Tag Archives: #LPCldr

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!”

Joyce Murray Will Be A Formidable Liberal Leadership Candidate

The cutoff date for candidates to enter the Federal Liberal Leadership race is fast approaching. So far, only 2 candidates are officially in the race (Justin Trudeau and Deborah Coyne.) The media coverage has been almost completely about Trudeau since he announced on October 2nd. The Liberal Party needs a vibrant, competitive leadership race for the health of the party. With Mr. Trudeau based in Quebec and Ms. Coyne being from Ontario, there is still room for at least one B.C. candidate (with both Marc Garneau* and Trudeau being from Quebec there will be a real opportunity to build a strong Liberal presence in la belle province once again.) Although Alex Burton and David Merner are both really intriguing candidates, I think that Joyce Murray will be a first-tier candidate able to compete with Garneau and Trudeau at the convention in April.

Here’s why:

  • Business Experience: Unlike Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair, Murray isn’t a career politician. In 1979, she co-founded “Brinkman and Associates Reforestation.” This company works  on reforestation and sustainability initiatives in British Columbia. It has expanded to Alberta, Ontario and Central America. The Liberal Party needs to have credibility on the economy and Ms. Murray’s business experience would go a long way on that front.
  • Government Experience: In the B.C. government Murray served as Minister of Water, Land, and Air Protection from 2001-2004**, and then as Minister of Management Services until June 2005. Her governing experience would be invaluable for the Liberal Party.
  • Environmental Credentials: As a former Minister and co-founder of a pro-environmental buisness Murray has solid environmental credentials. She has introduced 2 private members’ bills both of which were environmental policies. In June 2008, she put forward Bill C-572, which proposed exempting bicycles, bike accessories, repairs, and safety training from GST because she believes in sustainable transportation. This would be appealing in a lot of Canada’s urban centres. In December 2010, she introduced Bill C-606, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, banning oil tanker traffic on Canada’s Pacific North Coast.
  • The Liberal Party needs to build out West: Ms. Murray was able to win her seat and keep it during 2 elections that were particularly terrible for the Liberal Party.
  • Bilingual: Ms. Murray is fluently bilingual and has been doing interviews with Quebec’s French-language media as of late.
  • Clean break from the past: First elected in 2008, Ms. Murray (along with Garneau and Trudeau) would give the Liberal Party a break from the scandals that lead to the recent electoral defeats of the LPC.

I hope candidates seeking the Liberal Leadership declare sooner rather than later. Though Justin Trudeau is the prohibitive front-runner, I expect Ms. Murray will bring a lot to the race and give him a run for his money.

*In a speech to the Northumberland–Quinte West Federal Liberal Association Garneau outlined his 3 priorities “if” he decided to seek the liberal leadership. So it is safe to assume he’s in.

** Her nickname was “Minister of Earth, Wind and Fire.”

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.

In Defense of “Second Tier” Candidates

On July 4th Bob Hepburn wrote this silly article: “Warning to Liberals: Beware delusional no-hope leadership candidates.” I would like to defend these so-called “no-hope” candidates.

The next Liberal leader is unlikely to be elected Prime Minister in 2015. We must have a 2 election strategy. The Liberal Party cannot keep jettisoning our leaders or the media’s wish that we cease to exist will come true. If you look at Thomas Mulcair’s name recognition at the beginning of the NDP leadership race it was extremely low outside of Quebec. So far, there have been more articles on the Liberal Leadership than there were during the whole NDP race. Charisma, policy and organizational ability must be weighed equally when we pick our next leader. Though I would agree with those who argue that debt from a previous leadership race is a factor that should prohibit a candidate from running for Liberal Leader, most of Hepburn’s disqualifying factors seem to have been thought up posthumously to justify putting down people whom he happened to not know.

I believe that David Merner,  David Bertschi, Deborah Coyne, and George Takach are all legitimate candidates for Liberal Leader. Yes they will have to work harder but, just as candidate Barack Obama’s victory in the primary campaign was legitimate managerial experience, if a candidate who isn’t a caucus member wins the leadership that will be proof that they have the charisma, policy knowledge and community/political organizing skills that the party needs. Deborah Coyne, the first candidate to officially enter the race, released a long list of substantive policy proposals. This will ensure that all of her opponents will be held to a high policy standard. The Liberal Leadership race has not officially begun and she has already made it a better one. If the Liberal Party is to survive we need to do politics radically differently. Voters in the Liberal Leadership race (the first truly open leadership race in Canadian history) will weigh as many factors as they so chose. We should not dismiss a candidate because they don’t fit our narrow view of a Liberal Leader.

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.