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Monday, 28 December 2009

Who will succeed Kyle Rae?

Longtime Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae announced earlier this month that he will not be running for re-election in 2010. Rae was originally elected in 1991 after beating Adonica Huggins Sherona Hall for the NDP nomination in what is now Toronto Centre Ward 27. Rae filled an opening created by then city councillor Jack Layton's decision to run for mayor. Rae left the NDP in 1993 1994 to protest the Bob Rae government's decision to not whip his caucus to vote for same-sex benefits and allow a free vote instead - which failed due to several NDP MPPs voting with the Opposition. Since then, he's essentially been a Liberal in all but name supporting Liberal candidates such as George Smitherman, Bill Graham and, ironically, Bob Rae. Kyle has also been a general disappointment by supporting the closure of homeless shelters in his ward, backing policing against homeless people sleeping in parks, supporting the creation of Dundas Square as a privatized, commercial playground rather than a genuine public square and holding swank fundraising parties at College Park's exclusive Eaton Auditorium.

Despite his background as Executive Director of the 519 Community Centre in the 1980s, Rae has been, in practice, a city councillor for Rosedale and downtown condos rather than the poorer tenants of his ward.

The NDP has largely withdrawn from being an organized entity in municipal politics and will not be holding a meeting to nominate an NDP candidate in Ward 27.

So far, four individuals have emerged as likely candidates in next year's contest;

*Helen Kennedy is a former East York councillor and was subsequently Olivia Chow's longtime executive assistant when she was city councillor in Ward 20 (Trinity Spadina). When Chow moved to federal politics, Kennedy won a bitter contest against Tam Goosen for the NDP nomination to succeed Chow in the 2006 municipal election and went on to lose an equally bitter contest against Adam Vaughan. She is now executive director of Egale Canada, a national GLBT rights organization.
*El-Farouk Khaki, a lawyer, human rights activist, 2009 Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade and past NDP candidate in Toronto Centre, says his candidacy is not likely but that he's not closed the door to the possibility.
*Chris Phibbs is a senior advisor to David Miller and was executive assistant to Kyle Rae from 1992 to 2003 when she ran and lost as a candidate in Riverdale in the 2003 municipal election against NDPer Paula Fletcher. She has reportedly ruled herself out of the race.
*Enza "Supermodel" Anderson is a transgendered activist and media personality who ran for mayor in 2000 as a novelty candidate and came in third with 13,000 votes. She ran against Rae in 2003 and won 15% of the vote. She was grand marshall of the 2008 Pride Parade.
*Susan Gapka is also a transgendered activist and a representative of the Ontario NDP's LGBT caucus on the party's provincial executive. She ran against Rae in 2006 winning 4.8% of the vote.
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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Tell me why (I don't like Mondays)

Or "National Post deathwatch part 23"

National Post stops Monday editions in summer

As CanWest sinks further and further into debt and tries desperately to stave off its creditors the company has announced that its flagship newspaper will not be publishing on Mondays through the summer. Think of this as the Aspers' version of "Rae Days".

Post publishers Paul Godfrey and Gordon Fisher are trying to put the best face they can on this move stating in their Note to Readers that "this change is in some respects simply a return to what used to be the norm. Financial Post, the 102-year-old heart of our newspaper, prospered for years as a Tuesday-to-Saturday publication." Somehow, I think most Post employees and readers don't see this retreat as a nod to nostalgia.

As CanWest tries to sell of non core assets and dead weight in an attempt to remain solvent the Aspers will have to, sooner rather than later, decide the ultimate fate of the National Post which has never once returned a profit in its ten year history. Chances are that by the end of the summer it won't be just Mondays on which the Post won't be publishing.
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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Order of Canada revoked from disgraced recipient


No, convicted felon Conrad Black still has his gong.

The disgraced figure who has been stripped of his Order of Canada is T. Sher Singh, a prominent Guelph lawyer who was appointed to the order in 2001. Singh was expelled from the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2007 after he "failed to serve clients, mishandled trust funds, misappropriated $2,000 from a client and continued to practise after being suspended in November 2005." The Toronto Star reported earlier this week that Singh's Order of Canada was revoked in December 2008 "pursuant to the Law Society of Upper Canada finding Mr. Singh guilty of professional misconduct and revoking his licence to practise law."

There is no indication that Singh was either criminally charged or convicted for his misdeeds.

So here's the question, if someone can have their Order of Canada taken away as a result of being disciplined by a professional body for misconduct then why does Conrad Black still have his Order when he has been rendered a much more severe judgment by a criminal court?

If you are no longer deemed worthy of an honour for having misappropriated $2,000 and being expelled from the Law Society of Upper Canada, then certainly committing a $6.1 million fraud and being sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison is automatic cause for being de-orderized?

Conrad Black has lost every appeal and the Supreme Court of the United States appears to have passed up its option to consider Black's case a month ago. So why does Black still have the Order of Canada?
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Friday, 3 April 2009

Meir Weinstein of JDL nailed by CBC Radio News World at Six



CBC Radio News has a report this evening on Meir Weinstein and the Jewish Defence League. Where other media outlets have failed to dig further into Weinstein's past or that of the JDL the CBC managed to put Weinstein on the spot. Weinstein tries to wiggle away with some rather disingenuous excuses as well as outright lies but I'll provide a dissection a little later. But first, here's a rush transcript of tonight's CBC Radio News report on Meir Weinstein and l'affaire Galloway:

Bernie McNamee: There's another twist tonight in the George Galloway saga. The controversial British MP was refused entry to Canada because of his alleged support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. now it turns out the man claiming credit for tipping off immigration officials is Meir Weinstein. Galloway's supporters say Weinstein himself was a spokesperson for a Jewish extremist group on Canada's list of banned terrorist organizations. Our security correspondent Bill Gillespie has the story.

Channel 4 News presenter: Banned from Canada and branded a threat to national security George Galloway says he'll fight a shameful decision.

Bill Gillespie: Britain's Channel 4 led their newscast this week with the Galloway affair. In fact, they brought Galloway and Meir Weinstein together to butt heads on a trans-Atlantic video link.

Meir Weinstein (on C4): We are extremely determined to uncover any proxy agents of Hamas.

Galloway (on C4): You don't have to uncover me, I'm an open book.

Bill Gillespie: Ottawa's decision to ban Galloway came four hours after Weinstein held a news conference alleging that the British MP had provided material support for Hamas, a banned terrorist organization in Canada but Galloway's supporters in the blogosphere say Weinstein himself was once a member of a Jewish terrorist group. In 1994 he was identified in a Canadian Press article as a spokesperson for the Kach Party, also known as Kahane Chai. A Kach member in Israel had just massacred more than 50 Palestinian worshippers. Weinstein refused to condemn the attack. He doesn't deny making the statement but he denies ever being a member of Kach.

Meir Weinstein: I've never been a member of Kach or Kahane Chai.

Gillespie: Canada, the US, and the European Union later put Kach and Kahane Chai on their list of banned terrorist organizations. Weinstein denies any connection between Kach and his present group, the Jewish Defence League of Canada. But left-wing bloggers who support Galloway point out that the logos of both groups - a clenched fist in an embedded Star of David - are almost identical. Weinstein says Kach stole the logo from the JDL.

Meir Weinstein: Um, that's the logo of the Jewish Defence League so they took it from the Jewish Defence League but again I don't dictate to them what they're going to do or anything like that.

Gillespie: But bloggers also discovered a link on Weinstein's Facebook page to a chat group called "Death to Arabs". Weinstein says the link was sent to him in Hebrew and he added it not knowing what it said. He has since deleted it. But despite his best efforts he didn't succeed in keeping Galloway from his speaking engagements in Canada.

Galloway (Toronto speech): You won't be able to hide behind your immigration officials who can't speak up for themselves.

Gillespie: The pro-Palestinian group in Toronto that invited Galloway beamed him into a packed church on an internet video link. Bill Gillespie, CBC News, Toronto.

1) Kach stole the JDL's logo? Come on Meir, why not give the actual explanation which is that the JDL was founded in 1968 in New York by Meir Kahane who moved to Israel in 1971 where he founded the Kach Party a few years later. They have the same logo because they are both founded and led by Kahane (who remained the JDL's mentor long after he founded Kach). Is Weinstein accusing Kahane of stealing the logo from himself? Secondly, as Bill Gillespie reported Weinstein himself was a Kach spokesperson in North America (Weinstein didn't deny this, he simply equivocated by saying he was never a Kach "member"). As for there being no connection between Kach, Kahane Chai and the JDL - that's just a bald-faced lie. Apart from having the same founder and leader in the person of Kahane, even after Kahane's death his successor as JDL leader, Irv Rubin, raised funds for Kach/Kahane Chai and promoted the terrorist group.

2) Unfortunately Bill Gillespie didn't report on the JDL's own well documented history of terrorism or the fact that JDL leader Irv Rubin and his deputy, Earl Krugel were arrested in 2001 for plotting to blow up a mosque in Los Angeles (Rubin had been in Montreal months before trying to set up a Montreal JDL chapter). Krugel was convicted - Rubin escaped justice by killing himself in prison.

3) "Weinstein says the link (to join the "Death to the Arabs" Facebook group) was sent to him in Hebrew and he added it not knowing what it said." Now I just laughed when I heard this. Weinstein has been an observant Jew, by his reckoning, since the late 1970s and even claims to have served in the Israeli military but he can't read Hebrew? I have to give him credit though, this was somewhat more believable than Weinstein's original explanation which was that the Iranians somehow planted the link on his page.

Let's hope Gillespie, and the rest of the media, follow up on this. According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terror (START) the JDL was for many years the second most active domestic terrorist group in the United States. There's no reason for the Canadian media to let them off the hook or for any of us to tolerate their attempts to influence Jason Kenney or the Canadian government.

UPDATED: The report is now up on YouTube:

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Galloway sues Farber, CTV, Kenney, Velshi

On Wednesday, I was the first to report that British MP George Galloway was suing Bernie Farber and CTV for libel. Today, Canadian Press reports on this and adds that he will also be suing Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Alykhan Velshi for remarks they made about him.

This should get interesting. Let's home he finds cause to add the human troglodyte Meir Weinstein to the list.
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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

George Galloway suing Bernie Farber and CTV

Word out of Montreal tonight that George Galloway made public during his webcast to Concordia tonight that he has launched a devamation lawsuit against Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber and CTV for defamation uttered in an interview.

UPDATE: Galloway repeated the news in his webcast to Ottawa and the National Post has picked up the story.
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Friday, 20 March 2009

Kenney vs Velshi

Reading the New York Times' lexicological take on Canada's decision to bar British anti-war MP George Galloway from entering our fair land, I'm left wondering about the dynamics in the relationship between Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney and his aide Alykhan Velshi. It's quite clear who the brains is in the outfit. Velshi reaches back three centuries to find what he feels is the right word to describe Galloway as an "infandous street corner Cromwell." Infandous, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary hasn't been used in English since 1708, means something approximating 'unspeakable' or 'too odious to be mentioned'. Meanwhile Kenney, in an interview with Channel 4 News in Britain was somewhat less articulate telling the presenter that he isn't going to let Galloway "pee on our carpet". Kenney's language better reflects the actual thought processes of the government as the decision to bar Galloway from entry is infantile. Of course, we shouldn't assume that Velshi's seeming ability to find just the right arcane word is a result of a love of language - it may be the product of a love of death metal which, given our government's ideology, is not out of the question.
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Saturday, 7 March 2009

NDP Convention: 3rd ballot - Horwath wins

Third Ballot

Andrea Horwath 6732.34 (60.4%)

Peter Tabuns 4420.66 (39.6%)
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NDP convention: second ballot

Second ballot results

horwath 5259.06 votes - 43.6%

tabuns 3819.82 votes - 31.7 %

Bisson 2988.12 votes 24.8%

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NDP convention: First ballot results

total weighted vote and percent
Horwath 4625.29 votes, 37.1%
Tabuns 3437.93 votes, 27.6%
Bisson 2954.23 votes, 23.7%
Prue 1438.44 votes, 11.5%

Prue just went to Bisson
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NDP Convention (5): Horwath

Marie Kelly from Steel nominates Horwath. Andrea understands how important it is to stand up for working people and keep good jobs in Ontario. Now more than ever we need a strong leader who can protect the interests of working people and the right to join a union, who will pass anti-scab laws, cares about working people. It's time for Andrea.

Tyler Downie of SEIU seconds nomination. This will be the most important decision we make as NDPers. we must take community organizing to a new level, engage young people, communities. it takes a commitment to on the ground organizing and andrea can engage and bring people together. we don't need another politician, we need an organizer.

Chris Charlton, MP: I've known Andrea for 20 years, we've been on picket lines together, fought for housing, pensions... she has enthusiaism to get the job done. she was cochair of hamilton days of action and succeeded in bringing 50,000 workers out. succeeded in getting on city council and in the legislature. now is the time.

Kormos introduces Horwath [sorry I lost my notes of what he said due to a technical glitch]

[video]

[drum band walks Horwath in]

Horwath: thank you so much. There is no other place i would rather be than right here with you because i believe the people in this room hold the seed for ontario's future. great change started in rooms like this. people like you decided that every child deserves an education... this room is filled with real people who work in hospitals, day care centres, factories... we are students, retirees... but we all came here because we are committed to change. we may not be rich but we are powerful. we believe in building a better world. you can knock us down, ignore us, write our political obituaries but we are the people who will keep on going. knock us down and we will get up again because we are new democrats. like every ontarian we are experiencing change. a week ago the steel mills in the skyline represented work. now they represent people out of work, an economy ripped apart by neo-liberalism. an economy with a gutted industrial base. those mills represent steel no longer made but also autos no longer made in windsor, a devestated forestry sector... when we look we see all of ontario. i was a caw brat. i went to university because my father had a good job. i would not be here today if it wasn't for my father's well paid union job. this economic and social crisis will effect everyone of us. when good jobs disappear how many children lose their future? when we lose child care how many families become working poor.

look at the difference a year has made. the middle class is disappearing and the working class is largely unemployed. we could accept this and adjust, that's what the other parties say, but adjust to what, growing unemployment lines and growing food bank lines, adjust to this growing . discrepency. adjust so that those who stole our money can get more of it? We refuse to adjust!

we'll invest in ourselves, our workplaces. it's our money we will demand an equity stake. it's our money. smart investments, targeted investments in products of the future. light rail. we'll build green cars. we will produce once again and we will buy our own products. we'll buy farm products grown in ontario.

we'll put light rail systems in our cities and invest in our work by making ontario a transit hub. we'll make every job a good job. we will make sure minimum wage is a living wage. we'll get rid of scab labour. we will make sure part time, casual and migrant workers are all treated like the real workers that they are and we will bring our workforce back to health. we will stop eating away at our public system. we will expand our public system. let's make child care and post secondary education fully public.

the neo liberal experiment has exploded. the invisible hand doesn't work. it never existed and we should not trust invisible hands to take care of us.

we won't adjust to the growing misery. we will change. we will think for ourselves and won't trust a few greedy individuals to take care of us.

i'm a community organizer and i trust people but it's not a blind trust. i've seen what people can accomplish together like the days of action. when i think about our climate crisis i do so with the mind of an organizer. people want a cleaner environment and i trust people will make the changes they need to make to get that. we must help them by making environementalism affordable with loans for [environmental retrofits]

we won't check our socialism at the door when it comes to building a better future. let's do for the environment what we did for health care 50 years ago. let's make environemtalism universal.

we owe people a real choice. we have to be ready to change ourselves. we have to set internal goals for our party that seem impossible. we must double our party membership by 2011. we must reflect ontario with more women, young people, diverse communities. we must work in communities like organizing by listening and working together on issues that are relevent. let's be truly representative as a party. put regional organizers on the ground. change the financial relationship between ridings and the parties. make ridings vibrant. i will spend half my time on the road to make us vibrant. it's time for us to believe in ourselves again. we can make this province a better, fairer place where the avg working woman gets the child care she needs and McGuinty gets the pink slip he deservces and that is what we owe the people in ontario in 2011.

things aren't working at queen's park. it's time for new voices, change. it's time for the NDP, in 2011 we will bring change to queen's park and i am the woman to do it.
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NDP convention (4): Tabuns

Cheri DiNovo introduces Tabuns, mentioned "democratic socialism" in her review of party history. Tabuns represents the best of the NDP's traditition. he has an industrial economic vision, zeal for a prosperous province, represents new direction and our founding values, feminist, unionist, environmentalist, democratic socialist Peter Tabuns.

Ravi Joshi: I support Tabuns because he has the best grasp of the solutions we need. Passionate and hardworking. Inspiring.

Emily Watkins: Peter has passion and energy that I admiare. Connects the jobs of tomorrow with the fight against climate change, he's an infatigable candidate. he's travelled throughout Ontario for the party. Energy and ideas. I am proud to nominate Peter Tabuns.

Irene Mathysson: I want an engaging, forward looking person, ahead of the curve, someone who believes in communities and building good teams. Party needs change and Ontarians want change.

Ontario VP of CEP: Our members need a leader who understands and believes in the importance of unions and workers rights. a leader who knows how important good wages are to workers and their families. someone who understands that this province must invest in good jobs and work hard to keep them here. Peter Tabuns is a friend of workers with a long track record. I've seen the new energy economy work and we need to see more of it in Ontario. CEP members and workers from across Ontario know we need a new economic vision, one that breaks down old walls and builds new bridges. Peter has that vision and a plan to make it reality. We can save good jobs and create new ones with the new energy economy. I ask you to join me in supporting today's leader and tomorrow's premier, peter tabuns.

[video]

Tabuns: In these past few months i've visited communities across this province and spoken to many people and something links us [namechecks cities] something moves us whether it's auto workers in windsor who want green jobs or steel workers who want wind turbines. something inspires us.

I grew up in Hamilton, I watched my parents, immigrants, struggle to build new lives in this country.

We need change - Stelco closing - we can't stay with the status quo but need to change and show people that the progressive party they need is here in this room today.

we have to show that we get it, not that we talk about the need to get it but that we show that we get it. i ask for the priviledge to rebuild, reshape and renew our party.

there's a clamour to get serious about the century ahead. if we need any proof of why think about the changes in this province since the leadership campaign began. soaring energy prices, then stock market collapse and this week hamilton, windsor, sudbury hammered by layoffs. we're losing jobs across the province all with a backdrop of an environmental challenge.

ontario is staring a rust belt future in the face. if we don't rise to the challenge with a leader who is ready our future is at risk. should we talk about internal structures? That won't cut it in a province with a job crisis. or will we just claim we're ready to govern? That won't cut it in a province facing a crisis. Ontarians are ready to connect crises with solutions. they know the price of handsoff government because they live it and they know ontario is behind the global path. denmark, germany are leading in renewable energy. Michigan is helping auto plants diversify, california is builidng the world's largest solar plant. it's the new energy economy embraced by governments who see what's coming. But you can look in Ontario and you can barely find it because the new energy econony is passing us by. We need to build jobs tomorrow by acting on environment today. in the twilight years of casino capitalism government has a role to play making good change occur and regulating against dangers. it takes more than saying we want to govern. to change our party and province for the better we need to be ready to go starting tomorrow.

looking forward, not back, to the challenges of tomorrow not rhetoric of yesterday. we can't pit north vs south, environmentalists vs workers. i reject the notion that if you support workers you oppose environmental progress. the best thing for construction workers is retrofitting homes across the province. I want cities to have public transit and those transit vehicles to be built in thunder bay. i want greener cares made in oshawa, brampton, oakville and windsor with tech from waterloo and ottawa.

i want cities to use more wind energy produced in urban, rural and northern ontario using steel made in ontario.

we don't need to pit regions or intersts against each other. we need to work for equity and fairness and acknowledge that we're in here together. the days of cobbling together enough seats for official party status need to end. these ideas don't cost much, they don't end the partnerships that fought to increase the minimum wage, they build new alliances.

with the need for smart governemnt so clear we shouldn't settle for the empty words and timid actions of Dalton McGuinty who fought increasing the minimum wage and gave money to GM to move their truckline to Mexico.

Now is the time for us in this party to force mcguinty to deliver by creating more jobs, cutting emissions and helping resource sector flourish.

let's have an election on how to create new jobs while cutting emissions, on helping working families, on putting people to work building a hydro system for the 21st century. let's start that debate with a new ndp with better communications and organizations. a party that gets out of queen's park and into the communities and which invites ontarians to join with solutions they see work.

in 3o years i've seen it work by bringing construction workers into energy efficiency projects. i've seen it work at city hall where we protected health and safety by banning smoking at work places. i've seen it at greenpeace where we and the caw pushed for green cars years ago. i've seen it at queen's park with the fight to raise the minimum wage.

you are eager to put solutions into actions. i've seen you in your homes, in church basements, you're not throwing in the towel. you're filled with the same energy as me. you want a province that accepts the need to catch up with a changing world. today is the day to choose, do we move forward or do we take a bigger risk and look backward and inward. I choose to move forward and today i ask for your support as leader so we can move forward together.
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NDP Convention (3): Prue

Video presentation - shots of Regent Park with voiceover by Prue on growing up in a poor neighbourhood and the importance of making sure children have opportunity.

Talks about his success as mayor of East York, building community centres and daycare, paying down the debt without raising taxes.

I'm a consensus builder and have a plan involving the cities and towns of the province that will bring economic prosperity.

I've won 8 elections in a row including in places such as Leaside where New Dems haven't won before.

Have travelled the length and breadth of this province. I can represent all of the people of this great province and I will do so as Premier.

(Video ends)

Music and light show -

Prue comes to podium

Begins in French, not as loudly as Bisson.

It's taken me a lifetime to get here from Regent Park.

Tumultuous times for our province and party.

70 percent share our values but only 15 percent vote for us because they don't think we can win or manage the economy. But if we make the right choices we can matter again. If I'm leader we'll regain confidence, I will rejuvenate the party and make it into one that will win.

Separate out the rhetoric from the substance being presented.

3 qualifications needed - 1 proven leadership in governing. 2 Ability to attract support from a broad range of people. 3 Comprehensive and believable economic plan.

leader needs to know from experience what to do now. can't wait for someone to grow into the job (jab at Horwath?)

I won every poll as mayor of East York at a time when provincial NDP government deeply unpopular because a broad range of people were impressed by me. I filled vacant factories, had 5 balanced budgets, paid down the debt and never raised taxes. Built daycare and community centres.

Times demanded a leader of action with an economic plan and I did it with the rest of council, not one of whom was an NDPer.

We have that opportunity again today. I have a comprehensive economic plan.
1) direct investment that will accelerate recovery
2) Buy Ontario plan
3) Cities power region plans that will make us more competitive.

The past few days have been devestating to working families in Niagara and Windsor. I watched reaction of Steelworkers as they stared at prospect of lost jobs and crushed hopes. they are looking for answers and solutions and we can provide them.

It's essential that provincial governemnt play a role in critical industries. my plan recognizes the enormity of the task. we will provide the money but we demand shares in the companies, seats on the board of directors to protect jobs and direct recovery and significant role for unions.

Buy Ontario plan gives option to councils to award contracts to local suppliers provided the bid is within 10% of lowest tender. We must give this opportunity to Municipalities, Universities, Hospitals. Does not violate trade agreements.

We will give cities and towns tools and resources to build their own success. Eliminate OMB to restore municipal control of planning. give larger cities same powers as City of Toronto. Alternative to property tax is needed. These changes will give cities ability to build infrastructure - give Windsor option to build tunnel instead of highway. Give Toronto ability to build light transit and Thunder Bay ability to build new facilities for wood products.

Every town and city will be free to make strategic decisions to foster growth in target economic sectors.

This will generate tax base needed to do what we've dreamt with, eliminated economy, greening society, relief to students and justice for first nations.

Coming from Regent Park and being a proud trade unionist i've always dreamt of eliminating poverty. End clawback against the disabled. someone born with Down's syndrome is not given a fair shake in life, but Ontario claws back half of everything they earn. that's a disgrace. I will end that practice and allow people on ODSP to keep first $8,000 they earn so they can be above the poverty line.

Must shift to greener healthier province. I worked with Sheila Basra. We forged first anti smoking bylaw. we established the Toronto anti-smoking bylaw that was later adopted by the province. we were the first to ban pesticides. we stopped Toronto from dumping its garbage in Adams Mine. I will continue that fight as leader and as Premier i will stop construction of energy plants not being built with smart tech to reduce carbon emissions. will encourage use of biomass and create a renewable energy institute to develop new tech. i will give all municipalities the tools to go green and i will give assistance to homeowners to retrofit homes for alternative power.

to do this we need to win. Beginning tomorrow i will lead a 10 person caucus but i want our party to regain our confidence and allow us to form the next government. i have a detailed plan to revitalize party.

we must learn from Obama's 50 state strategy. we must not cede any ridings to other parties and run strong campaigns in all 107 ridings. we spent $4 million in last campaign but I want to ensure each riding has $10K so they can run strong campaigns. we can't just run in 20 0r 30 ridings and win 10, we have to run strong campaigns in every riding.

we need to change the funding formula. even in my riding we have no money in our treasury to do ordinary things like sponsor a kids baseball team or participate in local parades. if that's happening in beaches it's happening across the province and we need to change that. the current revenue formula is a disincentive to fundraising.

We need to bring in new faces. I will increase grant to ONDY and provide seed money for each campus club. we need an internship program for youth to bring the best and brightest to queen's park and party hq.

i will convince new canadians to join NDP, will reach out to their leaders.

I will bring unions like the CAW back into the NDP and unions that have never affiliated into the party.

I have experience in leading a government, managing an economy, attracting business and creating jobs. I couldn't have done that without the ability to attract votes from all places and classes.

If I could do that in east york i can do that across the province in 2011.

you have a choice - change that can bring results. i'm the only candidate with proven governmetn experience. i have run an economy during a recession without losing jobs. I am the candidate for poverty reduction and green energy. I have convinced non NDPers to vote for me in the past. I can revitalize the party and I'm the only candidate with a concrete plan to transform the party.

with your vote we can have results that we've never had before.
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NDP convention 2 Bisson speech

Bisson is being nominated by France Gelinas and by a spokesperson for UFCW Canada. Third nominator is an activist for an anti-homelessness group - missed her name, but she's emphasizing that Bisson has raised the most money of any of the candidates (and thus can raise money for the party) and that the's the only NDP MPP to have increased his share of the vote in 1995.

Video presentation (pretty slick) of Bisson at various demonstrations and meetings and news clippings.

Charlie Angus, MP, speaking now saying Bisson built the NDP in the north and suggesting he's largely responsible for the NDP winning 7 of 9 northern Ontario federally. Angus introduces Bisson.

Bisson: Thanks his nominators. Namechecks the Steelworkers (who are heavily represented at convention). Argues that there's nothing wrong with having a second leader from northern Ontario - mentions northern MPPs and MPs who have been elected. "What's wrong with northern Ontario? It's a question not of where the leader comes from but what he has to offer."
Talks about lessons of Rae government. Praises NDP government's accomplishments, keeping plants open that were threatened with closure - saved jobs. "We passed anti-scab legislation... we need to aim for government".

How do we get there? Must move from politics of opposition to politics of proposition. Propose what needs to be done around economy, environment and crime.

We need to make needed changes to the party. We're $4 million in debt and need to pay it off so we can have the money we need to win. We need revenue sharing with the riding associations so they can run full campaigns across the province.

We're social democrats and understand this needs to be done together. Revenue sharing should only apply to new members, not to existing funds, so as not to starve the centre.

I can put a team made up of people from all the leadership camps.

We sold more memberships than any other leadership campaign. We've raised the most amount of money of any campaign. I have the experience, the passion, the drive, the leadership ability to get the job done. We start by taking Hamilton and then we take Queen's Park.
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NDP convention

Liveblogging from the NDP convention.

Bisson has raised the most amount of money followed by Tabuns, Horwath and Prue. We'll see the relationship between money and votes soon.

My prediction is that Horwath will win since her significant lead in the labour vote will give her a boost overall. Steel makes up more than 2/3 of the labour vote (which is allotted 25% of the final outcome) and Horwath has the backing of the Steel leadership and of most Steel locals outside of Toronto, where Tabuns leads and a few northern locals that are going for Bisson. She also has the backing of SEIU and is the second choice of UFCW after Bisson (UFCW being 8% of the labour vote).
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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Peter Kent and the JDL

Dr. Dawg's Blawg has the rather disturbing story today of Junior Cabinet minister Peter Kent's association with Meir Weinstein, leader of the Canadian branch of the Jewish Defence League hate group. Weinstein, who used to use the nom de guerre of Meir Halevi, made a spectacle of himself following the Caves of the Patriarchs Massacre by his comrade, Baruch Goldstein. Goldstein and Weinstein/Halevi were both members of the JDL. Weinstein, who was also the North American spokesperson for the extremist and now banned Kach Party, said the following about Goldstein's murder of 29 Palestinians and wounding of a further 129 ""[o]ur organization does not condemn the attack. It condemns the Israeli government for not providing adequate protection for settlers."(Canadian Press, "Mosque attack threatens talks Arafat blames Rabin for massacre", February 26, 1994)

It's not surprising that Weinstein belongs to a Facebook group called מוות לערבים (pronounced Mavet le'aravim which means "Death to the Arabs").

Weinstein apparently lives in Kent's Thornhill riding. Did he and his fellow hate group members volunteer on Kent's campaign? Did any of them make a donation to his campaign? Will Kent denounce Weinstein and the JDL?
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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bisson bags the north

An update to my earlier look at endorsements of the NDP leadership candidates: an additional four northern Ontario MPs have endorsed Gilles Bisson meaning he has the unanimous support of the NDP's 7 federal Members of Parliament from northern Ontario.
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Iggy gives $0 to Liberal Party in 2008

This shouldn't be much of a surprise since it's not legal for foreigners to make donations to Canadian political parties.
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Monday, 2 February 2009

Where's Warren's backup?

If you're here it's because a post I actually wrote a year ago on Warren Kinsella's kitty comments has inadvertently been reposted with today's date as if it were new. It's not. Unfortunately, blogger doesn't seem to have any way for me to fix the date stamp, - at least none that I can find. If you know how to fix the date on this thing please feel free to lend your advice:)

Warren Kinsella has gotten himself in hot water for some rather dumb comments about a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa. The pathetic part of it is that Kinsella, who received a lot of prominence earlier in his career for his anti-racism would invoke really stupid, 1950s style, bigoted humour that should have died with Buddy Hackett's "Chinese waiter sketch". The "barbecue cat and rice" joke was so out of it's time I would have assumed that Kinsella was actually being deeply ironic if I thought he had the intelligence for irony or if irony hadn't died in 2001. It was the same patheticness that the writers of the Simpsons created for Krusty the Clown when they had him do Chinese restaurant gags in order to make the point that the only a fossil would think that stuff's funny.

If Kinsella were even the most rudimentary anti-racist he would have filtered those jokes out of his repetoire a long time ago. Heck, most racists don't engage in that sort of humour because they're too aware that they'll "out" themselves by doing so. The only way I can explain Kinsella's lapse is that in his arrogance he assumes that he's truly some sort of anti-racist icon and therefore is incapable of bigotry and so he is incapable of the sort of self-awareness and self-scrutiny most people use when they're tempted to blurt out something offensive.

Of course, the Tories and the right wing of the blogosphere is exploiting Kinsella's faux pas to the hilt. So much so that you would have thought he'd called for the reintroduction of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Of course, most of the Tories are being hypocritical considering the comments many of them have tolerated or even defended far worse from people like Herb Grubel, Monte Solberg, Lee Richardson, or the party's own ad team. And let's not forget that one of the founding issues of the Reform Party was opposition to Sikh RCMP officers wearing turbans. That many of the right wing blog netizens now chomping at Kinsella have no hesitation to mock and make abusive comments about Muslims only underscores the hypocricy around this issue. And, frankly, given Kinsella's eagerness to smear others based on half-truths and distortions it's hard to feel sympathy for the guy.

Kinsella should issue a real apology, ie one that expresses actual contrition and self-awareness, rather than the minimization he's been engaging in.

On a political plane, what's been interesting about this whole affair is the failure of any Liberals that I'm aware of to back Kinsella up and defend him. Perhaps the rehabilitation which seemed in the offing under Iggy will prove to be short lived?
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Friday, 30 January 2009

Ontario NDP leadership endorsement watch

All four candidates have published endorsement lists on their websites. Of the 10 person provincial caucus the endorsements are breaking down as follows:

Peter Tabuns (2) (himself and Cheri DiNovo, Parkdale-High Park)

Michael Prue (2) (himself and Paul Miller, Hamilton East-Stony Creek)

Gilles Bisson (2) (himself and France Gélinas, Nickle Belt)

Andrea Horwath (3) (herself, Peter Kormos, Niagara Centre; Rosario Marchese, Trinity-Spadina)


Three One MPP is uncommitted - outgoing leader Howard Hampton is expected to remain neutral. Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina) and Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre) are still to declare their intentions.

The federal NDP's Ontario caucus is larger with 17 MPs but most of them have stayed on the sidelines. Here is the endorsement breakdown so far:

Gilles Bisson (7) Charlie Angus, Timmins James Bay; Tony Martin, Sault Ste. Marie; Carol Hughes, Algoma. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior), John Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River), Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury) and Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt) have now endorsed as well.**

Andrea Horwath (3) David Christopherson, Hamilton Centre; Chris Charlton, Hamilton Mountain; Malcolm Allen, Welland.***

Peter Tabuns (2) Irene Mathyssen, London—Fanshawe, Paul Dewar*, Ottawa Centre.

Michael Prue (0)


10 5 MPs are left to declare. Federal leader Jack Layton is expected to remain officially neutral - unofficially he's assumed to be backing Peter Tabuns who represents Layton's riding provincially and is a long time friend and colleague from their days as wardmates on Toronto City Council. The remaining MPs left to declare are:

Jack Layton, Toronto-Danforth (expected to remain neutral)
Olivia Chow, Trinity—Spadina
Joe Comartin, Windsor—Tecumseh
Wayne Marston, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Brian Masse, Windsor West

Overall the endorsement lists are notable in the following ways.

Bisson's list of endorsements is, not suprisingly, tilted heavily towards the northern Ontario (not listed yet is the Nickel Belt NDP Riding association which has also endorsed Bisson) It's easy for those of us in Toronto to take the north for granted but northern Ontario is a major base for the NDP and he could do much better than expected if he's able to consolidate the north. The Nickel Belt riding association alone, for instance, has 1,000 members or 5% of the total Ontario NDP membership. Therefore, it'll be interesting to see if the four currently uncommitted northern MPs fall in behind Bisson. Since writing this the four remaining northern MPs have endorsed Bisson.

Andrea Horwath's endorsement list
, aside from being Hamilton heavy, is also very union heavy and includes Ontario Federation of Labour president Wayne Samuelson and OFL Secretary-Treasurer Irene Harris, former OPSEU president Leah Casselman as well as a number of labour council presidents and union locals from around the province as well as a number of current and former union executive members. Only 75% of the "votes" in the leadership election will be on a One Member One Vote basis. Labour delegates are responsible for the other 25% of the vote so labour can still play a very important role in determining the outcome.

Toronto city councillors are heavily represented among Michael Prue's endorsements as are several former MPPs including NDP MPP and Speaker of the Legislature David Warner, former MPP Gary Malkowski (both according to Prue's campaign literature) and former cabinet minister Marilyn Churley. Not listed is the strong support Prue enjoys from public school teachers, particular a number of OSSTF officials, due to his stance on reopening the debate on Separate School funding. Also not listed is Prue's endorsement from the NDP Socialist Caucus (which is more a function of the fact that one Socialist Caucus co-chair is a public school teacher and the other is a public school trustee rather than of any hitherto crypto-Marxist tendencies on Prue's part).

Finally, Peter Tabuns' official endorsement list shows union support from the Toronto area - such as the Toronto Area Steelworkers Council , UNITE HERE Local 75 and CUPE Local 1 as well as support from party "establishment" figures - former provincial secretaries and party presidents such as Michael Lewis, Janet Solberg, Jill Marzetti, Andre Foucault and Diane O'Reggio as well as other prominent party figures such as Hugh and Dan Mackenzie. (It's not insignificant that the prominent Lewis and Mackenzie families, often in rival leadership camps in the past, are both behind Tabuns).

So what does this mean? It is interesting that the "party establishment" and the "labour establishment" are backing different candidates. Prue, who is widely perceived to be in second place, seems to be trailing in the endorsement race - possibly because his willingness to open the Separate School issue and his emphasis on internal party democracy may have alienated his colleagues and prominent party figures. Can he make up the difference by winning the grassroots? Bisson is dominant in the north (though he hasn't gotten all his federal caucus colleagues wrapped up yet, at least not publicly) but has not made significant inroads in other regions. Still, the north is the NDP's base at present and being their favourite son could position him well.

A race that seemed to be developing as a Tabuns romp a few months ago may be a lot more competitive than expected.

*UPDATED: I'm told that MP Paul Dewar endorsed Tabuns at today's leadership debate in Ottawa.

**UPDATED: Gilles Bisson's campaign announced today that Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior), John Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River), Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury) and Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt) have endorsed his campaign meaning all northern Ontario MPs are supporting Bisson.

***Updated: Malcolm Allen, the MP for Welland has followed Peter Kormos' lead and endorsed Horwath.

****Marchese has endorsed Horwath.
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Thursday, 29 January 2009

Iggy gags caucus III

Earlier this month I alleged that new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was gagging his MPs from speaking out on Gaza. My allegation was indirectly proven by the fact that a number of MPs who were usually outspoken on the issue of Palestinian rights were remaining silent during the Gaza war. The furthest any Grit MP would go, namely Rob Oliphant, Bonnie Crombie, Borys Wrezesnewskyj and Jim Karygiannis, was to attend a round table discussion with pro-Palestinian groups to hear their concerns but no Liberal MP agreed to speak at any of the numerous of Gaza solidarity rallies and events held during the war or to criticize Israel in the media.

Nevertheless, several people were either skeptical of my assertion that there was a gag order or were reserving judgment while Ignatieff's office officially denied that they would ever do such a thing.

Well, today comes confirmation that Ignatieff is muzzling his caucus and is attempting to control the access his MPs have to the media. The Globe and Mail reports that

At his first caucus meeting as leader in December, [Ignatieff] made it clear the caucus speaks with one voice and it is his.

“He laid down the law at the beginning. You could hear a pin drop,” a Liberal insider said about the way Mr. Ignatieff outlined the new one-voice strategy. He said Mr. Ignatieff possesses discipline and firmness. “You know when you leave the room who the leader is.”


In addition, Ignatieff is banning "Liberal strategists" from appearing on TV panels without approval.

So far, the designation of TV pundits has not been tested, but the other Ignatieff edict is working. Trying to get any information from this week's caucus proved extremely difficult.

“We have taken a death vow,” one Liberal MP said. “You could hold me down and tickle me. I'm totally mum on this one.”
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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Iggy folds


Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said his party is prepared to “swallow hard” and support the Conservative government, provided they agree to table regular updates outlining how they are living up to their commitments outlined in the federal budget.

Is that it? Is that seriously Iggy's only condition for passing the budget? Despite broad-based demands the budget does nothing to rectify the absurd qualification regime for EI which excludes over 60% of unemployed Ontarians from the program. An effective form of unemployment insurance is an absolute necessity as we enter this recession and yet not only has the Harper government refused to budge on this issue but the Ignatieff Liberals have balked at holding Harper's feet to the fire and insisting that the budget be amended to broaden EI eligibility as a condition for Liberal support.

Instead all Ignatieff is asking for is "regular updates" from the government? This alone will satisfy the Liberals and cause them to favour the continuation of the Harper horror show and ditch the coalition which could have taken power as soon as this Thursday.

This is leadership? This is using your political advantage to leverage concessions?

If neither the Tories nor the federal Liberals are prepared to fix the EI system perhaps the Ontario government, which has complained about the current inequity, should seriously consider this proposal to pull out of the federal EI system and create an Ontario Employment Insurance Program instead?
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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Liberal MPs gagged part II: The Hounds of the Ignatieffs or the Curious Incident of the Liberal MPs who did not bark

"The dog did nothing in the night-time,"Holmes said. "That was the curious incident."

According to Maclean's columnist Kady O'Malley, the office of Michael Ignatieff has said it is "absolutely untrue" that Liberal MPs have been told not to speak at Gaza solidarity rallies on the pain of having their nominations rejected in the next election. The question then is why was at least one rally organizing committee told otherwise when invitations were extended to Liberal MPs and why is it that not one Liberal MP addressed a single one of the cross-Canada rallies last weekend when NDP MPs such as Irene Mathysson and even a Liberal MPP from Dalton McGuinty's caucus did? Normally, loquacious MPs would climb over each other for the chance to speak to thousands of people and there is no shortage of MPs in the Liberal caucus who have been outspoken supporters of the Palestinians in the past.

Is Ignatieff's office telling the truth or is this a case of plausible deniability?
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Monday, 5 January 2009

Liberal MPs gagged on Gaza

I've just heard word from a reliable source that Liberal MPs have been instructed not to speak at Gaza solidarity rallies with the threat that if they do their nominations forms will not be signed for the next election. I wonder if Liberals have been given the same instruction in relation to pro-Israel rallies?

Click here for an update.
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