Monday, November 26, 2012

Time for Toronto conservatives to find a new champion and ditch Buffoon Ford!

Many of Rob Ford's opponents are celebrating today's surprising court decision to remove him from office for breaking the law.

Apparently, Rob Ford intends to appeal the decision in court and try to stay in office. If a byelection is held to fill the vacancy caused by today's ruling, it seems that Rob Ford may try to run again on some kind of demented "I'm a victim of left wing conspiracies" platform. Surely the idiots who make up the base of Ford Nation will be happy to vote for the buffoon again. But surely not the fiscal conservatives in Toronto who merely wanted some relief in 2010 after years of David Miller and couldn't stomach George Smitherman's immense baggage. Haven't they seen enough of this gong show yet?

If there is a byelection, I hope Torontonians who want fiscal responsibility in the Toronto mayor's office will take this ruling as the last straw that it is and ditch this buffoon Ford and find someone else who is qualified to lead a world-class city and who doesn't regularly disregard the law for his private purposes. Surely there are better conservatives in Toronto than Rob Ford!

Sadly, Ford's thoughtless fans in the right-wing media are already at it. Apparently, when one of their own breaks the law and is forced to face the consequences, it's an insult to the voters. When ordinary people break the law, we don't get cheerleaders at Sun Media demanding we be forgiven without consequences. They throw the book at us. The hypocrisy is disgusting.

Enough of the gong show! It's time this regrettable chapter in Toronto's history come to a close. If this decision is upheld and we have a byelection in Toronto to fill the mayor's office, I hope we get better candidates than the sorry lot we got in 2010.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

GridTO article: Splitting the Village

This week, I was happy to be interviewed for this Grid Toronto piece about the possible splitting of Toronto's Gay Village into two federal/provincial ridings. Here's an excerpt and link to the reporter Luc Rinaldi's great article:

The changes, proposed in August by Valin and the other two members of Ontario’s electoral-boundaries commission, would split the Village into two ridings along Wellesley Street. The southern half would remain within the existing Toronto Centre; the northern portion would join the newly created Mount Pleasant riding. Provincial ridings and municipal wards are expected to adopt these new boundaries as well.

Goyeau and a handful of others at the hearing are determined to keep the Village in a single riding. He contends that the split, which would give the area two different political representatives instead of just one, would make it harder for the neighbourhood to find a devoted champion for its causes. But making that change isn’t as easy as simply moving the boundary north.

“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” Goyeau says of the redistribution process. “When you push in one particular place, there’s a bulge in another.” Under the proposed boundaries, each of the newly defined ridings would have a population of about 100,000, just shy of the province’s ideal average of 106,000. Removing the territory north of Wellesley from Mount Pleasant and leaving it within Toronto Centre would upset the population balance, likely necessitating another boundary adjustment elsewhere.

Matthew Guerin, a screenwriter and producer who’s lived both in and around the Village, is also opposed to dividing the community between two ridings.

“It’s easy to think that little sliver [between Wellesley and Bloor] would be pretty much drowned out by the voting habits of those north of Bloor,” says Guerin, who believes that northern Mount Pleasant residents typically vote more conservatively. Guerin says that the area in question has more in common with Toronto Centre and that, symbolically, the split is “odd.”

But not everyone is convinced that the proposed change is a negative one, including the riding’s former MPP and 2010 mayoral candidate George Smitherman. “I had the same first reaction—I was quite emotional about it,” says Smitherman, who still considers the Village—where he once lived and operated a business—his home neighbourhood. Upon further consideration, he realized the new boundaries could offer the area greater attention and representation.

“The neighbourhood association would suddenly have two different representatives, possibly from two different political parties, that could advocate and lobby on issues that matter to them.”

Smitherman says the Wellesley Street split wouldn’t necessarily be as divisive as some fear because Toronto’s LGBT population is less concentrated in the Village than it once was.

“The gay community can find itself without a street corner,” he says.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tories way down and Liberals way up, yet some in the MSM say this is good for Stephen Harper?

This article is one of a couple currently using a new Ipsos Reid poll to argue that Justin Trudeau is Stephen Harper's newest friend.

The last Ipsos poll earlier this year put NDP support at 38% with the Tories at 35%, and the Liberals at 18%. Today, apparently the Liberals are up to 26%, with the NDP down to 30% and the Tories are down to 34%.

Hmmmm....On the superficial surface, this would appear to be bad news for the NDP. However, one must admit the 38% number in June, if true at all, was simply due to the ongoing honeymoon for new leader Tom Mulcair and the ongoing absence of a viable Liberal option. No other polls put NDP support that high around that time, of course. I recall seeing mostly low 30s for the NDP then.

Secondly, I prefer to look at the actual voting results in 2011 and draw comparisons from that instead of polls. When we do this, we notice clearly that Tory support has fallen significantly from 40% down to 34%. NDP support is fairly steady, going from 31% to 30%. And Liberal support has gone up substantially from 19% to 26%.

So in truth, the Tories have lost the most support and the Liberals have been the beneficiaries. This poll would suggest that the reinvigorated Liberals are gaining mostly at the expense of the Tories. In truth, a rejuvenated Liberal Party is a direct threat to Tory support.

Let's not forget that it was the collapse of the Liberal vote in 2011 that benefited the Tories directly, especially in Ontario. Those votes didn't switch to the NDP and magically elect Tories. They moved directly from the Liberals to the Tories and gave Harper his majority. As we know, there are huge swaths of the electorate, especially in Ontario, who will freely switch between the Conservatives and the Liberals, but have shown little interest in considering the NDP. If the Liberals remain unviable, those votes will stay Conservative. But if the Liberals become viable again, after nine years of Tory rule, many will be tempted to switch back.

Now this poll indicates many of those votes lost in 2011 have returned to the Liberal fold. If that continues, Justin Trudeau will be anything but Stephen Harper's best friend. A drop of six points for the Tories with the NDP holding steady would likely produce a weak Tory minority government, with NDP making modest seat gains, and the Liberals gaining significantly as well (but still in third place.)

The most interesting aspect of the poll is that despite a rejuvenating Liberal Party, NDP support is holding steady at roughly what the party won last year. It does appear that continued NDP strength is not going away anytime soon, despite the spin.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Americans vote for same sex marriage in 4 states & re-elect a pro-equal marriage President!

Let me just quickly celebrate the great re-election of Barack Obama on Tuesday night.  He's the first President of the United States to publicly support same sex marriage. 

I do think Obama's leadership on this issue this year played a part in the results in four states where referenda on same sex marriage was also being voted on.   Maine reversed its previous vote against same sex marriage by finally endorsing it on Tuesday night by a 53% margin.  Maryland followed suit on Tuesday with a 52% victory.  Minnesota seems to have voted down an attempt to ban equal marriage in its law by a 52% margin.  Out west, Washington state also voted for same sex marriage by a 52% margin.  Coupled with that state's endorsement of recreational marijuana by a 55%, Washington becomes my new favourite place!  I need to plan a nice summer trip out that way along with Vancouver soon! 

Americans have shown they are progressing away from their conservative past into a more inclusive future.  All progressives have great reason to celebrate this week. 

Canadians continue to suffer under Stephen Harper's psychotic, paranoid, secretive rule.  But at least the wingnuts in Canada's conservative party are being held at bay by the Prime Minister in favour of a moderate conservative agenda.   The Republican Party in the U.S. would do well to learn from Canada's Conservatives on how to behave and win. 

I'm at least glad to say that Canada's progressive parties are finally getting their acts together.  The federal NDP continues to be a formidable force as the official opposition under Tom Mulcair and remain the greatest threat to the Conservatives.   The Liberals are also fixing their leadership problems and look certain now to elect Justin Trudeau as leader, who I think will appeal to the hearts and minds of Canadians who don't like the bizarre tendencies of our current prime minister, particularly in areas which gave Harper his majority in 2011.  Trudeau may end up being Canada's answer to Barack Obama like his father was Canada's answer to John Kennedy. 

Interesting times indeed.  For an interesting read on this topic, try this out:

Den Tandt: Americans were really voting to become more Canadian

Monday, November 5, 2012

Republican minority voting suppression tactics will hopefully end after 2012...

Further to recent revelations about forcing voters to show government issued photo ID in certain Republican-controlled U.S. states this election, let's look at another Republican tactic in this campaign: cancelling or cutting down on early voting, taking away opportunities to vote ahead of election day.

In Florida, where the race is currently neck and neck and every vote counts, in the last election, voters had 14 days to cast ballots before voting day. Not so this year. The Republican governor and legislature has seen fit to reduce those voting days to 8. See more below:

"With complaints streaming in from angry voters, the Florida Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters asked Gov. Rick Scott and state election officials on Thursday to extend early voting. They argued that some voters were leaving without voting because they did not have all day to wait in line. The Monroe County election supervisor, Harry Sawyer, also asked Mr. Scott to use his emergency powers to extend early voting. But the governor and state elections officials turned down the request, saying that the process was running smoothly and that the move was unnecessary. Last year, Mr. Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed through a measure to cut early voting from 14 days to 8 days and to cancel voting on the final Sunday before Election Day."

It had been an electoral tradition in Florida for blacks in various Florida churches to conduct "Souls to the Polls" trips to the early voting booths on the Sunday before elections as a way to promote voter turnout. This year, that tradition is cancelled by the Republicans.

How is this making voting accessible or encouraging people to vote? By cancelling opportunities they've always had to vote early? The agenda by the Republicans here is pretty clear.

I read some commentary recently that 2012 will be the last Republican year in which they attempt to suppress or crush the votes of Latinos, blacks and other minorities. Instead of doing what the Canadian Conservatives have done by reaching out to ethnic communities and tap into and grow support for the party, the largely white Republican party under the control of the racist Tea Party movement this election has taken a different tact: try to suppress minority votes, take away opportunities for them to vote and hope that the white vote will carry the day for Mitt Romney.

By 2016, the Latino vote will have grown so large in the U.S. that any party that ignores it will simply never win. The Republicans will be reaching out to them, not trying to shut down their voting stations. These tactics by the Republicans this year are so odious and are reason alone for me to hope for a just defeat for their presidential candidate. I don't believe for a second that Romney will do anything much different than Obama on the debt except irresponsibly lower taxes on the richest of Americans and create even more debt for that country. Obama will tackle the debt by bringing in tax reform that asks the richest to pay a bit more, while working hard for the middle class which is the engine of any economic recovery. Obama will govern to get 100% of America moving again, Romney was pretty clear he's only concerned about what he called the "53%".

I'll be hoping and praying that despite Republican attempts to suppress their opponents, all Americans who want to vote will still make their way to the polls and the democratic voice of America will reject these despicable voter suppression tactics.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ontario Liberal leadership race continues to take shape...

I was on this mailing list from George Smitherman (see email below), glad to say. I think George has made the right decision to stay out of the Ontario Liberal leadership race. He's damaged goods, associated with the major scandals of the McGuinty government (E-health, Ornge, etc.) His baggage cost him the 2010 mayoralty race and elected Rob Ford. I've supported George in the past but no longer think he should be seeking elected office. It's time to move on.

I've got to say I'm excited by the prospect of Sandra Pupatello leading the Liberals and becoming Premier. If she wins, I think she'll be quite popular with the public as a personality. The first female premier of Ontario would be historic. And the first Italian-Canadian as premier would appeal greatly to the Liberal base in and around the GTA - plus perhaps signal recovery in southwestern Ontario where Pupatello has her home base (Windsor). Her absence the last year or so has allowed her to be detached from the scandals surrounding Ornge and the cancelled Mississauga gas power station. I think with Sandra as leader the Ontario Liberals will be quite competitive again.

I'm anxious to hear the main messages she puts forth to define her leadership. An emphasis on economic growth and prosperity and building on the McGuinty government's successes in education and health care would be nice to hear too, I quite agree...

I met Deb Matthews when I worked at Queen's Park. She struck me as an entirely partisan, empty individual. I'll take Sandra over Deb any day.

Kathleen Wynne, as the Toronto lesbian candidate, will put forth a decent message of change and she'll probably launch the strongest competition to Pupatello. But the Ontario Liberals have an aversion to picking Toronto leaders, and you don't get any more Toronto than Wynne. Wynne will inspire a lot of people, I'll probably be highly tempted to vote for her. But the party will ultimately take the slightly younger firebrand from Windsor. We'll see...

----- Forwarded Message ----- From: George Smitherman Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 4:02:11 PM Subject: Smitherman Bows out of Liberal Leadership Race

Hi, just a reminder that you're receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in hearing from George Smitherman.

Smitherman Bows out of Liberal Leadership Race

Former Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman has bowed out of the race to succeed Dalton McGuinty as the Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and as Premier of Ontario.

"On many levels the challenge excites and energizes me, but a return to active politics at this time isn't compatible with my personal objectives", Smitherman said. "With two kids under age four and 3 new businesses it wouldn't be fair to anyone for me to pursue my love of politics at this time" he added.

Smitherman thanked friends, family and loyal supporters for the encouragement they offered over the past two weeks, "Politics is a tough road and it's hardest on the people who love you the most. Christopher remains unwavering and unselfish in his willingness to support me in active politics which means everything to me" added Smitherman.

The greatest motivation for a run at this time would have been the chance to bring ideas forward. "Over the past two weeks I have thought long and hard about the challenges and about the boldness of the solutions that are needed for Ontario" Smitherman said.

"I am excited that new projects such as a collaboration to create an Interactive Talk TV format will provide an outlet for ideas and a vehicle for an animated conversation about topical issue" he added. The first such Forum will focus on Gaming in Toronto and will take place in late November.

In exiting the race Smitherman took the opportunity to offer one piece of advice to candidates vying to replace McGuinty. "To date, every prospective candidate is playing to the opposition's narrative about the McGuinty Government. It's time to show some pride for the accomplishments as a foundation for new ideas and opportunities".


George Smitherman 416 816 7118 George Smitherman 120 Front Street East, Suite 208 Toronto, Ontario M5A 4L9