Calandraballs: “Eat your shit sandwich. Just do it.”

Just how dire is the tale of the briefing book in long term care to send Rod Phillips skittering into retirement, only to be replaced as Ontario’s minister of wrinklies by the egregious Paulie “Walnuts” Calandra?

Unlike Phillips, Calandra doesn’t do crisis management so much as end-of life-care (see his careful nurturing of the dignity of the legislature as PC house leader.)

But our Paulie’s a seasoned rodeo clown, ready to get up every morning and say something arrestingly stupid, to fearlessly drop trow’ and dance a distraction in front of the burning dumpster du jour.

As President Steve’s parliamentary secretary, Calandra stank up Hansard with interminable hours of cack-handed non-answers during the Senate expense scandale. (Sample: “New Democrats are like a stinky skunk in a corner. They are the shadow of what they used to be; a party that used to stand for something in this place, that on occasion used to fight for the things they actually believed in. Now they are like a scared little skunk in a corner, ready to spray that smelly spray one last time before they go into oblivion.”)

Poor Paulie, who eventually ended up choking out a tearful apology to the House for his shenanigans, was just following orders. He wasn’t to (heaven forfend!) lie or compromise RCMP investigations, but obviously he couldn’t answer a single question, either. Hence, the partisan shit-talk, the scabrous non sequiturs, the eye-glazing homilies about his papa’s pizza joint, the daughters’ lemonade stands, etc.

“It is what it is,” he later philosophized to the Huffington Post. “So, eat your shit sandwich. Just do it.”

One doubts the minister will go hungry in his new assignment, but let none question his tough-on-elders bona fides. Just ask his family, if they don’t hang up on you.

Readers may recall the sibs took him to court in 2005, amid accusations he stole money from their mother’s $5-million estate.

According to sisters Connie Calandra and Milva Gehring, Paulie abused his power of attorney to manage their mother’s affairs by taking out a $240,000 mortgage on her farm at Ballantrae, Ont., wrote himself a $25,000 cheque and racked up $7,800 on one of her credit cards—all without the old doll’s knowledge or consent.

Ma Calandra, sick in the hospital, wised up to Paulie’s maneuvers and removed him as POA and appointed one of the sisters. According to the sisters, Walnuts ignored his siblings and simply carried on spending mom’s money with the old POA papers.

Paulie denied the allegations, saying it was sour grapes, and that his sisters—and brother, Joe, in a separate suit–were driven by self-interest.

Mrs. Calandra died in August 2005, leaving her four children an estimated $5 million. The dispute was still smoking in the spring of 2007 as Paulie campaigned to be federal Tory candidate for Oak Ridges-Markham. When his sisters took their story to the local newspaper, Walnuts went apeshit.

He phoned Milva’s home and left a recorded message, calling her, among other things, a meddling “cunt!”

“This is how evil he is,” Milva later told friends.

The dispute was settled out of court in 2008, but as far as Paulie’s siblings are concerned, he’s dead to them.

Milva told Frank years later that she still had “nothing to say” about her brother. “Just dig deeper.” Click.

12 comments on “Calandraballs: “Eat your shit sandwich. Just do it.”
  1. gormab says:

    Someone remind me again why democracy is worthy saving.

    • mmedesevigne says:

      Remember what Churchill said? It’s been quoted variously, but the meaning is: Democracy is the worst type of government there is. But all the other kinds are worse. Be careful what you wish for.

    • wolfkir says:

      With democracy, you do have the occasional opportunity to get rid of one or another of these dip-sticks. No often enough, true, but who ever said life or government was perfect?

      • Patrick60 says:

        However, there area better types of democracy than the system currently on offer. A proportional
        rep system would prevent the string of “40% of the votes, 100% of the power” tyrannies we’ve had to
        put up with.

        • John says:

          There is a provincial election coming. This is a good issue to raise with candidates. More information on electoral reform is avaliable at

          • wolfkir says:

            There is no such things as a fair voting system. All OF them have flaws. The question really is, which flaws are you willing to put up with? That’s not an easy question to answer.

            Footnote: In his book Innumeracy, John Paulos shows that six different voting systems will elect each of six different candidates, depending on how votes are apportioned, counted, and weighted.

        • wolfkir says:

          Which proportional rep system do you have in mind? I don’t like any of them, having lived under one of them in my youth. We were exhorted to Vote For the [party] List! That’s too much power held by party insiders. In all proportional systems, you have minority parties, all of them more or less extreme, getting far more power than their numbers warrant. Our system requires all parties to try to win over the mushy middle, thus none of the major parties strays too far left, right, up, down, or sideways. That’s they way I like it.

  2. Is Data Fact says:

    Churchill is also attributed with saying:”The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”

  3. phargrav says:

    Our Paulie has indeed given the humour-minded citizen superb value-for-money with his many non-sequiters. A Globe and Mail editorial opined: “to call Mr. Calandra a clown is to do a disservice to the ancient profession of painted-face buffoonery”. After a CBC interview, Peter Mansbridge said Paulie had gone “the full Calandra” which trended on Twitter. Mark Critch called him a “slippery tool.” So Paulie blocked Critch as well as several members of the 4th estate. #conblocked became a thing. In retaliation there came to pass much vandalism of Paulie’s Wikipedia page.

    Leading up to the last provincial election he claimed to be a “big fan” and “good friend” of PC leader Patrick Brown. But as soon as the PCs threw Brown under the bus Calandra rallied behind Caroline Mulroney despite Brown’s subsequent re-entry into the race. Then when she flagged in the polls Paulie switched to Christine Elliott.

    Never say the cons don’t do their bit for Canadian light entertainment.

  4. gormab says:

    Unconvinced. Lippmann called the voters a “bewildered herd” and warned that the danger of democracy was that this generation could vote away the rights of the next. If we were to start electing leaders rather than populist toadies, I might have some hope. But our scumbag premiers – and most federal politicians – are about power, and power only. They follow the dictum Joan Didion set down in “Insider Baseball” – that the process is about performance and is played as if “a problem stated is a problem solved” – and they consistently tell voters only what they want to hear. Yet no number of arguments can stop voters from buying into it and electing these fools “– regardless of how often they demonstrate their foolishness. Ask Larry, Kenney and Moe about their “iron Circles,” and “balanced approaches.” GOP congressman Madison Cawthorn was only being more honest than most when he told journalists he had no policies because he was “concentrating on comms.” As Republican strategist Corry Bliss told MSNBC: “If you want to spend all your time going on Fox and be[ing] an asshole, there’s never been a better time to serve. But if you want to spend all your time being thoughtful and getting shit done, there’s never been a worse time to serve.”

    • wolfkir says:

      After a local candidates meeting, I discovered that one of my fellow citizens was voting for party X, but not because she understood what the party and the candidate said they stood for. She didn’t even know what they stood for. But she was advised by members of her church congregation to vote for him.

      • gormab says:

        Lippmann was accused of trying to take the public out of politics. What he was trying to do was idiot- and wealth-proof it. He failed miserably.