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Tuesday, April 28, 1998

Inside Ottawa



WARREN KINSELLA, Liberal backroom boy wonder and former flack-catcher for David Dingwall before he was defeated in last year's federal election, learned a hard lesson in Internet politics last week.

Kinsella, who is one of the country's leading experts on neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, went out to North Vancouver last year to run as a Liberal candidate in the last federal election precisely because the riding had a reputation as a refuge for several West Coast racist bigots.

Kinsella thought that confronting bigots head-on would attract enough votes for him to win the riding away from the Reform Party.

It didn't work out that way. The bigots hammered him hard, and it was Kinsella who had his butt kicked ... all the way back to Toronto, where he has settled in as a big-time Bay Street lawyer.

Last week he was a guest on a CBC Newsworld show on the use of hate material on the Internet, and that's when the trouble started.

Pretty soon callers were linking hate and racism and neo-Nazis and extremist political groups and even the Reform Party.

The following day the debate spilled over onto the Internet, and Kinsella, who checks his e-mail occasionally, chose to reply. The first thing Kinsella knew, he was smack in the middle of one of those internet chat groups, firing off messages and replies to unseen dozens of people he had never met, much less knew.

He ended up defending people who called Preston Manning "sleazy" and Myron Thompson "bone-stupid."

It's the sort of insult that the soft-spoken, restrained Kinsella would never utter on his own.

Soon Kinsella was being hammered again by the North Vancouver crowd, who are no strangers to the Internet.

Kinsella was accused of lying on his resume[1]  by people he couldn't see, that he didn't know and couldn't trace back, reminded of his election loss on the West Coast, and laughed at for having fled to Toronto.

Kinsella also became embroiled in an elaborate debate with somebody called "Delbert Hoover."

Finally, after Kinsella had managed to score a few debating points of his own, another participant cruelly lowered the boom on him. He informed the luckless Kinsella that "Delbert Hoover" is a fictitious character, created by West Coast writer Allan Fotheringham to denote the archetypal Western bigot.

So Kinsella, a high-priced Toronto lawyer who fetches a four-figure daily fee, had been debating for the better part of a day with a figment of Fotheringham's imagination who disappeared back into the Internet ether just as quickly as he had appeared, whoever he might have been.

No wonder Kinsella fled to Toronto. It may not even be far enough.

Richard Cleroux's column appears Tuesdays

Copyright © 1999, Canoe Limited Partnership. All rights reserved.
More on Kinsella [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] | Kinsella Index

Note 1: Lying on his resumé? Surely not. Mr Irving would welcome informed opinions on Warren Kinsella, and facts about him, from his hundreds of Canadian friends.