There is an expression—“throwing so-and-so under the bus,”—that was brought into sharp focus last week after Olivia Chow’s campaign operative, Warren Kinsella, seemed to suggest John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan is racist.
Kinsella, apparently, questioned in a tweet (since deleted) whether Tory’s SmartTrack plan is “Segregationist.” Kinsella followed up the initial tweet with another that had a map with a picture of Tory superimposed on it. The map showed some Toronto neighbourhoods crossed out and a word bubble coming from Tory mouth saying: “You will note we were careful to exclude Jane/Finch and Rexdale from SmartTrack.” (These are neighbourhoods with large non-white populations.)
Not Warren Kinsella’s finest moment, but not exactly out of character for a political strategist with a well known take-no-prisoners campaign style who has self-described as being the “Prince of Darkness” of Canadian politics.
Some backhanded apologies followed with little that might suggest contriteness on Kinsella’s part, though, the Toronto Star reported that he made a more fulsome apology to Tory “directly and unreservedly.”
Dirty politics, admittedly, but pretty tame stuff really.
So does seasoned politician Olivia Chow own Kinsella’s words and, perhaps, brush off the tweets as backroom shenanigans that got out of control—boys will be boys, etc.? You know: show your team some basic loyalty?
No she does not. No acceptance of accountability at all. Yes, Chow admitted her campaign hired Kinsella’s company to do media monitoring, but stated that he doesn’t speak for her campaign and is just one of “thousands of volunteers.”
“My campaign did not make that statement. I’m glad that Mr. Kinsella apologized and retracted his statement and I certainly do not believe that Mr. Tory discriminates at all,” Chow reportedly said.
Yes, readers, Warren Kinsella—a nationally known political strategist and high-profile volunteer on her campaign—is, according to Olivia Chow, just one of her thousands of volunteers.
Having followed Toronto’s mayoral campaign for the past few months, I question that Kinsella sees himself as just one of thousands of volunteers. It seems to me far more probable that he is a senior member of Chow’s campaign “war room,” perhaps even it’s leader. So, this observer does not believe Chow has the luxury of plausible deniability towards Kinsella’s words and actions as they apply to her campaign.
How fickle is Chow? One big slip by Kinsella and she kicks him under the bus. Trusted senior operative and war room insider one day, meaningless outsider the next. Oh brother!