Adam Vaughan, Scott Simms visit #Brant; charity walk response

Last week, Liberal MP’s were out and about in Southern Ontario prior to the re-opening of the last session of Parliament before the next election, and in Brantford-Brant, 2 MP’s dropped by to visit with voters on issues and to support Danielle Takacs, Brantford-Brant Liberal candidate.

The first MP to visit was Adam Vaughan, MP for Trinity-Spadina, and the Liberal Urban Affairs and Housing Critic. He along with Danielle held 2 roundtables on the affordable housing issue – one with area stakeholders in Brantford-Brant, and a second one on affordable housing for students with Wilfrid Laurier Brantford campus student representatives. You can read more about that visit in the Brant News. It was a visit designed to take input from the local area onthe unique challenges facing the area for affordable housing, and to give them a general overview of what plan the Liberals will put forth to address that issue – and you should see a general policy statement on this sooner or later, judging from the meetings and what Mr. Vaughan was saying. (I had the privilege to be there to listen/livetweet for both roundtables).

The 2nd visit in the week came from Scott Simms, the Liberal Critic for Democratic Reform who came to talk about the shortcomings of the Fair Elections Act (and also to induct people as honourary Newfoundlanders). He also talked a little bit about his private members bill designed to take the GST off of funeral costs. He toured around Brant county, visiting Paris, Burford and Brantford and had his ceremony at the village of St. George. So, it was a busy and productive week for Danielle with the visiting dignitaries.

On another slightly related note to politics, you might remember my last blogpost asking people to consider donating to our little team of Liberals organized by Danielle who are participating in a charity walk (called Coldest Night Of The Year) to help raise funds for local organizations that fight homelessness and youth poverty. I am pleased to report the Team fundraising is going spectacularly well. We have raised nearly 2/3 of our team fundraising goal (we’re called “Red Warmth”) and my own personal fundraising goal has been met 350%+, so fantastic stuff, and the walk is still to be held on Feb 21, so there’s plenty of time to reach the team goal of 3000$.

I encourage you to donate to either the Team in general or to one of us individuals to help us reach that goal; because for people who are homeless/struggling with poverty – it’s cold out there


Charity event – Coldest Night Of The Year. Please sponsor if able.

Hi folks:

I wanted to mention that one of the things my friend and candidate in Brantford-Brant Danielle Takacs believes in strongly is that Liberals should give something back to their local community, and one of the ways of doing this is by participating in charitable causes. As an example, Danielle helped organize a team of local Brantford-Brant Liberals to participate this past Dec 22 in delivering Christmas Baskets around Brantford to those less fortunate, to help them have a better Christmas.

There is another charitable event coming up in Brantford-Brant, and I was hoping you folks might help out a bit. We’re starting to form a team of local Liberals to participate in a walk to help raise money for the homeless and hungry in Brantford (part of a national campaign on Feb 21). We’re trying to “walk the walk” so to speak. (I’ll be in the 10 km walk).

If you have this event in your own community on Feb 21, I encourage you to consider forming a team of your own and participating and/or donating to them! Regardless, if you would like to help sponsor either our just started team in general (Danielle named our team “Red Warmth” – an appropriate name I think) please feel free to help us help the homeless in Brantford out by going to our team page and sponsoring either the team in general or by clicking on one of our individual members to help us reach our target goal. I’ll mention that a minimum of 20$ donation is required to be issued a receipt (and if you donate online, they will send you an e-receipt almost instantaneously).

(Note, here is the Coldest Night Of The Year’s main page if you want to read more about them and to see where they are holding the walks across Canada)


Fundraising stuff

A story in the Globe by Adam Radwanski today is interesting for what it says about oppposition parties and their attempts to get their local riding associations up to snuff when it comes to the all important money battle:

Officials….are privately worrying that many of their riding associations will suffer a cash disadvantage both leading up to the campaign and during it. “It’s a huge issue,” a Liberal official said, speaking on a background basis. “We spent a fair amount of last year internally sounding the alarm bells on this.” …The scale of the Conservatives’ current advantage is difficult to gauge, because riding associations’ 2014 financial returns will not be available until later this year. But a Globe and Mail review of the previous year’s returns found that, as of the end of 2013, Conservative riding associations cumulatively had more than $15-million in net assets, while the Liberals had under $8-million and the NDP less than $4-million. As of the last filings, the Conservatives were continuing to widen the gap, topping the Liberals by nearly $1-million and the New Democrats by more than $2-million in local fundraising in 2013. And there appears a good chance they continued to pad their advantage in 2014

So money is both important nationally for federal parties during the election campaign, but also at the local riding level.

That in mind, I’m using that point as a segue to ask my Liberal supporters/member reading crew to consider donating to my friend Danielle Takacs campaign. It happens to be her birthday today (the 13th). If you would be interested in sending her a little birthday love and supporting her run at federal politics, you could donate a special gift of either $5 or $10 to the Brantford-Brant Federal Liberal campaign. She would appreciate it a lot. It may only cost you $1.25 after tax receipts are given. (The lager the donation, the greater the tax receipt given back, obviously).

The yearly political donation allowance is now increased to 1500$ (it was 1200$ last year) so there’s extra to give to a good candidate even if she’s not in your riding! 5 or even 10$ is such a small amount to show your support!

After you donate to her, I encourage Liberals to donate to your own local riding as well!


Harper’s supposed “strong leadership”

The tragedies in Paris this week were horrific, and rightly condemned by all those on the political spectrum in Canada. However, an unfortunate by-product of that which I’ve noticed is a lot of known Conservative supporters going to social media (Twitter in particular) and posting videos of Prime Minister Harper expressing their gratefulness at living under a “strong leader” and Harper showing “strong leadership” with his condemnations of the Paris terrorist acts – implying that the NDP or Liberals would not be showing the same “strong leadership” in this case. (They’re all using the exact same phrases and words too – curious that..almost if they were sent a directive.. they wouldn’t be political astro-turfing, would they? Not this lot! Surely!)

Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau released equally “strong” statements on the Paris terrorism; do my Conservative colleagues feel they weren’t being sincere in their condemnations?

Harper is no stronger a leader then anyone else; he said what every other leader said on these dreadful days. Make no mistake though; there is a pattern to this from the Conservatives and their supporters. We all saw the same thing happen after 9/11 in the ’02 and ’04 elections in the US. After a period of unanimity, Republicans turned the terror acts and used it as a cudgel and weapons against Democrats – accusing them of not being “strong” or implying disloyalty if they did not approve of certain acts.. and we are seeing the same pattern here in Canada.. or an attempt to by the Conservative government, and Harper, and their supporters. It is my hope that Canadians will not bow to fear and not let themselves get sucked into believing this, and that will be the job of those who oppose Harper to articulate that.

It will be our job as folks opposed to Harper and the parties we support, to point out that Harper has been a “failed leader” on other issues. For example (and I can give several, but I’ll give a couple only, to save this from being a thesis, rather then a simple blogpost) he has failed to take leadership on climate change badly; both in how he has refused to set hard climate change targets and withdrawing from international agreements… and this has affected other aspects of his foreign policy. Whatever you think of Keystone (and I know the official Liberal Party policy is to support it, though a great deal of us have reservations on that), he has managed to bungle that so badly in how he dealt with President Obama, both in no effective climate change policy, and his attempts of selling Keystone (“a no-brainer”! remember that quote to a US audience?), that it will be in large measure his own fault if President Obama decided not to let it proceed.

He has certainly failed our Veterans, for which all of his stomping on his chest how he supports the troops, he has certainly failed to show that when they come home wounded, either physically or emotionally, that he supports them. Belatedly firing an inept Minister like Joe Fantino and replacing him with another parrot does nothing if the official government attitude and policy stays the same.

When Harper and his Conservatives try to wrap themselves in patriotism and the Canadian flag on “strong leadership” on terrorism, it will be our job to point these other failings out.. and there is nothing “unpatriotic” about that.


Ontario Politics Chatter: The Beer Store Monopoly, eyes on Sudbury.

I haven’t talked a lot about Ontario Politics much of late, but for my first post of the New Year, a few things have caught my eye I wished to comment on.

First, the Beer Store and its attempt to bring local craft beer dealers onboard is being viewed by some as a too-little too-late gamble in a desperate attempt to hold off competition to its monopoly. This series of paragraphs in a Toronto Star op-ed from Martin Regg Cohn is significant for me:

As more Ontarians realize that The Beer Store isn’t what they thought it was — not a creaky government-owned monopoly, but a globalized cartel — the big brewers are increasingly desperate to salvage their sweetheart deal in a captive market unlike any other. The sudden damage control is motivated by fears of consumer rebellion and a looming government clampdown… Historically, private competition has been restricted and even the LCBO constrained (under a secret 2000 deal revealed by the Star last month, the LCBO cannot sell discounted beer in higher volumes such as 12-packs or two-fours)…The Beer Store is controlled by Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., a subsidiary of AB InBev of Belgium; Molson Coors Canada, controlled by Molson Coors Brewing Co. (incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Colorado, with corporate offices in Montreal); and Japanese-owned Sleeman.

To be clear, I don’t support abolishing the LCBO; I believe there is still a value for it and being in public hands, but I don’t like foreign multinational beer companies with billions of dollars using a monopoly to quash choice and not promote other beer makers besides their own, so I’ve come around to thinking the Ontario Liberals under Kathleen Wynne should at minimum impose a “franchise fee” as they’re poised to do, but she should consider further more radical reforms as well.

Secondly, the Sudbury by-election is poised to take place Feb 5, where ex-federal NDP’er now Provincial Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault is running for the OLP, in a highly controversial move where Premier Wynne pushed aside “Andrew Olivier, a quadriplegic who came within 1,000 votes of winning the riding for the Liberals in the provincial election last June”, and who wished to run again for the OLP. He now has decided to run as an independent, and he may have a fair bit of potential Liberal voter support. I dont like agreeing with a righty op-ed like Kelly Mcparland too often, but in their eagerness to get a high profile candidate in Thibeault, the OLP and Wynne may indeed end up being too clever by half.

Will Olivier win? Maybe not.. but enough anger may exist that regardless who the NDP candidate is, the election may go to them via vote split. Time will tell.


Need some New Year Resolutions?

This might apply more to Christmas, but I think if you want a New Year’s Resolution, this would work too:

Why not give some of yourself away?

– Give an hour of time to someone who needs you
– Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down
– Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family
– Give some time to someone who is lonely
– Give a meal to someone who is sick
– Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss
– Give a second chance to the fallen
– Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is often overlooked
– Give a gentle response to the frustrated

A Happy 2015 to you from me.


A Christmas charitable act by Liberals in Brantford-Brant – but charity will never be enough

Brian - Patricia Christmas BoxesOn December 22, I was up in Brantford helping Liberal Party candidate and friend Danielle Takacs and several fellow supporters (9 all together) join many other volunteers collecting Christmas Baskets and pass them out to those less fortunate in the city of Brantford. By less fortunate, I don’t even mean those who were unemployed, though some were those. There were some we delivered to who indeed were working, but who wouldn’t have enough money to spend on extra things – we would call these “the working poor”, and I noted there were also some seniors we passed these along to. The baskets basically were a food care package that had either a turkey or a ham in it, plus other food essentials (a bag of apples, etc).

Overall, I think between the 9 of us who were representing the Brantford-Brant Liberals, we delivered 50 boxes or so between us (so to 50 people/families in need).

As an editorial, it felt good to help these folks, and I was pleased to see so many volunteers come by to help drop these off, but it was also pretty sobering the amount of boxes that were being delivered to people. I dont think I’d be exaggerating when I say several hundred people/families or more were getting these. It shows there are still a lot of people struggling out there – even some of those who are working find it hard to get by.

Another editorial: this exercise, while laudable, shows IMO why you cannot just depend on churches or organizations alone to help the needy or to help with charity. Government must be involved and our social safety net must be as strong as possible with few cracks as possible.

Anyhow, it was nice to make Christmas a little brighter for these folks.  As you can see at the top,  I’ve put up a picture here of some of our volunteers delivering food; the rest you can find at Danielle’s campaign page at Facebook, and eventually at her website in the photo section on the web, as I know a photo section is slowly being added there.


Update to this: It appears over 800 baskets were delivered in Brantford, and 2,225 Christmas Baskets for Brantford, the County of Brant and Six Nations 


Getting into the Christmas Spirit…

…here at the Diatribes..  Nice little theme for Christmas week, don’t you think? ;)


(OK.. I liked it for a day… but it limits my ability to do certain things without modifying the theme.. so gone after a day :) )




Pre-emptive pre-writ Liberal strike – radio style.

This got released yesterday on the radio. A nice little ad on the radio explaining why the Liberal Party is opposed to income splitting. Personally, I’m pleased to see we’re starting to fight fire with fire vis-a-vis the pre-writ campaign ads that the Conservatives have mastered in their attacking Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff (and not so successfully so far on Justin Trudeau. This ad, however, is based on policy, not personal attacks.

Take a listen

UPDATE: The Liberals have also released an ad on the radio today about Veteran Affairs – an issue that has been very prominent of late.


Internal CPC polling on Veterans Affairs issues must be terrible.

If the Conservative government – led by Harper in Question Period no less – has now decided they’re going to try to blame the Liberals for the current mess in Veteran Affairs (led by their mess of a minister Fantino),  polling and reaction to their current shabby treatment of Veterans must be pretty bad.

Their argument gets a tad undercut however when they’ve  had 10 years to fix any shortcomings (which Harper and party supported in 2005 and enthusiastically implemented in 2006), and are now in court trying to defend it against angry Veterans (and trying to use the argument the “moral obligation” to help returning vets was just political rhetoric).

There is other stuff going on in Veteran Affairs right now that can’t be blamed on the Liberal government from over a decade ago – such as cuts to the Department and over-worked caseloads for the remaining staff – that the Conservatives can’t deflect.. which is why they’ve been suddenly announcing “new hirings” in the department.

The Christmas break comes at a very convenient time for them.. this issue has dominated the airwaves for a couple of weeks now. Perhaps Harper will use the holidays to reflect that keeping Fantino on as Veteran Affairs minister is a bad idea, because this issue is not going to go away because of a 6 week holiday break.

In reality though, it won’t matter who Harper puts in there as Veterans Affairs minister as long as the Conservative government – and Harper – have a change of policy and a change of heart over how they treat Veterans oce they get home. Saying how much you support the troops rings hollow when you walk away from them, or worse, fight them in court over their benefits.

UPDATE: And we get more.

Tories warned of flawed Veterans Affairs caseload 2 years ago

As someone on Twitter said, that must be the Liberals fault too.

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