Saturday, March 01, 2014

Devil's Advocate on that MNC Poll ( #cpc #cdnpoli #mnc14 )

As you're probably aware, the conservative elite have gathered in Ottawa for the Manning Centre conference on being super-duper conservatives. During the conference, Carleton University's André Turcotte presented a poll that painted a dark future for Canada's Conservative Party. The number of people that identify themselves as Conservative is down (especially in British Columbia), and:
On the question of ability to deal with the economy, the Liberals and Conservatives are essentially tied.
Both the Liberals and NDP rate ahead of the Conservatives on the separate questions of managing health care and unemployment.
The worst result for the Conservatives comes on how the parties are perceived for their abilities to manage poverty and the environment: the Liberals, NDP and the Green Party all rank ahead of the Conservatives.
Conservatives typically do not care about the environment or managing poverty, but they do not like to hear that the Liberal Party is perceived to be stronger on the economy and unemployment.

It's a single poll sure, but matched with other polls, the momentum is looking good for Liberals, and bad for the governing Conservatives.

But, why talk about another bad poll at a Conservative love-in?

Let me play devil's advocate for the moment.

Now is about time now when Conservatives start looking for new leadership - ten years in, too long for a Conservative leader especially one showing signs of weakness and a slippage in the polls. There have been articles filling the wires on who is going to fill Harper's shoes - Jason Kenney and Peter Mackay are the top picks.

Conservatives are questioning the rising debt, rising taxes, and indiscriminate spending like the rest of us in the reality-based community. They may not vote for other parties, but they'll stay home if they perceive a weak or ineffectual leader (see Tim Hudak's lack of success in Ontario).

So, if we release a poll at a Conservative convention saying the Liberals are better at handling, well, everything, are we telling disaffected Conservatives to keep holding their nose and keep voting Tory or maybe it's to give Conservatives the nudge to push Stephen Harper out?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thank You to the Liberal Party ( #lpc #lib14)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Liberal Party of Canada for accrediting me to cover their biennial convention in Montreal. As both a delegate and a blogger, I enjoyed myself immensely at the convention.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Priority Policy 159 - Fracking ( #lib14 #lpc #NoPickeringAirport )

Another priority resolution I'm interested in following is Resolution 159 - Fracking.

There is some conjecture that the reason the federal Conservative government is keen on developing the airport lands to allow for the fast tracking of a fracking project.

We'll see.

Interview with Brian Rice ( #lib14 #lpc #cdnpoli )

Brian is well known to many members of the Liberal Party. He has toured the country delivering electoral district association training. His message is to build strong riding associations to ensure an electoral success.


He will endeavour to continue touring the country - if he's in a riding, he'll deliver his training program. His plan is to formalize the training program as a function within the party. Again, he reiterated the strength of the party lies in the strength of local riding associations.

We spoke about past presidents talking to the media - he will not address the media without the specific request of the leader or staff.

He'd like to have a board mandate that member ideas can be percolate up to the top easy - create a structure where questions can be answered.

About his blog, he'd like to have the means to continue to connect. He's very active on social media.

Speeches for president start at 6:30, Brian's speech follows Anna Gainey's.

Day One Recap + Jeremy Broadhurst Bloggers' Briefing ( #lib14 #lpc #cdnpoli )

Yesterday, the convention opened with a conversation about the economy between Toronto Centre MP Chystia Freeland and Larry Summers. An interesting discussion about the importance of the health of the middle class being the core principle to maintaining the economy. Mr. Summers made mention that this is more important than protecting the banks - it's likely true, but our banks are not at risk of failing the same way as American banks are due to a lack of vigorous regulation down south.

The theme of this convention will be the economy. Panels will be focused on reviewing economic growth and working to grow the middle class. The economic opening set the tone with lots of references to the fact that it's typically progressive and liberal governments that keeps the economy moving in rough times. The recent economic downturn could have been much worse, it was said, had progressive liberal governments not taken steps to prevent further weakening of the economy through loosening of financial regulations.

The conversation format worked well with the crowd - several references to Canada beating the US in "ice hockey".

Justin Trudeau took the stage next. The convention main hall was packed and standing room only - invitations to the public in neighbouring ridings to come and here him speak. This was deliberate. Every guest signed a contact card. He hammered home the message of overcoming the politics of division, that hope and hard work will overcome fear. We were then entertained by the antics of Justin's children, who joined us via Skype with Sophie. Xavier stole the show by showing what kind of acrobatics he could do in his living room.


This morning, we were briefed by Jeremy Broadhurst, National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada. As National Director, Jeremy's role is create the structure to elect Liberals and to run the operations of the party.

We asked the questions - there were 6 (formerly) Liberal senators registered - I saw Art Eggleton. 2,500 delegates pre-registered and they're expecting that number to exceed 3,000 when registration opens today with walk-ins and those just registering at the door. Jeremy is pleased with the turn out. 161 policy resolutions will be debated by these delegates over the course of the weekend.


On blogging, Jeremy believes that the Liberal Party needs to be open and transparent. Blogs, along with the traditional print and online media, plays a role in getting the Liberal Party message out and showcases the openness and transparency of the party. Even unaffiliated bloggers help spread the message although likely unintentionally.

Spoke briefly about selfies with Broadhurst. Jeremy is a new user to Twitter, so making him appear all over Twitter is the goal of the convention.

We also learned the identities of the observers from other parties.

From the NDP we have Alexandre Boulerice (MP, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie), Anne McGrath (chief of staff to former NDP leader Jack Layton) and Karl Bélanger (principal secretary to NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair).

From the Conservative Party, we have Pierre Poilievre (MP, Nepean-Carlton), Lisa Raitt (MP, Halton), Corey Hawn (director of CPC communications), and a third staffer.

The Green Party has sent a staffer, and there is no Bloc Québécois representation.

I`ll be back later with a Day Two recap. Keep an eye on Twitter and my coverage page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Photos Streaming to ProgressiveBloggers.ca ( #lib14 #lpc )

I have begun posting some photos to the Progressive Bloggers site and more will be coming through the weekend. They'll stream automatically as they get added.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Live from Montreal! ( #lib14 #lpc )

I have arrived in Montreal and have checked into my hotel. I'm staying kitty corner from the Montreal Convention Centre (Palais des congrès de Montréal) and I'm looking forward to getting coverage underway.



If you're reading the blog, and you're at the convention, stop by the bloggers area in the Main Hall (517).

Remember, I'll be tweeting (@progright) and you can see what other things are going on my Storified page.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Policy Proposal 36 - Sustainable Infrastructure Investments ( #lib14 #lpc #cdnpoli #NoPickeringAirport )

There are a great number of prioritized policies up for debate at the 2014 Liberal Biennial Convention in Montreal. To go into each one, would need a month's worth of blog posts.

Readers of my blog will know that I have long advocated against the development of a new international airport in the City of Pickering. Unfortunately, the policy proposal I authored to Protect the Pickering Lands and subsequently prioritized by Central Region did not make it to the biennial.

The proposal to build an airport is irresponsible. In the absence of a business case, it represents a dangerously reckless form of governance. The Harper Government's proposal says that building an airport and converting prime farmland into industrial areas will bring jobs and economic prosperity - like many pronouncements from the Conservatives, it lacks facts.

While the Pickering Lands proposal won't be directly debated at the convention, there are alternate policies that touch upon some of the core themes. The biggest is Policy Proposal 36, Sustainable and Transformative Canadian Infrastructure Investment.

I'll be supporting this policy proposal.
Policy Proposal 36 -- Sustainable and Transformative Canadian Infrastructure Investment 
...
WHEREAS Canada’s economic growth and job creation continue to be well below our potential, and crumbling infrastructure in communities as diverse as the City of Montreal or on First Nations Reserves is an increasingly acute drag on our economic prospects and our environmental sustainability;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT
... 
  • This plan would invest in projects that have met an integrity test and that have been determined by rigorous and independent expert analysis to contribute to objectives such as robust job creation, world-class public transit systems, increased energy efficiency and sustainable water systems;
  • A Liberal Government would provide a full disclosure of public debt and associated debt charges incurred to fund infrastructure separately from other public debt and associated charges in the accounts of the Government of Canada.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Interviews with Liberal National Executive Candidates ( #lib14 #lpc #cdnpoli )

Leading up to the 2014 Liberal Biennial Convention, you can read Jeff Jedras's interviews with candidates for the national executive and some exit interviews for outgoing members at his blog.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Canada's Veterans Need Protection from Conservatives, Part 3 ( #cdnpoli #cpc )

If you had told me I'd need to draw your attention to this government's continued disdain for Canada's veterans again, I'd have said that even Conservatives could not stoop that low.

Well, I'd have been wrong.
Some Canadian soldiers given medical discharges find they don't qualify for benefits because Veterans Affairs uses different, more stringent criteria in an "unfair" process, the military ombudsman told a Senate committee Wednesday [source, Huffington Post]
Canadian soldiers, being publicly encouraged to seek help, are being denied benefits.

It's from the pages of Catch-22. If you can seek help, you must not need help.

With the closure of Veterans Affairs centres and with the Conservative Party turning their backs on veterans, those hard to get benefits are going to be even harder to get.

It's time to dump the Conservative Party.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Another Conservative Against Tim Hudak's Right-to-Work Gambit? ( #pcpo #onpoli )

Well, at least he used to be.

Like Dave Brister and John O'Toole, the Conservative candidate for Niagara Falls, Bart Maves, likely has some reservations about Tim Hudak's desire to legislate "right-to-work". Did he change his tune to avoid being dumped as a candidate?


The Conservative Party of Ontario's drive to implement right-to-work is dividing not just Ontario, it's dividing the Conservative Party.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

How John Tory Lost Me ... Again ( #topoli )

The first time was when he suggested evolution was still "just" one of many theories that should be taught in schools. Voters soundly defeated him for such backward thinking.

Now, he has raised the ire of some by suggesting that the pay equity gap in Canada can be solved by women being more aggressive when asking for raises or, as he put it, "learning how to play golf". John referred to studies and personal anecdotes.

Having engaged in a number of debates on this topic, defenders of John Tory took to explaining how the business world works - personality and networking is as important as performance as a determinant of success. It's a shame that that's the way it is, but "thems the breaks" - might as well learn golf to impress the boss.

I'd humbly suggest that what we see as drive and success in business could perhaps be a product of circumstance. I'd also humbly suggest that there are barriers that people cannot overcome simply by being told that that's what they have to do to succeed.

I'd also admit the rules won't change overnight, but sometimes it takes leadership to shine a light on the fact.

I'd suggest John isn't that leader.

Another Conservative Fears Tim Hudak's Right-to-Work Gambit ( #pcpo #onpoli )

There's another Conservative who's worried about Tim Hudak's right-to-work plans.

The MPP for Durham, Conservative John O'Toole, believes that the Conservative Party's plan to introduce right-to-work legislation could cost them an election.


See previously, Tim Hudak's Right-to-Work Gambit.

Liberal Biennial Convention Coverage on this Blog

Pleased to announce that I've been accredited as a blogger to cover the 2014 Liberal Biennial Convention in Montreal. This will be my fourth time covering a political convention and as always, I look forward to it. You can find my coverage here and on Twitter.


The continued support for bloggers and citizen-driven media by the Liberal Party of Canada continues to be one of their strengths. I'm glad I can contribute.

I will be arriving in Montreal on the Wednesday afternoon before the convention.

Look for my preamble post in the next week.


Canada's Veterans Need Protection from Conservatives, Part 2 ( #cpc #cdnpoli )


On the following motion.
That, in the opinion of the House, the men and women who bravely serve Canada in the armed forces should be able to count on the government for support in their time of need, and that the government should demonstrate this support by (a) immediately addressing the mental health crisis facing Canadian soldiers and veterans by hiring appropriate mental health professionals; (b) reversing its decision to close veterans' offices; and (c) prioritizing and concluding the over 50 outstanding boards of inquiry on military suicides so that grieving families may have answers and closure.
Conservatives voted unanimously "nay".

Because attacking them publicly and politically simply isn't enough.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

A Liberal Government Will Re-Open Veterans Centres ( #lpc #cdnpoli )

Justin Trudeau made the commitment yesterday.


Canada's Veterans Need Protection from Conservatives ( #cdnpoli #cpc )

Long thought of as a core constituency of Conservative parties in Canada, veterans have been the target of Conservative cutbacks and slights over the past couple of years. Conservatives are more than willing to hold veterans up as election props, but for whatever reason, have taken to attacking them.

Conservative MP Rob Anders arrived late to a meeting to discuss homeless veterans and then proceeded to stretch out, and fall asleep. Homeless veterans don't vote, I guess.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proud of the fact that 67% of applications for the Last Post Fund, a fund that helps cover the cost of funerals for veterans, are declined. Even better for Conservatives, the fund provides less of a benefit than is afforded by some provinces to cover the costs of funerals for the underprivileged. Calls for change fall on deaf ears.

So entrenched is this contempt for Canada's veterans, local Conservative organizers have taken to attacking veterans groups.

Veterans Affairs Minister, Conservative MP Julian Fantino, isn't so sure it's the government's responsibility to look after veterans. He then fails to show up at a meeting to discuss his decision to close Veterans Affairs centres and then blasts veterans for not accepting how unbelievably awesome the Harper Government is. He later apologizes, but vows nothing will change - Veteran Affairs centres will close.

Press releases are being sent out by Tory MP's attempting to spin how great veterans have it under the Conservatives and how this is all just a dastardly union plot.

Veterans aren't stupid. Conservatives will learn that soon enough.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pickering Unanimously Supports Motion Demanding Airport Transparency ( #NoPickeringAirport #cdnpoli )

HUGE THANKS to all who came to Pickering council last night: we packed the house and wowed them with our accuracy, facts and passion. It was a wickedly cold night, with blowing snow, but we still had supporters from throughout the Region and Toronto. 
[Councillor David] Pickles' motion, calling upon the Federal Government for transparency, release of information and cooperation with the City and other stakeholders, was passed unanimously by all six councillors and the mayor. 
Five of the six councillors ([Doug] Dickerson, [Bill] Maclean, [Jennifer] O'Connell, Pickles, and [Peter] Rodrigues) all spoke strongly against an airport. Coun. Maclean said it was the strongest delegation he'd ever heard in all his 13 years on council, while Coun. Rodrigues spoke from the heart on his long-standing opposition to an airport. Coun. O'Connell argued strongly that the motion should be amended to include a reaffirmation of council's opposition to an airport, but the amendment was denied by Mayor Ryan. 
Speaking in support of the motion were Land Over Landings' Chair, Mary Delaney and representatives of several of our sister organizations: Kevin O'Connell (Friends of the Rouge Watershed), Brian Buckles (Green Durham), David Masters (Treasurer of both the Claremont District Community Association & Land Over Landings), and Jim Boyle (CDCA). 
Former Pickering councillor and [Liberal] MP Mark Holland dropped in between meetings to show his support, while members of PACT-POW (Pickering Ajax Citizens Together/Protecting Our Water) made their excellent deputations and joined with us in an evening of articulate, passionate and well-reasoned argument for the protection of our shared water, food and air. 
It was a night to be remembered.
To all those who sent emails, tweets, texts and phone calls of support, who were unable to attend because of snowed-in driveways, bad roads, illness or other engagements, thank you. We felt your love and support and were energized by it.
**The full text of the motion and of Land Over Landings' deputation will be available soon, as will details of our next meeting, which will be open to all.

Tim Hudak's Right-to-Work Gambit ( #pcpo #onpoli )

It would appear that the Ontario Conservative Party's support for right-to-work legislation is costing them support and costing them candidates.

Ontario Conservatives are concerned how the labour policy messaging is looking. Forum -- grain of salt alert -- shows support for the Ontario Conservatives down.

You can read the Wikipedia entry to find out what right-to-work legislation is. It essentially allows a new employee to bypass membership in a union, but benefit from any gains made by a union agreement negotiated with the employer. The idea being - as new employees join and are perhaps encouraged to opt out of union membership, the union's strength will be diluted, favouring the employer in collective bargaining.

While not myself a union guy, it's pretty transparent what this law is attempting to accomplish. Unions typically advocate against Conservative legislation. Therefore, unions are a natural target for Conservative legislation.

What the Conservatives have failed to take into account is the level of support they get from labour. For reasons that escape me, labour also vote Conservative - likely due to the Conservative Party's false "blue-collar" appeal.

As a result, candidates in labour-heavy ridings are reluctant to jump on board the anti-labour movement.

First, the party fired Dave Brister over his public opposition to the policy.



Now, two Hamilton-area Conservative candidates have resigned. They "say they are stepping down for personal reasons and they support [Conservative leader Tim] Hudak and the party's policies."

Hamilton. Brister dumped because of opposition to right-to-work. Two candidates.

Right - "personal reasons".

Another labour-heavy riding, Oshawa, currently has a Conservative MPP - Jerry Ouellette. I couldn't find any statement about his support or opposition to right-to-work 

[As an aside, I have it on good authority that there's no fence Mr. Ouellette isn't willing to sit on.]

I did, however, find this YouTube video created by Jesse Cullen asking Mr. Ouellette for his thoughts. It didn't look like Mr. Ouellette was prepared to comment.


There's no question this plays to the Conservative elites, but it appears it's not trickling down to the masses nor is it resonating with Ontarians.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Why Toronto's Politics Matter ( #topoli )

The never ending saga of Rob Ford is important to not just Toronto.


Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America and the 6th largest government in Canada. Businesses and governments determining whether or not to interact or do business in Canada are reading news and headlines about the mayor of Toronto. The city is making international headlines and not because of anything good or worthwhile.

Right now, the mayor of Toronto is a punchline. Right now, the mayor of Toronto is a habitual liar. Right now, the mayor of Toronto commands unwarranted reverence from provincial and federal politicians.

There's a segment of the population that believes the Rob Ford "every man" hype; that he's worried about the little guy, the forgotten suburbs and small businesses.

Folks, he's the wrong flag bearer. He's doing a disservice to your cause.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Blog Grows Up - ProgressiveRight.ca

Update your bookmarks folks, this blog is now on its own domain. It's still hosted by Blogger, so I don't think there'll be any breaks in feeds, links, and photos and such.

Liberal Party to Accredit Bloggers to Liberal Convention ( #lpc #lib14 )

I would be remiss not to mention on my blog that the Liberal Party of Canada will be accrediting bloggers to the 2014 Biennial Convention in Montreal. A similar note is posted to the Progressive Bloggers homepage.

I know Scott and Dan have been accredited as bloggers, waiting to hear who else has.

You can apply for accreditation here.

While I will be attending as a delegate, I have applied for blogger accreditation as well. Making me a potential double threat. :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why I'm Supporting Brian G Rice for Liberal Party President ( #lpc #lib14 )

On January 19, I endorsed Brian Rice for Liberal Party president.  I'm not a Member of Parliament, a Senator, a candidate, or party official ... I'm just a regular guy. A regular guy who wants a Liberal government. To that end, I donate, I volunteer, I attend conventions, I propose policy and I've sat on a riding executive.

It's clearly evident that Brian has a deep and nearly unbridled passion for building and strengthening the Liberal Party. He has crisscrossed this country helping to build local associations and to build a best practices for riding association success.

An often overlooked segment of the political activist community is us social media activists.

The common complaint I often hear, "There's no accountability. Anybody can be a blogger." I usually respond, "Anyone can be a journalist. I just think I'm more accountable."

Every convention and every event, we ask - "Will bloggers be accredited?" To their credit, both the NDP and the Liberal Party have been very accommodating (even if reluctantly). I think we've given up on the Conservative Party - I know I stopped asking.

Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, Plussers -- wherever you fall -- are often overlooked because we don't follow a script and we're not tied to how politics used to be done. Our networks are often large, vast and disconnected - not concentrated to a single locale or single demographic. We typically talk about what's on our mind, versus delivering a scripted, partisan message. Despite being omnipresent, it still wild and uncharted territory to some in the old guard.

Parties and politicians are reluctant to endorse or support this type of activism because it comes with the appearance of being uncontrollable. Phone banks, literature drops and door knocking comes with a script and a campaign manager following you around to keep the message the same.

Understandably, going off message can be dire for a politician. However, intentionally cutting yourself off to a potentially large group of advocates for a well reasoned position could be equally dire. In other words, don't anger the bloggers. :)

Brian, instead, has embraced it. He attends blogging events (when his schedule allows) and is an advocate for social media activists to attend conventions and political events. He is extremely active on social media - engaging in debate and engaging in discussion.

Selfishly, when I recently ran for a riding association executive position, Brian thanked me for stepping up.

It's this genuine interest in building the party from the ground up that has me endorsing Brian.

You can learn more about Brian at his website.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rally Against the Pickering Airport ( #NoPickeringAirport #cdnpoli #onpoli )

On January 27th, a rally will be held at Pickering City Hall in support of a municipal motion demanding the federal government act with transparency as it pertains to the development in northern Pickering for a new international airport.

You can RSVP to the Facebook event posting here.

You can read the Pickering municipal motion here [PDF]. The motion makes clear the city's demands about the impacts to the environment, the production of a business case that supports the development of a new international airport, as well as a clear definition of what "job-creating developments" really means.


Ontario Liberal Party Accrediting Bloggers to #OLPAGM? ( #OLP #onpoli )

I have inquired as to whether the party will be accrediting bloggers to the 2014 Ontario Liberal AGM on March 21-23. If I hear anything, dear readers, I'll let you know and update this post accordingly.

I will be attending the AGM as a delegate and will be tweeting / blogging regardless.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm Running to be #LPC Riding President for Pickering-Uxbridge - I'd Like Your Support

The founding of the Pickering-Uxbridge Federal Liberal Riding Association is January 16th, 7:30 pm, at the East Shore Community Centre. As members of the Liberal Party know, it's crucial to set a strong footing for the founding of any riding association.

To build toward a Liberal victory during the next election, we must lay the groundwork for a strong Liberal presence in Pickering-Uxbridge.

I've put my name forward to run as President to lead that effort.

As a member of the executive with the Ajax-Pickering Federal Liberal Association, I learned firsthand the importance of visibility and activism for an unheld riding.

I reached out to the community and developed policy to Protect the Pickering Lands and worked to make it a Central Region priority. I managed the social media presences for the federal association, and currently do so for the provincial Liberal association. As a blogger, I was accredited by the Liberal Party to cover Liberal conventions.

It's these skills and experiences I bring to running this new association; an association we need to be Ready, Open, Active and Representative.

As President:

  • I will ensure the riding association will be ready to support whomever the nominated candidate is and will work to lay the foundation to make the nominated candidate successful in their election campaign
  • All meetings of the riding association will be open to the public. The Liberal Party is member, volunteer and supporter-driven. It’s strengthened by inclusion and openness. Meetings, workshops, and events will be open and accessible to all who wish to contribute.
  • The Pickering-Uxbridge Federal Liberal Association will be active, visible, and volunteer-driven. Residents and local community groups will develop evidence-based policy driving to fulfill the Liberal Party's vision of a progressive and inclusive Canada. 
  • I will work to ensure the issues and concerns of all the residents of Pickering-Uxbridge - north and south of Taunton Road - will be the represented by the new riding association.

This is a critical time in the renewal of our party and your voice is needed.

If you're a member of the riding, I look forward to meeting you tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

I'm Running to be Pickering-Uxbridge #LPC Riding President ( #PickeringUxbridge )

A riding whatsit? :)

Interestingly, I had a conversation with someone about what a riding president does exactly. Essentially, the riding association president is the conduit between the party and the riding. The president acts on behalf of the party in the riding, and on behalf of the riding members to the party.

The riding association is on the ground before, during, and after an election - keeping the party top of mind of residents. The work of the riding association is especially important when the riding is unheld - we don't have the luxury of sharing the spotlight with an MP, or even necessarily a nominated candidate.

It's through these initiatives that we increase party awareness, increase party membership, and increase party donations. Thereby setting the groundwork for a nomination campaign and a future election campaign.

With redistribution, Durham Region will have a new riding comprising the entire city of Pickering and the township of Uxbridge. Pickering-Uxbridge will be created from pieces of the old ridings of Ajax-Pickering, Durham, and Pickering-Scarborough East.

I've enjoyed immensely the time I've spent on the executive of the Ajax-Pickering riding association.

I volunteered to manage the social media accounts for the Ajax-Pickering riding association. I felt that with Ajax-Pickering home to a Conservative "rising star", it was necessary to make sure the riding was publicly communicating with the community.

I also reached out to Land Over Landings, and with them, authored a Liberal policy resolution to Protect the Pickering Lands which was subsequently prioritized by Central Region Liberals.

I've been a Liberal activist for some time; I've been an accredited blogger, a door knocking volunteer and donor.

The cutoff date for membership to qualify to vote at the founding meeting is January 9th.

The founding meeting for the new riding is January 16th at 7:30 pm, at the East Shore Community Centre
910 Liverpool Rd South, Pickering, ON L1W 1S5.


If you live in the riding, or know someone who does, please consider joining the party by January 9th and supporting my candidacy.

Friday, December 06, 2013

#ReformAct Problem -- Caucus Initiating Leadership Reviews and the Coyne Amendment ( #cdnpoli )

In response to a tweet I had sent out that summarized my opposition to the Reform Act, Andrew Coyne pointed me to his article that suggests an amendment that could help me overcome that opposition.

To summarize my opposition, I object to the idea that caucus members should be entrusted with the power to remove a leader given that the general party membership works hard to select a leader.

Andrew suggests that parties change the mechanics of leader selection to give the power to the caucus to select the leader.

While that certainly alleviates the concern -- those entrusted with the firing are also entrusted to do the hiring -- it diminishes the point of party membership.

Let me explain.

People join political parties for many reasons, but if I had to pick the top three it's to nominate local candidates, to participate in leadership contests, and to propose and advance policy. The first two typically cause spikes in membership - some members don't stick around for the last point, getting all excited to get a candidate in or a leader selected.

The Reform Act entrenches the rights of local members to elect local candidates. I think that's good - I'm not sure it requires legislative weight, but it's hard to argue against it. Local members electing local candidates helps build the party's brand in the riding. The Reform Act (and the Andrew Coyne Amendment) would take the power to select a leader out of the hands of members and deliver it to the caucus.

That leaves the policy aspect. On the surface, it's not as exciting to the general public, but it's arguably as important as candidate / leader selection. Party policy is what a candidate campaigns on and what a leader will try to form government and become Prime Minister on.

Parties will continue to run policy workshops leading to a policy convention. A platform is constructed and delivered to the leader. However, the leader is now accountable only to the caucus. The caucus, only accountable to their riding associations. If a leader fails to follow party policy, it falls on the caucus to initiate a review.

Individual members of caucus would be free to follow party policy -- or not. The new Reform Act entrenches free votes and set rules for removal of a caucus member. The leader, provided they have the favour of caucus, would be free to follow party policy -- or not. The party membership could be locked out of the process with no means to censure the party leader.

True, caucus needs freedom to respond to the governing situation of the day, but adherence to the policy framework is necessary.

The answer, possibly, is that caucus would be responsible for proposing and advancing policy. Presumably, they would want to see move forward policy they propose ...

Then, what's a party membership mean?

Thursday, December 05, 2013

#ReformAct Problem -- Caucus Initiating Leadership Reviews (#cdnpoli)

There's one part of the Reform Act that I'm really stumbling over. Specifically the notion that 15% of a party's caucus can initiate a caucus review of the party's leadership. If a majority of the members of a caucus agree then that the leader should be removed, the leader is removed and an immediate vote is held to name an interim leader so the party mechanism can be initiated to select a new leader.

Not all parties have the same mechanism to select a leader nor do all political parties leave leadership selection to members only - the Conservatives, and New Democrats have different models for choosing a leader which they both claim is better or fairer over the other, but all stipulate you must be a member. The Liberal Party does not require membership to vote on leadership.

As a participant in a leadership contest, I put a lot of effort into selecting a leader that, in my opinion, will represent the party on a national level. I review policy positions, review voting records, and review commitment to the party. While I may put in a lot of effort in my local riding (or nearby ridings), I don't put the same level of effort in all ridings to help pick and select candidates. An MP does not speak for me in regards to confidence in party leadership, by virtue of simply being an MP. Being an MP does not elevate your position to remove a leader above me.

As a party member, if I do not like the choice of leader, I'm free to continue to support the leader or leave the party. To approve of the party mechanism before selecting a leader, then to actively work against it post vote seems to be slightly disingenuous. That holds true for MPs. Simply by virtue of being an MP does not elevate your standing in determining who should or should not be leader other than guaranteeing you a spot at a leadership convention.

Members of Parliament, who feel they have the support of their riding, but no longer feel they can contribute meaningfully to their party in supporting the leader, are free to resign from their caucus and run again as an independent or seek the nomination from another party.