Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kathleen Wynne's amazing speech to the Ontario Liberal convention yesterday...

For those who didn't see Kathleen Wynne's speech to Liberal delegates yesterday morning, you should definitely give it a watch.   It will go down as one of the best speeches a candidate has ever given to a convention.   She took on every challenge she faced with strength and charm.   Here's the link below:

I'm feeling very good about Kathleen's chances of doing very well as premier of Ontario.  We will be very well-served by someone so smart and compassionate.  

Historic night for Ontario: First woman / First openly LGBT Premier!

I have to congratulate Kathleen Wynne on a victory well-earned. She did it by bringing three out of her four male rivals over to her side at today's Ontario Liberal leadership convention in Toronto. The left-centre-right coalition put her over the top and gave her a victory over Sandra Pupatello, who was attempting to make a comeback to provincial politics.

I supported Pupatello in this race. But I admire Kathleen greatly and this victory is testament to her strength as a political candidate and a leader. It's a stunning achievement.

Wynne will now bring her unique brand and stamp on the provincial government. I have a feeling that she's going to impress many. I'll be fighting to keep her in the premier's office in the next election and continuing a Liberal government for Ontario.

I shot the video above tonight of Wynne as she arrived at her victory party in downtown Toronto.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Xtra journalist accredited to attend Ontario Liberal convention,misleading Xtra story gives different impression...

This story caught my interest as an accredited blogger at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention. 

I just had a chat with the party's media person, Bradley Hammond, about it.  He told me that Xtra reporter Andrea Houston (who has often been seen recording video while covering news stories) is among the list of accredited journalists at this weekend's convention.   So Xtra should be able to cover the convention as well as they cover all the events they cover.  Houston is a great journalist, after all. 

This story however omits the fact that Houston is present and is covering the Liberal convention.  She even quotes Gerald Hannon, never a friend of the Liberal Party, as saying, “You would think they would want Xtra to be there,” he says. “Do you detect a whiff of homophobia in there?”

Except of course, Xtra is here.   Hopefully I can run into Andrea Houston and find out why that fact isn't clear in her story.  

Space is at a premium inside the Mattamy Centre for sure.  The arena is currently packed with people and signs between ballots.  So I was glad to be a queer blogger accredited to attend, along with 7 other bloggers.  It will be an historic day with Ontario's first woman premier elected. 

First ballot results were fascinating with Sandra Pupatello leading with 599, Kathleen Wynne with 597, Gerard Kennedy with 281, Harinder Takhar with 235, Charles Sousa 222 and Eric Hoskins with 150.  

Hoskins endorsed Wynne.   Then before his name could be removed from the ballot, Takhar endorsed Pupatello (but he told his supporters to vote for her.)  The second ballot results will be coming out shortly. 


As most have heard by now, 2nd ballot voting was Pupatello 817, Wynne 750, Kennedy 285, Sousa 203, and Takhar 18.

Then Sousa and Kennedy pulled out early and both endorsed Wynne. Sousa's was a surprise. Now we await the final ballot. I'm scrutineering as I write for Pupatello (7:00 pm). We'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Great speech tonight by a leader with a great legacy

Very pleased to see Dalton McGuinty's speech tonight at the OLP convention reflecting on the numerous accomplishments since 2003!

It's not about being gay, but it is about taking a leap of faith...

I supported Lyn McLeod in the 1992 Ontario Liberal leadership race.

I supported Gerard Kennedy in the 1996 OLP race.

I supported Sheila Copps in the 2003 federal race (one of the few, I know.) I also supported Stephane Dion in 2006 (and have been eating humble pie ever since.)

So I've backed people who either won the leadership but failed to win the election. Or people who failed to win the leadership at all.

Dalton McGuinty's longevity has proven me quite wrong. His government has changed Ontario for the better having improved public education and public health care greatly over his 9 years in office. His final year was plagued with scandals and a fight with teachers that have left Ontario Liberal popularity in trouble.

The question is now: who can fix things? Who can do the best job as a leader and a premier? For me, that person is Sandra Pupatello.

As a downtown gay Torontonian, I might have in years past put my support behind a candidate like Kathleen Wynne. This article spends far too much time worrying about the delegates' opinions of her sexual orientation. For me, I think the fact that Wynne's a lesbian would ultimately be a plus with voters. It would be historic. I have no doubt that Wynne would do well in the job.

Just not as well as Sandra, whose political instincts are far more refined and battle-ready. In a minority government with hostile opposition parties, we need a carrot and a stick approach to making things work for Ontarians. It won't be enough to have great conciliation skills if the opposition isn't interested in helping you with your agenda. No the stick - ie. the political threat of defeat - is far more effective at brokering a deal.

For the opposition, the first instinct will always be to embarrass the government and defeat it. If they smell blood, they'll go for the jugular. All the Harvard dispute resolution training won't matter much if they think you're vulnerable. And for me, Wynne is very vulnerable. Not because she's a lesbian. But because she's been at the cabinet table for the last year in which so many disasters have occurred for the government.

For me, Pupatello's absence from the scene the last 1.5 years is one of her greatest trump cards in this leadership. That plus her considerable experience, personality and communication abilities make her the best candidate at this time. She's extraordinary.

Is Ontario ready for a woman premier? Yes. Are they ready for an Italian-Canadian premier? Yes. Are they ready for a lesbian premier? Yes. Are they ready for a downtown Torontonian progressive at a time when most are worried about the economy and the deficit? Probably not.

Are they ready for Sandra Pupatello? I have great faith that they are.

Buffoonery continues at Toronto City Hall as Rob Ford wins appeal

The circus that is Rob Ford's bizarre Toronto mayoralty will continue after the manboy won his appeal to stay in office today after being found guilty of breaking conflict of interest laws late last year. You can read the Star's coverage of today's ruling here. It appears the appeal judges accepted Ford's lawyer's arguments that city council had no right to order him to repay money he improperly raised for his private charity helping high school male jocks to play football. Despite all the rules Ford broke in obtaining the money for his charity, despite the censure from the Integrity Commissioner, and despite Ford's own admissions in court that he doesn't understand the province's conflict of interest laws, he gets to keep his job largely on a technicality.

I agree with lawyer Clayton Ruby on this: "The Court has let Rob Ford off on a technicality. We find that disappointing, particularly since the Court found that Mr. Paul Magder was right on the facts. We believe that there are serious errors of law in the judgment and we will ask the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal to that Court...Especially troubling is the finding that if a politician raises money from lobbyists and directs that money to his or her own personal interest, such abuse is beyond the reach of government oversight. This raises the possibility of American-style Political Action Committee (PAC) fundraising, which should be of great concern to all Canadians.”

Many say appealing to the Supreme Court is a legal long shot. I tend to agree. This affair seems over. It's disappointing but not the end of the world. I will agree now that the original penalty of being forced out of office seemed extreme considering the circumstances of the case. It's true the people who drafted our conflict of interest laws probably never contemplated a politician as ignorant, self-involved and slippery as Rob Ford bulldozing through all the possible protections for avoiding removal of office.

Ford is a dangerous bully. His buffoonish behaviour continues to be indulged, first by the 47% of voters who elected him despite his past indiscretions, and now by the courts. It's likely that Ford will continue along with no lessons learned. We'll likely see more of this nonsense again. The 2014 election cannot come soon enough.

The only upside is that this whole legal affair taints Mr. Ford even further in the minds of an increasingly skeptical Toronto public. Our city needs intelligent and reasoned leadership. Rob Ford is incapable of providing it. He seems to love the attention that his circus receives. Now without a rushed byelection campaign, his opponents now have more time to properly organize and campaign to defeat him. We can all take a breath and let the normal democratic process unfold as we await to remove this manboy from the mayor's chair in October 2014.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Queer-liberal: Accredited blogger at Ontario Liberal leadership convention 2013

I'm very pleased to announce that I've been approved as an accredited blogger at the 2013 Ontario Liberal leadership convention taking place this weekend, January 25th to 27th.

You can follow my posts here all convention long and my tweets will be here: (Hopefully in both locations.)

I'm looking very much forward to blogging/tweeting often with my thoughts on this historic weekend. I promise to be as fair as possible with my commentary.

For more information on the convention, please click here to get to the Ontario Liberal website.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Busy weekend of Liberal leadership voting; the wacky Glen Murray...

Like hundreds of Liberals, I put my name on the ballot this past weekend to become a delegate to the Ontario Liberal leadership convention later this month. Across the province, I'm very glad to say my candidate, Sandra Pupatello, won the most delegates with 504 elected, just ahead of Kathleen Wynne who has 463.

In Toronto Centre where I ran, a downtown progressive riding if there ever was one, Wynne came out on top with 9 delegates, Pupatello with 3 (not including myself unfortunately), Gerard Kennedy with 2, Eric Hoskins with 1 and 1 independent. I want to congratulate all the winners in my riding, all of those across the province who won in their ridings, and of course to everyone who stepped up and put their names on the ballot at all. It was a fun weekend getting a chance to see so many people I haven't seen in years.

I only moved back to Toronto Centre this past summer after four years in Davenport, where I wasn't very active at all with the Liberals. That absence probably had much to do with my not garnering enough votes to win. In truth, I would've been shocked had I won a spot.

I do wish the Ontario Liberals had found the time between 1996 and 2012 at one of their many schmooze fests/provincial conventions to amend their leadership rules to bring them into the 21st century. The delegated convention system of electing leaders is archaic. It excludes grassroots members from taking part directly in the final decision. Instead, it embraces a system of elites going to represent their ridings who then get schmoozed shamelessly on one weekend before making a final decision that is greatly swayed by the powers-that-be running the various campaigns. Such high-powered manipulation has produced strange results in the past (Stephane Dion winning in Montreal in 2006, Peter MacKay in 2003). The federal Liberals have thankfully evolved for their leadership race, even opening the door to supporters who get a vote simply by signing up and giving their email accounts (although it remains to be seen if these "supporters" will be charged some kind of fee for casting a ballot in April 2013.)

But nevertheless, this is the system the Ontario Liberals have and it should be interesting to see how it all goes down on January 26. Decisions by candidates dropping off the ballot will be crucial. But it's great to have two such exceptional women as the frontrunners. I'll be rooting for Pupatello. But if Wynne pulls it off, I'll be excited as well. I would be quite disappointed if Kennedy or, God helps us, Harinder Takhar emerges victorious.

One last note - I saw Glen Murray at the leadership election meeting yesterday in Toronto Centre. I don't know Glen personally having been out of the riding for a few years (I've never actually voted for him.) His wacky Twitter comments in the past, as well as his relatively shallow Ontario roots led me to disregard his candidacy for the leadership. His strange exit from the race last week simply confirmed many suspicions. Instead of facing what would no doubt have been a clobbering across the province this past weekend, Murray pulled out of the race last week and endorsed rival candidate and fellow gay urbanite Kathleen Wynne. But in doing so, he completely screwed over his own supporters who had put their names forth as delegate nominees in support of him. With Murray's exit, those nominees became "independent" and could only get elected if members voted "Independent" in the leadership. In Toronto Centre, only 1 such delegate got elected yesterday. Incidentally, that delegate told me before the vote that he was planning to support Sandra Pupatello if elected.

So we have a strange man for MPP in Toronto Centre who fancied himself a premier of Ontario after living here for only a handful of years. He's still accomplished much in his life and brings much good to the table. Some of his ideas on the taxation front as well as tuition were interesting. Murray will be hoping his endorsed leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne emerges victorious and appoints him to some senior cabinet position as promised. But I'm hoping that Pupatello emerges on top and sends Mr. Murray back to the backbench, which would no doubt do the man with the oversized ego a bit of good.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pupatello still tops, followed by Wynne, in my Liberal leadership deliberations

I remain quite supportive of Sandra Pupatello for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals. She continues to perform well with a clear and consistent message that I'm sure will continue to be fleshed out more fully in advance of January 26th. Sandra remains my top choice for leader.

But I need to amend my last post and declare that Kathleen Wynne is now firmly my second choice. Wynne performed very strongly today at the debate in Ajax. She's coming on very strongly in the final weeks of this campaign. My fondness for strong female political candidates, plus the fact that she's a "member of the family" make her winning on January 26th something which could make me quite happy.

Having said that, I think that Sandra Pupatello is still the better candidate for the entire province as a whole. She'd be a natural in the role and I think the most successful. At this time, I do think that Ontario needs a slight shift to the centre from the centre-left and Pupatello can accomplish this with greater credibility than Wynne who is a more stay-the-course candidate, in my estimation.

Gerard Kennedy remains an uninspiring communicator, much weaker in that department than both Wynne and Pupatello. Hence why he's now fallen to a distant third in my leadership estimations, followed by Eric Hoskins (#4), Charles Sousa (#5), Glen Murray (#6) and Harinder Takhar (#7).