Friday, August 29, 2008

U.S election will eclipse Canadian election...

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper goes through with his apparent plans to call an early election for October, there's no doubt in my mind that many Canadians will simply focus more on the ongoing and historic American election race between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Obama gave a masterpiece of a speech tonight accepting his party's nomination. I'm still in awe of his strength and ability. Without a doubt, Obama will make one of America's greatest Presidents, should Americans elect him in November.

Against this more interesting battle, the Canadian race about to be called will no doubt pale, kind of like how the voting reform referendum got lost during last year's Ontario election.

I wonder how current voting intentions and impressions of leaders in Canada will be affected by this huge, U.S. distraction. By October 14, we should also clearly know if there is a frontrunner in the U.S. race and there's no doubt this will have an impact on the Canadian vote. If Obama seems to be headed for victory in the U.S., will Canadians want to re-elect Stephen Harper who tried to sabotage Obama's primary campaign last winter?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dishonest election spin from the Harper-crites...

It's clear now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to break his own law and force a federal election in Canada for October.

The Tories must fear getting walloped in the Guelph by-election and the negative implications such a loss would bring as they prepare for a fall election that now looks inevitable. Clearly, the Grits looked poised to defeat the government in the House of Commons and force a vote likely for November, just after the U.S. federal election. With Barack Obama still the frontrunner to win that vote, the winds of change could easily blow north of the border.

Thus the latest bullshit from the Harper-crites that the Parliament is dysfunctional and needs to be put down asap. It can't wait until after the four September by-elections, it has to happen before.

Dion seems to have his preference for a November vote. The Tories want it over by mid-October. The attempts by Harper to arrange meetings with the opposition leaders were transparent, bullshit attempts to set them up to be a part of his fictional narrative that the Parliament is dysfunctional.

Good on Dion for refusing to play by Harper's rules. If he wants to discuss the fall agenda with Dion, he can wait until one day after the by-elections, says Dion. That seems to be out of the question for the Tories and now they're still spinning this as somehow further proof that the Parliament isn't working.

I really hope Canadians are paying attention to this Tory nonsense. When Harper flip flops again and breaks his own fixed election date law by calling a vote before Sept 8 for mid-October, the public shouldn't let him and the Tories get away with it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The amazing Matthew Mitcham!

With the Beijing Summer Olympics now wrapped up, I'll join the chorus of congratulations for Aussie dreamboat diver and openly gay Matthew Mitcham (pictured above and below), who won the gold medal for the men's 10-meter platform final in Beijing, denying China a clean sweep of this year's diving gold medals.

The adorable, 20-year-old Mitcham was the only openly gay male athlete at this year's games (there were nine lesbians out of the closet in competition), making this upset victory all the sweeter, not only for his home country, but for openly queer athletes everywhere.

You can read more about Mitcham here, here and here. Thanks to Gay Persons of Color for the tip today on Mitcham's win.

Montreal Simon also writes eloquently about the importance of Mitcham's win to gay youth around the world. Check out his lovely post here.

While I'm at it, let me also congratulate the Canadian Olympic team for its great performance this year, taking 18 medals, their best since Atlanta in 1996.

Canadian Adam van Koeverden came back yesterday from a tough week to finally score a silver medal in the men's K-1 500-metre final.

To celebrate, here's a nice pic of him directly below because we can never see too

Snobby Rufus Wainwright should learn to respect his Toronto fans...

I've been a loyal fan of Montreal native Rufus Wainwright for 10 years. I've been a Torontonian for 13 years. Wainwright is one of my favourite performers today, I love all of his music. I also love living in Toronto.

It's too bad that Wainwright felt the need to spout off about his apparent contempt for the Big Smoke for Xtra recently.

Said Wainwright: "I hate visiting Toronto. I can't stand it. The place drives me mad. I have friends there, I work there, but I find it really hard to like. I will have to go back there, but I wish I didn't have to."

It sounds all so very Montreal/New York snobby, the kind of criticism we've gotten used to from types like Rufus, who himself couldn't wait to get out of Canada for New York and parts of Europe in his 20s. It's been funny listening to Wainwright struggle to compliment his native Canada for our progressive same sex marriage laws, while at the same time show general disregard for his birth country abroad.

I've attended numerous Rufus concerts in T.O. and have always felt he had a certain, subtle contempt for his Toronto audiences, people who had paid good money to see him perform. He once brought out a giant glass of red wine during his Convocation Hall concert and messed up a couple songs; I certainly didn't feel I got my money's worth at that one.

I think I might be through with Rufus concerts if this keeps up. Will I still listen to his music? Of course I will, but I'll probably only download it. Thank you Limewire! Maybe one day he'll learn to respect his Toronto fans and show a little love...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A wise choice by Obama


"Matthew --

I have some important news that I want to make official. I've chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.

Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago.

I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Joe know that you're glad he's part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we'll make sure he gets it:

Thanks for your support,


P.S. -- Make sure to turn on your TV at 2:00 p.m. Central Time to join us or watch online at"

I think Democratic candidate Barack Obama's pick of fellow Senator Joe Biden is brilliant.

I'm of the same mind as Jim, Steve and many other Liberal bloggers on this.

I see little sense in Jason Cherniak's contribution to this discussion today. Writes Jason: "Yet I haven't seen any good reasons yet why it was not [Hillary Clinton]..." I simply don't know how to respond to this willful ignorance, unless of course Cherniak is merely joking. If nothing more, Obama has said he wanted someone he could trust by his side. Clearly, as we all know, Hillary (and Bill) did not meet that fundamental characterization.

Barack Obama is a truly gifted communicator who is absolutely serious about winning this election and putting the U.S.A. back on a strong course for the future. His choice of Biden reinforces that message. Biden is a perfect balance to Obama's strengths. In Biden, Obama has a running mate he can trust during this campaign and for the next possible eight years in the White House to challenge him as they govern.

Now the Democratic ticket features both historic and needed change, combined with the deep wisdom of experience. Biden's dynamic personality and working class credibility will play very well with voters in the states that Obama needs to win in November. His roots in Pennsylvania will likely seal the deal in that state, and probably go a long way to reassuring other mainstream (aka "White") voters in other states like Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and right across the country who up until recently have been somewhat skeptical about Obama.

The fact that the pick of Biden was so expertly done - no leaks, with the leading contenders only revealed on the final day before the announcement followed by an unofficial confirmation around midnight last night - says a lot about the discipline of Obama's team. No doubt, that discipline starts from the top. For the last week, all we've been talking about (besides election speculation here in Canada) is who will Obama pick.

I don't buy for a second that Obama has undermined his message of "change" by picking a 36-year Senate veteran. He's picked an expert on foreign policy as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He's picked a guy who still commutes all the way to Delaware everyday on public transit. He's picked a guy whose own son is heading off to fight in Iraq in October. McCain can talk all he wants about his time in Vietnam 40 years ago. Biden's own son is serving as a soldier starting this fall. Considering this, both Biden and Obama will do what's right for the soldiers in cleaning up the huge Republican mess that is Iraq. Talk about a compelling new narrative to counteract McCain's back story.

Next to Biden, McCain seems more shaky and not so safe, I must say. In essence, Obama is communicating with his pick of Biden that he is offering "change" that is "safe." This will go a long way to shore up most if not all of Obama's perceived weak spots and position the Democrats for a win come November, regardless of who McCain picks as his running mate.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back from Guelph: By-election is still Frank's to lose, with the Greens displacing the Dippers for 3rd place...

I spent the last two days in Guelph visiting family. I took a couple of hours yesterday afternoon to help out Frank Valeriote's Liberal campaign, doing a literature drop and getting some nice sun in the process.

Much of what I've heard and read elsewhere about this byelection seems to be true: Frank seems to have the most lawn signs, based on my observations in the poll I dropped, plus others in the nearby area. I did take the time to drive in various parts of the city and it seems that Liberal support is strong everywhere. Also, I'd say the Greens have the second most number of lawn signs. Surprisingly, Gloria Kovach's lawn signs are few and far between, as are Tom King's NDP signs. Of course, on public spaces all four campaigns have a strong presence.

I didn't knock on doors, but for those locals I did encounter, most seemed completely aware of the upcoming vote and receptive to Frank's glossy pamphlet. Only two people refused to take a pamplet, one saying he's Green.

This on a day when the local paper published results of a poll by Winnipeg's KLRVU Research showing Frank Valeriote with about 37% support versus 26% for Tory Gloria Kovach, with the Greens' Mike Nagy in 3rd with 19% and the NDP's King pulling up the rear with just under 18%. Quite frankly, these numbers completely jibe with my own analysis and what I saw on the ground. If observers are surprised by this comfortable Liberal lead, clearly they don't know Guelph very well, nor do they understand how much support Mr. Valeriote truly has in the community.

I'm not going to pretend that Gloria Kovach or Tom King aren't good candidates; they are - they simply pale against Valeriote's impressive credentials and community following. I would say that Kovach's appointment as the Tory candidate over the duly elected Conservative nominee Brent Barr continues to dog her campaign. Perhaps they are still short on actual bodies in their campaign office and that explains the dearth of lawn signs in the community. And Tom King seems like a great guy and decent candidate; were the NDP to be running somebody less impressive, they'd no doubt be running a distant fourth, rather than nearly tied with the Greens in this race.

While I agree with some who doubt the professionalism of this upstart Winnipeg pollster (who is the brother of Winnipeg South Tory MP Rod Bruinooge), I simply can't get my head around this tricky bit of NDP spin. Quite frankly, the numbers in this poll of 3,400 make sense at this point in the race - Libs 37%, Cns 26%, Greens 19% and NDP 18%. How this poll helps the Tories is beyond me.

I don't know the Greens' Mike Nagy very well, but this is his third run and thus Guelph voters are likely somewhat familiar with him. He seems to be riding a minor groundswell of Green support that saw that party win just under 20% in last year's provincial election in Guelph. I fully expect Nagy to win about that amount this time too, probably finishing comfortably ahead of King who will be in the mid-high teens by the end of this.

If Kovach's numbers are in the mid-high 20s, that would be a big blow to Tory hopes of expansion in southwest Ontario. I have no doubt that if this byelection were happening in Kitchener or Waterloo or London West, the Tories would be way more competitive. But this is Guelph, the green city. And they're facing a very strong local Liberal machine and candidate. After dropping literature in my poll yesterday, I went out to dinner with family and returned to the campaign office around 10:30 pm with my poll map and three remaining pamphlets, thinking I'd drop the map off (as requested) through the mail slot. To my surprise, six Liberals were still inside busy at work. These local Grits are workhorses.

Stephane Dion makes an appearance in the riding today (sadly I had to return to Toronto this morning and couldn't make it.) But things seem to be looking good. We will see what happens on Sept 8th, but I have a feeling things will turn out well for the Red-Green show....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Despatie and Burnett do Canada proud...

Incredible performance by Canadian heartthrob diver Alexandre Despatie (pictured above) in the men's three-metre springboard Tuesday at the Water Cube, taking the silver medal.

Kudos also to Torontonian Jason Burnett (the redhead), who won the silver in the men's trampoline.

I'm so enjoying watching (the eye candy in) this year's Beijing

Click here for CBC's Olympics site...

All of our athletes are really starting to kick ass.

Yay for Canada! ;-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chretien slams Harper's judgment; Tories attack artists; Madonna is 36?; Harry Potter nude?

So many interesting tidbits in the news today:

- Hurray for former Prime Minister Jean Chretien for slamming current Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to boycott the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.
- Speaking of bad Tory decisions, the Harper government's war against the arts is now undeniable. Kudos to the Globe for today's editorial.
- I wrote on the weekend about Madonna's 50th birthday. Today, this report claims that the Queen of Pop considers herself the 'spiritual age of 36.' Hmmm...I'm 36 and I feel the spiritual age of
- And finally, 'Harry Potter' actor Daniel Radcliffe seems more than happy to strip in public, be it on stage for this fall's Broadway production of 'Equus' or now apparently in the upcoming 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' movie, according to this report. Says Radcliffe: "At first I thought I'd have pants [underwear] on for the scene. Apparently not. But I've sort of done that before on stage. It's all old hat now, really." This is a little strange considering the producers of the next Potter flick 'Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince' reportedly delayed that film's release until next summer because of Radcliffe's nude appearance in 'Equus' this winter. Warner Bros. bosses were reported to say they, '...Do not want such an image to be associated with bespectacled Harry, who remains chaste and virginal." At least until Part Seven, I guess.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New word for Stéphane Dion: Hot!

There are many words I have used to describe Liberal leader Stéphane Dion: honest, ethical, brilliant, hard-working, passionate, engaged, inspiring, likeable, even cute. (Others may have used less positive language, as we well know, including nerdy, awkward, petulant, etc.)

But until this Canadian Press photo appeared with this story today, showing Dion in a nice, form-fitting (he's clearly been taking care of himself) shirt, campaigning alongside Westmount-Ville-Marie Liberal candidate Marc Garneau this weekend, I never described Stephane as "hot." But now I guess I can. Mr. Dion seems to be exceedingly comfortable in his own skin ever since the release of his Green Shift policy. No doubt, that confidence and, dare I say it, sex appeal will do him well on the campaign trail, whenever the election happens.

Eat your heart out, Stephen Harper!

Queen of pop Madonna turns 50 today!

The Queen of Pop turns 50 today! Wow, time flies. I remember first seeing her 'Lucky Star' video back in 1983 or so. This certainly makes me a bit old too. I was 11 back then, a mere puppy. Now I'm 36. Ugh. Well, at least I'm not (yet) 50! lol

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tony Clement an 'embarrassment' at world AIDS conference

Please don't take my word for it. Read about it here.

Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, told Xtra recently that Conservative health minister Tony Clement's public condemnation of a safe injection site in Vancouver at the recent Mexico City AIDS conference was a major blow to Canada's prestige.

"It's an embarrassment for Canada...It's become very clear that we have a health minister, and presumably a government behind him, who are denialists. It's similar to the condemnation the South African government received for denying that HIV causes AIDS.

"I didn't have the sense that there was anyone else from other countries, medical or government representatives, speaking out against harm reduction. The current Canadian government is out of step with any rational response and out of step with the rest of the world."

Congrats to David Orchard!

Just a brief note of congrats to David Orchard, who won the Liberal nomination yesterday in the Saskatchewan riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River. Congrats as well to fellow blogger Jim Curran who called this one long ago.

After this winter's appointment controversy in the riding (and before the subsequent by-election defeat), I had some critical words for some of Orchard's supporters as well as for Orchard himself. I do want to say today that I've always recognized the many great qualities possessed by Mr. Orchard and admire his dedication to active politics. It couldn't have been easy to get over being pushed aside in favour of Joan Beatty last winter; it says a lot about his loyalty to the party that he put his name forth again to be on Dion's team.

No doubt, with Orchard's considerable skills, he'll be a very strong challenge to the Tories in that riding and may indeed have a great chance of taking it back, regardless of what happens nationally (or even elsewhere in Saskatchewan.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Of slights and slurs: No political party is free from sin...

Everyone can put their foot in their mouth and make mistakes. If you're Liberal MP Robert Thibault, you can do it twice in one week. You can even do it when you're apologizing for the previous slight that came out of your mouth.

Thibault's first comment against the Tory opponent in his riding, 60-year-old Greg Kerr, could possibly be excused as ham-fisted defensiveness. Thibault was apparently asked about how the Tories are targeting him for defeat in the next election. Thibault responded with a ridiculous statement that if the Tories were truly serious about knocking him off they'd have run someone much younger than Kerr. In a year when a 72-year-old is running to be President, Thibault's statement was baffling and yes, ageist.

After Tory Senator Marjory LeBreton responded with concocted "outrage" at Thibault's comment, he simply dug himself in deeper with the dumb and sexist suggestion that LeBreton was an "idiot" who should "go back to making tea" for former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Why is it that some men seem to instantly revert to these kinds of sexist put-downs when taking on female political opponents? Sexism is still rampant in our society, as any woman would attest. It's sad and deplorable. A former female boss of mine at Queen's Park once shared with me how former Liberal House Leader Dwight Duncan told her (in response to her suggestion that MPPs should practice better decorum in the legislature) that he didn't want to turn the House into some kind of "tea party." It's knee-jerk, let's-put-her-in-her-place kind of language, designed to maintain a sense of male superiority.

Of course, the Tory response to Thibault's stupidity was totally hypocritical. As we know, there is no shortage of recent examples of Tory sexism and general disrespect for human rights.

"If Liberal MPs are allowed to publicly use offensive language like Thibault's without consequence, it shows that Stephane Dion's commitment to women in politics rings hollow," said Tory minister Rona Ambrose.

What consequences did Peter MacKay face when he called Belinda Stronach a dog in the House of Commons? What about those Tory MPs who called Stronach a whore when she switched parties?

What consequences did Tory MP Tom Lukiwski face when he was caught on tape saying, "Let me put it to you this way — there’s As and Bs. The As are guys like me. The Bs are homosexual faggots with dirt in their fingernails that transmit diseases.”? Lukiwski's carefully orchestrated apology and promise to "spend the rest of his life making amends" quickly evaporated once the national media storm died down. He continues to serve as a Parliamentary Secretary in Harper's government, without any reprimand.

And of course who could forget Pierre Poilievre's attack on all things Aboriginal on the same day as Stephen Harper's public apology over the residential schools issue?

Clearly this kind of discriminatory language - whether it be sexist, racist, homophobic, ageist - knows no ideological or partisan bounds. The only difference seems to be that the Tories have a bigger range of bigoted statements they're prepared to tolerate.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hallejulah!: Controversial U.S. church group stopped at border...

Read the National Post article here...

It's interesting to see a religious extremist group shut out of the country by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

This is a victory over despicable, hysterical hatred. Keep your poison south of the border, please...

************ UPDATE

Sadly, some of that poison did make it north of the border, the wackos claim.

My friend Warren Kinsella has a great post today about this issue. I completely agree with him when he asks what Ezra Levant and other Canadian "members of the lunatic, absolutist "free speech" league...Rex Murphy? Mark Steyn? The National Post? Macleans?" think of this. I'd like to know too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Conservative ideology gets in the way of common sense, risks lives...

Yet again, we are reminded why we have the wrong government in Ottawa. This policy position, re-articulated by Health Minister Tony Clement at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City yesterday, would make the spread of HIV/AIDS more likely among Vancouver's heroin-addicted population.

Insite's methods may be controversial, but this is still certainly about harm reduction, not 'harm addition.' If Clement and other Tories would think clearly and take off their ideological blinders for a second, they'd realize how dumb that latter phrase, 'harm addition', truly is.