Monday, December 1, 2008

My Canada includes Quebec, s'il vous plait!

Today's news conference with the new coalition triumvirate illustrated that social democrats can work together on specific principle-based issues. The presence of Gilles Duceppe was critical.

In each of the last elections, M. Duceppe has invariably impressed me in the debates. I dispute him on the separatism issue but I have respect for his ability to represent the voters in Quebec. The BQ MPs work hard to represent their constituents and these MPs have agreed to support this coalition until June 2010 with possible renewal beyond that time.

In my opinion, the most profound indication of M. Duceppe's capacity as a respectful political servant of the people was during the last election campaign. On the day that ConTV aired those exceptionally unethical re-runs of the tapes from M. Dion's Halifax interview, it was M. Duceppe who denounced this treatment of a fellow politician. Despite their vast differences on the issue of federalism, I believe it is entirely possible for M. Dion and M. Duceppe to regard and to treat each other with respect while they both serve Canada and Quebec. These two are men with an emotional maturity and capacity that Steven Harper has been incapable of illustrating tp Canadians in all his years as a politician.

I believe that Canada must include Quebec and we should heartily encourage the involvement of the BQ in the Liberal/NDP coalition to the extent that each party can still hold true to its principles. The BQ are very much on the left of the political spectrum on many social and financial issues. Quebeckers, are generally, more socially left than the rest of Canada. This coalition will benefit from their involvement. Canada will be better served by this coalition than by the current government. This means we need to get beyond the unfamiliarity of this situation.

This is a new way of politics for Canadians but many democracies have been working this way for a long time. Stephane Dion showed a capacity for bringing disparate forces together in the Montreal Climate Change conference in 2006 and in the way he handled the Elizabeth May situation. Different, but diplomatic and mature. If we had a different voting system, such as a form of proportional representation, we would likely have to develop many new ways of working together while still being able to compete on principle-based platforms during elections. Prime Minister Dion may be the best person to show us the way.

Yes, this is different but isn't this also the best opportunity that we've ever had to show Quebec and Quebeckers that we respect them and their ideas as part of Canada. Isn't it long past time we stopped fearing the BQ and tried to understand their point of view on the many shared principles that we have?

As Duceppe said today in reply to the question about Harper pulling a rabbit out of a hat to hang on to government, "Canada doesn't need a magician, it needs leaders."

If we stick with Steven Harper, each Canadian family will shiver in the dark all alone through this storm worrying if their pension will be there or if EI benefits will help them through a period of lay-off. Today, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe together offered forward thinking leadership for all Canadians, including Quebeckers. With this team, Canadians will have direction for facing the economic storm together. It won't be easy but the leadership is now available to show the way.

It's the We versus Me situation. When the storm clouds are gathering, I prefer to know that we'll all be helping or watching out for each other through the storm. Let's include Quebec and the BQ in Canada to work through this storm together. They need us and we need them. Let's pick the "We" team!

Maple Syrup and Turkeys

An American friend asked me to summarize what happened over the weekend here in Canada. Thought I'd share my response here so those who've been hibernating this weekend can get caught up too.

We've had a busy few days in Canada while you folks were having your turkey. Actually we had a bit of a revolution. Maybe you've heard that we elected a minority neo-con government on October 14 then watched with envy as you folks chose hope on November 4.

Well, we might have fixed that little problem. It's taken four days but...

About 20 minutes ago, the news came across the wires that our three parties on the left have united in a coalition and will be putting forth a motion of non-confidence on Monday, December 8th. A week is a long time in politics, sometimes but if all goes according to Hoyle (or Roberts, possibly), we will have a progressive government too.

The background:

On Thursday last week, the minority government led by PM Steven Harper put forth a Fiscal Update (like a mini-budget). The vote on this was to occur tomorrow and because it's a money bill, it is a vote of confidence in the government. In a minority situation, the government falls if it loses the vote.

The contents of this update should properly have included an economic stimulus package and a truthful evaluation of our current economic situation.

Instead we received a vicious partisan document
- removing the right to strike for federal employees,
- ending pay equity,
- ending public election financing,
- reducing government spending over the next year by $6 billion and
- selling off over $2 billion in government assets.

in addition to those insults, the Finance Minister told a bald-faced lie by saying the government would not be in deficit next year. A close inspection of the numbers illustrated that his base assumptions were predicated on old information which was a little rosier (as in before the bottom fell out of the commodities markets) than the current situation.

All three leaders of the parties on the left howled in protest of the lack of spending or economic stimulus when every other country in the world is intending to do something. By Friday morning, the leaders were huddled together to indicate that they would consider a coalition.

On Friday afternoon, the wording of a non-confidence motion was put forth by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Stephane Dion of the Liberal Party for the vote that was to happen tomorrow.

On Friday evening, the Prime Minister exercised his right to put the vote off for one week to Monday, December 8th.

All weekend, the three parties on the left worked tirelessly to put together a coalition agreement.

Three times the government was in a news conference backing down from their own bill trying to stave off the formation of a coalition in the opposition parties.

First on Friday night, they said okay we won't put the removal of election finance in the money bill. This was the trap that they had laid thinking the Opposition parties were only interested in their own access to financing for elections. But right from the beginning all three parties stated they were voting against the government for being incompetent in dealing with the current economic crisis. The carefully laid trap snapped shut on the butt of the PM as he stormed out of a press conference without answering any questions.

Second, on Saturday, they backed off on removing the right to strike for public servants.

Third, on Sunday, they say okay, okay we won't get rid of pay equity and we'll bring in an economic stimulus package on January 27th with a full budget document (usually this happens in March or April).

So, we will no doubt be subjected to one week of vicious attack ads by the minority Conservative government but if the vote does in fact take place next Monday, the government will fall and be replaced by a progressive coalition, which will include the three parties that 63% of Canadians voted for.

Some of our Canadian bloggers named this the Maple Syrup Revolution.

There that was our weekend, how was yours? Did you enjoy your turkey? I think we stuffed ours!

Now, this was a simplified version of the situation which I shared with American friends somewhat less familiar with our situation and I didn't separate out the three parties and their specific involvement. Obviously the Bloq plays an important role when voting to support the government but has chosen not to be part of it, but the coalition government will include the members of the NDP and the Liberals.

H/T to all Progressive Bloggers, it's been a hoot keeping up to y'all this weekend.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pig Wrestling

Remember when you wrestle with a pig, he's enjoying it and you both end up covered in mud! Rather than pig wrestling, progressives across Canada need to stand up and take an interest in the possibility of a progressive coalition government that would represent more of our interests.

Interested in a progressive coalition government, the Rideau Institute has started a letter writing campaign to both Stephane Dion and Jack Layton. You can send your letters on their quick form with the option to customize it as well. The slick letter form can be found here.

Be careful - when you wrestle with a pig!

My only word of caution in the current constitutional crisis unraveling in Ottawa would be offered to Mr. Dion. "Be careful! When you wrestle with a pig, remember he enjoys it but you both get covered in mud!"

Otherwise, full steam ahead!

The proposed motion that Dion has put out on the wires this afternoon for consideration on Monday: his first Opposition Day, is a triumph of intellect over the vitrolic, partisan poison contained in Harper's financial outlook. Hopefully the NDP and the Liberals with the quiet support of Duceppe and the Bloq can form a coalition that will last for several months if not years. Thereby providing the kind of leadership that Canadians wanted from this past election.

'Course we'll all be listening intently at Harper's news conference (again with no questions) as he tries to squirm out of the mess he's made and lay the blame squarely at Dion's feet.

Maybe Harper will fall flat in the mud! And Dion can sidestep any splashes of mud while marching into the House on Monday with a coalition government alongside like-minded NDP and Bloq colleagues.

I didn't hear "the fat lady sing" on election night, maybe Harper should have been paying attention and ruled with a more conciliatory tone toward the majority in opposition!

UPDATE: The pig has spoken, and as I suspected, lays the blame at Dion's feet. Look forward to a strong response. Harper has put off the Opposition Day til December 8th, giving Canadians a chance to contact their opposition MPs, NOW.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Solidarity with bloggers - Rachel Maddow

Blogging on TV is how Rachel Maddow described herself last night. And she did the show in her pajamas to show solidarity with bloggers!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crunch time - threat to free speech!

Today, Steve Anderson, the Save Our Net guru, reminded me that the CRTC, our federal regulator for the internet, will be issuing a landmark ruling shortly on access to the internet. Twice delayed, the upcoming CRTC ruling will have long term implications. And you can have an impact on that ruling BUT only if you do it NOW.

For months now, major ISPs, like Bell, have been throttling your access to the internet. The CRTC will be ruling on whether this can continue. This is the first step in the battle for commodification of the internet.

As the two most recent federal elections have shown, the internet opens up our democracies.

The ISPs would like to close it down and channel it, just like cable television. The plan is to force you to purchase a package of channels for access to certain websites. In conversation with my own ISP in June, I discovered that these packages are being developed for marketing right now. The impact on independent websites and blogs would be catastrophic. You'd have to pay extra to view a website that is not on the approved list! Or to visit this blog!!!

These companies have been caught:
• throttling or slowing Internet traffic to businesses and consumers;
• blocking access to websites that criticized them;
• crippling consumer devices and applications.

The time for action is NOW. Steve Anderson has been working tirelessly on this issue for months with his work on the Net , DemocraticMedia. ca and websites as well as several Facebook groups. He and others have done the research and now he needs our help to put a STOP to throttling.

Here's Steve's list:

join the facebook group SaveOurNet

add to your FB status update

write to the CRTC, here's the media release with submission date and form

sign the petition

For bloggers, there's a button to add to show your support which you'll noticed I've just added. Let's see if we can double the entries on the petition in the next couple of days.

I've been following this issue for months and it really is past time to act on this critical issue that will have an impact on our freedom of speech online.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Been called worse things...

Sarah Palin, in her softball interview with Fox's Greta VanSusteren, calls bloggers 'kids in pajamas sitting in the basement of their parents' home".

As Pierre Eliot Trudeau once said, "I've been called worse things by better people."

I'm sitting comfortably in my own home with my laptop, reading the news online and processing how I think and feel about a particular item then finding facts to back up and refute what I'm thinking. Palin might want to rethink her media strategy if she's going to be calling bloggers by names.

Palin is making a comfortable place for herself in the Republican Party with dozens of interviews over the last couple of days. The ones who are looking bad are the McCain team. When is someone going to stand up to this woman's lies. Three times in the last two days, I've seen Palin, softshoe around the book banning issue with no forthright correction from any journalists. She says her critics claim she wanted to ban books like Harry Potter, then she goes on to state that those books weren't even published when she was Mayor of Wasilla.

Correction, Sarah. The record shows that you were in fact Mayor of Wasilla (meth capital of Alaska) from 1996 to 2002 (yay, for term limits!). My paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone (renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the American market) was printed in 2000 but the hardcover had been printed in the UK in 1997. The Potter phenomenon swept through the world from that moment.

'Course we could give Sarah the benefit of the doubt on this one since it was in 1996 that she first asked town librarian Mary Ellen Emmons if she would remove books from the collection. But by the next two occurrances, Harry Potter was sweeping the world. Finally the librarian left from the pressure, as did several other department heads who were sent "loyalty letters". Some left, some were fired.

Kind of reminiscent of the Bush chant, "You're either with us or ag'in us."

Palin may be adopting the newly identified tactic of the right to shun and ignore some of the press while cultivating others like Fox News. Seems to have worked for them before, let's hope the world keeps their eyes open on Sarah Palin - 2012 is not so very far off.

Imperfect Remembrance

The bugler's Last Post signals our silence while Reveille awakens us to our responsibilities. Canadians across the land will be attending Remembrance Day services this morning. Or have done so already in church or at some cenotaph services held on Sunday.

An elder veteran (86 yrs) at my church stood up to remind us of one mistake we've made all these years. He said "our memory is imperfect, as is our remembrance."

Coming from a man who has given so much in the way of leadership and philanthropy to my community and has never spoken of the war or its affect on him, the words are poignant beyond compare.

Paraphrasing, he said "Every year, we pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The symbols of war are about honour, bravery and courage. We forget that many came home. Broken and wounded, some with scars that were visible, yet many with scars that were hidden."

"Their lifetime of suffering has no symbol in our Remembrance Day services. Nor does the lifetime of suffering in their families. I stand here to tell you this now having never spoken of this anguish before."

"Listen now - life after war is also a misery - the soldiers who return are not whole. My father served in the first war, I served in the second. We came home physically whole but the darkness in our spirits is evident in the pain we suffered and the pain we inflicted through every day of our lives."

"Remember this now, for the soldiers who return home to us from Afghanistan will need us now more than ever. Help them, truly help them and their families. Demand that they be helped. This is our duty now. Remember those who fell and help those who return."

Remember those who fell, but cherish and care for those who return. We asked them to act on our behalf, now it is our turn.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Finally, it's come to me!

Ever since Tuesday's election of Obama, I've been trying to think of when I've felt anything near the same emotion and excitement. My first election was in 1979 and that was not a particularly good one for my political hero, Trudeau. He did return to power in 1980 and led us well for a few more years. Once he retired, I felt we wouldn't see another charismatic leader with the intellect to comprehend the needs of Canada and Canadians.

In Montreal, I did feel that emotion again when we chose Stephane Dion. I was thrilled but this quickly turned to dismay as I watched the Liberal Party squander this man's integrity by not being there to support him wholeheartedly. I personally can't think of a single one of those leadership contenders in 2006 who deserves a shot at running again. As a grassroots Liberal, I did what I could but the powers that actually manipulate the strings did not do what they could have and certainly not what they should have. I have little stomach for the coming race.

I admired the clarity of the Green Shift plan and it made sense to me. I don't have a clue what planet the media resides on that they couldn't comprehend something so simple as shifting taxes from what we earn to what we burn. The Liberal Party did not get behind Dion and his Green Shift and we may live to regret this missed opportunity for a long time. I believe Stephane Dion would have been a great Prime Minister, if only we, the Liberal Party, had given him the chance he deserved. Personally, I'm surprised he's not bitter but instead had the grace to take a good decision for the party and the country. And he's absolutely right, we did not have the resources to properly defend his good name from the outrageous, vitrolic campaign against him which Harper initiated almost immediately. It was a shameful, pitiful lack of unity that has squandered a great leader's potential.

NOW, to get to that one other moment that I was reminded of when Obama was elected. It came to me when I was doing a mindless repetitive task, as all good ideas do. I was raking leaves and it flashed in my mind.

You might remember the day I was thinking of, yourself. Many of us were looking to the promise of Paul Martin's minority government and his ideas. One day, Martin made a profound announcement and it still sends a chill through me. I heard the announcement on the radio. His choice of Michaelle Jean to be our Governor General was nothing short of truly inspirational. Completely unexpected and out of the blue, he made the one choice that could pleasantly surprise everyone in the country.

And what a Governor General, Michaelle Jean has been too!

Video: Progressive Bloggers meet

Last Sunday's event was great fun. Garry put together a great little video of our thoughts on the American election and you can see it here:

Garry has more footage for a further video discussing Canadian politics. Watch for it in due course.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A wise battery charger and a cynical corkscrew

Today's Progressive Blogger event on board the Waterloo Central Railway involved a wonderfully passionate discussion combined with good food and drink.

Garry, Ruth, Omar, Jeff, Jennifer, and Deb were joined by at least one cynic in the business car at the train. American politics, the future of America's influence post-election, the Canadian election results, rebuilding of the Liberal Party and leadership possibilities were all among the topics of the day.

Garry started a new feature: the video weblog entry - individual interviews with willing bloggers - watch for this in the future over at Wise Law Blog.

(Items left behind on board the train: one wise battery charger and one cynical corkscrew. Contact the host to arrange delivery.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Can't hurt to dream - Liberal 308

Scott jumped on this earlier and he's got a complete list of all the bloggers who've joined in.

Drew Adamick, candidate for Cariboo-Prince George, started the facebook group and individuals are encouraged to join. It requires a request to join. And we've been approving members all day. No point fighting trolls if you don't have to!

I see this as a long term strategy. As Scott mentioned, kind of like the Howard Dean 50 state campaign. Could we start with developing a small coterie of like-minded grassroots Liberals and then write a strategic plan, find one person in each riding who will agree to spearhead the strategy and recruit members to assist.

Part of the strategy could include having a "decision gatekeeper" for riding associations. What I mean by this is, a question that is posed for each resolution or decision made by a riding association which simply poses the question: "Is this good for the long term strategic involvement of the grassroots in the Liberal Party of Canada?" If that was the mindset just prior to finalizing decisions then a lot of stupidity would be avoided.

Next step: we could move to present the idea to the National Executive and have the Liberal 308 strategy endorsed by the convention in May. We'd have at least one foot soldier on the ground in each riding prepared to capitalize on the enthusiasm generated by acceptance.

Well, it can't hurt to dream, can it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dion, the politician

Yesterday's news conference was the best possible outcome for the Liberal Party of Canada, for Canadians and possibly for Stephane Dion and his family.

By announcing that he's staying on, Dion firmly put Rae, Ignatieff and Kennedy and their respective camps of supporters in their place by ending the media based leaks about whether McCallum or Goodale would be the interim leader. Having done this, Dion also told the party that he knew who had undermined his campaign - we Liberals did it to him or rather Rae, Ignatieff and Kennedy supporters did. The campaign was completely underfunded because some Liberals didn't give - choosing to wait for the next election. There was no unity, only platitudes, even though Dion had worked to unite the caucus by giving them all a meaningful role immediately after the leadership. They chose not to do the work assigned to them by the leader for the good of the party and the country. They sat on their hands waiting for the next chance. To me, this illustrates their lack of character and integrity.

In that news conference, Dion acknowledged that he knows why he lost and this should be a wake-up call to the party. Dion knows that Liberals supporting different camps chose not to fund the party under his leadership. Sure it was the Conservative vitrolic ad campaign but it was our collectively chosen inability to stand up and fight on Dion's behalf with a counter-campaign funded by our enthusiasm for him and his ideas. We allowed the Conservatives to destroy our leader. We allowed the Conservatives to destroy the most valuable asset we had - a leader with ideas, integrity and passion.

I'm uncertain what tact Dion's campaign to prepare the party for the next leader will take but I am certain that Dion will commit himself to the job with more heart and soul than his competitors gave in this campaign. This alone should automatically disqualify any of them from running because their self-serving will soon make the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada a prize not worth seeking. Canadians are not fools, they will see through any power-seeking games that have no principle or platform to legitimize them.

A clean slate of new candidates is the only way forward, in my opinion. A new way of electing the leader would be an even better way forward but alas, the ex-officios ruined that when they chose to break from their smoozefests to attend one fifteen minute segment of the policy convention in Montreal to vote down the one member-one vote proposal. Sadly, we are led by unelected power mongers behind the scenes, the same ones Martin enslaved us with not only nationally but in every single riding across the nation and who have each now found a new home in a different camp to use the manipulative techniques they acquired working for Martin. Due to the rancid Electoral Readiness process, we have a new crop of ex-officios all beholding to one faction or another.

The Liberal Party of Canada as it stands now does not serve Canada, it serves its own various factions. The grassroots at the convention saw a brief glimmer of hope and we snatched it. But the warring ex-officios and power brokers have broken our dream. It seems, we didn't deserve a leader like Dion, a man with too much integrity for the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal brand could not tolerate a leader with ideas and integrity. The Canadian people wanted to vote Liberal and we prevented them from doing so. The Canadian people wanted to choose integrity and we hid it from them.

I secretly pander for a moment of Harper weakness in which he brings forth a crime bill under confidence vote which 70+% of the country could not abide and we are forced to beg Dion to lead us. We hardly deserve it but I hope he says yes.

PS. Just so any bias I might have in this mess is recognized. I chose to go to the convention for the experience. I wanted to participate in the renewal of the Liberal Party, I wanted to see the Red Ribbon stuff actually happen after a new leader was chosen.

In order to prepare myself for delegate election, I called more than 60 local members and tallied their results to decide who I would support. I then called all those members back to tell them that the majority said I should support Bob Rae with Stephane Dion in second place by every single member. Then I went to see the debate in London and Bob Rae was the strongest performer that night. I watched televised debates. In addition, our former MP called to find out who I would support and it turned out we were planning to be on the same team. A happy coincidence but I wouldn't have changed my mind under pressure at that point.

I was selected by the local membership as a delegate for Bob Rae and I moved to Stephane Dion on the fourth ballot in accordance with the wishes of members who had chosen me as a delegate. I did this with enthusiasm because Stephane Dion had won me over completely.

As for giving to the campaign. I gave more than I've ever given in any year but alas I couldn't reach the maximum because I live on a small salary. I can however say with confidence that I gave til it hurt.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dion's defining moment

Stephane Dion did one thing better than any other Liberal leader has in 30+ years. In the waning days of the campaign, I heard the words that define why I am a Liberal.

Dion said repeatedly, "Liberals understand how to make government work for the people, for the common good, for the public interest." Liberals can identify what the public interest is and they know how to make government benefit more Canadians.

I don't fault Chretien/Martin for the first few cuts. I know that there was a major financial mess to clean up after Mulroney so everything had to be trimmed to get the IMF back onside for a good credit rating for the country. This must have been difficult for those on the left of the party and I know I was discomfitted by the entire cutting processes that occurred from 1993 to 1997.

Once we were back in sound fiscal policy, I couldn't understand why we weren't creating the kinds of programs that Canadians needed. Possibly it was the lack of an effective opposition at the time with the right split, but I felt that the leaders of the party no longer felt the need to talk to or respond to the Canadian public.

Dion defined for me why I am a Liberal when he said, "we Liberals, we know how to make government work for the people. Stephen Harper doesn't believe in government and Jack Layton doesn't understand how." That is the defining line between conservatives and liberals and ndp. It's the only one that's important. One more week of talking about this and he'd have had the whole country in the palm of his hands.

Now is not the time to give up on Stephane Dion. An unscientific poll at our church today during the coffee break after the service indicates that Canadians love Dion.

Liberals here though did not like our local candidate so they stayed home.

Best description of the situation. "We didn't want to send Dion such a lousy candidate, he deserved better." So I guess this points to the party being partially responsible for the election result since we were rushed into a nomination process under some hulllaballoo called "election readiness", one of the most profoundly ignorant operations I've ever witnessed.

Dion deserved better and so do we.

Support Dion Petition & various Direct Actions

If the grassroots of the Liberal Party want to intervene in this swift moving current by backroom strategists and media hounding, then now is the time for all to act for the good of the party.

Want to show support for Stephane Dion to stay on as a leader. There are several options right at your finger tips.
  • Sign a petition here
  • Join a facebook group & discuss here
  • write a letter to Stephane Dion mail to: Stornoway, 541 Acacia Avenue, Ottawa (ON) K1M 0M5
  • send an email to
  • send a donation to pay off Dion's leadership debt. 
Make cheque payable to: 
Liberal Party of Canada - Stephane Dion  and mail to: LPC 81 Metcalfe Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, ON K1P 6M8

Supporters at Stornoway - Noon Sunday

Jim Curran has started a minor revolution among grassroots Liberals. Many are headed to Ottawa to be at Stornoway for noon today, Sunday. They are "Storming Stornoway" to encourage Stephane Dion to stay.

A pick-up hockey game is the order of the day just for a little fun. Bring hockey sticks and be prepared to cheer Dion to stay on to lead the Liberal Party of Canada.

If you're too far away, as I am, send letters to and

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Strategy for the Liberals

As many have noted, getting rid of a seasoned leader like Stephane Dion at a time like this is irresponsible. In my opinion, any Liberal advocating for this is looking for glory but will only find the vacuous state of celebrity. Canadians want substance to vote for, not slick celebs.

There used to be a grassroots to the Liberal party and I was part of it. My opinion was asked, my input considered and I worked hard. That was over 20 years ago. Then the Liberal Party of Canada sought financing and opinions from Bay Street and elsewhere. I've worked a little in campaigns since then but no one has ever sought my opinion or even asked me to contribute except our last MP who, in 2000, asked me set up a local chapter of the women's commission. 

I chose to go to the leadership convention in Montreal to give LPC one last chance. Leaving that event, I felt that we had just chosen the best leader in Canada with the most progressive ideas and I was ready to participate again. I worked as a campaign manager for the losing candidate in the nomination locally but that's okay I was still prepared to help. I was shunted aside like so much dead weight. Many of those on that nomination team now only receive official notices of our membership but no further communications from the local organization.  There is still all the rot remaining locally from the Chretien/Martin battles.

During the nomination process, I had written a plan for how to renew the grassroots of the organization. This plan included a fundraising plan that would fund all activities of the riding association and every year would put aside $25,000 toward coming election expenses. It was laughed at by the local organization and after the nomination I was removed rather unceremoniously from the executive.

But I have courage (or stupidity) so I'll put forth my idea again.

  • Every two months hold an event in a different geographical part of the riding.
  • Five of those six events would be potlucks with a host. The host would provide the main meat portion and everyone else would bring salad or dessert and $20.
  • The sixth event to be held in February would be a black tie event (possibly with a speaker) and charge $50. Call it "Wear your heart on your sleeve" or something equally appropriate to the season. Celebrate flag day, etc.
  • Each event would have a chairperson to organize, thereby spreading the work. They would bring onside their own team to help organize and sell tickets. This would also spread the talent building capacity of the whole team across the riding.
  • Aim for having 200 at each event and all expenses of the actual food, etc. to be donated.

This plan would raise the awareness of the Liberal Party in the riding; allow Liberals to meet in a social environment where they can exchange ideas; identify Liberals who can help organize during a campaign and help find volunteers.

The money raised would fund the executive of the riding association to attend all regional meetings and Liberal training events so that they didn't have to dip into their own $1100 contribution limit to attend. As a result we would have trained, organized and full executives for each riding and the most committed volunteers would still have contribution room.

The money raised from these events would also fund a campaign every 4 years. The limits for an election hover around or just under $100,000 so putting $25,000  aside each year would make the job easier come election time.

So there it is in a nutshell. The key important fallout from this fundraising idea is that you would have involved the grassroots on a regular basis all year; they would have fun being Liberals again and you would be able to solicit their opinions on policy issues in a casual setting. BUT you would also be able to communicate from the party to the grassroots by putting forth ideas for discussion or adoption at policy conventions. Talking politics with fellow Liberals at events six times a year would keep the continuity of the party together and keep the party in touch with the grassroots.

This is the sort of plan that needs to happen for the Liberal Party of Canada to succeed in the future. It doesn't have to be my plan but something that includes the elements of regular fundraising, regular events; and prices that senior, students and the majority can afford.

Getting rid of the leader now after he rose so magnificently into the role during the election would be foolhardy at best; suicidal at worst.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dion should stay - no race til election debt is erased!

Today the media has put in considerable time trying to scare up a Liberal to say Dion should leave. Well, they found Joe Volpe. As for Mr. Volpe's comments to Mike Duffy, well, who really cares? Someone ought to give Volpe his walking papers. I can't even imagine why he was allowed to run in this election. Oh look, I'm not the only one who thinks this.

There's Bowie chiming in from overseas, Jim nails it here and Danielle here. My favourite commentary on this topic goes to Grumpy Voter. Duffy's star as a journalist fell like a thump when he got a proper dressing down from Ms. May, and rightfully so.

Any Liberal who pretends to have an entitlement to the leadership of the party should be told by all and sundry to knock it off and get busy erasing the election debt. 

No race until the debt is covered. Boy, that will focus their attention, won't it?

Stephane Dion deserves the utmost respect as he makes a considered decision upon reflection. He is fully entitled to take until the house sits in my opinion. There is no rush. The election is over and the right move for the Liberal Party of Canada, the country and for Mr. Dion's own family is a most critical decision at this point in time. I fully trust Stephane Dion to make the best decision. I've never witnessed a man with more grace under pressure than this leader.

Zorpheus says it most forcefully, then there's Impolitical, and Miranda over at A View from the Left . Then Vijay has a go at the theme, as does A BCer in Toronto

Let Mr. Dion stay. Any Liberal - senior or anonymous - or media person that asks for his answer before he's ready to give it is a pathetic, glory seeking fool like Joe Volpe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Uptick on Dow comes AFTER Obama's speech

Conservatives will be breathing a sigh of relief that the Dow Jones Index is on the upswing today. Isn't it curious that the timing of the rise didn't gather steam until after Obama made his Economic Rescue Plan speech today!

Best quote of the week!

Bloggers are really making an impact on this campaign. In my opinion, the best quote of the week can be found at David Graham's blog. David has posted his recent letter to the Guelph Mercury. The line that caught my attention: 

The last time a Conservative government balanced a budget was in 1912, the year the Titanic sank.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ideology and the Politics of Personality

Stephen Harper is incapable of handling the economy. Yes, he’s trying to portray himself as a leader but the basis for his ideological response is a fraud. Harper has the kind of stubborn temperament that works fine for staying the course but when flexibility of thought and consensus building is required, Harper’s very foundational ideology has no answers for the crisis that faces us.

Many pundits are saying Harper is most capable because he is an economist. What kind of economist is Harper? There are schools of thought in economic theory. He was taught in what is now called the Chicago School located at the University of Calgary. The beacon of light in this school is free trade, free market, and free enterprise fanaticism - the very same deregulated system that is at the heart of the global financial crisis.

Harper says he’ll stay the course. Canada cannot afford to stay on that course as the global system collapses around us and governments are forced to violate all of the principles of Harper’s “principled” free market conservatism. Harper’s ideology is not competent to handle the economic situation. And his stubborn adherence to it will drag us further down the path the Americans are currently on. Harper has been fortunate to have reaped the rewards of a full treasury on arrival. Now the cupboard has been spent bare and he has only his ideology to rely on.

Maybe we could recruit James K. Galbraith, son of the infamous Canadian economist John K. Galbraith, to return to Canada with some of his progressive economic theory. Galbraith argues that modern America has fallen prey to a wealthy, government-controlling "predatory class". Why would Canada follow Harper down this path? 

Galbraith is also a merciless critic of his own profession:

“Leading active members of today's economics profession, the generation presently in their 40s and 50s, have joined together into a kind of politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule — as one might expect from a gentleman's club — this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen. They offer a "rape is like the weather" fatalism about an "inevitable" problem (pay inequality) that then starts to recede. They oppose the most basic, decent, and sensible reforms, while offering placebos instead. They are always surprised when something untoward (like a recession) actually occurs. And when finally they sense that some position cannot be sustained, they do not re-examine their ideas. Instead, they simply change the subject.”

Sound familar?

The theories on which he built his entire political career are in tatters and because of his personality, Harper is totally unprepared to deal with the situation. His stubborn adherence to failed principles will drag Canada down. Rather than being open to the advice of experts whom Harper has clearly demonstrated disdain for, Harper will hold fast and Canada will be much the worse for it.

The greatest threat facing Canada today is the disastrous fiscal policies of an ideology stubbornly adhered to. If Harper is elected, we can expect a systematic concerted effort to unravel the remaining vestiges of our institutions that represent our sovereignty as a nation.

Humanity has struggled for centuries to unshackle themselves from the subjugation of kings, popes, empires and raw capitalism. Why would Canada choose now to reverse the efforts of this struggle?

In one generation we have idly watched as America’s elected officials dismantled their nation’s industries, sending jobs and technology to foreign shores to be made on the cheap. America’s labour force has been disemboweled and by virtue of our trading relationship, Ontario and Quebec have been feeling the effects of this for the last two or three years. The readjustment we felt in the early 1990’s after implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement will pale in comparison to the adjustments we can expect in the coming months.

Our economy will be shredded by the same ideology of unregulated corporate free enterprise, free trade and free-market fanaticism to the south. With his willfully, arrogant behaviour Stephen Harper believes in the same policies that have led the United States to teeter the whole world on the edge of disaster. We on Main Street will be left to pay the piper through loss of the social safety net, our universal health care, our resources and the institutions which make us sovereign and separate from the United States.

The world is watching and wondering - what will Canadians do on October 14th? Will we choose the free market ideology drunk on bailouts or will we choose the more reasoned, consultative, consensus building and flexible approach offered by the Stephane Dion and the Liberal team? 

George Soros says go with carbon tax

Saw this video yesterday and was planning to write about it, then this morning, I saw that Mike Watkins had already done a great job. Check here for an explanation of why George Soros, one of the richest people in the world, is saying that carbon tax, although politically unpopular, is the best solution for the economy, especially during this crisis.

letter to CTV

Mr. Duffy;

I believe your decision to air the Dion outtakes is one of the worst displays of corporate journalism in this country. As a Canadian I was embarrassed by this example of news coverage.  As a former journalist, I am appalled to see how low the standards have fallen.

As a consequence, I will be boycotting all CTV programming, and will be organizing a boycott as well. This boycott will be in effect until Mike Duffy apologizes for airing these tapes on his show. The Dion tapes were not newsworthy, and they were obtained through dishonest means. 

I am tired of francophones being cut up for their efforts to use the English language. In addition, you have insulted all people with hearing challenges. 

This does nothing to ease the tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada, or help people make a thoughtful, wise decision on how to vote.

Your obvious glee in this moment of "gotcha" journalism was disappointing to witness. Possibly a return to a journalistic ethics professional development program would serve you well. There are several excellent programs in Canada. One can hold out hope that you can learn what ethics in journalism are.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mr. Harper - you have two more days

These are the top twenty issues that as a voter in a democratic country, I expected to hear from the government during this election. Mr. Harper, you have failed to provide information on:

1. On “Turning the Corner”, explain how your $65 carbon tax will affect Canadian households. If, as some Conservatives are saying, lettuce will cost $8 per head under the Liberals Green Shift at $40 carbon tax then will lettuce cost $10 per head under your plan? You failed to present your plan to the public for review during this election. Instead of attacking the other plans, fairness demands that you present your plan for review.

2. Please explain the 110 absences of Conservatives at All Candidates meetings in their own ridings. Why do your candidates refuse to answer for your government, as is the purpose of the election process in Canada?

3. Canadians deserve to know about and discuss the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership which you have signed on our behalf. Please specifically explain "The cornerstone commitment of the partnership is its 'cradle-to-grave' plan to have all spent fuel from the world's reactors shipped back to GNEP uranium-supplier nations for secure disposal at nuclear-waste sites." Since Canada is a uranium-supplier nation under this agreement, when will we be receiving these shipments of spent fuel and which electoral district will be receiving these? (My other concerns related to uranium are here.)

4. Explain the discrepancy between your sworn testimony indicating the ‘Cadman” tape has been altered and your expert who has declared the tape as “unaltered”.

5. Canada keeps its contractual commitments. When will you implement the Kelowna Accord?

6. The Parliament is elected to represent the Canadian people. When a majority of the Canadian people choose members who vote to end deportations of Iraq war resistors, it is the duty of the Prime Minister to ensure that the majority will of the House is enacted. When will you end these deportations?

7. Describe your intentions under the European Free trade agreement and the items that are on the table for the meeting on October 17th. When will we have constitutional talks to meet the European requirement for provincial buy-in?

8. The House of Commons Natural Resources Committee called on Linda Keen, President of the CNSC to give her account of the events. However, late at night, on the eve of her appearance, Minister Lunn fired Ms. Keen for failure to "take into account the health of Canadians who, for medical purposes, depend on nuclear substances produced by nuclear reactors," delaying her testimony. Why, instead of working with the various agencies to effect a solution, did Minister Lunn fire a highly respected professional in an arms-length agency? Why hasn’t the government presented a plan during this election to deal with the aging reactor at Chalk River

9. Since my husband and I have recently suffered a paper loss of 25% in our RRSP holdings on top of the income trust losses two years ago, please explain how you expect us to support ourselves in our retirement. More of the same course is not working well for us. Hint: we’re out of money so we can’t buy any of those bargains you spoke of last week.

10. Why did you not appoint a Procurement Auditor, as you promised in 2006? Please explain the peculiar contracts by Jim Flaherty who hired several communications people with no-bid contracts for $24,844 each.

11. How will deregulation of the Food Inspection processes in our country make our food supply safe to feed to families? Please explain the discrepancy between your words saying you’re hiring more inspectors and the written record presented indicating that you intend to reduce the effective oversight of food inspections.

12. Since the last election, 67 Conservative candidates have been investigated by Elections Canada for irregular spending reports on advertising. Has your party used similar spending practises in this election? Will the Conservative Party of Canada be paying Canadians back for the abuse of the 10%ers?

13. Why did you make an undemocratic deal with Jack Layton to prevent Elizabeth May from participating in the debates?

14. As the head of government, you were charged with making Parliament work in a minority situation. Instead you chose to abuse the confidence more than any Prime Minister in history. Why did you issue a Commons Committee manual to Conservatives instructing them on proper methods of obstructing parliamentary committee effectiveness? If you have a minority government after Tuesday's election, will you work to make Parliament functional or will the crime bill trigger another election within 6 months as indicated by Justice Minister Nicholson.

15. Now that you have effectively destroyed the ability of the Canadian Wheat Board to represent the interests of farmers, how do you intend to support them in the coming economic crisis?

16.  Canadians know that innovation and research and development are a critical aspect of a prosperous economy. Now that the economy is failing, how will Canadians now focus on innovation without a qualified National Science Advisor? Why did you fire the National Science Advisor?

17. You have indicated that Arctic Sovereignty is important to our future, please explain the firing of Jack Anawak, the Ambassador of Circumpolar Affairs.

18.  Please explain the dismantling of the Canada Emission Reduction Incentives Agency. Does your plan “Turning the Corner” not need independent oversight or is there no intention to reduce emissions in your plan?

19. When will the Ambassador for the Environment position so effectively filled by Karen Kraft Sloan until September 2006, be filled?

20. Why have you chosen to politicize previously effective agencies of the government resulting in the resignations of highly-regarded officials, specifically in the Immigration and Refugee Board?

Given that there are only two days remaining, I’m not holding my breath in anticipation of an answer from Stephen Harper or his caucus in hiding. However, maybe a responsible journalist could pose one or two of these questions in the few hours remaining.

TorStar backs Dion

After carefully presenting their reasons, the editorial board has chosen Stephane Dion as the prime ministerial candidate to best serve the interests of Canadians.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Conservatives $25 Billion Mistake

In April 2006, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced a new type of mortgage. A 40 year term would now be allowed with 0% down payment, insured by CMHC and its private competitors Genworth and AIG.

In an already heated housing market this drove up demand creating a bubble just waiting to burst. Some warned of the dangers of this. Here and here and here and here

In June 2008, Flaherty, having realized his mistake revised the decision by reducing the term to 35 years and 5% down payment. This comes into effect on October 15th, 2008. My question is what does Jim Flaherty have against the month of October.

How many 40 year mortgages did CMHC insure at 0% down? Wonder if its around $25 Billion worth? Or was that only the dollar value of the mortgages sold by CMHC's private competitor AIG, yes that AIG. And next week, after the election, we'll be buying out the rest of the high risk mortgages that the banks sold.

After all the political leaders complained loudly when the banks didn't immediately pass on the full 1/2% point drop in the prime lending rate, we see today there is some adjustment in that. Was the price tag for that half-hearted compliance equal to $25 Billion?

Previously, a home owner could get a 25 year term and usually at least 5% downpayment was required, anything less than 25% required mortgage insurance from CMHC or its private competitors.

I think Canadians deserve to know, before we go to the polls, just exactly how much of our tax dollars will be flowing to the banks and what assets are involved. The first $25 Billion is for the highest risk mortgages. Also the banks should be opening up the books so we can see that in fact they are obeying the rules about capitalization. That includes all the deals that are off the books.

Last spring, at least $4 Billion was used to shore up two unnamed Canadian banks but we just found out about this last week when the information slipped from beneath the reins of the PMO. How many other transactions are there that we don't know about.

By the way, this past week RBC was fined $9.8 million (US) and was also forced to buy back $850 million by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for having engaged in fraudulent marketing practises with those ultra safe auction-based securities. This wasn't the first time for RBC to pay a fine to the SEC either. Why in 2006 they paid a fine of $1.5 million for interfering in auctions by bidding for a firm's proprietary account to prevent fails auctions. Maybe Canada's banks are as squeaky clean as Harper and Flaherty would have us believe.

Is this how Harper gets tough on crime?

Funny, (not haha, funny) how Harper and Flaherty is now saying governments can't interfere with banks. Yet, when they were trying to force an  election last spring, there was an awful lot of noise coming from Flaherty about getting banks to reduce or eliminate ATM fees.

Today we heard that the US will start to nationalize it's banks. It seems likely that this $25 Billion may be only the beginning of bailouts for us too.

To belittle is to BE little!

Harper has sunk to new depths of desperation by drawing attention to three takes of Stephane Dion asking for clarification on a poorly worded question. Given that Harper has been in hiding from facing media scrums, public town halls or even talking to Canadians, he has NO credibility on this. In fact, he's shown himself for the mean-spirited bully he is.

Many bloggers (here, here, and here) are on the same story tonight. I truly believe this is identical to the situation in 1993 when Conservatives drew attention to Mr. Chretien's facial paralysis. And Harper needs to be called on it. 

This calling out does appear to be happening a little bit but I believe a full bore national expression of disgust for Harper's bullying ways is the only solution.

Prime Minister Dion, sounds better every minute!

some further thoughts:

Clearly Harper, in his very first unscheduled, unscripted media encounter in this campaign, stepped out to take a jab at the one opponent with a shot at forming government. It was a low blow and didn't relate to policy in the middle of a financial crisis. Then he stepped back behind the RCMP protection and continued with his flight. Says more about Harper than Dion. Says he's so hungry for power that he would ignore the concerns of Canadians to take a jab at his opponent.

Mr. Dion on the other hand, I believe, clearly understood the question to be a trap set by the journalist who clearly refused to reword the question. There was no good way to answer the question. Mr. Dion makes every effort to do this. He doesn't obfuscate when addressed by the media, he tries to understand the question and provide an answer with integrity.

If Dion had answered with integrity, he knew he would say that he would not have cut the GST and would have cut the income taxes instead. He also knew he didn't want that clip picked up and played over endlessly by the Conservatives right at this moment. Why, you ask, well with the visibility of the GST cuts, they have been mildly popular with the voters (that's why Harper did it, after all) who aren't paying much attention or do not understand economic issues.

In my opinion, Dion avoided saying "I would not have cut the GST" and have that be the last meme played for the last four days of the most important election for a progressive Canada. And he avoided being dishonest. I'd say, personally, that he is brilliant.

Personally, I didn't need any further evidence that Mike Duffy adds little to nothing of value to any discussion of importance BUT this little misadventure sure has exposed him to far more Canadians for the shill he is.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nik Nanos…the most under-reported pollster in Canadian history?

In 2006, Nik Nanos nailed the election results exactly and the country was surprised! Canada’s corporate media had been reporting from all the other polling sources to get the story about the campaign and they were off target, some more than others.

Fast forward to Campaign 2008 and the corporate media goes with their old pals in the pollstering business. Didn’t they learn their lesson? Or do they have a horse in this race?

Questioning media intention has become a blood sport in North America but there is one definitive study this year that indicates a hint at the truth. There is a long-standing myth of a liberal bias in the media that just does not hold up to scrutiny. Media Matter’s study indicates a 67% influence by conservative writers! With the recent convergence of Canadian media in the hands of conservative supporters. I believe, the Canadian public is not being served by its media in an unbiased way and this transfers especially to interference in the democratic process of an election.

When Stephen Harper says we are becoming more conservative, I believe what he means is that our media is becoming more conservative and he might very well be right. The problem for media is they’ve seen a drop off of subscribers and viewers. Is it that Canadians are not seeing themselves represented in their media and are checking out the internet for sources of information that are more in tune and reflective of who they are?

For me, that is true. I can personally vouch for not watching television for months on end and reading headlines online for several major and regional newspapers. I also gather news from magazines and get my hints for what to look for from the CBC radio which is on all hours of the day. When a story comes up on the radio that I’m interested in, I’ll look for the rest of the information online.

Broadcasting does have a horse in this race this time. Harper has hinted for years about the privatization of the CBC. With a majority in government, I believe he would do this within weeks not months. So the private broadcasters are looking forward to the CBC being put on a level playing field with them – whoring for advertising dollars.

How does the CBC get away with its obvious conservative slant this time? Well, lets follow the money trail? Who wins when an organization is privatized? It’s the people in the hot seat on the day of privatization. Is the CBC’s new (conservative appointed) management team looking to make a fast buck? Are the regular talking heads in the radio and television newsrooms sucking up to the new mandate from on high?

From personal observation, I’d say something is afoot in the Canadian media. And it starts with election poll results and how they are reported.

So, are you interested in the horse race? See what Nik Nanos has to say about Stephane Dion’s Liberal team closing the gap and Dion’s rise in the Leadership Index and make up your own mind about what’s going on. Look around online and find some real information recognizing that the media might have a horse in the race that might not be the same horse as yours.

Staying the Course is Risky

What will “staying the course” mean for Canadians?

The Bank of Canada will continue to bail out the Canadian banks with no discussion in Parliament about a strategic direction for the voters to evaluate the best choice. Earlier this year two of Canada’s banks needed to be bailed out but the information just came out in the last week. There was no discussion of this in Parliament.

Canadians will be kept in the dark about the actual state of our economy through Harper’s habit of releasing bad news late in the day on Friday so the news media doesn’t have a chance to cover it. I suspect the PMO of a Harper minority would continue to monitor all of the communications from all departments of government, all ministers and all MP’s thereby closing down our access to an open and accountable government.

During this campaign, Stephen Harper has stated outright that he will continue to abuse the Parliamentary process by forcing confidence motions rather than working together with opposition parties in a minority government situation. Nicholson has specifically stated that the crime bill will be a confidence motion within the first six months of a Conservative minority.

The Make Poverty History campaign sent a request to all the leaders to participate in a video explaining their platform on issues related to Global and National poverty. Stephen Harper refused to participate even after all the others had. Make Poverty History proceeded without him after several opportunities were given to change his mind. How can a prime ministerial candidate have such complete disregard for about 10% of our population who are living in poverty or the over 250,000 Canadians who have signed on to the Make Poverty History group. If Harper could be confronted directly on this issue, would he say the same thing he said to Premier Danny Williams indicating he doesn’t need your votes?

As a direct affront to the fairness until now implicit in our electoral system, Conservative candidates across the country are bowing out of All Candidates meetings. An election is an opportunity for Canadians to evaluate the record of the government. If the candidates aren’t showing up for the questioning, then voters cannot effectively evaluate their choices. But more than that it seems unfair and disrespectful of the Canadian voter. Last tally I saw was over 20 individual Conservative candidates have refused to participate in an All Candidates meeting in their own riding. This tally included at least two Cabinet Ministers! Is this a new form of open and accountable activities for government members?

Actions do speak loudly. Are these the actions that an open and accountable person would undertake or are these the actions of a secretive, hyper-controlling person. The only one who is served by secrecy is the one keeping the secrets.

What kind of Canada do you believe in?

another interesting polling company?

On Garth Turner's blog, a participant posted about an encounter with a pollster. The caller identified themselves as being from Survey Canada. The householder questioned the caller to find out who was actually calling and who was paying for the poll - turns out its the Conservative Party of Canada. You can read about the experience over at Garth's blog. I have the impression it may be like a push poll instrument.

So I went to the trusty Google machine to find out who Survey Canada is. Google search gives a link to a website with a header only. Back at the Google search though we learn that Survey Canada is a division of Hyperweb Communications Inc., a website designer. Not sure why they're involved in push polling for the Conservatives but this is definitely a tactic used in the US by Republicans to deliberately plant doubt about the opposition. 

Canadian voters should be warned about this new tactic being employed by the Conservatives. Push polls are definitely an unwelcome tool for our democracy.

What is a push poll, you ask? The trusty Wikipedia offers a fairly complete idea.

push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll. Push polls may rely on innuendo or knowledge gleaned from opposition research on an opponent. They are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning.[1] The term is also sometimes used inaccurately to refer to legitimate polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative. Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants[2], and is illegal in New Hampshire.[