Friday, April 18, 2014

Adam Vaughan's 'game changer' candidacy in Trinity-Spadina puts the downtown Toronto riding into Liberal reach...

The announcement yesterday that popular downtown city councillor Adam Vaughan is seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Trinity-Spadina is a "game changer" that puts the Grits back into major contention in the upcoming by-election.

In fact, I might even suggest if Vaughan does secure the Liberal nomination (which seems very likely), he becomes the likely frontrunner in the by-election race due to his amazing name recognition, his solid policy chops, his message promoting urban issues in Ottawa, and his street cred as a councillor who won his ward in 2010 with almost 75% of the vote.  Against NDP insider and largely unknown Joe Cressy, Vaughan will have a great chance of winning over voters in the riding.

We've seen this movie before.  In 2006, Olivia Chow relinquished her former seat at city council to win the federal riding.  In the subsequent municipal vote, the local NDP nominated her largely unknown executive assistant, Helen Kennedy, to run for Chow's city seat.  At the time, Adam Vaughan refused to play by the NDP rules and launched his own independent campaign.  Despite the NDP throwing everything it could at him, he bested Kennedy easily.  Now it looks like history could repeat itself with Vaughan, now in the federal Liberal camp, taking on Cressy.  

Before yesterday, Vaughan didn't seem like the type to join a political party, although his progressive credentials are beyond reproach.  So this news has brought a major smile to my face.   It will make volunteering for the Liberals in the by-election all the more satisfying as we'll be fighting to put an outspoken advocate for cities in Ottawa who isn't afraid to speak his mind.  He might end up being a bit of a maverick in the federal Liberal caucus, but that would be to the benefit of Toronto and the voters he represents, which is why he'll have massive appeal to voters in this by-election.  

Vaughan's candidacy also puts the whole Christine Innes mess into perspective.  Which issues exactly were driving Innes to seek federal office?  Her urgent wish to see a national housing strategy?  Her passionate desire to see Ottawa offer more support to cities and public transit?  I've never heard her speak out on any of these issues.  My impression of Innes and her husband Tony Ianno is not the most positive, I must admit.  They've always struck me as players in it more for the power than helping out people.  So I have not shed any tears over the latest developments which saw Innes banned from seeking the nomination now or anywhere in 2015 over allegations of bullying and intimidation.  Her lawsuit launched this week against Justin Trudeau and David MacNaughton strikes me as a very deliberate attempt to save public face.  We'll see how far that lawsuit really goes in the end.  

But the Innes story is inside baseball.  The general public in Trinity-Spadina passed judgment on Innes twice, with her losing by over 20,000 votes in 2011.  None of this will impact on Vaughan's likely Liberal candidacy, whose skills, passion and massive credibility will draw voters and volunteers to his campaign from all over Toronto.

As a friend commented on my Facebook page yesterday, Vaughan's attacks on our pathetic excuse of a mayor in Toronto have been music to our ears the last four years.  It will be wonderful to listen to him take this anti-city Harper government to task in Ottawa should he win the seat.  It will also be great to have Vaughan on the Trudeau team as they forge an agenda to fix this country, help strengthen the middle class and build stronger local communities. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kick attention-seeking, mischief-making American bigot Peter LaBarbera out of the country, please!

It seems hatemonger Peter LaBarbera's temporary detention by Canada Customs at Regina's airport last week was quite justified, considering what the bigoted troublemaker got himself into on the University of Regina's campus today. 

LaBarbera, along with infamous hate propagandist Bill Whatcott (whose guilt promoting hatred against gays and lesbians was upheld last year by the Supreme Court of Canada), tried to force their drug-inspired hatred against LGBT people onto the University of Regina today (religion being one of several legal drugs, of course.)  They were refused the ability to set up a table to promote their illogical hatred, but they proceeded to set one up anyway.  In the end, Regina police arrested them both and charged them with mischief. 

No one has the right to enter a university campus to commit crimes or promote hatred.  No one even has a right to set up a table on a public sidewalk to promote anything without a city permit.  As Whatcott rightly should know, there are limits to freedom of expression, which doesn't include the right to distribute pamphlets which read, "Kill The Homosexuals!", as he did about ten years ago.  These two merely wanted some more attention for their pathetic cause and sadly they got it.

Whatcott is a loser who deserves to be forgotten along with his drug-inspired nonsense.

And LaBarbera has shown his contempt for Canada by engaging in this kind of behaviour so soon after last week's warning at the Regina airport.  You'd think a good Christian man might be inspired to behave himself in a foreign country after that.  But no.

Charged with mischief, LaBarbera should be put on a plane and flown back to the U.S. as soon as possible.  Good riddance, you jerk! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ding dong, the wicked Rob Anders is politically dead!

What joyous news this Sunday morning!  The insanity in Calgary West / Signal Hill is finally over! 

Rob Anders - the longtime homophobe, social conservative dork, with a penchant for falling asleep in Parliament (see pic on the right) or veterans' committee meetings, the idiot who somehow imagined that Tom Mulcair sped up Jack Layton's death by cancer, and believed that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist - has been vanquished. 

The man who was born on April 1st and went on to become a massive Conservative April fools' joke, will not be on the ballot in 2015 in Calgary Signal Hill after his challenger, former Alberta PC cabinet minister Ron Liepert, won the Conservative nomination last night.


Blue conservatives who value a modicum of intelligence, red Tories, blue Liberals, pink Liberals, orange Dippers and green Dippers and everyone else should applaud the decision to remove the biggest boob from the Conservative ticket.  It will make our next Canadian Parliament stronger not to have such an individual tainting it with his presence. 

Anders was elected as a Reform MP back in 1997 when nobody of significance wanted such nominations.  He stayed in power for so long because his party protected him from serious challenges until now, despite his dreadful record of service and clear incompetence.  I have to congratulate the Conservative Party for having the guts to open up their nominations this time and allowing this justice to unfold.

In conclusion, I'll second winner Ron Liepert's comment against Anders' supporter Jason Kenney, the ambitious little Conservative MP and alleged Harper replacement frontrunner - who I still think may be a closeted homosexual - and, up until a couple years ago, still claimed to be a virgin: "Mind your own business!" 

Sweet justice!  Suck it, so-cons! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Personal agendas trump party loyalty in Trinity-Spadina

I've watched this week's events in Trinity-Spadina closely, mostly appalled at the hypocrisy on display.

Let's briefly start with 22-year-old diva Zach Paikin, unqualified to be a MP due to a lack of life experience and a clear lack of judgment, who showed the world this week what he's made of.  Zach's been a Liberal since before Justin Trudeau became leader.  No doubt, Zach's volunteered in the past on numerous local campaigns of various Liberal candidates who were either appointed by previous leaders or won their nominations due to a manipulated process designed to ensure a solid team of candidates, sort of like the process that's currently unfolding in Trinity-Spadina.  In resigning from his own race for a federal Liberal nomination near Hamilton over this, Paikin strikes me as a hypocrite.  

This is my take on what's happened in the riding next door to my own: Christine Innes and husband Tony Ianno have dominated Trinity-Spadina Liberal politics for over two decades.  They've been the only show playing in that part of town.   These are not people without huge egos.  They clearly feel entitled to continue to dominate. 

As such, Innes planned to run in the upcoming by-election to fill the vacancy caused by Olivia Chow's resignation last week.  Furthermore, Innes wanted to run in her chosen riding of University-Rosedale in 2015, the northern half of the current riding, which will be divided into two after redistribution kicks in. 

Trouble is University-Rosedale is the likely riding of current Toronto Centre MP Chrystia Freeland, a key member of leader Justin Trudeau's economic team, recruited to help define the party's policy agenda for the next ten years.  In the new Toronto Centre riding, it seems the party has its sights set on Bill Morneau, CEO of Morneau Sobeco, chairperson at St. Michael's Hospital and former CD Howe Institute director and former chair of Covenant House. 

That left the new riding of Spadina-Fort York, the southern half of Trinity-Spadina, possibly for Innes.  Typically, team players have to take one for the team in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts.  In previous elections where incumbents found their ridings changed due to redistribution, many had to make tough decisions to run in areas which were not their first preferences.  

But this wasn't going to be the case for Innes, despite the fact she's not even a member of caucus.   According to reports, Innes and her husband Ianno had decided they were going to ignore the wishes of the party and take over the University-Rosedale riding membership and executive to block Freeland, a sitting MP.  Allegations of threats and intimidation by Innes' team surfaced. 

The party wanted to put an end to this and offered Innes a way out of the potential mess that was brewing.  So the party asked Innes to sign an affidavit promising to stand down in University-Rosedale and instead set her sights on Spadina-Fort York.  Were Innes a team player, she would've accepted the offer.  But clearly she had other ideas.  So the party took the hardline to shut out the nominee who wouldn't play ball. 

I've heard from sources close to Innes that she refused because she felt such a declaration might undermine support for her candidacy in the north end of the riding in the by-election.  I don't buy that.  Freeland refused to say in her recent by-election campaign where she'd run in 2015.  Instead, she said her only goal was to get elected in the by-election and work hard for the entire riding of Toronto Centre, which she is doing now as the MP.   

I've learned that politics is a team sport.  It's not a field to enter if your only concerns are your own agenda and ego.  The more engaged you want to be in politics, the more you have to sacrifice your own narrow interests in favour of the interests of your fellow citizens, your party and your country.  

Every Liberal leader since Jean Chretien has appointed candidates in ridings against the wishes of some local Liberals.  Many party members have been miffed they didn't get their way or weren't consulted as readily as they'd hoped.  In politics, no move ever wins support from 100 percent of party members. 

What happened in Trinity-Spadina with the barring of Christine Innes from running is not much different than what's been happening in the Liberal Party for decades.  I'm sure Zach Paikin knows this.  I'm sure Christine Innes and the rest of her supporters on the federal Trinity-Spadina executive and membership also know this.  

Justin Trudeau has promised open and fair nomination races and not to appoint candidates without local members getting a vote.  At the same time, Justin has a responsibility to assemble a strong team of candidates in order to show Canadians that the Liberals are ready to form a government.  Sometimes balancing these two things can be difficult and occasionally a bit messy.   But I support the leader's right to do this kind of thing. 

The party's handling of this situation in Trinity-Spadina has been messy.  But that seems to have been unavoidable considering the circumstances.  I don't begrudge Innes and her supporters now speaking out to defend her team against the allegations in the media, even if the allegations are largely true.

Politics is nasty.  It's not nice to see these internal battles boil out into the open.  But nothing happening in Trinity-Spadina lately surprises me.  In the end, it's all inside baseball.  The general public do not care much about such matters.  

I hope the party can find a decent, well-known candidate now to step forward in the riding and take on the NDP.  And move beyond this. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Centrist Liberals will decide who becomes the next mayor of Toronto....

Now that Olivia Chow has officially entered the race for Toronto's next mayor, the stage is set for an epic battle.  The field of candidates is crowded, but it will definitely begin to thin out over the next few months.

I predict the first major candidate to drop out of the race will be Karen Stintz, a smart woman who unfortunately has a tendency to swing back and forth all over the place on many issues, particularly public transit.  She even once said she'd never run against Rob Ford for mayor.  She's not the leader Toronto needs in 2014.  Once she realizes she can't possibly raise the kind of money she'll need to mount a serious challenge, she'll pull out.  I wish her well in her re-election efforts as a councillor in her ward, where I'm sure she'll be successful again.

David Soknacki seems like a fringe candidate, but is being treated like a major contender by much of the Toronto media.  We'll see if he can pull his support out of the single digits.  Yet, I have a feeling he's in the race until the end.  But if he fails to gain much traction, he may only emerge on election day with 3 or 4 percent of the vote, barely registering.  But in a close race, that 4% could be crucial.

With Chow now in the race, the progressive left of Toronto has its champion.  But how big is the progressive left in Toronto and can it elect Chow all on its own?  Probably not, so she'll need to earn the votes of moderates and centrists in Toronto to win.   

It's clear that Toronto's fiscal conservative, red Tory establishment and some of its grassroots have abandoned the Fords and have found their new champion in John Tory, whose campaign in 2014 thus far is off to a fairly good start.  His vision and articulated message thus far is simple: he wants a city that is more liveable, more affordable and more functional.  And he seems supremely well-suited to deliver on that vision should he be elected. 

Tory is gambling that Torontonians aren't ready to elect a leftie mayor again so soon after David Miller and only goofed up electing Rob Ford in 2010 because no better conservatives stepped forward.  Of course, whose fault was that?  It was Tory's fault for not stepping up when he so clearly should've.  Had he, Tory might've kept Ford out of that race and would likely be mayor right now.  Toronto would've been spared the circus of the last four years.

Still better late than never, I guess.  This is John's last big fight and I'm glad that he's in the race.  But Tory's path to victory is going to be very difficult.  Between Ford's stubborn/stupid base of support, which may be between 20% and 30% of voters, and Chow's solid claim to progressive voters, which might be between 30% and 35% of voters, it will be very tough for Tory to seize momentum and begin to surge into serious contention.

For Tory to win, he's got to win the lion's share of Liberal votes in this city, which I would estimate make up about 40% to 50% of voters.  He can do this if Olivia Chow fails to connect with these voters or scares them with a message that sounds an awful lot like David Miller-redux.

Thus far, the Chow campaign seems more than aware of these pitfalls and their messaging seems quite smart, focusing on Chow's personal family history and character, claiming she understands the value of a dollar, the importance of hard work and the real struggles of ordinary families in this city.  With smart, oft-repeated messaging, Chow could overcome what may be an initial handicap and convince enough Torontonians that she has what it takes to be mayor.  If she inspires and connects with enough moderate voters, she'll add to the 30-35% she has going in.  She won't need a massive amount of Liberals voting for her in order to win. 

I'm approaching this race as a pragmatist.  I very much like both John Tory and Olivia Chow.  I think both of them would bring enormous strengths to the office of the mayor and make our city better.

But my prime concern in this race is removing the psychopathic buffoon currently occupying the mayor's chair.  Which ever candidate - Tory or Chow - emerges as the best positioned to win over Ford will get my vote.  If polls change and show the race is actually between Tory and Chow while Ford's support nosedives to the low levels he deserves with no serious chance of re-election, then I will have a tough decision to make.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Great launch by John Tory into Toronto mayor's race...

I'm very pleased that John Tory has stepped forward to run for mayor of Toronto.  This offers our city a clear chance of ridding itself of Rob Ford's reign of terror.  Tory's an excellent candidate and would make an exceptional mayor!

I'm definitely considering voting for him.  I will wait to see Olivia Chow's launch and how her messaging goes to judge whether or not she has what it takes to lead and unite the city under new leadership. Olivia too has some fine qualities and a quiet dignity; if her launch is as successful as Tory's was today, I'll be in quite the dilemma that will take months to resolve. 

May the leader best positioned to take down the Rob Ford circus become clear soon!  Clearly that candidate could be John Tory.  I'll have more to say on this race very soon!

Friday, February 14, 2014

By-election results show Tim Hudak’s far-right agenda still tanking in Ontario…leaving an opening for Wynne’s Liberals to win again…

Their result in Thornhill, which was slightly stronger than their 2011 result in the same seat, showed Liberal support in the GTA is, at least, hanging in there under Wynne’s leadership.   For a party to do that well in an opposition seat speaks well for Liberal fortunes in the Greater Toronto Area.  

But, the results in Niagara Falls seem to confirm a disturbing trend the Grits have seen since the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election in 2012 (before Dalton McGuinty stepped down): a marked drop in Liberal support, particularly in southwestern and now south-central Ontario. 

Liberal support went from 36% to 24% in Kitchener-Waterloo between 2011 and 2012.   It disastrously collapsed in Windsor-Tecumseh from 43% in 2011 to just 10% in 2013, and from 46% in 2011 to just 15% in London West in 2013.  The London by-election result was partially due to the dumb choice of a union turncoat as the candidate (Ken Coran).  But the Windsor collapse was stunning, partially due to a weak candidate and an even weaker brand.

Now throw in Niagara Falls and the trend is clear.  Although the Liberal vote didn’t collapse quite as disastrously: from 36% down to 19%.  Still these levels of support – literally cut in half - will do nothing to encourage Liberals to get enthusiastic about their provincial party’s future in those areas. 

Sure, these are by-elections, which are notoriously bad for incumbent governments.  Would the Liberal results in these seats be better in a general election?  Probably, which made me wonder last month why Wynne rushed to call these two by-elections in the first place.  

With two fresh defeats, Wynne’s province-wide fundraising efforts could be negatively affected.   So could candidate recruitment.  If you’re a strong community leader considering running for Wynne’s Liberals in southern Ontario outside of the GTA, these by-elections will pour cold water on your hopes.  Seats the Grits need to win back or pick up in order to win a new majority could become out of reach if the Grits can’t find decent candidates to run in them. 

Since her election at the party convention in January 2013, Wynne’s performance has inspired and excited me as her fresh personality seemed to give new life to the Ontario Liberal brand, at least from my vantage point of downtown Toronto.  All the good things I had heard about Wynne from others seemed to be true. 

But then the by-election disasters started to pile up.   And the bloom has come off Wynne’s leadership and government, which spent most of 2013 simply examining issues through expert panels instead of setting the agenda with new policies and communicating an inspiring message of hope and economic recovery. 

What is the Wynne plan for the province?  It remains vague.  There has been talk about the economy and jobs of late, but anything resembling a compelling and inspiring plan has yet to emerge from the Ontario Liberal policy brain trust. 

Last night’s results make clear that voters continue to have grave doubts about PC Leader Tim Hudak.   After losing a seat in Kitchener-Waterloo in 2012, the petulant man-boy accused voters of being “bought off” by so-called union bosses, a bizarre contradiction in terms as all union leaders are elected by their members.  Hudak’s vilification of unions continues as he refuses to give up his made-in-the-USA “right to work for less” policy, which would drive down wages and benefits for workers right across the province. 

This heartless, hopeless policy agenda, coupled with Hudak’s own inability to inspire confidence in his leadership, is holding the Ontario PCs back.   If his party were marching toward victory after 11 years of Liberal rule, it would’ve held its Kitchener-Waterloo seat in 2012, won the London West by-election last year, and picked up Niagara Falls last night.   Instead, voters, unhappy with the Grits, are instead parking their votes with the light-on-policy NDP.

“This is all about the union elite who are running the show,” he said today of the Niagara Falls result.  No, Tim, voters are simply turned off by you. 

The NDP has shown amazing ability to win over by-election voters in urban areas outside the GTA since the 2011 election.  But we’ve seen this movie before.  The Ontario NDP also won a string of by-elections between 2003 and 2007, but fell flat on its face in the general election in 2007 when voters again polarized between the Grits and John Tory’s PCs.   One of those NDP by-election pickups reverted back to the Liberals in York South-Weston. 

Voters can indulge in voting NDP in by-elections when they’re not happy with the other options.  But what will those voters do in a general election?  Will Andrea Horwath be able to carry all urban seats outside the GTA in a provincial election?  Are we about to elect a NDP government in Ontario in 2014?  Despite these by-election victories, it doesn’t seem so to me. 

With voters’ doubts about Tim Hudak now seemingly cemented, it does open up an opportunity for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals to recover and win again.  But first, they need to do better to inspire Ontarians and earn back our confidence.  

The by-election results plainly expose the massive challenges Wynne faces if she is going to win the next election.  An inspiring policy agenda, coupled with Wynne’s strong leadership skills and personality, might be able to stem off her opponents and earn the Liberals another mandate.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Time to boycott Russia's celebration of its bigoted self

I will not be watching Russia's disgusting celebration of itself tomorrow.  The opening ceremonies for the Sochi Games will not be playing on my TV at work, nor at home on Friday night.  I can't bear to watch a celebration of Russia's history knowing full well this is a country that is actively trying to destroy its LGBT citizens with lies and religious bigotry.

The only thing that could make me watch would be news coverage featuring the repeat of some disaster that strikes during the event.  A mechanical failure, hopefully, causing embarrassment to Russian hosts and the bigot himself, Vladimir Putin.

Even better would be a brave protest by some athlete who unfurls a rainbow flag, perhaps.  It would be nice if some enlightened athletes from the enlightened parts of the world don rainbow buttons or symbols that promote equality and dignity amid such utter hypocrisy.

I will tune in over the course of the next two weeks to cheer on Canadian athletes.  Those events will not be about the repulsive host country; they will be about athletes from around the world, including our own country.

I wish Canadians the best of luck as they compete.  I wish all the athletes a great games.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sad news about Philip Seymour Hoffman...

"Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in “Capote” and created a gallery of other vivid characters...was found dead Sunday in his Greenwich Village apartment with what law enforcement officials said was a syringe in his arm. He was 46."

What a tragedy!  He was a great character actor who made his mark on cinema and will be remembered for years if not decades.  This is a real loss for everyone who loves cinema and great acting as we will now be denied more of Hoffman's immense talent.

It's sad how hard drugs can take possession of people's lives, as seems to have been the case with Hoffman.  I'm glad I've never tried anything remotely considered "hard" amongst such substances still banned by law.  And I never intend to.

A friend remarked on her Facebook page simply that "drugs are bad...don't do them."  Sure, hard, addictive drugs like heroin, cocaine and others absolutely are to be avoided.

Drugs like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, religion, etc.?  Definitely okay in MODERATE amounts.

But I digress.   We've lost a great artist today to a very addictive and destructive drug.  Very sad indeed!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Putin resembles Hitler as he suggests Russia needs to "cleanse" itself of homosexuality

How horrible it must be to be LGBT in Russia these days. My heart truly goes out to all LGBT people living in Russia and their allies.

Next month's Sochi Olympics are shining a light on that country's despicable treatment of its gay people and rightly so. Ignorance about LGBT people seems to underpin the mainstream culture in Russia (as expressed by its leadership), where the lessons learned in other countries by people just as smart as Russians seem to go unheeded and unlearned.

Now Russia President Vladimir Putin is talking like Adolf Hitler by equating gays with pedophiles and saying Russia needs to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality if it wants to increase its birth rate.

This kind of thinking is horrifying.

Congrats to writer Warren Kinsella for his article today on this very subject in which he too makes the comparison between Putin's Olympics in 2014 and Hitler's Olympics in 1936. Our international failure to launch an effective boycott of Putin's games will only have dire consequences for gays in Russia. It's an ominous warning considering what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany after Hitler's Olympic success.

I hope I'm not being naive in doubting a Russian version of the Holocaust against gay people. But without a doubt, the Russian law against the presence of homosexuality in any part of public society in that country is already having violent consequences for LGBT people.

But just as insidious is the impact Russia's law will have on LGBT youth and Putin's demand that Russia "cleanse" itself of homosexuality to increase its birth rate. I guess Putin hopes that more LGBT Russian men and women will stay in the closet out of fear of violence, and embrace fake heterosexual lives that are wrong for them and for society as a whole, creating phoney marriages and lives lost in clouds of lies and hopelessness.

Putin is either ignorant or deliberately ignoring the fact that homosexuality exists as an inherent, unchangeable attribute in about the same percentage (around three to five percent) in every society, across all demographics, classes, races, etc. including in Russia. He reportedly refused to answer a question today posed by the BBC to him about whether or not he believes the truth that people are born gay.

Holding Gay Pride parades, allowing gay people to exist openly in your society, and even teaching children about the importance of treating all human beings including homosexuals equally and with dignity and respect, will not turn any of those children who are not already destined to be LGBT into an LGBT person. Banning such "gay propaganda" will only further isolate the vulnerable gay Russian youth in that society and promote violence against anyone who doesn't fit in.

Treating LGBT people with equality, dignity and respect is not a Western value; it is a human value as homosexuals are present in all parts of the world, not just the West.

Sorry for the platitudes, which are obvious to most of us here in Canada. But sadly, these truths need to be repeated again and again as old world notions about sexuality continue to dominate in many parts of the world.

And heroes like the brave, gay Russian man (pictured below) who unfurled a rainbow flag today at the Olympic torch relay as it passed through his hometown of Voronezh, 910 kilometres north of Sochi, only to be arrested, need to be honoured and supported.