Dispatch from The Front Lines: Can we get Trudeau some bravery socks or something?

Hate this Dispatch? Whatevs. We reject your criticism. Firmly.

“Ah man, China’s locked me out of the damned house, again.” Photo Credit: Government of Canada.

Well, Line readers, we did it. We made it to the end of another week. It was, as we said it would be last Friday, a quiet one here — we needed a chance to rest and recharge over the long weekend, and we took it. We hope it was as delightful for you as it was for all of us, and that even in this strange COVID Year 0, you had much in your life to give thanks for.

Or at least someone in your household who can fire a decent meal together. That’ll work in a pinch, too.

The warm glow of a good feed faded quickly in Ottawa, alas, where our nice little vacation from history continues its unravelling apace. China's ambassador to Canada is issuing increasingly dire threats to the safety of our citizens, specifically the hundreds of thousands of Canadians living in Hong Kong, forcing the prime minister to bring out the biggest guns in his arsenal: his really serious socks, a very frowny photograph by Adam Scotti, and, we expect, the imminent announcement that on top of all her current duties, Chrystia Freeland will be appointed Progressive Minister In Charge Of Figuring Out What The Hell We Should Do About China But Not In A Way That Offends Anyone The Middle Class Build Back Green Error Error Program Alarm—

Whoa! Sorry! The Freeland Job Generator glitched again. No surprise, considering the miles Trudeau has put on it in only five years. Let’s hope it doesn’t give out entirely — we’d need 47 years to procure another one.

Anyway, as to the matter at hand, your Line editors are pragmatic folk. Canada can't punch at the same level as China; under Mr. Trudeau, indeed, despite all our for-Liberal-egos-only preening about Canada being back, we can't even punch at the same level as Ireland and Norway. But it's time Canadians face facts: we can either continue pretending that China's increasingly aggressive and threatening behaviour is a problem that will go away if we ignore it long enough, or we can at least pretend that we have balls and take what actions we can. Obviously we’re not going to send a fleet to parade up and down their coast, but there are things we can realistically do, and we aren’t. Australia, for instance, also in Beijing's sights, has rolled out a series of measures to curtail China's substantial influence there. Canada ought to be doing the same. And we could start by immediately banning Huawei, and encouraging every other country that would listen — which doesn't seem to be many — that they should too.

Do we expect the Liberal government to do this? No. Making money shilling for the Chinese regime is the best thing to happen to post-politics Liberals since Ontario's air ambulance service. But they should do this. And the delay is only gonna make it hurt more when events eventually force us to accept that China is not our friend, never has been, and never will be under the current political leadership. Many of our allies have figured this out. One of the two grown-up parties in Canada has figured this out.

We now go live to the prime minister’s response:

Thought so.

Admittedly, this humble Line Editor was hoping to write this week not on Big Tech Twitter censorship, but rather on the Liberals and their shameful attempts to use parliamentary prorogation and filibusters to wiggle out of scrutiny for the WE scandal. Alas, the Globe and Mail's Robyn Urback beat us to it with her Thursday column. (She's prettier and smarter than us, too. What a jerk, eh?)

She noted in her column: 

"Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez was even more direct on Twitter on Monday: "Canada is in the midst of a second wave and people are worried about their health and their jobs. But the Conservatives' priority is to play politics in committees."

The Liberals' position, thus, is that now is not the time to be probing an issue that they forced the opposition to put off probing until now. It's a beautiful manipulation, expertly executed."

What makes the dodge so particularly egregious is that, of course, the WE scandal cuts to the heart our COVID-19 recovery — and, particularly, how much spending leash we ought to give a government that seems keen to disperse an unprecedented amount of tricky-to-track stimulus cash. Especially when that money seems to so often find its way to support the COVID recovery of the Liberally well connected. 

 We will never let this die. We shall not.

And now, a quick break for some amusing idiocy. The requisite Dumb Tweet phase of the by-elections in York Centre and Toronto Centre, respectively. 


Because democracy! Amazingly, it’s still better than any other system us stupid humans could come up with.

*drinks shots and dies inside*

And lastly, we at The Line admit to spending too much time pondering the internal machinations of the New York Times — and you, dear readers, are free to read into this habit whatever pathologies you prefer — but good lord, do they ever make themselves difficult to ignore sometimes. 

For those following along with the 1619 Saga, Times columnist Bret Stephens penned a column that elegantly laid out the historical misinterpretations and journalistic fudging that have dogged an otherwise well-intended and noble project. 

The 1619 project, you will recall, loyal reader, was an attempt to re-frame America's "true founding" around the year that the first Black slaves arrived on the continent’s shores. Or, perhaps the goal of the project was intended to: "Reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative." The intent of the thing seems to shift depending on whether you're reading the physical text of the project, or the online versions that were altered after publication without clarification or notice. 

Anyway, Stephens actually acknowledged the problems with the project and just as we were planning to give the Times a nod of respect for facing the controversy head on, Executive Editor Dean Baquet issued a note on the subject ignoring all of Stephens' entirely reasonable critiques:

"This column, however, raised questions about the journalistic ethics and standards of 1619 and the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones, who inspired and drove the project. That criticism I firmly reject." 

There are two things that we can glean from this response: the first is an absolutely pitch-perfect rebuttal to absolutely every piece of legitimate criticism that will henceforth ever be levelled at The Line

Reader: "You misspelled ‘Ginsburg,’ you fucking tools."

The Line Editor: "That criticism I firmly reject." 

Reader: "Is the Green Party really only for teenagers and disaffected hippies. Aren't you being assholes, there?" 

The Line Editor: "That criticism I firmly reject." 

Reader: "Water polo isn't an elitist sport."

The Line Editor: "That criticism I firmly reject." 

The Line Editor’s Spouse: "The toddler hasn't been bathed in two full weeks and smells like hamster shavings."

The Line Editor: "That criticism I firmly reject." 

The second insight we can glean from Baquet's response is that the New York Times is run by a bunch of fucking toddlers. Toddlers who probably smell like hamster shavings. And although admittedly we at The Line have not been able to acquire a first-hand account of the executive editor’s wafting woody odor, we expect him to reject that criticism. Firmly.


  • Andrew Potter somehow actually pulled off his promise of writing an Eddie-Van-Halen-obituary/Bill-and-Ted-movie-review mashup that … worked. “The central problem that drives the plot is that Bill and Ted need to write the rock song that will bring harmony to the universe,” Potter wrote, recapping the first film before reviewing the latest. “… It sounds crazy, but the idea that music could save the world was a widely accepted view at the time. It was pretty much the conceit of the Live Aid concert and its sequels. With his Lifehouse project, Pete Townshend of The Who notoriously spent a big chunk of the ‘70s literally trying to write a rock opera that would bring the world into a state of permanent, unified ecstasy. The contribution of the Bill and Ted movie to this idea was to simply take as given that the song that would do this would sound more or less like a Van Halen tune.”

  • Peter Menzies wrote a piece here, trying to figure out what the hell the CBC is even trying to do … a confusion we admit to having experienced ourselves. “[The] fact of the matter is that not even the CBC believes it is a public broadcaster. It is a hybrid publicly-funded commercial broadcaster — a condition that has left it, its audience and stakeholders confused and bewildered. The Corp in this guise has wandered so far from its core purpose that there is no longer a visible path to redemption. The CBC is no longer … saving us from NBC News in Toronto. It has become NBC News in Toronto. And we don’t need to spend $1.2 billion for that.”

    But we will, won’t we?

  • Jen Gerson wrote about how Twitter ended up tripping all over itself trying to figure out how to handle a half-baked New York Post oppo drop on the Biden family. “Sometimes journalists find themselves in possession of newsworthy information obtained through nefarious means,” she said. “We are barred from engaging in illegal methods to obtain information — but we sure as hell aren't barred from reporting on that information once it lands under our door, or on our desks, or in our anonymous dropboxes. … Twitter itself seemed to acknowledge the problems with using its anti-hacking policies this way on Thursday night, when it furiously backpedalled from its earlier decision, announcing a more nuanced position.”

    The problem isn’t that Twitter is biased, per se, Gerson added, against left or right. “The system isn't rigged. It's amoral. Subject to the prevailing political winds. If so, no ideological team can expect to stay on the side of the angels, forever singing from the same hymnals of the moderators.”

That was it this week, but we’ll be back, ready with more biting commentary, though with tragically diminished reserves of leftovers, on Monday. In the meantime, take care, and do your best to avoid being extraordinarily renditioned to China.

The Line is Canada’s last, best hope for irreverent commentary. We reject bullshit. We love lively writing. Please consider supporting us by subscribing. Follow us on Twitter @the_lineca. Fight with us on Facebook. Pitch us something: lineeditor@protonmail.com