October 31, 2008

Renewal from the Ground Up (Liberal 308 and Beyond)

This past March I began to question, along with many others, the Liberal leadership's willingness to listen to the grassroots. There seemed to be some desire for an election based on the many gaffes made by the Conservatives and the direction they were taking us in. However, none of the upper Liberals would pull the plug. This left many people disillusioned and frustrated with the Liberal Party. Seven months later we now know what that level of discontent meant for the Liberals...

With a dismal turnout at the polls, an immediate stepping down of the leader and supporters still right pissed, the Liberal Party is back to where they started several years ago. Once again we're gearing up for another leadership race, divisions threaten still, and policy and fundraising initiatives are being largely ignored. However, a bright light of sorts is beginning to shine through the fog with the creation of Liberal 308.

Liberal 308's mandate is about real renewal of both the party and its values. It's about rebuilding all 308 local associations, introduce greater accountability to the grassroots with decision making, develop new fundraising initiatives and provide tools that will lead to better election readiness and success.

The party's last shot at renewal was supposed to come after the development of the Red Ribbon Report. The report recommended big changes in policy and outreach. However, after some consideration, I believe the flaw of the report was that all changes were to come top down. It was supposed to be up to the senior Liberals to implement the recommended changes. Liberal 308 is looking to do the opposite. If the party won't make the changes for us, then we'll just have to go to them. That is why a 'movement' such as Liberal 308 is so important. The grassroots cannot afford to any longer hope for the best. If we want to be heard and given regard then we have to force this issue to the front of the agenda.

Last night I had the opportunity to review a proposal from a good friend and fellow Liberal. While he has yet to officially get involved with Liberal 308, the proposal he's looking to present, at the LPC(O) conference in November, essentially addresses the same issues and ideas. His proposal refers making changes in the way associations are supported, how fundraising is conducted and making changes as to how grassroot initiatives are addresses by the central party. While his proposal is about making the initial changes within just Ontario, his hope is that eventually the changes will go national.

What the Liberal Party needs to realize is that while they have not yet become irrelevant, irrelevance is where they are heading. If you're no longer willing to listen and reach out to those that make up the backbone of the party, you can forget ever getting general voters to jump on board. It's no longer good enough to just develop policy and ideas on the spot and ignore the concerns of everyday Canadians. The Liberal Party needs to be open and accountable and be able to present a true vision for Canada. There is a desire for that type of leadership; the leadership that used to course through the Liberal Party. The Conservatives and the NDP have shown they aren't able to take on that role, which means there is an opportunity for the Liberals to get back to where they once were. It will come in the process of renewing the party and reaching out to the grassroots. That is why, more now than ever, grassroot initiatives such as Liberal 308 and the proposal for the LPC(O) are vital.

October 17, 2008

“When the heroes go off the stage, the clowns come on” (Just another perspective on the Liberal Party)

Like so many others I am sick and tired of hearing from 'anonymous Liberal sources' or other hacks about what the party is or isn't doing and what should or shouldn't happen. The fact of the matter is that all this nonsense and backstabbing was supposed to have been dealt with when we elected a new leader and yet it seems nothing has changed and no lessons have were learned two years ago.

Simply put, these so-called 'strategists', 'insiders', 'senior officials' or whatever they are, need to be removed from their positions (from here on in, they will collectively be referred to as 'clowns'). This is the second time these clowns have brought the party down through with their childish bickering and want of total control. First they were willing to divide the party when they weren't getting their way while Chretien was leader and Prime Minister and now they willing to undermine Dion because he wasn't the leader they chose and wanted to do things differently. So much for unity, respecting the will of the membership, reaching out to the grassroots, transparency and renewal - all things that were apart of the Red Ribbon Report.

Well, I hope these clowns got exactly what they wanted. Through their actions they brought down a respectable leader, killed membership and voter confidence, and are making us go back to the drawing board again. They've wasted two years of trying to rebuild. The best thing we could do is remove most of these clowns and replace them with people who actually care about the state of the party and providing an option for true representation in Canada. The party and Canadians cannot afford to have a Liberal Party that is being hijacked by those that are more interested in themselves and their need for control.

Dion deserves much more respect than he is getting or has ever gotten from these clowns. The party and its membership deserve even more. Even guys that have come out of the woodwork, like Joe Volpe, should be shown the door. Volpe is one of those guys that have been taking aim at Dion likely since the leadership race. Too bad for Volpe as he has little credibility when it comes to leadership and therefore he too should either shut up or get out. Guys like this, who are willing to divide the party, should just exit stage left. It's time they begin working as a team or face being cut. Otherwise, the Liberal Party, as a whole, will fall apart and become something of a joke - just like the clowns that go on after the heroes have left the stage.

October 14, 2008

Campaign Notes: Sign Watching

So Andrew McKeever has officially stepped down but that hasn't kept a couple local NDPers from putting up Jack Layton signs throughout the riding. Since McKeever stepped down after the nomination period ended his name is still on the ballot. From what I understand if he were to win the election, a by-election would be called immediately. However, the national NDP will still collect their $1.75/vote for McKeever. In otherword, McKeever can't benefit but the NDP can. Hence, the appearance of Jack Layton: 'Toronto-Danforth' and 'Team Toronto' signs within Durham.

This has created some chatter though. For one thing, many of the Layton signs do not contain an authorization. Elections Canada has been notified and word is that they are likely going to be pulled. Being this was a holiday weekend, it seems that that won't happen until election day sometime. Another thing is that there has been some commenting about how the signs are unwelcome. Several locals I have talked with - not all Liberals but does include NDPs - have mentioned that Jack Layton isn't running in Durham and his signs have no place in Durham. As well, the signs are for his Toronto-Danforth riding. Many comments have implied that it feels like an encroachment of the big city.

Will the signs make a difference? I'm having my doubts. The situation with McKeever is well known at this point and the appearance of the Layton signs may serve to just remind people that Layton defended this guy and still hasn't officially denounced the nasty comments. I understand the purpose of the signs, which is to motivate the core support to vote NDP no matter what, but I can't see it doing much more than confusing people and coming across as an elaborate prank. Besides, the rest of the Durham candidates have put in too much work - some much more than others - at getting their names out and building up support.

Whatever, I guess we all now know what inegrity is worth: $1.75.

October 09, 2008

Campaign Notes: CTV Playing Politics? (The 'Does This Still Need to be a Question?' Edition)

A member of the local Liberal campaign team and several other, non-partisan people I know have signed up to receive the CTV news feed to their Blackberries. When looking at the feeds, one of them noticed that they were getting Conservative feeds shortly after the Cons made an announcement. However, feeds for the NDP and Liberals weren't arriving until several hours after their announcements were made. When mentioned, another person mentioned they were having the same issue and in fact, both feeds times had matched. This was then compared to others and they too had the same experience. One of them asked about service providers and they weren't all with the same company.

For example: The Conservatives made an announcement on Sept. 22nd at approximately 10am; the feed was sent within twenty minutes. On the other hand, the Liberals made their platform announcement at 11:00 and it was sent out at almost noon. However, the NDP made news this morning and the feed on them wasn't sent until the early afternoon. From the account of the news feeds on the Blackberries, this isn't unusual. Conservative headlines are arriving sooner than the other parties' headlines.

Maybe it's only a coincidence that these CTV news feed subscribers are receiving their feeds on the opposition much later than that of the Conservatives. However, they're not all with the same provider. Then again, maybe Andrew Krystal was on to something afterall...

Update (10/09/08 @ 11:15pm):
I'm not going to play any violins or anything like that. However, I will say that if there were any doubts, Duffy just showed his true (blue) colours. I won't link to the video of Dion asking to restart his interview a couple times. I won't promote something that is so obviously designed to smear a man. I completely believe that what Duffy did was despicable and likely ethically questionable. And it must be bad when the Cons and Duffy are being called out by other media that are hardly Liberal friendly. While some people have questioned how many other interviews Dion has had to restart, I think a better question is how many other leaders have had to ask for clarifications and do-overs in their taped interviews. Retakes happen all the time and I can guarantee that each of the leaders have probably had at least one or two. The difference here is that Duffy is still likely irked that he got blasted by May for being a Conservative shill. Or maybe Duffy was hoping to distract Canadians from the fact Conservatives have fudged numbers for Afghanistan and haven't been transparent on the issue.

So what does this all mean? Well, Duffy exposed himself for what he really is and has likely lost his integrity and respect. For the Conservatives, I'm guessing the way they went after Dion, it's possible that they just provided the catalyst for many people to go with strategic voting against them. Many non-Conservatives already believe Harper to be bully and he just proved them all right and probably convinced those that were also unsure.

Harper's not a leader. Harper is the kid in the school hallway that pushes others into locker doors as he walks by and laughs, alone. These type of people confuse negative attention with respect and end up being forgotten by their peers or are only remembered for pulling off stunts such as mocking a facial deformity attacking someone's hearing impairment.

October 05, 2008

Campaign Notes: And Talking About the Media and Politics (Re-Redux)

(Note: Updates can be found at the end)

Extremely early this morning, I raised a question about CTV and their wireless news feeds. Something about sending out Conservative-related feeds fairly fast while dithering on the the opposition parties'. To continue with the theme of the media and politics, I wanted to look at Metroland Durham Region Media Group, a subsidiary of Torstar and who publishes my local paper, Clarington This Week and the website durhamregion.com.

To anyone in the region, it doesn't surprise when they shill for the Conservatives. During the 2007 Ontario Election they published an 'editorial' written by the local Conservatives. How do I know this? I called the paper during the election to ask where it came from and they told me. So it's no surprise that when Bryan Ransom's response on manufacturing wasn't included in the Sept.13th paper, local Liberals cried foul.

I decided that we should inquire and I wrote the editor. He replied that the piece was misplaced and then overlooked but that the paper would print it ASAP with an attached apology. They did just that on the 17th. For the next response, the paper asked for positions on Afghanistan. Bryan Ransom's reply went in and it was published on Sept.18 - as were all the candidates' responses. Online, all the responses were about Afghanistan. In print, however, all but Bev Oda's responses were about Afghanistan; her's was about industry and it differed from her manufacturing response.

I inquired with the editor once again but this time was not given a reply. Yet, I'm still hearing from others that there is going to be a printing of Oda's Afghanistan response sometime this week. A cynical person might look at this as an intentional mistake to appease Oda's campaign. Afterall, when the paper printed Ransom's manufacturing response it was essentially a stand-alone article, despite the editorial apology. And now Oda is going to have her very own stand-alone piece. I'm interested to see if her industry piece turns out to be the same as her economic response that comes out in two weeks. If not, then there will be some questions about why she had a random industry response on file with the paper.

On the other hand, this could be just the poor work of an editorial team. Two big screw-ups with candidates' responses, missing headshots above articles even though the required headshots were on the previous page, etc. leads one to wonder about the editorial team.

Update (09/24/08): So I was correct. Oda did get her very stand-alone piece with an editorial apology. However, the best part was that her response was printed right above her brand-spanking-new election ad! A double Oda bonus brought to Durham by the good people at Clarington This Week. I also noticed on their durhamregion.com site that even though Ransom's manufacturing response was eventually printed it has yet to appear online.

Update (10/05/08):Once again Clarington This Week has possibly shown its true (blue) colours. Just to clarify; this week's candidate response was on the economy. Now, Oda had already kind of had an economy piece that was printed 'by accident' where her Afghanistan piece should have been. At the time I questioned whether or not this was an accident because it seemed strange that she would have a random response on industry printed that differed from her manufacturing one. I was willing to wait to see if maybe she handed in an economy piece early, that focused on industry, so her campaign wouldn't have to worry about doing it later. Turns out that her economy piece turned out to be very different from her random industry response. Obviously this begs the question, 'why did the paper have a random industry response on file from Oda?' None of the campaigns were asked to print an industry piece and her response wasn't a press release. So where did it come from? Me thinks something stinks...

I've written the editor in hopes of getting an explanation. I doubt my letter will get printed or placed online - they print very few and most end up online - but I also stated that doubt and only asked for the explanation. I'll update this post again if I get a response...

October 04, 2008

Warren, You Missed One Helluva Show! (Rise Against @ The Sound Academy)

It's too bad Warren missed the Rise Against concert last night. It was loud, energetic and it made my ears bleed in that good way. It was also a great getaway from the election scene that has been keeping me from sleeping over the last few weeks - although it wasn't entirely without politics as Rise Against and Thrice are both politically-charged bands. Anyway, I thought I would throw out a few thoughts on the show.

The first band to come out was The Gaslight Anthem who were performing in Canada for their first time. I had no expectations for this band because I had only heard of them but had yet to listen to any of their tunes. They put on a surprisingly good show. Their music is identifiably straight out of the New Jersey hardcore/punk scene that also produced bands like Thursday and Saves the Day. However, they mesh this with the sensibility of blue-collar rock (ala Bruce Springsteen) and they pull it off really well and it was nice change from the generic stuff that has come from this scene of late. They interacted with the crowd and were able to make a connection. I expect we'll all hear more out of these guys in the near future. In the meantime they definitely have at least one more fan.

The next band to play was Thrice. I had HUGE expectations for their performance because I am a big fan. It may even be safe to say that next to The Tragically Hip, they are my favourite band. I've been following (not in the stalker sense) these guys since 2003 when I randomly came across their newly released album while working in the US. I heard one song and it blew me away. And before I get too fanboy-ish I'll get back to concert. Thrice's roots are in post-hardcore but as of late they have been experimenting with their sound by branching into and incorporating prog-rock, bluegrass, and electronic music. Somehow they've been able to avoid betraying those roots and have always come across genuine in their albums. But I was still unsure if they could pull it off live. Those concerns were quickly put to rest as they came out heavy, hard and with massive intensity! At the midway mark they flawlessly toned it down a bit playing songs off of their Air disc from their latest double-disc release. After a few of more-relaxed songs Thrice returned to their heavier fare beginning with a cover of The Beatles 'Helter Skelter'. When it was all said and done Thrice had just blown the crowd away and they fans wanted more with a chant for an encore. I've been to a lot of shows in my young life but never had I heard a crowd ask an opening band for an encore and neither of the other two opening bands got the same response. Thrice definitely didn't disappoint and I can't wait to see them again, hopefully with a longer set.

The third opening band was the alt-rock/punk band Alkaline Trio. To be honest, I had low expectations of this band. I saw them sometime around 2000/01 opening for another band and they weren't very good in any way. They had no presence, little interaction with the crowd, the music was fairly bland and they didn't sound very good. Though I was willing to listen with an open mind since it had been at least seven years since that time. While Alkaline Trio sounded really good, all the other problems still remained. AT have been around since 1996 and have likely been a huge influence on many of other alt-rock/punk bands that have since emerged. What's most disappointing, I would think, is that many of the bands they've likely influenced are doing the same thing but much better. It seems as though AT haven't evolved much and honed their craft better. They were also the unfortunate victims of being placed between the intensity of Thrice and the expectations of Rise Against. At would have been much better off is they had played in the second slot and have Thrice play immediately before Rise Against.

Last but not least the headliner, Rise Against came on to sing their brand of protest music. These guys know how to put on a show! While Thrice has gone on to reinvent themselves and experiment within the post-hardcore genre, Rise Against is finding new ways of expressing their pure post-hardcore roots. Sure there are other bands out there doing similar stuff and RA wear some of their influences on their sleeves but at this point none of them are doing it as well or with the passion that Rise Against is. All of their songs speak to a cause and you can feel the connection they've made with their fans by providing that voice. Having many songs that are anthemaic doesn't hurt either. Rise Against were intense and they left the crowd sweaty, ringing and hoarsed. You couldn't ask for anything more.

All-in-all one of my favourite concerts in recent memory. I was worried that my buddy and I would stick out as the 'old guys' (we're 27 and 28), which happened when we attended the Taste Of Chaos show in Mississauga. However, there were plenty of peers at the show, they just all happened to be in the beer tent while we were having our eardrums destroyed. The Sound Academy is a pretty decent venue - it was my first time there. It's definitely better than Arrowhall. Rise Against et al. are playing again tonight at the same place and I wish I had tickets to see this show as well.

And It Ends... Durham NDP Candidate Steps Down.

It's being reportedthat Andrew McKeever has finally bowed out as an NDP candidate. This was the right decision. Showing a stark contrast between his own and the NDP's views and values, his candidacy seemed strange. However, it was his offensive and threatening comments that proved he was neither mature enought or qualified to be a potential representative of Durham. Stepping down at this point was the right thing to do.

While I struggle with some parts of his resignation statement, enough has been said and done already that criticism is no longer necessary. However, the NDP still have yet to make a statement or denounce his comments. I'm assuming that is coming shortly...

And as this has concluded so will my previous posts that dealt with this situation. Over the next few weeks the past posts will be changed in order to address the issues and themes only. Direct references to McKeever will be removed as there is no longer a point in keeping him included.

How Much More Convincing Does the NDP Need to Realize They Have a Problem in Durham?

Before I get too far let me say that after this I am finished with reporting on the Durham NDP candidate's online idiocy. The first chunks of online comments found, where he used misogynist and threatening comments in an attempt to silence those who opposed his views, already beleaguer the point that he is beyond unfit for public office. All along that has been my only goal. The likely-hood of him being elected was poor in the first place but is now pretty much guaranteed.

Questions still remained about why Layton and the NDP refused to remove him as their representative without ever denouncing his comments. I doubt that the Layton or NDP central party support this candidate's views or values but they gave tacit approval by doing nothing. Furthermore, all involved have been unreachable by the media and public who have questions and concerns. And for that Layton et al. have been getting picked apart on Rabble's message board and other online forums. Unfortunately for the NDP, the online presence of this candidate and his knack for making really detestable comments hasn't gone away.

Yesterday two things happened that may be the breaking point for the NDP in holding onto to this guy. First, the Liberals released screen captures of the candidate's public MySpace page where he makes reference to the movie Schindler's List. There he states,

"I like the part in Schindler's List when the guard starts waxing the prisoners."
Furthermore, on his personal facebook page he lists his political views as "Baathist" and links to Saddam Hussein's entry on Wikipedia.

Shortly afterward Krystalline Kraus, the journalist who made the joint statement with McKeever and publicly accepted his apology for his original derogatory statements seemed to have a change of heart. On Rabble's message board, under her pseudonym Statica, Kraus left this message,

I'm tired of being expected to take bullets for the NDP and stay quiet when I'm screaming inside to speak. I don't like being silenced or manipulated by anyone in my life.

This McKeever -- NDP Durham candidate -- is not my fault and I won't be treated like this is my fault. I had asked for Mr. McKeever to resign and/or be removed by Layton but it was made clear to me that that would just not happen.

I cannot force the NDP to do anything.

Regardless of Mr. Layton's decision regarding Mr. McKeever, I still think he should finally stand up and speak about this issue by condemning Mr. McKeever's comment -- to speak against misogynist comments and violence. Make that statement.

Other candidates got the condemnation and correction of their party's leaders for what they said. Other parties -- whether they kept their candidates or not in the end -- made public statement to show they do not condone offensive, vulgar or insulting comments.

I can't do this with them anymore. I have given them nothing but kindness and generosity in this situation and they have ignored me and betrayed me in return.

I’m a good journalist and a strong, smart person. I can speak for myself.

krystalline kraus

(H/T to Big City Lib)

Kraus' statement indicates that the NDP refused her request for McKeever's resignation. She asked them to remove him and denounce his statements, likely because she was offended by his comments and appauled by his candidacy, but ultimately a joint statement was released by Kraus and McKeever. From the sounds of it, she seems have taken many of the punches aimed in the direction of the NDP while she offered a positive compromise. And in the end, rather than backing Kraus up the NDP seemingly just cut her loose.

Obviously, this raises questions. Already I've raised questions of the NDP's hypocrisy and accountability on this issue and what the message the NDP were trying to send by supporting McKeever through all this. Now there are questions over the NDP's motivation over keeping McKeever around.

As I stated earlier, this guy's chances of winning were poor at best from the get go. When all of his comments were made public his chances got even worse. The odds have also been on the decline with each day as he has yet to appear at any debates or forums and neither he or members of the Durham NDP are responding to calls. He also missed making a one minute taped statement for CFRB(1010 am). So why hold onto this guy if he obviously doesn't represent NDP views or values or represent the party in person?

There is little doubt that Layton and the NDP need to cut their losses now. This situation doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon and is beginning to have a negative effect. To save face in Durham, the NDP have to cut their candidate loose and denounce his comments so they can show that while choosing this guy was a mistake and admit that isn't ready to represent the residents of Durham that at least the NDP still deserve Durham's respect.

(Editted on 10/04/08 @ 10:40am to reflect the clarification provided by Krystalline Kraus in the comments section.)

October 02, 2008

In the End, Only the Public's Opinion Counts

Chantal Hebert and Don Martin and other media types can dismiss Dion and write whatever spin they want but in the end they don't matter. At least not when the public sees it differently...

Tonight's English debate should be interesting.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)