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Is Julian Fantino (Minister of Veteran Affairs) the worst Cabinet Minister in the Harper Conservative government right now? That’s saying something in this government, but some folks are now openly asking if he should be replaced.  His department faced a withering Auditor-General report on the inefficiencies of the Department is getting aid and help to Veterans, but he was conveniently out of the country so he didn’t have to face the music.

The answer is yes, though I’m not exactly sure anyone who would replace Fantino would do much better. As always with the Harper government, unless public opinion polls (or private ones) show that their disregard for Veterans is being noticed by the public and could potentially hurt them in the polls, they’ll do nothing but try to shrug off the criticism. That said, perhaps the belated and rather quickly announced funding programs over the weekend and on Monday – seemingly in response to the story that the Veteran Affairs Department returned 1.13 billion $ of unspent money allocated to it back to the government rather then spend it on something to help Veterans –  is a sign that they’re getting some flak over it.

Long may that flak continue. This government has been loudly proclaiming for years  how its been the only party that supports the troops, but that seems to end when the troops come back from their missions (and don’t forget the old Veterans from World War 2 and the Korean War who are still with us).  These veterans deserve better!

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Blog interview with Howard Rabb – LPC nomination contestant, Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas

Another in my series of blog interviews I’ve done with LPC candidates, nomination candidates – today I am pleased to have done an interview with Howard Rabb, one of the Liberal nomination contestants in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. That nomination meeting is coming up in a couple of days (Nov 25 I believe) so I thank Howard for taking the time away from preparing for that to answer these questions!

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For those who haven’t visited your website yet, can you tell our readers why you’ve decided to run for the nomination?

I have been unhappy with the direction our country has been heading in for the past few years.  I made the decision that I would stand up and try and do something about it rather than simply complaining.  I believe that government can be a positive force in people’s lives and I want to be a part of that change.

If a Justin Trudeau government is elected (regardless of majority or minority),  are there any issues that you’d like to champion in that government if you were elected as an MP?

Continue reading Blog interview with Howard Rabb – LPC nomination contestant, Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas

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Despite the end result, a good night in Whitby-Oshawa

IMG_0392I’ve sufficiently recovered from lack of sleep Monday night to comment on the byelections Monday evening and specifically the Oshawa-Whitby byelection, where LPC candidate  Celina Caesar-Chanvannes came up just a bit short in her efforts to win the seat.  Still, it should be considered a good night for Liberals.  Their vote total jumped from 14% in 2011 against Jim Flaherty to 41% – a 3x increase in votes (in the Yellowhead Alberta riding, they went from 3% to 20%). If we get a uniform increase of those types of numbers in targeted and priority ridings in 2015, combined with a collapse in NDP vote, which has a couple of pundits saying the NDP and Mulcair are in trouble, the LPC will be doing well as a party for winning seats and power, I daresay.

As for Whitby-Oshawa, considering we had a first time political candidate in Celina against the former mayor of Whitby, this is a great achievement. It will set up Celina well for name recognition in the riding if she chooses to return as a candidate in 2015. I got to briefly chat with her at the after-election party at her HQ, and while she was a bit emotionally drained, it sounded like to me she would return – and that’s good news for the LPC in this riding.

I’ll just say on a personal note, I was up there not only to observe and blog about it, but I got put to work as well helping to canvass potential Liberal voters and also scrutineer 1 of the polling stations poll booth counts.  It was interesting to see how that operation is run.  The one thing I am a bit discouraged about (tho I suppose I should have expected this) was the very low disappointing turnout – only 32% of eligible voters bothered to show up at the polls to vote. I judged the Liberal ground game to be very good here – both a couple of weeks ago when they were canvassing and on the day of the by-election trying to pull the Liberal vote. I really don’t know if the LPC ground game could be any better – if people can’t be bothered to vote, there’s not much more they could have done (it will however give them an idea for this riding in 2015 who voted and who didn’t and what polls in the riding they need to improve their vote totals)

I’ll also say  it was a good lesson  to see how a ground game on the day of an election works.  I was up there again with Danielle Takacs and some other folks from Brantford-Brant, and I think everyone got a good eyeful as to how things operate.

I’ve included some photos from the night. You’ll see among others Celina, Dr Kirsty Duncan, the MC for the night and MP from Etobicoke-North, Justin Trudeau, several LPC candidates, (including Danielle, Jennifer Stebbing for Flamborough-Glanbrook and Salma Zahid, candidate for Scarborough-Centre), and yours truly.

Continue reading Despite the end result, a good night in Whitby-Oshawa

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I support turning Remembrance Day into a national statutory holiday

Canada’s Parliapoppyment has a private member’s bill going through Parliament right now that has government support into turning Remembrance Day into a national statutory holiday. It has a good chance of passing. For added pressure to do this, there is a petition going around on change.org to be sent to the Canadian government showing support for this measure. As of this blogpost at this time , there were 54 000 + Candians who had signed/supported this.  You can add me to the list.

I know there will be arguments about how kids will just take the day off and not go to services, but bluntly, that is what parents are for.  My view is: you’ll still get the crowds you normally get on Remembrance Day anyhow,  so the crowds won’t go down –  they can only go up. Besides.. if you close everything down, like on Christmas and so on, people wont be able to go out and shop.. maybe more Canadians will tune in the services on TV even if they don’t go out to the local Cenotaph, so I don’t see the downside there.

I can’t think of a better and more appropriate holiday to add to the calendar as a statutory holiday – one  where religion or creed doesn’t matter.

 

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Canvassing in Whitby-Oshawa with Celina Caesar-Chavannes

IMG_0363This past Saturday, I had the privilege to be part of a small group to travel to Whitby-Oshawa and visit Celina Caesar-Chavannes campaign office (there was a bit of pre-travel angst on how I was getting there, but it worked out, thanks to a couple of understanding people).  Celina is the Liberal candidate in the Oshawa-Whitby byelection that is being held on next Monday, November 17, that was called with the untimely passing of Jim Flaherty, former Finance Minister.

I was there with Danielle Takacs, my friend and of course the Liberal candidate in Brantford-Brant, as well as one other volunteer (Brian, pictured here with Celina, who I thank for letting me catch a ride with him). The purpose of our trip was to essentially observe how Celina’s campaign office was organizing and running things,  and also to get some knowledge on the campaign canvassing tools they are using here, which will be fine-tuned for every riding when the general election is called next year.  I’m not obviously going to be specifically saying what the Liberals are using for easier canvassing tools, but I’ll say that our small team was able to actually go out and test it first hand as we were assigned a section of streets to canvass for Celina.  It was a good opportunity for everyone – myself and our other volunteer to get the hang of what was being used, and for Danielle to do some talking to people at the door, which she is doing in her own riding and will be doing a lot more of.

My judgement on it after the canvassing was done is that the tools being used are  very convenient and fairly easy to operate once you get used to it. It also helps to have some good people to easily explain how to access it/use it, and we did in the person of Brandon Sage, the newly acclaimed VP of Organization at LPC (Ontario). His approach was not to get into the theory behind their tools, but to just give visuals on what you needed to do to access it and what to click/slide/press to do it correctly.. and I liked that approach.

As for the by-election itself, Celina is still going to be the underdog here to win in a riding that gave Jim Flaherty 60%+ in 2011, but in our limited canvass, we found a lot of people who were undecided yet as to how to vote (I  heard a couple of other canvass teams saying they had heard the same things at doors), and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Celina’s chances.  I also believe if she doesn’t win but gives a credible showing, it will set her up well in the riding for the 2015 general election, but as with all byelections, “get out the vote” will be very crucial here.

I will say this as well; if Celina doesn’t pull it out next Monday, it won’t be due to poor organization or lack of enthusiasm there, as both were excellent as far as I could see (and it’s likely I will be going back with Danielle along with some others to observe how they run things on e-day, again for observation/tips  as well as to help where we can)

Below the fold are some pictures I and a couple of others took while there, including a nice group shot of myself with Danielle and Celina. My thanks to their team for their hospitality and their help, and to Danielle for inviting me along to observe and participate.

Continue reading Canvassing in Whitby-Oshawa with Celina Caesar-Chavannes

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Interview with LPC nomination contestant Joy Davies – South Surrey-White Rock

Here is another in a series of interviews that Liberal candidates or nomination contestants have done with me; this time it is with Joy Davies, a Liberal nomination contestant in the BC riding of South Surrey-White Rock. I thank her for participating and giving Liberals out there and nationally her views on the questions I submitted to her

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For those who don’t know you/haven’t visited your website yet, can you tell our readers why you’ve decided to run for the nomination?

 In April 2014 one of my riding association’s Directors at Large asked if I would consider putting my hat in the ring to become the Candidate.  I spoke with my family who were thrilled with the idea.  They have always supported my political choices. It didn’t take me long to respond as I was aware of our Open Nomination process. Justin Trudeau was reaching throughout Canada to encourage Canadians to stand up and serve their country.  Justin’s leadership is the main reason I decided to submit my nomination papers. I love his style, his openness and his compassion. He is the best person to lead the Liberal Party into government in 2015. Inspiring & principled, he IS grounded, he lives our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he “gets it.” He understands what is wrong in our country and he is putting together the strongest team so we can create solutions to the overwhelming number of problems that the Harper Conservative Government has dropped on tens of millions Canadians. As I considered and reflected, I knew that Justin needs me to be part of this team—that he needs my political and community experience, my creativity, my passion, my perseverance, and my commitment to Canada. At the moment I made the decision to step up I understood the reasons for the numerous political trials and tribulations that I have lived.  They were my building blocks to better serve Canada.

 If a Justin Trudeau government is elected (regardless of majority or minority). Are there any issues that you’d like to champion in that government if you were elected as an MP?

Continue reading Interview with LPC nomination contestant Joy Davies – South Surrey-White Rock

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How to explain using “Ranked” Ballot to Nomination Meetings (or voters in general)

Yesterday, I was discussing in a Facebook Liberal thread Anita Vandenbeld’s win as the next candidate to represent the LPC in Ottawa-Nepean, and the fact that of 635 votes cast, there were 64 “spoiled ballots” – a rather high number (10%) for a nomination meeting, particularly with 3 high-profile candidates running in it.

The issue came up of whether the fact that the Ranked Ballot was being used here because of multiple candidates confused some people. I don’t know if that was the case or not (I’ve heard that most of the 10% were “exhausted” ballots – that is, people for the 3rd place finisher did not mark down or indicate a 2nd choice, which is their right), but others have told me that at some of these nomination meetings involving 3 or more nomination candidates, the LPC representatives don’t always do a very good job explaining how you vote in an election or nomination process using a “ranked ballot”

Since I’m a supporter of Ranked Ballot (or Preferential Ballot, or IRV, or whatever you prefer to call it) I will now do a public service and explain how, if I was an LPC spokesperson at a nomination meeting, would explain to people how to vote on a ranked ballot. I’ll even give a couple of variations: I’ll quote one of my candidate friends who had similar complaints about the explanation process:

“Put a ‘1’ next to your first choice; put a ‘2’ next to your second choice, and put a ‘3’ next to your third choice. If you don’t have a third or second choice, you don’t need to mark them.”

Or as I put it to someone, rank the people in order of preference of choice on your ballot (1,2,3 etc) but if you only have 1 preferred candidate, you’re not obligated to rank or choose more.

THat seems easy-peasy to me. We don’t need to make the explanation so complex a rocket-scientist needs to decipher it. Again, I don’t know if that was what occurred in Ottawa-Nepean, but the suggestion of it and the fact I’ve heard it before made me want to do this post.

(Oh, and congrats to Anita Vandenbeld in Ottawa-Nepean yesterday ;) I expect her old nomination site to be redirected to a Liberal microsite shortly)

UPDATE: Someone just mentioned to me it might be worthwhile for me to add that ranking someone second or third will never, hurt your first choice when compared to just ranking someone first. I suppose the opposite side of the coin to that is if you dislike the other folks so much you’d rather not support anyone other then your 1st choice, that’s your right.

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Interview with Cathy MacLellan, Liberal Nomination Contestant for Waterloo

One of the advantages of going to a LPC(O) Conference is you sometimes unexpectedly meet candidates or nomination contestants. That was the case this past weekend in London when through an acquaintance, I met Cathy MacLellan, who is a nomination contestant in the riding of Waterloo, a new riding created by Elections Canada due to electoral redistribution. She was aware of my blog and past interviews it seems, so I asked if she’d like to participate in one. to which she agreed to. This is a riding that is being vigourously contested by several Liberal candidates or would-be candidatures, so it will be an interesting race to watch. I thank Cathy for taking the time to answer these.

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For those who haven’t visited your website yet, can you tell our readers why you’ve decided to run for the nomination?

a) Justin Trudeau called for “Open Nominations” which meant I could apply to be a nomination contestant.

b) I was invited to run by local Liberal members. Given that this riding has swung back and forth between Conservative and Liberal for many decades, odds are that with the right candidate and the right Liberal leader, we progressives could win the riding back. I am rallying citizens from all of the Parties who are fed up with Harper and his damaging policies, to support my nomination. So, I believe if I can win the nomination, I will win the riding and be a progressive voice in Ottawa.

c) Since the 2011 election it is very clear that the Harper government is damaging this country so badly, in so many ways, that I felt compelled to use my political experience, history, gifts and talents to unseat the incumbent Conservative MP.

If a Justin Trudeau government is elected (regardless of majority or minority), are there any issues that you’d like to champion in that government if you were elected as an MP?

Continue reading Interview with Cathy MacLellan, Liberal Nomination Contestant for Waterloo

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Ottawa attack, Municipal Election Day, LPCO weekend

That title pretty well sums up my post today. In order of title:

I’ve waited for a few days before deciding to comment on the Ottawa attack where a shooter killed an unarmed Canadian solider and then stormed Parliament, wounding a security officer before he himself was killed by the Seargant-At-Arms, Kevin Vickers (whose 2 minute standing ovation in Parliament still gets my throat in a lump – someone needs to sponsor the “Kevin Vickers gets free drinks in bars for the rest of his life” act). Obviously, this was a heinous act, and I think Parliament needs to strengthen its security, but while the government and RCMP are labeling this a terrorist act, and the RCMP says it has a video of the attacker sounding lucid and condemning Canada’s foreign policy and so on.. there are still questions about this shooters mental health (as there is about the assailant who ran down another Canadian soldier 2 days before). as well as whether these were just “lone wolf attacks” by disturbed individuals rather then coordinated ISIS attacks. The point is, I hope the current government doesn’t go into overreach over trying to get CSIS new security or monitoring powers. I do not want to see a Canadian version of the Patriot Act up here.

Next – the municipal elections. I will briefly say that there are races in Toronto, London and Hamilton I am keeping my eyes on, and I’ve already wished those folks I know on Facebook who are running in those elections good luck, and thanking them for their public service (and I hope the turnout rate at least goes up this time).

Lastly, this weekend, I attended a Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) Southwest Ontario Regional Day event. The theme for the meeting was “Building capacity in your riding association to win the next election”. There was a lot of discussion and presentations going on and well presented by LPCO staff and representatives, including the LPCO President Tyler Banham on some of his reform proposals for LPCO (which he has discussed elsewhere, including in his interview with me while he was running for the president’s position a few months back)

Of special interest to me were the presentations by two of our Liberal candidates in the Southwest: Katie Omstead, the Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, had for her topic “Engaging Rural Voters”. It basically was a run-down of the strategies she used to attract supporters in her riding to help her win her nomination, and hopefully that will aid her in her general election campaign in 2015. She felt other Liberal candidates in rural ridings could also use these tactics to her advantage. The second was by my friend Danielle Takacs, who if you’ve read me enough you know I am supporting, and who is running in Brantford-Brant. Her discussion was on the importance of community outreach/community involvement for candidates, which hit on a lot of the same points she had when she presented to the Women in Politics Brantford Conference a few weeks back (though slightly different audience here, so slightly modified for this event).
I am rather biased obviously when I say I think she had a great speech, but others felt that way too, as the delegates/attendees gave her several rounds of applause for both her presentation and her responses in the follow-up Q&A, and a few people congratulating her and wishing her well after she was done. It’s always polite to applaud at the end of a presentation of one of these at this type of event, but when you get spontaneous applause/congratulations, you know a person has done well, and she got both.

(The other thing I learned at this meeting from attending? Brantford-Brant campaign meetings will need to have chai tea for hot drinks and dark chocolate chip/macadamia cookies for snacks in abundance. ;) )

I’ll add it was nice to talk to/meet a few people who read me online, and its nice to hear good things about the blog and what I write here too.

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Blog interview with LPC contestant Mary Pynenburg – Vancouver Kingsway

I’ve had a brief sojourn from the blog as I’ve been dealing with personal matters, as well as the fact I’ve not had some of my folks who agreed to do interviews get back to me, but finally we have one today, and it comes from Mary Pynenburg, Liberal nomination contestant for the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway. Mary is the current President of the National Women’s Liberal Commission. I’d like to thank her for her participation in this interview.
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For those who don’t know, can you tell us why you decided to run for the nomination?

I am trained as an architect and urban planner and as Canada is 80% urbanized, it concerns me that there are no architects or planners in parliament. I believe that I can contribute to the solutions we need for urban challenges such as ageing infrastructure, public transit and affordable housing.

If a Justin Trudeau government is elected, and you are elected as MP, are there any specific issues you’d like to champion in that government as an MP?

Continue reading Blog interview with LPC contestant Mary Pynenburg – Vancouver Kingsway

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