Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My early 2015 federal election prediction

I'm extremely proud that I was able to predict way back in the fall of 2013 that Kathleen Wynne would win re-election with a majority government in Ontario.  Good friends can attest to my accuracy.  At the time, the main elements that would decide the Ontario election were already in place: Kathleen Wynne, an impressive, spirited newcomer leading a scandal-plagued minority government, a mediocre Conservative leader in Tim Hudak who had blown the 2011 election, and a spunky NDP leader in Andrea Horwath who had already mostly turned her back on urban, progressive causes in a bid to win over conservative voters in the ROO (Rest of Ontario.)

My autumn 2013 prediction of an Ontario Liberal majority assumed two important elements coming to pass: 1) Wynne's campaign being run extremely well, taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by the flaws of the opposition, and 2) Tim Hudak continuing to perform badly.  

Hudak did not disappoint.  His atrocious campaign this year - including his, "Let's cut 100,000 jobs to stimulate the economy" promise - couldn't have been worse.  In the end, I overestimated him.  At the same time, Wynne's progressive 2014 budget and subsequent campaign perfectly undercut Horwath's rightward tilt, giving progressive voters in Toronto many reasons to abandon the NDP and elect Liberals.

One day before the Ontario election in June, I was the only person who correctly guessed a "Liberal majority" in Hill and Knowlton's Twitter election result contest.  I even guessed 59 seats, which was the Liberal total on election night (before a recount in Thornhill made it 58.)  I won a $200 gift card of my choice (I picked Cineplex movies and enjoyed dozens of films this year - I'll post later this week my 2014 Favourite films list.)  Once the final result was called, most mainstream commentators called Wynne's Liberal majority "shocking."  But I wasn't shocked. 

I've learned to trust my analysis and instincts and ignore most of the noise that masquerades as political commentary these days.  Some of it can be intelligent and relatively agenda-free, like this piece by Paul Wells laying out the challenges all 3 federal leaders face next year.

But I've generally learned that collectively the "political commentariat" in Canada has zero impact on election results.  It can be dizzying following their day-to-day descriptions of what's allegedly happening on the hustings.  You'll recall the atrocious Toronto Sun cartoon which depicted a viciously beaten Kathleen Wynne after she allegedly got "crushed" by Tim Hudak in the Ontario election debate.  Many commentators including Robin Sears and Warren Kinsella declared Wynne finished after that 90 minutes and began to guess at the size of the Hudak majority.  Meanwhile, the only sensible pollster, Nanos, had produced poll numbers before the debate - Libs 38%, PCs 31%, NDP 24% - which ended up almost completely in line with the final vote totals two and a half weeks later.  The big debate and all that bullshit commentary had zero impact on the results.  

Most of all, I've learned to ignore the many crappy pollsters out there - especially Forum, Ipsos Reid and, just yesterday, Angus Reid.  I only give credence to Nanos nowadays.  While I enjoy following ThreeHundredEight.com and his analysis, averaging out bad poll numbers can still tell us little about the final results.  Eric Grenier too was predicting a Liberal minority government in Ontario based on what pollsters were telling him. 

All this being said, I now look ahead to a federal election in 2015.

If Stephen Harper runs again as Conservative leader (which I think he will), I'm predicting he'll at best be reduced to a minority government. But there is an excellent chance Harper will lose outright to a Liberal minority government.  If Justin Trudeau performs near perfectly and coalesces the anti-Conservative vote behind the Liberals, including in Quebec, he'll win a majority. 

We've already seen the polls change a bit in Harper's favour this fall.  He's been in full re-election mode, doing everything he can to get his numbers up, acting the conservative statesman on the international scene, the tough guy taking on ISIS and standing up to Vladimir Putin, while also stepping up against homegrown terrorists and in favour of working parents.  It's a cunning, toxic caricature that Harper has perfected after years in power.  He's come a long way from his days as head of the National Citizens Coalition.

By re-taking a narrow lead in the polls of late, making the 2015 election a real race, the dynamics of the pre-campaign will change.   Instead of focusing on Justin Trudeau, voters will instead contemplate the question: "Do we really want another four years of Stephen Harper?" 

This is actually good for Trudeau's Liberals, in my mind.  They'll continue to unveil their own compare-and-contrast campaign, focusing on Harper's considerable weak spots, which have been glaring ever since he cleared out the truly talented people from the PMO thanks to the Mike Duffy scandal.   If the Liberals are smart, they'll also soon start describing themselves as the "underdogs" in this federal election, reminding everyone that they are the humbled third party, that they've done their time in the penalty box, that they've learned the hard lessons of defeat and have developed a fresh new team with a clear, progressive vision for the country courtesy of a lot of "hope and hard work." 


Trudeau has succeeded on numerous crucial fronts since winning the Liberal leadership in the spring of 2013.  He's managed to replace Tom Mulcair's NDP as the unofficial opposition in the minds of Canadians, despite the fact the Libs have only one third the seats.  Repeated by-election results have confirmed that trend and most of the media now believe only Trudeau's Liberals can knock out Harper's Cons.  And they're right.

One of Trudeau's most senior advisors, Gerald Butts, previously worked wonders for Dalton McGuinty in 2003, helping to design a platform at the time that perfectly spoke to the concerns of Ontarians after 8 years of provincial PC rule.  It was an unabashedly progressive agenda and would set up the themes that would win power for the Ontario Liberals.  Those themes - ensuring quality public education, health care and other public services including infrastructure - continue to resonate and keep the Ontario Liberals in power today.  I'm seeing many echos of that successful strategy in many of Justin Trudeau's pronouncements, including on infrastructure, the middle class, tax fairness and even marijuana.  Trudeau's also talking about banning government advertising that is clearly partisan, which was another major plank in the 2003 Ontario Liberal platform.   And Trudeau lately has been criticizing Harper's penchant for secrecy and centralization of power and control.

Trudeau is setting himself up to be the great antidote to 9 years of Harper rule.   If his platform is convincingly progressive enough, he may be able to win more NDP votes than previously thought. 

Still, Trudeau is just 43.  To many, he will appear green on the hustings.  He may even spit out some uninspiring or worrying nonsense in a scrum or two.   The media will have a field day over such moments, of course. 

At the same time, I predict NDP Leader Tom Mulcair will largely unimpress outside of Quebec.  When most Canadians get to know Mulcair better, they'll find him to be what I've always thought of him: generally unlikeable, even occasionally irritating.   He's certainly no Jack Layton.   We'll know Mulcair is merely trying to save the NDP furniture should his platform continue to tilt far left.  Then, he'll be able to credibly say to progressives: vote NDP to ensure you get the government you actually want, instead of a mushy centre-right-left government under Justin Trudeau.   Mulcair will get in his blows.  He'll be aided by conservative media commentators who will declare him victorious in the debates just to try to undermine Trudeau.  But ultimately, none of that noise will matter.

Harper's campaign will be impressive, but will for the first time take several major hits from his opponents.  His support will sag and the Conservatives will run neck-and-neck with the Grits in the polls throughout most of the campaign.  If Trudeau performs as well as he wants, the Grits will surge ahead.  The NDP will vacillate between the high teens and the low-20s and back to the teens again.  Quebec will consider abandoning the NDP to vote Liberal to beat the Tories once and for all.  

A lot of what may happen depends on how well Trudeau can perform, how clearly and succinctly he lays out a realistic and progressive agenda, and how well he dispels worries about his readiness to lead the country.  For Trudeau, there are many variables yet to be defined which make predictions extremely difficult.  I, like most fair-minded, progressive Canadians, believe Trudeau will eventually get there and lead a federal government that again makes us proud to be Canadian.  I'd love it to happen in 2015.   It's certainly possible.  

Will Trudeau perform when it matters most?  Or will he fall on his face and force Canadians again to choose Harper as the allegedly safer option?  My gut tells me we'll see something like what we saw when Trudeau took on then-Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in the boxing ring in 2012 (pictured above).  Greatly underestimated, Trudeau will fight a disciplined battle and surprise everyone, especially the Conservatives. 

The end result: I think we'll be seeing a Liberal victory in 2015 in Canada, probably a minority government.  If Quebec swings hard behind the Liberals to stop the Conservatives, it will be a majority.  In answer to the ballot question, "Do you want another four years of Harper?," the answer will be, "No."   The country has had enough of the Harper show.  We're tired of him.   Efforts to soften his image and promise something slightly different will prove unconvincing.  After an inspiring campaign that hits all the right notes and, to the shock of the "commentariat," makes few mistakes, Canadians will give the younger Trudeau a chance to chart a path that actually reflects the realistic and progressive values of the majority of Canadians, not the conservative minority for whom Harper governs. 

That's what my gut is telling me.  I could be wrong.  We shall see. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stephen Harper's taxpayer-funded campaign of lies against marijuana backfiring...

Stephen Harper is being taken to task a lot lately for spending $600 million of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars on 'Government of Canada' advertising that does little more than promote his own partisan interests.

The latest and most blatant example, chock full of lies, paranoia and doubtful science, is the offensive anti-marijuana ad campaign from "Health Canada" released this fall.  You'll recall how many health care professionals refused to participate in it or lend it credence, rightfully aware the campaign was little more than a political attack on Harper's main opponent, Justin Trudeau.  I won't post a link to the YouTube ad as I don't want to give it more traffic or insult your intelligence further.   

But John Doyle sums it up nicely: 

"Marijuana Use, in which over deeply ominous music, it was announced, “Did you know that marijuana is on average 300 to 400 per cent stronger than it was 30 years ago? And that smoking marijuana can seriously harm a teen’s developing brain?” Actually the science is limited and, actually, the commercial is political, not medical. Irritating to think we are taken as fools."

Exactly.  The Harper government conducts no scientific research on marijuana.  Certainly, it hasn't been monitoring strength levels of street marijuana for 30 years.  So the claim is about pot being 400% stronger today than 30 years ago is unquantifiable.

The ad also remarks how marijuana use lowers IQ, as it plays a solemn chord from the Canadian national anthem, a staple from all federal government ads.

Andrew Woodbury describes it eloquently: 

"But there’s a problem: the public service announcement doesn’t stem from any type of health concern whatsoever; instead, it’s an arrogant, offensive election grenade. And the Canadian public sees right through the insult.

"Not only is the ad misinformation — the video fails to name a single source — it’s a not-so-subtle attack on the leader of the opposition, Justin Trudeau. And with that, the ad is revealed for what it really is: a political ploy."

Using tax dollars to attack an opposition leader: truly sleazy and exactly right up Harper's alley.

"The spot was chosen after that message (warning parents about pot hurting teen IQs) got the strongest reaction from focus groups of parents who were privately shown a similar ad and several alternatives in cities across Canada in June. 

"The parents, described by the interviewers as "generally uninformed regarding marijuana health risks," reacted with alarm when told marijuana can trigger psychosis, schizophrenia and a drop in IQ in young, still-developing brains. 

"The information on the harmful effects of cannabis on mental functioning was "surprising and scary" to them, says a newly released report by Harris Decima, commissioned by Health Canada at a cost of $95,000."

These messages may scare the Tory base, the only voters Harper has ever truly cared about.  But I think that Harper's instincts are getting dull.  His garden of potential voters is shrinking.  His show is getting very old and more and more Canadians are open to an alternative. 

Stephen Harper did some media interviews last week and didn't inspire much confidence that another four years of him would provide much improvement.   It'll be the same old Harper going forward: all of Canada's economic eggs in the oil basket, evidence and reason thrown out the window in favour of ideology, ham-fisted ideas without any basis in evidence or fact implemented into law, and taxpayer dollars used to promote Tory propaganda.

Meanwhile, we've learned that many Canadian soldiers now consider marijuana their drug of choice.

And more and more, mainstream Canadians seem to be coming over to the pro-legalization arguments.  Marijuana is not the boogeyman Harper hopes we still think it is. 

And the fearmongering is unjustified when looking at the experiences of other countries or regions which have liberalized their marijuana laws.

One study in the U.S. shows that teen use of marijuana is actually going down at a time when more states are moving toward legalization and regulation of the substance.  There goes one of the main planks in Tory fear and paranoia against liberalization of our pot laws. 

The experience in Uruguay has also been positive.  

"In a country that is a major exporter (and consumer) of beef, perhaps the metaphor is only a bit corny that Uruguay has taken the bull by the horns in the battle against cannabis. It has accepted the inevitable – that cannabis will be and is being widely used – and is trying to regulate its production and use to reduce consumption and crime." 

It would appear that, yet again, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is more in touch with the views of Canadians than our ham-fisted, intellectually rotting prime minister.   This is but one issue where Harper is clearly now more than ever offside with a big majority of this country.   And that divide is getting wider just in time for the 2015 election.

Stay tuned for a new post very soon about my predictions for the 2015 election. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Let's dissect Andrew Coyne's little lies and bad arguments...

Columnists are not reporters.  Facts are less important to them than spouting off on their biases.  They're not supposed to outright lie in their commentaries.  They can omit important facts that may destabilize their arguments.  But to misrepresent the facts openly should be a no-no.  

I can handle listening or watching commentators spout opinions I don't necessarily agree with as long as they're well-articulated, thoughtful and don't include little lies.   Andrew Coyne's usually are. 

But these little lies need to be exposed.

Andrew Coyne, who is one of the four Caucasian regular participants on the weekly At-Issue panel on CBC's National (and, don't forget, one of 3 straight guys too,) has long argued there is ZERO support amongst Canadians for any meaningful action on climate change.   This is baseless, of course.  Public opinion about the need to take meaningful action to save the planet is building strength in Canada.  If you look at growing protests across the country as an indication, any reporter being honest would have to admit this is true.   More and more people are questioning the status quo including the dubious environmental review process governed by Stephen Harper.  This was made clear in a recent column by Chantal Hebert, Coyne's At-Issue colleague.

As most policy analysts agree, a carbon tax remains the smartest way to begin to address the inherent problems in our dirty oil-loving economy.  But Coyne regularly provides cover to Harper government talking points that a carbon tax is nothing but "job killing."  Coyne and the Harperites, of course, ignore the fact that carbon taxes have been good for the economy.  They reward companies that make environmentally-wise decisions and punish polluters.
Coyne's latest column in today's Post (which inspired this post) also goes to bat for Stephen Harper, defending our petulant Prime Minister's refusal to meet with the duly elected premier of Ontario because they have some disagreements on policy.   Any way you slice it, Harper is again behaving like a pathetic little boy in his refusal to meet with the Ontario Premier.  He doesn't want to give Kathleen Wynne a chance to describe his facial expressions in future, I guess.  Harper doesn't want to have to listen to another point of view that challenges his rigid view of the role of the federal government.   Harper's stubbornness speaks to how badly he's poisoned Canadian political life and why he needs to go as soon as possible. 

Yet Coyne tries to argue that Harper's justified because Wynne has said some critical things about Harper's policies and disagrees with him philosophically on some important matters.   Coyne gives short shrift to the Ring of Fire and the urgent need to invest in Ontario's infrastructure, but then focuses on Wynne's support for an enhanced Canada Pension Plan.  

And in so doing, Coyne inserts a couple little lies (see the bolded words below):

"The premier had demanded the prime minister sign on to her pet project of an expanded Canada Pension Plan, a proposal that would force a great many people of modest means who already have satisfactory pension arrangements to put aside money they can ill do without, in order to fix a problem affecting a small number of under-savers, mostly upper income — or, as in the case of her proposed provincial variant, to finance her as-yet-unfunded public works plans."

Oops.  Wynne's proposed pension plan would not apply to "people of modest means who already have satisfactory pension arrangements."  It specifically would only apply to workers who have no workplace pension arrangements.  Unless, of course, Coyne considers the existing maximum CPP payout of $12,000 a year a "satisfactory pension arrangement?"   Surely, he couldn't be arguing that living in extreme poverty in retirement would be "satisfactory."   Please tell me conservatives like Coyne don't believe that!

The fact is, except for those lucky enough to have sustainable pension plans through the public service or the rare private employer who doesn't go under during their employees' retirement, most Canadians have to rely on unreliable RRSPs for their retirement savings.   In 2008, we saw how reliable those arrangements are when criminals on Wall Street gambled them away for massive personal profits and an entire generation of "people of modest means" saw their hard-earned savings disappear into thin air.  It's this experience which is fueling the need to enhance satisfactory pension arrangements like the CPP, Mr. Coyne.  We've lost confidence in the private sector's ability to protect secure retirement plans.  An enhanced CPP would help people of modest means the most. 

As for Coyne's assertion that Wynne's pension plan proposal would "finance her as-yet-unfunded public works plans," I'm baffled.  It would seem he stuck in that line to further feed the conservative falsehood that an expanded CPP would somehow divert funds away from personal pensions and into other government expenditures like transit.  That's a complete lie and Coyne should be forced to recant that one. 

Coyne has also peddled other conservative BS like one-income families that make $120,000 a year are equal to two-income families that also make a combined $120,000 a year and therefore should be taxed the same thanks to Harper's income-splitting giveaway.   Of course, Coyne and others conveniently forget that one-income families have one major advantage over two-income families: if things get tough, the second non-working spouse can go out and earn a second income, thus inflating that $120,000 a year income up substantially higher.  The two-income earning family of course can't send out a third spouse to earn extra income.   It would be nice if Coyne admits this reality the next time he argues that Harper's income splitting proposal is somehow an "issue of fairness."

I usually have a lot of respect for Andrew Coyne's well-written or spoken commentaries.  But he's failing recently on the issues illustrated above.  I hope he does better in the future. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Harper continues to snub Wynne; I guess he thinks he has too many lesbians in his life?

Stephen Harper is proving he can be as classless as the worst of men.  

I'm tired of his petty arrogance being described as "competence" and "good judgment" by his supporters and apologists.

The man was never much of a leader and simply lucky, taking advantage of opportunities handed to him on a silver platter.  He came along at the right time when voters wanted change in Ottawa, and then benefited from two bad Liberal leadership choices.   But thankfully, Harper's luck is now up facing off next year against Justin Trudeau.

The Prime Minister of Canada should communicate regularly with the duly elected Premier of Ontario, especially one who just won an historic majority mandate.  But he continues to refuse to do so.  Apparently he can't get over how Wynne described his facial expression during a face-to-face meeting one year ago on the issue of an enhanced pension plan for the middle class.   And instead he now shrugs off the suggestion he meet with her again, signalling petty insults about Ontario's finances.  This is especially galling because his government, having cut over $1 billion in return transfer payments to Ontario this year, and exclusively backing Alberta's polluting oil sands industry with federal fiscal policy since 2006, leaving Ontario's economy high and dry, has made matters worse for Ontario.  Wynne doesn't support Harper's austerity agenda, which would push Ontario's anemic economy back into recession; instead she wants to invest in Ontario's infrastructure to push the economy forward for decades, but Harper refuses to help.

But being outwardly polite and kind to homosexuals has never been Harper's imperative as we know.   As Robert Benzies makes clear in this article, Harper has met with Vladimir Putin, the notorious homophobe, more times in the last year than he has with Kathleen Wynne. 

Wynne has responded like an adult:

“Those of us who get into politics have to be able, I believe, to focus on the issues that are important to our constituents and not get caught in . . . personal animosity,” the premier told reporters. 

“I really don’t think it’s helpful.  

“For me, Stephen Harper is the prime minister of Canada and I think that it is only rational that the prime minister of Canada would want to talk with the premier of Ontario.

“There’s an active conversation right now about General Motors in Oshawa. We worked well with the federal government in the auto sector. I’d like to have that conversation with the prime minister and how are we going to tackle our relationship with the auto sector going forward,” she said.

“Ontario is a huge net contributor to the federation — it’s very important to the country that Ontario do well.”

Kathleen Wynne and Ontario deserve more respect.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Poland makes history by electing its first openly gay mayor, Robert Biedron

Poland makes history by electing its first openly gay mayor

Wonderful news!

Gay rights campaigner Robert Biedron has pledged to ditch the limos and ride a bike
Robert Biedron is Poland's first gay mayor.

Poland has made history by electing the country's first openly gay mayor.

Voters in the Eastern European country, which is 90% Roman Catholic,
showed their support behind LGBTI campaigner Robert Biedron.

The 38-year-old, a member of maverick MP Janusz Palikot’s ultra-liberal
‘Your Movement’, won the mayoral elections in Slupsk, northern Poland,
today (1 December).

He secured 57% of the vote, beating the ruling Civic Playform candidate Zbigniew Zonwinski.

'I will lead a very modest [local government], as this town is modest,
as well as being one of the most debt-ridden in Poland,' Biedron told
PAP news agency.

'The three limousines which are available to the mayor will no longer be mine, as I go everywhere by bicycle.'

Biedron is perhaps best known for when he ran as a MP and won the
Gdynia-Slupsk constituency. He also set up the charity Campaign Against

The elections saw a small wave of liberalism fighting to be heard, with
the elections for regional parliaments and municipal government seeing a
record number of openly gay candidates in the race.

With none of the others won seats, Biedron's success is being hailed as an inspiration.
- See more at:
"Poland has made history by electing the country's first openly gay mayor.

"Voters in the Eastern European country, which is 90% Roman Catholic, showed their support behind LGBTI campaigner Robert Biedron.

"The 38-year-old, a member of maverick MP Janusz Palikot’s ultra-liberal ‘Your Movement’, won the mayoral elections in Slupsk, northern Poland, today (1 December).

"He secured 57% of the vote, beating the ruling Civic Playform candidate Zbigniew Zonwinski.

"'I will lead a very modest [local government], as this town is modest, as well as being one of the most debt-ridden in Poland,' Biedron told PAP news agency.

"'The three limousines which are available to the mayor will no longer be mine, as I go everywhere by bicycle.'

"Biedron is perhaps best known for when he ran as a MP and won the Gdynia-Slupsk constituency. He also set up the charity Campaign Against Homophobia.

"The elections saw a small wave of liberalism fighting to be heard, with the elections for regional parliaments and municipal government seeing a record number of openly gay candidates in the race.

"With none of the others won seats, Biedron's success is being hailed as an inspiration."

Gay rights campaigner Robert Biedron has pledged to ditch the limos and ride a bike
Robert Biedron is Poland's first gay mayor.

Poland has made history by electing the country's first openly gay mayor.

Voters in the Eastern European country, which is 90% Roman Catholic,
showed their support behind LGBTI campaigner Robert Biedron.

The 38-year-old, a member of maverick MP Janusz Palikot’s ultra-liberal
‘Your Movement’, won the mayoral elections in Slupsk, northern Poland,
today (1 December).

He secured 57% of the vote, beating the ruling Civic Playform candidate Zbigniew Zonwinski.

'I will lead a very modest [local government], as this town is modest,
as well as being one of the most debt-ridden in Poland,' Biedron told
PAP news agency.

'The three limousines which are available to the mayor will no longer be mine, as I go everywhere by bicycle.'

Biedron is perhaps best known for when he ran as a MP and won the
Gdynia-Slupsk constituency. He also set up the charity Campaign Against

The elections saw a small wave of liberalism fighting to be heard, with
the elections for regional parliaments and municipal government seeing a
record number of openly gay candidates in the race.

With none of the others won seats, Biedron's success is being hailed as an inspiration.
- See more at:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hey Kathleen Wynne! This is wrong: Catholic school principal shuts down Grade 6 students' project on gay rights

Polly Hamilton, left, and Quinn Maloney-Tavares, both 11, wanted to do a social justice school project on gay rights, but their principal at an Ottawa Catholc Catholic School vetoed the idea.

I'm getting really tired of Catholic school board officials in Ontario beating up on LGBT people and our rights, with the full sanction of the Ontario government.

Particularly sad is the message this move by their principal sends to the students in the class, the school and the Ottawa board.  I'm glad the students and their mother are fighting back and making this public.

If 11-year-olds are old enough to pick a topic on their own, then it should be acceptable for 11-year-olds.  This decision reeks of old-style Catholic thinking of 'Let's accommodate the worst bigot in our community rather than the students in question, let alone LGBT students in our schools who need support."

They aren't getting any support in Ottawa Catholic schools these days.

Kathleen Wynne, we need to stop this madness! Publicly-sanctioned discrimination, paid for by taxpayers in a pluralistic province like Ontario, is wrong, wrong, wrong!

It's time to reconsider public funding Catholic schools in Ontario, to the exclusion of all other religions.  Equality demands it!

Again, here's one strategy for how to revisit the issue. 

The sensational 'The Way He Looks' plays at Toronto's Brazil Film Fest this Saturday...

Opening scene from director Daniel Ribeiro's 'The Way He Looks'
I sadly missed a previous Toronto screening for Daniel Ribeiro's feature film 'The Way He Looks,' at the Inside Out festival back in May.  That's why I was thrilled to learn that Toronto's Brazil Film Fest teamed up with Inside Out to sponsor another screening this weekend of Brazil's official entry for the 2015 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.  The Brazil fest even provided me with an online screener and I had a chance to check out the gem of a film last night. 

The story of 'The Way He Looks' concerns a blind teenager named Leonardo whose longtime friendship with female friend Giovana is threatened when he develops romantic feelings for a new male student at school named Gabriel. 

Leo's struggles at high school and with family are poignant and extremely honest, told without melodrama or an abundance of sentiment.  It's a fresh and beautiful film.  As Leo, young actor is sensational, reprising the role he first played in Ribeiro's 2010 short film which featured a small taste of this feature story, 'Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho.'   

In fact, the main cast from the short film returns as well, including as Gabriel and as Giovana.  And they are all fabulous, as is the rest of the cast.  Ribeiro's writing and direction is assured and deeply loving of his characters, nurtured over several years.  The result is an incredibly satisfying feature film that explores gay first love from an angle not before experienced by audiences.   I think this may be the best adaptation of a short film into a feature film I've ever seen.  None of the charm from the original short is lost; in fact, the experience is greatly enhanced.   Clearly, Ribeiro is a filmmaker to watch. 

To date, I'm not sure if this gem of a feature film has a Canadian distributor, so if you're in the Toronto area this Saturday night at 9 pm, please go check out 'The Way He Looks' at the Brazil Film Fest.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Another flick with a queer twist at Brazil Film Fest is Paulo Gustavo's hilarious film, 'My Mom is a Character' (pictured on the right). Based on his stage play, the romp details a mother played by Gustavo in amazing drag who takes some time off from her family after another spat with her adult kids including a cute gay son.  It's definitely worth a look if you're in the mood for something lighter, but no less charming.

The Brazil Film Fest opens tonight and plays until Sunday at TIFF Bell Lightbox on King West.

Here is the full, original 2010 short film 'Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho' by director Daniel Ribeiro.  If you like this, you'll love the feature version. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rob Ford still lying and delusional to the end...

Simple minds cling to their simple talking points:

“These guys are getting fully loaded... It’s nonsense....I’ll be on them. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Despite everything the jackass Rob Ford put Toronto through the last four years - smoking crack cocaine in office, showing up drunk at hundreds of public events, hanging out with criminals, behaving in the most vile, juvenile and criminal way possible while cameras from around the world were rolling - he has no regrets.

Even the simplest simpleton can sometimes learn and grow after being humiliated in full public view.  It's what human beings do.

But not Rob Ford.  He refuses to learn.  I think he may be a sociopath.  He certainly continues to exhibit those tendencies.  RoFo challenges all notions of human decency.   So do his pathetic supporters who fell hook, line and sinker for the Fords' snake oil salesman routine.   The plan was simple: show up and pretend to be on the dumb peoples' side, affirm their prejudices by claiming they are being ignored by "downtown elites" and only they, the Fords, will help them.  Then, having won their support based on the most superficial means, go downtown to city hall and consistently vote to destroy the lives of the people whose support you won.  But don't worry, they'll never find out because they don't follow the minutiae of city politics.  They only know that you "showed up" so no amount of "information" will make them believe you don't actually "support them." 

It was a grand vote-getting machine and on Oct 27th 34% of Toronto voters fell for it again.  Gratefully, 66% of Toronto voters rejected this nonsense and enough of them voted to elect a better mayor in John Tory.

I hope John Tory learns one thing from the Ford formula for winning support by going out to those communities and speaking to people often.  I'm sure he will.  He does genuinely care about people, unlike the Fords who simply used people to win votes only to undermine their interests at city hall.  Such visits to struggling communities would go a long way to building new support for Tory and ensuring that the Fords can't fool those people again, should RoFo recover from his cancer and run again for mayor in 2018.  

But back to Ford and this Sun Media article, in which he claims: 

“I did what I said I was going to do."

You didn't say you were going to smoke crack, Rob.  You didn't say you were going to humiliate Toronto on the world stage.  

"I worked very hard..."

Nope.  You didn't show up to work until 1 pm on most days and were gone by 4 pm to go coach football, at least until you were fired from that gig.  

"I returned every phone call..."

Another lie.  I called him once to complain about his refusal to attend Pride.  He never called me back.  

"and [I] had a lot of fun,” Ford said. 

Well, I guess that's true, at least.   He did spend a lot of time on the bottle and smoking crack with his thug buddies.  

“People are going to remember that I saved money, that I did what I said I was going to do.”

Still delusional until the bitter end.   Go fuck off, Rob Ford!  Good riddance! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

By-elections show federal NDP is no longer a national force or real alternative to the Conservatives

"(Tom Mulcair's) party is languishing in third place in the polls and when it comes to real people stuffing real ballots into real boxes, his track record has been dismal. Of the 14 by-elections held since he took office in March 2012, the party has won just one and last June lost Olivia Chow’s former seat in Toronto. Even more worrying is the drop in New Democrat support and the surge in backing for the Liberals." 

Despite Tom Mulcair’s very best efforts, it's now fairly clear to me that the federal NDP is in the process of disappearing as a true national force and governing alternative to the Conservatives.  If trends continue, and we have every reason to believe they will, the federal NDP will return to its role as Parliament's social conscience after the next election.   They will not be competing for government. 

I don't believe for a second that Tom Mulcair has what it takes to suddenly win wide support across Canada once the next campaign begins.  

At best, he might be able to be very competitive in fickle Quebec.  And I do expect the NDP to be competitive in many of its pre-2011 strongholds in the rest of Canada, as long as their popular incumbents seek re-election.

But in places like Whitby-Oshawa where the NDP needs to be competitive to challenge Conservative rule, the NDP is instead shrinking to historic lows. 

To ensure a more progressive Canada, I know we could use as many NDP MPs as possible in the next House of Commons.  In places where the NDP has traditionally elected MPs before the Orange Crush of 2011, I suggest you consider voting NDP again. 

But in swing areas like suburban Toronto and elsewhere which will decide who governs Canada after the next election, it’s now clear the main fight will be between the incumbent Conservatives and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday round-up: the confusing Horwath hangs on; gorgeous 'Malificent' star hints at bisexuality...

This Martin Regg Cohn opinion piece pretty much sums up most of my thoughts on Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose unfortunate leadership was renewed yesterday by skeptical NDP delegates at their Toronto convention. 

She may have a feisty and engaging personality, but as we saw in the last provincial election, this emperor who still reads her speeches from a teleprompter has no clothes.   She long ago ceded progressive issues to her superior opponent, Kathleen Wynne, and went about confusing voters with a mix of populist BS and empty platitudes which saw her party lose the balance of power to a Liberal majority in the June election.   Quite frankly, based on a smattering of things I've heard from her in recent weeks (like over-the-top warnings about selling public assets and fiscal drunken orgies), I've now tuned Horwath out and I see no reason to start listening to her anytime soon. 

Going forward, it's a choice between progressive champion and Liberal incumbent Kathleen Wynne versus which ever person the Ontario PCs pick as their next leader.  Forget about Horwath's useless NDP. 

On issues progressives like myself care about - like public transit, cost of living and achieving a secure retirement - it's Wynne who is acting to implement real solutions.  This is what "progressive government" looks like.   If you're more interested in burning fossil fuels without consequence and being stuck in traffic forever, Andrea Horwath or the Ontario PCs are your option.   And good luck to you, because you'll need it.  


On an unrelated note, this week saw interesting news about gorgeous Australian-born actor Brenton Thwaites (pictured) who nonchalantly hinted in an interview this week that he's bisexual

In an interview with The Fix, the 25-year-old Australian actor was asked what he looks for in a partner.

“Male or female?,” he asked.  “Both,” the interviewer replied.

“Well,” Thwaites said, “they’re very different.”

The star then said he merely looks for someone with “peanut butter in their cupboard.”

You might not have heard of Thwaites before.  I, of course, had seen him in a small handful of films and greatly admired his looks and talent.  But I'll admit I thought he spelled his first name "Brendan" and wasn't too sure about the spelling of his last name.  Now, I know his full name by heart.  

If his comments are truly indicative of a bisexual orientation, good for Thwaites at so nonchalantly answering a question many older actors have skirted around in the past.  He'll certainly win himself legions of new fans, myself included. 

Click here to view the full interview.

Campaign for Harper's climate change denier in Whitby-Oshawa now complains about political smears

It's extremely rich of Harper Conservatives to be complaining about political smears coming from their political opponents in the Whitby-Oshawa byelection, which takes place tomorrow to fill the seat formerly held by Jim Flaherty.

The Harperites perfected the ruthless tactic of launching multi-million dollar negative ad campaigns to attack their opponents and maintain power in the past.   Just ask Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.

Now talk in tomorrow's byelection in Whitby-Oshawa has turned to new Conservative candidate Pat Perkins' questionable spending habits as mayor of Whitby.

"These included trips to real estate conferences in Las Vegas and Cannes, France, the installation of a back door to her office, a $345-a-night hotel room for a conference in Ottawa, as well as her handling of two funds controlled by the mayor." 

These criticisms are perfectly legitimate as Perkins is running mostly on her reputation as the "most experienced" candidate on the ballot.  So these attacks on her record are absolutely fair.  It's not like the attacks are baseless, unlike most previous and current attacks coming from Conservative Party central against their opponents.  

On top of Perkins' despicable comments lately on climate change, it's clear she's not the kind of leadership material her riding or the country needs.   In response to a question about the Harper government's failure to meet its own emissions-reduction targets, Ms. Perkins last week said: “I’m sure we could find other experts who could say something to the contrary” and suggested researchers are divided on climate science. “We need some consistency of ideas from our scientists. They are at both ends of the spectrum. They haven’t come together with solutions. You can’t expect a politician to decide which one of these scientists is correct.”

The last thing our country needs is another Harper backbencher who, if she ever did raise her voice, would utter that kind of nonsense and provide additional cover to Harper's refusal to take leadership to save the planet.  

It would be a beautiful result to see Jim Flaherty's former riding vote against Harper's party tomorrow.  Before he stepped down as Finance Minister, Flaherty publicly criticized Harper's misguided income splitting promise, which would only benefit the richest families in Canada at the expense of 85% of the public who would receive no benefit.   Despite that, the Harper government has forged ahead with its scheme to squander the surplus on those who need the least help.

A victory for the Liberal in Whitby-Oshawa would actually be a tribute to Jim Flaherty on that issue and a much-needed slap in the face for Harper's BS. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Justin Trudeau to protesters: 'Take a minute to explain'; Harper would've had them tackled and arrested

What a remarkable contrast!  

As we know, Stephen Harper has such tight restrictions at his events, only card-carrying Conservatives with long party histories can get in.   No one except the most elite gets anywhere close to him.  And most definitely, uninvited guests or average Canadians get zero chance to interact with him, let alone speak to the crowd.   It's probably been almost 10 years since Harper had any meaningful and unscripted interactions with average Canadians who weren't pre-screened for party loyalty.

Meanwhile, yesterday in Toronto at the Reference Library, Justin Trudeau was holding an event that was briefly interrupted by some protesters carrying a banner against the Energy East pipeline.  Trudeau may not share the protesters' position on the issue, but rather than ignore them and wait for RCMP to tackle them and remove them (to audience applause from Conservative party seals), Trudeau invited these Canadians to state their positions for all to hear and even called for the audience to applaud them.  Watch the video here.

Trudeau is a natural leader who likes Canadians and is willing to listen to them, even let them temporarily interrupt his own events to give them a voice.

Harper vilifies and demonizes those who oppose his agenda and most certainly doesn't give most Canadians a voice.  His government has even called these types of protesters "terrorists."   Harper's rotten as a leader and he needs to go as soon as possible.  

I'm looking forward to seeing Trudeau beat this jerk in 2015. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm with Greg Sorbara on ending separate school funding in Ontario

I could write today about Russia's latest petty move in that country's despicable campaign against LGBT people by removing a memorial to Apple founder Steve Jobs in St Petersburg after the man who succeeded him at the helm of the company, Tim Cook, came out as gay.  But those bigots aren't worth my energy today.

I could also write about something closer to home in BC where, according to this report, many ignorant Chinese suburbanites are worried progressive school board forces are planning to inject their children with some kind of serum to turn them gay.

But those idiots aren't worth my energy either.  There seems to be no end to the stupidity of our species.

But one slight bit of hope has emerged from reading this article about former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara's (pictured) declaration that Ontario should finally scrap its antiquated, separate school system, in which one religion - Roman Catholics - receive special status by getting public schools funded by taxpayers, while all other religions do not.   Sorbara makes the comments in his new memoir. 

In a modern, secular, pluralistic society like Ontario, it's long past the time we do the right thing on this issue.  Of course, Premier Kathleen Wynne, who's openly lesbian and couldn't work as a teacher in the separate school system in Ontario if she wanted to, has said she has no plans to pursue the dismantling of public funding for Catholic schools.  I hope she changes her mind.  She has a majority now so she could begin a process to examine the issue and allow the voters to speak on the subject.

I wrote in February 2012 about a strategy I think could be deployed by any premier looking to create a mandate to act on the separate school issue without having obtained one in the previous election.  I stand by that plan today.  As John Tory taught us, running for or against Catholic or religious schools in an election can be an election loser.

But now that we have a stable Liberal government under Wynne until 2018, perhaps now is the time to revisit the issue.  The people of Ontario have never had the chance to weigh in on our public education system.   It's now time for a plebiscite that would allow them to do that.  The process I prescribe is laid out in detail here.  But basically it would go like this:

The Ontario government calls a non-binding plebiscite on the issue in which voters would be asked to rank 3 options in order of preference: Ontario's status quo (one public system and one Catholic system); or one public system and several religious-based systems where numbers warrant; or one public system for all students.  Which ever result gets over 50% support after the first or second round wins.   For full details, click here to read my original post.

Such a vote would give the government direction and a mandate to act where none exists now. 

It's long past time Ontarians get a say into how their public education system money is handed out. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

John Tory wins! Homophobic school trustee Sotiropoulos loses! Toronto moves forward!

I'm glad that John Tory won the Toronto mayoralty and that the Ford era is now over.  

I hoped to see more progressive councillors get elected across Toronto, but sadly the power of incumbency in many places is tough to beat.   Kristyn Wong-Tam won in my ward, which is great.  Chris Moise did very well against incumbent Sheila Ward for public school trustee, so I hope he runs again next time. 

Despite the hopes of many progressives, the city was not in the mood for a swing back to the left.  That's democracy.  But it's clear that 66% of voters wanted to get rid of the Fords.  So this is why Tory won and a very decent candidate Olivia Chow lost.  Had Tory not run at all, and this election had been primarily between Olivia Chow and Doug Ford, I shudder to think that Ford would've likely won.

But now a guy who wants to govern from the centre (not the far right as many fanatic lefties claimed) is going to try to make things work at city hall again.  He'll have to be a conciliator and work hard with all factions of council, left, centre and right, to get anything done. 

I'm sure the provincial Liberals will be happy with this result tonight too.  I hope Tory works well with Kathleen Wynne to fix transit in this region.

I also hope that Wynne keeps her promise to enact preferential balloting in Toronto elections, as per the request of the last council.  That must happen so we can end the nonsense of strategic voting and jerks like the Fords don't have a chance to ruin the city in the future with only 34% of the vote.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My final decision: John Tory, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Chris Moise all have my support!

It has been a grueling municipal election race in Toronto since it began all the way back in January, when the repugnant incumbent Rob Ford jumped into the race for mayor on the first day he could despite his many scandals. 

The last four years have been an absolute hell-hole in Toronto, with extreme stupidity, rabid ideological conservatism and bigotry emanating from the mayor's office, not to mention personal failures like drug abuse, violent behaviour and associations with criminals.  Based on his past behaviour, I knew full well before Rob Ford's 2010 election that he'd be a train wreck in office.  I was proven very right.  His reign has been the worst in Toronto's history.

We entered this year's race desperately looking for someone who could end the Ford years for good.  At first, that seemed to be Olivia Chow.  Her candidacy looked good on paper: dignified widow of Jack Layton, progressive immigrant who's worked hard, with much experience at both the local and federal levels of government.  Her message at first was simple: not only was she the best positioned to defeat Ford, she was also the best candidate for undoing his right-wing legacy with her progressive agenda.

But that latter message was the Chow campaign's biggest mistake in this election campaign.  It seemed many on her campaign were hoping to re-fight the 2010 election.  Many NDP types hoped 2014 would give them the opportunity to not only punish Rob Ford for his personal foibles, but also repudiate conservatism as a whole and restore the city to David Miller-style governance. 

But they were very wrong.  Most residents in the city, including those in the mushy Liberal middle, grew tired of David Miller's poor management style and progressive policy experiments by 2010.  The pendulum that had swung left in 2003 to elect David Miller swung hard back to the right in 2010.  While Rob Ford's personal behaviour has horrified Toronto voters, there was little evidence this year they felt the same way about much of his agenda at city hall. Perhaps by 2018, voters may want a more progressive mayor at city hall, but in 2014, I'm not sensing that at all. 

Plus Chow failed to put out a platform that captured many imaginations and she ceded voters' biggest concerns about transit and gridlock to other candidates, only coming out with a bus expansion plan that was quickly discredited.  The only bold thing she promised was to revisit the Scarborough subway extension in favour of the previous Light Rail Transit plan.  Otherwise, she mostly played it too safe. And she got badly outplayed, which is too bad because I truly wanted to vote for her.  I even donated to her campaign back in the spring.

Into that void jumped John Tory (pictured above at Woody's on Oct 25, 2014), a candidate who had previously lost so many times, this was clearly his last kick at the can.  His years developing a solid reputation as an open-minded red Tory and a great conciliator proved very beneficial.    

Tory impressed many with his bold Smart Track proposal, which looks exactly like the type of transit expansion we truly need in this city, not only to divert riders away from St. George and Yonge-Bloor subway stations, but also provide residents right across the region with an alternative to their motor vehicles and endless gridlock. Without a doubt, the plan needs major tweaking and, if Tory wins, it will receive it.  But Smart Track also played to Tory's strengths: he's a smart, creative leader who isn't afraid to think outside the box, find new solutions and get them done.

With Tory's clear message, he overtook Chow and Rob Ford in the polls in the summer and never looked back.  As Chow sank to third place, her remaining trump card - being the best positioned candidate to end the Ford years - disappeared and shifted to Tory.   When Rob Ford dropped out due to health reasons and Doug Ford replaced him on the ballot, the dynamic didn't change as most voters who disliked RoFo also disliked DoFo.  Doug seemed less charming and more of a bully, equally wrong for civic leadership as his brother.

Of late, Tory's been sealing the deal, sending out the message that he'll work for "all Torontonians" and "leave no one behind."  At the same time, Chow's campaign has been trying to save the furniture.  Fearing a complete collapse, they've been working hard to reinforce their left flank.  But most of her supporters have gone over the top, painting a caricature of Tory that doesn't line up with most reasonable people's perceptions of the man.  Instead of reaching out to a coalition of centrist voters, Chow lately has been narrow casting her message, appealing only to the hard left.

That may save her a few percentage points in the final vote, but it fails to show that Chow is a candidate for the wider Toronto community.  One of her attacks against Tory was to simply call him a "conservative," as if conservatives don't make up a significant part of the city.

For me, my main concern in this election is ridding the city of the Fords, at least from the mayor's chair.  As well, I want to elect a mayor who can unify the city between the downtown and the suburbs, and return civility, intelligence and balance to our civic life.  John Tory seems to me the only major candidate who can do that as mayor.  For these reasons, he'll be getting my vote.  I don't support Tory's entire platform, especially his expedient decision to support the Scarborough subway extension.  However, I have somewhat accepted the fact the ship has sailed on reversing that issue.  I am still somewhat optimistic that Tory will continue to support LRTs in other sensible locations in the city (Sheppard East, Eglinton and Finch).  He's repeated in at least two debates this season that he sees no business case for subways in those corridors.  Plus his determination to get Smart Track off the ground in the years ahead will likely mean he's reluctant to promote other expensive subway propositions like on Sheppard East.  

In Ward 27 where I live, I'll also be voting for Kristyn Wong-Tam (pictured above), a left-wing first term councillor who's done a great job representing the ward, all the time maintaining a dignified level head in the face of chaos at city hall.  She voted against the Scarborough subway extension so I'm glad to give her my vote for that reason alone.   She's also a big supporter of expanding the city's bike lane network.  She'll be a strong progressive counterweight to John Tory's moderate conservatism, as I hope will be other progressive city councillors elected elsewhere.  I have no doubt Wong-Tam will work well with Tory.   I view my vote for Wong-Tam as a nice balance to supporting Tory for mayor.

And finally, for Public School Trustee in Toronto Centre-Rosedale, I've decided to vote for Chris Moise (pictured above), a dynamic candidate who's running for the second time.  I contacted him to find out why he's running, and I also contacted the longtime incumbent Sheila Ward to find out why I should return her to office.   Despite messaging Ward at her Facebook and Twitter accounts, she failed to get back to me.  This was in keeping with what I've heard about her: she's inaccessible and takes voters for granted.

Moise, on the other hand, got back to me within minutes to write: "I want to be a voice for the WHOLE community. I look forward to working collaboratively with parents and parent councils, educators, members of our community and Board colleagues. Children are a vital part of our downtown community and we must all come together to ensure they have the academic tools going forward to succeed and later give back (this includes providing programs such as art, music, ESL), which are often at risk of being eliminated from the curriculum...School boards no longer have the ability to increase education taxes. However, I look forward to working closely with the Ministry of Education and discuss ways to INVEST in education of our students and find ways start address the 202 schools that are in chronic need of repair (identified by the Ministry itself)." 

Moise seems like a great option for a fresh new voice on the school board.   I hope he gets elected Monday. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Check out 80s musical spoof 'Eternity: The Movie' at the Carlton this week...

Tonight, my boyfriend and I saw and thoroughly enjoyed the charming 80s musical spoof comedy film, 'Eternity: The Movie,' at Toronto's Carlton Cinema.  I wanted to give the flick a shout-out.  

Directed by Ian Thorpe and starring the very adorable Barrett Crake and Myko Olivier (pictured)
as would-be R&B music sensations who launch the duo Eternity in 1985 (with more than a passing resemblance to Daryl Hall and John Oates), it was silly, sexy and playful from start to end, never taking itself too seriously.

And with tonnes of not-so-subtle homo-eroticism between the cute leads, there was plenty for gay male and gay-loving audiences to enjoy.  Honestly, I got a bit lost in Olivier's beautiful eyes (see why below), and his lovable loser routine never got tired.  Plus many of the ballads, including 'Make Love (Not Just Sex)' and 'Alana' were hilarious.   Crake and writer/producer Eric Staley were on hand for a Q&A after the flick and Crake mentioned he'll be appearing in an episode of the final season of 'Glee.'

It would be nice to see this indie flick turn into a cult hit.  It's not going to win any Oscars, but if you're not looking for serious fare and just want to laugh at an 80s spoof, check it out at the Carlton this week if you can.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Habitual liar Doug Ford denies he called female reporter "a little bitch"; Toronto students fight back against bigoted school trustee

Several journalists have reported that Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford, the thuggish brother of Rob Ford, said after last night's CTV debate: "I can't stand that little bitch." 

Ford was referring to Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro after a post-debate media scrum.   The comment was heard by Star photojournalist Lucas Oleniuk and a CTV producer.

DoFo is, big surprise, denying he said it.  Of course, DoFo, like his brother, is a habitual liar and has lied repeatedly to the public during this election campaign.  We saw the latest examples of Doug Ford's inaccuracies during last night's debate. 

Monday night's crushing defeat for the Fords can't come soon enough!


In other news, I'm glad that some Toronto high school students are speaking out eloquently against homophobic bigot school trustee Sam Sotiropoulos, whom they want suspended for his comments about the Gay Pride parade, which they feel are homophobic, and for suggesting transgendered students could be mentally ill.

“If a student tweeted something like that, we’d be suspended, or at the very least we’d have to write an essay about the negative impact it has on school climate,” argued Grade 11 student Georgia Koumantaros of Malvern Collegiate.  

The students made their comments while addressing the  Toronto District School Board's Administration, Finance and Accountability committee meeting Wednesday.  Officials responded they can't suspend Sotiropoulos, but trustees at the committee meeting gave the students a round of applause, although it is not clear whether the issue of Sotiropoulos’s tweets will be referred on for future discussion.

For more information on Sotiropoulos' bigoted comments, check out my previous blog post about him.  
He's brought enough shame to the board and his community of Scarborough-Agincourt.  I remain hopeful that his opponent, Manna Wong, will be able to turf the bigot from the board in Monday's election.