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 ( #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;
  • 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.