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The Senate’s proposed amendments to election bill are a facade.

The committee in the Senate designed to look at the (un)Fair Elections Act – Bill C-23 – tried to come across as dramatically wanting to amend this bill….it came up with 9 proposed amendments that were unanimously agreed to. That got initial press coverage as saying the Conservative-dominated Senate was being independent and defying the Conservative government.  However, when one took a look at the minority report from the Independent/Liberal caucus that the Conservatives would not sign on to (such as continuing to allow vouching, allowing Elections Canada to encourage voter participation etc) and more importantly, when Pierre Poliviere came out and welcomed/praised the amendments, one immediately smelled a rat.

These amendments that were put forth are at best half-hearted measures trying to make it appear as if the government decided to listen, or at least the government Senators tried to listen to the criticism.. in reality, this was nothing more then trying to mute the criticism of the bill and give the government an attempt to say they listened. All they did was make a very odious bill only slightly less bad.

This is probably the extent to the amendments the government will permit. I expect no amendments at all to come out of the House Committee studying it – those Conservative MP’s are even more bleating sheep that do as they’re told (or actually dont want to change the bill, as they know it will potentially benefit them).

As with other legislation passed, it will be up to the Federal courts and ultimately the Supreme Court to overturn the worst of this legislation – or at least part of the legislation that directly violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms per voting – and that will be vouching.

Speaking of that, hope you had a happy Re-patriated Constitution Day today.. this was the day that the Canadian Constitution and the Charter was officially re-patriated by Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth today in 1982

 

 

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Help Save The Monarch Butterfly: Plant Some Milkweed

A once populous species threatened A slightly different post today on the weekend. I’ve always loved Monarch Butterflies. When I was a kid, we picked milkweed with monarch caterpillars on them, put them into an old fish tank aquarium, kept supplying them with fresh milkweed and then made sure we hung sticks or metal rods across the top so they had somewhere to climb to form their chrysalis.. and eventually hatch.

Nowadays though, Monarchs are increasingly threatened, partially due to deforestation in Mexico in their wintering grounds, partially due to bad weather, and maybe a lot to do with the face that Milkweed, specifically Common Milkweed, the prime source of food for the Monarchs, has been practically eradicated from farmer’s fields in North America, due to it being thought of as a noxious weed and thus destroyed with pesticide where found. Monarch populations have plumetted as a result, ad the species is threatened.

You now have a chance, in Ontario at least, to reverse that. Ontario has recently taken the Common Milkweed off of the noxious weeds list, in an effort to allow it to re-grow and help Monarch populations to recover. People are being encouraged to plant it again. You can see those efforts at Monarch Watch, wich gives summaries on the populations, as well as what you can do to restore milkweed in its natural habitat.

It is not just Common Milkweed that the Monarchs will use; other species of milkweed they will also use for eating and for nectar; two species that live around here are Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Weed; both have been seen in gardens in recent times, as they have more attractive flowers and are less easily spread then Common Milkweed.

At Monarch Watch, they list vendors where you can order Milkweed seeds from or “plugs”, which are the young plants. In Ontario, they list 2 Garden Centres/Natural Plant stores for buying the different varieties of milkweed: Wildflower Farm, located north of Toronto in the Newmarket area, and WildThings Plant Farm, which is near Clifford. The former allows you to order their different milkweed products online, the latter place you will need to either send send them a cheque with your return address, or telephone them
and use a credit card. Both of these places have Common and Swamp (called “Red” Milkweed at the former site) as well as Butterfly weed available.

If you have space in your gardens.. or you have some waste areas on your property (ditches etc) consider ordering some of these seeds/plants to get a plant population going and hopefully attract Monarchs to it.

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Conservative logic: Promoting high turnout/ensuring fair election is a conflict?

That’s what Conservative Senator Linda Frum seems to think: (for lack of a better term). Some twitter tweets give her position quite clearly:

“Elections Canada role is to administer fair elections. Not to motivate. Not to induce. More integrity when mission is clear cut.”

and this, as a reply to an incredulous Bruce Anderson wanting a followup to reading this:

“Elections Canada should not have a vested interest in recording a high voter turnout. That’s a conflict”

The ONLY way you get to that conclusion for Senator Frum, and I presume other Conservatives like Harper and Poilievre, who obviously feel the same way -otherwise they’d never have stuck this provision in this already odious bill – is if you presume higher turnout means there will be more voters coming out to the polls that are less likely to vote Conservative. Ergo, Elections Canada is in conflict! “E.C. promoting high turnout means they want us Conservatives to lose! Bias!”

If that’s the Conservative attitude, above and beyond trying to stack the deck for them the next election around, it’s no wonder C-23 is geared toward making Elections Canada an impotent organization. They’re paranoid at the organization, or they’re resentful they’re the ones getting caught at trying to sidestep the rules, therefore they want to ensure it can’t be done again. Revenge for being caught, as some Conservatives have mused.

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A victory for federalism and tolerance in Quebec..

…and 2 free dinners won from political bets for me from political colleagues (one on a majority, the 2nd on the number of seats won) All in all, a great night last night.

Postscript: My 1 won bet was with Jim Calder, blogger at the Progressive Right, and one of my helpers at Progressive Bloggers when we go on political convention road trips to help get pictures up at the site. I’m sure we’ll be turning this (as we did last October, when I soundly beat him on a Tim Hudak bet) into an informal blogger/political social media folks get together – likely in Toronto, and I’m leaning towards May. Watch for details here and at Progressive Bloggers and elsewhere I frequent the social media world.

Postscript 2: Nothing amused me more then seeing the PQ lose government and Pierre-Karl Peladeau win. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory.

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You are reading the blog of a potentially disenfranchised voter….

…if Bill C23 passes in it’s current form. I may be one of those Canadians (potentially 4 million of us, according to Canadian election law experts) who may not be allowed to vote, if Bill C23 passes in its current unaltered form. Why is that?: Well, I don’t have a Driver’s License (by choice), and my other government issued ID’s do not include my current address, and vouching (which I’ve never had to use before, I might add) is also going to be removed.

This “39 pieces of ID is more then reasonable” argument, that Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre an his Conservative Party members trots out all the time is, as Karl Nerenberg writes, at best, misleading.

Bill C-23, the Conservative Party’s version of US Republican vote suppression, must be amended or removed. If it is not, expect it to be swiftly constitutionally challenged in the courts (and, I believe, it will be struck down, hopefully before the next election occurs in Oct 2015)

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I have faith in Quebec voters….

… to recognize the dog-whistles coming out of the PQ for what they are.. and not allow wedge politics and narrow-mindedness to rule the day. The PQ has fallen into out and out panic mode, accusing the Liberal leader Couillard of more or less abandoning Quebecois, merely because he supports bilingualism.. and I don’t need to repeat the ridiculousness coming out of their various members over the Values Charter. A slight majority of francophone voters may support it, but I think they got scared off when the extreme separatist elements (see Pierre-Karl Peladeau – the head of Quebecor Media – better known as the owners of the rabid Sun Newspapers and Media) started yelling about referendums and sovereignty and so forth. When the PQ saw they were dropping in the polls, they desperately tried to go back to the other stuff, but I think they overplayed their hand.

I know the media somehow decided Couillard didn’t do very well in the 2nd debate, (notwithstanding the viewer poll rated him 2nd amongst viewers on how he did) and want to make this a racehorse, but I’m convinced he still has power and an even chance of a majority government in reach (and I’m saying that without putting any stock into the new Forum poll that came out today – you all know my opinion on Forum’s reliability).

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A Pool/Poll On Number Of “Fair Elections Act” amendments/changes

If you’ve followed the reaction to the “Fair Elections Act”, you’ll note there’s not a lot of support for this act as it stands. It’s getting rightly lambasted by newspaper editorials and columnists across this country, as well as academics and so forth.

That said, I’d be willing to bet the Conservatives aren’t going to do much, if anything, in the way of amendments/changes that have been suggested. They know exactly what this new act is going to do. It’s basically an attempt to tilt the playing field (or the voting field) towards them, (and also a way to try and neuter Elections Canada, who they dislike)

I’m going to say that the over/under on amendments/changes to this bill by Pierre Polievre (who once he was appointed to this Department, you automatically knew there was going to be election reform shenanigans) is going to be 3.. and I’m betting on the under.

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Good luck to Dan Fox running for TO City Council (Ward 24) in Willowdale.

I don’t often do links to municipal candidates, particularly City of Toronto ones, despite the amusing circus that occasionally provides, but I’m making an exception for Dan Fox, who is an active Liberal in federal politics, but has decided to go a different route and will try to get elected to TO City Council in Ward 24:

I think that the Toronto City Council has put sound bites and politics ahead of the need of the people of Toronto. Budget gimmicks have replaced building and maintaining a healthy city infrastructure. Photo opportunities have a higher priority than fiscal responsibility. Immediate gratification has replaced long-term vision and planning. It’s time to have an honest conversation about where we are, where we want to go and how we plan to get there. I want Willowdale to be a big part of that conversation.

Ward 24 is currently represented by Councillor David Shiner, notably the only Councillor who voted with the Ford brothers against the Council Motion to strip Mayor Ford of his powers, saying among other things “Mr. Ford has done a reasonable job”. That statement alone should get people to reconsider whether they should be voting for the incumbent.

I’m under no illusions that an endorsement from me garners many (if any) votes, but to any Liberals in that area who would like to help Dan out (as well as other people of progressive-minded politics – I think you’ll find Dan’s stances up your alley too.. or people just plain tired of Rob Ford allies on City Council), he’d welcome you, I’m sure. I wish him the best of luck.

Beside his campaign website, you can find Dan on Twitter – @TorontoDan – and on Facebook

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A neat site to track Liberal nominees in ridings across Canada: LiberalReboot.ca

LiberalReboot.ca is a pretty neat, fairly new site I was made aware of, and it’s very ambitious:

This website is intended to be a database for Liberals and Liberal supporters to find the aspiring candidates in their ridings, and for aspiring candidates to contact and work together in building this new chapter of the Liberal Party of Canada and, we hope, the next chapter of Canada itself.

You can pick out each province and find ridings and see if anyone has declared to be running for the nomination in that riding. You’ll note that there are lots of gaps in the number of ridings, particularly in provinces outside of Ontario or Quebec, mainly because it depends on folks writing in to inform the volunteers at the site who is running; I’ve no doubt a lot of Liberals out there arent aware of this site as of yet, so hopefully that will change, and I can help in that in some small way.

I had a chat with Farnell Morisset, the main administrator of the site, asking him some questions about who got the site going, and its aim, and so on, and this was his email reply to me.. (excerpted for length):

The LiberalReboot.ca website is run by volunteers of the Joël Lightbound nomination campaign in Louis-Hébert, Québec. The original idea really came about as a result of us finding it very hard to follow other candidates in other ridings since there was no centralized location from which to find them..by having a database like LiberalReboot.ca, it makes it easy for those interested to find and follow those candidates online…

..There were a small handful (maybe 4 or 5? It was a fluid process, it’s hard to know exactly) of us who put the site together and about that many who keep it up to date. We also rely on the input of Liberal nomination candidates and supporters across the country to fill in on the gaps in the database.

Its a great idea, though because of the limited number of volunteers, it may take some time to have the database updated (for example, Zach Paiken’s aborted nomination run hasn’t been reflected by taking him off the board in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas yet), but it will get done. I would add as a suggestion, that the one thing I’d like to see on the site is when there is a nominee that has won or been acclaimed in a riding, that this riding on there would be updated with that information).

I encourage those Liberal folks in Liberal ridings across the country to send in the information for who the nominees are in their particular riding. You can include a photo of the candidate, and any relevant social media info that connects the person to the campaign (i.e. their website, their facebook page, twitter and so on).

(And just as a plug, some former blogger/netroots nominees I know who are listed on that site: Jason Cherniak in Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, Danielle Takacs in Brant, James Morton in Thornhill, David Graham in Laurentides-Labelle).

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The only progressive in the TO Mayor race is Olivia Chow

Municipal politics are an interesting political arena. You have much more of a political ideological mix here, which you don’t necessarily have for the federal or provincial arenas. So it is for the Toronto Mayor race.

All the political candidates lean right-of-centre, with the exception of one candidate; that would be Olivia Chow, ex-NDP MP of Toronto’s Trinity-Spadina riding, and of course, the widow and wife of Jack Layton, former NDP leader. From where I sit, the choice for political progressives (which includes left of centre “liberal” Liberals) is obvious; Olivia Chow should be the choice of those voters; as there is no one else in this bunch that would exhibit any notion of progressive politics or policies.

What of John Tory – the so called “Red Tory”? I’ve never found him to be as progressive in his thinking or ideology as he or his supporters claim. His political strategy over the last few years has also been extremely questionable, and he’s never managed to win a political race he was in when it counted. Rob Ford, I don’t need to discuss what I think of him, and the rest (Stinz et. al.) were former supporters of Ford before his scandals.

So yes, this is one of the few times as a Liberal voter and LPC Party member I’ll endorse an NDP for office, but as I said, this is municipal politics, not federal or provincial. If there was a “liberal” alternative, I’d have looked there, but as there is not, I hope Chow will win this race and bring not only some dignity back to the Mayor’s Office (which shouldn’t be hard to do), but some progressive politics for the city’s policies.

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