Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"The tyrannical instinct to censor" fine when Tories do it

Senator Doug Finley (formerly Tory war room chief) delivered a speech in the Senate on Tuesday attacking the Human Rights Act, and said of it that "The tyrannical instinct to censor still exists." Apparently Finley didn't get the memo, the Conservatives are fine with censorship, as long as it suits the political ends.

After all, they have shut up climate change scientists:

And now they've gutted vital environmental oversights:

Released thousands of censored documents on the Detainee Issue:

The Senator also quotes George Orwell, saying that "Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear", which given Conservative actions, is also ironic.

One only has to look at the treatment the Tories have given to whistle blower Richard Colvin, or former CNSC head Linda Keen to see what this government thinks of those who speak truth to power.

Heck, the Tories will even ignore those who tell them what they don't want to hear when it is your tax dollars paying for it, such as how they have ignored the taxpayer funded crime research.

It's a little rich for the Senator to talk about telling people what they don't want to hear when:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has explicitly and publicly stated that his government does not accept peer-reviewed research on criminal matters.

In a 2008 speech, Harper flatly denounced research-based justice policies, accusing the pedlars of such policies of trying to “pacify Canadians with statistics.”

Yes, how dare such things as "evidence" and "facts" play a role when forming public policy on climate change and the environment. Despite Senator Finley's pleas, his government is doing a fine job of censorship.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lawrence Jospeh acclaimed for NDP

Former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Lawrence Joseph was acclaimed today for the federal NDP nomination for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River riding.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The times have changed. Tim Hudak hasn't.

Andrew Steele does a good job of pointing out the potential problem's with the roll out of Tim Hudak's first set of policy proposals here:
Tim Hudak is stuck in the Mike Harris mindset. He is either so ideologically blinded or willfully ignorant to see that times have changed in Ontario during the past 15 years. He wants to cut and paste the "solutions" of Mike Harris, which lead to turmoil in our schools and hospitals, slashing cuts to vital public services, and terrible human consequences in places like Ipperwash and Walkerton. While the Ontario Liberals are moving forward with change, making investments in the green energy to create tens of thousands of jobs, and tax reforms which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and investing in schools and families, Tim Hudak wants to go back to the failed ideas of cutting investments in creating jobs for hard working citizens of Ontario, killing environmental regulation as a sop to his climate change denying base, and attack the our schools and hospitals.
With the Budget coming out today show Ontario is well on the way to tackling the deficit, our economy is still in recovery mode. The Liberals are looking forward to ensure all of Ontario can benefit from the recovery, while the Hudak PC's are trying to turn back the clock so they can put in place ideologically driven and wrong headed policies from a different time. Ontario Liberals are keeping up with the challenges and changes the province faces. Tim Hudak hasn't.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Geoff Janoscik bringing Hudak PC Slash & Burn agenda to Mississauga South?

So the first candidate for the PC nomination for Mississauga South, my home riding has declared, lawyer and former staffer Geoff Janoscik. After the debacle that was the PC nomination last time around, odds are the PC's are looking to have a more orderly procession this time around, and Janoscik, with his close ties to Hudak (he worked as a staffer while he was a Minister) has a very solid chance to pick up the nomination.

So let's take a look at what Janoscik could bring in terms of policy. He is a former staffer for, and has been endorsed by Rob Sampson, a former MPP and cabinet minister who was the point man for privatization of government services under Mike Harris, as well as minister of Correctional Services.

Perhaps Sampson's biggest "accomplishment" was the privatization of Highway 407. It's worth noting that the deal Sampson and Harris struck to privatize the road is generally held up as a textbook example (quite literally, we studied it in my 3rd year political science class) of what NOT to do in terms of public-private partnerships. Thanks so Janoscik, Sampson, and Harris, the 407 is operated privately under a 99-year lease agreement with the provincial government. The lease was sold to a largely foreign ownership group, dubbed the 407 International Inc. for approximately $$4.1 billion in 1999, far below the value of the road, which has been estimated at closer to $10 billion.

The cost given up, and the rapid gouging which happened at the road was a slap in the face to residents of the GTA West, and demonstrated a clear sign that the Common Sense Revolution had lost the sense, taking the citizens of Mississauga and other suburban areas for granted. Indeed, even former PC leader John Tory has been critical of the actions taken by the PC government of the day, and said that had he been Premier at time, he would not have leased the road.

The nomination of Janoscik would be a very clear sign that Tim Hudak fully intends on unleashing outdated and impractical slash and burn ideology on Mississauga South and across the province. The "10 for 2010" website rolled out by the PC's recently further demonstrates the backwardness of the Hudak PC vision of Ontario, amounting to little more than the tired, 15 years out of date Mike Harris trinity of slashing cuts to vital services, provoking discord with public servants, and attacking public goods which our province holds dear. In 2003, Mississauga South and Ontario turned away from these ideas, in 2007 we re-affirmed our commitment to moving forward together, and in 2011, we will show that we reward the politics of new ideas presented by the McGuinty Liberals, not the re-hashed politics of division the Geoff Janoscik and Tim Hudak want to bring.

Monday, March 22, 2010

News from out West

The NDP nominated a candidate in Kelowna – Lake Country, with Tisha Kalmanovitch winning by acclamation. The riding is a Tory stronghold, with Rob Cannan collecting 55.9% of the vote last time around.

Saskatoon city councillor Darren Hill says he'll go after the Liberal nomination in Saskatoon-Humboldt. The riding has a bit of an odd history, being home to a legitimate 4 way race in 2004, with under 2,500 votes separating the winner, current Tory MP Brad Trost, and former MP Jim Pankiw, with the Liberal and NDP candidates losing by under 400 votes. Pankiw, who has a controversial history, is running for his old riding again after going over to Battlefords – Lloydminster in 2006 and finishing a respectable if distant third. Pankiw seems like he can carry a decent number of votes, if not win a riding, and if he can hold his own and either NDP or Liberal numbers spike, the race could get interesting.

Ontario federal/provincial vote switching: A recent history

Much has been out out of the tendency of Ontario voters to do a switch when it comes time to vote either federally or provincially. That is, they tend as a whole to elect the same party into government provincially as federally. I decided to take a closer look at election results from the late 60's to now, only looking at federal results from Ontario. Some interesting thoughts looking at the graph:
-Twice the Tories have lost the popular vote but ended up with the most seats in the province, the 1985 provincial election and the 1988 federal election.
-For all the talk about the disunited right and vote splitting being a factor in Chretien's victories in the 90's, an overlooked factor is that the Chretien Liberals won a hell of a lot of votes, twice breaking the 50% mark (in 1993 and 2000)
-At the time, many pundits speculated if the provincial Liberals bringing out a budget during the 2004 campaign was a drag on the federal campaign, a closer look at this graph would seem to indicate that in the end, it wasn't a huge factor, Paul Martin got almost the same percentage of the vote as McGuinty had won a year earlier in what was deemed a "landslide", and indeed, while the overall Liberal numbers did dip from 52%, Martin hung on to a bigger number of seats than McGuinty won the previous year.
-Looking at the margins of victory for other governments, seeing the the NDP won a sizable majority with only 37% of the vote speaks to the kinks in the FPTP system, the PC's provincially were unable to climb back into majority status despite winning 40% in 1977.
-It would seem that a very decent chunk of voters do seem to regularly swing between voting for one party provincially and another federally, as the large majorities both Mike Harris and Jean Chretien won in the province would indicate, as well as the massive swings against the incumbents (and the party opposite which held power) that might have played a role in propelling Peterson, Chretien, and Harris into power.
-Last federal election was the first time in nearly two decades that the Liberals didn't win a majority of the seats in the province.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NDP look set to have candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands

Only one candidate has thus far declared for the NDP in Saanich-Gulf Islands, Edith Loring-Kuhanga, a first nations educator and conference organizer. Saanich-Gulf Islands is notably the riding in which Green Party leader Elizabeth May is nominated to run in, although she won't have the benefit of the Liberals sitting it out, as Renée Heatherington, the Liberal candidate, has strong environmental credentials of her own. Last election saw incumbant Gary Lunn hold the seat for the Tories narrowly over Liberal star candidate Briony Penn, a former Green Party supporter, and the strange case of Julian West, the NDP candidate (and also a former Green) drop out of the race after allegations of indecency (which included underaged girls and nude swimming).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hamilton and Oakville nomination news

Some Hamilton/Golden Horseshoe news in this article. The Liberals have a candidate in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, mental health counsellor Michelle Stockwell, who was acclaimed on Thursday. The NDP will have a contested nomination in Oakville, between activist Michelle Bilek and teaching assistant James Ede, with voting taking place on the 18th.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quick pre AGM nomination news

Haven't done a nomination update in a bit, so here we go:

Colin Wilson, a federal civil servant, was nominated as Liberal candidate in Barrie last night. Mr. Wilson was acclaimed.

Lawrence Joseph, former Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations is going after the NDP nomination Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River. The riding has a bit of an odd federal history, being held by Liberal, Tory, and NDP in recent memory, and sometimes swings against the national tide, electing a Liberal in 2006 over a Tory incumbent.

Sticking with the NDP, social worker Bobbi Stewart will represent the party in Guelph next election. Guelph was the site of a 4 way race last election, with Liberal Frank Valeriote winning over Tory Gloria Kovach, Tom King for the NDP, and Mike Nagy for the Greens, who with 21% of the vote to Frank's 32%, was the Green candidate who came closest to winning a seat last election.

With Tory incumbent Rick Casson stepping down, local businessman Mark Switzer is stepping up to go after the nomination.

Monday, March 8, 2010

New logo, new website - no new ideas from the Hudak PC's

The Ontario Liberals unveiled the priorities and agenda for the coming year in the Throne Speech yesterday. It includes, as part of the Open Ontario Plan;

-A new Water Opportunities Act to take advantage of the province’s expertise in clean-water technology to create more, good jobs for Ontario families;
-A new Ontario Online Institute to give students access to the best professors in top university programs from their home computers;
-New legislation to improve accountability in our publicly-funded health care system;
-Improving services for patients by encouraging health professionals to work together; and
-Capitalizing on north-western Ontario’s chromite deposits, while working with Northerners and Aboriginal communities and continuing to protect half of the northern Boreal Forest (chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel).

The five-year plan includes several initiatives already underway:

- A tax reform package, which will create nearly 600,000 new Ontario jobs;
-The Green Energy Act, which will create up to 50,000 jobs;
-$32-billion investment in roads, bridges, public transit and energy retrofits for schools that is creating and sustaining over 300,000 jobs;
- Full-day learning for four- and five-year olds, starting at schools across the province this September; and
- A strategy to make Toronto one of the world’s leading financial centres

And what was Tim Hudak's response?

Showing up late to the speech, missing Oh Canada, and then heckling the representative of the Queen, The Honourable David Onley while he delivered the speech. This was a shameful display for a man who wishes to be the next Premier.

What is also shameful is that Hudak continues to attack the government plan to move Ontario forward, without putting forward any ideas of his own. But don't take my word for it:

Go to the Ontario PC website and find me any indication what Tim Hudak wants to see in this year's budget? Would he sell assets if he was in charge? Would he cut any programs? Cut taxes? How about raise them? I honestly have no idea. (Robert Silver, Globe and Mail, Feb 20)

Outside of platitudes...Mr. Hudak made little effort to explain what he would do differently. (Adam Radwanski, Globe and Mail, March 8)

What a PC government would do...remains a mystery. (Tony Spears, Ottawa Citizen, March 6)

And even PC's themselves are admitting they have nothing to stand on:

"It’s a byelection, it’s not about policy and platform” (Beth Graham, Ottawa West-Nepean by-election candidate, Ottawa Citizen, March 6)

The policy void even extends to the grassroots, which the PC's always like to crow is the core of the party:

Harvey Prudhomme, of Sarnia...declined to discuss potential policy, Gurmit Singh, from the Greater Toronto Area...couldn’t or wouldn’t name any concrete policies he hoped to see implented (Ottawa Citizen, March 6)

And the hypocrisy of his party campaigning against the HST, when the PC's (and Hudak himself) have both spoke in favour of it, and never committed to actually getting rid of it.

Hudak said they would continue to fight the tax, but could not repeal it (Metro Ottawa, March 8)

Making the HST the centrepiece of their campaign has its own challenges, not least because key Conservatives support it. Federal Tories led by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a former provincial cabinet minister — whom Hudak supported when he ran to replace Eves as Tory leader — and a bevy of Conservative luminaries including Harris and Bob Runciman have spoken in favour of harmonization. So did Hudak at one time. (Mohammed Adam, Ottawa Citizen, March 5)

Once the HST is implemented, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to undo. (Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean-Carleton and the Revenue Critic for the PC's, National Post, November 19)

"…we understand how that (single sales tax) can help the economy.” —Tim Hudak, MPP (Niagara-West Glanbrook), March 24, 2009

I agree that there’s little sense in allowing two separate governments to apply two separate taxes and policies and collect two separate groups of sales taxes.” —Tim Hudak, MPP (Niagara-West Glanbrook), April 23, 2009

"In principle, we think it's something that should occur." —Former MPP and PC leader Bob Runciman, (Leeds-Grenville), March 25, 2009

"…I am not saying that harmonization ultimately is a bad idea." —Peter Shurman, MPP (Thornhill), March 24, 2009

"I think right now (people) think of a harmonized tax as being an increased tax, you know, period, full stop. That isn't what it is." —John Tory (former Ontario Conservative leader), November 14, 2007

"Moving to a harmonized sales tax is very good for the economy and it's certainly going to help with our business competitiveness… It's in the best interests of the economy in the long term." —Janet Ecker (former PC Minister of Education), Toronto Sun, September 22, 2009

Tim Hudak and the PC's are the party of anger, nothing more. The people of Ontario deserve better, and have been making their voices heard by re-electing Liberal MPP's in every held seat since Hudak became leader.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ottawa West-Nepean

I was very proud to be a part of the team that helped send Bob Chiarelli back to Queen's Park.
Much has been made about the relative closeness of the race, but from my perspective, the end result was basically on track. While I must admit the PC's did a better job of GOTV then I thought they would do, us getting 43% of the vote is basically what we had on track, somewhere in the low to mid 40's. Considering the by-election as a whole only had 33% turnout, us getting over 50% of Liberal votes from the last election out is a testament to the strength of the campaign. In a swing riding like OW-N, it is undoubtedly true that the possibility did exist that we could lose the seat, unless we ran a strong campaign. Lo and behold, we ran a good solid positive campaign (unlike the constant attacks of the Beth Graham campaign, I heard more then a few "Toronto Liberal" jokes at the victory party)
In issue I do have to mention in regards to turnout was accessibility issues. The poll I was working on to close out the night had horrible turnout, only 27 voters, in large part because the polling station was not accessible. The poll was largely made up of middle to lower income voters, and lots of new Canadians, so it was natural Liberal territory (indeed, out of the 27 votes, 24 were for Bob, Beth Graham was totally shut out of the poll, with second place going to the "legendary" John Turmel with 2 votes!) but the polling station was at least a 15 minute walk away, so the whole process of going to the station, getting registered (with so many new Canadians and first time voters, a lot wouldn't have been on the voters list), voting, and getting back home could have easily taken 45 minutes, which is simply unacceptable, and was probably a big turn off for many voters in this poll. I spoke with Glen Murray at the victory party, who had a similar experience, saying he was at a largely seniors poll that had the polling station 6 blocks away, and similarly saw terrible turnout. While obviously not going to make any crazy allegation of Elections Ontario being biased (after all, I'm not a federal Conservative) for the next time around, they must do a better job of ensuring all voters have an accessible vote.
Reading the reaction of various Tories, it's also amusing the read the subtext that they might have won had Beth Graham not have been a bad candidate, apparently she is thinking about running again, I say more power to her.
Ultimately, a good hard campaign that returned a Liberal victory in a swing riding (also interesting to see the Tories start to call it a "safe Liberal seat" post-facto when they were hyping it up as a swing riding they could win at the start of the campaign) that demonstrates the PC strategy of hyperfocusing on the HST (which came up maybe twice on the doors I knocked on) and negative attacks without any policy vision is still a non-starter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ottawa Citizen blog picks up on Beth Graham CFRA interview

This is a bit of self promotion here, but I'm pleased to see this video, which shows that Beth Graham is just not up to the task of being MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean. The rest of the article gives some good examples of just how much in shambles the Graham's media campaign is. Here's a direct link to the YouTube video, for those interested:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Local PC's jumping ship on Beth Graham?

From what I have heard, the PC's are regretting somewhat booking the AGM to be in Ottawa this coming weekend, on the heels of a likely PC defeat in the swing riding of Ottawa West-Nepean. Beth Graham's campaign has been a policy free zone (her newest trick to try and distract voters from her lack of actual policy and platform has been to add "Toronto" in front of "Liberal" whenever possible, as heated as the Leafs-Sens rivalry is, I doubt Toronto-bashing can take the place of actual deliverable policies and platforms in the minds of the voters) and her local campaign has been lacking. Her "rally" on last weekend drew only 40 or so people, mostly bored staffers, and they only sent a single canvassing team out after, while the Chiarelli campaign hit 60+ polls last Saturday.

I asked a friend of mine who holds a high-level position within the OPCYA if they would be going out to West-Nepean on Thursday, and they responded in the negative, saying that "That campaign doesn't look like a winner." John Baird and Mike Patton have delivered cameos on the campaign trail at best, and a look at the endorsements page on Bob Chiarelli's website reveals a significant blow:

"Bob Chiarelli's record of accomplishment is significant. Our community would be tremendously well served with Bob at Queen's Park.”

Jim Durrell
Former Mayor of Ottawa

Durrell has long standing ties to the Ottawa conservative movement, being part of the right-wing of city council while serving as a councillor, was elected mayor on a centre-right platform in 1985, and donated to the party in 1996. For him to cross party lines and endorse Chiarelli for mayor is a serious blow to Beth Graham's credibility as a serious conservative candidate. Expect lots of PC voters to stay home on e-day