Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 22, 2020
Canadians don’t need election melodrama
If not for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP and the three members of the Green caucus, Canada would be heading into a federal election today. We are not, and we should be thankful for that.
November 12, 2018
An election campaign, with the federal Parliament adjourned for campaigning, is the last thing the country wants, or needs. The second wave of this pandemic is sweeping across the nation. We need all hands on deck to manage the crisis, and no one needs to be distracted by an election campaign and everything that goes along with that.
But how did we get here? How did we end up on the brink of an election no one wants?
There’s blame to be apportioned across the board, but the majority of it falls on the governing Liberals and Opposition Conservatives. They joined in a high stakes game of chicken that was not driven by anything other than partisan advantage.
First, the Conservatives. They launched a motion on Opposition Day that called for establishing a new super-committee to investigate corruption, specifically the WE scandal. It would have had unprecedented power to call not only members of the government and civil service, but people such as friends and relatives. It could have compelled the release of private citizens’ financial records over a 12-year period. That is probably not even legal.
October 23, 2019
It was a massive overreach, especially considering Parliament already has multiple committees that can do that work. And given that this is a minority government, those committees are often dominated by opposition MPs, so the government doesn’t always get its way.
Further, there is a central hypocrisy in what the Conservatives are saying. They want a committee specifically focused on government corruption, and they publicly declare they do not have confidence in the government. But they also say they don’t want an election. You cannot square that circle.
But the Liberals delivered a surprise — they chose a nuclear response to the Conservatives overreach, saying the motion amounted to a loss of confidence in the government, and therefore would trigger an election. They drew a line in the sand, and they dared opposition parties to cross.
October 28, 2016
There’s no doubt, from a political strategy perspective, that the government outplayed its opponents. But beyond that strategic victory, this brinksmanship isn’t a good look for anyone involved. The government is acting like it has a majority when it doesn’t. The Conservatives wanted to weaponize the committee process for partisan gain. Both were willing to force Canadians to endure an election campaign in a very dangerous time. For that, they should be ashamed.
Thankfully, Singh’s NDP sought middle ground. They proposed a committee that would oversee and investigate all spending and management during the pandemic, including in the WE affair. That is a reasonable mandate for a new committee. We don’t know what the Liberals agreed to in exchange for the NDP’s support against the Conservatives, but don’t be surprised if the end result of this drama fest is something like what the NDP proposed.
So for now, this melodrama is over. Don’t be surprised when the next game of chicken breaks out, as happened frequently when Stephen Harper’s minority government was challenged repeatedly and dared opposition parties to trigger an election.
That said, there was ample cynical political gamesmanship on display here. It’s wasn’t pretty. The Liberals and Conservatives should take a long look in the mirror and try to remember what Canadians are dealing with. That’s what matters, not an unnecessary election campaign. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 11, 2020
Economic Prescription for Coronavirus: ‘You’ve Got to Go Fast’
The government can’t prevent the coronavirus from damaging the U.S. Economy.
February 28, 2020
The usual tools that economic policymakers rely on, like tax cuts and stimulus spending, won’t restore canceled conferences, unclog supply chains or persuade wary consumers to go out to bars and restaurants. Even if such policies would help, they conflict with the advice of health officials who are urging “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus.
But that doesn’t mean policymakers are powerless. Economists say well-designed programs could limit the damage and help ensure a quick rebound.
President Trump said Monday that he would meet with congressional leaders to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and other measures. Many economists are skeptical of that approach, arguing that a payroll tax cut would be too small and too poorly targeted to be of much help.
June 28, 2018
Instead, they recommended a variety of other steps, some narrowly aimed at addressing the outbreak and some intended to bolster the broader economy. One lesson from the last recession is that the government has to move quickly.
“You’ve got to go big, and you’ve got to go fast,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff member who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning research organization. “If you don’t go fast, you’re not going to short-circuit it.”
Here are some forms that such intervention could take: 1) Fight the disease. 2) Cushion the blow. 3) Stimulate the broader economy. 4) What about payroll taxes? (Continued: NYTimes)
CHRONOLOGY OF A CARTOON GONE VIRAL
This particular editorial cartoon has gone through several modifications than the original one published above on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The original double wave cartoon received attention around the world and was modified, rather crudely, with adaptations made to my Canada flag, and translations squeezed in to replace my English “be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” Some of the changes were done fairly well. Some of the people behind the alterations took the time to ask for permission to do so, and preserved my moniker, while others did not.
Nettuno 1958 – 5 aprile 2020
If only I got a penny for everywhere this cartoon landed I’d be rich!
Possibly my most shared, cropped, and altered cartoon ever.
A crude repurposed image showing a third wave, with my moniker cropped out, appeared in wide circulation on various social media platforms in May, 2020. It appears someone with some knowledge of image editing software duplicated the recession wave, added a third wave by colouring it rather fluorescent green and replacing the wording to climate change. In doing so unfortunately, my signature, or moniker as cartoonists call it, was deleted out. It was on its way to being meme-ified – unsourced and unsigned, the bane of editorial cartooning. I believe the flag in this example is Argentina’s.
Meanwhile, a hemisphere over in the UK, someone revised the Argentinian version, and replaced the label recession with “Brexit”. Look closely and one will note the Union Jack flies atop the Palace of Westminster! Credit goes to Twitter account RRI Tools for pointing this out in June, 2020 with this tweet.
I thought these ideas behind modification were pretty good ones, but the crop jobs weren’t so great, and the flag of Argentina only caused confusion on an idea that could work for anyone around the world. So it was then that I decided to remove the flag and create an authorized version bearing my signature. Here it is:
Originally drawn for March 11, 2020. Revised May 23, 2020.
But it seems someone else in another corner of the planet, Ricardo Hurtubia, a teacher from Santiago, Chile, had added a third wave as early as April 4! Good on him for keeping my moniker in there. News to me by the time July rolled around:
con mis fantásticas habilidades para Power Point, he logrado esta obra de arte luego de un día entero de trabajo
(broma 😜, pero el mensaje de fondo va en serio🙁) pic.twitter.com/qPrmSaneRy
In September, 2020, this beautiful hand drawn rendering was flagged by someone in Venezuela on Twitter. This is an example of the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Thank you Alejandro!
Not long after the above tweet was posted, an anonymous twitter account holder going by the name of Cilantrófago, posted a re-adapted image in Spanish that cleaned up Mr. Hurtubia’s, somewhat, adding a 4th wave. His major failing, however, is chopping out my moniker, and unfortunately, for Cilantrófago, he or she qualifies as a Social Media Jackass.
In mid June, I was included in a tweet sent out by David Obura, a director of Cordio, East Africa, a marine ecosystem consultancy based in Mombasa, Kenya. He’s also a scientist with the Earth Commission. A 4th wave had been added as a further warning regarding the effects of climate change on the world’s ecology. He isn’t actually the person who added the “biodiversity collapse”, but liked what he saw and sent it out. The re-adapted version is quite a good one, with a thought provoking message, the lettering is close enough to my own, and the image retains my moniker. Thumbs up, but I would like to know who the person is behind the re-adaptation.
The readapted readapted version of the cartoon became the centre piece of a demonstration with a Samba Band on Paignton Promenade (in Torbay, Devon, England) Sunday afternoon, August 30, 2020 with the “Four Waves Banner” shown below and paraded by the Green Spirits group:
Enchanted by the passion of the Green Spirits, and after receiving more licensing permission to use the 4 waves, I decided to update the cartoon to include the biodiversity collapse wave. The caption bubble was also enlarged, and my moniker was placed in the top corner.
As of Autumn 2020, according to google image search, there are more than 1680 posts of these variations across the Internet on various social media platforms and websites.
POV International – Brug coronakrisen som løftestang for nødvendige forandringer: Vi skal “Build Back Better”
Medium.com – Field Notes: Teaching Climate Change in Higher Education
Noted is this eerily similar looking version found on this page on a site called EcoMatcher. They aren’t based in any particular country but whether the renderer knew it or not, that’s pretty much exactly what I drew in the very first version (posted at the top of this page) to represent Canada, from the rockies in the west to the Toronto skyline in the east. Seems the readapters of the image had a pretty good idea of the original cartoon’s chronology.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 7, 2020
Is Donald Trump America’s new normal?
November 16, 2019
The political fates are fickle. This was supposed to be Donald Trump’s worst week as America’s president, but it’s turned into his best.
This was supposed to be the week his impeachment trial exposed him as unfit to hold the highest office in the land, the week his abysmal record in the Oval office came back to haunt him and the week his Democratic opponents proved they’re ready to take him on in November’s presidential election.
None of it happened. The Democrats, who invested so much political capital into impeaching Trump, need to come up with Plan B. Their Plan A was a flop and the Democrats are stumbling just when they should be hitting their stride.
If you think Trump’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster for the planet — and we know the vast majority of Canadians do — you should be worried by all this. Very worried.
October 10, 2019
Instead of signalling the death of his erratic presidency, Trump’s impeachment trial breathed new life into it. There was clear proof he pressured a foreign country — Ukraine — to discredit one of his potential political rivals — Joe Biden. We know he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July. We know Trump was withholding $391 million (U.S.) in military aid to Ukraine, too.
Despite the damning evidence against him, it was always going to be an uphill struggle to convince two-thirds of the Senate, which is dominated by Trump’s own Republicans, to convict him. Trump’s acquittal was predicted. But because the Republicans blocked the testimony of key witnesses, the trial was a sham that discredited a once noble house of Congress.
As for the great American public, it largely tuned out from the televised tedium. No wonder Trump gloated. The latest Gallup poll gives him a 49 per cent approval rating from Americans, his highest score since being elected. And on Tuesday, the day before his Senate acquittal, Trump had the opportunity to sing his own praises in his annual State of the Union address, claiming undeserved responsibility for what he calls the “Great American comeback.”
November 2, 2019
Clearly the prevailing winds are at Trump’s back. What’s more troubling is they’re blowing in the faces of the Democrats. They were thoroughly embarrassed by the technical glitches that delayed the results from their Iowa caucuses Monday.
Far more seriously, the party is badly split, uncertain whether its path to victory runs through the moderate centre or the progressive left of the U.S. political spectrum. Nor would we recommend betting your house on an election win for any of the Democrats’ current crop of candidates, including the self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders or the leaden, former vice-president Biden.
As we look at an America and cherished American institutions that increasingly seem unrecognizable, we wonder if three years of Trump have succeeded in deadening the nation’s senses to the divisions and disruptions he has sewn at home and around the world. If you live with a clown long enough, maybe you’re comfortable in a circus.
Of course, we’re commenting partly on the events of one week. The election remains nine months away and Trump’s presidency could still end in a train-wreck. But Trump became president in 2016 with less than half of the popular vote and could do so again.
It will be up to American voters to rid their country and the world of this president. It will be up to the Democrats to choose a candidate who can convince the country to do this. Today, sadly, neither of these things is at all certain. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
It’s election time in Canada which means the Internet becomes very active with rhetoric and persuasion, from all sorts of contributors, from political parties, opinion writers, Russian bots, trolls, and idiots.
Congratulations anonymous Twitter account holder Can Neo Cons purveyor of a robust chop shop of editorial cartoons. He (and he is a he) describes himself on his Twitter profile as, “I believe in standing up for what I think is right, Too much hatred going on in the world. I am into politics. All in the meme. Left Wing Populist.” He’s made quite a hobby out of extracting caricatures from editorial cartoons and reassembling them in tell tale bold bordered boxes with hackneyed thought bubbles peppered with spelling and grammar mistakes. He is the latest useful idiot to be used as a prime example to others why it’s not a good thing to repurpose professional satire to convey pea brained musings.
He isn’t the first person to do this and he won’t be the last, but there is a consistent hideousness in all of the reworked intellectual property that points to a pathological affliction among such individuals so obsessed by stealing other peoples work.
The behavioural pattern is very familiar. An artist will share work on a social media platform and among the discussion thread below will suddenly appear a chop shop art thief posting his awful repurposed work, in some vain attempt to flatter the artist. When alerted to their misdeed it is almost always the same: They’ll demonstrate immediate guilt, apologize for ripping off your art, and promise not to commit anymore vandalism to your art. Then they won’t bother to remove the offending rip offs of your art from their threads. After a little more back and forth between thief and the original creator, the thief will quickly dig in his heels, cite freedom of expression, telling the original creator that it’s the artist’s fault for sharing their art on social media. Then the fraudster will unleash a volley of insults.
Now, some of my colleagues have passive attitudes to these bottom feeders. Their follower counts are minuscule and in all likelihood there are mental disorders afflicting the individuals behind such accounts. Why bother giving them a broader audience?
In my view, they ought to be treated like any other thief of intellectual property. As we are taught in grade school we are to design our own work. We are told to cite supporting sources of our essays or creations. We are told at a young age that there are consequences for destroying property not belonging to us, intellectual property, or otherwise. This isn’t parody, it is theft, and if some people are so willing to engage in such wreckless activity, one has to wonder what other things such people might be up to. Let this serve as a convenient flag to authorities in case he has other shameful behaviour he thinks he’s hiding.
So, Michael Labelle, retired guy from Cornwall, Ontario, turned intellectual property thief, your misdeeds aren’t so anonymous after all. Your true identity is only mere clickity-clicks all over social media.
Past Recipients of the Social Media Jackass Award. Each winner eventually removed stolen items from their feeds but it always took persistence:
It took a week of waiting but after a complaint was lodged against Michael LaBelle’s theft his repurposed use of my intellectual property was scraped off the bottom of Facebook’s shoe.
Most of it, anyway. I listed 25 violations of intellectual property theft.
Tonight, Facebook sent me an email message following up on a complaint I lodged last week, and confirmed that Michael LaBelle had indeed violated Facebook’s rules regarding unauthorized use of Intellectual Property and has removed the offending material from his page Can Neo Cons.
A quick scan through Michael LaBelle’s Facebook thread of awfulness will reveal a few more of my cartoons that were overlooked on a morning of logging infringements when I could’ve easily been more productive with my time than picking away at some loser’s pathetic hobby. Still, there remains extracts of cartoons drawn by well known cartoonists whose work has been degraded and repurposed to convey this thief’s twisted thoughts for all eternity. The word needs to get out that this behaviour is unacceptable and that it won’t be tolerated. While some may wonder why I bother to devote more than a few seconds of fuming towards some cretin that pops up on my Twitter notifications, this is really meant for the future Michael LaBelles. Michael LaBelle, rather stupidly, opted to react unwisely when his dirty hobby was exposed even when he was given the option to recant. Let this serve as an example to other Michael LaBelles that before the DMCA takedown happens you’ll be shamed first, and you’ll become the next useful idiot, like Michael LaBelle.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday January 27, 2018
Brown’s loss may be a blessing in disguise for PCs
Suddenly, an Ontario election that looked wildly unpredictable appears utterly confounding.
June 24, 2017
The only certainty is that Patrick Brown’s dramatic decapitation as the Progressive Conservative candidate for premier is destined for the history books. No one, however, can foretell the province’s political future.
Never mind the partisans and pollsters who confidently predicted a PC rout of a forlorn Liberal government. No one truly knew how Premier Kathleen Wynne would fare against the untested Brown or the NDP’s Andrea Horwath on the campaign trail, nor how voters would respond.
We know even less today. Tempting as it is to write off the Tories as leaderless, they are hardly rudderless — and may even enjoy a renaissance.
June 23, 2016
At their moment of maximum disarray, a dislikable leader has been dispatched. If they can improve on their last disastrous choice — pollsters were already noting Brown’s creeping negative ratings, and the more than 44 per cent of Ontarians who had no opinion of him — the Tories may yet surprise people.
Put another way, the best thing Wynne and Horwath had going for them was Brown. Unlikeable, unknowable, unimpressive as a politician and most especially as an aspiring premier.
But not to be underestimated. Brown surprised his rivals in the 2015 party leadership race by massively outhustling and organizing them, signing up tens of thousands of instant Tories by reaching out to ethnic communities. As leader, he picked up the pace by setting remarkable new fundraising records.
Yet organizational talent does not translate into political vision. Brown was not only bereft of charisma, he was utterly lacking in presence when he walked into a room.