Harper’s supposed “strong leadership”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Need some New Year Resolutions?

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

Why not give some of yourself away?

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

A Happy 2015 to you from me.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Getting into the Christmas Spirit…

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


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




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

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

Take a listen

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


Internal CPC polling on Veterans Affairs issues must be terrible.

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: And we get more.

Tories warned of flawed Veterans Affairs caseload 2 years ago

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


Interview with Diane Ballantyne, LPC Nomination Contestant, Wellington-Halton Hills

Small-Diane Ballantyne-# 14-ps-8x12A lot of Liberal candidates are up in Ottawa this week for more Campaign College training, but nomination contestants are around to be interviewed, and today I’m doing an interview with Diane Ballantyne, Liberal nomination contestant for the riding of Wellington Halton-Hills (the riding currently held by CPC MP Michael Chong). I’ll note of the interviews I’ve done she has one of the more detailed replies as to why people should vote for her/ support her (the last questions of the interview). I thank her for her participation!





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

I have decided to run for the nomination because I am appalled at what the Conservative Party has done to our nation. Over the past decade, Canada has become more divisive and poorer – both in spirit and in reputation. There are many aspects of Canada that we spent over a century building, which are being systematically dismantled by the “Harper” government: the Archives, the scientists, the long-form census, our role in the UN, and the consistent violation of our own environmental policies…and we could go on. I have had enough of being embarrassed by the stranglehold Harper’s Conservatives have had on our riding, our economic and social policy, and our country, and I am running to provide a progressive alternative to the current 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 Diane Ballantyne, LPC Nomination Contestant, Wellington-Halton Hills


LPCO Team Trudeau Training in Hamilton, Santa Claus Parade in Brantford.

A rather busy weekend for me,  I was up in Hamilton  attending another LPCO event, which they billed as “Campaign College”. Basically, it was an expansion of the event that they held in London earlier in September. Without getting into any confidential details of what was said or done, The LPC staff are really emphasizing ridings and candidates to prepare now  and get ready now for an election at any time in 2015, as there is no trust in LPC circles that Harper will stick to his fixed-election law and wait until October 2015 to call one.   There was also training for candidates and their teams on various strategies  for communications and voter contact and so on.

There is one thing that did stick out for me from a speech Gerald Butts, chief adviser to Justin Trudeau gave: He mentioned about the muck and the mud that Conservatives were throwing at Trudeau and Liberals in general and he said, “We don’t have to hate Harper, we just have to beat Harper”.

With regards to my being there, I was up  there with the team from Brantford-Brant, led by Danielle Takacs, my friend, who as you know if you’ve read here long enough (and aren’t blind to her button on the sidebar) is the federal Liberal/Team Trudeau candidate for Brantford-Brant.   As in London, she was given the opportunity to give a presentation to the main group – her talk was based on how to attract rural voters to the Liberal Party and what her own experiences had been like. Her speech was very well received, (as was her Community Outreach speech in London, which is probably why she was asked to present on this topic here).

On Saturday night, I was also present at the Brantford Santa Claus Parade. Danielle was marching in that parade with Dave Levac, Brantford Liberal MPP (and Speaker of the legislature). It was a well attended event as would be expected, and I think everyone had fun. There weren’t even a lot of barbs being thrown at the politicians! I’d like to thank Danielle for inviting me to both events (I also, as an aside, would like to thank Dave Levac’s daughter for saving my duffel bag containing my tablet from an uncertain fate when the float initially raced away after the parade was done).

Brantford Santa Claus Parade

Brantford Santa Claus Parade


Brantford Santa Claus Parade

Brantford Santa Claus Parade

Brantford Santa Claus Parade


Quick question/poll

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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