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.


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:



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.





Guest Blog by Leanne Bourassa: 1st Year Reflections as Liberal Party Membership Secretary

leanneb(I had the pleasure of getting to meet and know Leanne at the Feb 2014 Liberal Convention in Montreal. We had been vaguely aware of each other before through blog interactions, so we weren’t total strangers, but it was a treat to meet her in person, and after getting to know her, I was pleased she was elected to National Membership Secretary. I thank Leanna for contributing this guest-blogpost to assess her first year on the “job”!. As usual, all guestblog posts/opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of me or this site. – Scott.) 


Well, as the poet says “Time flies when you’re having fun”! It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since I had the pleasure of meeting so many of you from across the country, ultimately coming together for a truly exciting convention here in Montreal. Since that time, our Liberal numbers have swelled and we are well on the way to victory this year.

After being elected National Membership Secretary, I was eager to hit the ground running, but the reality of the job to be done got in the way of that plan. For the first few months after being elected I was doing double duty as President of the LPC(Q) Legal Commission and National Membership Secretary; with Quebec’s bi-ennial convention (that would see the election of a new board of directors who would be helping set us on track for the next elections) looming on the horizon, it was important I do the job right, right up until it was time to pass the baton. Relieved of my Quebec-centric duties, I was free to get into the meat of the membership job and the first task was to deal with some operational issues with respect to how we process membership requests.

A few years ago our National Board of Directors decided that in order to allow provincial offices to focus their time and money on field work and supporting the ridings on the ground, membership administration should become a national responsibility. However, in my discussions with PTA office staff, I discovered that too often they were still spending time and energy dealing with membership forms. In order to address this issue and to make it easier and more equitable for everyone to get membership forms, I made a recommendation at our August National Board meeting, that the National Membership By-law be changed to reflect the change the previous board had put in place, so that all processing of membership forms, from requests for forms to the entering of data from forms submitted and the sending out of renewal notices, be handled by the National Membership Office, which had already been created for that very purpose. My colleagues on the National Board agreed that this was the way to go.

Another change that needed to be made was to make sure that the Party had the information required to communicate with new members. It didn’t make sense that our membership forms did not include a requirement to provide any information other than a mailing address. To rectify this, our National Management Committee approved a change to the membership form to make the inclusion of either a phone number or email address obligatory. I’ve had some great feedback on that change and I’m hoping it will make it easier for ridings and candidates to reach out to members who want to be involved.

Following the August Board meeting, our LPC President Anna Gainey invited me to help deliver on one of her campaign initiatives, which was to create a membership survey to help interact with and understand our membership better. With the help of not only my local Café Politique group and the LPC Analytics team, but a lot of very helpful staff members, I’m happy to report that we came up with some questions that let members give feedback on a variety of topics from membership rewards and involvement to policy priorities and even open ended suggestions. Over 5000 members answered the survey and the feedback has already resulted in some changes to the monthly newsletter and certain party priorities. I’m hoping to give you a fuller report of the interesting results of this survey in another blog post soon.

With our leader’s commitment to open nominations and the importance of selling memberships during that time, making sure the membership rules are applied fairly has been a big part of my job as we build our team for victory in 2015. Membership challenges and investigations are a part of the process and sometimes the National Membership Secretary has the responsibility of interpreting the Membership rules and making decisions about potential violations. My point of reference has always been to ensure that the rights of members are the first priority.

Throughout this time, whenever possible I have lent a hand at nomination meetings here in Quebec. Not only do I think it’s important to volunteer wherever I can in this important process, but in working at the “Solutions table” I get to see firsthand what sort of glitches there can be in the membership lists and in many cases, resolve them on the spot. Often it’s just a case of a spelling mistake or names being reversed and with a few verifications we can make sure the member gets to vote. Hopefully, the experience of voting in these meetings is a good warm-up for members who may need to make sure their identification documents are up to date for the general election.

As we come to the end of the first year of the mandate, there are still many issues that I hope to address: Commission access to membership lists, help for ridings looking to build or support membership, the term of membership and creating a welcome kit for ridings, and I’m looking forward to getting to work on these challenges. Obviously, I can’t do it alone, so my short term goal is to set up a National Membership Working Group, to help think through ways of addressing issues such as delays in delivering membership forms from northern or rural ridings, how to facilitate membership for those who have trouble with paying the fee and how to more effectively manage the production and delivery of membership cards for those who want them. I would be happy to know what you, the members on the ground, are experiencing, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and let me know what’s on your mind!



Inconvenient comments from Conservatives on Budgets

Inconvenient comment #1:















Inconvenient Comment #2:

Former Conservative Finance Minister – the late Jim Flaherty – ruled out dipping into contingency fund last year to balance the books:

Flaherty told CBC News it would be “imprudent” to do so as the fund has frequently proven necessary. “If you do the arithmetic, we could have had a budget balanced by $100,000,” Flaherty said at the time. “I prefer to have a nice clean surplus.”

Inconvenient Comment #3:

Again from Jim Flaherty: this time rejecting dipping into the EI fund to balance the books:

“We do not take EI funds and use them to balance the budget. That’s what the Liberals did,”

Very Prescient Comment:

In that same article, now what the Parliamentary Budget Office said that has come true (denied by Flaherty, by the way):

A Parliamentary Budget Office report released Thursday said the Conservative government may need to depend on artificially high EI premiums, asset sales and spending restraint to balance the budget by the 2015 election.

Just some interesting things to remember what was said, don’t you think?


A reprieve from Nanos for the Nervous Nellies on Liberal fortunes

There’s been more then a couple newspaper op-eds in the Star and Globe of late worrying about the Liberals and Justin Trudeau losing their mojo and declaring they need to do something to turn around sagging poll fortunes.  They seem to have been basing that on their perception of one particular pollster – Ekos – who has been the only pollster really who has been doing a weekly look at Party and Party Leader numbers. (I’ll also note they seem to conveniently put that meme away when Ekos shows a Liberal turnaround – that pollster has had the CPC and LPC flipping between 1st and 2nd the past month – but that doesn’t fit the conventional wisdom apparently)

Regardless, this paragraph snuck into Nanos’ weekly Power Index of the parties (which pundits seem to ignore no matter who does what – I think they’re waiting for an election result to see how accurate this new indicator from Nanos really is) reveals a Nanos standard party poll, and it has good news for the LPC from one of the most trusted and historically accurate pollsters out there. Also, not bad #’s on PM preference:

As you may know, Nanos does internal ballot tracking every week. Based on the four week rolling average, the Liberals are at 34 per cent, the Conservatives at 29 per cent, the NDP at 25 per cent, the Greens at eight per cent and the BQ at four percent…For the weekly preferred Prime Minister measure Trudeau stands at 31 per cent followed by Harper at 29 per cent, Mulcair at 20 per cent, May at five per cent and 15 per cent were undecided.  Asked a series of independent questions as to whether they would consider or not consider voting for each of the federal parties, 52 per cent of Canadians would consider voting Liberal while 44 per cent would consider voting NDP, 40 per cent would consider voting Conservative and 31 per cent would consider voting for the Greens

Trends on Nanos party polling can be found on Page 16 of their Weekly Power Point Index here. I don’t expect there to be newspaper column reversals of the “Liberals are sagging” meme without a couple more polls from other companies to confirm, and I don’t also say some of their criticisms of strategy shown by the Liberal leadership advisers may not have fair points, but as I’ve said before, if you’re going to base your conclusions on what results a particular pollster says – it’s also fair to acknowledge other polls that maybe show that narrative not quite accurate.



John McCallum visits Brantford-Brant to talk immigration/cultural issues

IMG_20150409_193243This past  Thursday evening, John McCallum, Liberal MP from Markham-Unionville and the LPC’s critic for Immigration/Multiculturalism/ Seniors visited Brantford-Brant to meet with Liberal candidate Danielle Takacs and  leaders of Brantford-Brant’s various cultural communities. Mr. McCallum  is the 4th Liberal MP to visit Brantford-Brant in the span of less than 3 months (the others being Carolyn Bennett, Scott Simms and Adam Vaughan) which shows that Liberals at the national level believe Brantford-Brant is a priority riding and can be returned to the Liberal fold in the upcoming election


Danielle and her team organized a round-table to answer questions anyone at the meeting may have about the Liberal Party’s positions on immigration issues, culture and so forth and to have frank discussions.  I was not able to be at the meeting in person, but fortunately, one of the observers of the meeting I knew was going to be there took notes and passed them along back to me.   In essence, I am writing a ‘guest blog’ column for that person on the meeting :). So, I thank that person for doing this for me (as well as passing along the photos you see here), and I’ll re-post from that person’s notes what was discussed and said and  observed.

The meeting was well attended – there were close to 60 participants in the round-table, representing the following organizations and communities: (not an exhaustive list, just those my note taker got down): Six Nations Tourism, Woodland Cultural Centre, Six Nations Forest Theatre, the Hindu Charitable Foundation, The Muslim Association of Brantford, The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Latin American Village, CarribeanFest, The Polish Alliance, The Filpino Association of Brantford, YMCA Immigration Services and a representative from the Workplace Planning Board which works on Immigration issues.

– There was a  series of introductions as to who was there. For her part, Danielle opened the meeting by saying it was nice to be meeting in the Mohawk Chapel, where her grandmother once did tours here, and talked a bit about her Hungarian heritage (and you can find an article online here from several years ago when she wrote articles for the Expositor, which discusses further her 15 years of involvement in the International Villages Festival in detail how she was Ambassador for the Hungarian Village)

Mr. McCallum said very early on he did not want to give a big long speech on things, but that he preferred the format to be a Q & A session amongst the participants to him.  Among his answers to various questions that I noted were:

– Liberals wanted to welcome immigrants to this country “with a smile, not a scowl”.

– He felt that we were doing far too little as a country in taking on refugees these days – specifically referencing Syrian refugees, and comparing our rather tepid response with how we welcomed the Vietnamese boat people back in the late 1970’s.

– He believes that we should reduce the waiting time for someone from another land who marries a Canadian citizen to be able to come and live here. He addressed the concern about cheating the system, saying a few bad apples who are using a marriage of convenience to get here should not spoil it for the  rest of the “good apples” . He did not believe we should automatically assume people are cheating – tying it back in to the “greet people with a smile, not a scowl” point he made.

– He said that youth employment in general needed to be addressed by a Liberal government, and in answer to a question, First Nations youth were included among that. He mentioned details would soon be released regarding an infrastructure program the Liberals would propose to help address that. He also promised to ask the leadership about trying to help preserve Native language programs that had been cut, and he noted and acknowledged cuts in general everywhere to museums and cultural centres, saying that a Liberal government would do what they could to reverse the Harper government neglect of these areas, but that there were so many of them that they couldn’t immediately be undone overnight, and that they still had to be fiscally responsible in doing so.

In her closing remarks,  Danielle closed the meeting by saying she would be following up this meeting by following up this meeting by passing along the meeting and questions/thoughts with the policy adviser for the Liberal Party and wants to engage further one on one with each community with representatives there and those that couldn’t make it. She kept encouraging people to keep discussing and that she pictured her role to be the community’s hands, and to please pass along their thoughts and  that she would work hard for them to get their priorities addressed. She asked those in attendance keep her informed about their various communities’ issues.

Birthday cake!Afterwards, at a social, Mr McCallum was presented with a birthday cake for his “meeting senior citizens eligibility”, and Brantford MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature Dave Levac dropped by to convey greetings and birthday wishes!



Alberta politics suddenly got unpredictably whacky

So Jim Prentice was a virtual lock to win this election a couple of months ago… at least in the eyes of the pundits, particularly after Danielle Smith and half of her Wild Rose Party defected.

Suddenly, after a very unpopular budget.. things look extremely unpredictable:

An Alberta election that once looked like a Tory cakewalk is instead developing into a close three-way race — at least in the early going of the campaign, according to two new polls. A survey conducted by Mainstreet Technologies shows the Wildrose in the lead with 31 per cent support among decided voters, followed by the Progressive Conservatives at 27 per cent and the NDP at 26 per cent. The Liberals sit at 12 per cent support, and the Alberta Party is at three per cent. The poll surveyed 3,270 Albertans using interactive voice response (IVR) technology on April 7, the day Prentice called the election for May 5.

A ThinkHQ Public Affairs survey of 1,835 Alberta voters was released Wednesday, showing Wildrose in the lead with the support of 31 per cent of decided voters, followed by the NDP at 26 per cent, and the PCs at 25 per cent. The Liberals come in at 12 per cent support, and the Alberta Party at five per cent in the poll. The survey was conducted through an online panel between April 2 and 6.

So two polls using different polling technology with basically the same results. These are two relatively new pollsters, but in the case of Main Street, they’ve had some success with their polling versus actual results in the polls they’ve done before.. so these shouldn’t be discounted.  I’ll be interested to see what the more established pollsters find if/when they do their polling.

Either way, if these polls hold, or get better for the opposition parties,  It  would serve as good hubris for Prentice, and the WRP defectors to his party (tho half of them are’t running again anyhow.. so they may have got served their hubris).

My ultimate dream scenario: either/or of the Wildrose Party or the NDP win a plurality of seats.. with the other holding the balance of power :) How about the the Alberta Liberal Party (who may be lucky to hold all of their 5 seats) holding the balance of power?. That would be fun times.




RIP Max Khan


Very shocking news this morning for those of us in the Liberal Party:

Max Khan, an Oakville town councillor and the federal Liberal candidate for Oakville North-Burlington, has died, according to a Liberal Party representative…Khan represented Ward 6 in Oakville, which he shared with Councillor Tom Adams. Adams said Khan died early Sunday morning. They had worked together for nine years.“I learned of it late, late last night and I understand he went into Oakville Trafalgar Hospital around 7 o’clock and passed away just a little after midnight,” Adams told the Star. Adams said Khan had been feeling ill and had gone to hospital for pneumonia-like symptoms.

I wanted to relay a story I mentioned on my own timeline at Facebook in a bit more detail. I met Max at a LPC conference in Hamilton last Fall. He happened to be sitting at the same table as Danielle and I and others who were there from Brantford-Brant. He happened to notice me “live-tweeting” some of the attendees speeches and he struck up a conversation with me about social media and blogging. He was astounded at how much social media tweets I’d done (and he took great interest in my blogposts). We had a very interesting chat.

He ended up following me on Twitter and I returned the favour, and I re-tweeted stuff I occasionally saw from him (and he did a couple for me). This February,  I decided out of the blue to ask him if he’d like to donate to my Coldest Night Of The Year charity walk I was involved in with the homeless and youth shelters in Brantford. He responded immediately – he was happy to do it – he thanked both me for doing the walk and said he also appreciated how I had done some Re-tweeting of his tweets. It was a very nice gesture from someone I’d only met in person at that point once.

I did get to say hello to Max in person at the Feb 15 Flag Day celebrations in Mississauga. He was very jovial when he saw me and came over to say hello. He apologized on that day to me for a delay in his donating.. he was a rather busy fellow with his campaign.. but true to his word.. he donated the very next day.. and it was one of the larger contributions I got from an individual.

My condolences to friends and family. RIP Max.



Carolyn Bennett, Danielle Takacs & Liberal candidates visit Six Nations for tour, roundtable


Yesterday, Liberal MP and Aboriginal Affairs Critic Carolyn Bennett visited Brantford-Brant riding for the whole day to participate in discussions on Native Housing issues as well as to tour Six Nations and New Credit territory (though she’s been here so many times, Chief Ava Hill of Six Nations said Ms Bennett could have probably lead the tour herself) and then to participate in a “listening” roundtable, where Six Nations leaders and people could express their issues and concerns.

Ms Bennett was accompanied by Brantford-Brant Liberal candidate Danielle Takacs for the whole day, and later on for the tour and roundtable, they were joined by LPC candidates Joan Mouland (Haldimand-Norfolk), Karina Gould (Burlington), Jennifer Stebbing (Flamborough—Glanbrook) and Filomena Tassi (Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas), all who wanted to hear these same issues as well as to see the 6 Nations and New Credit territory.

The tour took about 1 1/2 hrs to complete, with narration from the Six Nations leaders and elders on various landmarks, historical points, current social services and schools. The roundtable actually went for 2 1/2 hours – longer then expected, mainly because there was a lot of issues brought up and a lot of listening to be done. Some of the main points I took away from the First Nations speakers:

Continue reading Carolyn Bennett, Danielle Takacs & Liberal candidates visit Six Nations for tour, roundtable

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