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. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yet another Harper appointee accused of wrongdoing...

Disgraced senator Don Meredith.......and the guy who appointed him
Don Meredith, the holier-than-thou religious dude who won such admiration from Harper for his work with youth that he not only appointed him as a Conservative candidate in Toronto Centre in 2008 (where he was quickly trounced in a byelection) but also appointed him to the Senate in 2010, now stands accused of a very inappropriate relationship with a minor.   This is on top of sexual harassment in the workplace allegations. 

Yes, the toxic mix of fundamentalist religion with conservative political power has seemingly produced more gross behaviour. 

It's now clear that Stephen Harper has dangerously bad judgment, especially when it comes to appointing people to positions of power.

One could almost suggest that Harper is so dangerous that our country must consider it an urgent national interest to remove him from office before any more people like this get rewarded: 
  • Senator Mike Duffy
  • Senator Pamela Wallin
  • Senator Patrick Brazeau
  • Dean Del Mastro, Harper's former parliamentary secretary and MP for Peterborough who resigned his seat in disgrace after being found guilty.  
  • Peter Penashue, former senior Conservative Cabinet Minister
  • Bruce Carson, former Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister
  • Arthur Porter, former Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee
  • Saulie Zajdel, former Conservative candidate and Ministerial advisor
  • and now we can add one more, Don Meredith, former Conservative candidate appointed to the Senate.

An interesting aside: Meredith was a fervent opponent of LGBT equality (strange considering Harper appointed him to be the Toronto Centre candidate in 2008.  It was almost as if Harper was trying to shove an anti-gay candidate down the throats a very progressive riding with the country's largest LGBT community.)


Monday, June 15, 2015

Is Justin Trudeau more like Rachel Notley, Dalton McGuinty or Tim Hudak?

EKOS' latest polling numbers...
It's been fascinating to watch Canada's pre-election period change with Tom Mulcair's NDP surging into first place in some polls, while Justin Trudeau's Liberals fall into third place after a slow descent that started last fall.

While Bob Hepburn seems to have drunk a bit too much of the optimistic Trudeau Liberal koolaid, Michael Den Tandt is more bang on with his analysis of the Grits' troubles. 

At this stage, the Tory-led attack on Justin Trudeau that, "He's just not ready," seems to be resonating.  I agree it's because many voters, myself included, are finally accepting that Justin seems too green to be handed the reins of power this year.  The attack line works because it rings true and opportunities for reversing that opinion are running out quickly. 

This isn't the first time Tory attack lines have devastated Liberal leaders.  We can all recall how "He's not a leader," worked wonders on Stephane Dion and "He didn't come back for you," ruined Michael Ignatieff's reputation.   Those attacks were worse because, while they resonated as superficially true, there was almost nothing those two men could do to effectively counter the attacks.  Dion really didn't look or sound like a leader at all to most Canadians (and also showed no ability to grow in his job as leader), while Iggy couldn't erase his entire life experience outside Canada before politics.   The Grits didn't have the money to define their leaders before the Tories did it for them. 

But the "He's not ready," attack line today can only continue to resonate as long as Justin Trudeau appears not to be ready for the prime minister's office.   Should JT start acting and sounding like a seasoned, tough leader with a steady hand and a concrete vision that resonates with Canadians, the attack line will be neutralized.

It's happened before.  In 1999, Dalton McGuinty ran in his first campaign as Ontario Liberal leader against a first-term Mike Harris government.  McGuinty had virtually no public profile before then, so the Tories attacked him as someone, "who's just not up to the job."  McGuinty proceeded to run an unfocussed campaign that basically said to voters, "I'm not Mike Harris. Vote for me."  He didn't appear ready for prime time.

But McGuinty benefited that year from facing an equally ineffectual NDP leader in Howard Hampton.  Voters desperate to vote against Harris held their noses and swung strongly behind McGuinty's Liberals.  Thus, McGuinty led his party to some decent gains, even though Mike Harris won a slimmer majority.  Then McGuinty spent the next four years fleshing out decent policies and branding himself as the guy who could fix Ontario after 8 years of public service neglect under the Tories by investing in public health care and public education.

In 2003, when the Tories revised their attack line against McGuinty with "He's still not up to the job," voters disagreed and proceeded to toss the Tories into opposition, where they have yet to recover.

History is filled with political leaders who had both great timing and the right instincts to win on their first try, as well as those who might've had good timing, but lacked the requisite skills to get over the top.  (Not to mention those countless leaders who were quite talented, but just had lousy timing like Daniel Johnson or Robert Stanfield or Bob Nixon perhaps...)

Rachel Notley is the most recent example of a Canadian leader with both amazing, natural skills and perfect timing, winning her first time out.   Kathleen Wynne is another leader who did the same.

Wynne, of course, benefited greatly from facing off against Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak, who, despite running against an unpopular government, still managed to blow two elections.  Hudak never figured out how to sell himself and win.  

Losers can turn themselves into winners by learning from their mistakes and growing as leaders, if they have the time to do so.  McGuinty was able to do that.  Jack Layton did it as well, sort of (he never actually won, but his Orange Crush surge into official opposition seemed like a victory to many.)  John Tory also finally figured out how to win.   

Now the big question is: can Justin Trudeau ever become that leader who does appear to be "ready" for the Prime Minister's Office?

If Justin doesn't win this year, it will all depend on how well the Grits can do at all.  Losing the election won't be a disaster.  Neither will failing to even form the official opposition, as long as the party still manages considerable gains in the popular vote and seat count.  It all depends on the campaign and the final results.

If Trudeau loses this year but still runs a solid campaign and makes major gains, he will likely live to fight another day (especially if there's a minority government elected.)  Then Trudeau will get the opportunity to get more experience and perhaps become the leader he needs to be to win over Canadians.  Perseverance and years of hard work always look impressive.

But if Trudeau's loss is instead catastrophic, he may never get that chance. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mayor John Tory Calls for End to Carding in Toronto

I was very pleased and relieved yesterday to read this news that Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling for a permanent end of the police practice of stopping innocent people - mostly people of colour - on Toronto streets and extracting personal information to be entered into a secret police database, also known as "carding."

This police abuse of power is horrifying, made worse that it reinforced fears of police discrimination as the bulk of those targeted were generally non-white.  It created a sense that those targeted were somehow second class citizens.  As a white man, I've never felt targeted by Toronto Police, let alone singled out by them to obtain personal information about me.

The practice was put on hold earlier this year.  Now Tory wants "carding" permanently ended.  Tory will put forth a motion at a future Toronto Police Services Board meeting to do so.  I hope the efforts succeed.

Tory's previous position favouring reforming the practice didn't win much public favour.  I'm glad that Tory has the leadership skills to listen and amend his position in order to (eventually) do the right thing.   I was getting a bit worried.

Now I hope he soon sees the light about his misguided plan to keep the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway elevated, at great and unreasonable cost.

Here is the raw footage of Tory's statement yesterday, courtesy of CBC:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Are 'promiscuous progressives' like me abandoning the Grits to support Mulcair's NDP?

Are 'promiscuous progressives' like me abandoning the Grits to support Mulcair's NDP?

For the moment, pollster EKOS says yes.

Their latest poll out today shows the NDP on top with 31.3% support, ahead of the governing Cons stuck at 29.2% and the Grits dropping to 23.9%.

As another blogger friend pointed out on Twitter, this poll is a bit of an outlier in a week when three other polls showed a tight three-way race federally (although those three polls were no longer in the field after May 31.  This EKOS poll was in the field until June 2.)

But the trend is clear.  The NDP under Tom Mulcair is trending up while Justin Trudeau's Liberals are sinking.  

And yes, I'm one of those promiscuous progressives who want a new government no matter what this year.  The Harper decade must come to an end.  And suddenly, Mulcair's NDP is emerging as the strongest progressive challenger.  If this trend continues, you can bet I'll be voting NDP.