My apologies to those wondering where I was on "Tucker" last night. In fact, I was in the studio in western New York all ready to go, but, alas, due to frankly some rather basic incompetence on the Rochester end, there was an issue with the audio. There will be no such problems at the Kodak Center in Rochester tonight, when Dennis Miller and I take to the stage. It's all but sold out, but there are just a few good seats left in the front balcony. If your social diary has suddenly opened up, you can book online, or call 1-800-745-3000. Tomorrow night we'll be in the enigmatically enunciated Wilkes-Barre.
Some news from around the Commonwealth:
~Ottawa: Speaking as someone who gets sued a lot, I account Jody Wilson-Raybould as a killer exemplar of what every litigant dreads the other side coming up with - a credible witness. In a riveting performance, the former Attorney General of Canada laid out calmly and without overheated rhetorical flourish a campaign by the most powerful figures in the government to get their cronies at SNC-Lavalin off the hook of a criminal prosecution for bribing (Libyan) government officials. Ms Wilson-Raybould identified just shy of a dozen Liberal Party bruisers who leaned on her, including the most senior chaps in the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office and the Ministry of Finance - and ultimately the PM himself.
But, in a competitive field, perhaps the behavior of Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council, a career civil servant and the highest-ranking in Canada, is the most outrageous. In a three-man meeting - the Clerk, the Attorney General and the PM - Mr Wernick acted not as an impartial public servant but as a gung-ho party hack demanding political interference in a criminal prosecution in order to help Justin's pals beat the rap:
The PM again cited potential loss of jobs and SNC moving. Then to my surprise – the Clerk started to make the case for the need to have a DPA – he said "there is a board meeting on Thursday (Sept 20) with stock holders" ... "they will likely be moving to London if this happens"... "and there is an election in Quebec soon"...
At that point the PM jumped in stressing that there is an election in Quebec and that "and I am an MP in Quebec – the member for Papineau".
I was quite taken aback. My response – and I remember this vividly – was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye – I asked: "Are you politically interfering with my role / my decision as the AG? I would strongly advise against it." The Prime Minister said "No, No, No – we just need to find a solution."
When Ms Wilson-Raybould held firm against Justin's pressure to lean on the Crown's prosecution of a serious criminal case, he arranged a Cabinet reshuffle to remove her as Attorney General.
This is a protection racket: Underneath the LGBTQWERTY Ramadan socks and the Bollywood bridesmaid outfits for his passage through India, Justin Trudeau turns out to be Lee J Cobb in On the Waterfront. My old friend Paul Wells calls this a "moral catastrophe" for Justin. Not quite: He is who he is. It's a moral catastrophe for Canada if those who dote on the Dauphin make the rest of us go along with it.
~Melbourne: Cardinal George Pell, a Vatican bigshot to Popes Francis, Benedict and John Paul II, this week became the highest-ranking priest to be brought down by paedophile charges. I don't doubt there is a rottenness in much of the contemporary Catholic Church, and that evil clerics prey on children and leave them ruined. But, as in Ottawa, this case is of interest to me mainly because of what it says about the integrity of justice and its own vulnerability to politicization.
Pell was convicted in a retrial on the word of one unidentified witness, who says that in the mid-Nineties, as a thirteen-year-old-boy, he was sexually assaulted by the Cardinal after Mass in the sacristy of Melbourne Cathedral, with the door open and congregants passing by. Or at any rate that's what he said in the first trial. In the second, only a video of his testimony in the first trial was used. My old Telegraph boss Charles Moore comments:
Expert witnesses explained in court that Cardinal Pell, fully robed after the Mass, simply could not have performed the alleged acts because, as one report put it, it is 'impossible to produce an erect penis through a seamless alb'. I wouldn't know. But I do wonder how safe Pell's conviction will prove in a case so strangely conducted and so astonishingly politicised.
He is right on that last point. And so one of Pell's few defenders is described even by his own employer as "divisive columnist Andrew Bolt". Back when Pell was supposedly getting erections in his seamless alb, columnists were meant to be divisive - to stir things up, set people against each other with principled and iconoclastic stands. Now we are all supposed to get on board with the official narrative - or else.
~London: I shall have more to say later about the passing of André Previn, whom I knew a little over the years. He was not, of course, British but an American born in Germany. But, during his tenure at the London Symphony Orchestra, he became a household name in the United Kingdom, and surely, in our great age of cultural vandalism, the last classical conductor to be beloved by the masses.
It happened overnight, in December 1971, when Previn accepted an invitation from the BBC to appear on its top-rated Christmas edition of "The Morecambe & Wise Show", conducting the Grieg piano concerto with Eric as soloist:
The following day Previn hailed a taxi, whose cabbie refused the fare because he'd laughed so much. Random pedestrians saluted him in the street as the peerless "Mr Preview". And the conductor was suddenly a household name and comic genius. He certainly is brilliantly deadpan above, and he ad libbed a few of his responses, too.
~See you tonight at the Kodak Center in Rochester. Tomorrow night, Saturday, Miller and Steyn will be at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, and, if you're one of Michael Mann's Mannboys in State College, we hope you'll enjoy Dennis and me riffing a little on climate change. Tickets are available in person at the box office, and by telephone at 1-800-745-3000 - or by clicking here and entering promo code ZEOLI to get ten dollars off. And don't forget, with VIP tickets you get to have your photo snapped with us after the show, and to take home a special autographed gift.
If you can't join us in Rochester or Wilkes-Barre, check back later today for a special edition of Tales for Our Time for Mark Steyn Club members. If you're not yet a member of the Steyn Club, you can sign up for a full year, or a more tentative and equivocal quarter. Aside from our fictional frolics, we have some rip-roaring video poetry, our Clubland Q&As, and much more, including our Comment Club privileges, for any remaining Justin defenders, Previn-phobes or Pell damners to weigh in.