Tag Archives: sheila copps

Nokha Dakroub: A Family Reunited – And No, We’re Not Dead!

Nokha Dakrou (Delegate Mississauga-East Cooksville.)

The convention that took place this past weekend felt like a much-needed family reunion after a period of mourning and grief. With 3200 delegates present, it was more than I had even hoped for or anticipated. It was difficult to find people amongst the crowds, hard to find a seat in any of the sessions, the voting line was extremely long, and I couldn’t have been happier! After months of hearing and heading the Liberal Party’s obituaries, we were finally in a building where the future
of the party, the youth, were present and pleasantly loud.

One of the things that I was most pleased with was that the policy process would be shifted towards an online system. The truth is, it is unrealistic to expect to get thousands of people in a room to debate issues they feel strongly about and be out of the room on time for the next session. So, we’re moving towards the future in that case, and I think it’s about time. The primaries didn’t make it and I was surprised about that even though I was not in support of it. I thought it would have been dangerous to open up the party to that extent and I was concerned that it would cost a lot of money that would be better spent fighting the Conservatives, and the NDP during general elections. The creation of a two-tier membership was a bit difficult to get on board with since I would’ve preferred to cancel membership fees and allow everyone to be a member while protecting equality between members of the party. On the other hand, it does make room for a ‘safer’ and more open leadership race. I am interested to watch how that will play out.

What I found astounding was the fact that the leader’s power to appoint was protected by the membership. It was strange to watch the grassroots vote against giving the power to the grassroots. After our defeat in May, I was surprised to see the sense of denial about how many appointments have gone absolutely wrong. I was also in favour of that particular amendment because when a candidate or a sitting member is required to win a nomination fairly, they would have to organize in their own riding. This means going into a general election, they would have a base of support in that particular riding. The only concern that I shared was the need to increase the percentage of female candidates in the party. It is undeniable that it is much harder to get women to run for office, let alone fight nomination battles. However, I was hoping that we would be able to find other more democratic ways to support and encourage female candidates.

The results of the executive board elections were not always in favour of the candidates I had supported. However, I am not one to ever complain about election results even if I had worked on another candidate’s team. Mr. Crawley was successful in convincing the membership that he was the person for the job and I am sure that he will live up to that standard. I look forward to working with him, I wish him the absolute best, and I hope that we will all be there to support him going forward. It will be a tough road to get our party back into first place, because anything less than that won’t do, but I am sure it can be done and I’m looking forward to every step of the rebuilding process.

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

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

Margaret Atwood by Joseph Uranowski.

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

Kathleen Wynne by Tiffany Gooch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shelley Carroll by David Demchuk.

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

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

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

Carolyn Bennett and Kirsty Duncan by Nancy Leblanc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth May by Ann Douglas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christy Clark by Esmir Milavic.

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

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

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

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

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

Susan Delacourt by Bryan Bondy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

( Bryan Bondy is a freelance writer.)

Alison Loat and Alison Redford by Theresa Lubowitz.

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

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

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

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

 —

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Leblanc by Liberal Arts and Minds.

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

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

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

- Dedication

- Tirelessness

- Honesty

- Intelligent/knowledgeable

- Sincerity

- Loyalty

- Able to deal with the unexpected

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

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

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

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

Sheila Copps by Christopher Slothouber.

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

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

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

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

The Queen by Christopher Slothouber.

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

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

(Christopher Slothouber is the webmaster of ProgressiveBloggers.ca)

Ruth Ellen Brosseau by Micah Goldberg.

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

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

Doris Grinspun by Susan Uranowski.

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

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

Megan Leslie by Brent Cotter.

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

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

Elizabeth J. Roy by Joseph Uranowski.

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

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

Liberal Merchandise: Branding the Brand

Back in 2009 I got an e-mail that made me very happy then very sad. The e-mail, from Michael Ignatieff, told me that I could get a Liberal branded scarf. Unfortunately, to get the scarf I would have to donate $100.  Now, I can’t afford a $100 donation so to this day I don’t have a Liberal scarf.

Since the 2011 election, there has been a lot of talk about the “Liberal brand” but unlike the Conservative party we don’t treat said “brand” seriously enough to take advantage of the merchandising opportunities the 144 years of Liberal Party history has to offer. The Conservative Party of Canada has an online shop, the Liberal Party does not. This is a missed fundraising and brand-building activity for the Liberal Party.

Last night “The Edward Blake Society” held a meet-and-greet with the LPC Presidential candidates. Four of the five candidates attended (you can read my live-tweeting here) and I asked them all about Liberal Merchandise (or #LibSwag or #LPCMerch if you are going to tweet about it.) Thankfully all four presidential candidates endorsed the idea of having LPC merchandise sold online! Here is a summary of our conversations:

Ron Hartling: He said that Liberal branded clothing and accessories should be part of a holistic community outreach approach. One of the first things he did when he became President of the Kingston and the Islands riding association was to order Liberal t-shirts.

Sheila Copps: The former Deputy PM responded to me on twitter saying “I hear that’s in the works for convention, but it is a project I definitely intend to continue! ” During the second debate I attended, Mrs. Copps called for Liberal support packages to be available immediately to each riding association.

Alexandra Mendes: She talked about the variety of merch that will be available at the upcoming Liberal Convention in Ottawa. She also added that it is a no-brainer to have an online Liberal store. This event was my first time meeting Mrs. Mendes in person; she was delightful and insightful.

Mike Crawley: He was emphatically supportive of the idea but stressed that along with t-shirts (which are standard) the items for sale need to be fun and attention grabbing (Mr. Crawley is one of the most enthusiastic people I have met in real life.)

It makes me happy that we have unanimity amongst the Liberal Presidential candidates. This may seem like a small issue but it is the little things that often get ignored, and victory is in the details.

Update(s):

- An article for everyone to read: Obama 2012 Campaign Offers Wide Array Of Swag.

- Some discussion has taken place on twitter and some of the Liberal-Party-Rebuilding facebook groups. Shelia Copps’ proposal of Liberal-promotional kids being sent to each riding association is getting a good reaction. My vision for Liberal merchandise is to have general party brand building and anti-CPC/NDP stuff online and they to have each riding association establish a relationship with local producers to make sure that all 308 ridings have access to less-expensive swagg.

- Please feel free to comment on this post. Some questions to get the ball rolling: What kind of Liberal t-shirt would you like to see? What kind of “outside of the box” merchandise would you like to see?

UPDATE:

At the 2012 liberal biennial convention I met a woman in one of the “Resilience of the Liberal Ideal sessions who was selling “I am a Liberal. Ask me why” buttons. I purchased on and it is proudly fastened to my messenger bag. Since the convention that button has inspired 4 separate conversations. I talked to a woman on the train to Toronto, a man on the subway, and a group of high school students at the Whitby Public Library. Each of these conversations was different but that all began with a person looking at the button and then cautiously asking me, “So, why are you a Liberal?” Since I bring my bag with me almost everywhere I go, I look forward to more of these conversations. The buttons/t-shirts/thunder sticks/tote bags at the convention were really great but the Liberal Party really needs to make those items avaliable online.

Liberal Party of Canada Presidential Candidates’ Debate Report Card – Nov. 22/23

On November 22nd and 23rd I listened to/attended two debates of the four candidates currently running to be President of the Liberal Party of Canada. The first was a phone debate run by the excellent facebook group Liberals Rebuilding the Liberal Party (moderated by Gerard Kennedy) the second was held by the Ajax-Pickering Liberals riding association. The first was attended by all four candidates and the second was between three (Alexandra Mendès could not attend.) Here is a brief summary/report card on each candidate for the two debates.

Telephone Debate Hosted by Liberals Rebuilding the Liberal Party:

Mike Crawley: A-

Summary: Mikey Crawley worked hard to really own the position of “dynamic change” candidate. He worked well in the telephone debate as he is really strong at getting his message across in the limited time avaliable. His slogan “A Bold New Red” permiated everything he said. His call to “throw the doors to the Liberal Party wide open” and to “embrace big ideas” were backed up by his experience in the LPC(O).  At one point he stressed that we need to drop overused political jargon like the word “centrism” and that we shouldn’t emulate the Conservative Party of today to rebuild.

Strongest Moment: His answer to questions on Youth Engagement and regarding the PTAs were interesting and didn’t get too wonky.

Weakest Moment: His answer on the idea of open primaries for the Liberal Leadership came off as a little muddled.

Website: http://www.mikecrawley.ca/

Twitter: @_Mike_Crawley

Sheila Copps: B+

Summary: Mrs. Copps did a great job in this debate at recasting herself as the candidate of energy and experience. Was quick to cite past experience but didn’t dwell. Ended her opening statement saying we need to be “reborn, heal and bring in new members” which set the tone for her during the debate. She was able to clearly articulate why she supports an open primary system for the liberal leadership which was a strong accompaniment to her points on the need of the Liberal Party to embrace new technologies.

Strongest Moment: Her passion came through during the debate. Was able to give tangible specifics on a variety of topics. Advocates the creation of an LGBTQ caucus, I think this is a great idea.

Weakest Moment: Her opening statement was really heavy on the Harper-bashing. I assume the 350+ Liberals on the phone were on the same page on the PM. Didn’t address some of the concerns Liberals have about the so-called “baggage” from her past experience in the Liberal Party.

Website: http://sheilacopps.ca/

Twitter: @Sheila_Copps

Alexandra Mendès: B

Summary: Mrs.  Mendes is sort of the Chris Dodd of this race. She has excellent experience with an NGO and was a Liberal MP, but she often gets overlooked. Though she spent a solid block of the debate saying she was either “reluctant” or “not likely” to implement certain ideas, she was as positive and substantive as the other candidates. She is fully bilingual and I didn’t sense any language barrier during the debate. During the Youth discussion she talked with passion about the energy of the Occupy movement which was one of the high points of the debate.

Strongest Moment: Was the only candidate to defend the system of the Liberal Leader appointing candidates. Made the argument that we need to achieve general and cultural equality first before phasing it out.

Weakest Moment: Wasn’t as energetic enough and lets Copps/Crawley dominate the debate. She seemed absent from the discussion on open primaries.

Website: http://alexamendes.ca

Twitter: @AlexandraBrLP

Ron Hartling: B-

Summary: Ron Hartling cut his teeth as a riding association president and it shows. He is incredibly wonky and has been traveling the country talking to different Liberal riding associations to help rebuild the party. This tends to be Mr. Hartling’s answer when it comes to party rebuilding and he makes a good case. He is trying to be the candidate who wont make waves but will get the difficult work that the Liberal Party that needs to do, done.

Strongest Moment: When talking about youth engagement he proposed having older members mentor young members, this was one a number of good ideas that he proposed. He came off as extremely knowledgable.

Weakest Moment: The format was not good to Mr. Hartling. He tends to get a little bogged down in details and wasn’t concise enough to get his point across in some cases.

Website: http://ronhartling.ca/

Twitter: @RonHartling

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Ajax-Pickering Riding Association Debate:

Mike Crawley: A+

Summary: Engaging and substantive. He made the case for overhauling the Liberal Party but keeping the Liberal soul. Advocated open primaries for candidate nominations but OMOV for leadership selection.

Strongest moment: “We need to turn the Liberal Party into Canada’s first truly modern political party.” He deftly combined the change narrative with the experience/hard work narratives that his opponents are putting forward. His answer on youth engagement (the question that I asked) was the strongest.

Weakest moment: His answer to a question a question about proportional representation wasn’t direct enough and didn’t make good use of the time alloted.

Sheila Copps: A

Summary: A stronger opening in this debate. When Mrs. Copps did talk about her past experience she was passionate, clear and really made me proud to be a Liberal. She was extremely successful in proposing and defending a primary-style system for selecting the Liberal leader and clarified her position on Bob Rae running for permanent leader. This should really dispelled any false rumours that she is running so he can run for permanent leader (she said that is he wants to run for the full time position he will have to resign as interim leader.) Her slogan is “Strength. Determination. Grit.” I like that a whole bunch

Strongest moment: She advocated simple/direct solutions to some of the party’s problems (early candidate nominations in the 1/3 of ridings where we received >10% of the vote, simplifying the constitution) and showed her organizational knowledge.

Weakest moment: Still a little too Harper focused for my liking. She didn’t succeed in owning the change narrative.

Ron Hartling: B-

Summary: Mr. Hartling was able to let his answers breathe in this debate. Even though he was cut off in his opening statement his answers had heft to them and he showed that he is as strong a candidate as his opponents. He made frequent reference to his success in Kingston and the Islands. Though his answers were solid, he didn’t have the energy of Crawley or the passion of Copps so he did come off as professorial.

Strongest moment: He put his money where his mouth is and talked about meeting with 75 Western Canadian riding associations. Whenever talking about the party at the riding association level he shines.

Weakest moment: In response to a question on cooperation with the NDP/Greens he attempted to threat the needle by saying that it would be alright for the Liberals to not run a candidate in a weak riding after consultation with that ridings’ Liberal RA. He got stomped by Copps and Crawley on this one. His argument was solid but didn’t match up well with his philosophy of rebuilding riding by riding.

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You can read/re-read all my past debate tweets and any future Liberal Presidential race tweets using the #LibPrez hashtag.