Tag Archives: Joseph Uranowski

The 2012 “You Go Girl!” Awards. Presented by: The Equivocator

Context: I don’t like to think of this blog as existing in a vacuum. You may not be aware of it but I am also an avid user of the twitter and the facebook (my twitter feed is there on the right side of my blog btw.) On twitter (you can follow me at @Uranowski) whenever I notice someone being awesome I like to give them a “You go girl!” It is a friendly, 1990sesque way to acknowledge a job well done. Anyone, man, woman, child, or particularly heroic animal, can receive one. However, last year, I decided that  I would start an official, end-of-the-year, “You Go Girl” Award for women in Canadian politics, journalism, the arts and public life who have been excellent on multiple occasions. For my “Third Annual “You Go Girl!” Awards, I asked some of my favourite writers to profile the 2012 winners. In no particular order, here are recipients of the 2012 “You Go Girl!” Awards:

Joyce Murray by Joseph Uranowski

joyce murray 2

I am a huge fan of Joyce Murray and I think that she brings a lot to the Federal Liberal Leadership race. Joyce’s business experience and her ministerial experience from  British Columbia make her a real contender. From the moment she announced her candidacy for the Liberal leadership she has put forward a positive and progressive agenda, ensuring that the environment, progressive crime policy, democratic reform and gender equality in governmental appointments are not left out of the LPC leadership conversation.

However, I am still fairly sceptical of the idea of progressive cooperation. I won’t re-hash my arguments. Even though I disagree with Mrs. Murray on this issue, this is a debate that the Liberal Party has to have, during the leadership race if we are to emerge as a strong, renewed party. What I find admirable about Murray’s position on cooperation is that it isn’t driven by self-interest or ruthless pragmatism but it is the natural product of Mrs. Murray’s philosophy of cooperation and problem solving in all aspects of political life.

Joyce Murray has already made Canada a better place with a distinguished career in business and as a B.C. cabinet minister. No matter what the outcome of the Liberal Leadership race, Murray has improved its quality with her presence and ideas.

Alison Loat by Susan Delacourt

alison loat

Toward the end of 2012, Alison Loat lost her voice before a big Samara event in Toronto and I was drafted to fill in for her as moderator. I was happy to do it, but I much prefer that Alison Loat  keep her voice, especially as she’s using it to help move political debate beyond the narrow, dispiriting ruts of late in Canada.
In her work with Samara these past few years, Alison has practiced a purposeful optimism, asking often-jaded politicos and reporters to imagine ways to  improve our democracy.  In the process, people come away from encounters with her feeling a little less jaded, a little less cynical.  The fact that this feat is being performed by a woman — a young woman, to boot — is another reason to value her contributions to our world.

“You go girl” is not a phrase in my everyday lexicon, but if it was, I’d throw it in Alison’s direction, with an extra instruction: “Keep that voice of yours. We need it.”

(Susan Delacourt, the Star’s Senior Writer in Ottawa, has covered federal politics for more than two decades as a reporter and bureau chief. Follow her on twitter @SusanDelacourt, and check out her blog here: http://thestar.blogs.com/politics/)

Tonya Surman, Karen Stintz and Teriano Lesancha by Chris Drew

Tonya Surman

As the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Tonya is one of Toronto’s leaders in collaboration, social change, and city-building. This has been a busy year for Tonya and her leadership on a number of initiatives deserves recognition. CSI is a social enterprise with three locations in Toronto (Annex, Spadina, and Regent Park). CSI’s mission is to spark social innovation through collaboration, bringing people together, and inspiring new partnerships. It provides shared workspace for entrepreneurs, small businesses, charities, non-profits, and innovators of all shapes and sizes.

 This year, Tonya’s leadership has resulted in three important developments: the creation of a crowdfunding platform for projects and initiatives by CSI members, the opening of two new locations (Regent Park and New York!), and the launch of a book on Community Bonds to highlight how they can be used successfully to fund projects. Crowdfunding and Community Bonds will open up new avenues for project funding for CSI members. The Regent Park location will empower residents of this neighbourhood and is a key component of the Regent Park revitalization plan. The New York location demonstrates Tonya’s model for social innovation is spreading and is not a fad but a new way to work, collaborate, and build.

Tonya’s vision and drive is inspirational and in a city with governments and corporations still dominated by men, her leadership on creating new economic and social opportunities makes her a role model for women.

More information:

  • Check out this TEDx talk by Tonya
  • CSI’s nomination for a Social Finance Award for its Community Bond model

TTC_Chair_Karen_Stintz

“Subways, subways, subways!” the Mayor proclaimed. Until Karen asked a simple question, “How are you going to pay for them?” Mayor Rob Ford offered no realistic plan and so the TTC Chair had to act. The Province’s transit funding was capped and time was running out (“Toronto’s transit cliff”). Tunnelling is expensive and Light Rapid Transit (LRT) was the appropriate, evidence-based choice for Finch, Sheppard, and Eglinton. LRT allows the city to serve more people, capture more residents in lower-income neighbourhoods, and maximize the funding from the Province.

Challenging Mayor Ford wasn’t easy and was politically risky. Although Karen had been supportive of the Mayor’s fiscal conservative decisions at council, she believed that cancelling two LRT lines to burry the Eglinton line east of Laird Road was the wrong decision given the planning and engineering evidence available. She rallied her fellow council members to call a special council meeting and won support to return to the original plan. When the TTC General Manager provided an honest answer to Councillor Doug Ford’s question in Council by stating that LRT was the best option the Mayor’s allies decided to by fire him. Karen then led the charge to replace the TTC Commission with a new set of Councillors who would support the will of Council and get the LRT lines built.

It was a dramatic scene at City Council when the LRT lines were approved and was a tremendous example of strong Toronto women standing up for good planning and fiscal principals. Karen provided remarkable leadership on ensuring the best transit plan for Toronto would be implemented in a realistic way for the entire city.

More information:

Teriano

Photo credit: Clifton Li

For many of us, going to university can be an intimidating, worrying, and nerve-wracking experience. I’ll admit to getting lost at Ryerson University on my first day which I found highly embarrassing. Imagine then the experience of Teriano who was not only going coming to Ryerson from a different continent, Africa, she was the first in her village to leave for post-secondary education and the first girl to do so. As someone who grew up in the comfortable suburbs of Brampton where children attending school isn’t questioned, it’s easy to forget that there are hundreds of millions of women who are in the same position Teriano was.

At birth, Teriano was placed into an arrange marriage by her father as is the custom for the village. Additional barriers to Teriano receiving an education in Kenya included the costs she faced and the need for children to help their parents heard cattle. Despite the challenges, Teriano decided that she wanted a different future than the one so many women in her village experienced. She decided that she would stay in primary and secondary school where she excelled. That path led her to Ryerson University to continue her studies. This Toronto Star story outlines the challenging journey and experience Teriano had. Teriano completed a four year degree at Ryerson. She showed to her village the value of women receiving education and how it could be economically successful.

Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University, went to Teriano’s village this summer to conduct the convocation ceremony and thousands of people came to watch. It was a stunning moment as a woman was officially receiving a university degree. It is amazing to think of the change Teriano created by being determined to get an education and how she can be a role model for other women in similar situations.

More information:

(Chris Drew is a consultant, cycling and transit advocate, and neighbourhood organizer. He graduated from Ryerson University. Follow him @chrisjamesdrew and facebook.com/chrisdrew.ca)

Leesee Papatsie by Adam Goldenberg

leesee

(Photo Credit: Samantha Dawson, Nunatsiaq News.)

Before there was #IdleNoMore, there was “Feeding My Family.”

Last summer, a civil servant in Iqaluit named Leesee Papatsie started a Facebook group that mushroomed into a movement that started a conversation about the high cost of food in the North. South of 60, Canadians noticed.

From Kugluktuk to Coral Harbour, Nunavummiut gathered outside grocery stores to protest prices that any Southerner would consider extreme. $20 for a head of cabbage. $100 for a flat of bottled water. Nearly $35 for a kilogram of all-purpose flour. $12.95 for four litres of milk.

Water coolers around the world buzzed with curiosity. Southern politicians like Carolyn Bennett and Jean Crowder responded with concern. And, online, families across the North came together to confront a crisis that otherwise would have remained remote from Canada’s common consciousness. The photos from store shelves kept coming. They still are.

Leesee Papatsie, meanwhile, has largely avoided the spotlight. “What’s good about it is that people are initiating [the conversation],” she told the Nunatsiaq News. “I just have to sit back and smile.”

You go, girl.

(Adam Goldenberg is a former speech writer. Follow him @AdamGoldenberg)

Tracy MacCharles by Meagan Trush

Tracy MacCharles

When I first met Tracy, it was in her kitchen, a day or two before the Pickering-Scarborough East nomination meeting in June 2011. It had that day-before-E-day feel, but also with a sense of family. I was greeted with a hug, thanked profusely for coming to help, and introduced to her team –built mostly of a group of girlfriends from the PTA of her children’s school. What still floors me about Tracy is her capacity to bring people together who might not vote for the same party or consider themselves to be political, and work together for the betterment of the community. Her tenacity is exceptional, and her selfless advocacy for accessibility and a compassionate society make her riding and her province a better place. It has been with inspiration and pride that I’ve observed her grow into her new role as MPP, never afraid of a challenge. In early 2011, Tracy MacCharles was already a mother of two great children, a wife, an accomplished professional, a cancer survivor, and a community organizer. Then she decided to serve further. Tracy,you GO girl!

(Meagan Trush, Liberal staffer, Womens Commission exec member, and campaign enthusiast.)

Margaret Atwood and Emily Haines by Toks Weah

Margaret+Atwood

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Margaret Atwood will be Toronto’s next mayor despite becoming a symbol for the vibrancy of the arts  and patronage of public libraries versus the Ford brothers. This doesn’t mean that Ms. Atwood is any less  engaged. 2012 saw the debut of a stage adaptation of her novella “The Penelopiad”–a creative reimagining that focuses on the marginalized voice of Penelope. Another one of her works  was adapted into a Sundance Film Festival  documentary “Payback.” She’s also quite vocal about Canadian politics as a whole, recently participating in #IdleNoMore.

Emily Haines

Toronto-native Emily Haines just released her fifth studio album titled Synthetica with Metric. The first single, “Youth Without Youth” is Metric’s forte political messages without the politicking, playing to an audience that understands the juxtaposition of childhood innocence and war written during the height of Occupy Wall Street. Emily Haines still shows her signature charm and sass in interviews, and this multi-talented socially conscious musician isn’t going away anytime soon.
(Toks Weah is VP Communications for the Glendon Young Liberals. Follow her @Newskepticx.)

Maureen O’Neil, Renee Filiatrault and Barb Stegemann by Jane Daly

Maureen O'Neil

Maureen’s bio is about as exemplary as it gets. She is presently President of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. Her previous positions include President of the International Development Research Centre, Interim President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, President of the North-South Institute and Deputy Minister of Citizenship for the Government of Ontario. Ms. O’Neil is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development; a member of the Board of World University Service of Canada and the Board of International Institute for Sustainable Development; Chair of the International Advisory Group, Think Tank Initiative and a member of the Carleton University School of Public Policy & Administration Leadership Council. Ms O’Neil has represented Canada on the UN Commission on the Status of Women and on OECD committees, and has been a member of the UN Committee for Development Planning and the Board of the UN Research Institute for Social Development. It goes on and on with one incredible credit after the other. Her energy and enthusiasm for her work is unflappable and unending. She has spent her career working to better the many systems that support our social and government systems, as well as helping those much less fortunate around the world. Add to this her unconditional love and support for her family and you basically have Superwoman. Her children and grandchildren are scattered around the world and finding time to spend with them ranks even higher than the superhuman energy she finds for her work. Her grand-daughters are proud and grateful to have such an amazing role model in their life. Her passion for politics and making the world a better place has been passed down to them by example. They can happily discuss politics, music, art, fashion and literature with an equal amount of enthusiasm, thanks to her shining example. She has helped my daughters be passionate about the politics of the country they live in, to be proud and proactive Liberals, and to understand how important it is to vote. Her grand-daughters (who are also my daughters) know that as Canadian women, the world is their oyster and there is simply nothing they can’t do. She has shown them that having a meaningful life is important. That family is something you will always have standing behind you, holding you up, that love is unconditional, that learning and improving oneself is the best thing you can do for yourself. And, that there are pretty much no doors you can’t open with good manners, a good sense of humor and of course, a stylish outfit. Also, being witty, polite and engaging can make any dinner party a success. This past year, Maureen O’Neil was awarded an Officer of The Order of Canada as well as a Silver Jubilee Medal.

Renee Filiatrault

Renee Filiatrault has served as Senior Public Diplomacy Officer in Afghanistan with Task Force Kandahar. Before that, she served two Ministers of National Defence and was Head of Media and Public Affairs for the British High Commission in Canada. Renee is a regular commenter on foreign and defence matters, appearing on CTV’s Question Period and PowerPlay, as well as on CBC’s The National with Peter Mansbridge and CBC Radio and has been a contributing writer for Policy Options Magazine and the Ottawa Citizen. So – Renee is basically a kick-ass smart woman who has put her life on the line to report on and better the way we deal with policy and defense in some of the most dangerous places in the world. She is definitely a woman in a man’s world, but you don’t ever get that from speaking with her. She is smart, kind and open to hearing what one has to say. She is hopeful about what our troops can acheive with the right governance , while being a realist and understanding what is really going on “on the ground” in combat zones. Reading her recent piece on military drones and how invaluable they are to our soldiers. We need people like Renee helping our government, helping our troops and helping us to understand what safety means. She is passionate about what she does, and respects the rights of those who are effected by government policies. She understands the way technology has changed and complicated the way the military can and does operate. And thankfully, people are listening to her.

Barb Stegemann

Barb Stegemann was born in Montreal, Quebec and holds degrees in Sociology and Journalism from the University of King’s College. Barb built her own boutique PR firm and created innovative, award winning campaigns that garnered private sector and government funding and won numerous marketing awards from the Economic Developers’ Association of Canada while living in British Columbia. Barb tells me she had a normal life, a good life, and business was good at her PR firm in BC. Then, the unthinkable happened. Her best friend, a Canadian soldier, was attacked and wounded while in Afghanistan. She spent a year in the hospital with him, visualizing his healing journey with his wife and family. She promised him she would take on his mission of economic empowerment for families in Afghanistan while he healed [I told you - Barb is no ordinary woman]. She realized that she was not a brave soldier, nor was she a world leader with political clout. But, as a North American, she felt she didn’t have a way to touch peace. Yet- she knew she had buying power. She began writing her book and dedicating it to her friend- The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen. The 7 virtues are: Wonder, Moderation, Truth, Courage, Justice, Wisdom and Beauty. She told me that her fragrances are the thesis rising up out of her book. The principles of the book, the stoic wisdom she has is the action through the fragrances. With her best friend’s mission in mind, Barb read about this gentleman named Abdullah Arsala. He was growing the legal crops of orange blossom and rose to provide an alternative to the illegal poppy crop. Barb knew Abdullah was the way to peace. She reached out to him and began to purchase his legal oils for her fragrance collection.  She has invested over $100,000 legal dollars in Afghanistan instead of the illegal poppy crops. This liberates farmers and is her way of helping to build peace. Every time  The 7 Virtues sells a fragrance, they can buy more oils to liberate farmers from the same oppressors that attacked her dear friend. Again. No ordinary woman.

(Jane Daly, @daly_beauty on Twitter, www.dalybeauty.ca. Lucky Magazine Contributor, Huffington Post Beauty Insider.)

Carolyn Bennett by Brad Lister

Carolyn Bennett

A hearty you go girl for 2012 to Dr. Carolyn Bennett. I always knew Dr. Bennett was a solid hard working MP, what I didn’t know was what a warm and amazing woman she was when I finally got to meet her in person. I expected a committed politician who would have just chatted with me for a few minutes and then move on. That was never the case. She always met my gaze and now whenever we meet each she knows exactly who I am and is very interested in what project I am currently working on. Dr. Bennett has been a huge ally of all the work I have done as one of the original founders of Queer Liberals and our attempts to help rebuild the party.

On Aboriginal issues and other health issues Dr. Bennett has been an amazing advocate. I am glad to count this woman amongst the rank of the greatest Liberals.

(Brad Lister is a Liberal activist. Follow him @AllPopGuy)

Deb MatthewsTheresa Lubowitz and Alice Funke by Zach Armstrong

deb matthews

Whether it’s leading Ontario’s health care system or organizing a children’s book drive, Deb Matthews is always working hard for the people of Ontario. First elected in 2003 as the MPP for London North Centre, she has served her constituents with strength, poise, and dedication. In 2007, Deb was appointed Minister of Children & Youth Services and later promoted to Minister of Health & Long-Term Care. Early this year she introduced Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care. Above all, her Action Plan prioritizes keeping Ontarians healthy and makes sure everyone gets the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

Deb has also shown national leadership this year. In July, she strongly urged the federal government not to let generic OxyContin into the Canadian market. With the support of her provincial and territorial counterparts, police chiefs, and pharmacists, she stated that “national problems require a national solution.” Despite estimates that allowing generic OxyContin would result in social costs of up to $500 million, the federal government ultimately approved it in November.

For her dedication to her constituents in London, in Ontario, and indeed, all of Canada, Deb deserves a resounding “You go,girl!”

If you’re involved in the Liberal Party, either nationally or in Ontario, you know Theresa Lubowitz. Born in Moose Factory, Ontario, but eventually settling north of Toronto, Theresa studied Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. Theresa runs the blog “What Have You Done for Democracy Lately?”, and actively promotes the use of social media by politicians and politicos alike. Leading up to the 2012 LPC Biennial Convention, Theresa produced “Delegates Guide” with in-depth profiles of each candidate for table officer. Shortly after the convention, Theresa was snapped up by the Ontario Liberal Party where she seemingly does anything and everything.

For her tireless commitment to liberalism, democracy, and civic engagement, Theresa deserves a full-throated “You go girl!”

While researching Alice Funke, publisher of Pundits’ Guide, I stumbled upon this blog which named her a Champion of Democracy earlier this year. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll simply give my enthusiastic endorsement to this quote:

“Never before has a Canadian done so much individually to help other Canadians keep tabs on the democratic health of the nation or given them the tools to knowledgeably participate in our democratic system. Funke is trusted by journalists, politicians, and political enthusiasts alike, and is probably one of the few Canadians out there who can boast this.” -Theresa Lubowitz

For her data-driven obsession over Canadian politics, Alice deserves an enthusiastic “You go, girl!”

(Zach Armstrong is a Liberal activist living in London Ontario. Follow him @Zb_Armstrong)

Chief Theresa Spence by  Daniel Nowoselski

Chief Theresa Spence

When the conditions at Attawapiskat were first revealed earlier this year, there was an uproar. Then, nothing happened. The way she’s very actively stepped forward and taken a stand has brought people’s attention back to the terrible conditions and injustices that First Nations people face back to the forefront. She’s put a face on the suffering of the First Nations people that makes the #IdleNoMore movement seem much stronger, more consistent, and hopefully more successful than the previous initiatives to help First nations people. However, I think the thing that’s the most inspiring about what she’s done is that she’s made it clear that she’s willing to die for her cause. In a time where it’s very easy for people to be cynical about their political leaders, seeing someone who believes in her cause so much that she’s willing to be a martyr for it is completely and totally inspirational. I pray she doesn’t have to die for her cause, but seeing someone with such commitment to her cause makes it really hard to remain cynical about people in leadership positions wanting to make a positive difference in the world.

Chief Theresa Spence by Conner Marvin

Perhaps the person with the most potential for political change in Canada going into 2013. She most certainly is not doing this on her own, especially considering that the #idlenomore movement has laid the groundwork for a considerable push for change. Her attention has allowed her name to generally be the one associated with the movement. Standing as the figure head for a political movement that aims to change the relationship between the First Nations and the federal government is indeed a large endeavour. She, inevitably, also draws light on what we all acknowledge as problems arising from our dark past in Canada. Her determination, along with others, very well may change the very basis of how our peoples relate to one another.

Christine Sinclair and Laurel Broten  by Daniel Nowoselski

Christine Sinclair

In addition to being one of the most talented at her sport in the world, she demonstrated an amazing amount of leadership during the 2012 London Olympic Games. In addition to the two goals she scored in the semi-final, she spoke her mind about the terrible officiating in the Semi-Final, accepted the punishment for doing so, and still lead the Canadian Women’s soccer team to a Bronze medal finish. Our Summer Olympians never get the same recognition as our Winter ones, but if anyone is deserving of the praise and glory we shower upon our Olympic heroes, given the talent and leadership she demonstrated, it’s Christine Sinclair.

broten like a boss

Minister Broten is totally deserving of a You Go Girl Award. I recognize that she is my hometown MPP, so I have a soft spot for her, but I think she’s accomplished some really significant things this year. The most notable accomplishment for me is the passage of the Accepting Schools Act, which I think is a landmark piece of anti-bullying legislation for a variety of reasons, but got the most attention for its section on GSAs. Seeing a heterosexual cabinet minister from a suburban riding be such a vocal advocate for making things better for LGBTQ youth was incredibly moving for me and made me incredibly proud. Her other major accomplishment this year was how she has handled Bill 115. I think, regardless of whether or not people are supportive of Bill 155, it is hard to ignore that in an era where people are very cynical about their politicians, seeing a politician take a controversial stance and stick by it regardless of the political consequences is something that should be recognized. I’ve been really impressed with how, throughout the ensuing events, Minister Broten has maintained her trademark softspoken and steady style, which is something that I can’t imagine was easy to do. She also looked absolutely fabulous in a sparkly top as the Grand Marshall of the Toronto Pride Parade.

(Daniel Nowoselski is a University of Ottawa student and Liberal organizer. Follow him: @DanielNow)

Alison Redford by Jonathan Scott

alison-redford-elections_8

It’s really rather simple. I quite like Alison Redford.

It’s not just because she’s brought a new face and focus to Alberta. It’s not just because she’s her province’s first female premier. And it’s not simply because she’s a brilliant lawyer with a penchant for social equality.

I like her because she’s calm, principled and steadfastly progressive.

Her Party ran ads during the election campaigning say, “This isn’t your daddy’s Conservative Party”. It’s true. Premier Redford is putting the “Progressive” front and centre.

She’s navigating economic realities and ecological concerns with considerably — no, infinitely — more consultation, explanation and negotiation than the roughshod, disengaged, “environment be damned” approach from her fellow Calgarian, Prime Minister Harper.

The conservative movement in Alberta often seems split three ways between the right-wing radicals and social conservatives (the Wild Rose); what we in Ontario used to call, before their near extinction, Red Tories; and the libertarian and parliamentary-procedure activists of the old Reform Party. Redford is decidedly a Red Tory.

In an era of political polarization between an increasingly radical conservative movement and a left myopic to economic realities — what Bob Rae disparages as the Tea Party versus the Occupiers — Premier Redford is at the vanguard of the progressive-centrist resistance.

She was the first Albertan premier to participate in Pride. She’s created sensible policies to connect government to the great work of non-profit organizations (http://nonprofitsectorlink.com/home/index.php/resources/news-archives/170-a-a-a-alison-redford-promises-changes-to-benefit-the-nonprofit-sector), she’s increased social-assistance funding (http://www.laclabichepost.com/article/20120221/LLB0801/302219971/0/LLB) and pledges to build or rebuild hundreds of schools.

Her calm, sensible, progressive leadership reminds me of the best days of Premier McGuinty’s government here in Ontario. She’s the kind of leader I hope Ontario will be lucky enough to have once again after the Liberal leadership convention at the end of the month.

(Jonathan Scott is president of the UofT Liberals and a freelance writer. Follow him: @J_Scott_)

Sara Farb, Alysha Haugen/Magali Meagher, and Stephanie Guthrie by Kritty Uranowski

sara-farb-2

Sara Farb is the best singer I’ve ever heard live in my life.  (And I’ve seen both Bernadette Peters and Aretha Franklin live.) In 2012, she starred in the first Canadian production of Next to Normal.  She’s also written and produced her own show at the Luminato, Paprika and Fringe festival’s called REBECCA.   I never saw it, because I’m a bad friend, but this isn’t about me. She is a Canadian treasure and you’re welcome that you know who she is now. She will be joining the company at the Stratford festival next year, playing Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. She is awesome and a wonderful, bright light in the Canadian theatre industry.

Brava, girl!

lysh

Alysha Haugen and Magali Meagher founded Girls Rock Camp Toronto.  Girls Rock Camp Toronto provides campers age 8-16 with the opportunity to learn how to play instruments, form bands, write songs, and get along. Girls learn how to take care of their gear, and do basic instrument troubleshooting and maintenance - the confidence that comes with their new found abilities and skills is staggering. The week ends in a packed showcase concert, where each of the bands play original tunes and covers for an audience of supportive fans.

This is a video of The Fairy Whispers, one of the groups I coached this past summer:

I am so grateful to be a part of this organization – one of which would be possible without the tireless efforts of Alysha and Magali.
Rock on, Ladies.

To donate - http://girlsrocktoronto.org/donate.html

Stephanie-Guthrie

Stephanie Guthrie is many things.  She is a political activist who gained notoriety in 2012 for defending Anita Sarkeesian (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1224659–gamer-campaign-against-anita-sarkeesian-catches-toronto-feminist-in-crossfire) against misogynistic trolls and internet dingbats   She also made great strides in helping keep more women informed and in discussion about politics in our city through Women in Toronto Politics (http://witopoli.com/ ).  This You Go Girl award is being given to Steph not only for her amazing community work, but also her ability to be an incredibly strong, supportive and available friend.  In addition to saving the city / world, she is always there with a helping hand, a wonderful set of pipes (she sings back up vocals in my band, Patti Cake -http://patticake.bandcamp.com), and literally has come with me to the hospital in the middle of the night because she is JUST THAT KIND OF PERSON.

You go girl, Steph Guthrie.  You go girl.

(Kritty Uranowski is a singer and actor based in Toronto. She is the front woman of the band Patti Cake, and she is very beautiful. Follow her @Let_It_Bea )

Beverley McLachlin by Micah Goldberg

Beverley McLachlin

The current Chief Justice has a history of landmark decisions, including an order to keep Insite operating and  reasoning that Federal same-sex marriage legislation was valid and operable. In my opinion, her greatest achievement of 2012 is keeping the court seen as a neutral body after the results of Opitz v. Wrzesnewskyj. Mr. Wrzenewskyj (affectionately referred to by the court as “W”) argued that the potential of votes cast by ineligible voters ought to cancel the result of an election. While the argument was ultimately rejected, it was not defeated along party lines. The dissenting opinion, arguing for Mr. Wrzenewskyj’s position, was written by Mulroney-appointed McLachlin. Along with Martin-appointed Abella, McLachlin ignored party lines to promote reason over political sentiment, as Canadians expect our most powerful judges to do. Whether you agree with her reasons or not, the Chief Justice has consistently shown a depth of thinking that goes deeper than an exchange owing to her Progressive-Conservative patron. For maintaining the integrity of institutional roles, and a politically independent adjudicative body, I hope we all take time to recognize one of the greatest Chief Justices our country has ever enjoyed.

(Micah Goldberg is a blogger and Liberal activist. Follow him @MicahGoldberg)

Amanda Lang by Conner Marvin

amanda lang

Few have ever played the role in Canadian journalism that Amanda Lang plays. She is a senior business correspondent on the CBC who passionately defends against the staunch free-market ideals of Kevin O’Leary on a daily basis. To offer not only a balancing factor to O’Leary’s personality, but to do it consistently is nothing short of a feat. Her role as a journalist in the states and, obviously, in Canada has given her the platform to express something of substance every time she is on screen. How very lucky we are to have her combat Kevin O’Leary. Very few could do it, and even fewer with such grace.

(Conner Marvin majors in political science at Glendon. Political scientist by day, oyster shucker by night.)

Liz Evans by George Takach

Liz Evans, Community Builder, Vancouver, B.C.

Earlier this year, I visited the Insite Supervised Injection Site in downtown Vancouver. Insite’s founder, Liz Evans, gave me a sense of what the facility has accomplished since it was established in 2003.

It’s an incredible story. Essentially, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government gives drug addicts two choices: either go to jail, or scramble on the street until you die. Insite gives them a third option: a safe place where they can begin to get their lives back on track, especially as they connect with other community supports with which Liz is involved (such as social housing and a dental clinic). In short, Liz strives to create a community where the previously marginalized can find a safe harbour and rebuild shattered lives.

Interestingly, Insite got off the ground in 2003 because a federal Liberal Health Minister earmarked modest funding to start it up. All other official funding channels were very skeptical about how Insite could help get people off the street and move on with their lives. But in a very short time, Vancouver’s Insite project produced positive results and other cities wanted to set up their own supervised injection sites.

After Stephen Harper became Prime Minister, the Conservative government wanted to shut down the facility, even though the evidence – including numerous peer-reviewed articles – showed the reduction in harm, crime and poverty Insite helped achieve.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court of Canada thwarted the Conservative’s attempt to shut down Insite in order to impose its ideologically driven agenda.

Liz Evans is a master community builder, a woman of courage and dedication who has helped our most vulnerable citizens in downtown Vancouver. We have so much to thank Liz for, and so much to learn from her.

(George Takach is one of Canada’s pre-eminent technology lawyers, he is a Canadian for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Follow him @GeorgeTakach)

Jennifer Crane by Steve Feinstein

For any Quebec political junkie when Parliament is in session, Tommy Schumacher’s “Political Panel” on CJAD, Friday’s at 10 AM is a must-listen. And promoting the Federal Liberals—usually in studio so her voice is loud and clear—is Jennifer Crane. Her verbal sparring with Conservative Geoff Norquay and whoever is the NDP representative of the week is done with enthusiasm, verve, and a quick witted sense of humour. As the old saying goes, she leaves no shot unanswered. Jennifer clearly makes “Political Panel” the fastest moving, most entertaining hour in Montreal talk radio. But Jennifer is more than just a radio personality. She is also the two-time Vice-President English of the Federal Liberal Party of Quebec, re-elected with ease in 2012. As such, the fluently bilingual Crane, has become known as one of the staunchest defenders of Anglo rights, and bilingualism within Quebec. When Jennifer is on your side, you’ve got no greater ally. Just ask Ken Dryden, for whom she organized in Quebec in his 2006 leadership run. Or ask Liberal leader Bob Rae. For the past four years, Jennifer has been one of Mr. Rae’s “go-to” organizers whenever Mr. Rae is in Montreal, advancing trips, organizing events and generally ensuring the leader’s Montreal trips are productive as well as enjoyable. A recent farewell dinner on Montreal’s West Island in Mr. Rae’s honour drew an overflow crowd at the largest venue in the area. And given her skills behind a microphone, she was the M.C. Or ask long time Quebec Liberal Party President Marc Tanguay, who needed Jennifer’s help in winning two elections, a by-election and a general election- within an 85 day period before he was able to take his National Assembly seat in LaFontaine. And the list goes on and on. A prolific Blackberry user, Jennifer keeps up on multiple political sites, moderating conversation, defending her friends and follow Liberals, and providing deft commentary and perspective. I never seen a status update from her with fewer than 5 likes, usually all coming within 10 minutes of posting. Jennifer Crane is one of a unique species of Canadian—a through and through Montrealer. Much like another great Montrealer, the late, great Nick Auf der Maur, they share a passion for their beloved island city. Born, raised, and educated in Montreal, she did spend a brief period of her career in Ottawa. But, as she explains it, she escaped at the first opportunity. Like all Montrealers, she lives for her city, her province, her hockey team (much to the chagrin of this Bruins fan and former Washington Capitals season ticket holder), for good white wine, even better food often from Atwater Market, and especially for electing Liberals to office and for the Liberal Party of Canada. 2012 saw her in an active role at the January biennial in Ottawa, her re-election as Vice President English, successful provincial campaigns, and her being wooed as an organizer by nearly every current contender for the Federal Liberal Leadership. 2013 promises to be busier with federal and provincial leadership races, a likely provincial election, and province-wide municipal elections including an open Mayor’s seat in Ville de Montreal. Look to hear much more from Jennifer Crane in the upcoming 12 months.

(Steve Feinstein is the Area 1 Coordinator for Central Ontario for the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario).)

Christine Moore by Joseph Uranowski

Christine Moore

Early in 2012, it was reported that the Canadian government was playing the mercenary organization Blackwater (now, rebranded as “Xe”) to train Canadian troops. I was quite livid. My party, the Liberals, did work to hold Prime Minister Harper and Minister McKay accountable but I would like to highlight as well the excellent work of Christine Moore. Ms. Moore, the NDP MP for Canadian Parliament for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, is a nurse by training and has served in the Canadian forces for 3 years. Day after day in the House of Commons she hammered the government for abdicating its basic responsibility to provide for the national defence of Canada and for giving money to a firm as reprehensible as Blackwater/Xe. Defence Minister Peter MacKay would try to employ the knee-jerk Conservative attack on Ms. Moore’s patriotism but she handle his attacks with true class (the fact is that his only military experience comes from hitching rides on military helicopters helped.)

For making sure that this important issue wasn’t swept under the rug. I give Christine Moore a hearty “You go girl!”

5 Questions: Parker Mackay

I first met Parker shortly after the 2011 federal election (specifically on May 17th when  we attended the “Liberal Renewal Dinner” in Toronto hosted by the Edward Blake Society.) Parker and I had a great conversation about our Liberalism and we made plans to start-up a Whitby-Oshawa Young Liberals (which we did end up doing, I am now V.P. Federal for the group and Parker Mackay is President.)

Parker is also a candidate on the OYL United Slate for the position of Riding Director. He is currently President of TWO (count ‘em two) OYL Clubs (the Glendon Young Liberals & the WOYL.) His experience with a campus club (Glendon) and a riding club (Whitby-Oshawa) make him quite qualified for the position. Parker is personally responsible for me getting as involved with the Ontario Young Liberals as I have this past year (specifically encouraging me to attend Ontario Model Parliament, OYL on Ice, and campaigning in Toronto-Danforth.) He is a strong/intelligent progressive voice and his thoughtful and empathetic demeanor make me proud to support him in the upcoming OYL election.

Here are his answers to my questions:

1. Why are you a Liberal?

One of my first significant political memories was of my Dad celebrating Chretien’s victory in 1999. I had wondered why it was important at all. I grew a little bit older and started to have an understanding of what politics mean. I held some socially conservative views at that time, but as I started reading more and more on politics, religion, and spirituality, I found that I appreciated the Liberal Party’s values. I’m a Liberal because I believe that a strong social safety net benefits everyone, and that the government can be a trusted and competent manager of our most prized resources and services; I believe that taxes are inherently helpful, and that by helping each of us succeed, including the wealthy and the impoverished, we all succeed; I believe that businesses are the best creators of jobs and should be respected and appreciated by governments; and I believe that society should continue to progress and that we should not fear change simply for the sake of tradition.

2. What was the highlight of the convention for you?

After myself and countless Young Liberals poured our hearts into Mike Crawley’s campaign, seeing him win was the highlight of the convention. From attending events, to blogging, to sharing links and talking to people on facebook, to handing out lit and working on a youth platform, there was a lot of hard work done to get Mike elected, and while originally viewed as an underdog, Mike emerged victorious. Another highlight was Zach Paikin’s speech shortly before voting began–it was rousing and easily one of the best oratory performances of the weekend.

3. What have you learned from campaigning in a very conservative riding (Whitby-Oshawa)?

I’ve come to appreciate how hard Liberals need to work to change hearts and minds door-by-door. It’s difficult to get to people when they slam the door in your face because the pamphlet you’re holding is the wrong colour for them. Fundraising is hard, recruiting is hard, getting noticed is hard, and staying relevant is hard. It’s an uphill battle, but incredibly satisfying to see your hard work pay off.

4. What policy issue are you most passionate about?

Anything related to crime policy. Our laws affect each and every citizen every day, both socially and fiscally. Unjust legislation can rob citizens of their freedom while providing no major benefit to our society. Mandatory minimum sentences and the war on drugs are two failed ideas that cost us billions of dollars each year while failing to solve the problems that they are supposed to address. I am worried that we are walking down a path toward a system focused more on ineffective and vindictive incarceration than helpful rehabilitation.

5. Who is your favourite Prime Minister?

Lester B. Pearson, because he was a true statesman, a noble man, decent human being, and a tremendously capable politician. Pearson accomplished more in his two minority governments than some Prime Ministers did with majority governments. Pearson has left a legacy that almost every Canadian will remember. Many of our strongest, most respected social services are thanks to his hard work and cooperation with the other political Parties in our House of Commons. He showed that even when facing down a hostile majority across the aisle, the word ‘adversity’ is not synonymous with ‘impossible.’

A conversation between Micah Goldberg & Joseph Uranowski on: Progressive Cooperation

Micah Goldberg is one of my favourite people (he has guest blogged for me on a number of occasions.) One of our first conversations together was an argument about some electoral reform proposals I had put forward when I was Education & Government Commissioner on the University of St. Michael’s College Students’ Union.

He is a committed Liberal, but above all he is committed to Canadian democracy. After the NDP convention we decided to write a point/counterpoint discussion on the prospect of Liberal-NDP cooperation. Please read, share on facebook/the twitter and comment if you feel so inclined.

Micah Goldberg:

We should never be afraid of ideas. We should never be afraid of a conversation.

These two sentences, spoken by Nathan Cullen, an NDP Leadership candidate who fell off on the third ballot really exemplify why I joined his campaign team. Although I consider myself a center/center- left voter and thus a Liberal, Mr. Cullen’s call for cooperation in the form of joint nomination meetings between Canadian progressive policies were something, I felt, transcended party lines entirely, and effectively promoted what was best for Canada as a whole. I decided to attend the convention to be on the front lines of the movement, albeit without voting rights. It was the first time I had ever been involved in something so much larger than myself. I really did feel as though Nathan’s team was fighting to remove an arcane tradition, working together to move Canada forward towards a progressive future.

I fear many people do not fully understand what Cullen’s cooperation plan was, and their ignorance fuelled fear. Voluntary joint nomination meetings in Conservative-held ridings are not a merger. It only occurs if NDP and Liberal party members in the Tory constituency are willing to vote for one candidate, and only members would be eligible to elect one candidate to run under their own partisan banner, with the intention of turning a Conservative seat into a progressive one.

There are some New Democrats and Liberals who feel as though an ocean of difference between the parties will block any path to cooperation. This may be a good argument against a merger, but I don’t see it as an effective one against cooperation. I freely admit the union influence within the NDP, the adherence to the Sherbrooke Declaration, aggressive tax policies the NDP supports (just to name three) illustrate why I did not want to join the party; however if we remove party titles, and focus on individual members and average Canadians the common ground far outweighs the areas of difference. Progressives want clean energy, a better standing in foreign relations, better conditions for the impoverished and seniors, better schools and empowered Canadian youth. When parties move past their partisan instincts and work together in parliament, Canadians reward their cooperation, because it matches their values. If Liberals and New Democrats are willing to think about what kind of government they are currently enjoying, I strongly believe they will accept a progressive solution.

To those that say there is no interest on either side, or that this idea will never work, allow me to say this: First, a quarter of those who voted in the New Democrat leadership race believed in Nathan Cullen and his cooperation idea. It makes me optimistic that among the grassroots of at least one party, his idea has momentum. Second, it seems as though people believe it will never work purely out of mistrust for the other side. I am told there is a history of politicians abusing the trust of the other side. Let me phrase a question to members of both parties: if you had the option to make 15 Conservative members New Democrats or Liberals (depending on your affiliation) would you? I’d bet that most would, and further, I’ll argue that both parties will take joint nominations seriously. If they don’t the political system can always return to how things were: a candidate in every riding.

When Bob Rae was interviewed on CBC this past Sunday, he was asked why the NDP and Liberals shouldn’t be working together. His answer was not that the parties are too far apart, or that there was something categorically wrong with cooperation amongst cooperative parties. Rather, the leader of the Liberal Party only suggested that because the leader of the New Democrats wouldn’t consider it, he wouldn’t waste time on it either. Bob did not come down against cooperation, and it, at the very least, stands as a possible pillar of his leadership campaign (though I doubt he would risk his front-runner status on it).Both major progressive leaders have spent time in the others’ camp. Obviously there are reasons they left, but the fact remains that there were a Liberal or New Democrat in the first place. There is a great deal of overlap, and rather than fighting over the 20% that lies in one unshaded area of the political Venn diagram, lets concentrate our efforts in bringing the 80% that is going unrepresented in Ottawa to realization. Let’s bring a halt to the current unaccountable majority, and replace it with a more optimistic, transparent, cooperative Canadian Government. I encourage all partisan Canadians to come out of the woodwork and bring an end to vote splitting. Voyons travailler ensemble, pour progressistes et pour Canada.

Joseph Uranowski:

After following the NDP leadership race fairly closely I believe we are in “violent agreement” that Nathan Cullen is an excellent and inspiring politician. Though I am a proud member of the Liberal Party of Canada, I cheered for Cullen because his election as NDP leader would have forced the Liberal Party, Green Party and NDP to have the co-operation conversation that we have been avoiding since the ill-fated coalition of 2008. However, although I like Nathan Cullen personally, I disagree with many of the assumptions that lead him to suggest cooperation as a solution. I would/will argue that the specific kind of cooperation he suggested would not work logistically and would fail due to a number of issues within our electoral system and the NDP/LPC/GPC. I also believe that the various policy differences and the gulf in trust between the Liberals and the NDP are a valid argument against cooperation. We cannot run our political parties with the purpose of solving the problem of “how can we remove Conservatives from office?” The question “How can we best serve Canadians?” should be the underlying principle of the Liberal Party and the wider-progressive movement.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” – Cassius (Julius Caesar I, ii, 140-141).

Some problems with Nathan Cullen’s underlying assumptions:

Though I have cited Alice Funke’s excellent article “Why the Conservatives Love the “Strategic” Voting Sites” in my blog post “After a jump to the left, the Liberal Party needs to take a step to the right.” There is one paragraph that really addresses the fundamental premise that leads to calls for cooperation. That premise is that “if only progressives worked together we would win all 308 ridings.” Here is what Ms. Funke has to say:

The sites’ entire raison d’être validates the concept that people who voted for the Conservative Party in 2008 can’t be appealed to further to change their vote now, and thus discourages people from even trying. This is a fundamentally defeatist proposition for the sites’ founders to take, one that also underlies the decision by the Liberal Party not to bother making appeals in that marketplace, but to turn its attention towards other competitors instead. It also implicitly discourages people from voting at all where things seem “hopeless” based on previous election results, which feeds precisely into a vote suppression strategy for the Conservatives, and in fact does at least part of that suppression for them.

The sites’ obsession with who can win has virtually eliminated issue-based politics from either election coverage or debate at the riding level. This is a perfect state of affairs for a party such as the Conservatives which is consciously trying to move the ideological centre of the country a few inches to the right.

Cullen’s plan assumes that the majority of LPC/NDP/GPC supporters in a riding would rally behind one candidate. The problem I have is that this would once again allow Stephen Harper to have a rock solid 29% of the vote, which lets the Conservative Party put all of their resources into the handful of ridings they need to pick up to win a majority. Though I consider myself a progressive voter on free-trade, federalism, and fiscal responsibility, my views are so incompatible with the NDP (and the Conservative Party for that matter) that I am not sure how I would vote if the only options in my riding were Jim Flaherty (my current MP) and an NDP candidate. We cannot assume that the Liberal/New Democratic and Green vote would coalesce if the options were limited. What we do know is that Stephen Harper wins with lower voter turn out, and in many ridings I could see the Liberals/NDPers/Greens staying home. I find the idea that the NDP/Liberals steal votes from the Liberals/NDP to be profoundly arrogant. Votes do not “belong” to any one party, just as no party is Canada’s “natural governing party.” I am not saying that Nathan Cullen has ever put forward this view explicitly but his argument tacitly implies this worldview.

The operative words in you opening sentence are “we should never be afraid to have the conversation.” That is the core problem with the centre-left parties in Canada, not vote splitting. What has been glossed over with his death and subsequent beatification is how tepid/cautious as leader Jack Layton really was. Sure, his buzz words were “bold” and “inspiring” but, in my opinion, the bases of his argument for why he was a “visionary” leader was mainly in the fact that the NDP have never formed federal government. Jack Layton didn’t argue in favour of legalization of cannabis during the last election, his party even joined in with the Conservatives in bashing Stephane Dion’s green shift. Stephen Harper wins because he has, to quote Andrew Coyne, “brought the centre to himself.” When we debate crime, we debate how long a 16 year old should be put in jail because they have 6 pot plants, not over the very nature of our justice system. Same goes for taxes (and the Liberal Party is guilty of this), no one wants to discuss raising taxes for fear of losing votes, even though some taxes should be raised. Jack Layton’s caution got the NDP into opposition but the only real way to defeat Stephen Harper is by putting forward bold ideas. When  the Liberal Party adopted the policy motion to legalize and regulate marijuana I was ecstatic because it was the first time a major political party had taken that position. This allowed Bob Rae to make the argument for legalization in his closing speech of the convention and helped shift the crime debate in Canada.

“If there are two parties pitching liberal ideas in the next election, voters will choose the real one.” – Brian Topp

I somewhat agree with Brian Topp’s scaremongering statement above. I would also argue that if there are two NDP parties running in the next election, Canadians will vote for the real one. With so much talk about the death of the Liberal Party after the 2011 election, what message would it send Canadians if we didn’t run candidates in every riding? As someone who worked every day of the last federal election for a Liberal candidate, I can just imagine how volunteers of every progressive party would feel if they were asked to volunteer for someone they worked against 4 years earlier. I know that I would go to a different riding with a Liberal candidate, which would take my experience/knowledge of Whitby to a totally different area. Ask Scott Brison to define what “progressivism” is and his definition would be way different than Charlie Angus. A joint nomination meeting between the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens in my riding would be an extremely divisive event because of the large trust deficit between the Liberals and NDP. Months would be spent repairing any rifts and that time would be way better spent going after Harper and laying out what our vision is. The Liberal Party needs to get better at community organizing if we are to stay alive as a political party and if we are to grow in the next election and eventually form government.

Policy Differences Matter:

You mention the Sherbrooke declaration in your initial argument. I find that document so repugnant that it could be placed as the main reason that I could not see myself joining the NDP. There are many policy differences between the Liberals and the NDP but our stances on federalism are a deal breaker. If you believe that the federal government should do large projects (like high-speed rail, universal health care or national house/day care strategies) then you need a strong federal government. The NDP’s cognitive dissonance on this was on full display during the leadership race. Peggy Nash laid out her views on health care in English and was unequivocally in favour of universal health care, she was then asked (in French) about Quebec bringing in user fees and she said she would respect Quebec’s jurisdiction. As Stephane Dion laid out in this op-ed, it’s not just support for 50% + 1 that separates the Liberals and the NDP.  Federalism is just one issue and though it is probable issue #1 for me, there are many other Liberals and New Democrats who are in fierce disagreement with the other party’s platform. If cooperation was based upon the Liberals and the NDP abandoning some of their core beliefs/policy proposals, then that very cooperation would be based upon the notion that winning is more important that a political party’s values which would make both parties into Stephen Harper-style Conservative Parties. If there are three Conservative parties running in the next election…

The Trust Deficit:

In 2005, Jack Layton had the opportunity to work with Paul Martin and get progressive results for Canadians, he choose to side with Stephen Harper and bring down the government. Fast forward to today, where in the House of Commons I see NDP MPs bashing the Liberal record as much as they do that of the current government. I have heard it said a countless number of times at Liberal events and online that “the NDP hates the Liberals more than they hate the Conservatives.” I am sure that New Democrats feel the same way about us. The problem seems to be that we don’t trust each other enough to work together and we can’t work together because we don’t trust each other enough.

This reminds me of the “Tit-for-Tat” strategy from studying Game Theory in International Relations class. The Liberals and the NDP need the opportunity to work together so we can build that trust (the last best hope for that was the 2008 coalition.) With the NDP at its greatest strength there are enough within the party who believe that they don’t need to cooperate with the Liberals, or that cooperation would be a means to an NDP majority government.Though I am cynical on the prospect of cooperation, there is an experiment currently taking place. If you look at Ontario, there’s the NDP opposition that have the opportunity to work with a Liberal minority, and Premier McGuinty has created a committee to reach out to them. We get to see, in real time, if the NDP will work with the Ontario Liberals or if they believe, like Jack Layton did, that more seats in parliament is more important that progressive policies being implemented.

Proportional representation:

I do not believe that cooperation is the answer as I differ with Mr. Cullen on what the question is.  If the Liberals, the Green and the NDP are able to form a coalition government, or Canadians elect a non-Conservative majority, and they change Canada’s electoral system (which is Green, NDP and Liberal policy) then political parties will be forced to work together. The largest flaw in Nathan Cullen’s plan is that it is based on voluntary cooperation when our political system is designed in such a way that parties have only cooperated when they are forced to.

Micah Goldberg:

In advocating for cooperation, the stiffest resistance I’ve faced is where it seems Joseph is driving his main argument: the ocean of difference between Liberal and NDP members. To some it seems unlikely that NDP members would ever vote for Liberal members let alone work on their campaigns. For many people like Joseph, it might simply become impossible to work on a New Democratic campaign, but according to a recent poll (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1153428–poll-new-democrats-riding-mulcair-wave) fifty percent of both parties’ memberships are willing to cooperate. To me it seems like the memberships realize this ocean, is more like a river.

Divisive issues like the Sherbrooke declaration are enough to keep me from advocating for a merger; however, when it comes to environmental degradation, poverty, aboriginal issues and many others, I find the New Democrats to be stalwart allies. There are differences, but if we can cooperate to get Prime Minister Harper’s government out of power then we can at least start a discussion on child poverty, education and healthcare, because there is no back-and-forth in Ottawa, only a stream of ideological demagoguery. I think after New Democrats and Liberals consider the current condition of the country, they will agree to run 330 candidates, instead of 338 in the next election – hardly what I would consider an indication of weakness.

While a perceived notion of difference is the most common form of rebuttal I’ve come up against, the most difficult argument to answer to is what Joseph concluded with: the parties simply do not trust each other. This issue was not raised in a single NDP leadership debate. The truth of the matter is, there is no way trust can spontaneously be created. If both parties actually want to stop the Conservatives from a second majority, they will have to do something differently. Stephane Dion did not run a candidate against Elizabeth May when he was the Opposition Leader, why could we trust her not to run a candidate against us?

This road is the more difficult one to traverse, but I am a stalwart defender of its utility. It would not be a perfect marriage, and it would come with certain detractions, but if Liberals and New Democrats can agree to end the vote split where their local organizers deem it is acceptable, then the parties ought to take back progressive seats that sit in ideologically opposing hands. If not for our own party, or for us as individuals, then for the greater good: for the citizens that want their country put back on track.

Joseph Uranowski:

I agree that running 330 candidates out of 338 is entirely reasonable.

However, Nathan Cullen is not the leader of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair is. Earlier in our discussion you referenced how Nathan Cullen had received 25% of the vote during the convention. You inferred that at least 1/4 of the NDP supports cooperation. I would just like to draw attention to the fact(s) that 75% of the NDP rejected cooperation (by your thinking) and on the final ballot 42.8% of NDP voters supported Brian Topp who was the most emphatically anti-cooperation candidate in the running to replace Jack Layton.

In researching and considering the topic of cooperation, I have come to a very different conclusion (on the topic of how Mulcair won the NDP leadership) than the one I had reached on March 25th. After Mulcair won, I thought that NDP voters had repudiated the so-called “party establishment.” However, if you look at caucus endorsements (of which Nathan Cullen received 4, tied with Niki Ashton) Mulcair received way more than Brian Topp (who got a paltry 13.) Mulcair’s victory wasn’t a defeat for the New Democratic party establishment, it merely revealed that there is a new set of party elites in the post-Layton era. I believe this is confirmed by the fact that Nathan Cullen won a plurality of the vote during the convention, but Mulcair owned the pre-convention vote. Even if 50% of NDP supporters polled say they want to see cooperation (and who doesn’t) only 4 NDP MPs (+ Nathan Cullen) were willing to advocate for the idea.

The 2011 “You Go Girl!” Awards. Presented by: The Equivocator

Context: I don’t like to think of this blog as existing in a vacuum. You may not be aware of it but I am also an avid user of the twitter and the facebook (my twitter feed is there on the right side of my blog btw.) On twitter (you can follow me at @Uranowski) whenever I notice someone being awesome I like to give them a “You go girl!” It is a friendly, 1990sesque way to acknowledge a job well done. Anyone, man, woman, child, or particularly heroic animal, can receive one. However, last year, I decided that  I would start an official, end-of-the-year, “You Go Girl” Award for women in Canadian politics, journalism and public life who have been excellent on multiple occasions. For my “Second Annual “You Go Girl!” Awards, I asked some of my favourite writers profile the 2011 winners. In no particular order, here are recipients of the 2011 “You Go Girl!” Awards:

Margaret Atwood by Joseph Uranowski.

“A sharp-as-a-whip septuagenarian takes on a corpulent ignorant plutocrat in the public sphere” this could be the plot of Mrs. Atwood’s newest best seller, or it could summarize the public budget debate that occurred in Toronto mere months ago.  This year, Canada’s most beloved author reminded us all that libraries are part of what makes a great city worth living in. Mrs. Atwood, just like her writing, is fresh, challenging and always relevant. Atwood is an environmentalist, feminist, and urbanist but can never be accused of being elitist. She is respected around the world and Toronto is lucky to have her in residence.

Kathleen Wynne by Tiffany Gooch.

Hon. Kathleen Wynne is a powerhouse in the Ontario Liberal caucus.
Having served as Minister of Education, Minister of Transportation,
and now as both Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister
of Aboriginal Affairs, she is a force to be reckoned with in Ontario
politics.

This mother and grandmother began her life in service as a school board
trustee in Toronto.  She worked to see to it that public schools were
encouraged to purchase modernized teaching materials which reflected
the presence of LBGT parents in society today.  Upon joining the
government she was greatly involved in many of the most celebrated
accomplishments of the McGuinty government including Full Day
Kindergarten and bold updates to transportation systems in Ontario.

As the first openly lesbian Cabinet Minister in Ontario history,
Kathleen is not only a magnificent role model for young women but also
for young people in the LGBT community.  Despite her political
success, Kathleen on a personal level is down to earth and downright
funny.  She is able to relate with people from all walks of life, a
quality which I believe makes her a great political leader.  If all of
this wasn’t enough, she is also known in her riding as both a good
listener and a strong advocate for the needs of her constituents,
having secured significant pockets of funding for projects in her
community.

Kathleen has certainly earned her given title as a “Titan” in Ontario
politics.  I encourage you to do some research and get to know her
incredible track record which deserves a blog post of its own.  For
now I will leave you with a quote from her 2011 election victory
party:

“We have demonstrated that we believe that inclusion and tolerance and
compassion and embracing differences is what we do in Don Valley
West.”

I look forward to seeing what more lies ahead for this great woman in
Canadian politics.

(Tiffany Gooch is Executive Director of the Ontario Young Liberals.)

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, City of Toronto by Chris Drew.

I didn’t support her nor did I vote for her. I was so busy with other things in life that I barely knew who she was when she was elected my Councillor for Ward 27. What a difference a year makes! Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has been in office for a little over a year and I have been impressed with her work. She stood up for the Jarvis Street bike lanes and the principal of consultation and working with neighbourhoods.

She proactively held neighbourhood community planning meetings in conjunction with the MPP for Toronto Centre, the Hon. Glen Murray. She co-sponsored the Shark Fin ban, which was adopted by City Council. And she spoke out against cuts to child care, even when some of those cuts were for Scarborough, not downtown Toronto.

I’ve met and worked for many politicians in my life. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and the sacrifices they make to represent us. Being an elected politician is not easy and takes a huge personal toll on your family. At the end of the day, politicians are people and some handle the responsibility and stress differently than others. I’ve seen Kristyn in council, in community meetings and met with her on several neighbourhood issues and I’ve always felt that she was listening and wanted to ensure different viewpoints were included. She’s one of the most relatable and friendly politicians I’ve met.
Finally, Kristyn uses social media extremely effectively. She’ll often respond to tweets I send her or mention her in quickly. Ward 27 is a densely-populated and complex community and Kristyn’s use of social media is a big asset for outreaching to her constituents.

In my time in politics and being a community activist, I’ve unfortunately encountered fewer women than men in leadership roles and holding elected office. I think that should change and Kristyn is certainly a role model and positive example for many.

Vice-President Administration and Finance, Julia Hanigsberg by Chris Drew.

Julia is responsible for many things at Ryerson and one of the most significant is the physical side of the campus. Julia was a key supporter in the student-led campaign to close Gould Street to cars and turn it into a pedestrian space. I’ve been impressed with Julia’s creativity and support for projects to animate the street now that it’s open for people and not cars.  Julia was part of the team that brought a farmer’s market to Gould this summer and supported a student art show on the street. Closing a street was the easy part. Making it an exciting, interesting and friendly space is a challenge, but one that can be easily solved with dynamic and engaging people. Julia is part of a team of students, student leaders, staff and faculty who I have no doubt will make the new Gould into a source of inspiration for universities and communities across the province.

As with Councillor Wong-Tam, Julia effectively uses social media and tweets about her experiences and what’s happening at Ryerson, as well as interesting articles on various subjects including women in leadership positions. Julia’s use of twitter provides an additional an unique angle on the public face of Ryerson and her approach should be replicated by other public-sector institutions and Canadian universities.

(Chris Drew is the Captain of the Bike Union – Ward 27 Advocacy Group, Ryerson Planning graduate, 2009, and tweets at @chrisjamesdrew.)

Shelley Carroll by David Demchuk.

In her eight years on City Council, Ward 33’s Shelley Carroll has worked tirelessly to resolve Toronto’s complicated, challenging budget issues and bring together support from all sides to implement financial reforms at City Hall. However this year, with Rob Ford in the mayor’s seat and his cadre of right-wing councillors supporting his deceitful agenda of wasteful spending on pet projects paid for by cuts to essential services, Carroll seemed unusually disheartened for someone normally so pragmatic and constructive: “City Council just keeps getting harder and harder to watch,” she stated on her website. “It gets harder and harder to be there, let me tell you.”

Yet Carroll has still managed to rally a majority of councillors around motions balancing the need for fiscal restraint and accountability with a compassionate and positive vision of the city. Her greatest efforts have been focused on the 2012 City of Toronto budget, launched November 28, and on educating citizens about the perils and pitfalls that lie within it. So passionate is she on this subject that she’s willing to meet with any group of five people or more around a kitchen table to talk to them about the budget, and about its implications for cherished services and initiatives that make Toronto the successful livable city that it is. This dedication and commitment is what has distinguished her among her colleagues at City Hall and among politicians throughout the nation. For these and so many other reasons, I give Shelly Carroll a great big “You go, girl!” as one of the most impressive women in politics this year.

(David Demchuk is a writer/activist in Toronto. Follow him on twitter @ddemchuk.)

Carolyn Bennett and Kirsty Duncan by Nancy Leblanc.

Thank you to my friend Joseph for asking me to participate along with many others in his annual “You Go Girl” awards. It is such a great thing that he is so supportive of women taking leadership roles in Canadian civic life.

I am happy to give an enthusiastic you go girl to two great Liberal MPs who were re-elected this year, Carolyn Bennett and Kirsty Duncan.

Carolyn Bennett deserves many kudos for her vibrant public service and commitment to it that you can see on a daily basis. What have we seen this year? Follow her twitter stream, Carolyn_Bennett, and you will see a caring MP who is tireless and amazingly accessible. Beyond twitter, she has been a political tech pioneer in Canada, hosting online chats every Sunday night for quite some time now and she continues to do so on Facebook. She has embraced her role as critic on the aboriginal affairs portfolio with gusto this year. Her recent trip to Attawapiskat to help is the most recent evidence of that commitment. Also impressive this year, strong statements on parliamentary democracy like this one: “Power to the people and to the MPs elected to represent them.” Amen. And you go girl.

Kirsty Duncan stood out this year for a few reasons that put her on the you go girl radar. As environment critic, this former member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows her stuff and is making a strong case on the need for action on climate change by Canada, speaking of it as a moral issue and one of intergenerational responsibility. She stood up against possible Conservative ozone monitoring cuts, a Canadian science program that provides international leadership. Kirsty’s heartfelt advocacy for clinical trials for CCSVI from multiple sclerosis also garnered significant attention this year. Duncan has also been a strong social justice advocate this year, arguing for a national student nutrition program. She is a strong constituency MP and her re-election this year spoke to that.

If you watch these two women, it’s clear that they are great role models for any woman interested in public life or making a public contribution of any kind. Congrats to both on a great year and here’s hoping for many more you go girl moments from them in 2012.

 (Nancy Leblanc writes “Impolitical” and tweets @Impolitical.)

Elizabeth May by Ann Douglas.

2011 was a breakout year for Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May—and not just because she was elected to the House of Commons by the citizens of Saanich-Gulf Islands in the Federal Election in May. She found ways to use her voice to communicate with Canadians across the country about two of her long-standing passions—democracy and the urgent need for climate action.

She documented the numerous ways in which democracy was being whittled away by the Harper government, this despite the fact that it had recently achieved its long-sought Parliamentary majority:

[  http://www.elizabethmay.ca/in-the-news/silencing-debate-a-government-in-a-hurry/ ]

“Since we resumed Parliament in mid-September, the government has moved to shut down debate and rush bills through Second Reading….Over and again, debate has been cut-short.  It is a new historical record  — and not one of which the Prime Minister should be proud.…More and more of the business of committees is being conducted in secret.  In camera committee meetings used to cover private discussions such as which witnesses should be called.  Now the hearings can take place in secret when witnesses are testifying, or when a vote is held on motions of importance.  After an in camera session, it is not possible to know who said what or how anyone voted. The increasing limitations of debate and reduced daylight on House proceedings is not healthy. Many of us are wondering, with a majority of the seats and no election until 2015, why are the Conservatives in such a hurry? Is democratic debate really such a threat?”

She spoke out about the long-term implications of Canada’s role in obstructing the climate talks in Durban and its decision to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol.

[ http://www.elizabethmay.ca/blog/the-biggest-story-of-2011-for-me-weather-gone-wild/ ]

“My biggest story of the year is the on-going refusal to connect the dots and describe climate change events for what they are. Not “Mother Nature” on a rampage; not some “wacky and wild curve ball.” Climate change events, fitting the pattern of increased extreme events one would expect due to, what is in human experience, the all-time high greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere….These disasters are no longer “natural” — their causes are known and our government is charting a course to make them worse, year by year.”

And she campaigned for a need for a return to civility in the House of Commons. (Her small but significant holiday gift to her fellow MPs was a guidebook to living non-violently.)

[ http://www.elizabethmay.ca/blog/what-i-gave-to-every-member-of-parliament/ ]

She has made her mark on the Hill—and she’s done it without resorting to gutter politics or bully-boy tactics. Kudos, Elizabeth May.

(Ann Douglas is an author, Toronto Star columnist, and magazine writer. Her website is anndouglas.ca.)

Christy Clark by Esmir Milavic.

SURREY – Just year ago Christy Clark was one of the most popular radio hosts in British Columbia, today she’s one of the country’s several provincial Prime Ministers emerged to that position through unexpected and almost unwanted leadership races during 2011. Sharp critic of previous government, hard questioner on all important social issues and one of the community leaders on issues of bullying, was one of the most wanted candidates to become new BC premier and BC Liberals leader. Christy Clark refused for a long time to accept calls from large BC Liberals membership to ascend on leadership position and replace highly unpopular premier Gordon Campbell claiming her family and work at mega popular CKNW 980AM station is her top priority at this moment.

In December of last year she finally decided to throw her hat into the battle and decide to run for leadership position with populist agenda focused on families, job creation and fight against rising debts in BC. Clark’s radio and social media popularity helped her to energize huge crowds of young and vibrant BC Liberals on the road to victory. They helped her to reach the top position becoming Campbell’s successor and taking a responsibility for the future of BC. Today Clark is successfully carving her road to the better BC future trough new jobs agenda, some parts of her families first agenda and though hopes of better fiscal situation over next few years.

Clark should be praised for her courage and willingness to take a charge in political world and situation when many leaders and politicians are not eager to run for top position. Clarks advantage is being mother, broadcaster, and great personality combined with previous political experience.

As on any other start Clark is faced with uphill but she has a chance to change that in positive way, and I’m sure she’ll be successful if she sticks to her plan and Cabinet members which means to all BC Liberals members. If she receives You Go Girl award that would be just another positive push for her and her team to continue making BC better and stronger place in a situation of global crisis and uncertainty.

(Esmir Milavic is a blogger/journalist. He is the author and editor of From Bosnia to Canada.)

Susan Delacourt by Bryan Bondy.

If I could give a “You Go Girl” award daily (let alone annually) to a Canadian political journalist, it would be the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt.

I may, in fact, have a bit of hero worship for the Star’s senior political writer. When I blog or write (as sporadic and half-hearted as my efforts may be), I aspire to Ms. Delacourt’s smart way with words – and especially I admire the sense of context and political history she brings to both her feature articles and blogs.

What I appreciate on a personal level is Ms. Delacourt’s friendliness; she has encouraged my own writing many times, and we have shared many pleasant conversations not only about politics and journalism but about life in Ottawa, and our shared love for wiener dogs.

I understand why other national political journalists focus more on the image they present so well as professionals. It’s not that Ms. Delacourt is any less professional but she is, I believe, more approachable than many of her colleagues. She listens; I learn.

To those of the conservative persuasion, Delacourt and the Toronto Star political section are as vilified for their supposed “liberal bias” as the CBC. All that suggests to me is that – with her elephant’s memory for Canada’s political past and a strong sense of right and wrong – Ms. Delacourt is willing to challenge assumptions. She challenges mine daily.

For her insight, humanity, and ability to see the forest for the trees, it’s my pleasure to recommend Susan Delacourt for a 2011 “You Go Girl” award.

( Bryan Bondy is a freelance writer.)

Alison Loat and Alison Redford by Theresa Lubowitz.

Alison Loat is the executive director of the non-profit organization Samara. She took this role on after ending a previous project she founded called Canada25. That project focused on involving young Canadians under 35 in the public policy process. The goals of Samara are similar in that the organization aims to involve Canadians in our civic discourse while producing top notch work on the current state of our democracy.

My favourite work of Samara’s so far are the reports they have released on our parliamentary system based on so-called ‘exit’ interviews with former MPs. They cover details about our parliamentarians, their experiences in parliament and within their political parties, and the advice they have for current and future MPs. These reports provide an important perspective on the health of our democracy from those exercising it on our behalf. It is a perspective rarely shared beyond what is found in memoirs and acts as a starting point for discussions about improving our democratic system.

When I first met Alison it made me thankful that there is a bright young woman out there doing such great work to help strengthen our democracy. I recently bumped into Alison again as she was once again making the case for civic participation at a conference I attended. She is a tireless campaigner for a more engaged electorate.

For me, Alison’s unrelenting work at improving civic engagement in Canada makes her a champion of democracy. It is my hope and my expectation that with people as inspiring, hardworking and dedicated as Alison spending each day encouraging citizen engagement, there might yet be hope for our democratic system.

 —

Alison Redford is the current Premier of Alberta and the first woman to hold that position in the province. Redford came seemingly out of nowhere in the race to replace Ed Stelmach as the next Progressive Conservative Premier of Alberta.

I am an Ontarian and have always paid only slight attention to the politics of Alberta.  Even then, my focus and I suspect the focus of others has been on the colorful politicians of that province and not necessarily their politics. But I suddenly began to pay more attention when a new Premier became the first woman to hold the position in Alberta and only the eighth female premier in Canadian history.

Her gender, however, is not what is exciting or interesting about Alison Redford. For me, it was of interest to see how this woman, like Christy Clark and Kathy Dunderdale only months before her, was able to navigate and overcome the barriers women face in politics, especially when in pursuit of high office. But what was of even more interest to me was her call for post-partisanship and a different way of doing politics altogether.

Redford’s call for post-partisanship in the face of a hyper-partisan reality is a refreshing take on politics that demands policy solutions that are not from the right or left wing but based on fact and merit. Post-partisanship calls for the ‘smart’ answer instead of the politically motivated ‘solution’. It is this approach by Redford that I find inspiring and it is my hope that politicians across the country follow her lead by instituting smart solutions to the problems we face as a country.

(Theresa Lubowitz is a civic engagement and democratic reform activist. Please visit her website “What Have You Done For Democracy Lately?“)

Nancy Leblanc by Liberal Arts and Minds.

When you think of federal politics in this country, many things come to mind.  This past year in particular has been one filled with surprises.

One thing not often thought of or written about are the number of dedicated people, volunteers, behind the scenes.

If you were able to ‘design’ these individuals, you’d likely include these attributes:

- Dedication

- Tirelessness

- Honesty

- Intelligent/knowledgeable

- Sincerity

- Loyalty

- Able to deal with the unexpected

Fortunately, for the Liberal Party of Canada, such an individual exists.  In fact, she possesses all of these qualities and many more.  Her name is Nancy Leblanc, known to many of you as Impolitical and she is a treasure.

She tirelessly volunteers on campaigns, works with dedication in her riding and contributes to our political discourse through insightful blogging on the issues of the day.

Without hesitation, Nancy certainly deserves to be included in Joseph’s annual “You Go Girl!” Awards post and I’m proud to call her, friend.

(Liberal Arts and Minds is a blogger and journalist.)

Sheila Copps by Christopher Slothouber.

No stranger to staring down the Tories in a majority government
setting[1], the former Hamilton MP’s tireless efforts in working to
promote equality for women and minorities[2], and treating LGBTQ
equality as “an issue of fundamental human rights”[3] have played a
significant role in helping marginalized voices are heard, both inside
the Parliament of Canada and throughout the country.

After many years out of the political limelight[4], she was brought
centre stage after throwing her hat into the ring this year for the
Liberal Party of Canada presidency[5]. Having lamented the listlessness of the Liberal Party before it was en vogue, Copps champions a mission of complete structural overhaul[6] of her party. The breadth of her experience in service to Canada has enriched debate amongst Liberals. Of note is her approach to organization reform that would see no sacred cows excluded[7] in a fundamental rebuild working towards making membership matter through an open primary candidate selection process, generating on-going two-way dialogue, ultimately giving Canadians a meaningful stake in their politics. Beyond being Canada’s best Heritage Minister[8], the legacy of Sheila Copps includes the establishment of the Canadian federal Commissioner of the Environment and  Sustainable Development[9]. The environment commissioner reports to Parliament[10] on behalf of the Auditor General on matters concerning environmental and sustainability practices of most federal government agencies and departments. Among her more recent activities as journalist and broadcaster, Ms. Copps also serves on the advisory board for Equal Voice[11], an advocacy group seeking to elect more women to public office in Canada.

Truly a woman worthy[12] of the honourable styling[13], Sheila Copps
has more than earned a “You go, girl!” in 2011.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_1984
[2] http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1946&dat=19860716&id=nkYwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DKYFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2574,1993458
[3] http://www.egale.ca/index.asp?lang=E&menu=53&item=396
[4] http://communications.uwo.ca/com/alumni_gazette/alumni_gazette_profiles/from_politics_to_the_stage_20041129438794/
[5] http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1050174–copps-to-run-for-president-of-liberals
[6] http://www.canada.com/health/Sheila+Copps+Federal+Liberals+need+rebuild+reach+members/5664049/story.html
[7] http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=60559674764&topic=20584
[8] http://thelinkpaper.ca/?p=9984
[9] http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/cesd_fs_e_921.html
[10] http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201112_e_36027.html
[11] http://www.equalvoice.ca/mission.cfm
[12] http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0010665
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen’s_Privy_Council_for_Canada#Membership

The Queen by Christopher Slothouber.

Love[1] or loath[2] her office[3], one cannot dispute her contribution
in advancing equality for women in the Commonwealth and around the
world. Dedicating her annual Commonwealth Day[4] address[5] to the
observance of International Women’s Day[6] and the role of women in
the Commonwealth.
During her long reign[7], Her Majesty has seen the world change
dramatically, the least of which in 2011 saw the modernization of the
rules of succession for the monarchy[8], eliminating previous male
favouritism where a male heir, though younger, would be given
preference over a female heir.
One of the most well-known women in the world, Queen Elizabeth II
deserves a respectful and hearty “You go, girl!” to Her Majesty, the
Queen of Canada[9], for tireless[10] dedication to her subjects[11],
and using her post to focus attention on the quest for equality.

[1] http://www.ipolitics.ca/2011/11/27/baird-spurs-royal-scramble-for-queens-photo/
[2] http://www.canada.com/news/Canadians+want+Queen+even+done+great/3158692/story.html
[3] http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchAndCommonwealth/Canada/Canada.aspx
[4] http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/jfa-ha/commonwealth-eng.cfm
[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8JTJFQvtso
[6] http://www.internationalwomensday.com/about.asp
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Jubilee_of_Elizabeth_II#Canada
[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/world/europe/rule-of-male-succession-to-british-monarchy-is-abolished.html
[9] http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchAndCommonwealth/Canada/TheQueensroleinCanada.aspx
[10] http://all-that-is-interesting.com/queen-elizabeth-ii-serves-as-a-mechanic-during-world
[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Commonwealth_visits_made_by_Queen_Elizabeth_II

(Christopher Slothouber is the webmaster of ProgressiveBloggers.ca)

Ruth Ellen Brosseau by Micah Goldberg.

There was one story from 2011 that will stick out in Canadian anecdotal history for years to come. As an orange crush gripped Québec, the New Democratic Party tore the race in Berthier-Maskinongé, where 98% of the constituents speak French, wide open. As Canadians witnessed, anyone, even someone who did not speak French, had no post-secondary diploma, or had even visited the riding (forget about living there) had the opportunity to become a sitting member of parliament.  Indeed, the good people of Berthier-Maskinongé were willing to elect someone who left the country during the campaign for the City of Sin, so long as they were a New Democrat.

Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the month of May’s most infamous politician has become the poster child of flaws embedded in first-past-the-post: an undeserving beneficiary of her late leader’s popularity. However, I also think she ought to be celebrated as the patron saint of political adaptation. She isn’t merely taking the lavish income and benefits, showing up at Parliament Hill and leaving at the first possible moment. She now has a residence within the boundaries of her new riding, and is taking intensive French lessons. Brosseau has asked the majority of her questions during question period in French, has made several public appearances in her riding presenting herself as bilingual, and has fought for her constituents. Ruth Ellen was undeniably the underdog in her race, a single mother working as an assistant manager at a Carleton University bar, who had no connection to the riding. But while Brosseau’s name was tarnished by political analysts, pundits and hacks alike, she was busy winning an election, something many of those same people who used her success as a punchline have absolutely no experience doing.

Doris Grinspun by Susan Uranowski.

Being a nurse for over 30 years and very concerned with the erosion of our Canadian Health Care System,  it seemed only most appropriate to take a moment to acknowledge Doris Grinspun . Doris Grinspun is the Executive Director of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), the professional association representing registered nurses in the province of Ontario. She has been in this position since 1996. The ongoing advocacy for healthy public policy and for the role of the registered nurses in Ontario is to be commended.  The voice of RNAO was heard in the last provincial and federal election in regards to the importance of the enhancement of Medicare and enforcing the Canada Health Act and a single-tier not-for-profit health care system.  In Toronto, the RNAO is also very pivotal in advocating against the “draconian budget cuts” proposed by Rob Ford and the impact on the most vulnerable in our community.  Doris continues to be a great leader and visionary and has encouraged political involvement and  leadership in other nurses in Ontario.  You go Girl!

(Susan Uranowski has been a registered nurse since 1979.)

Megan Leslie by Brent Cotter.

Megan Leslie has been included on many lists of notable parliamentarians since taking the reigns as representative for Halifax from Alexa McDonough in 2008.  As a committed community activist Megan Leslie has used her Law Degree from Dalhousie to advocate on behalf of tenants, the impoverished, workers, immigrants while running legal aid clinics in her native Halifax.  Her acute understanding of issues she brings forth, and passion, has been recognized in the House of Commons by both Opposition and Government members.  Articulate and funny, Megan Leslie has impressed many within and outside the House by speaking powerfully and concisely without notes, unlike far too many of her peers.  Whether speaking to constituents, reporters or Parliament she is  charismatic and personable, bringing much needed authenticity to politics.   With the elevation of her party to Opposition status Megan Leslie has, as Environment Critic, used her increased prominence to lambaste the Government’s retreat on Global climate change, and decreased enforcement of Environmental law.  Yet, most notably she presented an alternative Canadian viewpoint in the Keystone XL debate in the United States.  In her responses to the most hyperbolic attacks on her patriotism and judgment during the debates in the House of Commons on her trip to the United States and on the Global Climate conference in Durban she has shown her poise and responded more intelligently and respectfully than her opponents.  Regardless of one’s political stripes, Megan Leslie has shown not only the qualities of an outstanding MP, but has presented herself in a uniquely authentic, intelligent and personable fashion that more public figures need to emulate to break out of this age of message control and cynicism.

(Brent Cotter is the NDP Membership Executive for the riding of Wellington-Halton Hills.)

Elizabeth J. Roy by Joseph Uranowski.

I met Elizabeth Roy while volunteering on the 2010 municipal campaign in Whitby, Ontario. She was overwhelmingly re-elected to town council in 2010 and is one of the most effective and hard-working councillors. Working on Mrs. Roy’s provincial campaign was an extremely positive experience for me, and all of the Whitby-Oshawa Young Liberals.  Her experience as a Public School Board trustee and as a front line health care worker gives her unique insight into the two public policy areas that most concern the people of Whitby. Above all, Liz is one of the most empathetic and sincere public servants I have ever had the honour of meeting and working for.

————————————————————-

To all of the women on this list, I say “You Go Girl!”

Michael Ignatieff’s Eyebrows Are Sexier In Person


Today I went to see Michael Ignatieff speak about his new book “True Patriot Love” at the Indigo bookstore on Bay. The questions started on topic (his book) but went and stayed political. It was a very excellent talk. Some of my favourite parts were about:

Patriotism:
- When asked about patriotism Mr. Ignatieff asked several rhetorical questions that I found quite touching. The future Prime Minister mentioned that at any given time around one million Canadians are living outside of Canada, are they less Canada? Is their contribution worth less? Can they not love their country.
- Mr. Ignatieff also pointed out that his time outside the country has given him a sharp, and unique perspective on Canada. Considering the fact that Prime Minister Harper has the heaviest, largest blinders of any Prime Minister in Canada’s history it is nice to have a Liberal leader with that perspective.
- Ignatieff’s lineage is very Canadian, it was surprising. Not just that the Grants mapped out country and then contributed to the Canadian experience intellectually but being the son of immigrants Mr. Ignatieff is even more a part of the great Canadian tradition.
- Mr. Ignatieff gave an impassioned speech about everything Lester B. Pearson did as PM (bilingualism, health-care, etc.) then mentioned off-handedly how Mr. Pearson lived outside of Canada for twenty-five years, it was charming.

Canada in the World:
- “We earned our place in the world the hard way.” Mr. Ignatieff said in response to a question about Canadian foreign policy. He explored how the Canadian identity was forged through war, his grandfather fought in the Somme in World War I, and that Canadians are willing to do the tough work internationally.
- Mr. Ignatieff’s knowledge of world affairs, he dropped many world leaders of today and historical leaders names with grace, is very impressive.
- Mr. Ignatieff stressed that Canadians abroad deserve protection. He was adamant about the situation in Sri Lanka.
- He gave a no-nonsense answer on torture, reiterating his book “The Lesser Evil”, saying that torture is not part of a democratic society.

Multiculturalism and Tolerance:
- His prescription for fighting intolerance and promoting education: “Education. Education. Education. Education. Education.”
- Mr. Ignatieff stressed that with holocaust and Armenian genocide denial freedom of expression crosses the line when it flies in the face of historical facts. As a public intellectual he spoke with great sincerity when he mentioned the need for “honest conversation.”
- His final quote was epic: “Everyone must know English and French. It an ideal society they would know a third language. And some of their history would be nice.”

I have read several of Michael Ignatieff’s books, I have also seen him speak many times on t.v. and my computer but he is something else in real life. Before he speaks there is a couple seconds of silence where he is really thinking about what he was just asked. You can also tell from his posture and the look on his face that he is listening when you speak and genuinely curious to hear what you are saying. The second last question: “You said patriotism can lead to anger, what are you angry about?” Involved a very different response that what I expected. Mr. Ignatieff stopped a couple times in his answer and you could tell he really meant it when he talked about being angry that Canada isn’t reaching its potential. After seeing him speak I am even more convinced that Michael Ignatieff is the right man to lead the Liberal party and the right man to lead Canada.
—————————————————————————————-

How I made our next Prime Minister laugh:
When I got my copy of “True Patriot Love” signed I said to Mr. Ignatieff: “I go to the University of Toronto. I actually live in the house Paul Martin and Marshall Mcluhan lived in. U of T has Paul Martin, Arthur Meighen and Lester Pearson. When you become Prime Minister, it will be nice to have a PM from U of T who has a majority government.” Mr. Ignatieff looked at me for a second, then laughed and said “I haven’t thought of that before.”