Sunday, 25 March 2012

Mulcair's Views Very Similar To Layton's

Many NDP members were worried during the leadership campaign that Mulcair had some extreme views on some issues. Not so. Here is a great piece by Leftist Jab touching on a couple of these issues. Read that post for the details.

Some people feared that Mulcair would break from working with some key NDP members who had differing opinions. But, during Mulcair's interview with CBC's Peter Mansbridge, shortly after the election, Mulcair said that he was proud and glad to see that Libby Davies got up on stage with him when he made his acceptance speech, and that he said he would like her to continue to be the deputy party leader. He also said that he will continue to work with Brian Topp. 

And, regarding the speculation that a new leader could drastically change the core policies of the NDP - rubbish. During the convention, Peter Mansbridge spoke with Olivia Chow and Stephen Lewis. Both of them reminded Peter of what all NDP members should know: that the leader does not make the policy, the party members set the policy at their conventions and the party and leader follow those policies. Thomas Mulcair has shown time and again that his core values and the NDP's core values are one in the same. 

In conclusion, Leftist Jab writes:

There is no break with tradition and I think the most revealing aspect of his approach to leadership was when Peter Mansbridge read out the talking points that the Conservative Party of Canada had about him. He dismissed them ably and when asked whether he would take out advertisement to counter them, he said he wasn't initially inclined to do so but he'd discuss it with his caucus and the NDP strategists if this was a necessity.

It wasn't about him and he'd much rather put the spotlight on the many missteps by the Conservatives than make his leadership a personal pissing contest between him and Stephen Harper. However, if the Conservatives would be able to define him as they have previous Opposition Leaders, he would do what's necessary to bring back the focus on policy issues.

An even-handed and thoughtful approach.

I'm confident that Thomas Mulcair will win the confidence of all New Democrats with his leadership and hopeful he'll do likewise with the majority of Canadians come 2015.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Thomas Mulcair Is The New NDP Leader

NDP members have elected Thomas Mulcair as the new NDP leader. It came down to a 4th ballot - between Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp. On the 3rd ballot, Mulcair had 43.8%, Topp 31.6% and Cullen 24.6%. Throughout the convention, Mulcair steadily and strongly increased his support and endorsements. The final vote was
Thomas Mulcair 57.2%
Brian Topp 42.8%

Congratulations to Thomas Muclair and I look forward to the NDP diving into the work of fighting for Canadians.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nail In The Coffin For Rob Ford On The Transit File

Rob Ford lost a another key vote today in Toronto City Council. Weeks ago, the councillors called a meeting to bring back Transit City (essentially), voted on it, and Transit City is back. Also at that time they formed a special panel to look into the options for Sheppard East. The panel came back and highly endorsed LRT for Sheppard East. Yesterday and today council met to discuss and vote on what Sheppard East would get - subway, LRT, or some combination. Today, council voted 24-19 for LRT on Sheppard East. 

Council has completed shut out the mayor and has taken over the transit file for Toronto. Now we can get back to building Transit City for all the city.

The mayor had control for his first year in office. He bullied people into wasting time and money and racked up his own brand of Gravy Train. But, council has finally said enough (or the Mushy Middle has decided to). They stopped his madness in the Portlands, and now they have put things back on track for transit evolution in Toronto after a year hiatus. Councillors now see that they can get things done if they work together, to hell with Rob Ford and his mad schemes and bully tactics.

I think the quote of the day that nails it on the head is from councillor Kristyn Wong-tam:
from Torontoist:
11:13 AM: Now up: Kristyn Wong-Tam. She calls Rob Ford’s cancellation of Transit City on his first day in office “flippant,” tells him “Mayor Ford, your time has run out.” Calm though—mood in the room now quite subdued. And then: “We cannot continue to follow a man with no plan… Mayor Ford had the ball in his hand and he fumbled.” She says that it is clear now councillors will be leading, not the mayor. “Toronto’s democratic deficit ends today.”

Thomas Mulcair for NDP Leader

Years ago, when I joined the NDP to vote for Jack Layton, I did so because I saw a chance to elect an exceptional leader. I saw the chance to vote for someone who I knew had the ability to reach out to people who didn't vote NDP and convince them that the NDP was the party to best represent and fight for their values. I saw the chance to choose a leader who I knew was good at bringing people together to work toward a common goal. I saw the chance to select a leader who was charismatic, who was great at debating and public speaking in both our official languages. I saw the chance to elect a leader who could take the message of the NDP to all parts of Canada and gain more support.

And, my instincts were right on the money. Jack took the party to the greatest heights ever. Every election he increased the party support and seats in parliament. And, with the latest election, he surpassed what anyone figured he could do and raised the NDP to official opposition status with 103 seats in parliament.

The reasons I voted for Jack are the same reasons that I am voting for Thomas Mulcair.

Thomas Mulcair aims to continue Jack's practise of modernizing how the NDP presents its message to people. Jack worked on this over the years and this is one of the reasons more and more people have been voting NDP. The values of most Canadians are the same as those of the NDP. What Jack was doing, and what Thomas plans to continue to do, was to reach out to Canadians and convince them that the NDP is the party that best represents their interests. To do this isn't to change the values of the party as the other leadership candidates and supporters would have you believe. To do this is to continue to change the way the message is put out there so it is more understandable to Canadians today. Mulcair talks about bringing the centre to the NDP. By this he means to convince most Canadians that the values of the NDP are their values. And he is correct in this – the values of most Canadians are the same as the values of the NDP. But many people, especially the corporate media, don't want you to know/understand this, because then more people would vote NDP instead of for the corporate-supporting parties (Conservatives and Liberals).

When I worked at a research company dealing with public opinion polls for 13 years, I discovered this point – that most people in Canada actually shared the values of the NDP, much more than the values of the other parties. But, strangely enough, most people voted for parties that did not hold the same values. Why is it that so many people continued to vote for parties that did not have their best interests at heart? There are a number of reasons.

  1. The mainstream media, being made of large corporations themselves, tend to slant their news and opinions to generally favour the parties that favour corporations – the Conservatives and Liberals. And this slant is either blatant or subtle. If you don't pay too much attention to politics, you tend to be more easily swayed by what and how the mainstream media talks about politics in Canada.
  2. The ruling parties themselves (Conservatives and Liberals) have continued to get messages out that they were the best parties to represent you – the Conservatives claiming that they were the best fiscal managers (when, actually, they are the worst), and the Liberals claiming that they were the most socially responsible party (borrowing from the NDP during election campaigns) (when actually they have always governed from the right when in power, and have supported more socially conservative policies when in opposition).
  3. The message from the NDP has been outdated and out of focus. Many of the NDP values and accomplishments are unknown or misunderstood by most people in Canada. This is due to poor communications from the party/leader, to Canadians (as well as to the other 2 points above).
The first two points can't be controlled by the party or the leader. But, we can improve on the third point. Jack Layton began to change how the NDP presented itself so as to better inform people of the NDP successes in government and what we stand for. We need someone to lead the party who not only understands this, but is able to improve on the NDP message to Canadians. Thomas Mulcair understands this need and says he will improve/modernize the message. He has proved that he can do this. He was instrumental in the way the NDP message went out to Quebec in the last election campaign. And, we can see the success that change in message brought – the NDP went from 1 seat to 59 seats in Quebec.

There is no question, even from the opposing leadership candidates, that Thomas Muclair is the most charismatic, and that he is the best debater and public speaker. Combine these facts with his passion, vision and ability to not only bring people together but to convince more people to vote NDP, and there is no doubt that Mulcair would make the best leader of the party. As NDP members, we are not only choosing the leader of the party, but who will be the next Prime Minister of Canada. With Mulcair leading the party, I'm confident that the NDP can form the next Government of Canada.

Coward Rob Ford Leaves Chaos In His Wake

Today, Toronto mayor Rob Ford bolted and ran when he saw that he could not win the day. He left a fractured and confused City Hall in his wake.

This mayor is finding by not working to gain a consensus, by not being willing to listen to reason, by not being interested in leading, that he is creating a great amount of chaos and confusion and is wasting more time and money than any Toronto mayor before him. 

What will it take for him to grow up and be a real mayor? I seriously don't think he can. 

Now, all you people who voted for Ford - next time, please THINK before you vote. Do a bit of research. Make an informed decision. It was sooooooooooooo obvious that Ford, when he became mayor, would be the disaster that he has turned out to be. We are still thanking you people for all these problems of the past 1.5 years. Thanks.

See: Toronto Star: Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford Shuts Down Transit Debate.

Monday, 19 March 2012

democraticSPACE Supports Thomas Mulcair

Here is the post by democraticSPACE:
[I've added emphasis in bold.]
Seeing the extreme positions taken by Republican candidates in the U.S. gives us a clue as to the typical dynamic of leadership races –- first, having to win over a party’s base who are more dogmatic than the electorate as a whole, then, to appeal to the broader electorate, having to walk back many of those very positions and risk being condemned as a flip-flopper with no principles.
This typical dynamic makes Thomas Mulcair’s strategy for winning the NDP leadership especially interesting. Simply put, he has not followed the script. He has not delivered the boilerplate sound bites that NDP members (consciously or not) have come to expect. Rather than pay respect to where the Party has been, Mulcair has instead outlined where the Party must go (and what must change for the NDP to take the next step, i.e. to form Government). While Mulcair no doubt could have been a bit more “politically correct” in outlining his rationale for departing from the NDP orthodoxy, I give him full credit for not taking the easy path.
The easy thing to do was simply tell traditional NDP constituencies what they wanted to hear, recite the old gospel, and pretend to be as nice as the guy (Jack Layton) whose rather large shoes he is trying to fill. And while his advisors have surely kept reminding him to smile more for the camera, Mulcair is not and will never be Jack Layton. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Layton resurrected his party from the back corner of the House of Commons to front-and-centre as Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. But it wasn’t because he smiled a lot. It was because he slowly and deliberately shifted the NDP towards a broader appeal. So while Mulcair might strike some hard-line Dippers as “not quite one of us”, his approach is consistent with the trajectory that Layton began.
Now in its government-in-waiting position, the next NDP leader cannot be content merely being the conscience of Parliament. A vote for NDP leader today could well be a vote for the Prime Minister of tomorrow. It cannot be about who smiles the most (or kisses the best!); in fact, it could well be quite the opposite since s/he will be attempting to unseat one of the most strategic and successful Prime Ministers in Canadian history. You don’t have to like Stephen Harper to acknowledge he is determined, disciplined, and yes, successful. And yet, he is not especially popular. Good leaders often aren’t; they don’t merely acquiesce to the most popular idea, they often have a unique capacity to nudge you where you didn’t think you wanted to go.
Each of the other NDP contenders — who are very likable, charismatic and bright — have many strengths essential to an NDP administration, e.g. Nash with labour, Cullen with the West, Ashton with younger voters, Topp strategically, etc. But it seems to me that Mulcair has best demonstrated the qualities of leadership. He has not been afraid to try to convince the base that being in government (i.e. the goal) requires not just opposing what Dippers don’t like (acting on the “no” reflex), but engaging opponents on critical issues and forging *realistic* policies to move these prickly issues towards more just and more sustainable ends. This is especially true on economic issues, which will remain the key battle for the foreseeable future, but which has not traditionally been the NDP’s forte (or at least has not been the issue on which Canadians trust the NDP the most).
That Mulcair arguably has the most direct experience in Government (having served as a Cabinet Minister and been a public servant before that) certainly helps. That he is articulate in both official languages and the only candidate seen as a native son by Quebeckers (who represent 60% of the caucus) also helps. As do his economic (finance critic) and environmental (former Environment Minister) credentials.
But most importantly, he would give the NDP a leader who, though perhaps less politically correct or even as likeable as other candidates, would be as ruthless defending a progressive agenda as Harper defends a conservative agenda. And yet, because he has not taken the easy/conventional path to the NDP leadership, he also seems to be the best placed to make a progressive appeal to voters who have not traditionally supported the NDP. By stepping slightly outside the orthodoxy, Mulcair offers the NDP the best opportunity to form a progressive government. So it seems to me that, on balance, the best choice for NDP leader is Thomas Mulcair.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Rob Ford's Pattern of Knowingly Disobeying Conflict of Interest Rules

Ford's pattern of disobeying conflict of interest rules at City Hall goes back to 2005. This list further proves that there is no way Ford can claim ignorance in the new case against him that could get him kicked out of the mayor's position.

See The Toronto Star: Ford's conflicts of interest date back to 2005

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

List of Toronto G20 Lawuits

The following is a partial list from The Toronto Star: G20 Summit: Cop Unmasked As Protest Couple File Suit
(Read the Star article for all the details)

March 7, 2012: Toronto police settle a human rights claim filed by a paraplegic man arrested during the G20 summit. Terms are not public due to a confidentiality clause.

Feb. 16, 2012: Toronto lawyer Nicholas Wright sues Toronto police for $25,000 for alleged unlawful arrest.

June 24, 2011: Sean Salvati, a paralegal arrested prior to the G20 summit and allegedly strip-searched, assaulted and held naked in a jail cell for nearly an hour sues Toronto police for at least $75,000.

June 23, 2011: Courtney Winkels, threatened with arrest by an officer in a YouTube video for blowing bubbles, sues the Toronto Police Services Board for $100,000 for false arrest and Charter of Rights violations.

March 15, 2011: Two plaintiffs file lawsuits naming the Toronto Police Services Board as defendants and claiming $25,000 in damages. Luke Stewart, a 25-year-old PhD candidate, alleges that during the G20 summit, police said he couldn't enter a park unless he submitted to a search. The other complainant, identified as Kalmplex, is suing police for $25,000 for a wrongful arrest in Parkdale and for extended imprisonment of 20 hours.

May 11, 2011: Charlie Veitch, a British filmmaker arrested under the so-called five-metre law during the G20, sues the province and police for $350,000.
January 2011: Dorian Barton, a 30-year-old cookie maker, files a $250,000 lawsuit against the Toronto Police Services Board and seven unnamed officers, alleging his shoulder was broken and he was denied proper care after his arrest.

Sept. 7, 2010: Natalie Gray of Montreal, who claims she was shot by Toronto police with rubber bullets, files a $1.2 million suit against the Toronto Police Services Board and unnamed individual officers for damages.

Sept. 2, 2010: A $115 million class-action lawsuit involving 1,150 people arrested and detained during the G20 protests in Toronto is filed with the Superior Court. The plaintiffs are represented by lawyer Charles Wagman. The lawsuit has been stayed.

Aug. 6, 2010: A class-action suit is filed by lawyers Eric Gillespie and Murray Klippenstein against the Toronto Police Services Board and the Attorney General of Canada (responsible for the RCMP). The suit, which represents 800 people, seeks $45 million in damages.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Mayor Ford On Trial. Could Be Removed From Office

Rob Ford is to stand trial for conflict of interest for speaking on and voting on a motion in council that would personally benefit him financially. If the judge is convinced that Ford wilfully broke the rules, then Ford will be removed from office, and the judge would then also decide if he will also be banned from running for public office again (and for how long).

It will be very difficult for Ford to claim that he made a mistake, that he wasn't aware of the rule, because he has been in public office as a councillor for many years, AND he has previously recused himself when he knew there was a conflict of interest.

Clayton Ruby is the lawyer arguing the case against Ford in Superior Court on March 23, 2012.

For more details, see the article in The Toronto Star: Could Mayor Rob Ford Be Removed From Office Over A Conflict Of Interest?
and in the National Post article,
and at the CBC
and a lot of details here at OpenFile
See also:
The Grid: The Case To Remove The Mayor: Another Instance of Anti-Ford Bias?
I am neither a judge nor a lawyer, but the basic, so-far undisputed facts of this case suggest that the mayor had an obvious financial interest, and that he debated and voted on the matter anyway—voting to excuse himself from $3,150 in fines.

It would appear that the only defence that could save Rob Ford from being removed as mayor is that he, after 10 years as a councillor and one year as mayor, did not recognize that he had a financial interest in a vote to save himself $3,150 in penalties. And further, that none of the people he pays to advise him, as the head of Canada’s largest municipality and the CEO of the $9 billion corporation of the city of Toronto, could recognize this interest either.

So the pro-Ford line on this—the balancing piece of information that could save his job as mayor—is that we elected a man too stupid to understand the most obvious element of one of our primary anti-corruption laws and, further, that he staffs his office with people who cannot understand them either.

All Fired Up In the Big Smoke: His Own Worst Enemy
He knowingly flouted the rules. He ignored the council sanctions brought down on him for flouting the rules. He then participated and voted to overturn those sanctions. It is the last thing that has got him into his current troubles. It’s always the last thing that gets you into trouble.

Like I said, I won’t give his rabid supporters the satisfaction of hoping this is a firing offense. But please, stop defending the mayor as some sort of lightning rod for scurrilous attacks, a well-intentioned politician never putting his own career first, and only ever looking out for the little guy. Personal gain isn’t always about money directly into your pocket. For Rob Ford, it was never about the money but about the image. An image he burnished while skirting rules, thumbing his nose at colleagues and the Integrity Commissioner and, once elected mayor, actively participating in avoiding facing the consequences of his actions.

Nobody’s demanding perfection in our politicians but at some point of time there has to be accountability. That time came yesterday for Mayor Rob Ford.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Crooks & Liars: Harper and his Conservatives and their Election Fraud

We've always known, via an ever-growing mountain of facts, that Harper and his Conservatives are crooks and liars. Will this election fraud situation be the addition to the mountain that will raise it high enough to fall over the wall of denial built by those gullible and ignorant Canadians who continue to vote Conservative against their own best interests?

At the moment, polls show that the Conservative core support still stands behind them. But a smoking gun has not yet been produced. Still waiting on the investigation by Elections Canada.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Howard Hampton's letter endorsing Thomas Mulcair

The following is an open letter from former Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party Howard Hampton on behalf of NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Fellow New Democrats,

As we head into the final weeks of this leadership race, I'm impressed by the positive energy that's building behind Thomas Mulcair.

In just the last two weeks, Tom has not only received the endorsements of fellow leadership candidates Robert Chisholm and Romeo Saganash, but he's also picked up support from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led by Sharleen Stewart, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in Toronto and former NDP Premier of British Columbia Mike Harcourt.

In Quebec, some of the most prominent media sources in the province have come out in support of Tom's campaign.

That's what I call momentum!

Tom's positive message about uniting progressives is clearly capturing the imaginations of New Democrats from coast to coast to coast. It's that kind of hopeful, optimistic leadership that our party needs if we're going to be ready to take on Stephen Harper once this race is over.

That's one of the reasons why I'm so proud to be supporting Thomas Mulcair.

Since the first day of this leadership race, Tom has run a relentlessly positive campaign.

And that's so important. We need to come out of this race united and ready to bring people together to protect our common values.

Consider this:

Just five days after we choose our next leader, our party's caucus will have to stand up in the House of Commons and respond to Stephen Harper's latest Conservative budget.

We'll have to stand up to Mr. Harper's plans to cut healthcare funding and public pensions.

And to do that, we'll have to stand together.

As Tom likes to say, we've had nine great leadership candidates in this race, and in parliament they'll make a great front bench. We should all be thrilled with the calibre of the talent we have in our party.

So let's stay focused on making this a positive race.

Let's stay focused on the message of hope that our party offers to all Canadians.

And, together, let's take the next step.

Howard Hampton
Fmr. Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party

"Tom Mulcair is the NDPs only alternative"

I've highlighted some key points in the article.

ATHABASCA, AB, Mar. 9, 2012, Troy Media/ – “Ordinary Canadians,” to use a phrase that New Democratic Party leaders have been repeating for decades, are clear about whom they want to win the NDP’s interminable federal leadership race. 

A Forum Research poll, conducted March 2 and 3, asked Canadians which party  they would vote for if a federal election were held that day, providing three different scenarios, namely if Tom Mulcair, Peggy Nash, or Brian Topp, the top three contenders, became NDP leader.

Topp not on top
With Mulcair as leader, the NDP would have received 30 per cent of the vote compared to 32 per cent for the Conservatives, 23 per cent for the Liberals, 8 per cent for the Greens, and 4 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois. But if Nash were leader, the Tories rise to 33 per cent, while the NDP ties with the LIberals at 24 per cent. Put Topp in charge and the Tories go up to 34 per cent, and the Liberals to 25, with the NDP down to 23 per cent.

In terms of seats, a separate Forum poll of 1,675 Quebeckers demonstrates the devastation for the NDP in Quebec if they don’t choose Mulcair.

Mulcair, according to Forum, would garner 40 per cent of the votes in the province for the NDP and, according to the calculations of, Canada’s main website for mathematically-minded political geeks, that would retain all of the NDP’s current Quebec seats for the party. By contrast, with Topp as leader, the NDP would win only half that percentage of votes and a measly three seats. Worse, Nash as leader would mean a drop to 18 per cent of the Quebec vote and only one seat (presumably Mulcair’s, but if he chose not to run after losing the leadership contest, the evisceration of the NDP in Quebec seems the logical result).

That should clinch it for Mulcair, one would think, and polls published both by the Mulcair electoral team and by the team of leadership candidate Paul Dewar do show the former Quebec Environment Minister and the first NDPer ever to win a federal seat in Quebec in a federal general election in the lead.

But there is much griping within the NDP about Mulcair. The leading candidates generally conceded that he is the only one who is charismatic but many party members fret that, because of that charisma, he will become a one-man show rather than a team player. 

Everyone also concedes his bond with Quebec, but in English Canada, where NDPers have only recently had to come to terms with Quebec demands and Quebec interests, many members seem bound and determined to once again put Quebec in its place even if it costs them all those seats won by Jack Layton and Mulcair in 2011.

Mulcair wants the party to refresh its language, and has gone after such phrases as “ordinary Canadians” and the strategy of targeting unionized workers rather than workers more generally. That has drawn criticism from fellow candidates regarding his commitment to party traditions, even though a key reason for Jack Layton’s breakthrough in 2011 was that he attempted to make the NDP look less scary to people who had not supported the party in the past but who shared at least some of its values.
The fear on the part of many longstanding members is that perhaps Mulcair is not really “one of us.” But what is “one of us?”
Apart from using comfortable clichés that Mulcair, along with B.C.-based candidate Nathan Cullen, have eschewed, the policy differences between the “traditionalists” and Mulcair are minuscule. But a variety of sources are trying to suggest that Mulcair is hiding something from the members. A website called “Know Thomas Mulcair,” which claims to be the voice of unidentified “progressive” party members, but is more likely a front for one of the other candidates’ campaigns, suggests that he is a Zionist tool, and that he was responsible for cutting many jobs when he was a member of Jean Charest’s Cabinet.

The National Post meanwhile suggested that Mulcair had been toying with the idea of joining the federal Conservatives after resigning from Charest’s government. And then there were the revelations that Mulcair gave money to his own constituency association rather than to the national party, something that the federal party expects its elected members to do.

How accurate are these accusations? A comment by Mulcair in 2008 that seemed to suggest that he, like Stephen Harper, was on Israel’s side no matter what has been much quoted. But throughout the campaign, he has, like the other leading candidates, reiterated the party’s official stance that calls for a two-state solution with Canada attempting to play a mediating role rather than the lapdog role for Israel that Harper plays or a parallel role for the Palestinians that some elements of the NDP advocate.

The criticisms of Mulcair’s presence in a Quebec LIberal government that did indeed cut some public service jobs is interesting, considering that no one faults Topp for his behind-the-scenes role in the big cuts that were made by the Romanow NDP government in Saskatchewan. No doubt that is because an NDP government that leans to the right gets a pass that a Liberal government that tacks to the right does not.

Mulcair no “flaming radical”
But, as Mulcair has pointed out, Quebec provincial politics since the 1970s has divided less on right versus left lines than on federalism versus separatism. Within each camp there are rightists, leftists, and centrists, and the overall platforms of both the Parti Quebecois and the Liberals therefore are a set of compromises. In any case, Mulcair quit the Quebec Liberals when Jean Charest insisted upon allowing resource companies to go ahead with projects in provincial parks, which, in Mulcair’s view, had to be preserved for environmental protection and for popular enjoyment.

Tom Mulcair is no flaming radical, but he does support the NDP’s social, environmental, and economic policies. He has a long history of public service while his opponents have rather thin resumes in terms of work within government or in the private sector.

It will be interesting to see if the party’s almost 130,000 members choose to elect him as their leader and to give Canadians a chance to elect a prime minister who will make a break with the harsh policies of Stephen Harper. Or will their suspicions that this man is too suave, too self-confident, and too willing to go beyond the party’s sleepy phrases cause them to reject him in favour of one of the unfortunately forgettable group of candidates whom the NDP leadership race has attracted along with Mulcair?

Alvin Finkel is professor of History at Athabasca University and author of Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Rob Ford's Lackey, Gordon Chong, Rips Off Consultants for $80,000

Gordon Chong mismanaged his funds and ripped off consultants to the tune of  $80,000 (hired them knowing there was no money to pay them).
Now the city will be on the hook to bail out his mismanagement. Guess who picked Chong to do this? Yep, Rob Ford, mathematician extraordinaire.

The Toronto Star paints up the title all nice-like, but knowingly ripping someone off is still ripping someone off. And doing it while in a position of trust (Chong was trusted with the funds on behalf of the City of Toronto) is worse.
TTC Subway study ran out of money, Gordon Chong and consultants still owed more than $100,000

Rob Ford's Gravy Train total on this one: $260,000
(Amount over the original amount reported April 7, 2012: $60,000 + $100,000 = $160,000)

Ironically, the big picture here is that the agency set up with Chong heading it to figure out a way to fund a Sheppard subway line went broke. If they can't figure out how to find funding to figure this out, how do they expect to find funding for the subway ?! LOL (thanks Nick, in the comments on this story at All Fired Up In The Big Smoke)

Thomas Mulcair interviewed by Planet S

Planet S recently interviewed Thomas Mulcair, NDP Leadership 2012 candidate:

In 2008, Thomas Mulcair became the first NDP MP to be elected in Québec. Prior to that, Mulcair, as Québec’s Environment Minister with the provincial Liberal government, fought for a groundbreaking amendment to the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that declared a new right: the right to live in a healthy environment that respects biodiversity. In this leadership race Mulcair has garnered the most endorsements from NDP MPs in Ottawa, and leads all candidates in raising donations.

PLANET S: You’ve talked about reaching out beyond the traditional NDP base. What does this entail in your mind?
THOMAS MULCAIR: Right now, our party is not connecting with young people the way that it used to, but we want to hear the ideas of young people because they’re central to our goals. In Québec we saw young people get elected, and a lot of young people came out to vote. The next group that we should be targeting is ethnic communities and cultural minorities.
PS: How exactly do you plan on attracting more young people to the party?
TM: The government has put the largest social and economic debt into the backpacks of young people. Your generation is paying $35,000 more (on average) to get an undergraduate degree than generations that came before you. When are you supposed to buy a house? It’s a matter of intergenerational equity. When you come to retirement, you’ll feel the effects of the wrong-headed approach of the Conservatives. The loss of the manufacturing sector means that your generation will be asked to foot the bill for lost pensions. And you’re also being left with the bill to clean the soil, the air and the water.
So it’s a certain time in our history, in which one generation is actually going to leave less to the next generation, and that’s something that we need to change.
PS: You’ve been pegged as the candidate who would bring the party to the centre.How do you counter concerns that you might compromise longstanding NDP principles?
TM: We’ve gone through four federal elections in a row in Saskatchewan without electing a single [NDP] person. I’d quote Einstein’s definition of madness: we’ve been trying the same thing and expecting a different result. If we repeat the exact same gestures, we will not win any seats in Saskatchewan. Other people have said that I’m going to move the party to the centre, but I’m not going to move the party to the centre; I’m going to move the centre to us.
I want people to realize that the progressive goals and values of the NDP are goals and values that are shared by the majority of Canadians. We’ve often heard the idea that if we form a government it means that we’ve sold out. I don’t think so. I don’t think that we need to change our fundamental values to form a government. But I do know that if we don’t do things differently, we will never form a government.
PS: Why do you think we have a problem getting women involved in politics, and what would you do to change this?
TM: In almost every university faculty, we see about 60 per cent women in the executive. However, in the boardrooms and in politics, we continue to see an underrepresentation. In the 1980s, I was the President of the Office des professions du Québec, and we made a 50 per cent rule. Many commentators — mostly men — at the time argued that we wouldn’t be able to find qualified women for executive positions. But we did.
In Québec [in 2011] the NDP elected about 50 per cent women, and the reason we did this was because we ran 50 per cent women — women who could win. It’s a Québec model that has worked very well. If you look at the Conservative government, the numbers are absolutely astonishing – their caucus is about 15 per cent women because they’ve made absolutely no effort and haven’t made this a priority. There are still government agencies composed entirely of men. If we don’t make change from the top down, we will continue to see a glass ceiling.
PS: What kind of relationship would you like to see between the federal government, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and aboriginal people in Canada?
TM: In a country such as Canada it’s unacceptable that we have hundreds of thousands of people [who] live in poverty. It’s pitiful for us to allow third-world, abject poverty to exist on reserves, and I find it shameful that children go hungry. The first step in dealing with these issues is approaching First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis.
The very name of the Indian Act is an indication that it needs to be changed. And it’s the strongest indication that the Act comes from another era. I would change our way of dealing with these issues beginning with changing the Indian Act, and making sure that it no longer has a title like that.
PS: How are you going to address environmental issues without turning economically-minded people off?
TM: Opposing the environment and the economy is a 40-year-old fallacy. I would point to the Porter hypothesis [the idea that strict environmental laws lead to innovation and improve commercial competitiveness], and reality.
There’s no contradiction between the environment and the economy. We can’t allow the development of the oilsands without sustainable rules. This refusal to regulate the oilsands has led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs.
It’s called “the Dutch syndrome,” because it harkens back to when the Dutch launched intensive oil and gas industries and allowed its manufacturing sector to be hollowed out. The Conservatives still have not learned the lesson.
When Ed Schreyer endorsed my candidacy, he asked that we hold the press conference in front of a Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) building in Winnipeg because it was symbolic of what was being lost across Canada because of Conservative policies.
Like the loss of other manufacturing sectors in Ontario and Québec, this one’s going to hurt. A lot of the people who voted for the Conservatives will realize that we weren’t crying wolf. To quote Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.
PS: How would you approach the Conservatives in the next election?
TM: The only way to approach the Conservatives is with a tough, structured and determined approach.  That is exactly the fight that I would bring against Harper. Not only do we need to point out the disaster waiting for your generation, we need to offer solutions; we need to not only oppose, but of course propose. We are the official opposition, but that’s just a numerical fact; we’ve also got to become, in people’s minds, the government in waiting, and that’s about proposing new ideas in areas such as sustainable development, for example.
PS: What, if anything, do you think the Occupy movement contributed to Canadian politics?
TM: It was a wake-up call that the root causes of the crash of ’08 have not been addressed, and there are a lot of people in our society who are being left behind. The people who brought that crash are still in charge and they’re still making the same decisions. I can tell you that a lot of the analysis that is being done by leaders of the Occupy movement has a foundation in fact, and it’s the first time since the environmental movement in the ‘60s that the public has taken such direct action.
But it does seem to have run out of steam. More long term, the answer is going to have to be political.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

NDP vs The RoboCall Scandal

The corporate mainstream media has been doing a pretty lousy job of giving fair coverage to the official opposition party, the NDP. Someone who didn't know better might think the Liberals were still the official opposition party in Canada when reading the big daily papers (on-line or the paper copies).

To fill in the gaps on what the NDP has been up to in parliament with their concerns about the Election Fraud/Robocall scandal, here are some links:

Feb. 23, 2012
Use of dirty tricks to disrupt voters shameful - Harper must answer for use of voter suppression tactics by Conservative-linked firm

Reality Check: Prime Minister's local riding campaign linked to RackNine

RCMP, elections comish must find and charge those responsible - New Democrats write to Elections Commissioner pledging support for investigation

Dear Conservatives: please explain those misleading phone calls, again

Feb. 24, 2012
Reality Check: RackNine's "political superweapon"

Feb. 25, 2012
Reality Check: RackNine's government cheque

Feb. 26, 2012
NDP write to elections commish with new info on vote suppression - list of ridings where voters faced alleged suppression tactics grows

Feb. 28, 2012
Reality Check: Dean Del Mastro debunked - polling stations not changed

March 2, 2012
Statement by New Democratic leader Nycole Turmel on the investigation by Elections Canada

NDP Reality Check: Dean Del Mastro vs the truth

Monday, 5 March 2012

Toronto City Council Takes Over Governance From Lame Duck Mayor Ford

"The questions several councillors are now asking is, “Is this the new normal? Must we rescue every issue from the administration’s incompetence?”¹- The answer, of course, is, unfortunately YES.

Before the election, when it looked like Ford would win, I was hoping that council would stop Ford's nonsense from the beginning. It has taken council - well, the so-called "Mushy Middle" of the council - all this time to finally see the light and vote for reason. And a few on the right have also seen the light. It will be strange to have the city governance exclude a (useless and foolish) mayor over the next couple of years. This is a hard lesson for Torontonians (who voted for Ford) and for councillors (who originally supported Ford until they began to see reason) which has set transit, among other things, back a year and a half.
The lesson of course is: pay attention and think about your choices before you leap - your choices will have consequences for years to come, not only for you, but for everyone else in Toronto.
NEW TTC BOARD ELECTED! The 5 Ford supporters who fired Webster are GONE!
New board:
Maria Augimeri, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Peter Milczyn, John Parker, and Karen Stintz.
Stintz was also re-elected as chair in a vote that followed. Stintz got 24 votes to Milczyn's 19 votes (2 members were absent).

This is another huge defeat for the mayor, and another gain for Torontonians and city council. Basically, city council not only has re-set the agenda for transit, but has taken control of the TTC board and replaced it with a more diverse and intelligent set of people (people who who think about their constituents and don't just follow the mayor's lead).

Details on the motions and votes that led to council taking control of the TTC board way from the mayor at The Torontoist.²
Yes people, this is our mayor (L) and his brother (R).
383,501 people have some explaining to do.

¹  Toronto Star: James: Mayor Ford Whiffs, Swinging for Subway Fences
² The Torontoist: Debating The Future of The TTC Board
Picture from NOW magazine: