Friday, December 1, 2023

Green win in Kitchener Centre byelection a great local victory, plus clear repudiation of old-time parties

Congratulations to the Green Party's Aislinn Clancy, the newly elected Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre after last night's byelection win.  Her win gives the Greens two seats in the provincial legislature, including leader Mike Schreiner who represents nearby Guelph.   

The Greens stormed to a big win with 48% of the vote, easily eclipsing the percentage won in the riding in 2021 by federal Green MP Mike Morrice (35%), proving Green momentum in the area is strengthening.  

Clancy seems to be a decent local candidate, having served on City Council.  The confluence of factors including a strong local campaign and well-financed effort that reportedly hit every door in the riding twice since the spring, as well as the weakness of the other parties, produced the big win.  

The NDP's defeat is quite the setback for the party, which dropped from Laura Mae Lindo's 41% of the vote in 2022 to just 27% last night for NDP candidate Debbie Chapman.  Chapman is also a local city councillor in Kitchener and by all accounts ran a strong byelection effort.  I can't help but think the NDP's recent turmoil over ejected Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama and the local Kitchener Centre NDP riding association's denunciation of leader Marit Stiles over the issue played a part in the defeat last night.  

Regardless, it's a huge setback for the official opposition party at Queen's Park to lose one of its seats in a byelection to a small 4th party.  It certainly sends the message the messy infighting in the NDP is not winning them many bonus points from the public.  For an official opposition party that needs to promote the notion it has momentum challenging Doug Ford's PCs, losing a key seat in this way is not the way to do it. 

The PCs ran an effortless campaign nominating a guy whose only K-W connection was going to university there years ago.  Rob Elliott actually lives in Keswick, Ontario, north of Toronto and nowhere near Kitchener.  I take comfort in the PCs' collapse last night from 27% in 2022 to just 13%.  

The Greens' huge victory combined with the massive PC defeat certainly sends a message about the public's deep concerns about environmental protection, an issue Doug Ford has all but ignored, and in fact steadily undermined, most recently running roughshod over due process on the Greenbelt and proposals for the new Ontario Place private spa.  

The Liberals' Kelly Steiss seemed like a decent, likeable candidate who campaigned since being nominated in the spring to run again in the riding.  It's true the local effort was undermined this month by the ongoing provincial Liberal leadership race, which prevented probably hundreds of Liberals from helping out in the byelection.  Still, many Liberals hoped for some kind of comeback above the skimpy 15% that Steiss got in the 2022 general election, considering Liberals are still aglow with optimism following two byelection wins this summer.  

It was not to be.  It seems voters deduced the Liberals were not in the race and instead split their votes between the Greens and the NDP.  Steiss ended up last night with less than 8% of the vote, almost cut in half from her 2022 percentage.  

It's clear how far the Ontario Liberals have fallen.  Kitchener used to be a party stronghold, and the area has still shown much willingness to elect Liberals federally as late as 2021.  If the Ontario Liberals are to mount a comeback, it's in this part of the province where they should be making gains.  The results last night should be sobering.  

A poll out yesterday showed the Ford PCs still dominate Ontario with 42% support, one point higher than election day 2022.  The NDP is way back at 24% and the OLP at 23%, essentially where they were in 2022.   Clearly, Ford's recent apology and complete flip flop on the Greenbelt issue has done wonders for his fortunes.  Apparently, the willingness to apologize for an error, even if they think you made it because you were only looking out for insiders and friends, and completely reverse yourself on a policy, is enough to earn the love of Ontarians.  Ford remains a slippery, tough opponent.   Clearly, the Ontario NDP has yet to figure out how to stop him, and they're stuck with Marit Stiles, so far a bit floundering in the leadership. 

That poll also showed if Bonnie Crombie becomes Liberal leader, the Grits could jump from 23% to 31%, leapfrogging ahead of the NDP, who'd be pushed down to 20%.  The PCs would fall to 39%.  This jibes with my own thinking that Crombie's high profile and strong reputation, should she win the leadership, will be seen by the public as making the Liberals a viable governing alternative again.  

Because clearly voters in the Kitchener-Waterloo area don't see them that way today.  In fact, it's clear Ontarians don't currently see any governing alternatives.  The byelection results and recent polls make that clear. 

The Ontario Liberals announce their new leader tomorrow.  My fingers will be crossed we pick the strongest candidate, Bonnie Crombie. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Yasir Naqvi would lead the Ontario Liberals to disaster, so Nate Erskine-Smith's alliance with him has pushed me to vote #1 for Bonnie Crombie

Liberal leadership candidate, MP and former Kathleen Wynne cabinet minister Yasir Naqvi doesn't mean most of what he says.   

I simply do not think highly of the man nor of his promises and attempted positioning in this race. 

As a spouse of a foreign-trained doctor who will struggle to get accredited to work as a doctor in Canada, I sympathize greatly with Naqvi's promises on this issue, for example.   

But Naqvi was Labour Minister in the Wynne government.  Why did he not make any progress on foreign-trained professional accreditations when he was actually in government?  I put that question to his Instagram account but received no response.  

Naqvi, the ultimate party insider, who served as Ontario Liberal Party President years ago and shut down policy conventions for the party during that time, now wants to reinstate them.  He now claims he's been fighting the status quo all of his life, but I've never seen much evidence of this.  In fact, the opposite. 

He flip flopped in this race on the issue of privatizing Hydro One (he supported it when he was a cabinet minister but now says he regrets that.)  Despite this, he's continually criticized Bonnie Crombie in this race for changing positions on other issues, saying that sort of thing undermines a leader's credibility.  

Pot, please meet kettle.   

In my opinion, Naqvi would be a disaster as Ontario Liberal leader, mainly because he'd get his ass kicked by both the PCs and the NDP.   He might even lead the OLP to extinction in 2026.  He would wear all of the negatives from the former regime.  And quite frankly, his political skills aren't good enough to compensate for that affiliation with the past. 

Naqvi is a non-starter for me in this race.  I don't have anything against him personally.  I just greatly fear that, as Liberal leader, he'd lead the party to another crushing defeat below party status and possibly kill the OLP entirely (as I don't think the party can survive another crushing defeat.)  Instead, we'd see indefinite Progressive Conservative majority rule for the foreseeable future.  I want much better for our province!  

So when Nate Erskine-Smith, a candidate known for his integrity, principles, honesty, and progressive policies, announced recently an alliance with Naqvi, urging supporters to choose only Naqvi as their second choice on the ranked ballot, I was very upset.  

I had been attracted to many aspects of Erskine-Smith's policies as well as his approach to politics.  I had even decided that, despite many concerns about his political instincts and abilities, I'd give Erskine-Smith the benefit of the doubt and vote #1 for him.  

But clearly Naqvi fooled Erskine-Smith into believing they share many of those same goals.  Particularly appalling is the contention that both gentlemen believe in the same proposals for Ontario Liberal Party renewal and openness. 

This despite the fact that Naqvi has chosen to hire much-despised backroom player and manipulator Milton Chan to run his campaign.  Naqvi's campaign is made up mostly of recycled insiders from Steven Del Duca's office. And Naqvi always wants to fight the status quo?  I shake my head at how stupid Naqvi must think we are.  

Doesn't Erskine-Smith know this?  He must.  But he doesn't care, because he's made clear in this race he's more interested in stopping Bonnie Crombie at any cost.

I'm a centre-left Liberal.  I'm not normally attracted to centrist candidates like Crombie.  But in this race, she has shown great ability to reach out beyond her base to all Liberals and has embraced many progressive policies I cherish.  Add to that her immense governing experience, her high profile, her likeability, her obvious passion and communication skills, she's someone who all Liberals should consider.   

Her comments at the beginning of the campaign about governing "slightly from the right of centre" have been clarified that she will lead a progressive government that governs from the centre.  Based on how she's run her campaign overall, I believe her.  

I see nothing about her so offensive to justify the behaviour of Erskine-Smith against her.  

Sadly, I think Nate seems to be putting his personal ambition and his personal animosity ahead of the party's interests and indeed the province.  Or perhaps he simply sees things the way he says he sees them. 

Either way, Nate has lost my confidence.  He needed in this race to reach out beyond his own base to show that centrists and moderate Liberals who don't share some of his very progressive positions would have a place in a party led by him.  He needed to show in this race he could be more than a maverick but also a uniter.  In my opinion on those crucial counts, he failed during this race.  

I don't believe either his contention that only he can appeal to NDP and Green voters.  What nonsense!  

Nate would never win the so-called "progressive primary" if no one knows who he is, or many progressives discount him because of his affiliation with Justin Trudeau's regime, or if polls show (as I would expect) he doesn't bring the party up much.  

I've studied Ontario politics for decades.  The public does not pay much attention to the political opposition parties at Queen's Park.  So it will be excruciatingly hard for an unknown like Nate or Yasir or Ted Hsu, were any of them to win, to raise their profiles as leader much between now and April 2026.   That means it'll be just as hard to raise money.  It will also be just as hard to move the polls greatly in the Liberals' favour.  

You win the progressive primary when progressive voters see that your party, espousing many progressive policies, is the main challenger to the Conservatives.  Not because of some stances you've taken in the past on issues you never really had to deliver on.   

We need to stop Yasir Naqvi from getting anywhere close to the leadership.  

And despite his many good qualities, Nate is not ready to be leader of this party at this time.   

On Sunday when I vote, I'll be putting #1 next to Bonnie Crombie.  My #2 is Nate Erskine-Smith, then Ted Hsu who is my #3.  Yasir Naqvi will be my #4 choice.  

If you are eligible to vote as a Liberal Party member, please do so. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Antisemitic attacks in Canada and elsewhere must be condemned and stopped; Peace and security for Palestinians will never happen as long Hamas terrorists remain in power in Gaza

The horrific attacks on innocent Israeli civilians on October 7th by Hamas terrorist thugs truly shocked me and I continue to reel over the details of the brutality, as well as the glee with which the thugs did their murdering. 

I condemned these horrors on Twitter weeks ago, and retweeted several other similar messages on that platform.  But I realized this week I hadn't commented yet on this crisis on this blog, so doing so now to put it on the record.   

I am a supporter of Israel's right to exist and to defend itself from its hostile enemies. 

The Oct 7th attacks by Hamas absolutely necessitated a robust response from Israel.  Any country experiencing such an attack must respond with force to prevent further attacks.  If you don't respond to such aggression, you will experience far worse aggression and violence again soon thereafter.  That's how aggressors behave.  You have to stand up to them or they will come back for you even worse.  October the 7th was the final straw.  I support the Israeli government's goal to destroy Hamas as the rulers of Gaza so they may never again launch such a heinous attack on innocent Israelis.

Of course, the Israeli government and intelligence services let down Israelis on Oct 7th.  They should've suspected such an enormous threat was on its way and should've warned and better defended its citizens.  Hundreds of lives could've been saved.  Benjamin Netanyahu's government will pay a political price for this in the long term, and polls already show Israelis have turned away from Netanyahu and re-embraced opposition National Unity leader Benny Gantz's party (who has also formed a war cabinet with Netanyahu for the remainder of this war.)  Israel's future direction would be well-served by removing Netanyahu's extreme rightwing government in favour of a more moderate one led by Gantz.  But that will be a future consideration for the voters of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, once this war ends.   

In the mean time, Israel needs to defeat the architects of the Oct 7th massacre, full stop.  Hamas, of course, hides itself, its weapons and operations, among the civilian Gaza population, which is a heinous violation of international human rights.  This forces Israel's actions to stop Hamas to also inevitably impact on Gaza civilians, and the war time injuries and deaths have been catastrophic. 

One can't help but feel immense sympathy for innocent Gazans, caught in the hellish middle of a war between their Hamas dictators and the Israeli army.  Humanitarian disaster is unfolding and it's brutal to watch. 

But all Gazan deaths in this crisis are war deaths.  Unlike the Israeli deaths on Oct 7th, which took place during a ceasefire. 

When the allied forces were bombing the shit out of Germany in the final days of WWII, were there calls from the left in Canada and in other Allied nations for an immediate ceasefire to help poor Germans recover and the Nazis to regroup and continue to threaten its enemies?  No doubt, German casualties were skyrocketing in early 1945.  But we didn't foolishly enter a ceasefire until the Nazis were beaten and Hitler was dead.  We accepted German civilian casualties as inevitable in order to defeat the greater threat. 

Today, Israel has to keep fighting until Hamas is destroyed, full stop.  Hamas cannot be allowed to remain in power in Gaza.  Achieving their removal will be brutal, but necessary due to the existential threat Hamas poses to Israel.  The last thing we need now is another ceasefire which allows Hamas to claim victory, remain in power in Gaza and plan new antisemitic rampages on innocent civilians.

This whole war has predictably stirred up emotions here in Canada and elsewhere.  Folks with their simplistic thinking and a whole lot of hypocritical ignorance condemn all of Israel's actions even though the vast majority of protesters here in Canada and elsewhere I'm sure would demand their government also react with great force had their family members been brutally murdered as those in Israel were on Oct 7th.  It's very easy to critique every Israeli army action from the comfort of a university campus in Toronto or Montreal. 

I get very angry when listening to some of these folks spout their nonsense labelling Israel's defensive actions as genocide against Palestinians.  It's not genocide.  It is collateral damage caused by Hamas choosing to hide among its population, putting their own people into harm's way.     

Longstanding antisemitism is now rearing its ugly head the world over.  Longstanding Islamophobia is also creeping up too.  I sympathize both with Jews and Muslims in this conflict, especially the innocent civilians taken hostage or caught in the war zone.  Humanitarian pauses are necessary to ensure Gazans receive food, water, medicine and every attempt to prevent civilian casualties must be made, without undermining the safety of Israeli citizens as a result.  The hostages must be released immediately and not used as bargaining chips. 

We are seeing horrible attacks on Jewish institutions even in Canada, including multiple bullets fired at a Jewish school in Montreal.  These antisemitic attacks must be condemned and stopped.  The antisemitic targeting of Jewish businesses in Canada for boycotts by pro-Palestinian protesters must also stop.  Israelis and Jewish-Canadians are facing greater fear for their lives and safety than they have in decades.

Hamas doesn't want peace with Israel; it wants to destroy all Jews from the face of the earth.  They are the genocidal maniacs.  They will never negotiate a peace with Israel.  There is no future with Hamas still in power. 

In the long-term, this violence will never end until the fighting stops and Israel negotiates independence and dignity for its Palestinian neighbours and enacts a peace plan.  That means Israel must rid itself of the discriminatory policies which condemn Palestinians to second class citizenship in the region.  That means Palestinians must have their own state and enjoy an economic future.  It means removing the Israeli settler zealots who have stolen Palestinians lands in the West Bank and elsewhere who are an impediment to peace.  While greatly weakened, the peace process must continue and end with a two-state solution that maintains Israel's security and allows for Palestinian freedom and dignity.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

UPDATED: Still choosing between Nate Erskine-Smith and Bonnie Crombie for my first choice, but Yasir is definitely my last choice

I've been doing a tonne of thinking about which candidate will get my first choice on my ranked ballot in the Ontario Liberal leadership vote later this month. 

A lot of my thoughts on the party's past mistakes and my hopes for the future were summed up in this August post.  Please have a read if you haven't yet. 

I've been struggling back and forth between supporting Nate Erskine-Smith or Bonnie Crombie as my first choice, weighing my personal political priorities versus more pragmatic questions about electability and readiness.  

A couple weeks ago, looking at his many great policies, including consistent support for strong environmental, housing and healthcare policies, as well as electoral reform for Ontario, as well as his reformist approach to politics in general, I decided to put my #1 next to Nate Erskine-Smith.  I knew he'd have a tough time actually winning this race, but I felt it important to honestly express my priorities for the party with a first vote next to him.   Bonnie Crombie was my very close #2 choice. 

Ted Hsu has always been my third choice.  Yasir Naqvi has always been my last choice. 

Then this announcement came this Thursday with candidates Erskine-Smith and Yasir Naqvi joining an alliance ahead of the voting on November 25/26, promising to give their second ballot support to each other, and asking their supporters to do the same.  

I was not pleased. 

Yasir especially is the emperor with no clothes in this campaign.  Yes, his messaging and positioning on issues have been solid, as well as his story telling about his personal past.  But his record in government is spotty and uninspiring, if downright disappointing.  He's been as establishment as you can get in this party, yet he's claimed to be the candidate who will fight and challenge the status quo.  When did he fight the status quo before this leadership race?  His affiliation with the past will make it very hard to argue the Ontario Liberals are the party of the future under his leadership.  

When Yasir talks about empowering riding association presidents and local Liberals to organize and do regular outreach to their communities and grow, I don't believe him.  Why?  Because of the types of old-school Liberals he's hired to run his leadership campaign, one of whom is my riding association president (who shall remain nameless here) who has quite deliberately kept our PLA largely dormant during his several years in the local presidency in order to maintain his tight control over its affairs.  Hopefully that will change for us locally next year when we have a chance to replace him.   

But why are so many old-school Liberal / Del Duca types drawn to Yasir's campaign now? 

Nate's alliance with Yasir sort of taints my opinion of Nate.  Sure it's smart politics and unsurprising Yasir would do this sort of thing.  But I thought Nate was better than this.  This move sort of undermines his offer of "doing politics differently."  

I don't have a problem with two candidates joining together for strategic advantage.  It's even smart in some ways for Nate, who has been a political outsider most of his career, and now perhaps gains some legitimacy with his affiliation with someone so establishment like Yasir.  

The two men aren't telling their supporters how to vote, but strongly encouraging.  They also plan to unite their get-out-the-vote efforts later this month to essentially pull each other's supporters to the polls.  

This form of ranked balloting actually encourages this kind of alliance-building as voters need to know before they head to the polls what the second choices of their favourites may be, as it is relevant to their decisions.   In the end, the voters will still do their own rankings and what will be will be.   

But let's face it: this alliance is not about principles, as the two men claim.  It's simply political and strategic to boost two campaigns that probably alone were headed to defeat.  The alliance has gotten a lot of attention, and implies there is something wrong with Bonnie Crombie, the front runner.

Bonnie Crombie has run a great campaign, and has shown she is energetic, inclusive and willing to reach out to all Liberals.  She's adopted very progressive policies in this race too, even if she didn't previously champion some of those policies (particularly on housing) in the past as mayor of Mississauga.   

Yesterday, she came out with a much appreciated "Strengthening Our Democracy" platform.  The policy includes support for launching a Citizens’ Assembly to receive objective, non-partisan, and independent recommendations on advancing electoral reform in Ontario, allowing municipalities once again to choose a ranked-ballot system for municipal elections, and drive regulatory and legislative changes that enhance transparency, accountability, and democratic practices while ensuring effective representation of all people within political parties.  

Her support for launching a Citizens' Assembly to advance electoral reform in Ontario is especially appealing to me, as is her emphasis on enhancing transparency and accountability.  

This policy is just Bonnie's latest example of showing she listens and is willing to reach out and embrace progressive policies and win support from progressive Ontarians.  She's not going to govern "from the right of centre".  I don't think it's fair to cling to a couple of lines Bonnie misspoke at the beginning of the campaign (which she tried to correct) and ignore all of the progressive things she's very publicly promoted in this race.  

Bonnie as leader would do quite well.  Progressive voters can be very pragmatic, and I do think Bonnie could still easily win the "progressive primary" as some put it, based on her progressive policies, as well as simply embodying a credible governing alternative to the incumbents.  Part of the reason the opposition parties did so poorly in 2022 and voter turnout sank to such lows is because voters didn't see any credible alternatives to Doug Ford.  

After Bonnie's Democracy platform, and Nate's somewhat unappealing alliance with Yasir, I am back on the fence again.   I'm going to have to continue to watch this race and make a final judgment in the ballot booth on November 26.  

If Bonnie wins this race, I will be happy with the result.  Bonnie is better known and likely better able to more quickly connect with Ontario voters than Nate.  Huge momentum for our party would ensue, whereas Nate offers a slower rebuild.  I don't for a second buy the arguments being made that Bonnie is somehow impossibly flawed because she's accepting donations from certain folks in the private sector.  All politicians receive donations from developers, not just her.  Nate and Yasir have accepted donations from developers.  All politicians misspeak, including Doug Ford, Marit Stiles, Nate Erskine-Smith (one of his tweets after the October 7th massacre in Israel was sloppy and ill-timed and later deleted), and Yasir Naqvi (who can forget his petty attack in the Stratford debate claiming the late Hazel McCallion made Mississauga the city it is today, not Bonnie who's been mayor for the last ten years?) 

Sure, Bonnie could be vulnerable to attacks from the NDP over donations and her past record.  But she's good at defending herself as well as her record as Mississauga mayor, as we've seen in this campaign's debates. 

Bonnie's immense strengths assuage most of my concerns.  Political opponents are always going to viciously and unfairly attack whoever is the Liberal leader.  If Nate wins, they'll attack him for his affiliation with Justin Trudeau, as well as some of his lesser popular stands such as decriminalizing all drugs.  If Yasir wins, he'll be attacked for his affiliation with the unpopular Kathleen Wynne regime.  

This has been a tough choice.  The unholy alliance this week has pushed me a bit away from supporting Nate and back into the undecided column.  I'll be watching Bonnie and Nate closely as we go through this month leading up to voting day.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Today's sobering alert: "Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second term"

The Washington Post published this article yesterday: "Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second term"

"Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations."

Make no mistake: if Trump manages to win the 2024 presidential election in the United States, he'll be setting up his own banana republic.  This will undoubtedly hurt Canada and most of the world. 

When adults checked Trump's bad impulses in his first term, they did a service to the planet. Many books have been written on this very subject. 

But the despicably evil Trump is now making it clear that all adults will be banned from his next White House if he gets back in.  That would mean if Trump wanted to unilaterally cancel the new free trade deal with Canada and Mexico or do anything else that could have catastrophic impact just because he's in a bad mood that day, we could see massive economic and social carnage, impacting on millions of people including their jobs.

It would be the U.S. led by the Joker Unleashed.          

Trump also plans to use the powers of his office to lay siege on any of the good, brave people who stood up to him before, even though they faced great danger from Trump's violent and unhinged base for doing so.  Now they could find themselves in Guantanamo simply for pissing Trump off years ago. 

Republican voters must know a second Trump presidency will be the end of their democracy and constitution.  Yet he's still leading in the race and likely to be their nominee.   They actually think this guy is going to benefit them.  That's how deluded they are.   

This jibes with how most Republicans and conservatives view the world: through their own selfish prism in which anything is okay as long as they either benefit from it or, at worst, aren't hurt by it. 

Most conservatives and Republicans will never say, "While I will profit from this personally, it is clearly immoral and wrong and therefore I don't support it." 

No, their worldview is much simpler: "I'm alright, Jack, what's the wrong with you?"

Murder a bunch of innocent brown people slandered by the right-wing fake news media?  Who cares, says the average Republican.  "This didn't impact on me or my white loved ones.  These brown people are all criminal anyway, that's what Fox News tells me, and the killers are giving me a nice tax cut, so I'm still voting for them." 

The majority of Republicans stupidly embrace Trump's ego-soothing lies about the fair 2020 election which rightfully elected Joe Biden to the White House.  They have shown they lack critical thinking skills of their own.  At least thinking skills decent people would understand.  

While most progressives and some decent conservatives routinely support justice, equality, fairness for all, constitutional law, due process, the rule of law, transparency and accountability, sadly many Trump-style conservatives both in the U.S. and elsewhere have no such adherence.  (That includes Canadian Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, who has taken several pages from Trump's book.)

Horrifyingly, Trump will claim a mandate to turn America into a banana republic if dumb Americans let him.  

The Justice Department being weaponized to go after innocent people?  That will just be the beginning. 

Despite the crimes he knows he's committed, Trump is still telling the world he's an innocent victim, and the majority of Republican lemmings believe him. 

You should be very afraid as very amoral and clueless people bereft of a moral compass continue to push their favourite sociopath back into the White House.  I certainly am. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

"I can’t understand why you and your government would want to be responsible for a system that brings harm to children," says Sask human rights commissioner to Premier Scott Moe

"I can’t understand why you and your government would want to be responsible for a system that brings harm to children,"says Heather Kuttai, while resigning from the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission after @PremierScottMoe proposed a law to strip trans kids of their rights using the Notwithstanding Clause.

Good for her for standing up against this amoral conservative's nasty political games.

I agree the best interests of the child - including basic privacy rights, safety and security - must always trump everything else when it comes to rules governing the children in our care. Period. Government should, on this issue, mind its own business and let professionals, children and parents handle these things.

Forcing a one-size-fits-all policy that obligates teachers to out trans kids is gross government overreach by a bunch of ideologues who often argue against any kind of government overreach or intervention. Clearly, they don't really believe in restraining government power. Hypocrites.

#cdnpoli #skpoli

Today's tonic: Poland frees itself from its neo-fascist, homophobic, anti-democratic government and embraces change

Donald Tusk, leader of the Civic Coalition

Amid the many horrors in Israel and Palestine this past week or so, this little bit of international good news is extremely welcome. 

Exit polls indicate that Polish voters this past weekend have given their progressive and centrist opposition parties enough seats in their next parliament to form a government, thus turfing out the far right neo-fascists of the Law and Justice Party, also known as PiS.   Now that's an appropriate term for these jerks.  

The neo-fascists greatly hurt many democratic ideals during their eight years of elected power in the country, including taking away women's rights over their own bodies by virtually outlawing abortion, threatening the independence of the judiciary and press freedom too by taking hold of the state broadcaster, and attacking LGBTQ rights.   

"The exit polls suggested that the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party received the most votes (about 36.6%), but that Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition together with two other opposition parties should have a route to a parliamentary majority.

Tusk, who was Polish prime minister between 2007 and 2014 and then became European Council president for five years, declared victory almost immediately after polls closed on Sunday, claiming there was no route for PiS to claim a third term in office.

“It’s the end of the evil times, it’s the end of the PiS rule. We made it,” Tusk said, speaking at a party event inside Warsaw’s ethnography museum to the sound of cheers from supporters. “We won democracy, we won freedom, we won our free, beloved Poland … this day will be remembered in history as a bright day, the rebirth of Poland.”

An updated exit poll released on Monday put PiS on 36.6% and Tusk’s Civic Coalition on 31%, with strong showings also for two groups that could form a coalition with Tusk: the centre-right Third Way (13.5%) and the leftwing Lewica (8.6%). The poll projects that the opposition coalition will win about 248 out of 460 seats.   

Final results are still coming in, but it seems clear change is coming for Poland. 

Wonderful news for democracy and freedoms for all.  

Friday, September 29, 2023

Today’s tonic: “Mark Carney and how we all win”

Let’s face it: Mark Carney would be a refreshing and inspiring change from this tired current prime minister. 

Sure I’ll take Justin Trudeau ten times out of ten over the horrible Pierre Poilievre.

But I won’t be happy about the quality of government we’d be keeping, just about the despicable hellhole we’d be avoiding.

Carney articulates a vision and a maturity we have been craving for years.  Max Fawcett articulates it well here.  

Even red Tory activist and writer Tasha Kheirridin sees Carney’s strengths

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

No one is imposing "gender ideology" on children in schools, decent folks are trying to save trans & queer kids' lives and anti-LGBTQ protesters today are simply trying to hurt or even kill them

Let's call a spade a spade.

Gender-non-conforming kids and queer kids in our schools are extremely vulnerable to bullying, discrimination, harassment, and violence. 

This was my experience as a gay youth in my high school.  Sadly, it's the experience of most queer youth. 

Kids who are questioning their identities aren't a new phenomenon.  

Kids who are today questioning their gender identities are simply authentically asking these questions because we live in an era when many correctly have come to understand that trans and non-binary people are, have always been, and always will be a small but very beautiful part of the human family.  This has to happen in safe spaces where such kids don't fear violence, harassment and ignorance.  

So-called One Million March for Children Canada protesters marching today to promote hatred, purportedly to defend children, are actually attacking children including their safety.  They are promoting an environment which promotes violence and intolerance of children.  They are making their lives more dangerous. Period. 

Sadly, these anti-gay protesters are, in truth, trying to hurt or even kill these vulnerable youth.  

If their rights are denied, if their lives are disregarded and negatively impacted by these ignorant crackdowns on rights, many of these vulnerable youth will suffer, choose suicide or self-harm.  

I'm thrilled many counter protesters, who seem to outnumber these bigots in many places, are out in full force today to communicate clearly the rights of these kids matter.   

This debate is simple: what's more important?  The best interests of children in our care?  Or parents who may be so ignorant about their children's identities they need schools to tell them these truths.  Those parents need to have better relationships with their kids.  Not strip all queer kids of their rights.   

The safety, security and best interests of children and youth in our care should always be the top priority of adults, parents, educators and all.  Everything else is secondary.  

Parents do not have the right to undermine children's safety.  



I just want to add that I think our laws need no changes or inappropriate interventions from government.  Educators are already empowered to inform parents when concerns about a child or youth’s safety or security arise.  

I simply don’t agree schools should be legally compelled by government to inform parents if a youth decides to experiment with name changes or gender identities.  It’s one size fits all and inappropriate.  Instead, if there is an issue of safety or security for the youth, including if they are vulnerable to self harm, and educators believe the parents must know about the situation, then of course parents must be informed.  

I also don’t believe outing kids should be banned as there might be cases when that’s appropriate as it’s in the best interests of the children for their parents to know.  

I’m against banning outing and I’m against mandatory outing.  Every situation is different.

I compare it to a case of a Muslim or Christian student who decides at their school to explore a different religion.  Imagine if the government compelled schools then to inform parents of those choices.  It would be unconscionable. So why must gender identity be treated differently?

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Today's tonic: "My question for Doug Ford: When it comes to gender who is indoctrinating whom?"

Today's tonic: "My question for Doug Ford: When it comes to gender who is indoctrinating whom?" by Toronto Star writer Emma Teitel.

"This entire gender identity freakout rests on the wildly idealistic belief that “woke-ism” has eviscerated age old gender norms. In truth, it’s hardly dented them. In order to genuinely believe gender norms are eroding one must live his entire life at the centre of a pride parade. Because to walk around mainstream society — and to raise a child in mainstream society — is to be hit over the head at every turn with the reminder that girls are girls and boys are boys, and don’t you forget it.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Nate has my heart, but Bonnie has my brain and (more than likely) my first preference vote in the Ontario Liberal leadership race

(From left to right) OLP leadership candidates Bonnie Crombie, Nate Erskine-Smith, Yasir Naqvi, Dr. Adil Shamji, and Ted Hsu

As many know, I've been an activist with the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) since the 1990s.  I even worked full-time for a handful of elected Ontario Liberals at Queen's Park from 1999 to 2004.  

But I've continued to pursue my passion for politics on the side and kept active with the OLP.  I was super proud earlier this year helping to lead the grassroots effort to get the provincial party to adopt at its annual general meeting a one-member, one-vote system of ranked ballots to elect its next leader.  

Promoting electoral reform and fairness, due process, openness, transparency, and better accountability have long been huge priorities of mine.  I want to see meaningful and effective action on the many problems we face in Ontario including the lack of affordable housing, our struggling public health care and education systems, and fighting the climate change crisis.  

I'm basically a left-leaning but frequently pragmatic Liberal. 

I wrote in a recent post there was so much good policy accomplished by the Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne governments.  But the party also deeply disappointed me with its scandals and other bad policy decisions, including sabotaging the whole issue of electoral reform during the 2007 Ontario referendum.  The rewarding of insiders willing to do anything to make money from their connections to the elected turned me off completely.  By 2018, the OLP became an out-of-touch clique that had grown disconnected from not only its own grassroots but the public at large.  Its 2018 smashing defeat was much deserved.  

After a false start at renewal under former party leader Steven Del Duca and another crushing defeat in 2022, it now seems the Ontario Liberals may be back on the upswing.   Doug Ford's recent scandals involving corruptly and ineptly handing over Greenbelt lands to well-connected developers could mark the beginning of the end of his government.  He just lost his Housing Minister in this mess. 

So it's crucial Ontario Liberals get this right and elect a new leader who is strongly positioned to win voters' support and defeat the PCs as soon as possible.   

I can honestly say that all five Liberal leadership candidates running this year would be improvements over the last leader, Steven Del Duca.  

But not all of the candidates are equally strong.  

Most Ontarians have no idea who Yasir Naqvi is, which after 16 years since his first election is a problem. 

Naqvi is the ultimate insider player in the OLP.  He served as OLP party president as well as Ottawa Centre MPP and a cabinet minister in Wynne's unpopular government.  Sure, he passed some decent policies in those cabinet roles and that cabinet experience is important.   

Naqvi is a smooth-talking, well-polished politician.  He's now saying he's running to "transform our party" and be the candidate who fights the "status quo," even though, based on his record, he's as status quo as they come.  It doesn't help that his team is made up largely of Del Duca supporters and long-time backroom types who are responsible for the OLP's current weak state.   

It's true Naqvi has a good and potentially inspirational personal story to share as a successful immigrant from Pakistan.  He has his likeable qualities and his big victories in Ottawa Centre until his 2018 provincial defeat show a politician who excelled at winning local support.  

But Naqvi leaves me with the sense he'd be a leader who would struggle to connect and win over support and trust from Ontarians who might be looking for a change from the corrupt Ford Conservatives.  He would be viewed as tainted because of his affiliation with unpopular former regimes.  

I want the party to move forward and embrace candidates who represent real change, not the fake change that Naqvi largely represents.  

I hear through the grapevine that Naqvi's team has been very busy signing up instant Liberals in various communities across the province and calling in favours from the vast party network he built up over the years.  I worry these old-style tactics could end up making Naqvi quite competitive against Bonnie Crombie for the win, if those efforts make the difference in the weighted voting system which awards 100 points for each of the 124 provincial ridings (as well as 50 points for each of the 10 post-secondary student clubs and 5 points for each of the eight women's clubs.)

The best way to counter this is for Liberals who want to genuinely change and move forward to sign up and also take part in this process.

Kingston MPP Ted Hsu is a lovely man and a hard-working, experienced professional who's spent some time in federal and now provincial politics.  He won a Liberal-leaning riding in two tough election years and is super smart.  But he's completely unknown outside of Kingston.  I'm not sure he's yet got the political skills and street smarts to connect with voters across the province and win. 

Doctor Adil Shamji is also a lovely man and accomplished physician who's now the MPP from Don Valley East.  While his political skills are not yet well-honed, he might represent the future of our provincial party, especially since he's only 38 years old.  If he doesn't win the leadership this time, he could always run again and win in the future. 

So could Nate Erskine-Smith, the MP for Beaches-East York, who is also young at 39 and has a great record promoting many important progressive causes as a backbencher in Ottawa.  But he's never been a cabinet minister, nor did his short legal career give him much real world experience before politics. 

Erskine-Smith's approach to grassroots politics - promoting openness, integrity, and engagement - is a breath of fresh air.  His stands on issues like electoral reform, housing, health care, the environment, and many others are music to my ears and show a policy depth we need in a leader.   

But like the other three men in the race this year, Erskine-Smith is virtually unknown outside of political circles.  As leader, he would face a huge climb to get his profile out there, as well as his message.  While decent, I'm not sure his communication skills are as great as they'd need to be to assuage concerns about his lack of experience.  A lot of what he espouses, while a great fit for Beaches-East York, might not appeal so much in the 905 and beyond where Liberals need to win back voters.  

Thus, I can honestly say that I'm leaning toward voting for Bonnie Crombie as my first choice in this race. 

Crombie has a strong record in both politics and in the private sector.  As Mayor of Mississauga since 2014, she has negotiated with provincial and federal governments.  She has been responsible for multi-billion dollar budgets.  While many will quibble with her record as mayor, it's clear that she's done her elected job well with great passion and has remained scandal-free throughout her tenure.  That's important. 

I think Crombie has the strongest retail political skills of any of the candidates.  She's telegenic and quite likeable.  She's a powerful speaker who knows how to throw verbal punches at Doug Ford, as she proved at her leadership campaign launch earlier this year.  She has a knack for giving great soundbites that ordinary folks can easily understand. 

While I may not agree with everything she's done (her choice to support John Nunziata in the 2003 Toronto mayor's race is a big head-scratcher), nor do I agree with all of her priorities and approaches, on the issue of who is turn-key ready to become a credible and strong Ontario Liberal Leader now, Bonnie Crombie is far ahead of her opponents.  

For a party with just 9 seats at Queen's Park, the OLP is frankly lucky to have her in this race.  

Many progressives take issue with her record on building affordable housing locally.  I, too, have had problems with some of her messaging this campaign, especially her comment back in May during a TVO interview when she said she believes in governing from "slightly right of the centre."  After an online backlash, Crombie later clarified she misspoke at that moment and is firmly in the "centre" of the political spectrum.  Some observers explained away her TVO misstatement as perhaps a product of years being a non-partisan mayor in the municipal arena, where frequently one must approach issues from the "right of centre."  That would certainly be the case in a place like Mississauga. 

But Crombie's shown in this campaign a willingness to reach out to build a strong team and get important policy advice on affordable housing, health care, education and other issues.  She's using the word "progressive" more and more often.  If she wins the leadership, I'm confident that her move to the provincial level will be well-managed and thought out, taking into account the urgent needs of all communities, not just Mississauga.  Her emphasis on being more moderate than recent Liberal leaders will probably resonate with most Ontarians who are also, let's face it, largely centrist and not looking for a march back to the left at Queen's Park. 

Nate Erskine-Smith, with his progressive stands on various issues and his grassroots approach to politics, has won my heart.

But Bonnie Crombie, with her impressive municipal, political and retail skills and experience, her superb communication talents and her high profile, has won my brain (and a bit of my heart too.)   

As a gay man, I've always been very attracted to strong female leaders who know how to fight and win.  I'm seeing much in Bonnie Crombie to get excited about and, at this point, I'm leaning toward putting my "1" next to her name on my ranked ballot in November. 

Erskine-Smith definitely has my "2", while Hsu is currently my number "3" choice, followed by Shamji at "4" and finally Naqvi at "5."  

There are still almost three months left in this leadership race.  Anyone can still join the party for free before September 11th (or September 26th if you're joining an official student club) and have a right to cast a ranked ballot to determine the outcome.  Voting takes place on the weekend of November 25/26 at in-person voting locations in each riding across the province (although a handful of northern ridings will vote by mail.)  The final results will be announced on December 2, 2023.  

If you'd like to participate in this very important race determining who will lead the Ontario Liberals against Doug Ford's Conservatives in 2026, please join the OLP before the deadline and participate in those votes in late November.   The future of Ontario depends on it.