Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Lord of the Dance

The Cape Breton Post devoted three pages — including the entire front page — to the late John Allan Cameron on Tuesday, inadvertently giving new meaning to the phrase “slow news day.”

The hook for the multi-page extravaganza? It’s been 50 years since Cameron’s first album was “unleashed” on “an unsuspecting world.”

I can accept that Cameron was a gifted musician. I can believe that he was generous in his support of younger artists. I can even credit him with reviving Celtic music on the island (although the album came out in 1968, at which point North America had been in the grip of a folk revival for at least a decade).

What I can’t do is enjoy his singing.

As children, my siblings and I used to make fun of his vocal stylings (when we weren’t making fun of figure skating, Tom Jones or the Miss Teen Canada Pageant — all targets of our cruel shtick).

But it seems nobody really liked his singing, judging by the faint praise with which it is damned in the Post’s hagiography:

“He was becoming better known. He was a good guitarist and he had a distinctive voice that set him apart.”

“He would be the first person to tell you he wasn’t the world’s greatest singer but he could sing on pitch and he had his own style.”

I have changed my mind about figure skating and Tom Jones, so I went back and listened to “Here Comes John Allan Cameron” (on YouTube) to see if my feelings about Cameron had similarly evolved.  Ten seconds into a song called “Betsy Go Home,” I knew they hadn’t.

For the record: I was right about Miss Teen Canada, too.


Seeking office

Here’s a fun discussion that happened on Twitter this week.

Kate Watson, a publicist with Nimbus Publishing and freelance writer, went after Halifax councilors who are running for other offices.

As Suzanne Rent explained, in the Halifax Examiner’s Morning File:

Watson ran for District 5 in the municipal election in 2016, losing to Sam Austin. There are currently two councillors running for other offices: District 15 Councillor Steve Craig is running for Progressive Conservatives for the upcoming provincial byelection in the Sackville-Cobequid riding (Craig ran unsuccessfully for the Progressive Conservatives in that riding in 2006). And District 12 Councillor Richard Zurawski is planning a federal campaign as the Green Party candidate in the Halifax West riding…

Other councillors have run for other offices while still serving on Council, including District 13 Councillor Matt Whitman, who lost, but went back to his job on Council after the provincial election was over.

One response to Watson’s tweet really caught my eye, as it came from former Dartmouth mayor (later HRM councilor) Gloria McCluskey:

I can count one of those times for her — last year, when the mayor of the CBRM (who made a commitment for four years) decided to run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party. McCluskey knew about it because on July 30, she appeared with the candidate on his campaign Facebook page in a 30-minute video (no longer available because Clarke has since the deleted the page, wreaking havoc with my “Where’s Cecil?” archive). Perhaps she took a moment, at some point in that discussion, to tell Clarke what he was doing was “nonsense.” (Or perhaps it only counts as nonsense when a Liberal, or a Halifax pol does it).

Anyway, I found Watson’s views interesting — and timely, given that our mayor may be considering a run for the federal seat of Sydney-Victoria in the next election. I’ve seen mention on Twitter of robo calls asking people their opinion of Cecil Clarke and Eddie Orrell.

And Clarke has added his name to the list of five former Attorney Generals (two federal, three provincial) calling for an RCMP investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair, which suggests Cecil Clarke, PC is getting the upper hand over Cecil Clarke, mayor of the CBRM again.

(And that’s all I’m going to say about SNC-Lavalin. You don’t need me to write about SNC-Lavalin. Pretty much every other journalist in the country has you covered.)


Nova Scotia Astroturf

Nova Scotia Proud says it has “one simple mission: to empower Nova Scotians to restore a government that we can be proud of.”

I’m not entirely sure I understand that.

I mean, we Nova Scotians already have the power to choose our governments — it’s a little thing we like to call representative democracy and it’s been kicking around this province for some time now.

And why would we “restore” a government rather than simply electing one? It sounds like they want to bring an old government back. Do they have a particular one in mind? James Boyle Uniacke’s? Charles Tupper’s? How about an anti-confederation government like William Annand’s? That could be fun.

The CBC’s Michael Gorman looked into Nova Scotia Proud (which he calls the “equivalent” of Ontario Proud, an organization that, as Canadaland has explained, became a factor in the Ontario provincial election by posing as a grassroots organization while actually being funded by property developers). Gorman found that the Nova Scotia version is a federally registered, not-for-profit with three directors: Devin Drover, Reagan Seidler and Hugh McNamara.

The group is busy right now making robocalls asking Nova Scotians about healthcare. No, wait, “making robocalls” is clearly an oversimplification. I’ll let Nova Scotia Proud director (and Newfoundlander, because all the proudest Nova Scotians are from Newfoundland) Devin Drover explain what he’s doing these days:

Utilizing the latest in political technology, I produce digital content that organically reaches millions of Canadians.

Drover, who is doing a combined MBA/Law Degree at Dalhousie, also serves as the regional coordinator for Atlantic Canada for Generation Screwed, a group (of young men men, apparently) who believe in balanced budgets and…well, actually, balanced budgets seems to be about it. Generation Screwed was “initiated” in 2013 by — you guessed it — the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Reagan Seidler (I think this must be him, he’s in Drover’s law class at Dal), appears to be a Proud Nova Scotian from Saskatchewan but Hugh McNamara, if this is him, and I think it must be, at least seems to be from Nova Scotia. He’s got an MBA from Dal where he served as “Dalhousie President” of Generation Screwed. He also, apparently, invented some organic hair care products for men and is now an account specialist at Hybrid Financial in Toronto. He claims Cape Breton roots.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

Drover told Gorman Nova Scotia Proud was not affiliated with any political party, but he himself clearly is — he was an intern in Stephen Harper’s PMO, an adviser on Ches Crosbie’s (successful) Newfoundland and Labrador Tory leadership campaign, and a communications director for the Newfoundland Tories.

Seidler was a ministerial assistant in Brad Wall’s Tory government in Saskatchewan.

McNamara jumped out the second floor window of a barn when he was six. (I love LinkedIn.)

And as Gorman points out — everything Nova Scotia Proud posts is anti-Trudeau, anti-McNeil or pro-Andrew Scheer (they even have that fake Heritage Minute that made the Heritage Minute people mad).

This organization is clearly fabulous. It’s got all my favorite things: Stephen Harper, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, balanced-budget fixations, the Christian Legal Fellowship (Drover is VP of the Dalhousie Student Chapter) and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. In fact, poke around in the directors’ backgrounds for just a few minutes online and the next thing you know you’re listening to a podcast with a guest who introduces himself as “the director of legal studies at the Ayn Rand Institute.”

(And then you’re laughing uncontrollably, because people over the age of 18 who take Ayn Rand seriously are just the best.)

All three directors claim mad communications skills, which makes the quality of prose on the Nova Scotia Proud site all the more puzzling. Sample quote:

And now, McNeil plans to introduce a carbon tax that will rise [sic] the cost of electricity and home heating for every single Nova Scotian family.

(In passing, how can members of a group called Generation Screwed be oblivious to climate change?)

Gorman doesn’t seem too worried that this “movement” will be able to exert much influence on elections in this province. The secret to Ontario Proud’s success was that it collected over half a million dollars in corporate donations, but, writes Gorman:

Election rules are different for Nova Scotia, in that registered third parties can only receive contributions from individuals and spending limits are capped at $10,000 for a general election and $2,000 for a byelection.

It’s not that I don’t have problems with both the provincial and the federal governments myself — I do — it’s just that I don’t need these three gentlemen to articulate those problems for me.

I don’t think I’ll be “organically spreading” any of their “digital content” any time soon.



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