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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!

 

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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.

 

 

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RIP Max Khan

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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.

 

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

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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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The Niqab Hijab etc.. real issue.

By now, you know that a Federal Court has ruled against the Government of Canada that wanted veils/face coverings removed for the “ceremonial” part of the citizenship ceremony to become a Canadian citizen. (more specifically, niqabs, and apparently hijabs). You also know that Prime Minister Harper has decided to go on a rant about that, calling it against Canadian values, etc.. and the Conservative Party is fundraising on the issue.

I can go on about how this is attempting to appeal to the base fears and prejudices of Canadian society, and how they’re trying to cynically use this issue to help win the upcoming election, but I’m looking at it from a much longer term view. That being, Harper and his supporters can rant and rave all they want about Canadian values being violated by these face coverings, but the courts will ultimately decide whether there is any validity to those charges.. or whether this is a Charter issue and that the religious rights of the minority must be protected.

My question is: if Harper (hopefully not) is still in office when the Supreme Court ultimately rules on this, and if the SCC rules against him (which I believe is a very strong possibility – given the government’s dismal track record of losing court cases because they were unconstitutional), would he use the Notwithstanding Clause to overrule the court? Maybe someone should ask him.

PS – Apologies for the delay in blogging. I’ve been a bit occupied of late, but there is another blogpost coming later this week however, with Carolyn Bennett and a lot of candidates visiting Brantford-Brant and my friend/candidate there Danielle Takacs for a roundtable with the 6 Nations people to listen to their concerns and issues)

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Interview with Colin Smith, LPC Nomination Contestant for Carleton

Colin-main-page-xmas2I’ve not done one of these in awhile, but today, we have an interview with Colin Smith, an LPC nomination contestant in the riding of Carleton, a riding that was abolished in 1966 but re-created by the boundary re-distribution in 2012. It will be where Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative on the top of most Liberals most loathed Conservative list, will be running.  As usual, interviews do not imply endorsements (Colin currently has 2 other contestants running against him, and the nomination date as of today hasn’t been set yet). I thank Colin for taking the time to do the interview.

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

For me, The Fair Elections act was the tipping point that something had to change. I had long thought of entering politics and I feel that I now had the motivation needed to act for change. While I strongly disagree with the content of the bill, the theater surrounding its implementation is what actually convinced me to run. Politicians are who we send to manage our ideals and interests within government and they should be willing and able to discuss serious issues without the constant desire to score political points. Having grown up on the border of Ottawa-South and Nepean-Carleton, and with the new riding Carleton set to receive Pierre Poilievre, I figured that Carleton would be the perfect place to run and show people how an MP should behave. Having now spoken with people from throughout the riding, I know my decision to enter the race was right and I am excited for the campaign.

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 Colin Smith, LPC Nomination Contestant for Carleton

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Calm before the political storm

Twitter was all aflutter yesterday from some journalists saying several people had told them they had heard an election was going to be called today and the writ dropped for April.  That set everyone into panic mode or excited mode, depending on your point of view. So far as of this blogpost, it hasn’t occurred.  I’m on record and on a political bet with one of my Liberal colleagues that there won’t be a Spring Election. It may not be on October 19, but I don’t think it will be in the Spring, so we’ll see if I manage to win another political bet (and no, this time it isn’t with Jim Calder, my fellow Liberal blogger and Progressive Blogger moderator who I’ve won 3 bets and 3 free dinners from as a result – he actually agrees with me, which is slightly concerning for me).

Polls released of late show virtual ties or slight within margin of error leads for 1 party or another, which gives no incentive for Prime Minister Harper or his Conservatives to call something now… and hoping that some Canadians continue to stay scared of terror attacks (which is the main reason Harper has recovered some of his polling #’s) seems to be to be a bit of a gamble.

Related to that, I also some news reports where the Conservatives (or some Conservative strategists) are pondering proposing multiple TV debates (like several, as opposed to just the traditional 2), as they feel they’ll have a better chance of Justin Trudeau showing “inexperience” and highlighting Harper’s “strong” leadership skills (?? – what strong leadership skills, but I digress).  They obviously have a very high opinion of their guy and a very dismissive attitude of Mr. Trudeau.  I remember a boxing match  not too long ago where the same dismissive attitude was similarly held. Regardless, if they want to underestimate him, be my guest.   Quite honestly though, if you want to try to trap someone in a TV slip up, the less debates you have, the more effective strategy that would be – as there is a lot less opportunity  to recover from any slip ups on 2 debates then 5.

Personally,  I don’t mind more debates.. though I’d really like to have some different formats then just 3 leaders or more talking over each other.

 

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How 2 cold winters in Eastern North America doesn’t disprove climate change/global warming.

When it gets as cold as it has this winter (and last), you often see message boards yelling, “How about that global warming!” … as if these winters prove to those who are climate change skeptics (or climate change deniers, as I call them)  that global warming or climate change is just one big government conspiracy theory to drive everyone’s taxes up and prevent people from getting rich(er) and insert government interference into everyone’s lives.

I saw a great counterpost to that  from a poster on the popular Weather Underground weather site, explaining to a climate change denier why the current cold trend in the Eastern North America does not mean climate change/global warming isn’t happening:

“..If you are wondering how weather events fit into climate change, there’s something that can help. This is called winter, winter still happens when the world is warmer. In fact, in a warmer world the atmosphere is capable of holding more water vapor. While that warmer world may prevent some areas from experiencing snow as it instead falls as rain, areas that are still cold enough to receive snow could see greatly increased precipitation events. The recent peer reviewed science has noted the trends in increased large precipitation events.

As for the colder than normal air, the pattern has displaced colder air from it’s normal places. Per a blogger, Alaska was seeing 50 degrees (F) and rain while the East coast was getting hammered with snow and ice. Out west you are seeing the one of the lowest snow packs ever recorded. The Arctic is currently running above average temperature wise with some areas as high as 4 – 6 degrees C above normal. And the ocean of the East coast where all this snow has been happening is in some places as much as 11 degrees C warmer than average. Is this weather pattern a trend? It is too soon to tell, but yes the past 2 winters have been cold in the East and Northeast while the globe has been warmer than average, to put in into perspective, despite the bitter cold in some parts of the U.S (and Canada)., January was the second warmest on record globally.

Sometimes it’s hard to remove yourself from the local perspective …and think larger.”

To illustrate his last points.. here’s a graphic visual showing that for January, while Eastern North America may have been below normal, the rest of the world certainly wasn’t:

To quote another friend of mine, “To loosely quote Donald Trump “global warming is a hoax because I’m cold.” This is the problem with deniers: they refuse to see the forest because of the tree right in front of them”.

We have a government in power right now in Canada where that last line is very applicable.

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Nothing Personal, Eve Adams, but Marco’s my pick.

I’m not going to get irate or flabbergasted or question her motives over her crossing the floor as some Liberals have. It took some courage to do this, and I don’t doubt Dimitri Soudas would be very helpful giving out internal Conservative Party campaign strategy or dirty laundry,  and I also think this does damage Harper and the CPC to a point (combined with John Baird suddenly leaving),  but at this point, I think Ms. Adams is a lightning rod for controversy.. and motivates Conservative voters in an otherwise winnable riding to flock to Joe Oliver.. so I’m hopeful that Marco Mendicino will stay in the race.. and if the reports of local Liberals there are any indication, he’ll win quite handily.

That said, Justin Trudeau was reported as saying Eve Adams would have to prove herself and win over lots of local Liberals in Eglinton-Lawrence, so if she manages to win the Liberal nomination, more power to her – the local Liberals have spoken. I just don’t think she will, given the furore.

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Contradictory polls

So we have a couple of polls out today: Ekos (who is behind a paywall) has the CPC suddenly leading by 3% 35-32 over the LPC due to a sudden “surge” in support for them in Quebec – 26% or so. Meanwhile, Leger (who is not behind a paywall) has the exact opposite result; the LPC up by 3 nationally, and the Conservatives down in the traditional teens where they’ve been for awhile (excepting Forum and Ekos.. and I’m a tad sceptical – particularly of Forum). We’ve had other polls come out the past week from Abacus and Nanos (released by mistake) that show neck and neck or slight leads for one or the other parties.

Has the security/terrorism/ISIS scare stuck with the voting electorate and given Harper a boost? Probably, tho the extent of that remains murky from contradictory polling results. However, I don’t think this is going to maintain him (unless the RCMP are going to be arresting suspects every other week from now until the writ is dropped). The faltering economy in particular will, I think, become more prominent, with the fact the eggs in one basket approach when it comes to oil has come back to bite both the Conservative government and Canada.

I’ll maintain, by the way, there isn’t going to be a Spring Election. I’m in the Autumn camp.

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