Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lefty progressives should tone down Liberal hatred and re-focus fire on the real enemy: Stephen Harper

I have been hearing of torrent of criticism and putdowns against Justin Trudeau and the Liberals from NDP friends and acquaintances for months.   Attacks such as "airhead" and "moron" and "unprincipled" have been echoing on my Facebook timeline and Twitter, mimicking attacks from the Conservatives in their well-financed ad campaign. 

But I say those lefties should tone it down a bit and re-focus their fire on the real enemy: Stephen Harper.  Why?  Because the NDP needs the Liberals to make significant gains in this election.   Yes, you read that correctly.

I reject the notion that two strong centre-left parties will just divide the anti-Tory vote.  That's partially true.  But a stronger Liberal Party with much more than the paltry 19% they took in 2011 will rob the Conservatives of the votes they need to slip into another majority. 

Blue Liberals, red Tories and centre-right folks tired of Stephen Harper's ways will probably still end up voting for him if the only alternative seems to be the NDP.  That's what happened in 2011.  I'll be damned if the same thing happens again this year.

To avoid this, those centre-right folks (especially in the huge Greater Toronto Area) need a strong Liberal option that appears competitive.  There are literally dozens of ridings across the country where the Liberals will be the main competition against the Tories.  The Grits remain the strongest challengers there with great local candidates.  I have a sick feeling that should this federal election polarize too strongly between Harper's Conservatives and Mulcair's NDP, it'll only benefit the former in those dozens of ridings and push the Tories toward another majority.  Clearly with their continued attacks on Justin Trudeau, that's what the Conservatives are hoping.

Sure, the NDP dreams of winning over masses of voters in the 905 area of Toronto and beyond, taking seats they've never come close to taking in the past.  The NDP did win 15 out of 25 seats in Calgary in the May provincial election, after all.  Certainly they can do the same elsewhere, some insist.

No, they won't.  First, the Alberta NDP was the only serious centre-left option in that fight.  The Alberta Liberals and the little Alberta Party combined won only 6% of the vote.  The Alberta NDP also benefited from a divided right.  We have the opposite situation federally, with a strong Liberal Party sharing the opposition vote.  Plus Harper's Conservatives aren't anywhere near as detested as the Alberta PCs.   They are still tied for first place in two credible polls out this week and are very much in the federal game.  Their best hope remains suppressing opposition support while re-inspiring their base to turn out. 

Yes, Trudeau's Liberals have suffered a correction since last year in the polls.  The shine is definitely off Justin's leadership rose.  His inexperience and lack of gravitas have left many progressives hoping for change turning to the more experienced, tougher Tom Mulcair.

I do believe that Mulcair's NDP will form the greatest overall threat to the Conservatives this year, but not in every single riding.  The NDP's new support in the low 30s is not about to decline.  Trudeau's mistakes on Bill C-51 were the straw that broke the camel's back.  Those votes are lost to the NDP this October.  The NDP may even be able to push their vote up from 31% last time but I'm not predicting it'll get much higher than 33% or 34%, unless of course Harper's campaign truly goes off the rails.  If a higher Grit vote can pull the Tories down from 40% last time to 32% or 31% or even lower this time, that'll help the NDP win the most seats.

I do think Trudeau still has considerable abilities and appeal.  I don't usually like to link to Warren Kinsella, but he's bang on here.  He's also largely correct here explaining the Liberals' fall from grace and how Justin may fix the situation.
With a stronger Liberal caucus this year, perhaps two or three times its current size, the result will either be a minority Conservative government or a minority NDP government.  And that'll spell a quick end to Stephen Harper's reign as there's no way the Trudeau Liberals will allow Harper to survive longer than his new Throne Speech.  While I doubt we'll see a formal NDP-Liberal coalition as some would like, I'm sure some working arrangement similar to the 1985 Peterson-Rae accord will be in the works.

That would be a government to celebrate.  So lefties, please lighten up on the anti-Trudeau attacks.  You're doing Harper's bidding. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tories spent $750M of taxpayers' money to promote themselves, then attack the NDP for allegedly spending $3M

Considering their own sorry record (which includes spending $750 million of taxpayers' money on partisan government advertising that merely promotes the Conservative Party's agenda), it's pretty rich of the Harper Conservatives to be attacking their NDP opponents over this.  

Some would call it hypocrisy in the extreme.  I sure do. 

I'd happily vote Liberal if I lived in Eglinton-Lawrence.

Lately I've been tempted to vote NDP in this upcoming federal election.  I'm still thinking about it in my home riding of Toronto Centre.  I'm going to wait to see how the campaign progresses between now and Oct 19th voting day before deciding.  

But if I lived in Eglinton-Lawrence, where the Liberals are the major challengers to Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver, I'd happily vote for newly-nominated Liberal candidate Marco Mendicino.  The NDP has no chance in that riding in this election (as they barely got 10% there last time.)  That 10% would come in handy helping defeat Oliver this year. 

Here's a clip of Mendicino on Monday's Power & Politics on CBC:

I have no doubt that opponents of the Harper government need to vote intelligently this year by supporting the progressive opposition candidate in their local riding that stands the best chance of victory.  There's no doubt the NDP and the Liberals can work together to make a better Canada should they have the seats in the House between them.  

In places where the Tories have no chance, I recommend you follow your heart.  That's what I intend to do. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Harperites in denial over new NDP strength

Why aren't the Harper Conservatives aiming their guns much yet at NDP Leader Tom Mulcair? 

I suspect that the Harperites are suffering from major denial when it comes to new NDP strength, sort of like Jim Prentice did.   Thus far, the best Harper and his team can muster in attacks against the NDP is the same old anti-socialist stuff they've been spouting arrogantly for years.   They assume public confidence in conservative orthodoxy remains high.   They're dead wrong. 

Tory attacks against JT have empowered the NDP
The Harperites are ignoring the fact that since Mulcair's NDP re-emerged as a viable winner in the spring (after the Alberta election), Tory support has fallen from mid 30s down to the high 20s.  When public confidence in Justin Trudeau's abilities seemed to dip, Conservatives fortunes also dipped.   All of that support transferred over to the NDP.    

I do think the Tory attack against Trudeau's readiness has actually empowered the NDP.   Voters who might've been sticking with Harper because they didn't like Trudeau now see Mulcair as a viable alternative and they're prepared to vote for him.  But will they stay with the NDP in October?   That's the big question.

Meanwhile, the Tories seem to be assuming they're fighting the 2011 election again.  They're not.  Trudeau's Liberals will never collapse as much as Ignatieff's team did.  Blue Liberals who are justifiably sick of Harper will return to the Liberal fold, not vote for Harper to block the NDP.  Blue Liberals like red Tories are no longer afraid of the NDP, especially under Mulcair. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

NDP's great, tough online ad "Enough" resembles my own

I've been waiting for Harper's political opponents to give the creep a taste of his own medicine.  I was thrilled this week when the NDP came out with this online ad, titled "Enough".  Today, the ad got a big thumbs up from an advertising critic. 

It immediately struck me how similar it was to a video I created earlier this month and posted (with very few hits to date) below, titled "Stephen Harper: Not the best person to be making the rules!":

We've known about this accumulation of Harper incompetence and corruption for years.  The list of untalented folks who won Harper's favour and high-paid appointments is long and disgraceful.  It puts Harper's judgment squarely in the cross hairs.  I knew something like this would make a great attack ad.

Of course, I had nothing to do with the NDP ad.  But I was so glad the NDP stepped up with their more-polished version, which has earned almost 300,000 views on YouTube in just five days!   Bravo.   This is what people like myself have wanted to see for a long time: the bully getting a punch back.

The public needs to drop any notion that Harper's judgment is tried and tested.  In fact, the opposite is true: he never was a high quality leader and his litany of appointments of idiots who went on to break the public trust is proof.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

So Eve Adams' boyfriend is two-faced liar too?

It would seem so from this article.  

If this flimsy attack on NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is the best intelligence that Dimitri Soudas can offer the Liberals, it reinforces just how dumb it was to welcome his partner Eve Adams into the caucus this year (for she brought nothing of value on her own to the Liberal team or brand.)  

It also doubly reinforces the stupidity of tipping the scales in her favour in the Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal nomination race.   She'd lose the riding handily for the Grits.

I can't tell you how many progressive centrists (who would normally be Liberal voters) have mentioned Trudeau's acceptance of Eve Adams as one of their major reasons for losing faith in him.

All leaders make mistakes and this is a small one in the grand scheme of things.  I hope Trudeau regrets it soon.  Clearly, it would be best for everyone for Adams to lose the nomination and go away for good.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Stephen Harper: Not the best person to be making the rules!

This is just a little video I created this week to stick it to our misguided Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose man-boy instincts and poor judgment have been degrading our politics for almost 10 years now. 

Part of his power has come from bullying his opponents with attack ads.  The latest have been taking videos without permission from news agencies and private charities to distort or hurt Justin Trudeau's reputation, whether it be a quick strip tease at a charity event or snippets of interview clips cut together to give a distorted view of Trudeau's position on fighting ISIS.

Well, now it's time for Harper to get a taste of his own medicine.  I urge you to share the video far and wide.   There are no distortions of Harper's record in it, though.  Just the facts about Harper's many mistakes of judgment, all put to Harper's own rendition of "Taking Care of Business."

Anyone who appointed Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Pierre Poilievre, Arthur Porter, Patrick Brazeau, Bruce Carson, Saulie Zajdel, Don Meredith, Doug Finley and Irving Gerstein to positions of power needs their head examined.  They also certainly need to be removed from office right away. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Slimy Harperites battle to stop the bleeding as Trudeau recovers and Mulcair soars...

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair at Pride Toronto this weekend
Before anyone believed the NDP under Tom Mulcair could win, Stephen Harper enjoyed a slim lead over slumping Justin Trudeau from last fall until May of this year.   

But now that things have changed, we're seeing the various players react.   Voters who were unsure about Justin Trudeau's readiness and might've stuck with the Harperites are now seriously considering a vote for the NDP.  Old ideologies are breaking down, especially in Ontario. 

The private media are still shooting at Justin Trudeau to try to undermine any possible recovery this year.  But now they have a new enemy: Tom Mulcair.   Hence, the Tory-inspired attacks this week on Mulcair's credibility, trying to undermine his reputation as a progressive politician.

The attacks won't work.  Mulcair's response this week has again been virtuoso.  Most Canadians are willing to consider all options when looking for new work.  His explanations seem quite credible. While Mulcair even considering a job with the Conservatives might displease some dyed-in-the-wool New Democrats, they're still going to vote NDP.  But to centrists hoping Mulcair is a moderate, it makes him seem quite reasonable.  And centrists will decide this election.

Were Mulcair some amoral chameleon, he might've gotten into bed with the Conservatives anyway, or jumped over to the federal Liberals.  But the attack falls to pieces based on history: Mulcair chose the most difficult path by running for Jack Layton's NDP and blazing a trail that would lead to the 2011 Orange sweep of Quebec.  To suggest he was only guided by money and power makes zero sense.

I expect this attack alone won't undermine Mulcair's current momentum.  But it's likely only the first of many such attacks coordinated by the NDP's enemies.

In the mean time, Justin Trudeau and his team have revised their plans in response to their gradual decline in the polls.  I think that the recent policy announcements will stem the decline and give them breathing room to rebuild.

But even more importantly, Justin's perseverance against the vicious bullying from the right and the left are making him appear stronger.  He's a fighter and he's responding to the blows by fighting back, while maintaining his composure and dignity, as well as his authenticity.  His policy plan paints a much clearer idea of where he wants to take the country and gives progressives like me many reasons to reconsider him.  So Trudeau is very much back in the game.  

At this point, I'd predict there's no way Trudeau's Grits will get less than 29% of the vote this year.  And perhaps even more.

At the same time, I'm sensing a growing fatigue with Harper's creepy Conservatives, which is not helped by our slumping economy and the constant stream of rats leaving the ship.  The Tory claim that we're "better off with Harper" now seems laughable.  Voters determined to throw the bums out will do so with either the NDP or the Grits.  At this point, it seems that the NDP has the upper hand in that fight.   This will continue to push the New Democrats up based on their strength in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario. 

Barring some terrorist attack in Canada this summer (wouldn't that be convenient timing for Harper's criminal Conservatives? ), things aren't looking good for the slimy Harperites.  The Conservatives have no morals anymore and are desperate.  They've cheated in every election since 2006.  We can assume they will cheat and lie and break the law again this time.  So it's going to be nasty.

But we're getting to the point when most Canadians will start tuning out the repetitive Tory talking points.  They're not convincing anyone outside of their shrinking base anymore.  The only decision to be made by 70% plus of voters will be between the NDP and the Liberals. 

The way things are now going, I'd say that third place for the Tories come Oct 19th is definitely a possibility.  They're already fighting for second or are in third in polls today.  Mark my words.   

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day of celebration: U.S. Supreme Court rules states must allow same-sex marriage


This is a great day in the U.S.  The Supreme Court today legalized gay marriage in a 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges The opinion holds that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples.  All four dissenting justices wrote an individual dissent.  Justice Kennedy voted with the liberal block.

I'd like to quote from Kennedy’s opinion, as posted here: 

“Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.

“Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.

“The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time. 

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Predictably, most Republican leaders are standing next to the bigots of old, like other social conservatives did in the past on similar issues like civil rights. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stephen Harper quietly appoints another anti-gay academic to the Ontario Court of Appeal

Stephen Harper's latest anti-gay judicial appointment
Just in time for Toronto's Pride, we learn today whose side Stephen Harper's still cheering for when it comes to gay marriage, an issue long settled by the vast majority of Canadians.  

Last week, Harper's government quietly promoted Justice Bradley Miller (pictured), a former University of Western Ontario law professor, to the Ontario Court of Appeal after he spent just six months on the province’s Superior Court (a position he also got from Harper).  During that time, he has written no published rulings by which to appraise his abilities as a judge, according to a Globe and Mail search of the legal websites CanLII and Quicklaw.

Miller and two other Appeal Court appointments by Harper share opposition to same sex marriage.  Specifically, both Miller and Justice Grant Huscroft share a belief in what they call "originalism," a view associated with conservative judges Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court, which says constitutions should be interpreted according to how their founders intended.

Both Justice Miller and Justice Huscroft have made the originalist argument in their published work that the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not explicitly protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, and that therefore the Supreme Court of Canada was wrong to have read such protection into the document. When he was in opposition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made that same argument. The Supreme Court has expressly rejected such use of originalism in favour of the “living tree” view – that the law changes with the times.

Kudos to the Globe's justice writer Sean Fine for today's article.

I'm not a lawyer nor a legal scholar.  But I always interpreted Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as explicitly banning discrimination against gays based on how it was originally written:

"Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination..."

It's impossible to understand how, "Every individual" could not include individuals who are queer.

It's true that Charter line is followed by, "and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

But that list is not an exclusive list, if you're using the English language to read it.  It would seem that Miller and his ilk are taking big academic leaps of legalistic logic to make their arguments. 

In 1982, gays were roundly hated by mainstream Canadians.  They were deeply homophobic times.  The notion that protecting gays from discrimination would be enshrined in the constitution was a non-starter in most parts of Canada.  Only Quebec at that time had explicitly banned anti-gay discrimination.  

Hence, our need for protection from discrimination was obvious.  To argue that the Charter should not do so simply exposes a willful prejudice.   Thankfully, the Supreme Court has rightfully understood the Charter to protect gays from discrimination.

When most constitutions were written, such as in the U.S., women were not considered equal to men.  Blacks were slaves.  The list of indecencies and prejudices in law were overwhelming.  To stick to the doctrine of "originalism" would've meant discrimination would still be rampant throughout Canada and the U.S.  It would've condemned millions to lives of second class citizenship in law for an even longer period of time.

The notion of "originalism" is just a misguided attempt by conservatives to maintain discrimination they love.  Miller, Huscroft and clearly Stephen Harper hold some dangerously regressive views when it comes to human equality.

The fact these judicial appointments are happening unannounced speaks again to Harper's secretive governing style.  This is how Stephen Harper operates: by stealth, under the radar, quietly promoting his conservative agenda through appointments and passing laws in omnibus bills or elsewhere he never ran on but continues to implement with as little scrutiny as possible. 

Harper doesn't have the guts to tell Canadians truthfully what he's doing.  You can bet Harper will not be commenting publicly on these appointments unless forced to.

It reinforces the argument yet again that Harper is a very bad fit for Canada and needs to be removed as soon as possible. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rob Salerno's 'First Day Back' is a moving tribute to queer victims of bullying

Rob Salerno in 'First Day Back'
I checked out the one-man show 'First Day Back' written and performed by Toronto-based actor Rob Salerno on the weekend at Toronto's Storefront Theatre and wasn't disappointed.

Mostly inspired by the tragic 2011 suicide of Ottawa's Jamie Hubley, Salerno has crafted a complex, moving, and beautiful tribute to the young queers we've lost due to high school bullying and other youth left behind forced to struggle with their losses.   

The one-hour play continues this week with three more shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  I highly recommend you check it out if you have the chance.  Tickets can be bought in advance here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Equal marriage supporter James Moore quits Harper government

Outgoing Tory minister and MP James Moore
James Moore today became the latest in a growing list of Conservative cabinet ministers and MPs to bow out of federal politics this election year.  

I do want to say how much I respect Moore.  He was one of only a few Conservative MPs to originally vote in favour of same sex marriage when it was before Parliament in 2005.   In addition to his general competence, this made him a moderate conservative worth celebrating.   I was hoping he might challenge for the federal Conservative leadership one day against social conservative Jason Kenney.   That might still happen, who knows.  

Regardless, it's sad to see him go.  Incidentally, this makes his largely suburban seat in British Columbia now more vulnerable to the NDP or perhaps even the Liberals (should they recover from their current slump.)

But thanks to James Moore for a fine federal career.