Monday, May 30, 2011

GREAT MOVE: Alberta Liberals open party votes to non-members

I have to say that if the federal Liberal Party does the same thing for its leadership and nominations, it will be well on the way to renewal and electoral recovery. A public primary would bring in thousands of votes, it would be extremely difficult to manipulate such a large pool of voters. Shenanigans by parties trying to manipulate the results by misleading voters or pushing an unacceptable candidate would likely face huge backlash from the public. Elections Canada would run the elections. Candidates would have to win the old-fashioned way: by being the best on the ballot. This could be the start of a great electoral evolution in Canada, if we dare to do the smart thing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toronto Pride likely to receive city funding after threats over controversial group

Great news tonight from the City of Toronto's executive committee. I was glad to email them this past weekend. I have no idea if it made a difference. I'd like to think so. Congrats to the Proud of Toronto campaign, especially Mike Went and Doug Kerr, for galvanizing the community these past few weeks...

From: Matt
To: ""
Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2011 2:28:30 PM
Subject: Please save Pride Toronto

Dear Toronto Executive Committee Members -

As a longtime Toronto resident and member of the LGBT community, I am writing to strongly urge you to continue funding for Toronto Pride.

I have been appalled by the bizarre attacks by some on freedom of expression and association with regard to the Pride parade. While we may not agree with 'Queers Against Israeli Apartheid' or QAIA in terms of their tactics or even their name, we should not deny them the right to express their positions in a public event. Questioning some of the Israeli government's policies is not tantamount to hate speech, as some have suggested.

I do not support QAIA and I'm glad they have promised not to march in this year's parade. But they have a right to participate in Pride festivities elsewhere, the same as any group, as they do not break the law. But all of this talk about QAIA is a smokescreen. To cancel funding for hundreds of thousands of people because of the actions of 20 people is ridiculous!

Toronto Pride has been an important institution for freedom and culture in our city for decades. It has brought together our LGBT community and our allies for years. It is a symbol of the freedom shared by Torontonians and all Canadians. It brings in thousands of tourists every year, fills our hotels, our restaurants, our bars, our streets, for one big celebration at the start of summer.

It is appalling that the city would find no reason to invest in this celebration. The investment more than pays for itself as the money comes back many times over in terms of revenue for the city's businesses. Like any public event of this magnitude, it also requires policing and clean-up and I'm glad the city has provided that over the years.

I hope that your committee does the right thing and continues to support Toronto Pride. Do not listen to those city councillors who have in the past said some of the most hateful things about the LGBT community, who now tell us that alleged hatred against other communities is unacceptable. Some councillors on this issue are being hypocrites. I implore you to ignore that stupidity and make the best decision for the city of Toronto and all of its citizens.

Matt Guerin
Toronto, ON

Friday, May 20, 2011

Conservative and private media attack strategy against NDP already clear...

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have so many friends in the private media, from QMI and Sun Media to CTV. Already, Tory-leaning media friends have had a field day chasing down obscure NDP MPs-elect from Quebec, writing numerous stories about any resume mistakes the party may have made during the campaign. I'm sure we can expect no equivalent scrutiny against Tory backbenchers from the rest of the country from the same media. Do Canadians in English Canada care this much about backbenchers in the opposition? I don't think so.

But the anti-NDP narrative is now clear: all of those inexperienced, extremist amateurs from Quebec, some with alleged separatist tendencies (as long as you accept QMI's conservative spin), coupled with the NDP's socialist ideology, can never form an effective alternative to the Conservative majority. The narrative relies heavily on anti-Quebec sentiment in English Canada, writing off la Belle province as irrelevant.

The inherent dangers to national unity caused by the Conservative collapse in Quebec are ignored in favour of inside baseball analysis about some NDP MP nobody has ever heard of. At least, not all writers in the private media are drinking the conservative koolaid (thanks, Mr. Martin, for this accurate and scary portrait of the advantages Stephen Harper now possesses going forward.)

I trust Jack Layton and the NDP realize the forces they are up against over the next four years as they forge an alternative government and plan for 2015. Yes, many of their Quebec MPs look pretty green. Let's give them a chance to perform. In 2015, the NDP should allow fully democratic, open nominations in all ridings across the country and if their MPs perform well, they will be re-nominated. If not, they can be replaced by better people.

I also expect Jack Layton to continue to emphasize the practical, bread-and-butter issues he always has and follow the successful path of the Nova Scotia NDP. With Quebec in his corner plus way more support in English Canada than Harper has in Quebec, Jack Layton also has many advantages going forward too.

The next four years are going to be very interesting.

The lovely view from BeBloor

Snobby, elitist Star columnist Christopher (don't dare call him Chris) Hume may hate the look of my condominium building, BeBloor. But I can assure you the view from my ninth floor balcony is incomparable (see above picture.)

Yesterday, May 19th, was my birthday so it definitely wasn't appreciated seeing Hume heap scorn on my personal dwelling. I don't consider BeBloor a stunningly beautiful building, but it is pleasing enough and fits in with the other apartments and buildings in the area in the Junction Triangle, an area transitioning from old industrial to urban residential chique. I can assure the building is exceptionally well-run and filled with lovely people, many of them first-time buyers like me who enjoy being just outside the chaos of the downtown core. We are close to High Park, Roncesvalles, College West, Queen West West and The Junction.

Considering Hume also loves the ugly Chin Crystal fiasco at Bloor and Avenue, I think we can take his opinions with a grain of salt. Hume was, of course, one of the downtown elitist snobs at the Toronto Star who helped elect Rob Ford as Toronto mayor. Wow, I never thought I could sympathize with the folks out in the burbs. But if I had to choose between Rob Ford or Christopher Hume for Toronto mayor, I'd have to vote for Ford. And that says a lot.

Shape up, Toronto Star. Your snobby columnist is attacking personal living spaces and buildings not even built yet. I'm glad I canceled my Star subscription back in 2007 and I can assure you I will never buy a Toronto Star copy again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

'Proud of Toronto' campaign kicks into high gear to save Toronto Pride

I was happy to attend today's Proud of Toronto event at Toronto City Hall at this crucial time. It was quite an event and will hopefully serve to galvanize the LGBTQ community into action. As many will know, Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his neo-con followers are gunning for Toronto Pride this year, hoping to cut off funding for the annual event. They also hope to cut funding for LGBTQ Programs and Services like the 519 Community Centre, arts and culture, economic development, tourism, and HIV/AIDS programs and services.

It appeared they'd use the excuse of 'Queers Against Israeli Apartheid' to cut off funding. But now that that group has pulled out of this year's Toronto Pride parade, Rob Ford and his cohorts will no doubt be looking for any and all other excuses for denying funding.

Such investment into Toronto Pride, both through direct cultural funding as well as police and clean-up support, is crucial. As Pride co-chair Francisco Alvarez said today at the City Hall event, cutting off funding for Toronto Pride this year jeopardizes Toronto's World Pride celebrations in 2014 and could lead to Toronto Pride's bankruptcy.

Thus, it's crucial that everyone who supports Toronto Pride contact Toronto City councillors to urge them to resist the very real threat to cut off funding for this important institution.

I urge everyone to sign this petition and share it on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else you can.

Like the Proud of Toronto campaign, I also urge you to write the City of Toronto's Executive Committee ahead of their meeting on May 24, 2011 about why Pride Toronto matters: They will vote that day on what recommendation to make to City Council on Pride Toronto funding. I will be emailing the committee as soon as I finish this post.

Join the campaign's Facebook page here. And most importantly, spread the word and sign the petition.

Friday, May 13, 2011

B.C. Conservative goes for the troglodyte vote in bid to resurrect moribund party was down from Thursday noon until today, so please forgive me for not blogging about this sooner. Simon has beaten me to it already.

The B.C. Conservative Party hasn't elected anyone since the 1970s. Now their great white hope is John Cummins, who served 18 years in Ottawa as a Reform Party turned Canadian Alliance turned Stephen Harper Conservative backbencher.

His strategy for putting his moribund party back on the map? It would seem to appeal to those on the far right who cling to their hatred of LGBT people. Cummins recently suggested that sexual orientation is a choice that does not require specific protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

“I'm not a scientist [but] some of the research tells me that there's more of an indication that that's a choice issue,” Cummins told a Victoria radio audience.

What research exactly? Did he ask John Baird? Probably not, as I'm sure he would've told him being gay is NOT a choice. I didn't choose to be gay, it chose me. Every gay man I've ever met has told me their sexuality was not something they chose. In fact, the only choice is whether or not to live your life as an openly gay person. For those who are bisexual, I can see how one might gravitate from one gender to another over time.

But Cummins' argument that something being a choice means it doesn't deserve human rights protection is disturbing for other reasons. Of course, religion is also a choice, but Cummins mentioned nothing about removing religious freedom protections from human rights acts. Even if sexual orientation were a choice, does this mean firing someone for being gay or refusing to do business with someone because they are gay is therefore okay?

Cummins' misguided position boggles the mind. This is the most press his leadership candidacy has garnered. Cummins is a shoe-in for the leadership as the deadline for others to declare has past. When he was later queried by more media about his anti-gay comments, Mr. Cummins said his opinions were personal.

“I'm pro-life, I'm pro-traditional marriage, that's my view, I'm not a scientist,” he told the Times Colonist. “I'm not going to discuss that, they're personal issues, private issues.”

Why must too many conservatives continue to rely on their knee-jerk ignorance when determining public policy? If I were an elected official and were asked to vote on an issue I knew little to nothing about, I'd want to do my research and make an educated, intelligent decision. But such fair thinking is foreign to conservatives like Cummins. In fact, truth and research just get in the way of their ideology and prejudices. Just ask Rob Ford.

This makes me wonder how many other Tory backbenchers in the newly-invigorated Tory majority caucus feel the same way about LGBT people and our rights. All LGBT people in Canada and those who support equality should be very wary about the next four years.


Since opening this can of worms, Cummins has backtracked on the issue a bit. So it was sloppy rhetoric that got him into trouble, not some devious scheme to represent the far-right in B.C. Good to know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Liberal Party arrogance led to historic defeat...Continued infighting will destroy it

I'm still staring at the CBC's Canada Votes 2011 web page, particularly that beautiful map. It's slowly sinking in how far the Liberal Party has fallen. How it literally is staring oblivion in the face. (For if Liberals think 34 seats is the lowest they can go, they are so wrong.)

Liberal arrogance is mostly to blame for the public's rejection of Ignatieff. Here was a man who had lived 30 years outside the country coming home late in life to ask to lead the country. As of 2011, his wife hadn't even become a Canadian citizen yet. For him to overcome these negatives, he had to wow Canadians off their feet. Few outside the Liberal base rose up with enthusiasm. Sadly, the portrait painted by Conservatives in those attack ads seemed to ring true for many voters. I do believe Canadians gave Michael Ignatieff a chance in this election. But the people were obviously unimpressed, although Iggy did manage to convince many in the Liberal base of his campaigning strengths (including this writer.) I'm not sure I blame Iggy for everything. He was also painfully unlucky.

Nobody foresaw the Jack Layton Quebec surge. Once progressive voters saw that voting for the NDP might actually be the best way to challenge the Harper government, the Liberal vote collapsed down to a historic low of 18.9% of the vote and only 34 seats.

In 2015, Layton will be facing either Stephen Harper in his ninth year in office (perhaps voters will be thoroughly sick of him by then) or a new Tory leader. In that election, the Liberals will be lucky just to keep what they have.

That's why it's so important to get the leadership right this time after making mistakes this past decade. I'm going to stay neutral in the race for interim leader and for permanent leader for now. I'm sure the Liberal caucus will make a decision that works best for the party. The Liberals should wait at most one year to select a new leader who can get on to the tough task of rebuilding the Liberal Party in every region of the country. They need a permanent replacement by spring 2012, I'd say.

It was the arrogance that Ignatieff would sell to the country, the top-down, elitist idea that such a thing were possible, that sealed the party's fate.

The Liberals' crushing defeat is the end result of the 2006 leadership race in which the party elite tried to hoist two enormously flawed insiders on the party: Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. I, like many in the party's base, liked neither of them and desperately sought an alternative. We found that in Stephane Dion.

After Dion flopped, the party elite told us the democratic approach that elected Stephane Dion was clearly wrong. We had to correct the error of 2006 by anointing Ignatieff in 2008. If Bob Rae was the only other choice (as the party elite ensured), I had to choose Ignatieff.

Ignatieff's choice to seize the interim leadership of his party and essentially push out all other contenders looked power-hungry. It turned out to be an unfortunate omen and possibly inspired the Tory attack ad campaign. In 2011, the general public saw in Ignatieff what many Liberals refused to see in 2008.

For the Liberals to succeed in the future, they need to expel the control of elites and make the party's decision-making hugely democratic. They have to make being a part of the Liberal Party a meaningful exercise for grassroots members between leadership and nomination races. Liberals need to engage Canadians on what it means to be a Liberal in the 21st century and why a balanced approach to government is better than the polarization of the Conservatives and NDP. Liberals are fiscally responsible with a social conscious.

It's far too early to predict how well the Tories and the NDP will do in their new roles as majority and official opposition. The NDP is already having enormous growing pains.

I do think the Liberal Party has the opportunity to come back one day. This time in the wilderness will serve to convince Liberals they don't deserve power, they have to earn it. This will make Liberals more appealing to the public. The next Liberal leader will have to build from the ground up and earn the confidence of Canadians the old-fashioned way. Just like Jack Layton did.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Did we learn nothing from the Ignatieff coronation?

I agree Bob Rae as interim Liberal leader in Ottawa would be a very bad idea if he plans to run for permanent leader.

Jean Chretien needs to stop playing his little games and move on...This is the kind of backroom manipulation and bullshit voters so thoroughly rejected last week and it's why the Liberals are in such dire straits today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Liberals unlikely to formally merge with the NDP...

I've got to admire the positive spin by some Liberal supporters out there after last night's devastating and historic defeat.

The people of Canada made decisive choices yesterday. They voted for continuity and stability in government by rewarding Stephen Harper with a solid plurality of votes, which, under our archaic voting system, handed them a majority. And they voted for one clear and strengthened alternative to that government, Jack Layton and the NDP. I decided over the weekend to be a part of the country's big change instead of resisting it and voted NDP in Davenport.

It's clear now the NDP has replaced the Liberal Party as the national alternative to the Conservatives.

I estimate the only way Liberals will play a decisive role in federal politics in the near future is for party members to switch over and join the NDP (or the Tories). Some leadership candidates and others in the party are already talking about merger with the NDP.

However, I'd bet against a formal merger ever happening - not because of resistance from centre-right Liberals out there - but because the NDP will not be interested in the slightest. Jack Layton and the NDP have clearly developed a great brand across the country that has shown amazing strength. Now the NDP is the only other national party, perhaps even more national than the Conservatives. Why would they merge with the Liberals now? The NDP model being used by Jack Layton is the Nova Scotia model where they won power without merging with the N.S. Liberals (who themselves managed to bounce back partially after a disastrous third place defeat two elections ago. Now they form the official opposition in Nova Scotia again.)

Canada now has an opposition leader with a strong, clearly defined brand that will be difficult for the Tories to tarnish. I dread to see what the Conservatives will pull against Layton and the NDP in order to maintain their position. But I think Layton will be up to defending himself.

Once the NDP rejects any real discussions about merging with the fallen Grits, I expect to see many Liberal MPs eventually decide to join the NDP over the coming years. The shell of a Liberal party left will probably work very hard to survive and rebuild. But in the end, it may not matter who becomes the next Liberal leader. If Harper and Layton steer toward the centre over the next four years, I expect the Liberals to continue to lose seats in future elections as the country polarizes between the centre-left and the centre-right.

But I also don't expect Stephen Harper to lead the Conservatives into the 2015 election. By then, he'll have been prime minister for nine years. Perhaps a good time for an exit. Which would make this majority his legacy government. And that scares me.

But I pray the NDP's new strength will keep the Conservatives more moderate. We shall see.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pollsters and seat projectors should beware Monday's results

****UPDATED 12:15 AM MAY 2ND

"Polls don’t elect MPs," said Michael Ignatieff today. "Votes elect MPs. Let’s wait for the Canadian people to do what they want to do."

The pseudo-science of gauging public opinion in a world in which many voters (especially younger voters) no longer own land lines or ignore entreaties to take part in online surveys will be truly tested on Monday night in Canada.

Frankly, I look forward to re-assessing which pollsters still are able to accurately gauge public opinion in this modern world and which ones have little credibility.

We can today look at the final numbers predicted by pollsters:

Decima-Research: Cns 36%, NDP 30%, Libs 19%, Greens 6%, BQ 6%.

Nanos: Cns 37.1%, NDP 31.6%, Liberals 20.5%, Bloc 5.7%, Green 3.8%.

EKOS: Cns 33.9%, NDP 31.6, Libs 20.8%, Bloc 6.4%, Greens 5.9%.

Forum Research: Cns 35%, NDP 33%, Liberals 19%.

Abacus Data: Cns 37%, NDP 32%, Liberals 18%, Greens 7%, BQ 7%.

Angus-Reid online poll: Cns 37%, NDP 33%, Liberals 19%, BQ 6%, Greens 4%.

Ipsos-Reid: Cns 38%, NDP 33%, Liberals 18%, BQ 7%, Greens 4%.

I can't find any final numbers from Environics.

And, of course, the always laughable Compass, frequently happy to boost Conservative spirits when they need it most: Cns 46%, NDP 26%, Libs 17%, Bloc 7%, Greens 4%.

I look forward to comparing the final vote percentages with these guys' numbers on Monday night.

Even more interesting will be how accurate seat predictors will be.

Forum Research, despite putting the Conservatives and NDP in a dead heat in voter support, still predicts the Tories will gain seats and land at 147 by the end of the night. But they caution with the normal margins of error for their survey, the election still might produce a either a Conservative or NDP minority government.'s Eric Grenier has had a great run with regular columns in the Globe based on his projections. *****Tonight, he pegs Conservative support st 36.4%, NDP at 27.3%, Libs at 22.8%, Bloc 6.7% and Greens at 5.6%. Grenier estimates this will translate into a House of Commons made up of 143 Conservatives, 78 New Democrats, 60 Liberals, and 27 Bloc members. I think he pegs the NDP too low and the Liberals (sadly) and the Bloc too high.

But of course I can't forget Grenier's claim in November that the Liberals would win only 14% of the vote in the Winnipeg North by-election, based simply on his analysis around vote percentage changes. Of course, in that local race, the Liberals won the seat with 46% of the vote. Of course, we'll see how well his final predictions stack up against the real results tomorrow night.

Election Prediction Project is another great site and it's been reliably cautious is changing its predictions for the entire campaign. Only in the last few days have the NDP seat counts increased substantially. As of midnight ET, the site predicts 146 Conservatives, 65 Liberals, 61 NDP, 33 Bloc, 1 Independent in Quebec and 2 races too close to call (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour in NS and Gilles Duceppe's Laurier-Ste-Marie in Quebec, both of which will not be won by Conservatives).

And hasn't put out his final numbers yet. The last predictions are from April 29th, so I imagine he'll update these by tonight.

It's all about the numbers now.