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5 Q’s Interview with Haley Brown, Liberal #LPC candidate for Calgary-Midnapore

haley-brown11_17082015_113602I’ve not done one of these interviews in awhile, but an opportunity came up to send some questions to Haley Brown, the LPC candidate  who is running against Jason Kenney in the riding of Calgary-Midnapore. If there was ever a Cabinet Minister I’d like to see toppled, Mr. Kenney is at the top of the list.   I thank Haley for taking the time to answer the questions, and good luck to her and her campaign!

 

 

What made you decide you wanted to run to be the official candidate for the Liberals in your riding of Calgary-Midnapore?

I have always been involved in politics by staying informed, voting, and volunteering in campaigns. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the G8 Summit held in Kananaskis when Jean Chretien was our Prime Minister. I strongly believe it is important to have your voice heard and over the past decade have seen our democracy erode under the Harper regime.  Canada is better than this. We used to be a progressive leader on the international stage with a strong government, policy and economy.  This is no longer with the Conservatives who are divisive, protecting and promoting their own interests over Canada’s. Canada deserves a government that is fiscally responsible and socially progressive. The Liberal platform offers exactly that.

If a Justin Trudeau is elected (regardless of majority or minority), what do you feel would be key pressing issues a Justin Trudeau government should immediately act on within the first session of Parliament?

Canada’s economy has to be at the forefront of the first session of Parliament. It is clear that the Conservative “status quo” hasn’t worked for Canada with 9 consecutive deficits.  A balance needs to be achieved with our economy and environment; the Liberals are the only party to offer this where there is a focus on diversified economic solutions that work for everyone. Other parties favour the extremes which will not keep Canada competitive in the long term.

There is a saying that “all politics is local”. At present, do you feel there are there any local issues in Calgary-Midnapore that may come into play during the election campaign, or is it going to be based on national issues only?

Alberta is often overlooked and taken for granted by the Conservatives in Ottawa, many of whom no longer even live here or spend any time in the communities they represent, creating a total disconnect. I believe Alberta has a unique place in Canada and as a Member of Parliament I will be a strong voice for Calgary Midnapore and for Alberta.  We need to develop our resources responsibly, while encouraging innovation. Alberta and Canada can be a leader on this front as we have the entrepreneurship, intelligence, and quality of work.

Related to that, there are some who say once an MP is elected, the constituency’s wishes or concerns sometimes get ignored. Is there anything specific you would do to keep in touch with the riding, and related to that how do you feel you can best represent the riding in Ottawa?

That is exactly what has happened to Calgary Midnapore, whose main predecessor riding (Calgary South East) had been represented by Jason Kenney for over a decade. When I go door to door, many of the people who live in the riding don’t even know he’s their Member of Parliament and have certainly never seen him. He’s from Ontario, and only comes around during Stampede for a photo opportunity. As a Member of Parliament I will be the exact opposite and believe it starts with the community. I am an avid volunteer and will truly be a part of the community and live in the riding. You can only be a true representative if you are involved in the riding that has elected you as their voice.

What do you feel are or have been the Conservatives and the Harper government’s chief weaknesses as they’ve been in government (either recently or over all – something you feel will be a big theme for you to mention in the election campaign)?

Disconnect and self-interest.  Those words encompass what Mr. Harper and the Conservatives are and how they have governed.  They are an opaque government who only works with others who align with their sole ideals. This is not good policy or good government and this does not put Canada’s interests first.  Even this election campaign, the longest one in modern Canadian history, is solely to benefit the Cons and preserve their jobs. It also forces the Canadian tax payer to foot a much greater bill at the end.  With a Liberal government we can get Canada back to a place where Canadian values are embraced, where evidence based policy is supported, where there is a strategic vision for growth, and where innovation and real change can take place.

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Election 42 kicks off. Nanos poll, Trudeau start bolsters LPC. Danielle Takacs shows why I support her.

The 42nd General Election writ was dropped yesterday, causing the 11 week campaign to officially begin.

It was interesting watching Harper try to pull off an Orwellian type response to why such a long campaign, claiming that it would somehow save money for the taxpayers – while it’s generally known that this extra long campaign will cost taxpayers an extra $125 million dollars.  Also, ISIS, ISIS and more ISIS. We’re apparently supposed to be scared into voting for the CPC again.  Also, the economy isn’t doing that great, we’re still going to run a deficit this year,  according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, and we’re in a technical recession, but anyone else would do worse. The Conservative campaign in a nutshell, apparently.

While Harper was doing what was rather predictable, NDP leader  Thomas Mulcair did something rather unexpected; he gave a statement but took no questions, and then got burned the rest of the day for it. It made him look like he and his team felt he was the front-runner, so they weren’t going to do anything to screw things up. Instead, he ended up looking like Harper in avoiding unscripted moments – and even Harper took 5 questions yesterday. Not a good start for someone claiming to be Prime Minister in waiting.

As for the Liberals, Justin took some initial heat from some pundits for not immediately being available to response to the writ drop – apparently many Canadians were up on Sunday morning waiting to hear from him- but his performance at the Vancouver PRIDE parade plus his news conference, where he said that unlike other party leaders, he’d take as many questions as they had, and saying he promised to be at Vancouver PRIDE, and Harper wasn’t going to make him break it (as well as saying getting out of the Ottawa Bubble is good) went over very well. A lot of media commentary online and on TV declared Justin Trudeau the winner of Day 1.

The Liberals were also bolstered by a new Nanos poll yesterday showing them in a 3 way race within the Margin Of Error and gaining on the other 2 parties:

The latest ballot tracking from Nanos Research shows a razor-thin margin of voter preference support separating the first-place Conservatives from the NDP and Liberals, in a survey that asked respondents which two parties they would consider voting for in their local riding. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives led the survey results with 31.5 per cent support overall, followed closely by Thomas Mulcair’s NDP at 30.1 per cent, with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals trailing at 29.3 per cent support.

Nanos is regarded as the premier pollster in Canada with the most accurate results, so this result was greeted with much delight in Liberal circles, as it shows us much closer then some other pollsters have shown, and the LPC gaining.  The LPC had a very good day overall yesterday.

Finally. I just wanted to link to a posting my friend Danielle Takacs – who is running in Brantford-Brant  – posted at her campaign page as to why she is running. Her posting shows why I am supporting her – besides being her friend, I mean. She is running for the right reasons. I encourage you to go read it. The last couple of paragraphs describing her getting a donation from one of her volunteers who is dying and given only months to live is particularly.. poignant. I teared up, quite frankly, when I was told what had occurred.

 

 

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Celebrating 10 years of Progressive Bloggers today

progblog_051Today is a pretty neat day –  I’ll be in Toronto gathering with some of our blogging afffiliates past and present to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Progressive Bloggers – the original blogging aggregator of progressive blogs in Canada. It was started up in June 2005 by Wayne Chu, aided by Dan Arnold (of CalgaryGrit fame) with some advice from me and others on forming something to show the then very active blogosphere there were more then just the Blogging Tories online. (The blogosphere back then was seemingly dominated by conservative blogs – I’d like to think we helped counter that a tad).

Wayne stepped away from his admin role in 2006 and handed the reins to me. We have undergone some transformations of aesthetics and of format and of moderators,  but we are still here,  and blogs are still here, despite their predicted death by some (though Liblogs, the Liberal blogging aggregate has seemingly and sadly ceased to be on the past couple of months). Progressive Bloggers still gets around 60 000 pageviews a month (or around 2000 a day), so there still is interest in reading detailed posts on topics, when people want more then 140 characters to analyze something. I expect those numbers to climb once the election hits in October.

I thank all those over the years who have been blogging affiliates and still are of Progressive Bloggers. Without you, there is no aggregate to show Canada.

(Also, as an aside, apologies for the length in between posts on here . As you can tell, I’ve been involved in helping out on a political campaign, plus other personal things have intervened at times,  and that leaves for long interludes between blogposts at times.)

 

 

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John McCallum visits #Brantford #Brant again, Danielle Takacs Community Office officially open!

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There was a lot of activity happening this past Friday and Saturday in Brantford-Brant where my friend Danielle Takacs is running. On Friday, the Honourable John McCallum came down to the riding to spend a half day with Danielle greeting people and talking to them at the Via Rail Train Station about the Fairness plan. This was the 2nd visit by Mr. McCallum in the past 3 months in support of Danielle and the local campaign. We were also joined by former Brant MP Lloyd St. Amand at the Station. They then proceeded to the Chartwell Seniors Residence Home, where they discusses seniors issues with the residents as well as any other issues they had on their minds. We then enjoyed Mr. McCallum’s company back at the Community Office for lunch, where he chatted with volunteers about issues and the campaign. It is fair to say he was very impressed with his tour of the Community Office and its format.

Oh, speaking of the Community Office, that was officially open on Saturday!  Volunteers, including Danielle, burnt a lot of midnight oil on Friday night, getting the place ready for the grand opening.  On hand to help open the office along with Danielle were special guests Brantford-Brant MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature Dave Levac, Lloyd St. Amand, and Guelph Liberal MP Frank Valeriote, who is not running in the next federal election campaign.  The weather was downright crappy, to say the least, but from the sign-ins and the other folks who didn’t sign-in, I’d estimate about 125-150 people showed up.. so a fantastic turnout, considering the weather. You can find the Community Office at 185 King George Road in Brantford, by the way, and it now is officially open every day from 10am – 4pm, with possible extended hours for other events as needed.

All in all, a pretty successful couple of days for the Brantford-Brant LPC and Danielle.   Personally, It was a pleasure to be a part of it. Thanks to all the volunteers who were there or couldn’t be there that helped make this happen.

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Update at 12:31 pm: Check out this photoalbum for a lot more pictures of the Community Office Grand Opening!

 

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Real Change – democratic reform package released by Liberals gets attention.

Yesterday in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau and over 160 candidates (including my friend and candidate for Brantford-Brant Danielle Takacs) released a set of 32 democratic reform proposals called “Real Change”, which would significantly overhaul how democratic institutions and process work in the country. Everyone knows I’m a Liberal supporter, so hearing I’m excited about these would not be surprising to anyone (particularly the part that says our current electoral model of First Past The Post will be our last in 2015). So let’s look at the reaction of some more non-partisan, even cynical folks out there.

-Paul Wells on Twitter and a more fleshed out version at Macleans

– The former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, welcomed the proposals.

Vice News Justin Ling was very impressed with some proposals (Access to Information request/access in this case) , and says the Liberals have jumped ahead of the NDP in democratic reform initatives/proposals.

Professor Emm Mcfarlane of Policy Options offers praise of most of the package, but has fair questions about some other aspects.

– The Toronto Star approves. The Globe, as I’d expect, more cautiously so (The Globe never has been a big proponent of changing the FPTP electoral model). The National Post editorial called it a “bold reform plan”

Michael Den Tandt of the National Post said Justin Trudeau (and to be fair, he mentioned Mulcair as well) utterly changed political Canada in one day. This is good. Den Tandt’s quote on Trudeau:

“Trudeau’s speech was unremarkable in its delivery. But the content, and the subsequent question-and-answer session with reporters, were anything but. The Liberal leader unveiled a series of 32 proposals, many of which singly, if implemented, would transform Canadian democracy.”

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Uncomfortable thought (or 2) on Harper’s stand-offish attitude to Truth and Reconciliation Report

Some of you may have read this at Rabble the other day, about a theory Karl Nerenberg has as to why Harper seems to not support the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s findings or its recommendations:

The reason Harper and his government have adopted this grin-and-bear-it attitude toward the TRC is that they hear other voices than those that have flooded the media this week. The Conservative leader is acutely aware that many of his party’s “base” have views quite at variance with the “politically correct” consensus…the fact that there is so much openly anti-First Nations blather out there, shielded by the cloak of Internet anonymity, suggests that a significant measure of white backlash does, in fact, exist. The prime minister will never openly acknowledge the backlash. But in assuming the detached pose he has, and making no commitment to fulfill even a single one of the TRC’s calls to action, the Conservative leader is signalling to all the white backlashers out there that he hears them.

a) IF that’s true, shame on the Prime Minister for being scared of what I have to believe is a minority – even in his own base. Scrounging for and trying to keep votes from the bigots crawling out of the woodwork is unseemly, and makes his apology back in 2008 on this issue meaningless and without sincerity.

b) I’m more uncomfortable that the Prime Minister is indicating by his silence that he actually agrees with a lot of the backlash being sent the report’s way by the rabid pack that makes up some of his base – and I’ll say I slightly disagree with the author – not all of it is anonymous either. You can read some of the usual far-rightwing suspects at Blogging Tories or on social media for an example or two of that attitude, which they are quite willing to stand behind.

c) The other reason that he may not be doing much on this report? Spite. Everyone knows the First Nations have been a key player in delaying or threatening to delay oil pipelines to BC and elsewhere, helping to stifle Harper’s dream of becoming an “energy superpower” – which has gone down the drain anyhow with the collapse of oil prices, but that’s beside the point. Harper holds grudges better and longer then any politician I know. I’d not be surprised if he feels he owes the First Nations no favours because of their opposition to him on this other issue.

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Angus Reid: Strong Support For Bill C51/Strong Support for Oversight. (Liberal position vindicated in this poll)

Given the furore over the past couple of months on social media – most of it NDP activist driven – you’d think that the entire country hated Bill C51, the new security and anti-terrorism bill – and entire sections of disaffected Liberal Party activists and voters were deserting the LPC and flocking to the NDP. A new poll by Angus-Reid released yesterday, however, would tend to show that narrative is false. There is still strong public support for Bill C51, but also strong support for adding oversight to make sure police and other agencies don’t overdo it:

Nationally, nearly three-in-four (72%) Canadians polled in a new public opinion survey by the Angus Reid Institute say they support the legislation, which was introduced in late January and has now passed third reading in the House of Commons, including one-quarter (24%) who say they “strongly” support it…Canadians remain concerned about the issue of police oversight – one of the central items in the debate surrounding the legislation. Seven-in-ten (71%) surveyed express an as-yet unmet desire to see additional supervision of law enforcement to ensure they don’t go overboard with their new powers. Conversely, one-in-three (29%) are satisfied with the level of police oversight that exists today. On this key issue, there has been no change in public opinion since the February poll.

You might be reading online that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have taken considerable flak about supporting this bill but promising to add oversight to its powers if elected. It would appear at least in this pollster’s numbers, the public is onside with that stance, and the LPC position on campaigning on additional oversight may not be so badly perceived in the public as some of the internal critics and NDP’ers think on social media.

THat said, do I think the bill is perfect? No, I’m uncomfortable with some aspects of it, but I believe once oversight is added to this law’s powers, it can be made a better bill.

EDIT: I am also sure someone will be taking this law to court to challenge some or all of its constitutionality once it’s officially passed, and that’s fine too.

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Supreme Court Smackdown of Harper.. again

One would almost think the Supreme Court is getting tired of the Conservative government’s vendetta against Omar Khadr:

The country’s top court swiftly dismissed the Conservative government’s latest attempt to see former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr dealt with as a hardened offender deserving of more time in an adult federal penitentiary. It was a rare judgment issued from the bench that came after little more than two hours of oral argument on Thursday. And it is the third time that Ottawa has lost in matters involving Omar Khadr at the Supreme Court of Canada…At the end, the high court upheld an earlier ruling of the Alberta Court of Appeal, rejected the federal arguments and awarded legal costs against the government.

Khadr wasn’t present but his lawyers, Whitling and Dennis Edney, rejoiced, with Edney admitting his surprise it happened so quickly. “Perhaps there’s a message there, less for myself and more for this government, that continues to waste taxpayers’ dollars persecuting my client.”

So the Supreme Court took only 2 hrs to reject the federal government’s arguments, awarded costs, and oh, by the way, the verdict was unanimous (9-0), with 7 of those judges appointed by Harper.

About time to stop beating a dead horse, regardless how much the Conservative “base” hates him.

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Some justice finally for Omar Khadr

Nice to see some long-delayed fairness and justice taking place this morning:

“Mr. Khadr you’re free to go.”
With those words, Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Myra Bielby turned down the federal government’s last-ditch effort Thursday to keep the 28-year-old detained. Khadr and his supporters in the courtroom erupted in cheers when the decision was read…

The decision left Paul Champ, an Ottawa lawyer specializing in military law, with a positive feeling about Canada’s legal system, he said.“The government never had any solid legal arguments,” Champ said in an interview. “It was clear that their position was political rather than legal.“I’m proud to live in a country where judges can rule in accordance with legal principles and not political pressure,” Champ said.

Predictably, the conservative fire-breathers have been reacting like this to the news:

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Pundits selectively cherry-picking polls to dump on Federal Liberals.

Last week, not too long after the budget release,  an Abacus poll was released showing the Conservatives jumping to an 8 point lead over the Liberals. The immediate analysis of that pollster of their results,  and from pundits and partisans (even some from our own side) on social media immediately declared – on the basis of this one poll – that the Liberals were in a bit of trouble. Fortunately though, they still had a few months to do something.

Curiously, an Ekos poll was released a couple of days later that, while the Liberals were still down to the Conservatives (a 3 pt deficit), that had stayed more or less the same as previous polls, and the Budget had basically done nothing to move the needle. Not a lot of pundit reaction to that poll.

Also a LOT of pundit silence to the Leger Poll released yesterday, that showed the Liberal Party with a national 1 point lead. Rather inconvenient, those polls, breaking the pundits narrative on the Liberal Party being in trouble.

There will be polls of all types coming out over the next few months that may indicate worse or better fortunes for the LPC (or the other parties, frankly), but it would be rather nice for pundits to a) stop reflexively jumping on 1 poll’s findings if it were The Gospel , without waiting for other polls to confirm its findings, and/or b) if other polls come out that contradict said previous poll and said previous pundits’ declaration, it would be nice for them to acknowledge maybe there’s another side to the story, and perhaps they were wrong  to jump to conclusions.

Partisans like me can be expected to jump over a favourable poll and point to how well we are doing.. while perhaps trying to ignore the other pollster poll released the next day that says the opposite. I’d expect pundits or reporters to be slightly better at mentioning that “oh, by the way, this poll contradicts this poll yesterday, so maybe the LPC isn’t in as much trouble as we thought?”

Just saying.

 

 

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