Thursday, January 29, 2009


For all the riding on Obama's coattails the NDP has attempted to do in its rhetoric, the NDP's behaviour the last few days has had a distinctly Republican tone to it. Obama's stimulus package passed the House with a grand total of zero Republican votes, and Republicans are already split between the need to go with the general popular feeling that Obama needs to succeed, and the itch to oppose him based on partisanship alone.
Meanwhile, the NDP, after having Jack Layton's out of hand rejection of the budget continued the grand tradition which has emerged under his leadership, that of declaring the NDP will vote no regardless of what the actual legislation is, without any second thought put to such strange and foreign concepts to the Jack Layton NDP as "actually getting results from a minority parliament" and "contributing to government policy when the people want the government to work". After the legislation passes with zero input from the NDP, or the NDP managing to deliver any results to its voters from a social democratic perspective, the NDP somewhat bizzarely calls itself the official opposition. The NDP has further demonstrated its studying of Karl Rove by having its first reaction to be going negative.
From a purely pragmatic and partisan perspective, yes, the NDP Jack Layton has built is stronger then it was when he took it over. But the NDP, is, and it always like to remind is, is a different type of party, oh yes, above the fray of crass partisanship, working for real Canadians and acting as the social voice of Parliament. Now if only the NDP could demonstrate that it's decision to gut the Paul Martin government's plan for child-care, the environment, or aboriginal people's and help get Stephen Harper elected and in power has helped contribute to a social democratic agenda, as opposed to simply allowing the NDP to raise it's fists and not actually gain nothing for its constituents, but by golly, they sure can raise those fists with even more self righteousness then they could when they were actually influencing policy and contributing to developing progressive policy under the Martin government!
And in the end, for the NDP, what is the main goal? To be a raised fist when what society and the economy needs are outreached hands, or to actually contribute to the decisions of the House and not just be a group of trained seals banging on the table and then calling themselves effective?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iggy makes the right call

I think both from a partisan perspective, and a non-partisan perspective, Iggy is making the right call in moving some amendments for the budget. No, the budget isn't perfect, it isn't even that great, but it is probably the best budget we could expect from Harper at this point. I see that Layton has already started attacking the Liberals again, which is to be expected. Considering that the threat of the coalition was needed to knock Harper down a few pegs, and put forward a budget that is at least not terrible, in theory, the NDP would be content with having indirectly actually played a role in influencing government policy.

But that is not the NDP under Jack Layton. Under his leadership, the NDP has seen an increase in seat count and a decent increase in voter support, (although for all the NDP's talk of an upcoming Orange Revolution, fewer people actually were inspired to cast a vote for the NDP in 2008 then in 2006, as it was for every part save the Greens) but this has been in exchange for increasing irrelevance in parliament itself. The NDP likes to talk about being the "effective opposition", and Layton is once again brought out this talking point, but in reality, the NDP has rarely been less of an influence on policy then it has been since 2006. The NDP helped kill the Paul Martin government's work on the environment, child-care, and Kelowna, and what actual tangible results, from a social democratic perspective, has it gotten out of the Harper government?

Ignatieff correctly recognizes that Canadians want neither another election, or the coalition to take power (an oft overlooked fact is that their is no evidence that the Gov. Gen. would actually allow the coalition to take power, and not just allow Harper to call another needless election). While Jack Layton has turned the NDP into the parliamentary version of Dr. No, voting against anything, Ignatieff has now both trumped him and broken Dion's morale lowering chain of abstentions, by actually getting something extra from Harper, for the benefit of the Canadian people.

I would say actually getting results rather then just standing up when it is time to vote no is being the effective opposition. Also interesting, Ignatieff has made no statement saying that the coalition is dead, Layton is the one who declared that, and then attacked Ignatieff for daring to actually try and craft some bi-partisanship and get results. Co-operation if necessary, but not necessarily co-operation seems to be the NDP's motto. Improvement over left, best, and last I guess, although as long as the Layton NDP fails to actual deliever any positive policy results for those who voted for it, it will still remain an accurate summary of the results of the party.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trudeau vs. Harper

I fully expect the Tory talking points over the next few days to attack the Liberals for going into deficit in the Trudeau era (yeah, because the first thing Canadians are thinking right now is "What would John Turner do as Finance Minister right now?"), it is important to bring up one simple fact:

Current number of Liberal MP's who supported the Trudeau deficit: 1, Ralph Goodale who was elected to Parliament in 1974 at the age of 24 and served as a one-term backbencher.

Current number of Conservative MP's who will support the Harper deficit: 143, MacKay, Keddy, Kerr, Shea, Ashfield, Moore, O'Neill-Tilly Gordon, Thompson, Weston, Allen, Bernier, Boucher, Petit, Blackburn, Blaney, Gourde, Verner, Paradis, Cannon, Lebel, Sweet, Brown, McColeman, Miller, Wallace, Goodyear, O'Connor, Van Kestern, Tilson, Oda, Preston, Watson, Lemieux, Finley, Devolin, Raitt, Lobb, Rickford, Woodworth, Albrecht, Braid, Shipley, Reid, Brown, Dechert, Poilierve, Brown, Nicholson, Allison, Norlock, Young, Calandra, Carrie, Galipeau, Baird, Mackenzie, Clement, Schellenberger, Del Mastro, Kramp, Gallant, Davidson, Guergis, Stanton, Dykstra, Lauzon, Kent, Chong, Flaherty, Van Loan, Tweed, Fletcher, Mark, Smith, Hoeppner, Toews, Glover, Bezan, Bruinooge, Ritz, Yellich, Anderson, Clarke, Boughen, Hoback, Lukiwiski, Scheer, Trost, Block, Vellacott, Komarnki, Breitkruez, Richardson, Prentice, Obhrai, Shory, Ablonzky, Kenney, Harper, Anders, Sorenson, Hawn, Goldring, Rajotte, Lake, Rathgeber, Uppal, Ambrose, Jean, Casson, Menzies, Payne, Warkentin, Dreeshen, Benoit, Storseth, Calkins, Richards, Merrifield, Fast, Harris, Strahl, Cummins, Grewal, McLeod, Cannan, Abbott, Warawa, Lunney, Saxton, Day, Maynes, Kamp, Moore, Hill, Wong, Lunn, Hiebert, Cadman, Duncan, Weston, Aglukkaq

Which team do you trust with the economy?

5 long hard years

The Stephen Harper recession is going to be joined by the Stephen Harper deficit, with this budget planning on plunging Canada into deficit for 5 years. Fiscal conservatives indeed.

NDP not the party of students

The NDP always likes to crow about being the party standing up for students. At the recent Carleton clubs day while I was working the CUYL table, I can't tell you how many NDP'er came up snearing about how bad McGuinty was, and telling baldfaced CFS-fueled lies about his record on education.

Well, the NDP's actions around the York strike are proving that the NDP may be a party of standing up for it's Big Labour buddies, but it is not the party of students.

This one comment completely sums up why students cannot trust the NDP:

"I know the NDP have a leadership convention coming up and, from what I've been reading, it's been 'who can seem more anti-management at Queen's Park and put on a show?' " he said. "I think a lot of students are sick of being used as pawns."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My 200th post, and 2 million reasons to vote for Rick Johnson

With an economic downturn in the cards, just another example of those "fiscal conservatives" at work:

David Tilson's severance to make room for Ernie Eves – about $100,000
Byelection to find Eves a seat in Dufferin-Grey-Wellington-Peel – $500,000
Eves's severance to make room for John Tory – about $100,000
Byelection to find Tory a seat in Dufferin-Grey-Wellington-Peel – $500,000
Tory's severance when defeated in the last election – about $60,000
Laurie Scott's severance to make room for John Tory – about $100,000
Byelection to find Tory a seat in HKLB – $500,000
A job for Laurie Scott - $150,000

Total: $2,010,000

2 million spent on internal Ontario Conservative politics in the run-up to and aftermath of the defeat of an Ontario PC government that hid a 5.6 billion dollar deficit, and 64 billion dollar defict in Ottawa thanks to Harper and Flaherty. Good to see Conservative managment of the economy at work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Danylo's platform

Danylo Korbabicz, the student director candidate for the OYL First slate, has released his platform, which can be viewed in full here:

I want to highlight a few things I think are particularly relevant:

Canadian Federation of Students Strategy

Over the past decade, various interest groups have been promoting progressive values and ideas on university campuses across this province. Specifically, the Canadian Federation of Students fosters an activist spirit that is aimed at garnering volunteers for endeavours that have not been positive for provincial liberals. Report card ratings, bombardment of liberal constituency offices, and rally events have been damaging for the reputation of Campus Clubs seeking to expand membership.

We need a strategy that communicates the goals of the Ontario Young Liberals and the organizations record on post-secondary education policy as well as several contemporary social issues (poverty reduction, environmental initiatives, aboriginal policy, etc.) We need to be more supportive of campus clubs which are interested in getting involved on campus in broader political activities and develop tools to aid Student Club presidents in dealing with the CFS.

The CFS-O has one of the most active anti-Liberal propaganda machines out there, and it is vitally important to not allow student Liberalism to be bullied or intimidated by the smear tactics of an organization that effectively is an arm of the NDP. Related to this:

Information Sharing with the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities

Campus clubs are often faced with a barrage of question regarding the liberal record on post-secondary education. This is particularly true during the course of an election. Generally, clubs are able to communicate broad campaign style statistics. These numbers, however, do not mean much to the casual observer. Information is power and we need to ensure that we give the grassroots the most reliable and convincing information.

We need to offer Campus presidents the statistics for every campus in Ontario. We can show comparable investments made by previous New Democratic or Conservative administrations. Our record is a sound one. We need to advertise it more. Graphs, Charts, and a run-down of major policy announcements or plans should be provided to Campus Clubs to spread that information on campuses.

Today was club day at Carleton, and I was working the table, and I can't tell you how many times a snide NDP'er would attack us with the false accusation that McGuinty broke his promise on tuition freezes. He said he would freeze it for 2 year, and he did. The CFS/NDP has outright lied about this achievement at every possible opportunity, so any tool campus clubs have to combat slander and promote the achievements Liberals have gotten for students is needed.

On a different note:

High School Engagement
Unfortunately, there have been significant challenges for the OYL to connect with high school students. There is an institutional barrier to this. Ontario School Boards to not permit partisan activity in schools. I am well acquainted with this reality being a former Student Trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board as well as President of the Ontario Student Trustee's Association. The key to getting our information to student leaders, who are more able to recruit locally, is to engage bodies which have access to this information. Student Trustees are the political representatives of students on boards of education. Typically, they are elected by Student Council presidents. We need to engage these political wings in order to bypass the current institutional barriers to partisan activity in school boards.

Contact the President of the Ontario Student Trustees Association for the contact information of all Ontario Student Trustees. Work with the Ontario Student Trustees Association to address policy goals important to them and the high school demographic. Distribute OYL information through Student Trustees who can actively give this information - without institutional barriers - to student councils across the province.

Getting students involved in Liberalism before they hit post-secondary is an important goal, and Danylo has the experience as a Trustee to position the OYL to maximize the exposure it can have to high school students.

I've written before that I believe Danylo is the best choice for student director, and the release of his comprehensive platform only serves to re-assure that he will help put the OYL at the forefront of student politics.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Grits to challenge Tory

This is good stuff, good stuff, particularly the rhetoric used by Johnson, a local name:

“We can elect someone who wants to use our community as a stepping stone, and who will begin shopping for his next riding, the day after the byelection,” he said in a statement from Lindsay, Ont. “Or we can elect a truly local representative to work for our community on the side of the government and bring real, positive change to our riding.”

Johnson, who would be a second time candidate, also has a good story to tell for being opposed to Tory:

Mr. Johnson resigned as president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association to run against Ms. Scott in 2007 because he was opposed to Mr. Tory's controversial promise to extend public funding to religious schools.

With Johnson as a candidate, the local Liberal campaign can work on two big advantages: portaying Tory as an outsider, with little concern for the people of the riding except as a steping stone to better things in the GTA, and for keeping faith based funding on the agenda. Remember, we dont even have to out and out defeat Tory to limit his effectiveness as leader.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OYL First!

With the OYL AGM coming up in just a few weeks, I feel I must take a stand and endorse a slate of enthusiastic and dedicated Young Liberals for the OYL executive, the OYL First slate.

I am proud to count many members of the slate as friends, and I know they will serve Ontario Young Liberals well, in their efforts to advance youth liberalism in Ontario, and help both the LPC and the OLP promote a progressive agenda. The OYL First slate is fully committed to bilingualism (having a very impressive, and fully translated website), gender equality, and party and commission unity. I think it is very important that after last year's rowdy AGM, that both the Roots and Beyond slates from last year are well represented on First's slate, a testement to the kind of unity of purpose we as Young Liberals need. I fully endorse all members of the OYL First slate for a better OYL, and a better Ontario!

I do have to single out a couple slate members for particular attention, first Student Director candidate Danylo Korbabicz. As a member of the Carleton University Young Liberals, I have seen Danylo's devotion to student Liberalism and the time, energy, and effort he has put into the club, and the positive results that have been a result. I know that Danylo will make an excellent student director make Young Liberal student groups across Ontario even better.

Presidential candidate Krista Balsom is one of the greatest Young Liberals I personally know, and her organizational abilities, dedication, and desire to help build a better Ontario make her the most qualified candidate for the position of OYL President, with the support of the great OYL First slate.

Show your support by joining these Facebook groups:

OYL First Facebook group

OYL First Facebook page

Danylo for Student Director Facebook group

Krista for OYL President Facebook group

Friday, January 9, 2009

Liberals can humble Tory in H-KL-B

With it being annouced that the Liberals will both contest the by-election, and that is may be held fairly soon (in time for Tory to be in House, so before late March) we as Liberals have to realize that the circumstances are right to hand Tory if not an out and out defeat, an embarrasing result that will hinder Tory's effectiveness as a leader, and the PC's as an opposition party. Lets look at the numbers.

Based on both the most election results, the Tories have roughly a base of about 50% of the vote, the Liberals 30%, with the NDP and Greens splitting the rest. The NDP is going through a leadership race for much of the campaign, and since the riding is a no-hoper for the NDP anyway, the NDP vote, which would normally be in the low teens, can perhaps be subtracted a few points. This possible 3-4% of the vote are ripe for the taking if the Liberals run a good campaign. The Greens could be a potential spoiler for everyone, considering they pulled a good number of votes from the PC's last election province-wide, and if GPO leader Frank De Jong contests the by-election, things could get even more unpredictable, so the Greens in this one could have a vote range from as high as 15% to as low as 5%, making it hard to predict where they would either take votes from, or give votes to.

The main event, however, should be the Liberal vs. PC numbers. With a 20% gap between the starting block numbers, the Liberals will certainly be playing catch-up. While perhaps some votes could be taken from the NDP/Greens, the Liberals should focus on taking PC votes. While a 10% direct movement from the PC's to the Liberals might seem unrealistic, it should be a target. The Liberal math for a strategic or tactical victory in H-KL-B should go something perhaps like this:

Starting block numbers, roughly:

PC: 50%
Lib: 30%
NDP: 12%
GRN: 8%

If the Liberals can swing say, 6-7% directly from the Tories, that gives us:

PC: 44%
Lib: 36%
NDP: 12%
GRN: 8%

Now lets say we can grab 2-3% from a disorganized NDP, and 2% from Greens voting strategically:

PC: 44%
Lib: 41%
NDP: 9%
GRN: 6%

While this alone is not a "victory", it would humble Tory, and demonstrate his inability to make any seat safe for the PC's, and if on e-day we can pull our vote, will supress the PC vote, it is very possible we could even take the seat. In terms of tactics and rhetoric, I think we could borrow from the experience of Mississauga South, which summed up the failure of Tory as a leader and a campaigner.

1. Don't let up on faith-based funding.
Yes, he has reversed his stance. Yes, he has moved past it. But it is still a wildly unpopular idea, and it would be foolish to surrender the potential explosiveness it could still provide as ammo, as it demonstrated Tory's lack of judgement. If the PC's and Tory try to turn the tables, and try to say the Liberals are fighting old fights, and focus on the economy, take a page out of Harper's playbook and tie in an unpopular idea with the economy. Argue that Tory failed to understand the educational and social system of the province, and cannot be trusted with its economy, and that he was willing to de-fund public schools at a time of economic change, in which modern training and learning will be crucial.

2. Use Tory's unpopularity with his own voters against him.
The federal Conservatives managed to suppress the Liberal vote in the election by making Liberal voters stay at home, and we have to demonstrate our ability to show the Tories that Liberalism can use every tool in the trade to promote itself and battle those who would stem the flow of progress. Point out at every occassion that Tory has never won an election beyond PC leader, and that almost a full third of the party was prepared to ditch him a year ago. In more basic terms, John Tory is not a leader, an ironic turnaround considering that his provincial campaign in 07 was based around the concept of "Leadership Matters."

3. All politics is local
Tim Peterson failed because he was seen as a John Tory imposed outsider on PC voters, John Tory must be made to fail because he is another John Tory imposed outsider. Point out at every chance that Tory has zero commitment to the riding, and that Tory is a repeat offender in this sense, after his use it and lose it attitude towards Central Ontario, rural ridings. Run a good local campaign, with a good local candidate, with minimal outside influence in the form of physical visits to the riding by cabinet ministers, but toss out a goodie of some sort to demonstrate that unlike John Tory, the Liberals have a commitment to the riding. Turn a time-tested attack on Liberals against Tory, and paint him as a Toronto-centric elitist. Make hay out of the allegations that Tory "leaned heavily" on the local name Scott to give the seat up for a failed Torontonian, and that a Liberal candidate would be H-KL-B's man or woman in Queen's Park, not Queen's Park's man in H-KL-B.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Mr. Toronto" to run East-Central Ontarian riding that doesn't come within two ridings of the GTA

So John Tory has apparently found a seat, his foray into the 416 resulting in defeat, so he is slinking back to the rural, Central Ontario ridings (after Dufferin-Caledon, the second he has represented) which form the bulk of the Tory rump caucus. It will be interesting to see how Tory in the House will lobby effectively on behalf of the 905/416 regions he will need breakthroughs in to have a hope of returning to power.

Of course, this assumes Tory can even win the seat. Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock was won by Laurie Scott with slightly less then 50% of the vote, so it is hardly a swing riding or anything, but with the Liberals probably able to have a base of about 30% they can build on, (and you better believe the Liberals will contest this by-election) combined with Tory's unpopularity, his parachute candidate status (again) and the unpredictable nature of by-elections, will combine to make this no walk in the park for Tory.

Another interesting note is this:

In return for giving up the seat she has held since 2003, Scott will likely succeed Bay Street veteran Andy Pringle as Tory's chief of staff at Queen's Park until the 2011 provincial election.
At that point, she would want to return to elected politics in her cottage country riding while the leader runs in another constituency, sources said.

A few things stand out here:

-A possible line of attack for Liberals during the by-election campaign, attacking Tory for only having the seat on an interim basis, run a local based campaign around the idea of Tory as a parachute candidate who prefers Toronto and based on his past experience in Dufferin-Caledon, finds Central Ontario nice to visit when in a pickle, but doesn't think it is worth his time to stay.

-If Tory is elected, how will he be able to represent his constituents effectively, since he will be a temp, interim MPP, whose citizens are seemingly unworthy of his permanent representation?

-Where would Tory run (if he is still around as leader in 2011) in the next election? Given his preference for the GTA, lets try and find a seat for him.

Don Valley West: Tory's home riding, and the site of his last run. Probably doubtful, as I doubt Tory has any desire to take on a well-entrenched cabinet minister who won a majority of the votes in the previous election, despite the decent performance by the federal Conservatives in the last election.

Thornhill: Tory was rumoured to want this seat to keep in the GTA, but Peter Shurman seems to be going nowhere, and will probably still be around in 2011.

Mississauga South: A seat Tory was reportedly very strongly considering running in before the Tim Peterson debacle, local feelings still run high (Effie was a leader of the anti-Tory movement at last years convention) and Sousa is becoming more and more locally popular. Would be interesting to see a match-up between Tory and a Liberal MPP who supported him in his mayoral run, but I don't see it happening.

Mississauga-Erindale: Site of the first federal Conservative victory in Mississauga in almost 2 decades, if it was represented by someone not a cabinet minister, Tory might give some serious thought to this one. However, given Takhar's much lower profile compared to Wynne, I think you could put this one on the maybe, albeit long-shot list.

Oakville: Another 905 seat the federal Conservatives won in 2008, and with demographics possibly friendly to Tory, and represented by a backbencher and not a cabinet minister, this could be a good one for Tory.

Oak Ridges-Markham: 905, taken again by the federal Conservatives, and the provincial Liberals "only" won by 11%, might be on the short-list.

Ottawa West-Nepean: A longshot, but an interesting one. I don't know how Tory would feel about taking on Dalton in his home city, (Dalton is significantly more popular in Ottawa then in say, Mississauga, as door knocking in both Mississauga South and Ottawa Centre demonstrated, in Mississauga South, we attempted to avoid mentioning Dalton, and the most common complaints made by voters were specifically about in Dalton, while in Ottawa Centre, dislike of Dalton was much less of an issue, at least going door to door) but it is a riding with a definite urban/suburban flavour, even if it is outside the GTA. John Baird could (if he was so inclined, it must be remembered Baird supported Flaherty for leadership, serving as his campaign co-chair, and his departure from provincial politics was attributed by some as his distaste for serving under Tory) lend Tory a formidable ground team, and the riding is traditionally a swing riding, which would come in hand. However, Tory would never run in OW-N unless Jim Watson, the very popular incumbent MPP and another cabinet minister, steps aside to run for Mayor of Ottawa, which he apparently is strongly considering. I really doubt he would go further east then he would be with H-KL-B, but hey, you never know.

So if we look at those, I say the most likely options for a Tory 2011 run would be Oakville and Oak Ridges-Markham, with a particular emphasis on Oakville.

Oh, and let the record show that by displacing a female MPP in order to cling to his job, John Tory will bring the female PC caucus down to 6, or less then a quarter of the PC caucus. As a point of comparison, the Liberal cabinet has 8 female members in the cabinet, not including backbenchers. Well done, Mr. Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock (just doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Interesting political perspective on the Gaza situation

While much of the discussion and debate around the situation on both sides has focused on either the military, or humanitarian aspects of the conflict, this blog on the Jerusalem Post website is interesting for taking more politically minded (both domestically and internationally) context examination:

Definately worth a read.

Monday, January 5, 2009

CUPE shames itself

I'm not the biggest fan of CUPE to begin with, but this: is simply shameful. While criticism of Israeli foreign policy can be legitimate, this move by CUPE crosses a clear line that all liberal (note the small-l) minded individuals should reject as an attack on free speech and freedom of the mind.