it’s time our political parties started producing ads that are crammed with intellectual content, ads that take on important issues, and ads that make only minimal use of barnyard animals.

And to help this process along, I’d like to offer my ideas as to what kind of “high quality” political ads I’d like to see in the upcoming 2015 election.

But before I get to that, however, let me first explain that when I talk about “quality”, I don’t mean we need to make political ads all gooey “positive.”

Positive ads are actually like Care Bear movies; they seem harmless, but if you watch too many of them, your brain will gradually turn into a lump of sugar.

To prove my point, here are two examples of positive political ads gone horribly wrong:

Example 1. The Conservatives once aired a positive TV ad showcasing Prime Minister Harper wearing a cuddly sweater vest as he gently chatted about his cutesy-wutesy family in the hopes this would soften his tough-guy image; instead it just softened everyone’s ability to keep their eyes open.

Example 2. The Liberals produced a positive TV ad in 2009 which featured their then leader Michael Ignatieff cheerfully discussing the finer points of trade policy while standing alone in the middle of a forest.  

Unfortunately for the Liberals this ad made Ignatieff something of a laughing stock (more so than usual I mean), although on the plus side, it did significantly increase his name recognition among squirrels and chipmunks.

Mind you, intellectual elites probably believe positive ads are superior because they seem so much nicer when compared to so-called “negative” or “attack” ads.

What they fail to realize is political “attacks” are actually an important part of our democratic heritage, going all the way back to the dawn of classical civilization. In fact, the term “political negative ad” is derived from the ancient Greek phrase “politicos negatotos gyro” which roughly translated means, “Feel free to take your opponent’s quotes wildly out of context.”

But enough about the history of political ads, it’s time now to check out my suggestions as to how each party can totally degrade and debase its rivals in a high quality manner:

Ads to Take Down Trudeau

Going negative against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau presents a real challenge because he’s so adorably cute; attacking him is kind of like kicking a puppy.

Yet, like a puppy, Trudeau also has less intellectual heft than an average episode of The Bachelor.

And that can be used as a basis for anti-Trudeau attack ads, such as:

Trudeau TV Attack Ad #1

Visual -- A flattering photo of Trudeau appears on the screen. (Ordinarily, I’d suggest an unflattering photo be used, but unfortunately no such photo of Trudeau exists.)

Narrator: Here are some facts about Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Fact: Trudeau’s only experience in dealing with fiscal issues occurred when he negotiated with his mother for a raise in his allowance.

Fact: At the time, Trudeau was 35 years old.

Fact: Trudeau argued his allowance “should raise itself.”

Fact: After hearing this argument, Trudeau’s mother ended up cutting his allowance.

And now Trudeau wants to take control of the federal budget?! Don’t let him use your tax dollars to raise his allowance.

Trudeau TV Attack Ad # 2

Visual: Side by side photos of Trudeau’s head and a turnip.

Narrator: Have you ever wondered if Justin Trudeau was smarter than a turnip?

Let’s compare the two.

A turnip never expressed admiration for the Communist Chinese government.

Trudeau did.

A turnip never joked on a radio show about the explosive situation in the Ukraine.

Trudeau did.

In response to the war against ISIS, a turnip never made a crude comment about “Whipping out CF-18s”

Trudeau did.

You wouldn’t trust a turnip to run Canada; why trust Trudeau?

Trudeau TV Attack Ad # 3

Visual: Photo of Justin Trudeau eating a turnip.

Narrator:  Remember when Justin Trudeau said the federal budget will “balance itself”?

Well if you think that’s bad consider all these other crazy things Trudeau may or may not have said:

“I’m not worried about the XL pipeline, because one day it will just build itself.”

“I am calling upon the UN to demand that Vladimir Putin invade himself”.

“The best thing about my beautiful hair is it combs itself.”

So if you don’t want a prime minister who says oddball things vote for Stephen Harper.

By the way, here’s some irony, this ad actually wrote itself.

Ads to take Down Harper

The Liberal party has said again and again, that it’s going to stay positive. This, to use the proper technical political science term, is a “lie.”

The Liberals will definitely go negative and they’ll score big points if they use ads like these:

Harper TV attack ad #1

Visual: A cartoon of Mike Duffy, made to resemble the giant “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” from the Ghostbusters movie, is seen causing havoc in downtown Ottawa.

Narrator: Stephen Harper actually appointed Mike Duffy to the Senate.

The Canadian Senate.

Duffy with an expense account.

In our Senate.

In Canada.

We did not make this up.

Harper TV attack ad # 2

Visual: NDP leader Thomas Muclair appears on the screen.

Audio: Hi, I’m Thomas Mulcair and one important issue in this election is how the Harper government has eroded our precious democratic rights and freedoms.

In fact, under Bill C-51 the government now has sweeping powers to invade our privacy and to infringe on our …(sound of static abruptly drowns out Muclair’s voice, then the video starts break up …until suddenly Mulcair’s image is replaced by a screen filling photo of Prime Minister Harper’s face, staring accusingly with ice cold blue eyes directly at the viewer)

A cold clinical voice then speaks the following words which also appear in big bold letters on the screen thusly:


Harper TV Attack ad # 3

Visual: Image of Prime Minister Harper appears on the screen digitally altered to look like a combination of history’s greatest monsters: Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, Justin Bieber.

Narrator:  What you learn about Prime Minister Harper in this ad will terrify the socks off you.

A group of scientists, while combing through the wreckage of the Franklin expedition ship, discovered something thought to be long lost and forgotten: Harper’s scary right-wing hidden agenda.

This is frightening because it means the Harper government will soon implement a whole range of scary, right-wing, hidden things, such as forcing every Canadian to carry a bible, such as forcing every Canadian to carry a gun, such as forcing every Canadian to carry a gun with a bible attached to it.

Yes, when it comes to scary right-wing hidden agendas nothing is too impossible to totally make up.

So be afraid! Be afraid! Be afraid!

This ad is paid for by the Stop Conservative Fear Mongering Committee.

Ads to take Down Mulcair

Going after the NDP will mean producing ads with a little more subtlety and a little more sophistication, meaning they will need some sort catchy tagline, and by “catchy” I mean a phrase, which after you’ve heard it about a million times on TV and radio, will bore into your subconscious mind like a voracious parasite and nest there, gnawing away at your cogitative and reasoning powers.  

See if you can detect the catch phrase in these ads:

Mulcair TV Attack Ad # 1

Visual: Black and white photo of Thomas Mulcair, with a sharp focus on his beard.

Narrator: Here’s what NDP leader Thomas Mulcair doesn’t want you to know.

He has a beard.

Do you know who else had a beard?

Karl Marx and Fidel Castro. (Visuals of Marx and Castro appear on screen)

Are you scared yet?

Mulcair TV Attack ad #2

Visual: Photo of Thomas Mulcair standing between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau.

Narrator: NDP leader Thomas Mulcair –he combines Stephen Harper’s personality with Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy ideas.

Are you scared yet?

Mulcair TV Attack ad #3

Visual: Vintage photo of NDP convention from the 1960s.

Narrator: Did you know the New Democratic Party was founded in 1960?

That’s means the NDP is more than 50 years old.

Yet, Thomas Mulcair calls his party the “New” Democratic Party.

How can something more than 50 years old be new?

So if Mulcair is lying about the “New” part, is he also lying about the “Democratic” part?

Are you scared yet?

By the way, in case you missed it, the “catch phrase” in each of those ads was, of course, “Thomas Mulcair.”

Now, I could go on and on with more examples of brilliantly creative political ad ideas, but I think I’ve already achieved my goal here, which was primarily to pad this blog posting’s word count.

Besides, now that I look back at my ad ideas, I realize they probably won’t please the elites.

After all let’s face it, eggheads want political ads that are erudite and classy, like a Margaret Atwood novel; unfortunately this would result in political ads that are boring and pretentious, like a Margaret Atwood novel.

So like it or not all you elites out there, my ideas are about as good as you can expect to see in terms of political ads. In fact, I’m fairly certain that compared to the low brow stuff that will actually air during the next election, my ad concepts will look positively Shakespearean.

Are you scared yet?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Debate Prepping with Justin

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is not only amazingly cute, he’s also incredibly busy.

In addition to his rigorous schedule of posing for charming photo ops, he’s also prepping like crazy for the upcoming federal leadership debates.

True, those debates are still about five months away; but Liberal party strategists, realizing that pitting their gaffe-prone leader in a debate against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, is like throwing a goldfish into a pond of barracudas, want their leader to be as prepared as possible.

Hence, media reports say that for the past two months Trudeau’s been doing full debate rehearsals, five to six hours a week.

Of course, knowing Trudeau as we all do, we can easily assume that those debate rehearsals are probably going a lot like this:

CONSULTANT: Justin let’s begin our debate rehearsal, I’ll play the part of the moderator, and ask you some practice questions OK?

TRUDEAU: OK, but who am I playing? When I was teaching drama class, I always made it a point to emphasize the importance of knowing your character.

CONSULTANT: You’re playing you Justin. Remember this is a rehearsal for the leadership debates. It’s very important.

TRUDEAU: Got it. So what’s my motivation in this scene? Actually, never mind, I’ll just wing it improv-style. Go ahead and ask away.

CONSULTANT: Mr. Trudeau, if you were elected prime minister what would be your top priority?

TRUDEAU: Easy. My advisors keep telling me that something called the “middle class” is extremely important to Canada, so I’d try my hardest to help it or help them or help whatever it is.

CONSULTANT: Um… we need to work a bit on that answer, Justin. But don’t worry, it’s my fault for starting you off with such a tough question. Just to warm you up, let’s try something a little easier. Tell me Mr. Trudeau what do you love the most about Canada?

TRUDEAU: I love so much about Canada, only I wish we had a government that was just as efficient as the government they have in North Korea which is ….

CONSULTANT: Hold it, Justin. I’m going to stop you right there. Didn’t we already spend hours talking about this? Didn’t we explain to you why that was such a bad thing to say?

TRUDEAU: Well, as I recall you told me praising communist China was a bad thing to say. But clearly I just praised North Korea, so honestly I don’t see the problem

CONSULTANT: Fine. We’ll come back to that later. Here’s my last question. Why, Mr. Trudeau, do you want to be prime minster of Canada?

TRUDEAU: Well, mainly it’s because my mother keeps telling me it’s time I got a real job. And that’s a bit harsh in my ….hey, what’s wrong? Are you crying?

CONSULTANT: No, I just have something in my eye.

TRUDEAU: Listen, why do I need to answer all these hard questions in this stupid debate? By now everybody already knows exactly how smart I am. Can’t I just stand at the podium balancing a baby on my hand? The media seems to love it when I do stuff like that.

CONSULTANT: But you need to show … oh to heck with it. Somebody get me a baby.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Speaking of Elizabeth May ...

Given all the chatter over Green Party leader Elizabeth May's "sleep deprived" antics at the recent Ottawa Press Gallery event, I thought I'd pile on a bit and reproduce a column I wrote which appeared a few years ago in the Ottawa Citizen

Green Party Needs a New NameIt’s time Green Party leader Elizabeth May changed the name of her party so that it more accurately reflect its true purpose.

I’m thinking of something like: “We will do Everything we can to Help the Liberal Party Even if it Means Undermining our own Environmental Cause Party.”

OK that moniker might be a bit difficult to fit on a ballot, but it sure fits the Green Party’s current raison d’etre.

After all, ever since May became Green Party leader, her chief political goal has been less about promoting Green ideology and more about helping Liberals get elected.

Recall, for example, that in the 2008 federal election she decided not to run a Green candidate against then Liberal leader Stephan Dion.

And in doing so, she effectively endorsed Dion for prime minister.

This was an odd decision since if May really thought Dion would make a great prime minister, why was she even running?

And don’t tell me May endorsed Dion because she believed he was some kind of green activist.

That theory doesn’t hold water because the Liberals at the time didn’t exactly have a sparkling “green” record.

In fact, the Liberal government, of which Dion was part, had done precious little to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions or to implement the Kyoto Accord.

That’s why Jamey Heath, an environmental activist and onetime NDP advisor, called May’s Dion endorsement “incredibly self-defeating”.
He was right.

Also seemingly self-defeating was May’s bizarre call during the 2008 federal election for strategic voting, in which she actually urged Canadians not to vote for a Green candidate if another candidate (i.e. a Liberal) had a better chance at defeating a Conservative.

With a friend like May, Green Party candidates didn’t need enemies.

And even though the Liberals have fallen into third place, May has still not given up promoting their electoral cause.

Most recently, she announced the Greens would not be running a candidate in the upcoming Labrador by-election against ex-Conservative cabinet minister, Peter Penashue, and she strongly urged the NDP to follow suit, as this would increase the probability of a Liberal victory.

May’s point is that such electoral co-operation is needed to defeat their common enemy, the Conservatives.

This might be true, but please note May is not asking the Liberals to step aside in the name of electoral co-operation, even though as the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hebert recently pointed out, the provincial NDP is growing in popularity in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Clearly, May’s goal isn’t just for the Conservatives to lose; it’s also for the Liberals to win.

If Green Party supporters aren’t angry about all this, then they aren’t paying attention because it’s obvious that May is hurting their cause.

By pulling out of election contests, for instance, May is undermining the party’s ability to get its message out to voters.

Certainly running a Green candidate in the Labrador by-election, which is guaranteed to receive tons of media coverage, would give the Green Party an amazing chance to promote its cause.

But the problem for the Greens goes much deeper than just losing free publicity.

Much deeper.

The more important question is this: if it doesn’t field candidates in elections and if its leader keeps promoting another party, why does the Green Party even exist?

To be blunt, if the Green Party doesn’t want to engage in the political arena as an independent voice, with its own vision and with its own ideals, than it serves no real or useful function.

You know, now that I think about it, maybe changing the name of the Green Party isn’t the best answer.

Maybe it would be more logical and easier if May simply changed parties.

The Liberals are probably looking for a few more MPs.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Harper Faces Frustratingly Fuzzy Future

Note: This column first appeared in the Ottawa Hill Times in September, 2014; I think the analysis still holds.

For Prime Minister Stephen Harper this must be a particularly frustrating time.

And no, what’s frustrating him isn’t the Conservative Party’s consistently poor showing in public polls, or the scandals which have plagued his government or his increasingly toxic relationship with the media.

In fact, none of that stuff would really bother Harper.

What would irk him, however, is the fuzzy nature of Canada’s political future.

Keep in mind that Harper is a meticulous planner and strategist; he’s like a general who won’t commit his troops to battle until he’s accounted and planned for every possible contingency.

In short, he doesn’t like surprises; he doesn’t want to improvise a strategy in the heat of combat.

Yet, whenever Harper scans the political terrain that will serve as the battle ground for the 2015 election, his view is obstructed by dark clouds of uncertainty.

For one thing, no one, including Harper and his strategists, knows how Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will perform once he’s thrown into the lion’s den of a national election campaign.

And Trudeau’s performance will matter because for the past year or so, the Conservatives have been airing TV ads telling us that Trudeau is “in over his head.”

These ads are meant to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of Canadians, seeds the Conservatives hope will bloom during an election, when voters will start to truly focus on the Liberal leader.

If, during the election, Trudeau stumbles, if he commits a series of verbal gaffes, if he performs poorly during the televised leaders’ debate, it will reinforce the Conservative message that he’s not up to the job.

But pinning all your hopes on an opponent making mistakes is always a gamble.
What if Trudeau campaigns like a pro; what if his winning smile charms the electorate?

That’s something Harper needs to consider.

And the “Trudeau factor” is not the only unknown confounding Harper.

He also has to worry about the NDP. More specifically, he must be wondering how the NDP, and its leader Thomas Mulcair, (who like Trudeau has never run a national campaign) will fare against the Liberals.

This is a key question because for Harper to succeed in 2015 he needs the NDP to soak votes away from the Liberals. He especially needs the NDP to keep the Liberals from scoring an electoral breakthrough in Quebec.

Is the NDP up to the job? Can Mulcair put a dent in Trudeau’s popularity? How will Quebeckers react to a Mulcair vs. Trudeau tilt?

Nobody knows. And that puts Harper’s plans in a state of flux.

Then to muddle things up even more, Harper also has to consider that the world itself is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is rattling sabers in Eastern Europe; barbaric terrorist organizations are conquering huge swathes of territory in the Middle East; Israel and Hamas are at each other’s throats.

Given all this instability, what will the world look like when Canadians go to the polls a year from now? What will our economy be like? Will there be a war? Will there be a terrorist attack in North America or Europe?

We just don’t know.

And more to the point, Harper doesn’t know.

All these unknowns, all these variables, all these question marks, will make it extremely difficult for Harper to calculate a winning political equation.

Yet, of course, that won’t stop him and his team from trying to craft such a plan.

But just to cover all their bases, they will also have to prepare a Plan “B” and a Plan “C” and maybe even a Plan “D.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Merv Lavigne RIP

It saddened me to learn of the recent passing of a great Canadian named Merv Lavigne

I knew Merv way back in the 1980s when he was a community college teacher from Haileybury, a small town in northern Ontario.

And what made Merv a great Canadian, at least to my mind, was his courage and his willingness to fight for what he believed in.

In fact, that’s how Merv and I ended up crossing paths; in 1985 he joined forces with a group I once worked for, the National Citizens Coalition, to fight a legal battle aimed at changing Canada’s labour laws so that union bosses would no longer have the power to use forced dues to subsidize their political propaganda.

Merv, a Liberal activist who had run for federal office, didn’t like the fact that a portion of his dues was being used to subsidize the New Democratic Party and other causes.

So, with the NCC’s moral and financial support, Merv launched what would prove to be an historic court challenge.

Merv’s argument was simple: Forcing him to associate with a political party, through his compelled union dues, violated his freedom of association which was guaranteed in the then newly minted Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

And although Merv was just one guy, his challenge scared the bejeezus out of Canada’s entire union movement.

Indeed, just about every big union organization in the country intervened in this case to oppose him.

Alas, it was a David vs Goaliath battle where Goliath ended up winning.

In 1991 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Merv, which is why, by the way, unions today are free to spend millions of dollars in forced union dues on political propaganda campaigns, whether their unionized employees like it or not.

And a lot of them don’t like it.

At any rate, I’ll always remember Merv as a guy who cheerfully and tirelessly endured six years of arduous legal combat.

It was a lot of work for a guy who already had a full time job: He attended fundraising events across the country, spoke to countless organizations, did hundreds of media interviews.

He also, sadly, endured harassment.

But never once did I ever hear him utter a single word of complaint.

One positive by-product of Merv’s hard work, was it significantly raised his profile and made him something of a media star.

The NCC’s own internal polling showed he had incredible favourables. People liked him; they liked his message. And why not? He had proven to be an intelligent and articulate spokesman.

Had he wished to re-enter the political arena, Merv could have easily got himself elected to Parliament and we told him so.

But, having enough of the limelight, he decided to focus on his family and his career.

Mind you, Merv had already accomplished a lot.

He put a key question of individual freedom on the national agenda; he rattled the establishment’s cage, and he fought a good fight for his principles.

That’s a pretty good epitaph.