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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Protection of the #Pickering Lands; An Open Letter to LPC(O) Delegates (#lpc #cdnpoli)

Dear Liberal Friends,

This weekend is the LPC(O) Policy Prioritization Meeting & Executive Board. You will be asked to prioritize 10 policy resolutions for debate at the Liberal Party of Canada Biennial in Montreal. It's an impressive list of great ideas, showcasing clearly what Liberals care about.

On that list, is the policy resolution to Protect the Pickering Lands prioritized by Central Region.

In 1972, the federal government expropriated 18,000 acres of farmland for a proposed new Toronto international airport. In the face of mounting local pressure and opposition from residents, the project was shelved in 1975.

On June 11, 2013, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, with Ajax-Pickering MP Chris Alexander, announced that the Conservative government would move ahead with the development of an airport on these lands.

Residents, local representatives and the media were kept behind police tape during the announcement. Provincial representatives were not consulted or given a head's up on the announcement. The pretense of the announcement was the land would be given to the new Rouge National Park. True, 5,000 will be added to the park, but the remaining 13,000 will be used for the airport and "industrial uses".

These are the facts:

  • There has been no business case made for an airport in Pickering. Money used to build this airport could instead be used for an National Transportation Strategy (as proposed by the Richmond Hill Federal Liberal Association)
  • There *was* a business case for an airport in Mirabel (Montreal) and passenger flights ceased October 31, 2004. It's now a cargo plane hub and movie set.
  • Lester B Pearson International Airport (Toronto) is under capacity; John C Munro International Airport (Hamilton) is underutilized. Immense infrastructure exists in both facilities. As with the Montreal experience, airlines will be unlikely to move operations from Pearson in favour of this new airport.

The busiest airport in North America is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It was also the world's busiest in 2012. It handled over 95 million passengers last year (1). This airport occupies just 4,700 acres (2). Pearson, by comparison, handled over 34 million passengers, and nearly occupies a similar 4,700 acres (3). Atlanta handles almost 3 times as many passengers, yet occupies a nearly identical space.

On the face of it, it seems that the protection of these federal lands would not be of national importance. I'd ask you to think of it differently.

In hindsight, Mirabel was a mistake. It cost billions and did not return on the investment.

While this specific policy resolution seeks to protect the federal lands in Pickering - the GTA’s healthiest watersheds, freshwater streams, and natural habitats - this would set an important precedent that Liberals value the principles of sound environmental stewardship, sound economic development, and sound transportation investment.

Future expropriations must clearly take into account economics, the environment - and be free of political ambition.

Thank you.

(1) Wikipedia, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
(2) Atlanta Airport, fact sheet
(3) Pearson Airport, Airport 101

- Toronto Star, Pickering airport gets green light, but is it needed?
- Ontario Liberal Party Common Ground proposal

Friday, November 01, 2013

Rob Ford Around the World (#topoli)

Hold your head high, Toronto.

BBC, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford refuses to resign over 'drug video'
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has refused to quit after Canadian police said they recovered a video appearing to show him smoking from a crack pipe.
Mr Ford, who has denied smoking crack, said he had "no reason" to resign.
Police have not gone into detail about the content of the mobile-phone footage but say it is consistent with previous media descriptions.
New York Times, Recovered Video of Mayor Roils Toronto
Canada’s largest city, Toronto, was in political turmoil on Thursday after the police said they had recovered a video apparently showing Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.
The Washington Post, Toronto police have video of Rob Ford apparently smoking crack pipe, records say
Police in Toronto have recovered footage of Mayor Rob Ford apparently smoking from a crack pipe, according to court documents. The existence of the recording had not been officially confirmed until Thursday, but since the footage was previously reported in the media, it has made Ford the subject of widespread mockery. Toronto’s police chief, Bill Blair, said that the video did not provide evidence for criminal charges against the mayor, but that it “depicts images that are consistent with those previously reported in the press.”
Reuters, Toronto mayor Rob Ford's woes
Police have obtained a video that matches one reported earlier this year which allegedly showed Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford says he does not plan to resign.
CNN, Toronto mayor says he won't resign despite possibly damning video
Toronto's mayor says he will not resign despite a claim Thursday by the police chief that investigators recovered a video of the mayor that purportedly shows him smoking a crack pipe.
Al Jazeera, Video shows Toronto mayor smoking cocaine
Toronto police have obtained a video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking a crack pipe, a video Ford had said did not exist and that has been at the core of a scandal that has embarrassed and gripped Canada for months.
And, my favourite ...

Frankfurter Rundshau, Der Bürgermeister und die Crack-Pfeife
Torontos Stadtoberhaupt Rob Ford ist einer der mächtigsten und zugleich umstrittensten Politiker in Kanada. Bisher ist er vor allem durch rechte Parolen und sexuelle Übergriffe aufgefallen, nun soll er auch noch harte Drogen geraucht haben.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Liberal Policy Proposal : Protect the Pickering Lands (#lpc #cdnpoli #NoPickeringAirport)

Excited that the Ajax-Pickering Federal Liberal Association has approved the policy proposal to protect the Pickering Lands.

This policy was developed in consultation with Land Over Landings and is an example of how the Liberal Party develops policy with support from local community groups.

I was happy to play a role in connecting the group with the Liberal Party and having this important group of extremely engaged and passionate citizens' views reflected within the party.

More importantly, this is a first step to protecting important natural and agricultural lands and bringing more attention to an important issue that impacts all Canadians. It's not just about stopping an airport in Pickering; it's about how we as Canadians want to protect our land going forward and how we want our government to engage us on conservation.

The next step is for this to be debated with Central Ontario Liberals on November 2.

I invite all Liberals to consider the importance of this initiative and consider supporting it.

Let's get this to the Convention floor!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Protect the Pickering Lands #onpoli #cdnpoli #NoPickeringAirport

Check out Common Ground, and add your voice to protect the Pickering Lands and say no to Flaherty's Folly International Airport.

The Conservative government in Canada wants to convert over 13,000 acres of prime farm land into an international airport (one that's not needed) and for undisclosed industrial use.

While Common Ground is an initiative of the Ontario Liberal Party, you do not need to be a Liberal or an Ontarian to lend your voice to this important policy proposal.

The text of the proposal is as follows:
WHEREAS the designated lands for development constitute prime Class 1 farmland and are adjacent to an ecologically sensitive urban national park (i.e., the Rouge National Urban Park); 
WHEREAS the loss of over 13,000 acres of prime farmland, the GTA’s healthiest watersheds and freshwater streams, and important natural habitat is indefensible;
WHEREAS a clear business case for an airport or economic zone on the Pickering Lands based on an independent study taking into account all airports available in Southern Ontario has not been established; 
WHEREAS the development of the Pickering Lands as an airport and for industrial use has been strongly opposed by local residents and local representatives for over 40 years;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Ontario Liberal Party opposes the conversion of the Pickering Lands into an airport or economic zone in the absence of a clear business case.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Ontario government will recommend to the federal government that lands designated as Moraine lands and all Green belt lands be preserved lands, managed by Parks Canada, and established within an agricultural preserve
The good folks at Land over Landings in conjunction with Green Durham have put together the following video.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

All the Hilarious Hypocrite Holyday Memes in One Place! #pcpo #onpoli #HypocriteHolyday #PoorSteveRyan

Before Doug Holyday was officially parachuted in as the Etobicoke-Lakeshore Conservative candidate, we had Steve Ryan, affectionately known as Poor Steve Ryan. The guy found out by Twitter he was no longer the Etobicoke-Lakeshore candidate.

Then, the moment everyone was waiting for - Doug Holyday was appointed the candidate for Etobicoke--Lakeshore by party central and he wasted no time getting labelled a hypocrite.

All were originally posted via Twitter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

First Report of Voter Turnout in Ontario By-Elections - Dismal #onpoli

Via Elections Ontario:

As of July 29, preliminary figures indicated that the following numbers of electors have cast their ballots for the upcoming provincial by-elections:

  • 6430 electors in the Electoral District of Etobicoke—Lakeshore (out of 89,550) - 7.2%
  • 7567 electors in the Electoral District of London West (out of 95,265) - 7.9%
  • 7887 electors in the Electoral District of Ottawa South (out of 86,346) - 9.1%
  • 2924 electors in the Electoral District of Scarborough—Guildwood (out of 68,269) - 4.3%
  • 3460 electors in the Electoral District of Windsor—Tecumseh (out of 84,998) - 4.1%
Total turnout thus far - 6.7%.

The short answer, the turnout is pretty dismal so far. I can't believe we're going to see a huge uptick on August 1. Emails or no.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ontario Conservative Party's Hail Mary #pcpo #onpoli

Yesterday, the Conservative Party of Ontario released copies of emails it obtained that showed that Ontario Liberal staffers wanted to pressure the Speaker of the legislature into reversing his decision requiring the release of documents pertaining to the "gas plant scandal" - to suggest using partisan leverage against a non-partisan Speaker was not a good thing. 

However, the Speaker didn't reverse his decision and Premier Dalton McGuinty subsequently resigned.

The Tories are hoping that most voters in the Ontario by-elections - given the glee and excitement with which they released this information - have not made up their minds yet and will cast their votes accordingly. That is, voters would send a strong message to the governing Liberals that Ontarians are not impressed.

Let me set the stage for you on what stakes are involved for the Opposition Tories.

Ontario Conservatives are unhappy with leader Tim Hudak - he failed to lead his party to victory in the election of October 2011. He survived a leadership review in February 2012 after admitting he failed during the campaign. Some prominent Tories are even publicly calling for a leadership review outside of the normal party process.

Despite opinions to the contrary, these by-elections are a leadership review for Hudak. If after the lessons learned from the last election are not heeded and once again Tim Hudak snaps defeat from the jaws of victory, the Conservative leader will need to voluntarily step down or see his party revolt all around him. Tim Hudak knows this - he's been quiet and in the shadows during the by-election campaign - giving the limelight to Lisa MacLeod.

So now, we have the emails. The party releases them, the base erupts, and the media begins to tell the Conservative narrative. The situation is looking grim for Ontario Liberals.

The problem now for Hudak is that he must win all the by-elections. Anything less than absolute victory will be seen as something of a loss to the Tory faithful. I mean, who could vote Liberal after these emails are out? If they do, then it must be Hudak's fault. 

Before, if he had walked away with one or two seats, he could claim to be moderately successful and hold back the wolves till at least the next election.

The Tories might win London-West, maybe Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and possibly, but unlikely, win Ottawa-South. They have no shot in Windsor-Tecumseh or Scarborough-Guildwood. At best, it'll be 2 out of 5. 

Before the emails, that's a stunning victory for an unpopular leader. 

People who've made up their minds not to vote Liberal because of the gas plants are angrier now, but they still can't vote more than once. Further, people not in a by-election riding, can't vote at all. I'm not so sure this narrative will carry longer than this by-election campaign.

Regardless of the outcome, Kathleen Wynne will control the agenda on August 2nd. She's likely already working on her morning after speech about "hearing loud and clear the voice of Ontario".

Tim Hudak's speech options include why they didn't win as many seats as they should have and why he should stay on as leader.

I don't like Hudak's odds.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Joy Smith, Minister of Censorship #cdnpoli #censorship #cpc

Joy Smith, the Conservative Minister for Censorship, has an op-ed up in the Huffington Post continuing her call to filter internet content at the internet service provider level. I won't link to it because I can't help but think I'm giving her more than the 15 minutes of fame she has already used up. You know how to Google.

She wants people to have a conversation with her about the role the government can play in censoring legal web content. Her argument comes down to, "won't someone please think of the children".

She lauds Prime Minister David Cameron's effort in this regard - despite its inherent flaws and questionable links. Porn is an easy target because everyone hates it; you kind of come off as some sort of pervert if you try and argue that there shouldn't be porn filters.

Ironically, the Member of Parliament for Kildonan -- St Paul does not allow comments on her piece. That's weird, since she's certain her proposal is not about censorship. She certainly does not want to hear opposition.

It seems like you'll have to contact her the old fashioned way if you want to "join the conversation".

Riding Office
McIvor Mall
1795 Henderson Hwy, Unit 13-C
Winnipeg Manitoba, R2G 1P3
Phone: 204-984-6322
Fax: 204-984-6415

Parliament Hill Office
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Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-992-7148
Fax: 613-996-9125

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Today in Awkward Ontario Conservative News #onpoli #pcpo

Ontario PC MPP (and aspiring leader) Lisa MacLeod called elections an affront to democracy. Also, acting leader Tim Hudak's job is safe even if they fail to win a single seat in upcoming by-elections. I didn't think it was up to a different MPP to decide that. She's not even the Ontario PC president.

Toronto city councillor Doug Holyday is mulling the opportunity to run for the Ontario Tories in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I wonder if anybody has told the nominated candidate, Steve Ryan, that. Here he is, with aspiring leader Lisa MacLeod. "Steve Who" is his official nickname in PC circles right now.

London West PC candidate Ali Chahbar latest campaign shot shows him sporting ... Red? And, a thunder stick for Liberal candidate Doug Ferguson? Why does he get this right, but provincial politics so wrong?

Kitchener Centre candidate Wayne Wettlaufer called women less informed about politics. Less informed then men, Mr. Wettlaufer?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rob Ford on Poverty and Housing #onpoli #topoli

If you lived under a rock or came from another planet, you might be forgiven if you believed the nonsense Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is spouting about how much he cares about Toronto's poor and how shocked he is that the Ontario government won't fund his tax cuts.

A quotable Rob Ford on affordable housing and the poor. 

July 19, 2005: "People do not want government housing built in the city of Toronto ... they don't want more government housing that will depreciate the value of their property."

April 17, 2002: "This is an insult to my constituents to even think about having a homeless shelter in their ward. And you want me to have a public meeting to discuss this? Why don't we have a public lynching?"

[Globe & Mail, Rob Ford and a decade of controversy]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Somebody's Got Some Explaining #topoli

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Trudeau and Alberta

Canada's Conservative Party abandoned Premier Alison Redford and the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta during Alberta's last provincial election - they chose instead to support Alberta's far-right Wildrose Alliance Party.

Now, Justin Trudeau seeks to build bridges with Albertans and their government; all the while pushing for sustainable and environmentally-sound development for Canada's oil industry.

Said it before, and I'll say it again - Tories underestimate Trudeau at their own peril.

National Post, Trudeau praises Redford for Keystone XL efforts, slams Harper for not pushing ‘critical’ project:

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has praised Alberta Premier Alison Redford for her efforts to get the United States to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. 
But Trudeau said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government hasn’t done enough to push the project. 
“This (federal) government hasn’t done a very good job of reassuring either Canadians or our trading partners that we are serious about managing environmental sustainability,” Trudeau told reporters after shaking hands with commuters at a downtown subway station early Friday.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Blogging the Liberal Party National Showcase (#lpcldr)

I'll be participating in the Liberal Party Leadership National Showcase this Saturday as "accredited media". Take that, MSM.

You can follow my coverage here, on Twitter (@progright), and on Google+.

I'd like to thank the Liberal Party of Canada for accrediting bloggers - there are a few of us attending. I was critical of the party's position on bloggers during the 2012 Convention, so I'm delighted by this change in position. More exposure by this type of media must be embraced.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rob Ford

It is news that Rob Ford was allegedly acting inappropriately at an official function where he was attending in his capacity as mayor of Toronto. It is news that he was (allegedly) asked to leave that gala.

It is not news that Rob Ford is allegedly fighting personal demons. The Toronto Star was wrong to report that. It's not going to help him if it`s true.

There are a great many things to dislike about Rob Ford and a great many issues to fight him on - let`s focus on those.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Marc Garneau in Durham #lpcldr

Marc Garneau will be in the Durham Region on Sunday, February 10.

First Stop is the Durham Federal Riding Annual General Meeting in Blackstock at the Blackstock Recreation Centre, 3440 Church Street. He'll be there from 2-3:15 pm.

Last stop will be in Oshawa from 4-5 pm at the Oshawa Airport Enterprise Hanger, 1191 Keith Ross Drive.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day One Over #olpldr

Today was mostly about registering delegates and getting everyone organized. The vast majority of the time was the tribute to outgoing premier, Dalton McGuinty. Premier McGuinty thanked his family, his mother - and regretted that his father could not see him enter public life.

Tomorrow, I rejoin the blogging crew and bring you coverage of the leadership ballots.

As always, check out the photos on

Live from Toronto, it's the Ontario Liberal Party Convention! #olpldr

I'm firmly entrenched now in blogging headquarters for the Ontario Liberal Party convention. I'll be spending the greatest part of my time uploading pictures to the Progressive Bloggers main site, and offering witty commentary on Twitter and on this blog.

For my initial thoughts - we have two strong front runners in Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello. In a one-on-one contest, they'd split the vote easily. But, we have a delegated convention and that means some attention needs to be paid to the middle of the pack contenders. Those delegates on a second ballot can sway the leadership vote in unpredictable ways.

All Ontarians need to pay attention - Ontario Liberals are not just picking a leader, they are also picking Ontario's next premier.

Your intrepid blogger plans to spend some time getting to know the delegates, the alternates, the media, and the bloggers. What do they think? What are they planning? Where can I get the best swag? :)

As I tweeted, I'll be in their hospitality suites, tweeting all their secrets.

Stay tuned. It's going to be a long couple of nights.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention 2013 Coverage (#olpldr)

I will be attending the Ontario Liberal leadership convention as an accredited blogger. You can follow my coverage here, on Twitter (@progright), and on Google+. I'll also work out something with Scott about streaming coverage via Progressive Bloggers.

Full disclosure, I stood as a Sandra Pupatello delegate, but did not land a delegate spot. I decided not to stand as alternate.

I'd like to thank the Ontario Liberal Party for accrediting bloggers to the convention. I argued on behalf of allowing bloggers access even while running as a delegate and this is a great indication that they "get" social media.

That all said, this will be my first provincial Liberal convention. I'll be there bright and early on the Friday morning right through to the count of the last ballot.