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Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante releases graphic novel detailing political journey – CKPGToday.ca

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“For me the graphic novel format was always what I wanted,” she said in a recent interview at her publisher’s offices.

“I think it’s accessible, it can be fun, and I love graphic novels myself.”

The book is based on Plante’s own sketches and anecdotes she began jotting down in 2013, during her first run for a seat on city council. Four years later, she became the first woman elected mayor of Montreal after her surprise defeat of experienced incumbent Denis Coderre.

While the writing and drawings were initially a form of self-care to help her “stay balanced,” she said she eventually came to see that her story might inspire others, especially young girls.

“I wanted to show, and maybe tell, people it’s OK not to have all the keys and codes to do something you think would be a good thing to do or you believe in,” she said.

“Just go for it.”

She began working with Cote-Lacroix on evenings and weekends, taking about two years to finalize the story and illustrations.

Plante said that, much like her character in the book, she had been looking for a new challenge before her entry into politics. Then she received a phone call from left-wing municipal party Projet Montreal, which was looking to diversify its slate of candidates.

In the book, Plante doesn’t shy away from the challenges faced by women who put themselves in the public eye. At one point, one of her character’s posters is defaced by sexist graffiti. In another, her character’s husband gets effusive praise for helping to care for the couple’s children — something the book points out is a given for female political spouses. 

While the book “won’t change sexism,” Plante said she hopes it will help highlight the double standards women face.

Three years into her mandate, Plante has had a bumpy year, marked by a global pandemic that has devastated the city’s economy and criticism over her administration’s failure to implement its big visions for affordable housing and transportation. She has also faced anger over what some have described as an anti-car agenda, which includes building bike lanes, eliminating parking spots and temporarily closing some streets to vehicle traffic to create “sanitary corridors.” 

At times, that criticism has escalated to the level of death threats.

While some criticism is to be expected, Plante attributes much of the public anger directed her way to the anxiety wrought by the pandemic.

“Not to minimize their actions of being very aggressive, violent or doing death threats, but I like to hope in the future, when people are less stressed and in a better position, things will calm down,” she said.

She also faced criticism earlier this year over her novel itself, with some high-profile commentators questioning her decision to “draw cartoons” as the city was embroiled in the COVID-19 crisis.

Plante dismissed this as unfounded, especially since she says the writing process wrapped up in late 2019.

“People were just kind of trashing the book (without) even reading it, which I thought was sad, because it wasn’t about the content, it was about criticizing the author,” she said. However, she did push back the book’s publication for a few months when the pandemic’s second wave began.

Plante said she would still recommend politics to young people who want to make a difference, even as she acknowledges it’s a “tough” career that comes with unusual levels of public exposure. 

“But hopefully people see in the book, the love that you get from your volunteers, it’s a community, it’s people working together,” she said.

“It’s worth it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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So long to these Canadian politicians only Donald Trump could be proud of – Toronto Star

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It appears to be sweeps week in Canadian politics — when troublesome political players get swept right out of the action.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals tossed an MP out of caucus on Monday amid controversy over conspiracy theories, just a few hours after Sen. Lynn Beyak decided to shut down her racism-infused political career, effective immediately.

These exits come hot on the heels of last week’s resignation of governor-general Julie Payette and the ouster of a neo-Nazi funded MP, Derek Sloan, from the Conservative caucus.

One is tempted to give Donald Trump credit for kicking off this cleansing trend that’s spread north of the U.S. border. Just as Americans are getting ready to shake off the hangover of the Trump years, Canadian politics seems to be going through its own detoxifying exercise as 2021 begins.

The idea of this being a co-ordinated effort, though, would veer toward being a conspiracy theory all on its own. No great political huddle has taken place to de-Trumpify Canadian discourse, appealing as that scenario would be to many here — especially after the Jan. 6 rampage on Capitol Hill.

It was the news release issued by the Liberals about now-ousted Brampton Centre MP Ramesh Sangha that hinted most strongly of an effort to be more zero-tolerant about the brand of politics practised by Trump and those Capitol Hill rioters.

Sent out as a succinct, “he’s fired” missive by Chief Government Whip Mark Holland, it said Liberals were shutting down that kind of trouble in its tracks, within its own ranks.

“We all know where this can lead,” the statement said in its denunciation of the “conspiracy theories” and “dangerous and unfounded rhetoric” that Sangha had been found to be spreading. Details were sparse in the news release, but the picture it painted was not. “Trump politics not welcome here,” might well have been the headline.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has been drawing some sharper lines too; not just with his own ouster of Sloan last week for taking donations from a neo-Nazi, but also with some subtle nuance to his criticisms of Liberals. “We want the government to succeed,” is one such phrase cropping up now in O’Toole’s remarks about the pandemic — intended to demonstrate, one presumes, that opposition is more than a tear-down-the-Liberals exercise.

Of course, later on Monday, one of O’Toole’s Conservatives, Kerry Diotte, was standing up in the Commons to call Trudeau “wimpy” and Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner was being chided for shouting “what the hell” in the direction of the government. So this is clearly a work in progress.

Meanwhile, no one was lamenting the surprise announcement of Lynn Beyak’s self-imposed retirement, which she billed as a promise kept to serve only eight years in the Senate. While the senator’s nerve seemed to be limitless, apparently her time in public service was.

Beyak is the Conservative-appointed senator who gained fame for defending the legacy of residential schools and then digging herself deeper into the mire by refusing to apologize and allowing anti-Indigenous comments to remain on her website.

She had become an embarrassment to the Conservatives long ago, losing her place in caucus, and she was a standing advertisement for Senate-appointment reform. Her farewell statement was wholly unrepentant.

“Some have criticized me for stating that the good, as well as the bad, of residential schools should be recognized. I stand by that statement,” Beyak wrote. “Others have criticized me for stating that the Truth and Reconciliation Report was not as balanced as it should be. I stand by that statement as well.”

Trump might well be proud of the ex-senator’s ability to see the good people on both sides of the racist divide, as he did with the “very fine people” he said were involved in the deadly riots incited by the far right in Virginia in 2017.

As mentioned, Beyak won’t be missed.

Three weeks ago, with the U.S. capital in a riot lockdown and North America reeling from the post-Christmas surge of COVID, it was easy to imagine how politics in Canada might make some New Year’s resolutions to up its game here.

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A flurry of personnel departures in the past week, all greeted with relief, would seem to point to steps taken in that direction. A bad boss at Rideau Hall is gone, a regrettable (but sadly regretless) senator has retired, Conservatives and Liberals have given the boot to MPs who have flirted with extremist ideas.

It’s not a total sweep in the Canadian political world, but it’s a good start.

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As Trump Seeks to Remain a Political Force, New Targets Emerge – The New York Times

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As Donald Trump surveys the political landscape, there is a sudden Senate opening in Ohio, an ally’s bid for Arkansas governor, and some scores to settle elsewhere.

Former President Donald J. Trump, determined to remain a force in G.O.P. politics, is gaining new opportunities with a crucial Senate seat unexpectedly coming open in Ohio, an ally announcing for governor of Arkansas and rising pressure on Republicans in Congress who did not stand with him during this month’s impeachment vote.

The surprise announcement on Monday by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio that he would not seek a third term sparked a political land rush, with top strategists in the state receiving a flood of phone calls from potential candidates testing their viability. One consultant said he had received calls from five would-be candidates by midday.

That opening, along with another statewide contest next year in which Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to face at least one Trump-aligned primary challenger, is likely to make Ohio a central battleground for control of the Republican Party, and an inviting one for Mr. Trump, who held on to Ohio in the election while losing three other Northern battleground states.

Mr. Portman’s announcement came hours after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr. Trump’s former White House press secretary, began her campaign for Arkansas governor. The Republican primary there already includes the state’s lieutenant governor and attorney general, but private polling indicates that Ms. Sanders is beginning well ahead, and Mr. Trump endorsed her candidacy on Monday night.

Mr. Trump has only been out of the presidential office five days and has little in the way of political infrastructure. He has told aides he would like to take a break for several months.

But the former president has remained the party’s strongest fund-raiser, with tens of millions in PAC money at his disposal, and he retains an enduring base of Republican support across the country. Perhaps most important, he harbors a deep-seated desire to punish those he believes have crossed him and reward those who remain loyal.

So far he has focused primarily on Georgia, where he believes the Republican governor and secretary of state betrayed him by certifying his loss there. Both are up for re-election in 2022. And he took something of a test run over the weekend by getting involved in the leadership fight in Arizona’s Republican Party, after Kelli Ward, the firebrand chairwoman, asked for his help in gaining re-election, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Already there is a movement at the state and local levels to challenge incumbent members of Congress seen as breaking with the former president, starting with the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him this month.

The overwhelming consensus among Ohio Republicans is that a Trump-aligned candidate would be best positioned to win a competitive Senate primary, and no potential candidate has a better claim to Mr. Trump’s voters in the state than Representative Jim Jordan, who was Mr. Trump’s chief defender during his first impeachment trial and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the former president’s final days in office.

“Jim is well positioned if in fact he’s ready to take that leap; I’m not sure there’s anybody that would beat him,” said Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state and longtime Portman ally who last month served as an Electoral College voter for Mr. Trump. Referring to Mr. Trump’s legion of supporters, Mr. Blackwell added: “In Ohio, it’s going to be who has the track record to show that their agenda respects the newly realigned party base.”

Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Mr. Trump is now ensconced at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where aides are building something that can serve as an office. He’s been golfing several times, and was spotted by people at his club in Florida playing with the brother of the former tennis star Anna Kournikova on Sunday.

His advisers have had discussions about whether to get him back on some form of social media platform, although they insist that he does not need to be on Twitter or Facebook to raise money, and that his email solicitations continue to work well. On Monday he formally opened the Office of the Former President, to manage his “correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities.”

As President Biden’s inauguration approached, Mr. Trump began telling some allies that he was considering forming a third party if Republicans moved to convict him in the Senate trial. But by Saturday, after his own advisers said it was a mistake, Mr. Trump started sending out word that he was moving on from his threat.

“He understands that the best thing for his movement and conservatism is to move forward together, that third parties will lead to dominance by Democrats,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump.

Advisers to the president say he has just over $70 million in his PAC, Save America, with few restrictions on what he can do with it. For now, most of his staff is on a government payroll afforded to former presidents for a period of time after they leave office.

Officials are working to mend Mr. Trump’s relationship with Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the House minority leader, whom Mr. Trump called a vulgarity for his House floor speech denouncing the former president’s rally address before the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. A senior Republican said that aides to the two men were trying to arrange a meeting or a call in the coming days. And Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., spoke with Mr. McCarthy recently and the two are on good terms, a person briefed on the call said.

Mr. Trump would like to seek retribution against House members who voted against him, and he has been particularly angry with Representatives Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Fred Upton of Michigan, advisers said. He will also at some point focus on the governor’s race in Arizona, where Doug Ducey cannot seek re-election; Gov. Greg Abbott’s re-election bid in Texas; and the Senate race in North Carolina, as places where he can show strength, the advisers said. (One adviser disputed that Mr. Trump would have an interest in the Texas race.)

In Ohio, Mr. Gonzalez faces a potential primary challenge from Christina Hagan, a former state legislator whom he defeated in a 2018 primary. Ms. Hagan lost in the general election last year to Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat, in a neighboring district. She said in an interview Monday that she would decide which, if any, race to enter in 2022 after Ohio redraws its congressional districts; the state is likely to lose one seat and Republicans control all levers of redistricting.

“A lot of people elected what they thought was conservative leadership and now are witnessing somebody cutting against their values,” Ms. Hagan said, alluding to Mr. Gonzalez’s vote to impeach.

Mr. Gonzalez’s office did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Mr. Trump’s deepest hostility is reserved for Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, advisers said, and they expect he will expend the most energy trying to damage Mr. Kemp’s re-election bid. The governor’s original sin was in choosing Kelly Loeffler over Mr. Trump’s favored candidate, Doug Collins, to fill a vacant Senate seat in 2019, but it evolved into something more consuming as Mr. Trump repeated his debunked claims of widespread fraud in the state and held Mr. Kemp responsible for not doing enough to challenge the election results.

Mr. Collins, a hard-line Trump backer, hasn’t decided whether to challenge Mr. Kemp or seek the Republican nomination against Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democrat who defeated Ms. Loeffler in a special election and will face voters again in 2022, or if he will choose not to run for anything, a Collins aide said Monday.

Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

Next on Mr. Trump’s personal hit list is Representative Liz Cheney, the Republican from Wyoming, people close to him said. Ms. Cheney was the only member of the House G.O.P. leadership to vote to impeach. It’s unclear whether Mr. Trump will target her seat, or simply her leadership post in the House, but advisers said they anticipated that he would take opportunities to damage her.

Sarah Longwell, the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project, an anti-Trump group, said she and her colleagues planned to raise and spend $50 million to defend the 10 pro-impeachment House Republicans in primary contests and attack those who voted to object to the Electoral College results after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. She said the group would aim to defeat Mr. Jordan in an Ohio Senate primary if he runs against an establishment-minded Republican.

Mr. Jordan’s spokesman did not respond to messages on Monday.

The 2022 map will be the first real test of Mr. Trump’s durability in the party. While Ms. Sanders is running for governor in Arkansas, rumors that his daughter Ivanka would run for Senate in Florida are unlikely to develop further. And though his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was said to be considering a Senate run in North Carolina, people close to the family say it is less clear what she will do now that Mr. Trump lost.

Mr. Trump’s advisers are more focused on the looming impeachment trial. He is working closely with Mr. Graham, who has argued to his colleagues that Mr. Trump’s Senate trial sets a bad precedent.

Mr. Graham helped him retain a South Carolina-based lawyer, Butch Bowers, who is also working to fill out a legal team with colleagues from the state, Mr. Graham and others said. Mr. Bowers is expected to work with a Trump adviser, Jason Miller, on some kind of response operation.

Unlike his first impeachment trial, when the Republican National Committee engaged in a constant defense of the president, including paying for his lawyers, this time it is expected to focus only on rapid response, including calling the Senate trial unconstitutional and a procedural overreach, two people familiar with the committee’s plans said.

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Boston Consulting CEO on the ties between business and politics – Marketplace

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Between certifying the presidential election results and the Capitol insurrection, businesses have been increasingly speaking out about the state of American politics. Many companies, including Marriott and JPMorgan Chase, paused their political donations to Republicans after the events of Jan. 6. Shortly before that, many business leaders signed a letter urging Congress to accept the Electoral College results.

Rich Lesser, the CEO of Boston Consulting Group, was among the signatories of that letter. “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with the man who runs one of the nation’s premier management-consulting firms about how business leaders are thinking about their current role in politics. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Ryssdal: I was gonna start with how the relationship between businesses and American politics have changed in the last four years. But I think what I’m going to do is I’m going to ask you how they’ve changed in the last four weeks.

Rich Lesser: Well, we’re still on a journey to find that out. But I believe what we’re going to see is that there’s actually an agenda that overlaps between what business wants to do on many fronts and what the new administration has said that they want to try to achieve. But how we do it will, of course, be a substantial conversation in the months and years ahead. And then there are areas, particularly the area of tax and regulation, that could be somewhat contentious. And again, we’ll see how it plays out. But I think there’s certainly an openness to try to find common ground and move things forward from the business world looking at the new administration.

Rich Lesser, CEO of Boston Consulting Group.

Ryssdal: I wonder though, Mr. Lesser, if there’s a wariness, given business’ experience with the Trump administration, which is, we should be clear, sometimes you were in, sometimes you were out, sometimes you were targeted by the president, and sometimes you were his best friend.

Lesser: I think the expectation is, the behaviors across the two administrations are likely to be quite different. And the things that made it feel risky with the last administration won’t be the same challenges of this one. It’s not saying there won’t be challenges this time, they’ll just be different ones.

Ryssdal: You are, obviously, the guy running a big consulting firm. So your job is to talk to other businesses, other CEOs. You’re on the board of directors at the Business Roundtable, which is, by definition, putting you in contact with other CEOs and business leaders. What kind of conversations are y’all having right now about the last number of months and weeks in this economy?

Lesser: Well, I think the last couple months, the single biggest conversation has been about the election and the risks to American democracy, and what’s the appropriate role of business to, on the one hand, not try to be interfering ourselves in elections, and on the other hand, to make it clear that we stand behind democracy and free and fair elections? And of course, anytime you change administrations, and certainly when it changes parties, then, you know, how to, how are things likely to evolve? What’s the right ways to contribute? And then I guess maybe at the top of the list, I probably should have started there, how do we get beyond this pandemic, which is an ongoing conversation. That’s top of the list in many situations.

Ryssdal: We should say here that a number of years ago, you served, in fact, on President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Any regrets?

Lesser: Mostly not. I mean, it’s always a learning experience. I think it was for everyone. But I think about the issues. I served on it because we were told, and it was true, that we would have a chance to speak about things we cared about. And the four things that I spoke about, in my brief tenure on that, were not having a Muslim ban, having a strong trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, not blowing that up, supporting paid family leave and staying in the Paris climate accord. I look back years later, and I’d say I believe in all of those issues. And now most of them have happened, some on the last, in the last administration, some in this one. I think when you have a chance to contribute directly to leadership, you should do that. At some point, it was clear it wasn’t having the effect. And there was all sorts of other things that we were potentially being associated with, and it was time to withdraw, which the business community did. But I think you have to try with a new administration to advocate for things you think are important.

Ryssdal: I should tell you, Mr. Lesser, we called a bunch of CEOs who were on the president’s various councils and panels, and you were the guy who volunteered to come on and take questions on the radio. And I wonder what you make of that.

Lesser: I think business leaders are all struggling with how prominent to be at a time of such division. And I really have a lot of empathy for that. And at the same time, I think we have to speak clearly on the one hand, to support a range of views. And on the other hand, to speak in favor of our democracy and how we come together after such a difficult time. And I realize that it’s challenging to know what the boundary lines are, and to say it exactly right and not risk angering some, but I think it’s the right thing to try to speak to that.

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