Tag Archives: Liberal

Hard Work + Hope = Why I voted for Justin Trudeau

The leadership results are coming in the next hour. I am so proud of my party. Over 104, 000 people voted for Liberal leader which is more than voted in the last Conservative Party and NDP leadership races! So here is a quick post on why I voted for Justin Trudeau for Liberal Leader:

1. Justin can grow into the job:

Justin Trudeau has grown as a politician throughout this leadership race. In 1996 the Ontario Liberals seemed to have hit the bottom. They picked a young guy who hadn’t been in politics for too long (who also had a father with a political career) to be leader. Dalton McGuinty didn’t win his first election but he grew with his party eventually winning 3 straight elections. The Liberal Party of Canada currently has 35 seats. The 2015 election is going to be a fierce battle between the Conservatives, New Democrats and the Liberals.

Proof that the LPC/Trudeau have grown: The day after the May 2, 2011 federal election whenever the Liberal Party was mentioned by journalists it was to predict our demise. Today, some have written about a possible Liberal government in 2015.

2. Justin is a leader who listens:

Throughout the Liberal Leadership debates Justin was one of the only candidates who stood up for “Preferential ballot”, the type of electoral reform adopted overwhelmingly by the Liberal Party at the 2012 biennial convention in Ottawa. Trudeau argued that it’s time the leader of the Liberal Party actually listen to its members.

During the campaign Justin took his philosophy of “listen and learn” even further by launching a “Soapbox” website where members/supporters could debate policy.

With Stephen Harper and Mulcair dictating every decision their party makes from the top down, we Liberals can set ourselves apart by being the only bottom-up party. We’re off to a good start with the first truly open leadership contest in Canadian history.

3. Electoral-cooperation is a non-starter with Justin or me:

From Justin Trudeau’s Liberal leadership showcase speech:

The truth is, Canadians want to vote for something, not just against somebody. They want to vote for a long term vision that embodies our values, our dreams and our aspirations. They will not get that vision from a Frankenstein’s monster, at war with itself over fundamental issues like the Constitution, Natural Resources and Free Trade. It would fail in its primary goal: it would extend, not end, Mr Harper’s career.

4. Justin understands that this won’t be easy:

In his campaign launch speech delivered in Papineau Justin said, “My fellow Liberals, these values are not the property of the Liberal Party of Canada. They are not Liberal values; they are Canadian values. I’ve too often heard it said in Liberal circles that the Liberal Party created Canada. This, my friends, is wrong. The Liberal Party did not create Canada. Canada created the Liberal Party. Canadians created the Liberal Party.” He has approached politics and the Liberal leadership with an attitude of hard work and humility. By stressing “service” in his final speech he has shown Liberals the way forward from tonight to the 2015. We must put service at the heart of everything we do because it is good politics, not because it will get us elected but because it raises the quality of political life.

5. Justin Trudeau has a sense of whimsy that is sorely missing in Canadian politics at the federal level:

trudeaugif

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!”

Lessons for the Liberals from the Calgary-Centre by-election

Harvey Locke ran a great campaign in Calgary-Centre taking a strong second place. and keeping the Conservatives under 40% in the so-called “Conservative heartland” is nothing to sneeze at. I am proud of the campaign the Liberals ran in all 3 by-elections yesterday.

However, I do fear that Liberals across Canada are taking the wrong lessons from the Calgary-Centre by-election. There are those who will argue (out of their own self-interest) that the Liberals lost in Calgary-Centre because of vote-splitting and the only answer is progressive cooperation.

Vote-splitting was not the problem and cooperation is not the answer.

First, allow me a brief digression on how we got here. The in-fighting and tales of structural deficiencies of the Liberal party are well documented. However, I tend to view the last 2 elections from a game theory perspective. We Liberals campaigned fiercely against the Conservatives. The Conservatives campaigned fiercely, and more effectively against us. The NDP campaigned against both and that helped them leapfrog the Liberal Party to become the officially opposition (there is obviously more to it, this is only an examination of the 2011 Federal Election through a game theory lens.)

The Liberal Party has been trying to fight a 1 front war when we are clearly dealing with 4 separate adversaries (the Conservatives, NDP, Greens and Bloc.) We cannot treat the Greens/NDP as if they are a pool of voters for us to take from and we can’t treat Conservative voters as if they are an unpersuaded monolith.

The Liberal Party has been far too lenient towards the Green Party. Not running a candidate against Elizabeth May in 2008 was a big mistake. In some ways, like being respectful of Ms. May in the House of Commons, we have done the right thing. However, the Green Party does not owe the Liberal Party a single thing. Just like the NDP, the Green Party will always put itself first, neither party actually wants to prioritize progressive issues.

The Calgary-Centre by-election was not a Liberal versus CPC competition, it was a Liberal vs CPC + Green one. The Green Party ran a negative campaign against both the Conservatives and the Liberals. If we ignore the negative campaign the Green Party ran in Calgary-Centre as we move forward, the Liberal Party is setting itself up for further loss.

On Chris Turner’s website there are 2 household lit pieces in PDF form. The first one is 3 pages, the majority of which is an anti-Liberal “Just visiting” style attack piece.

Image

The Liberal campaign focused on critiquing the Conservative candidate. I vehemently disagree with those who think that the Liberals lost because they “split the vote” with the Green candidate. The Liberals lost because they a) failed to persuade enough voters to switch from the CPC and b) didn’t take on the Green candidate with as much force as they went after Joan Crockatt.

The Liberal Party’s pragmatic and prudent policy positions can appeal to Conservative voters but if we write off that segment of the electorate before the campaign even begins, the Conservatives will only have to pick of a small segment of Liberal/NDP/Green/Undecided voters to win, as they did in Calgary-Centre.

The Conservative Party is not our friend. The NDP is not our friend. The Green Party is not our friend. The Liberal campaign in Calgary-Centre worked extremely hard and did a fantastic job.

Further reading:

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

Why the Conservatives Love the “Strategic” Voting Sites

Vote Harvey Locke: The Progressive Choice for Calgary-Centre

Today (November 26th) is by-election day in the great riding of Calgary-Centre!

The Liberal campaign has been as exciting as it has been improbable and for the first time since 1968, Calgary-Centre might such send a Liberal to Ottawa. Though the moment began shifting from the CPC to the Liberals started in mid-November, the race first came to national attention when a Forum poll (November 20th)  had the CPC candidate Joan Crockatt at 35%, the Liberal candidate Harvey Locke at 30% and the Green Party at 25%. Many called that poll a fluke and noted that Forum had called the Alberta Provincial election for the Wild Rose (it should be noted that Forum was one of the only polling firms to correctly call the recent Kitchener-Waterloo provincial by-election.) The last poll of the campaign has Crockatt at 37%, Locke at 32% and the Greens at 17% (This poll shows the Liberals surging and was done by the firm that predicted Mayor Nenshi’s win.)

There are 3 keys factors that have led to a possible Liberal victory in the riding:

  • Harvey Locke is a great candidate: All of the Liberal candidates in 3 by-elections today (Victoria, Durham and Calgary-Centre) are strong candidates. Harvey Locke is a superb candidate and will do an excellent job representing Calgary-Centre in Ottawa. He has a long history with the riding and an impressive resume working as a photographer and conservationist . He was President of the Alberta Liberal Party, speaks English, French and Spanish. Harvey Locke is my kind of centrist Liberal and he is the only candidate transpartisan enough to effectively represent the people of Calgary-Centre.
  • Infighting between the Alberta PCs and Wild Rose: The Alberta provincial election earlier this year was divisive and hard fought by all sides. Calgary-Centre is where Premier Alison Redford lives, however Joan Crockatt endorsed the Wild Rose during the provincial election. The media was quick to focus on this by-election as a civil war on the right in Calgary-Centre.
    Harvey Locke received a warm welcome at the PC AGM, which just happened to be in Calgary Centre.  Crockatt didn’t dare make an appearance.  A photo of Harvey posing with Alison Redford at the event, with nary an inch of space between them, quickly spread throughout the Twittersphere, dispelling any misconception of a “united right” in the province.
  • Joan Crockatt is a divisive candidate who has performed poorly: Ms. Crockatt was editor of the Calgary HeraldShe presided over a prolonged and bitter strike at the Calgary Herald when she was editor there.  She avoided the first 3 debates and embarrassed herself at the 4th debate when she attacked the U.S. economy and accused the CBC (where she has appeared numerous times as a panalist) of showing pornography. Her Tea Party attitude towards the Obama administration is not reflected by the Canadian poulation (it seems like the only Canadians who wanted Romney to win are in Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet.) One of Joan Crockatt’s biggest slip-ups was skipping Mayor Nenshi forum’s forum on cities. Nenshi criticized the decision in the press and even tweeted a few of Locke’s criticisms of Crockatt during the forum. With Rob Anders next door, the people of Calgary-Centre have seen what happens when they rubber stamp a regressive conservative candidate who brings the wrong kind of attention to their city.

Though the Green Party campaign has been surprisingly negative in Calgary-Centre, I believe that it time for progressives to unite behind the fiscally prudent, socially progressive and environmentally responsible candidate. If you  or anyone you know live in Calgary-Centre please vote for Harvey Locke.

Here is a poll that shows that Mr. Locke is the only candidate who can galvanize the progressive vote and send a message to Stephen Harper.

David Merner and the Conversation the Liberal Party Needs to Have

David Merner (left) and Alberta Liberal Party president Todd Van Vliet (right.)

It’s funny, I thought I would be running as a pro-business, pro-environment West-coast Liberal but it looks like I’ve become the ‘cooperation candidate.‘” That was former LPC(BC) President David Merner’s reaction when I told him that I had read Gloria Galloway’s article in the Globe and Mail and I had some questions for him about Liberal/NDP cooperation.

Mr. Merner held a meet-and-greet in Toronto at the Duke of York on Friday (it was the second of these type of events that I had attended in as many weeks.) With Jean Chrétien openly musing about the prospect of a LPC-NDP merger, David and I agreed that the party needs to talk openly about cooperation (though Merner, like myself is vehemently opposed to a merger) and we can’t be afraid of talking openly about so-called “Liberal sacred cows.*” If the Liberal Party doesn’t have a serious conversation on what I have termed “progressive cooperation,” there will be fissures within the party that may weaken us going in to the 2015 election. However, Nathan Cullen only received 24.6% of the vote on the 3 (and 2nd last) ballot at the NDP leadership convention back in March. The pair of candidates on the final ballot (Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair) were two of the fiercest opponents of cooperation with the Liberal Party in the running to succeed Jack Layton.

When Merner talks about cooperation he focuses on reaching out to the Greens, red-tories and (a term he introduced me to that I now love) “conservation-conservatives.” As a Liberal campaigning in Victoria B.C., he realizes that in ridings in that area, and in places like Vancouver and Toronto, cooperation with the NDP (our main opponents) wouldn’t make sense. Merner’s approach to cooperation fits in well with the pragmatism that is a pillar of the modern Liberal party. “We should be about creating choices for Canadians not reducing choices.” Merner believes that any practical form of electoral cooperation must, like the debate on cooperation, come from the bottom up. He pointed to the deal between Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May not to run candidates in each-others’ respective ridings as a top down decision that had negative results. This pragmatic attitude was on display when I asked Merner about two of my top issues, cannabis legalization and high-speed rail. Merner supports legalization, calling prohibition a “waste of police resources” while pointing out how cannabis would be a cash crop in British Columbia. On high-speed rail he wasn’t afraid to disagree with me bluntly. We talked about the proposed Edmonton-Calgary and Quebec-Windsor lines. He compared commitments to building massive high-speed rail lines to previous Liberal governments failure to reach ambitious environmental goals. “We need to be the party of practical solutions to real problems.”

David Merner bristled at the fact that certain party officials have said that progressive cooperation is “not up for discussion.” I agree. As the third party we need to show that the Liberal Party’s approach is different than the NDP or CPC‘s. To do this the Liberal Party needs to produce and promote bold policies and we need a competitive leadership race where the candidates aren’t afraid to constructively criticize the party.

David Merner is an intelligent and engaging candidate. Let’s not close our minds to any of the candidates because the media interprets one of his or her positions narrowly or incorrectly.

* Real, substantive health care reform and realistic targets to reduce carbon emissions were two such “sacred cows” that we discussed at the Friday evening event.

The Liberal Party: A Substantial Heritage, a Future of Substance (Co-written with Theresa Lubowitz)

Theresa Lubowitz on the Death of Substantive Policy

Canada is teetering dangerously close to the death of substantive policy as we know it, with the rise of a populist Conservative Government, a populist NDP Official Opposition, and a struggling Liberal Party so afraid of irrelevancy it has spent the last four years taking the safe road.

Government used to stand for something and had a proud legacy in Canada of improving the lives of its citizens. Some blamed nearly a decade of minority parliament as the culprit yet Pearson arguably put into action more substantive policy than any other Prime Minister in Canadian history despite the political environment he was forced to operate within.

Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government negotiated a $41 billion health care agreement with the provinces, legalized same-sex marriage, introduced the landmark Kelowna Accord, and had negotiated a national childcare program with the provinces before losing power. The Conservative minority government that followed has no record of substance to speak of, other than tearing down major advancements like Kelowna and national childcare.

Over 100 members of the NDP were elected in the May 2011 election, a feat that allowed the Party to take its place as Official Opposition in the House of Commons for the first time in its history. Yet what it was exactly the NDP championed during the election in their platform is murky at best. They successfully rode the ‘Jack’ wave of platitudes and props and now find themselves sitting opposite a government that reads from the very same playbook of highly charged populist partisan posturing, delivering little of substance. The Party released a year in review video celebrating the ‘highlights’ of their first year as Official Opposition that was low on substance and heavy on reading from one’s notes.

While the Conservatives have a history of releasing election platforms at the last minute and the NDP have a history of releasing them with little content and even less costing, the Liberal Party provided voters with very little to get excited about in the 2011 election. The Party of balanced budgets, universal health care, pensions, student loans, official bilingualism, multiculturalism, same-sex marriage legalization, and Kelowna to name just a few, offered a platform built around something called the ‘Family Pack’. Reduced to what were at the time shocking levels of support in 2008, Liberals played it safe, turned their backs on a century of bold, innovative, and substantive policy that shaped a nation and created something that sounded like it could be found in the lunch meat section of a grocery store.

With populism on either side of the political spectrum, the Liberal Party cannot continue to play it safe. Canada cannot afford us to. We must again become the party willing to take bold political stands regardless of the political winds. Our most successful political leaders were those who did not apologize for who they were or what they stood for and were rewarded for that authenticity. Living authentically is good practice in everyday life and the same is true in politics. It must be made true again in our public policy.

Joseph Uranowski on the Revival of Substantive Policy

The NDP just released an attack ad  that looks like it was written and produced by Stephen Harper’s own attack machine. Like the NDP, it offers no real solutions. With so much vitriol coming from the Harper Conservatives and the Mulcair NDP (how far we’ve come from Nathan Cullen’s calls for cooperation and Niki Ashton’s constant usage of the phrase “New politics”) there is a large space (not necessarily one in the so-called “centre”) for the Liberal Party to become the party of substance.

In the past the Liberal Party brought forward great policy in the form of legislation. However, just saying “trust us, we’re great at governing” is the height of arrogance and is a terrible political strategy. When Bob Rae was an NDP MP he was quoted as saying “the Liberals are a beanbag kind of party that looks like the last person that sat in it.” As we drift through the summer, I have a fear that this might be happening to my party. My solution: the Liberal Party of Canada should start releasing white papers, one every month from now until the 2015 election. When the house is in session we should tie each white paper to a private member’s bill.

Some topics I’d like to see the Liberal Party release policy solutions on:
  • Reform of Question Period: Now, the NDP is so petty and ruthless in their desire to deny the Liberal Party a win (like the Republicans down South) that they have actually worked to defend Dean Del Mastro. The Liberal Party needs to do politics differently, if passing good policy gives one of our opponents a win, it is still worth it to pass good policy. In that vein, I believe at the next avaliable opportunity the Liberals should introduce a private member’s bill that is word-for-word Michael Chong’s QP reform bill. We should ask him to co-sponsor and support the bill. He can bring over the dozen other CPC votes we need and we can shame the NDP into doing what is right.
  • Electoral Reform: At the 2012 biennial convention convention we passed a AV electoral reform platform. We should flesh it out as soon as possible. Let’s start a real debate.
  • Cannabis Legalization and progressive crime policy: We also overwhelming passed a cannabis legalization motion in Ottawa. The crime debate has changed in Canada with legalization going mainstream. This would be a great area to differentiate ourselves from the CPC andNDP. It has recently been reported that private companies are lobbying the Harper government to privatize our prisons. We have a unique opportunity to explain how terrible this policy would be and shift the crime debate once again.
  • The Environment: Scientists have literally taken to the streets on this issue. We have Kirsty Duncan (who won a Nobel Prize for her environmental work), Ted Hsu and Marc Garneau. Let’s put forward policies to take by the environment as an issue from the Greens and NDP with a pro-economic growth Liberal twist.
  • The Economy: Scott Brison is doing a great job shining a light on youth unemployment. A plurality of the white papers should be economic. If we can’t talk about the economy (every Liberal, not just our leader) we will never be relevant to Canadians.
  • Rebuilding the farm safety net: In many ways the Harper government is tryng to balance the budget on the backs of farmers. Income in the agriculture sector has been declining for 30 years. We need policies that will rebuild the farm safety net and focus on sustainability and affordability.
  • Some other issues: High speed rail, safe injection sites, free trade, foreign policy, public transit, education, public housing and veterans’ affairs.

 Uranowski and Lubowitz on the Verdict

Canada will not be bettered by the lip-service of populist politicians. It will be improved by substantive discourse about intelligent solutions in public policy. The Liberal Party of Canada has the strongest record in Canadian history in this area and is the only party showing any interest in speaking substantively about the issues. We’ve had a substantial heritage in public policy and have a substantive future ahead of us. While the populists blather and take jabs at one another, we should lay out a clear path for a better future for Canada.

Follow me on twitter at @Uranowski and follow Theresa at @TheresaLubowitz. Visit her awesome website “What Have You Done For Democracy Lately?

Micah Goldberg: Trudeau Leadership Needs Big Ideas

Politics is more about timing than it is skill. Being the right person in the right place at the right time is more conducive to political success than being the wisest, best-educated or most prudent individual in the world.

With Bob Rae’s decision to respect his oath not to seek the permanent Liberal Leadership position, the window of opportunity for Justin Trudeau has become a titanic gaping hole in the side of the Liberal caucus. There’s little doubt that Trudeau can become Liberal Leader if he wants to, but the question “should Justin Trudeau run for Liberal Leader in 2013?” appears to have been largely ignored.

 

In January, during the Liberal biannual convention I heard Mr. Trudeau speak for the first time to the Young Liberal Caucus. I was unimpressed, finding myself craving to leave what seemed like a one-man production of Les Miserables produced by a high school drama teacher going through a mid-life crisis. If he was expected to be a statesman, then I his exaggerations and flourishing calls to end the impoverishment of Canadian youth to be, if nothing else, substantive.

 

Five months ago, I would not have wanted Justin Trudeau to be the Liberal Leader, the Prime Minister or my own member of parliament. Honesty, however scarce in politics, is a still a quality I value highly, and he seemed to be lacking it.

 

Last month I saw Mr. Trudeau speak for a second time in Calgary. No drama. No exaggerations. No pomp. He had a conversation with an adult audience about why there is not just a place, but a need for the Liberal Party and centrism in Canada. His thesis (if I can call it that) was that domestic nation-building is always superior to ideological demagoguery.  For forty-five minutes, with no typed speech or hand-written notes, Mr. Trudeau came across as a well-educated, sincere, concerned Canadian. Maybe Les Mis got a new producer.

 

Justin Trudeau has the enthusiasm, the appearance of sincerity and intelligence, and most importantly the name that can put his name in a serious conversation to lead the country. But he’ll need more than a collection of traits to become Prime Minister, and I, like most people, believe that is the point of becoming Liberal Leader.

 

The Liberal Party has become reactionary. What was the last big idea that came out of the Party? A small credit for University Students that would be the equivalent of subsidizing the cup-holders in a new car? If the Party wants to return to power, it must start behaving as an innovative government. Trans-Canada transportation innovation, a national progressive energy policy, a (serious) re-commitment to the Kyoto Accord, a method of dealing with high prices for groceries on reserves or correcting the correlation of youth unemployment and debt. Big ideas exist, but to bring them to fruition is a challenge the Liberals must take on.

 

My answer to the initially stated question is that Justin Trudeau, more than any other Liberal candidate should become Prime Minister if he wants to demonstrate that the Liberal Party is one of brokerage and prudence, but also one of progression and innovation. Only this way can he bring the derelict Liberal caucus from the periphery of Canadian Government and back into good, accountable governance, one where question period actually means something, where bills are given an opportunity to be scrutinized, and faith in the political system as a whole is restored.

 

Yes, Justin Trudeau can become leader. Yes, Justin Trudeau can become Prime Minister. He will need to decide for himself whether he is ready to take bold stands on issues, and support innovation at a time when Party and Country needs it most. Otherwise the fence he sits on will sink under the weight of an already disinterested and disheartened Canadian electorate.

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Follow Micah on twitter: @micahgoldberg

Read Micah’s blog: CenterAndLeft

Justin Trudeau is a Serious Candidate for a Serious Party

I agree with Andrew Coyne that the Liberal Party of Canada needs to be the party of bold policy ideas and that on some issues we need to be to the left of the NDP/to the right of the Conservatives. However, I strongly disagree with Mr. Coyne’s assertion that “a party that is preparing to throw itself at Justin Trudeau is not a serious party.” The Liberal Party needs to have a competitive leadership race with many qualified candidates. Justin Trudeau would be a serious candidate and would be a solid choice for leader of the Liberal Party, if the Liberal Party wants to be patient and pursue a long-term strategy.
Justin Trudeau and the long-game:

As Premier McGuinty outlined in his speech at the 2012 Biennial Convention, the Liberal Party needs to elect a young leader and give that leader more than one election to rebuild the party. Liberals need to burn the phrase “two election strategy” into their minds. No one seriously believes that we can form the government after one election, and we need to show Canadians that we are a humble, substantive alternative to the divisive bullies Harper and Mulcair. This will take more than one election and we need a leader who can grow with the Liberal Party. Justin Trudeau is 40 years of age as I type this. In 2015, Prime Minister Harper will be 56 (with a full head of grey hair) and Thomas Mulcair will be 61. Justin Trudeau’s youth would bring a new energy to the Liberal Party. While his name evokes a nostalgic connection to the past, the fact that he was elected in 2008 would give the Liberal Party a clean break with the sponsorship scandal. Trudeau is fluently bilingual, but the fact that he grew up in politics makes him fluent in the political language of both French and English Canada.

Trudeau does have a ways to go before he is prime minister material. He is great at giving speeches (when I saw him speak in Parkdale-High Park there was a real electricity in the air) but he needs to speak with a substance and gravity that can only come with time. His name recognition is a great strength. I would also argue that the fact that a certain (small) percentage of Canadians who have a predisposition for/against Trudeau because of his name is another advantage as that good will will bring some Canadians back in to the Liberal Party and Trudeau will get to prove those who irrationally dislike him wrong when he enters the national arena. Becoming the leader the Liberal Party needs will be a lot of work. Justin has shown his strong work ethic on a number of occasions. Running and winning (twice) in Papineau was no small feat. Trudeau has also been a loyal liberal soldier traveling the country for the party. One specific example that I believe shows his commitment was his boxing match with Senator Brazeau. Trudeau saw that he was outgunned, so he spent months training and preparing himself. This is the kind of commitment the Liberal Party needs from its next leader.

The 4 pillars of a winning political campaign:

In the past, Canadian political parties have relied on a combination of three elements to win: a strong leader, strong policy,a strong political machine and disorganized opponents. Under Jean Chretien the LPC focused on having a strong leader, a strong political machine and disorganized political opponents.

In the last few elections the Conservatives have relied on their leader, their political machine and a disorganized opposition. The NDP have gone all in with their leader in 2008/2011 and are trying to play organizational catch up while keeping the Liberals weak. In 2011 the Liberal Party tried to go all in with policy with disastrous results.

In 2015 the Liberal Party needs to have a strong, charismatic leader who campaigns with a solid machine and a solid set of unique policy proposals. We have done a great job explaining why Harper is bad, we need to do the same with Mulcair while always saying what we would do if elected.

Trudeau’s magnetism is not something that a politician can necessarily learn, as is his ability to promote progressive policies in the language of the centre-right and the values of fiscal and personal responsibility in the language of the left.

Justin Trudeau doesn’t fit into the CPC or NDP paradigm:

One distinct advantage that Mr. Trudeau has is that his reality is frustratingly foreign to the Conservatives and New Democrats.

Conservatives purged their party of the genuine grassroots energy and principled policy positions of the old Reform Party and have become solely the party of their leader, Stephen Harper. The CPC’s divisive, slash and burn politics would see an election against Justin Trudeau as the opportunity they’ve always wanted to against Justin’s father. The NDP have a different  mindset. New Democrats do not care about getting real results for Canadians, they only care about getting more NDP seats in parliament. When Jack Layton decided to betray the progressive budget that Paul Martin had negotiated with him in 2005, he did so because the NDP only had 18 seats in parliament. In the NDP worldview Jack Layton, who has no major accomplishments at the federal level, is a hero simply because he helped elect 103 NDP MPs. The NDP and CPC both seem to believe that the Liberals would try and run Justin Trudeau on his father’s accomplishments. They would both be trying to attack the Liberal Party from a perspective that would not be accessible to the majority of Canadians who aren’t as blindly ideological as the CPC and NDP.

Conclusion:

Justin Trudeau still has to prove himself as a leader, as does any candidate running for that position. He may be the unique blend of charisma, substance and hard work that the Liberal Party needs. However, one thing he needs from Liberals is patience.

Liberals need  to stop panicking. We aren’t going to die out in one election–but we aren’t going to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, either. Every single Liberal needs to be working hard to rebuild the party. No political party can win solely on the strength of their leader.

Justin Trudeau has been thoughtful and contemplative in his approach to entering the Liberal leadership race. He is a serious candidate and should be treated as one.

5 Questions: Omar Alghabra

Omar Alghabra was the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Erindale from 2006–2008. He ran again in 2011 and parliament is a worse place without him in it. Omar is a strong progressive voice and his positive attitude is infectious. He was nice enough to answers my questions:
1. Why are you a Liberal?
There are 4 fundamental reasons as to why I am a Liberal philosophically:
  • I believe in individual liberty; that every person has an inalienable right to choose how to live their life as long as it doesn’t infringe on others
  • I believe the role of government is to facilitate individual liberty and to ensure that people have equal opportunity to reach their own optimal potential
  • I believe in brokerage politics instead of divisive or polarizing politics. Instead of dividing people into with or against us camps, I’d rather bring people together, empathizing not vilifying their point of view while remaining faithful to my values/principles
  • I believe that Canadian identity is an evolving and inclusive identity not a static one. Canada is the sum of its history, present and future
2. What was the highlight of the biennial convention for you?
In addition to the amazing turnout, the highlight for me was the fact that the convention was unscripted. Most conventions tend to be dominated by a certain narrative or campaign that is promoted by the “centre” of the Party. During this last one, most delegates were genuinely open-minded and freely debating their choices and reaching their own conclusion
3. What  policy issue are you passionate about and why?
There are many issues that I’m passionate about, but if I were to reduce it to one overarching subject, I would say it is the role of government in our society. Governments need to find a balance between being a facilitator and defender of the interest of its citizens. For example, I believe in free markets and competition but also the responsibility of government to ensure fairness, transparency and that the long term interest of its citizens are not trumped by short-term market forces
4. You are very effective at using various forms of social media. What advice would you give to Liberal candidates and activists on utilizing social media?
I would say that you need to first identify your target audience. Do you want to reach out to partisan Liberals? Specialized activists? Neighbours? etc. Then talk about subjects that are relevant to them in a meaningful and fresh way. Try to stand out with your message or ideas. Maybe tackle controversial topics. Avoid repeating standard talking points (unless you want to focus on the partisan crowd who may enjoy a reinforcement of their message). Use humor or entertainment. No need to be serious all the time. Remain respectful and civil. Even though sometimes using foul language can generate buzz but it will undermine your credibility.
5. Who is your favourite Prime Minister and why?
That’s a tough question to answer only because I believe one has to experience first hand the leadership style if they are to offer an accurate assessment. I always consider PM Trudeau to be an exceptional PM given his record, his statements and his values. Unfortunately I immigrated to Canada after his tenure. I am an admirer of all former PMs not withstanding their partisan colours. All of them have been very intelligent and highly driven and each of them provided their own flavour of leadership style. The only PM I had the privilege to work closely with was Paul Martin. I have deep respect and affection for him having seen first hand his work ethics and his determination.

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.’