Disappointment with the Ontario Liberal Party lack of social media communication

The OLP has a convention next week, if you weren’t aware. It’s their annual general meeting – the one that was originally going to be held in London, but got moved to Toronto due to speculated Spring Election concerns.

Several bloggers (myself included) of the Liberal persuasion (Ontario or Federal) have been inquiring for awhile since last year before Christmas to some of our contacts within the OLP hierarchy about the possibility of being present at this to live-blog or live-tweet it or social media it in general.. you get the idea – as we did for the OLP’s leadership convention. We’ve had various contacts who’ve told us they’ve supported that, but nothing official has ever come back.

When the official notice of it was released (see the link) We noticed media-related inquires were to be directed to Christine Mcmillan (Ontario Liberal Party Vice-President Communications). I (and possibly others, though I’m not sure on that yet) sent some email to her, asking about the possibility of blogger accreditation. I did so a week and a half or 2 weeks ago. I’ve still not received even an acknowledgement, much less an explanation or an answer.

Since then, one of my Liberal blogger friends who is going as a delegate forwarded along an official program to me, showing that 99% of what is going on appears to be workshops and such for potential candidates and election strategy that any media (or bloggers) would not be allowed to witness.. this meeting will not have the open sessions that was available at the LPC Biennial last month in Montreal to bloggers/media. The only event apparently available to the public/media would be Premier Wynne’s speech on the Sunday afternoon.

My beef is not so much with being excluded or the format of this (to be honest, if the Wynne speech was the only thing available, it wouldnt be worth my time to go to it even if we were allowed/accredited, and my fellow bloggers who arent delegates have said as much to me in private as well). My beef is that email inquiries and inquires to the OLP account on Twitter haven’t been replied to – and specifically by Ms Mcmillan, the person all inquiries were to be forwarded to.

If the OLP or she didn’t feel they wanted to accredit bloggers because of the format, I get that, but I’m more disappointed that she and the OLP persons in general we contacted couldn’t be bothered to at least give us a courtesy email reply to us to say that. (I exclude my contacts who are in the OLP who were in the hierarchy; they did their best to get answers.. but didnt seem to get much answers from the higher-ups in the political food chain).

When the OLP leadership race was going on, Liberal bloggers were invited to and had a conference call, pre-convention, with then-candidate Kathleen Wynne, explaining her position and asking for our support, and indicating she would be social media friendly if/when she was Premier, and hopefully have more discussions with us in the future.

I’m sorry to say I see little evidence of that in this particular case, and we’ve yet to get anything on the latter point. It’s no skin off our collective blogging noses, but you’d think a party that is going to have difficulty retaining power in the next election would like all the help it can get, no matter how small it perceives that to be.


Grasping for straws – Pauline Marois

I’m glad this fear – if there ever was anyone in Quebec fearing it- was cleared up by her:

An independent Quebec would open its arms to tourists from Canada. That’s the message from Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois as sovereignty continues to be a prominent issue in the Quebec election campaign.Marois said today that Quebecers will still be able to go see the Rockies and Prince Edward Island and that Canadians from there will still be able to visit Quebec.

She’s trying to reassure soft nationalists that Canada won’t ban an independent Quebec’s people from being tourists, and vice versa? We’re really down to scraping the barrel for arguments justifying an independent Quebec if one has to reassure people that a hypothetical scenario won’t happen – a scenario that was never going to happen regardless of any independence vote.

I wonder why this reassurance had to be stated in the first place..seems like a very odd argument to be using.


Amazing coincidences and occurrences

Amazing coincidence – Peter Mackay muses that liberalization of pot/marijuana laws/legislation easing criminal charges are now a real possibility, and like magic, the anti-Justin Trudeau ads running on Toronto area AM radio that claim his stance on legalizing marijuana would ‘make it easier for kids to smoke pot” and “he isn’t up to the job” that were running incessantly for the month of February prior and after the LPC Biennial Convention have magically disappeared. Funny that.

Amazing occurrence: Ontario Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter’s Private Member Bill (Bill 166) that would authorize Toronto to choose ranked ballots for their electoral voting system (as they voted to ask for late last year) has passed 2nd reading and is on to Committee. My hope is it gets passed before the Legislature falls to an election expected sometime this year. Even more amazing; the Progressive Conservatives are opposing this, which is kind of rich if you ask me, since Ranked Ballot is the voting system most if not all of the current political parties in both the federal and provincial arena use to elect their leaders and there are no complaints as far as I know of not directly electing their leader or of not being elected by 1st choices there. Also, I find it amazing that the PC’s would try and prevent Toronto from using the voting system they prefer to use – as chosen by a majority of elected City Council. The NDP isnt a big fan of ranked ballot (they prefer PR) but they at least seem willing to allow Toronto to have its autonomy and choose whatever they deem is best for voting.

Another amazing (and rather appalling) occurrence: I never thought even with this bunch in government that we’d see US Republican Party style voter suppression attempted in Canada. We’re witnessing it today with the “Fair Elections Act” game the government was playing here today, despite all their protestations to the contrary. That much is evident from monitoring the Marc Maynard testimony to the Standing Committee, and the government’s attempt to disrupt the testimony with procedural votes… reneging on a day old agreement that helped to end an NDP filibuster in return for Maynard’s 90 minutes of testimony, which the government decided to interrupt by calling up votes in the middle of the time slot Maynard was speaking. That should tell you what worth an agreement is with this bunch. Make sure you get it down on paper or electronic format, instead of voice or oral format, is all I’ll say.


Guest blog from Leanne Bourassa; new LPC Nat’l Membership Secretary

Cue the music: Carry On by FUN

The week before convention was a tough one for my team – tempers were running high, work and school obligations were pressing, we were spending more money than we had planned, I was travelling, doing founding meetings and still trying to be a responsible employee and everyone was just plain tired.  So, driving to the airport to pick up Erich was a nice opportunity to shift gears and get into the “Convention mindset”. Things got even better when I ran into a friend from Law school and ended up with two passengers for the long, slow drive downtown. The guys hit it off and I’ve decided to take credit for the friendship, after all that’s a Membership Secretary’s job, to bring people together, right?

I wasn’t expecting day one of the convention to be so busy, but with an invitation to the Council of Presidents meeting and a small group meeting with the Aboriginal Peoples Commission Executive, before the leader’s big opening speech, there was a lot to pack in one afternoon and evening. The Council of Presidents meeting was great as it was the first time I got to meet my opponent Arif, and to actually have the two of us up on stage together was a great chance to see where our priorities differed and how we planned on working on the membership file. The questions were great and it was a shame we hadn’t had more chances to debate a bit before convention, as I think it would have helped both the candidates and the members get a better sense of who we are and what we want to do.

I rushed from CoP to the Hyatt to meet with the Aboriginal Peoples Commission executive, and I can honestly say that the short time I spent with Chad and Cherish and all of the executive gave me energy and momentum that carried through the weekend. I arrived as Tanya the APC Quebec rep was finishing her report and I was so impressed not only with what she had achieved and planned, but with Cherish’s advice to be sure to honour her efforts and the work she is doing. The atmosphere in the room was full of acknowledgement of the path the Commission has covered and respect for the work that is to come. This is a very special group of people who are more aware than most of the challenges of bringing together diverse groups of people. It is going to be such a pleasure to help the APC build on their successes.

After running a few errands, it was time to be in the room for Justin Trudeau’s speech to kick-off the convention. I was surprised the speech was scheduled for the Thursday night when a lot of delegates would not yet have arrived, so anticipated the room would be mostly full of local Liberals as we had encouraged everyone in Quebec to come for the event. Given that demographic, I’m not convinced the half hour discussion only in English before the speech was the best use of the time, but Justin did deliver. The video call with Sophie and the kids was terrific and really brought some charm to the evening.

Thursday night – suite parties. BC Party to catch up with the crew I met and adored in Whistler. Metropolis. Fell into bed wondering how on earth I was going to make it through 3 more days!

Continue reading Guest blog from Leanne Bourassa; new LPC Nat’l Membership Secretary


Sunday Stuff: A guest blog-poster from the Biennial early this week?

I took a bit of a break in blogging the past week – partially to recharge batteries from the Montreal Biennial.. partially because I’ve been doing some other political stuff behind the scenes… but back to a regular blogpost today, with some thoughts of the week behind and a look ahead:

- I read with amusement at the Manning Centre Conference where a pollster warned those conservative attendees of “grim” polling statistics they found on the CPC losing ground on issues to the Liberals and the NDP. Grim for them, perhaps, but certainly not for me or likeminded people who want the Conservatives gone (and there are many of us)

- The Ukraine/Russia crisis over Crimea is a rather ugly one. It has the chance of escalating rather quickly, and I’m not sure the West has a lot of options beside diplomatic protests and condemnations.

- As the title suggests, I’m fairly certain we’ll be having a guest blogger/blogpost here this week. I won’t say who yet, other then then person is a Liberal and one who I met at the Biennial. I’m looking forward to that person’s post, however.


Biennial LPC – Day 4 (final) impressions

This is going to be a shorter post then my others I only was here til 11 am before I had to run for my train home and didn’t catch the constitutional stuff.. but thanks to the good flow of motions as done by the chairpersons (Maryanne Kampouris and Ralph Goodale), the policy resolutions were all gotten through ahead of schedule. I’ll be brief on those; I was pleased on a couple of things – the Basic Income Supplements measure(s) were passed, as was Section 31 on voting reform.. and one on looking to ban neocontinoids – the pesticide being blamed for killing off honeybees and other pollen-bearing insects. If you want to check out the constitutional stuff.. I advise reading up on Jeff Jedras’s or Jim Calder’s twitter feed.

In short, I have sore feet and legs from walking all over the Palais and part of Montreal .. a sore back from carrying too much luggage… lack of sleep from touring suites and getting up at 6 am for 7 am breakfasts…and probably have malnutrition from not eating properly…. but it was very worth the trip to Montreal.

My thanks to the LPC for accrediting bloggers and giving me (and others) the opportunity to blog/cover it. The treatment of bloggers was second to none, and we all hope it continues for future events the Liberal Party holds.

I hope these blogposts , as well as those of my fellow bloggers, as well as our tweets, were of some interest to those who read them.


Biennial LPC Convention – Day 3 Impressions

A very early start to the day (7 am) when I visited the Breakfast Suite for Leanne Bourassa, one of the National Membership Secretary candidates (at the time – more on that later). I’ve known of Leanne for a while now, and she seems to have known of I and of bloggers in general, thugh we haven’t figured out yet where our paths would have crossed in the past. At any rate, I sat down there to a welcome breakfast and juice. I was joined eventually by fellow blogger Jeff Jedras, and we both were given time by Leanne to chit-chat for quite a bit, even though she had a very busy crowd coming in to say hello to her. It was interesting to observe/listen and even chat to some of the delegates coming in; a fair # of them said that they had been undecided, but that Leanne’s speech (one of those I purposely missed as mentioned yesterday) had impressed them to change their mind. I came away out of that meeting thinking she had a good shot at winning, if the small sample size I heard was any refelection.

- There were some forums going on in the Main Hall. Strategy and tactics was one presented by Kate Telford, a key Justin Trudeau strategist you’ll hear a lot more from as election day 2015 closes in. Another one I liked was one dealing with trying to reach out to young voters and gettng them the message (through new social media means) and motivating them to vote. This presenter strongly urged not to discount e-voting at home. I’m not closed to that idea, but as I and my fellow bloggers agreed upon, show us a secure way to e-vote and we’d consider it; its not there right now.

- As an aside to the social media means, talking to some of the delegates I did, explaining who I was and the group I was a part of, the reactions I have currently gotten here have been either “thats wonderful” or “I didn’t know the LPC was doing that”, or “blogs?” or a combination thereof. That could be because of the age gap generation on this… kind of a reflection of the discussion that our own delegates, those you’d think would e most attuned to politics and lookign for political opinion and such online, were unaware of bloggers being here, blogs in general etc (the younger crew did know who we were and some of them do read tyhose of us who were here and did know we had been accredited – but there are not enough of those people)

- A roundtable of Premiers and Provincial Liberal leaders moderated by former leader Bob Rae was well attended in the Main Hall (standing room only). The theme to that was the Premiers and provinces would like to be a partner with the Federal Government, but under Stephen Harper were not receiving it.

- The Justin Trudeau Speech to the Main Hall was a very powerful, forceful attack on Prime Minister Harper’s abandonment of his ideals and principles from earlier in his young political career – all for the sake of gaining and maintaining power. It also questioned his judgement (and the appointment of Senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin figured proominently here). We see the hint of the theme (or part of it) that the Liberals will possibly use in the 2015 campaign.

- Lastly, the vote for President of the LPC and the Membership Secretary: Your winners were Leanne Bourassa for Membership Secretary and Anna Gainey for the Presidency – both by about 1400 – 1500 to 800/900 votes over Imra Khan and Brian Rice and Imraf Khan respectively. A congratulations to all candidates, for thweir hard-fought campaigns.

Tomorrow is the last day, and one I wont be able to give you a full report in person, as I leave half way through it to catch a train home, but I’ll do my best to fill in the rest of the day from following them on the train via Wi-Fi internet


Biennial LPC Convention – Day 2 Impressions

Where to start! A VERY busy day today.

-I know it has to be done, but the constitutional by-amendments opening of the Biennial was a tad dry. It was a good move to have held this in a smaller conference room. Less people there (as obviously they knew better). If I’m at the next biennial, or at some other party’s policy convention, I’ll know to skip this part.

- Despite the fact he was scheduled during a very important Canada – US Olympic hockey game, there was basically a full house in the main hall to listen to retired Lt. General Andrew Leslie remarks. I livetweeted this earlier on Friday (Twitter handle is @stribe39 if you’d like to go find it), and I can see why the CPC and to a lesser extent the NDP is going after him. He has charisma, is a very good speaker, and wasnt afraid to address the controversy that has popped up over these benefits he received (due every vet after 20 years). He’ll be a formidable candidate (if he runs).

- There were two panels I attended; 1 was infrastructure, the other was basically foreign relations. The first one was okay, but the 2nd one was moderated by Marc Garneau, with the aforementioned General Leslie being one of the panellists. He obviously made an impression, because this conference room was packed. I also live-tweeted this one, and I said then and I’ll say now; my perception for these panels has been that the longer the lineups to the microphone for the audience to ask questions, the better the panel did in creating intererst amongst the folks. By that definition, this one was a rousing success as there were big lineups.

- I purposely avoided the speeches by the candidates for the national executive positions (President, Gen-Secretary, etc). As I’m not a delegate here (Liberal member notwithstanding) and not endorsing anyone (I feel uncomfortable doing an endorsement without a voting interest). Plus, I know far too many people on either sides for either candidates, and I dont feel like causing hard feelings at this point.

- I thought it would be better to get down to the Judy Lamarsh Fund, which was an event designed ti raise funds to help women candidates beat the obstacles they face in running (and winning). That event was a big success.. several hundred people attended, including Justin Trudeau and Premier Kahleen Wynne, who made it in late out of stormy Sudbury. I got to meet some new political folks and ones I have talked to before (check the twitter feed of mine or Progressive Bloggers flickr stream That includes the new leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party Rana Bokhari, who was kind enough to come over and chat and get a picture taken.

An interesting Day 3 shapes up, with voting going on, concluding and a winner declared tomorrow. The revelations in the National Post today about possible promises of vote-swapping makes the day potentially very interesting – ansd one I’ll be watching closely.

UPDATE: I’d be remiss for not mentioning our bloggers briefing with LPC National Director Jeremy Broadhurst went well and he stayed an hour to give some thought and answer some questions. You’ll find my blogger colleagues impressions from Jeff and Jim to be enlightening on their thoughts. We also had a chitchat with LPC Presidential candidate, Brian Rice, and Jim also posted about that chitchat


First impressions of #Lib14 Montreal Biennial

- There are a lot (I mean a LOT) of people here for a non-leadership convention. I hear it may be the largest of these they’ve ever seen.

- The powerbars work at he bloggers tables and arent in short supply – a dramatic improvement over the Showcase. We also have a pretty sweet location for viewing proceedings, but we’re going to need extra, ah, security or a sign so people dont steal our seats (that should be rectified, I am assured)

- For a non-leadership convention, the Liberals have gone all out with their big-screens and displays at this event

- As I said on Twitter, during the Larry Summers / Chrystia Freeland tete a tete, the room only half applauded when Mr Summers said he supported Canada and the US getting Keystone pipeline going. I wasnt one of those applauding either. The Liberal leadership (JT’s support for it notwithstanding) better realize not all of us in the party are as thrilled as Summers and the leadership is at that occurring.

-Justins kids were hiarious, and I applaud Sophie for gamely speaking while their kids stole the show.

- Election bantering and campaigning are in full swing for the party positions up for grabs.

- If you want to know how the CPC is reacting to this, the fact they decided to send “Democratic Reform” Minister Pierre Poliviere as a monitor tells a lot. The fact Justin made pointed remarks about the elections reform bill was a nice touch.

- Ego -inflating moment of the night; getting introed by Jeff Jedras to LPC President in Quebec Alexandra Mendes who a) knew who I was, and b) is a fan of this blog.


Danielle Takacs running in Brant For LPC Nomination

We’ve had a lot of bloggers (both former and current) decide to drop their hat into running for both provincial and federal nominations for political parties, and on the eve of the Liberal Biennial Convention, I was very pleased and thrilled to see we have a new one today, someone who is a good friend of mine and who I am pleased to see put her name forward to contest for the Liberal nomination in Brant county – Danielle Takacs:

Policy research analyst and political organizer Danielle Takacs is vying for the Liberal nomination in Brant with a goal of re-energizing the party’s standing in the riding…She acknowledged that the Liberals have a lot of ground to make up in Brant, after former MP Lloyd St. Amand lost the seat to Conservative MP Phil McColeman in 2008, then finished third in the 2011 election.Takacs believes current Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has reignited interest in the party and she would be best positioned as a new-blood candidate to help him in Brant. “We can gain back longtime supporters that we lost to the NDP and soft Conservatives who left us last time,” she said.

When Danielle was blogging, she blogged at the award-winning Liblogs/Progressive Bloggers affiliate Galloping Around The Golden Horseshoe, where you can still see her old blogposts. She’s got a new site up for her nomination here. She faces no current contenders, but that of course may change, so she’d love to hear from you.

As an aside, this is, in my opinion, why blogs and bloggers and blogging are still important in this age of social media and of the recent seeming dominance of Twitter and Facebook. It helps develop the grassroots (or netroots) in parties, and it’s this activism that makes them want to change how things are done, and makes them want to get elected to help make a difference.

I wish nothing but good things for Danielle. She is a good person, has a good heart, and would make a fabulous candidate and MP.

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