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 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]

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]

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.

>>>    <>   >>>

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Government of Canada

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.