Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Brad Duguid's statement on Liberal Leadership

The following is a copy of the email Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid sent to his supporters - myself included - on the subject of leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

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After giving it careful consideration, I have decided to continue with my current responsibilities and therefore will not be seeking the Leadership of our Party.

I want to thank my family, my constituents, and all those who encouraged me to put my name forward.

After careful thought I determined that the timing for me was simply not right.

As a father to two teenagers, I can tell you they’re really not begging to spend more time with Dad!
But as many of you know, they’re in their formative years and have some important decisions to make in terms of what's next for them after high school.
And I think it’s important for me to be there for them when they need me.

I want to assure my constituents in Scarborough Centre, my colleagues here at Queen’s Park, Liberals, and Ontarians that I am inspired and enthusiastic about the opportunity Ontario Liberals are going to have in the months to come to renew our Party, our government and our passion to lead Ontario forward.

I intend to run in the next election in Scarborough Centre and I look forward to working with the next Liberal Premier.

I am also not endorsing anybody today, and instead will take some time to consult with my riding association on what we want to see in the next Leader.

Thank you.

Brad Duguid

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I have to say I'm disappointed by my former boss' decision. I believe he would have made a fantastic Premier. But his decision is understandable.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Infrastructure investment needed

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at WomensPost.ca regarding needed investment in infrastructure, it can be found here.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

OneCity Transit Plan

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at WomensPost.ca regarding the now deal OneCity transit plan, it can be found here.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Deal reached with English Catholic Teachers

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com regarding the deal reach with Ontario's English Catholic Teachers, it can be found here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Editorial: Liberals working hard over the summer

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com regarding the hard work Liberals are doing over the summer, it can be found here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Celebrating the Accepting Schools Act

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com regarding the celebration of Ontario's Safe Schools Act , it can be found here.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Obamacare Upheld

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com regarding the Supreme Court of the United States' decision on Obamacare, it can be found here

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Premier in Elliot Lake: ‘Ontarians are with you’

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com regarding the Premier's visit to Elliot Lake, it can be found here.

Friday, 6 July 2012

A cabinet shuffle coming?

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com prior to the Prime Minister's uninspiring cabinet shuffle, it can be found here.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Immigration changes heading in opposite directions in Canada and the USA

If you missed my piece a few weeks back at Examiner.com regarding the changing immigration policies in Canada and the U.S., it can be found here.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The trouble with triclosan

If you missed my piece last week at Examiner.com regarding the toxic nature of triclosan; it can be found here.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Dumbo Won’t Be Flying Just Yet

If you missed my piece last week at WomensPost.ca regarding the delay in moving the Toronto Zoo's elephants; it can be found here.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A Tale of One Gay-Straight Alliance

If you missed my piece last week at WomensPost.ca regarding the story of my high school Gay-Straight Alliance; it can be found here.

Monday, 25 June 2012

TDSB: ‘No threat to fail students who didn’t complete survey’

If you missed my piece last week at Examiner.com regarding the TDSB's denial of allegations that a teacher told students that they would fail unless they completed a controversial survey; it can be found here.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Thursday, 21 June 2012

RE: =1=:What is Harper afraid of?

This is a copy of the letter sent to me by York Centre Conservative MP Mark Adler. I emailed him expressing concerns about Bill C-38. Let us be honest, no one should expect anything less than talking points from MPs on the government side. So I was not shocked by his response. However, I will let others draw their own conclusions. And please note that I sent this three weeks ago prior to the vote on the bill, yet I recieved a response from my local MP well after the vote. It should also be noted that I have yet to hear a response from Prime Minister Harper or Thomas Mulcair. First a copy of the email I sent him:


From: dearPM@frankejames.com [mailto:dearPM@frankejames.com]
Sent: May 28, 2012 12:10 AM
To: Adler, Mark - M.P.
Cc: Harper, Stephen - P.M.; May, Elizabeth - M.P.; Rae, Bob - M.P.; Mulcair, Thomas - Député; franke@frankejames.com; glassjx@gmail.com
Subject: =1=:What is Harper afraid of?

Dear Mark Adler,
What is Stephen Harper afraid of?
Rivers that turn black and run into the sea?
Birds falling from a heavy sky?
People fleeing a toxic land?

Or maybe Harper is most afraid of this...
Tar Sands Oil being labeled dirty.

I am writing to you because I am afraid of the Harper Government's plans to build the Northern Gateway pipeline straight through the Rocky Mountains. And the Great Bear Rainforest -- all to facilitate the expansion and export of tar sands oil, which Environment Canada identifies as our "fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions."

With all the changes that Harper is making...
  • Gutting the fisheries act
  • Trashing the environmental assessment act
  • Overruling the National Energy Board
  • Barring environmental groups from hearings
  • Barring Canadian citizens from hearings (unless they live or work in the area)
  • Speeding up environmental reviews
  • Slashing Environment Canada's budget
  • Silencing the Scientists (and anyone who disagrees with the Harper Government)
  • Lifting the 40 year ban on tankers on B.C.'s coast
... We could be hit with some major environmental catastrophes.

The Harper Government claims they are doing "responsible resource development". But a "secret" Environment Canada report, released under access to information laws, shows that to be false.
(See: http://www.frankejames.com/pdf/ATIP-Oilsands-Pollution.pdf)

The May 2011 report states that contamination of the Athabasca River is a "high profile concern". It cited recent studies which suggest that "elevated levels of pollutants near mining sites including hydrocarbons and heavy metals raises questions about possible effects on health of wildlife and downstream communities." The government report also said that current data cannot generate a "big picture" view of impacts on the ecosystem. And that "oil sands development will continue to put pressure on vulnerable species."

Surprisingly, Minister Joe Oliver -- the man who has travelled across Canada pitching the need to speed up Environmental Reviews -- said he'd never seen the secret government report and didn't know whether the fish from the Athabasca River were safe to eat. (When pressed, he admitted that he had heard about deformed and contaminated fish in the news.)
See: http://www.frankejames.com/debate/?p=11818

Why is the government looking the other way? Is this 'environmental racism' as the First Nations contend?

Shouldn't the Federal Minister in charge of the oil sands be held accountable for oil sands mining that is polluting our air, land and water?

Does this mean that poisoning downstream communities and wildlife, is just the "cost of doing business" in Canada?

The government and the oil industry need to be held accountable for the pollution from oil sands mining. Canadian taxpayers and oil sands investors are at risk of class action lawsuits if we look the other way.

Don't look the other way! Please vote 'against' the Budget Bill-C38.
In less than two weeks you will have an opportunity to make a historic decision. You will be voting on the Budget Bill-C38. If it passes it will undo decades of environmental law and give the oil industry free rein to build pipelines and expand the oil sands, largely without input or double-checks from environmental scientists, environmental advocates or public participation -- from people like you and me. Bill C-38 is a dangerous bill that will change the face of Canada.

Canada's environmental international standing will be dragged further through the proverbial mud as the federal government invites the oil industry to treat the natural environment in a manner similar to standards applied in developing nations to foster economic growth.

Tell the oil industry and the Harper Government that doing business in Canada must include protecting our air, land, water, wildlife and people from oil pollution.

Please stand up for Canada.
Say no to irresponsible resource development.
Keep our country beautiful from sea to shining sea.
Vote 'against' the Budget Bill-C38.

Sincerely,

Jordan Glass

--------------------------------------------------------------------

And now for his response:


Dear ­­­­­Jordan:

Thank you for writing me about your concerns regarding the Environmental provisions of Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth, and Long-term Prosperity Act.

As Canadians, we are blessed to live in a country with abundant natural resources. Resources which have helped fuel our growth to the point where we now enjoy some of the highest standards of living in the world. As Canadians, we are also proud to live in one of the most naturally beautiful countries on the planet. We are proud of our wildlife, clear blue lakes, and pristine forests.

The provisions of Bill C-38 will ensure responsible resource development. Responsible resource development means a system that provides predictable, certain and timely environmental reviews while also providing strengthened environmental protection and enhanced Aboriginal consultations.

A consistent and streamlined environmental review system where redundancies and duplications are eliminated is vital to continue our long-term growth. This fact has been recognized by business leaders across Canada. For example, Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that “our cumbersome regulatory system [is] one of the top 10 barriers to Canadian competitiveness. The added delays and costs imposed by the overcomplicated process dull our competitive edge in global markets and place Canada’s standard of living at risk.”

The provisions of Bill C-38 will strengthen environmental protection by proposing several measures to help ensure that resources are allocated where they are most needed.  The bill will ensure environmental reviews focus on major projects that could have more significant potential impacts on the environment, rather than on needless reviews of smaller projects with little to no environmental impact that clog up the review system. These unnecessary reviews cost money, discourage investment, and will mean less jobs for Canadians. Furthermore, Bill C-38 also proposes measures to improve enforcement and compliance of environmental regulations in order to provide better protection for Canadians.

Thank you for contacting my office. I value hearing the thoughts and opinions of all my constituents.  I look forward to staying in touch.

Sincerely,

Mark Adler – MP York Centre
MA/nk

Monday, 18 June 2012

Changes planned in teacher discipline

If you missed my piece yesterday at Examiner.com regarding the changes to teacher discipline; it can be found here.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Pride funding at risk... again

If you missed my piece from last week in the Women's Post regarding the potential funding risk for Pride Toronto created by the presence of the QuAIA; it can be found here.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Op-ed: Canadians spoke

If you missed my piece a couple days ago in Examiner.com regarding the Black out, speak out campaign; it can be found here.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A deserving honour for Jack Layton

If you missed my piece from yesterday in the Women's Post regarding the renaming of Toronto's ferry terminal; it can be found here.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Robocalls resurface in Etobicoke Centre

If you missed my piece from yesterday in Examiner.com regarding the resurfacing robocalls in Etobicoke Centre; it can be found here.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Canadian charities black out to speak out

If you missed my piece from yesterday in Examiner.com regarding the Black Out, Speak Out campaign; it can be found here. Happy World Environment Day!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Sunday, 3 June 2012

City silent on World Environment Day

If you missed my piece from last week regarding Toronto's silence on World Environment Day, it can be found here.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Start Pucking Around

If you missed my piece from last week regarding hockey on public streets, it can be found here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Coming War

If you missed my piece from last weeke regarding the coming war between drivers and other road users, it can be found here.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Await the Facts Before Denying a Casino

One of my more recent pieces for the Women's Post. If you missed it last week, find it here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

One in five children

More than fifteen million children in North America have psychiatric learning disorders, but few of them will be identified due to stigma, lack of awareness, and misinformation. This week, people are coming together to recognize the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (occurring in the United States and Canada). The theme of this year’s week is ‘Youth Overcoming Trauma’ particularly relevant given the Government of Ontario’s recent passage of Bill 13; the Accepting Schools Act.

Mental health is becoming epidemic among youth, and an important part of why is the increased prevalence of bullying in schools. There are children in schools right here in Toronto, who are victims of bullying. Sometimes they may be impacted mentally or emotionally. Other times they may be impacted physically; and, too many times they will have to face both. Unfortunately many that find themselves victims will already be impacted by a mental health issue.

Statistics demonstrate that one in five students at the TDSB is impacted by a mental health issue, and only one in six of those students will get the help they need. The first symptoms of mental illness generally appear between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four; which is why early intervention is so critical. However, recovery is possible with proper consultation and treatment. Becoming a victim of bullying will only make this process more difficult.

With that in mind, this coming week has become more important than ever. To promote Children’s Mental Health Week, Torontonians are encouraged to connect with their locals schools to discuss plans for the week.

It is time for Torontonians to come together; as parents; as neighbours; as aunts and uncles; as friends, to address children’s mental health issues head on. When one in five of our children are affected by some form of mental health issue, there is a problem. When children are considering ending their lives because the bullying has become too much, there is a problem. When one of the three parties in the Ontario Legislative Assembly votes against a landmark piece of anti-bullying legislation, there is a problem.

It is time to end the stigma of discussing mental health. It is time to actually demonstrate how important children truly are. Their lives may very well depend on it.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Harper majority turns one year old

Four days ago Canadians celebrated the one year anniversary of the election of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority government. Approximately one year ago Canada elected its first Conservative majority government in twenty-three years. The Prime Minister deserves much of the credit for this. He successfully guided Canada’s Conservative Party through the wilderness of division back to the promise land of government. For that he should be commended. Parties become lazy when they do not face challenges, and for the first time in more than a decade Prime Minister Harper gave the Liberal Party of Canada a challenge. Ironically, it has been Harper’s time in government that has inflicted Conservatives with the same problem that once ran ramped through the Liberal Party. This is a party and a government that has become lazy.
The impact of a government that does not face challenges can be soon throughout this government. Constantly plagued with spending scandals, this is a government that has ballooned Canada deficit and debt while failing to meet all its promises regarding excessive taxation.
Recently Canadians have seen Bev Oda, Minister of International Development, as the face of this government’s inability to control the spending of money on behalf of the Canadian taxpayer. However, readers would be remiss if they did not talk a moment to recall the scandalous actions of Tony Clement, a former leadership candidate and current President of the Treasury Board, and Peter Mackay, a founding father of the modern Conservative Party and current Minister of National Defense. These scandals have come together to cost the Canadian taxpayer billions of dollars.
The Prime Minister first took his oath in 2006 as the leader of a minority government. It was here that he learned that if Conservatives wanted to win they would have to buy their votes. Engaging is social engineering experiments like paying Canadians to play sports, join a gym, or even engaging in music lessons; this Prime Minister embraced the notion that a Conservative does not necessarily have to be a conservative. He extended this theory into the 2011 election that would see him attain his much sought after majority government.

This has been a primary problem for this government. It is why Canada’s nation debt currently stands at more than $583 trillion dollars. For those counting that breaks down to approximately $17,000 per Canadian. What this amounts to is a tax on Canada’s future. Some might call this odd for a government and a party that campaigns on its fiscal prowess; but the lack of any competitive opposition party has left in a government with absolutely zero reason to restrain its spending habits.

Whether Canadians like it or not, it seems the Harper majority is here for at least another three years. That includes all the growing, debt, deficit, and taxation that come with it. Buckle in. It is going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, 30 April 2012

May Day in Toronto

While May 1 is a celebration of the onset of spring in many cultures, the labour movement would like to take May Day back to its historical roots, celebrating the occasion as International Workers Day. The origins of May Day; date back to 1886 when over 100,000 workers went on strike in Chicago to fight for an 8-hour work day. The New York Occupy Movement is calling for workers to join in an international general strike against ‘the 1%’ of the population who control the majority of wealth. They are using the slogan “Don’t go to work. Don’t go to school. Don’t shop. Take the streets!” Some believe that if the May Day general strike is successful, it will mark the comeback of the Occupy Movement.

Toronto is in a particularly unique situation following some very trying negotiations between the Ford Administration and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Locals 79 and 416. This diverges from former Mayor David Miller’s two terms of labour peace. Many in the union came away panning the new contracts. However that perspective neglects the fact that the only victory Mayor Ford really walked away from these negotiations with was the ‘right to work’; a clause that used to be in contracts of CUPE employees for the City of Toronto that guaranteed workers reassignment, rather than being bought out or terminated. What Ford’s supporters and opponents appear to neglect is that the Mayor caved on numerous promises he had made during the election with regards to salary, sick days, and benefits.
The failure of the Mayor’s opponents to realize these submissions has led to calls to celebrate May Day as an unofficial protest of the current administration’s labour policies. Notable among these opponents is Toronto’s very own Occupy movement. Occupy and activist group, No One is Illegal, will come together to play chess to celebrate May Day, and to show their opposition to all three levels of government and mining corporation Barrick Gold (who made the unfortunate decision to hold their annual general meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre that same week).

It would be prudent for those planning to attend any May Day festivities to distance themselves from the violence that characterized recent protests; such as the student riots in Quebec. That said; it is difficult to deny the revolutionary spirit that inspired them. It is in that motif that Torontonians might wish to use the event of May Day as a period for which to remember the failure of government and administrations to adequately train and provide jobs for new graduates. With unemployment only now starting to fall it would be nice to see Torontonians come together for the betterment of our neighbours.

[Originally published at Examiner.com.]

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Gun Control in Toronto

Some residents of Toronto will recall the issue of gun control arising during the 2010 general election. At the time, then candidate Rob Ford stood alone amongst mayoral candidates in opposing the now defunct national long-gun registry, which represented a divergence from the consensus opinion in Toronto. However, it may not represent a divergence from opinion nation-wide. In the name of full-disclosure, it should be stated that I have personally support a firearms registry while opposing sport hunting as a matter of principle. But, in preparing to write this, I have found that my perspective, while commonplace in Toronto, is not so across this country. It is for this reason that I have concerns about changes that members of the current federal government are attempting to make to the Canada’s firearms ownership laws.

Rob Anders, a Calgary Member of Parliament (MP), previously best known for falling asleep in committee and referring to Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, has promised to use his new role as a member of the House of Commons standing joint committee on scrutiny of regulations to repeal strict firearms control provision established by the Chretien government in the mid-nineties.

In 1995, Allan Rock, then Attorney-General and MP for Etobicoke Centre, passed Bill C-68, requiring owners of firearms to lock and safely store the guns when not in use. The legislation also forced owners of restricted and/or prohibited firearms to obtain authorization-to-transport papers before taking them to a range, and established a more restrictive classification system. After a movement by Anders, committee and caucus colleague, Garry Breitkreuz, MP for Yorkton-Melville, the joint committee will review these regulations.

In my opinion, this is a cause for concern for Torontonians that support stiff firearms controls. Should Anders and Breitkruez succeed in their attempts to repeal such regulations (the party affiliations of committee members suggests they will), firearms will be all the easier to obtain in a city that is still recovering from 2005's ‘summer of the gun.’

There are many that frame this as a debate of ownership rights. Frankly, it is difficult to disagree with this assessment. It would not be appropriate to frame all firearms owners as criminals - many are collectors, many are target or sport shooters, some are even Olympians. It was in this line of thinking that, after raising the question of firearms ownership on Twitter ,I received comments such as, ‘I use my great grandfather’s guns. They do not belong on a list that would confiscate family heirlooms' (paraphrased). It may be difficult for most to disagree with this perspective; but, it must be noted that there are dangers inherent to firearms ownership. Rational owners will tell you this. The aforementioned regulations are important, as they prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. The long-gun registry is gone, but if these regulations do remain, hopefully Torontonians will not have to fear firearms finding their way into the wrong person’s hands.


[As published in the WomensPost.ca.]

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Gun Control in Toronto

Some in Toronto might recall the issue of gun control arising during the 2010 general election. At the time then candidate Rob Ford stood alone amongst mayoral candidates in opposing the now defunct national long-gun registry; which would represent a divergence from the consensus opinion in Toronto. However, it may not represent a divergence from opinion nation-wide. In the name of full-disclosure it should be stated that I have personally long supported a firearms registry while opposing sport hunting as a matter of principle. But in preparing to write this I have found that my perspective, while commonplace in Toronto, is not so across this country. It is for this reason that I have concerns about changes that members of the current federal government are attempting to make to the Canada’s firearms ownership laws.
Rob Anders, a Calgary Member of Parliament (MP) previously best known for falling asleep in committee and referring to Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, has promised to use his new role as a member of the House of Commons standing joint committee on scrutiny of regulations to repeal strict firearms control provision established by the Chretien government in the mid-nineties.

In 1995 Allan Rock, then Attorney-General and MP for Etobicoke Centre, passed Bill C-68; requiring owners of firearms to lock and safely store the guns when not in use. The legislation also forced owners of restricted and/or prohibited firearms to obtain authorization-to-transport papers before taking them to a range, and established a more restrictive classification system. After a movement by Anders committee and caucus colleague Garry Breitkreuz, MP for Yorkton-Melville, the joint committee will review these regulations.

This should be a cause for concern amongst Torontonians that support stiff firearms controls. Should Anders and Breitkruez succeed in their attempts to repeal such regulations (the party affiliations of committee members suggests they will) firearms will be all the easier to obtain in a city that is still recovering from 2005’s ‘summer of the gun.’

There are many that frame this as a debate of ownership rights. Frankly, it is difficult to disagree with this assessment. It would not be appropriate to frame all firearms owners as criminals. Many are collectors. Many are target or sport shooters. Some are even Olympians. It was in this line of thinking that after raising the question of firearms ownership on Twitter I received comments such as, ‘I use my great grandfather’s guns. They do not belong on a list that would confiscate family heirlooms. (paraphrased)’ It may be difficult for most to disagree with this perspective. But is must be noted that there are dangers in firearm ownership. Rational owners will tell you this. The aforementioned regulations are important, as they prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. The long-gun registry is gone, but if these regulations do remain hopefully Torontonians will not have to fear firearms finding their way into the wrong person’s hands.

[Originally published at Examiner.com Gun Control in Toronto - Toronto City News | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/article/gun-control-toronto#ixzz1sxgmdYdl]

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Is the DRL the Answer?

It seems the prospect of a downtown relief line (DRL) is back on the table in the City of Toronto. But is it here to stay?

Since talk of connecting Toronto’s west, south, and east ends via subway began in the early 1900s supporters of the DRL have had little success. The presence of a key ally could make this time around different. Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) CEO, Andy Byford, has come out in favour of the construction of a new DRL, referring to it as a “priority” for the City of Toronto. In defense of his position Byford has recruited Ed Levy, an independent transportation consultant and city planner in Toronto.

Levy advocates directing subway development to the city’s core, where there is a justifiable density. He has stated, “The downtown is starving, and it is being served by the oldest, most constricted stations in the city.” He dismisses arguments that downtowners can walk or utilize streetcars as, “ludicrous.” And he is correct. Advocate of the DRL; and former mayoral candidate, Sarah Thomson, explains: “Downtown Toronto is the heart of our city, but it is clogged with congestion that spreads out to the other main arteries. Building a relief line that takes people east and west under the congestion from Etobicoke to Scarborough will benefit the entire city – the other arteries won’t run smoothly if the heart is clogged.”

Given the transit plans of York Region and GO Transit, it would only be natural to construct an underground transit line east-west near to the water front and north-south back up to Bloor. Included in these developments was a 25-year plan put forward by Metrolinx, which suggests a DRL that runs southwest from Danforth Avenue past Union Station, concluding at a secondary station near Exhibition Place. However, I suggest we be far more ambitious. A DRL could go up into Scarborough and Etobicoke. This would be a way for people from Scarborough and Etobicoke to get downtown without having to venture all the way to Yonge Street.

It may be that the DRL is too downtown-focused and a name that reflects the inclusive nature of the line like the ‘City Loop’ might be a better way to convey the real benefits a line like this will bring to the entire city.

The only problem lies in the cost of the project. Estimated to be a minimum of $4 billion (an extremely conservative estimate); this was the predicted cost of the proposed Sheppard line. The fact of the matter is that this money is not available. The current administration will again need to demonstrate a willingness to impose new revenue tools as a means to pay for its subway dreams. However, following the abandonment of a previous attempt to do just that; the possibility seems unlikely. Worse; it does appear that the city will continue without a fully serviceable transit system that actually meets the future needs and density of a world class city. But with the partisan ‘no-tax’ attitudes limiting the agenda, the practical and long-term needs of Toronto will fall victim. A recent motion for a focused study on financing options (written in part by Sarah Thomson) was moved by Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon and passed during the heated LRT debate with only one dissenting vote. Proving that even under fire, there is common ground and offering hope to a divided council.

This is where citizens of Toronto come in. If you live, work, or travel in Toronto; a DRL in to your benefit. Call or email your local councillor to ask them to work with the Mayor and TTC to make the DRL or ‘City Loop’ a reality. This can be done. Toronto needs an administration with the political will to make it happen.


[Originally posted at WomensPost.ca.]

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

More news in Harper waste

And so the beat goes on... The Ottawa Citizen - a paper generally on side with the Harper Government - has uncovered costs to the taxpayer of legal preceding pertaining to the 'in-and-out' scandal. The specifics of this issue are rather small when compared to other ballooning costs and other questions regarding the Harper Government's defense of democracy. But what this does represent is the utter distaste this government has for actually implementing a policy of frugality. They have used costs to rationalize their agenda on issues like the gun registry or the Canadian Wheat Board (an issue I actually agreed with them on), but that was never their concern. These issues fall under their agenda of capital-C Canadian Conservatism. But the reality is there is very little that is actually 'conservative' about it. Add this $2.3 million to the ever expanding budget of the federal government.

In three years time we can expect the Harper Government to portray itself as the steady hand on the tiller. But the reality has been the largest, most expensive, most intrusive government in Canadian history.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Developments in the City’s Negotiations with CUPE 79

With CUPE Local 79 rejecting the City’s latest offer it would be best to examine exactly where the city and CUPE stand at this point time. First; a little bit of context. Local 79 represents the City’s inside workers; literally referring to employees that work inside. After weeks of negotiations, the City put forth a ‘final’ offer. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday has refused any further discussion on the matter. With that in mind, Local 79 has not ruled out a strike should a deal fail to be reached. A strike has the potential to put the city to a standstill. However, it does appear a tentative deal has been reached by the negotiating teams. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed and City Council and Local 79 still have to ratify it.

But let us break down the most recent deal. There are three primary points of contention. First, regarding the issue of job security, the City wants to protect only permanent workers with fifteen years or more seniority from contracting out. Local 79 have countered with a request of protection for those with ten years service; which would be 70% of the local. This is the same proportion of members given protection under the City’s previous deal with Local 416, the City’s outside workers.

Secondly, there is the issue of sick time. The City is proposing docking employees a day’s pay for every fourth sick day taken. Local 79 is requesting to put this restriction on hold in favour of independent action to curb absenteeism, which would be the same deal given to Local 416.

And finally, is the issue of mileage. This refers to distance travelled in an employee’s own vehicle while working. The City is offering to reimburse members of the union $0.52 per kilometre for the first 5,000 kilometres and $0.46 per kilometre thereafter. Local 416 did agree to this provision. Local 79 has refused to.

However, it’s not all bad news. There are a number of issues in to which Local 79 and the City have come to agreement. On the issue of salary there is an agreement of a 0% raise in 2012; a 0.5% raise plus a 1.5% lump sum in 2013; a 1.75% raise in 2014; and a 2.25% raise in 2015. The fact that such an agreement was reached shows responsibility being taken by both the City and the union. It is encouraging to see that, on this very important issue, both parties were able to find common ground. With respect to the drug plan, members of Local 79 will now pay $9.00 per prescription as a dispensing fee. Concerning the issue of leaves of absence, the City has capitulated to the union’s demand for a child and elder care leave policy.

The fact that both parties have demonstrated an ability to negotiate a potential contract during this affair demonstrates a progressive vision on the parts of both the City and the union. It is a breath of fresh air in the usually polarized hot air at council.

The tentative deal will be debated in Council today.


[Originally posted at WomensPost.ca.]

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Developments in RoboScam Land

The Toronto Star reports that legal action has been taken by the Council of Canadians in seven ridings Canada-wide; including Toronto Don Valley East. We can add these to the private action being taken Borys Wresznewskyj in Etobicoke Centre.

This creates an interesting development. Should the courts rule in favour of Borys W. and the Council of Canadians, we will potentially see wide-spread by-elections across this country. However, should the courts rule against the plaintiffs it could set precedent that makes it impossible for Elections Canada to correct the matter of Canadians' infringement of democracy. We can call this the "all the eggs in one basket" clause.

I look forward to the results, and surely will have more on this in the future.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Ontario court rules in favour of sex work liberalization

I've said it before and I'll say it again. "There are too many laws."

This is a positive development. I don't have much of a greater opinion on this, because frankly, it has zero direct impact on me. But this will be good for entrepreneurs. It will be good for private sector revenues. It will be good for government revenues. The Ontario Court made a positive decision today. Well done!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Thoughts on #NDPldr

I'll break this down candidate by candidate, because frankly, there were a few candidates that did not do themselves any favours by running. Let's work our way up to the big winner.

Niki Ashton: Up until her showcase she had largely wasted the time of New Democratic partisans and Canadians. But by the time she had come of the stage on Friday she had emerged as the voice of the next generation of Canadian Parliamentarians. Good on her. I expect her to be a fixture in Parliament for years to come.

Martin Singh: Clearly a winner. The Martha Hall Findlay of these campaign. He'll get a seat in the next election. I was impressed.

Paul Dewar: Ran a fine campaign, but exposure to his lack of French proven to be his undoing... He must be disappointed with his finish, and I suspect demonstrated an inability to win any future leadership races.

Peggy Nash: I thought she stood a very real chance of being the consensus candidate. In the emerged as little more than a sign of what the NDP was and not what it could be.

Brian Topp: Bet you thought I was going to say Nathan Cullen? Topp was the establishment choice and could not finish this race with little more than a victory. His second place finish should be disappointing. He, like so many that have come before him, clearly belongs in the back room.

Thomas Mulcair: Bet you thought he was going to be my 'big winner'? Mulcair was destined to win this. He came in with the most caucus endorsements. He was the Deputy Leader. He has the most delegates. If he didn't walk away as leader questions about his capability to lead a campaign team certainly would have arisen.

Nathan Cullen: Cullen was the big winner this weekend. Most media outlets foresaw him as a fifth place finisher; possibly dropping off after two ballots. But Cullen inspired. He drew on grassroots organization by starting a coversation about uniting progressives. When he spoke of doing politics differently you could tell he was serious. HE IS the BIG winner. He has positioned himself to take on any role of his choosing in caucus. I suspect it will be the environment. This is clearly an issue of personal relevance to him.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Nathan Cullen to win?

As I type this viewers of the NDP leadership race, such as myself are awaiting the result of the second ballot. If I can lay a prediction on the table... I see this as a road to victory for Nathan Cullen.

Policos should expect Nash to drop off here. I would also expect to see much of Ashton's and her support heading to Cullen. And a final showdown of Cullen v. Mulcair. A final ballot that Mulcair just cannot win. The anti-Mulcair movement would be too strong.

I want to say one this about the initial balloting. If you combine the vote totals of Mulcair, Cullen, and Singh you break the 50% mark. The demonstrates an incredible evolution for the NDP. All three candidates are proposing renewal and moderation. It means New Democratic partisans are serious about forming government. A fact that should concern both the Conservatives and Liberals.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Thomas Mulcair's War on Drugs

This video. Has been making the rounds in Liberal circles today. It is a scathing indictment of Thomas Mulcair's position on the legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana. It creates an interesting issue heading into the NDP leadership convention, being held in Toronto this weekend.

Front runner Thomas Mulcair has come out as the only leadership candidate to oppose easing the war on drugs with regard marijuana. This directly contrasts the views of the centrist Liberal Party. Should Thomas Mulcair win this weekend - and I've been honest in saying I hope he doesn't - it will leave the Liberal Party as the only major national political party with a leader that opposes Prime Minister Harper's War on Drugs.

This is a question of liberty. And opposing legalization and Canadian liberty is at least one issue in which the Prime Minister and M. Mulcair come down on the same side.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Introducing Canada's newest Member of Parliament

Last night Craig Scott convincingly won the downtown Toronto riding of Toronto-Danforth. Both the Liberals and NDP are trying to spin this to their favours. I personally don't think it is significant of much. The status quo won last night. This was not a win for anything but the same-old, same-old. So let's just examine Craig Scott.

An internationally recognized expert in human rights, MP Scott has spent time all over the world advocating for those who are experiencing an abuse of the civil and human liberties. Craig Scott is a strong advocate for curbing poverty and Aboriginal rights. He has been a leader on the Afghan detainee issue. Michael Ignatie... I mean Craig Scott.... is the kind of person we want in Parliament. He gives Canada a positive image on the world stage.

Welcome to Parliament, Mr. Scott! I'm sure you'll make resident of Toronto-Danforth proud!

Monday, 19 March 2012

"Bob Rae wants to be Prime Minister"

So the Conservatives have release a new attack ad on Bob Rae. It can be found here.

In the ad an ominous female voice says:

Bob Rae wants to be Prime Minister.

But as a former Premier of Ontario, he has a proven record of failure.

The most job losses since the great depression.

The highest income taxes in North America.

The biggest deficit Ontario had ever had.

By the time he was done, Premier Rae turned Ontario into the welfare capital of Canada.

Bob Rae: if he failed at running a province, why does he think he can run a country?

I'm not going to attack or defend Bob Rae's record as Premier. Frankly, I think it was quite good given the circumstances surrounding the world economy of the day. What I would like to say is that I find is astounding that Conservatives are even bothering... Let us forget for a moment that an election is still three years away. The Conservative Party can use its money however it wants. But why attack interim leader of a third party? Can anyone think of any precedent of a third party leader or interim leader (let alone both) receiving as much attention as Bob Rae?

We are talking about a man who has made it clear that he has no intention to run for permanent leadership. We know there are Liberals already jockeying for the coming race. So why on earth would the Conservatives target someone who will at best be a front bench minister? Why bother?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

In my generation, socialism means a different thing...

“In my generation, socialism means a different thing,” said the 39-year-old Cullen. To him, he said, it means communism, and he is no communist. That was Nathan Cullen's message in an piece from today's Toronto Star.

And it is for that reason that I - for what ever it may be worth - am officially endorsing Nathan Cullen for leader of the NDP. I'll admit that I do not have any kind of history in the NDP. I left the party in 2003 when Jack Layton became leader. I do not share the affection for him that many Canadians, as it turns out, share. But I do believe Nathan Cullen is a breath of fresh air in the NDP leadership race. More than any other candidate he is looking to the future of; not just his party, but Canada. I have come out in support of his plan for cooperation and I believe he has emerged as the only candidate among the seven that can lead the NDP as a truly progressive party. He understands that in many regards the NDP is the most 'conservative' of the parties. And his mission for reform could have an impact on Canada's entire body politic - whatever your position on the political spectrum may be.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Paul Martin gives Canadian schools a failing grade in history

In today's Globe and Mail former Prime Minister Paul Martin asks the question: “Should Canadian students be taught about the history of the Métis, the history of first nations and the history of the Inuit as a part of Canadian history? Absolutely... And that’s also part of a wider question, which is: Do we teach Canadian history well in this classroom? And the answer to that is no.”

Let me say, as a history student I find this mighty disappointing. It is imperative that the provincial governments - of all political stripes - take on the responsibility of making education in Canadian history a priority. In Ontario this can begin with expanding the elementary and secondary history curriculum while increasing the required course load.

It is time Canadians recognized the importance of our history. If we do not teach the next generation we (as in Canadians) will lose it. And it is shameful to think that a government - any government - might be willing to let this happen.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Harper Government Increases Borrowing Authority of Territorial Governments

The Harper Government has recently announced it will allow the territories to increase their debt ceilings. Let me explain my opposition. I took a similar stance when President Obama was attempting to do the same for the national debt ceiling in the United States. While I think most consider me to be of the centre to centre-left ideological political slant I have a great deal of trouble accepting debt- and deficit-financing. Some might call me an 'Orange Tory'. By allowing the Northwest Territories to borrow an additional $800 million and the Yukon and Nunavut Territories to each borrow an additional $400 the Prime Minister allows the territories - which are constitutionally-speaking a product of the federal government - to dig themselves further into an ever-expanding hole. Is this the kind of fiscal responsibility that Canadians voted for? The kind that will simply expand the deficit and debt as to push such problems on to the next generation of Canadians? In 15 years will my daughter be responsible paying the debt of the Northwest Territories? I don't know. What I do know is the Prime Minister is doing nothing to stop it...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What must the NDP do right now?

[This is my submission to iPolitics.ca contest question: What must the NDP do right now? - In 100 words or less.]


The seven remaining candidates in the New Democratic Party leadership race are all proposing varying degrees of moderation. Chief among those candidates are Nathan Cullen and Thomas Mulcair. It would be in the best interest of New Democratic partisans to embrace such ideals. It is time for New Democrats to ask themselves if they wish to remain the ‘conscience of the House’ or if they wish to become a party of government. Only by stealing the centre-left vote from the Liberal Party can the NDP truly achieve this goal. The only question that remains is; “Will they or won’t they?”

Monday, 12 March 2012

Not left, not right, but forward.

"Not left, not right, but forward."

I think we can unofficially offically call this the official unofficial slogan of Martha Hall Findlay's unoficial launch of her official Liberal Party of Canada leadership bid that may or may not occur. Understand? Good?

Well that is the title of an article that the former Willowdale MP wrote for Policy Options magazine. (Available here.)

She uses the platform to outline what she feels is a way for the Liberal Party to return itself as a legitimate option as a potential government.

Read it. For a while now I've said that Martha Hall Findlay should be on the shortlist for Liberal partisans as a possible leader heading into 2015.

Hall Findlay outlines a new vision for moderate politics in Canada. If the Liberal Party wishes to return to government, I suggest it take the advice that she offers.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Scarborough Wants Subways

The taxpayers of Scarborough are clear. They want subways.

That was the common trend of a town hall meeting hosted by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition at the Scarborough’s Civic Centre. Karen Stintz, Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and Glen DeBaermaeker, Councillor for Ward 38, walked into the Council Chambers to the former City of Scarborough on hostile ground. They came to defend the construction of the Eglinton Cross-town Light Rail Transit (LRT) line out to Scarborough. But their pleas went unheard. Their introductions were greeted with boos. Their responses to questions were met with demands for resignation.

There to defend Mayor Rob Ford’s vision of subways along Sheppard Avenue and Eglinton Avenue were Dr. Gordon Chong, author of the Sheppard Subway Report, John Morand, former City Manager, and Sue-Ann Levy, Toronto Sun columnist. They spoke for the vast majority of those in attendance. They came with a clear message: “A world class city deserves subways.”

The crux of the issue is this: funding. Dr. Chong’s report outlined a number of different revenue tools. However, the majority of them were based in new methods of taxation. There are a few problems with these proposals; the first being that the Mayor was elected on a platform of keeping taxes low. The greater problem exists in the amount of power the City of Toronto actually has to implement new taxes. To implement such suggestions as a sales tax, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario would first need to grant the City of Toronto the ability to do so via legislation. This is something the Minister of Municipal Affairs Kathleen Wynne has refused to do. This really leaves potential private sector investment as the only option. That has been Mayor Ford’s plan all along. The problem is, as of yet, no one has come to the table.

There are a few points that should be taken away from this meeting. Those in attendance made their positions very clear. Subways are the only option. They would prefer no new transit to the construction of the LRT. Additionally, and frankly surprising given the Toronto Taxpayer Coalition’s organization of the event, they are willing to pay higher taxes to fund the expansion of Toronto’s (specifically Scarborough’s) subway system. This leaves City Council with a few interesting options to debate on 21 March 2011 when they next meet to debate how to spend the remaining $1 billion of the province’s allocated funding.

There is one point I would like to leave with readers: while those in attendance did not seem to mind, it is a point that did stick with me. If the City of Toronto and the TTC used all available funding to extend the Sheppard subway line east it would end at Victoria Park. That is to say it would end in North York.


[Originally printed at WomensPost.ca.]

Friday, 9 March 2012

Vision Toronto?

[I wrote this immediately following my attendance at a Nathan Cullen event back in February, but failed to post it. I must admit, I admire his bravery in proposing such a bold idea.]

Vision Vancouver is a municipal political party in Vancouver that is primarily made up of Liberal, New Democrat, and Green Party partisans.They were brought together in an effort to unseat the more conservative elements of Vancouver City Council in time for a 2008 general election. It is on this model than Nathan Cullen, the Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and candidate for leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada; is basing his idea for ‘progressive cooperation.’

In a Toronto bar on the evening of February 23, Cullen gave a spirited defence of his plan his supporters and the residents of the Davenport community. He cited not just Vision Vancouver’s ability to win two mandates,but their ability to reduce homelessness by an outstanding 82% and meet their proportional Kyoto targets despite a lack of assistant from the federal government.

I believe progressive cooperation can work in an effort to unseat Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It may also work in an effort to unseat Mayor Rob Ford. However, Torontonians cannot neglect the differences in electoral systems. Toronto has not given in to the notion of municipal parties. Council is still largely considered to be a non-partisan entity; almost to a fault.

The next municipal election is a mere two and a half years away. Progressive councillors and Torontonians have a responsibility to organise around one candidate who can beat Rob Ford. This is a plan that can also be extended to defeat Ford-allied city councillors; however, it is not entirely necessary as power lies with the Mayor’s Office.

In the closing days of Toronto’s 2010 general election there were calls for Joe Pantalone to step aside so that electors could be given the black and white decision of Ford and George Smitherman. What I am proposing is starting from day one. Let Torontonians know that if we are to remove Rob Ford from office then there is only one person who can do it. I don’t know who that is. (However, I do believe Karen Stintz would be ideal.) As Nathan Cullen says, “I’m not wedded to the details.” But there is someone out there. There is someone who can represent this city’s progressive majority and beat Rob Ford to become the Mayor of Toronto.

To the moderates not willing to work with the left, and the left not willing to work with the moderates, I will again quote Nathan Cullen, “Have you got a better idea?”

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

'Fixing' the TTC

The issues pertaining to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have arrived at a cross-road. As I type this, Toronto City Council is preparing to debate various motions to alter the composition of the TTC Board. At the moment, the board is made up of nine city councillors. Michael Thompson, Councillor for Ward 37 and Chair of the Economic Development Committee, will be introducing a motion that will eliminate councillors from the board in favour of private citizens. Karen Stintz, Councillor for Ward 16 and Chair of the TTC, is proposing expanding the board to eleven members composed of seven city councillors and four private citizens.

I see both solutions as problematic. Thompson is offering a ‘quick fix’. He believes that in removing councillors, the TTC will no longer be subject to the political whims of those councillors attempting to appeal to voters in their ward. He may very well be correct in his assessment. The problem he is not addressing, however, is the potential ‘yes (wo)men’ from the Mayor’s office; only present to ‘fix’ votes in the Mayor’s favour. Regardless of who is Mayor of Toronto, such a situation would not benefit residents. Those appointed to the board benefit only the Mayor of the day’s political vision; I would argue not always in the best interest of Torontonians. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind those that support such a plan, that Rob Ford will not be Mayor forever. I would ask those same people if they would have supported such a motion under former Mayors David Miller or Barbara Hall.

Alternatively, Stintz (who I have been defensive of as TTC Chair since she took the position), is offering another extreme. Her plan to increase the number of representatives would lead to a re-election of TTC board members. It has already been acknowledged that Stintz will stand for chair again. Following that she would wish to maintain the memberships of Peter Milczyn, John Parker, and Maria Augimeri; while adding Joe Mihevc, Glen DeBaermaeker, and Josh Colle. Every single political member of this potential board has come out against the leadership of Mayor Ford on the transit file. I cannot pretend that this would be good for Toronto. City councils, boards, commissions, and committees need debate. They require diverse opinion. Stacking the deck to the left or the right will not benefit our city. Our transit will be worse for it.

Here, in lies, the problem. The TTC is a mess. It will take more than simply altering the composition of a board to fix transit in this city. Launching into debates about such things distracts from larger issues. Why is our council not discussing procurement? Or expansion? Or perhaps why, after eighteen months of Mayor Rob Ford, absolutely no construction has begun on making the TTC the world class transit commission Toronto deserves?



[Originally posted at WomensPost.ca]

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

On Conservative refusal to release phone records

I have to admit I find this one confusing. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and RoboScam complainee Dean Del Mastro is saying the Conservative Party will not release its election phone records because they know they are innocent. End of story, right?

Well that is the crux of the issue, isn't it?

Del Mastro, who has been the government's lead on the file, has been calling for the Liberal Party to release their records because of a certaintly that the Liberal Party is; not just guilty, but incompetant. That is fair from a political opppenent. And the Liberal Party has complied. But if I may take on some right-wing logic; what are you attempting to hide, Mr. Prime Minister?

Canadians expect transparency from their polical parties. In fact, it was a large part of the Conservative Party's election platform in 2006 - when they ousted Paul Martin's Liberals. But times have changes. The Conservative Party now leads the most secretive government in Canadian history. And they are utilizing their habit for secrecy to undermine Elections Canada's investigation. In doing so, they are further undermining Canadian democracy. So again, I must employ some right-wing logic. If the Conservative Party is truly innocent in RoboScam they should take no issue in releasing their phone records.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Shelley Glover jumps into the #RoboScam fray

"We've had several phone back to say, 'Hey, I got a live call and was told to go to another polling station,'" Shelley Glover told CBC News Saturday. "Another person called to say that they got a robocall and it was saying to go to another polling station. And they thought it was odd, so they called us."

That was Conservative Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and MP for St. Boniface Shelley Glover. Now, I don't want to start smearing any political party or individuals. So, let us all accept that something suspicious has been going on country-wide in an attempt to undermine Canadian democracy. MP Glover's allegations must be taken very seriously. For the sake of Ms. Glover, as well as fellow Conservative candidates Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough) and Peter Goldring (Edmonton East - which I hear has returned to existance) who have also launched such allegations, that the Prime Minister launches full judicial inquiry into the matter.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Updating Etobicoke Centre

As reported by the CBC it looks like we'll have an answer to whether there be another federal by-election shortly. The Court has set May 2nd - a year to the day since the last federal election - to declare a ruling on former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj's case regarding election irregularities. Should Wreznewskyj, a rumoured potential candidate for Liberal leadership, receive a ruling in his favour it should be expected that results of the 2 May 2011 vote will be declared invalid - leading to a by-election. Should that be the case, Wreznewskyj has declared that he will run. I for one am looking forward to it. I hope Wreznewskyj, or Borys W. as he is referred to in Liberals circles, can country on support from citizens across the political spectrum. Any questions of democracy in a country like Canada cannot stand.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Subject: Office of the Prime Minister / Cabinet du Premier ministre

Had to share this one. This is a word for word copy of the email sent to me from the Prime Minister's office in response to an email I sent expressing my concerns with regards to the Elections Canada inquiry and RoboScam.

--------
Please know that your e-mail message has been received in the Prime Minister's Office and that your comments have been noted.  Our office always welcomes hearing from correspondents and being made aware of their views.

Thank you for writing.

Sachez que le Cabinet du Premier ministre a bien reçu votre courriel et que nous avons pris bonne note de vos commentaires. Nous aimons être bien informés de l'opinion des correspondants.

Je vous remercie d'avoir écrit au Premier ministre.

>>>    <glassjx@gmail.com>   >>>

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Government of Canada
pm@pm.gc.ca
--------

That is the entire email. I kid you not.

The issue at hand... re: #RoboScam

I'm going to jump away from some of my usual political compatriots on this one. I believe the Prime Minister did not play a direct role in RoboScam. Frankly, this is far too disorganized. It didn't happen in every single riding, but only (and I use that term loosely) in 60. This does demonstrate a rag-tag group of individuals that may or not have been associated with a political party (although the actions surrounding Michael Sona certainly do suggest the Conservative Party). But this is just a small piece of the rhetoric.

As of late, the Prime Minister and his leads in cacus on the issue Dean Del Mastro and Pierre "Poutine" Pollievre have been shooting blame at the Liberal Party, saying that they too used a robocall system while raising the question, "Isn't it plausible they are responsible?" (Oh and than reminding everyone about Vikileaks.)

However, here is the problem the Prime Minsiter fails to understand. The issue is not pertaining to the practice of robocalls. Sure. I'm not a fan. But they are not in any way illegal.The issues in question relates to impersonating an official of Elections Canada in an effort to undermine Canadian democracy. That folks, is the problem. Honestly, I can't say that was any organized effort on the party of the Conservative Party, but given the information released we are well aware this is happening. If the Prime Minister is truly concerned with defending democracy perhaps he could start with calling a public inquiry.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Democracy as a partisan issue?


The Prime Minister is right about one thing. At this time there does not appear to be any hard evidence linking the RoboScam (a term I thought up just now and think I'm going to use from here on out) to the Conservative Party of Canada. I can't deny that. Although, the recent testimony of Michael Sona that the Conservative Party of Canada has been smearing and lying about his involvement does raise interesting questions. However, Canada is a country in which we believe in the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty.' Prime Minister Harper has not been found guilty in any wrong-doing.



The problem lies in the Prime Minister's lack of concern for democracy in this country. Dean Del Mastro, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Peterborough, and Peter Goldring, the Member of Parliament for the riding of Edmonton East - which may or may not exist, were both elected as Conservative candidates. I submit the Goldring has since decided to sit as an independent identifying himself as a "civil libertarian". They have both commented that their supporters were also contacted in an attempt to dissuade them from voting. These are serious allegations. Allegations that should be taken very seriously. Del Mastro and the Prime Minister have been doing just the opposite; asserting that these are just the claims of "sore losers." More interesting it has made democracy an issue that is now drawn down party lines. Members of the NDP, Liberal Party, Green Party, Bloc Quebecois, and even Mr. Goldring have come to the defence of democracy. Prime Minister Harper has decided to oppose it. And in doing so has encouraged Conservative partisans across this country to do the same.


I don't believe Conservatives actually oppose democracy. Frankly, I believe in not calling an inquiry they are making an intelligent political manoeuvre. The Gomery Inquiry still haunts former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Liberal Party of Canada, at large. But calling an inquiry into alleged scandal was necessary. It put the Prime Minister on the side of the Canadian people - even if he did up carrying record of a scandal from which his involvement was ultimately exonerated. I don't actually believe that Prime Minister Harper had/has in-depth knowledge into the day to day operations of RoboScam, but I do believe he is afraid to call an inquiry into an issue that may just stick to him. That is unfortunate. Canadians deserve better. Canadians deserve to have faith in their democracy. Canadians deserve a Prime Minister that will defend their democracy. Unfortunately; for the time being, Canadians have none of those things.


Monday, 27 February 2012

TDSB By-Elections today

The Toronto District School Board is holding two by-elections today. My earlier assessment can be found here. And voting location information can be found here. If you receive a phone call telling you that you voting location has moved, I suggest you double check that information with Elections Toronto. We wouldn't want to have to hold new by-elections in a year....

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Updated Election Fraud List

The following is an updated list of ridings and their current MPs allegedly implicated in election fraud.
  1. Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale (ON) - David Sweet (Conservative)
  2. Barrie (ON) - Patrick Brown (Conservative)
  3. Bas-Richelieu-Nicolet-Becancour (QC) - Hon. Louis Plamondon (Bloc)
  4. Brampton West (ON) - Kyle Seeback (Conservative)
  5. Cambridge (ON) - Hon. Gary Goodyer (Conservative), Minister of State for Science
  6. Chicoutimi-Le Fjord (QC) - Danny Morin (NDP)
  7. Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon (BC) - Mark Strahl (Conservative)
  8. Davenport (ON) - Andrew Cash (NDP)
  9. Don Valley East (ON) - Joe Daniel (Conservative)
  10. Edmonton East (AB) - Peter Goldring (Libertarian) [NOTE: Goldring ran as a Conservative]
  11. Egmont (PE) - Hon. Gail Shea (Conservative), Minister of National Revenue
  12. Eglinton-Lawrence (ON) - Hon. Joe Oliver (Conservative), Minister of Natural Resources
  13. Elmwood-Transcona (MB) - Lawrence Toet (Conservative)
  14. Essex (ON) - Jeff Watson (Conservative)
  15. Etobicoke Centre (ON) - Ted Opitz (Conservative)
  16. Fredericton (NB) - Hon. Keith Ashfield (Conservative), Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
  17. Guelph (ON) - Frank Valeriote (Liberal)
  18. Haldimand-Norfolk (ON) - Hon. Diane Finlay (Conservative), Minister of HRSD
  19. Halton (ON) - Hon. Lisa Raitt (Conservative), Minister of Labour
  20. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek (ON) - Wayne Marston (NDP)
  21. Kingston and the Islands (ON) - Ted Hsu (Liberal)
  22. Kitchener-Conestoga (ON) - Harold Albrecht (Conservative)
  23. Kitchener-Waterloo (ON) - Peter Braid (Conservative)
  24. Lac-Saint-Louis (QC) - Francis Scarpaleggia (Liberal)
  25. Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (ON) - Hon. Scott Reid (Conservative)
  26. London North Centre (ON) - Susan Troupe (Conservative)
  27. London West (ON) - Ed Holder (Conservative)
  28. Louis-Hébert (QC) - Denis Blanchette (NDP)
  29. Markham-Unionville (ON) - Hon. John McCallum (Liberal)
  30. Mississauga East-Cooksville (ON) - Wladyslaw Lizon (Conservative)
  31. Mississauga-Streetsville (ON) - Brad Butt (Conservative)
  32. Montmorency-Charlevoix-Haute-Côte-Nord (QC) - Johnathan Tremblay (NDP)
  33. Niagara Falls (ON) - Hon. Rob Nicholson (Conservative), Attorney-General
  34. Nipissing-Timiskaming (ON) - Jay Aspin (Conservative)
  35. Oakville (ON) - Terrance Young (Conservative)
  36. Oak Ridges-Markham (ON) - Paul Calandra (Conservative)
  37. Ottawa Centre (ON) - Paul Dewar (NDP)
  38. Ottawa-Orleans (ON) - Royal Galipeau (Conservative)
  39. Ottawa West-Nepean (ON) - Hon. John Baird (Conservative), Minister of Foreign Affairs
  40. Parkdale - High Park (ON) - Peggy Nash (NDP)
  41. Perth - Wellington (ON) - Gary Shellenberger (Conservative)
  42. Peterborough (ON) - Dean Del Mastro (Conservative), Parliamentary Secretary to the PM
  43. Prince George-Peace River (BC) - Bob Zimmer (Conservative)
  44. Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques (QC) - Guy Caron (NDP)
  45. Saanich-Gulf Islands (BC) - Elizabeth May (Green)
  46. Saint Boniface (MB) - Shelley Glover (Conservative)
  47. Saint John (NB) - Rodney Weston (Conservative)
  48. Sarnia-Lambton (ON) - Pat Davidson (Conservative)
  49. Sault Ste. Marie (ON) - Bryan Hayes (Conservative)
  50. Scarborough Southwest (ON) - Dan Harris (NDP)
  51. Simcoe-Grey (ON) - Kellie Leitch (Conservative)
  52. South Shore-St. Margaret's (NS) - Gerald Keddy (Conservative)
  53. St. Catharines (ON) - Rick Dykstra (Conservative)
  54. St. Paul's (ON) - Hon. Carolyn Bennet (Liberal)
  55. Sudbury (ON) - Glenn Thibeault (NDP)
  56. Sydney-Victoria (NS) - Hon. Mark Eyking (Liberal)
  57. Thunder Bay-Superior North (ON) - Bruce Hyer (NDP)
  58. Vancouver-Kingsway (BC) - Don Davies (NDP)
  59. Vancouver Quadra (BC) - Joyce Murray (Liberal)
  60. Vaughan (ON) - Hon. Julian Fantino (Conservative), Associate Minister of Defense
  61. Wellington - Halton Hills (ON) - Hon. Michael Chong (Conservative)
  62. Willowdale (ON) - Chungsen Leung (Conservative)
  63. Windsor-Tecumseh (ON) - Joe Comartin (NDP)
  64. Windosr West (ON) - Brian Masse (NDP)
  65. Winnipeg Centre (MB) - Pat Martin (NDP)
  66. Winnipeg South Centre (MB) - Joyce Bateman (Conservative)
  67. York Centre (ON) - Mark Adler (Conservative)
Alright, so that brings the alleged ridings involved to 67 - including my own riding of York Centre where I lost a fantastic Member of Parliament in Ken Dryden. However,  Richard Cléroux of La Nouvelle Étudiant / L'Express Étudiant states, "In total, according to Elections Canada, 97 Conservative candidates across Canada, including 18 in Quebec, sent cheques to RMG or to other firms making telephone calls for the party."

If your riding is on this list I encourage you to contact your local MP and demand they step down in favour a by-election - regardless of party affiliation. It is the only way to restore Canadian faith in democracy.


[Updated 26 February 2011, 5:58pm]

[Updated 26 February 2011, 11:05pm]

[Updated 29 February 2011, 11:39am with information from the National Post - http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/28/robocall-ridings/]

[Updated 1 March 2011, 1:49pm with information from CTV - http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20120301/ontario-election-robocalls-120301]

[Updated 3 March 2011, 9:15pm to include Barrie with information from the Barrie Examiner - http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3489865]

[Updated 3 March 2011, 9:30pm to include Vaughan with information from the Toronto Star - http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1138926--robo-call-probe-may-expand-to-thunder-bay-call-centre]

[Updated 5 March 2011, 7:28am to include Saint John and Fredericton with information from the CBC - http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/03/02/nb-robocalls-continue-.html]

[Updated 5 March 2011, 7:42am to include Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques, Chicoutimi-Le Fjord,  Lac St. Louis-Dollard, Montmorency-Charlevoix-Haute-Côte-Nord, Louis-Hébert with information from La Nouvelle Étudiant / L'Express Étudiant - http://www.etudiant-ontario.ca/Article-de-blogue/b/21598/Quebeckers-share-in-election-scam]

[Updated 10 March 2011, 10:34am to include York Centre with information from the Globe and Mail - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/york-centre-joins-list-of-ridings-reporting-misleading-robo-calls/article2363895/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A+RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=National&utm_content=2363895]

[Updated 13 March 2011, 11:03pm to include Scarborough-Rouge River with information from the CBC - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3GSvKMoLnM&feature=player_embedded]

Saturday, 25 February 2012

By-elections must be called!

We all know the issue. The Conservative Party of Canada has allegedly partaken in actions of voter supression. This is a very serious allegation, and I will accept the notion of innocent until proben guilty. As we stand it seems that only one individual, 23 year old Conservative staffer and professional ballot box tamperer Michael Sona; is responsible.
I don't know if there was any central coordination from Prime Minister Harper or his inner circle to engage in such actions. What I do know is that MPs and candidates from all three parties have claimed to be victims. That puts the results of all affected ridings into question. The Liberal Party of Canada has delivered a list of 27 ridings affected, however; there are reports that put the number as high as 34. It is imperative that all MPs representing these ridings accept that the validity of their election has now been called into question. That means Canadian democracy has been called into question. By-elections are must to correct this matter. And in the interest of democracy, they must be called immediately.

Friday, 24 February 2012

In moderate defence of Gary Webster

In recent days a number of Toronto city councillors have jumped to the defence of Gary Webster, the embattled general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). His contract was terminated at an emergency meeting of the TTC to discuss a “personnel matter” yesterday afternoon.

Webster has found himself in some trouble, due in large part to his difference of opinion with the Mayor regarding the future of Toronto’s transit system. Mayor Ford continues to be adamant in his belief that subways are the only possible solution to Toronto’s transit woes, whereas Webster is sticking to his guns in defending previous Mayor David Miller’s Transit City plan.

This debate has become largely polarized, with Council’s left and centre standing behind Webster and the right opposing his continued tenure. I’m going to take a different approach. There are reasons to let Webster go. He has hardly done a spectacular job. The TTC often runs late, experiences breaks in service, and has failed to be a model of municipal transportation in approximately two decades. Given numerous project cost overruns and an inability to demonstrate that he can work with those of differing political opinions, Webster probably should have been let go a year ago. The problem, however; lies in why Mayor Ford and his allies at the TTC may have chosen to dismiss Webster at this time. This appears to have been an act of vengeance on the part of the Mayor and his inner circle following the loss of a major vote at Council that resurrected aspects of Transit City. Councillor Stintz’ leadership on that vote has garnered a great deal of public support. It would not be in the Mayor’s best political interest to force her out of her current role as Chair of the TTC. But Webster was not a public figure. Career civil servants usually fly under the radar. It is doubtful Webster’s dismissal will create the kind of ripples that the Mayor will have to answer for come 2014. It’s not the firing of Webster that I take issue with. It’s why it is occurring at this exact time that I have a problem with.

Mayor Ford has made a number of enemies since declaring his candidacy for Mayor of Toronto. He and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, appear to be using this event to strike a unilateral blow against the left. Where Webster has failed as a general manager, the Mayor has allowed his position to be compromised by his polarizing political activity. Councillor John Parker, the Deputy Speaker of City Council and former Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament, announced via Twitter, “This amounts to wrongful dismissal.” (I have paraphrased this because the comment has since been deleted.)

This causes me concern. For many years Councillor Rob Ford railed against Mayor David Miller’s polarizing agenda. To date Mayor Rob Ford has managed to expand upon that. While there are a small handful of Councillors that make up the ‘mighty middle,’ the vast majority have been forced to choose sides. It is an unfortunate reminder of what happens when the electorate selects politicians on the fringe of politics. We live in a city which is stuck at a standstill. We are left in state of permanent debate where the only instances in which anything can be achieved comes from broad coalitions being created from within Council, such as what Councillor Stintz was able to achieve in proposing her plan for the future of Toronto's rapid transit – a plan for which Webster was one of the key architects.

What Council is neglecting to realize is that the expansion of Toronto’s transit system; particularly the subway system, should not be and cannot be a partisan political issue. Jack Layton, the late leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, was one of Toronto's earliest proponents of subways in this city. Subways are not a right wing issue. The problem with the Mayor`s vision lies in his lack of plan for financing such an expansion. A deputant at yesterday's meeting referred to this as having "champagne tastes on a beer budget." Some may recall Sarah Thomson, a former candidate for Mayor and publisher of this magazine, promoted a fully financed plan to expand our subway system during her 2010 campaign. Perhaps it is time for the Mayor to take a peek at the aforementioned plan and see what he can take away from it.




[Originally posted at WomensPost.ca.]

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nathan Cullen Event in Davenport

Alright folks, I will be at the Nathan Cullen event in Davenport riding on Friday. I'll be doing a write up on it for this blog and the Women's Post. Join me in Davenport as Nathan speaks out in support of his plan for progressive cooperation. Details are as follows;
Friday, 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Ciro's Restaurant, 1316 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H1P2. (Directions)

RSVP on Facebook here.

Hope to see you there!