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#LPCO2016 – Day 2/Completion

img_10041So the LPCO 2016 AGM has wrapped up in Niagara Falls.  Many things to talk about.. but I want to be brief.. so a few more observations:

– Niagara Falls is as usual lovely, but it remains a tourist trap when it comes to paying for stuff – even in off-season. They also have a “tourist tax” on certain things down here (ie eating out at restaurants).

– It always is a big kick to me to meet those Liberals -both high-ranking and small – who either read this blog or follow me on social media. Interesting/Amusing reactions too from some of those folks. (Disclaimer; accidentally described Louis Langlois in the tweet there as working for the PMO when he in fact works at LPC. Corrected that twice on Twitter; the second time from a nice LPCO staff member  rushing over to the desk to let me know that I was in error (who hadnt read the first correction). I was pleased to know they were reading at least some of my twitter dispatches during their media monitoring ;0 )

– Very helpful LPCO staff overall. A thank you to Braeden Caley, Marjorlaine Provost and staff for getting me media advisories, making sure the media table had power plugs, etc. Also thanks to LPCO President Tyler Banham and Director of Operations Kunal Parmar for being very positive in getting a social media/blogger person invited to cover this event.

– Speaking of media, there were not so much mainstream media here covering things on Day 2. The public forums that the media/blogs were granted access to often just had me covering them, but the Canadian Press  was there covering  the forum that Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Ruby Sahota held on the general economic situation of Canada and reported on it;  The Finance Minister’s comments about job churn and jobs continuing to be precarious for young people has caused consternation among some of the more left-wing folks online., accusing the government of making or supporting the policies (ie CETA, TPP) that will be causing the conditions Mr., Morneau describes.  That might be premature to say that; one thing they overlooked is that Minister Morneau also said the government “has to focus on preparing for it”.. indicating the Liberals aren’t intending to abandon those people, but to  try and help them.

– Congrats to Tim Louis, who was elected LPCO Southwest Regional President (that includes my riding of Brantford-Brant)

– My favorite session? “Engaging Women in Politics” which had speakers Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld, and Burlington MP Karina Gould discussing the continuing efforts to get women involved in running for political office and related topics.

– The thing that stuck with me the most? Immigration Minister John Mccallum got the biggest and longest standing ovation of the weekend when he said bringing in 25 000 Syrian refugees was the right thing to do and was a very proud moment for him.

 

 

#LPCO16: Day 1 in the books

So Day 1 is in the books of the LPCO AGM here in Niagara Falls. It mostly dealt with registration and meeting old friends and making new ones;

..Once that was done however, the main event of the night was listening to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeet delegates last night. His speech wasn’t as long as some – but here are my main observations, as I saw them:

– The Prime Minister can still fire up a crowd, particularly a room full of Liberals
– He extolled his main platform plank from the election of 2015 – helping the middle class – and chiding the Conservatives for opposing those efforts.
– I realize some in the media think he and the Liberals are wasting their time that they spent in Medicine Hat, but he publicly proclaimed the Liberals have a real shot at winning that riding. My observations is if there ever is going to be a Liberal who represents there, this would be the time when the Prime Minister’s popularity and that of the Liberal Party remain extremely high.

Day 2 commences this morning. I, as media, dont obviously get access to all the policy events and announcements, but I still have a fairly full plate of sessions to listen to; more on those later in detail, while I tweet or facebook the stuff in brief during the day.

Covering the #LPCO AGM in Niagara Falls this weekend

Thanks to the kind folks in the Liberal Party, I’ve been officially accredited as a “media” person to cover the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) – LPCO – annual convention that’s being held starting today and going into the weekend at Niagara Falls (being held at Fallsview Casino – first time I’ll have ever set foot in a casino of any type, believe it or not.. but it’s not my scene) .

As of this posting, I’m the only one of the social media types/bloggers that have been given media accreditation.. so unless that changes, I’ll hopefully not fill too out of place amongst the professional “ink-stained wretches”.    There aren’t as many of us bloggers (particularly Liberal bloggers) as there used to be… but we’ve also added Facebook and Twitter to our social media presence… and the LPC values the importance of social media.. so I’d like to thank the folks there for deciding to give me accreditation.

There will be a couple events of note later today: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to arrive and speak,  and after this – there is another after party event social the delegates are invited to come and hobnob with Tyler Banham, the LPCO President, and Marco Mendicino,  the Ontario Federal Liberal Caucus Chair are hosting. (and I’ve been told I’m allowed into this.. so I’ll get to do some hobnobbing as well).

I’ll be live-tweeting as i can.. and probably Facebooking/Blogging a recap when watching the events.. so it should be interesting.

 

 

Municipal Councils opposed to Ranked Ballot on “too complicated” argument insult voters intelligence

The province of Ontario recently gave municipal and city councils the ability to reform their voting system. Thanks to Bill 181, municipalities now have the option of using ranked ballot for their local elections.  It shouldn’t come as a total surprise that there has been resistance to change. A lot of status quo politicians out there don’t want to change a voting system (First Past The Post)  that has benefitted them greatly.

The main arguments I’ve seen so far  they’re giving for not wanting to change that system though is a rather silly one: its too hard for our voters!

Brampton council voted 11-0 against the idea…Brampton councillors who responded to the Star said they voted against ranked balloting because voters might find the system too confusing.

That appears to be the rallying cry for anti-reformers everywhere.. as we have another example of that right here in Brant County:

Brant County councillors appear not eager to embrace voting changes introduced by Queen’s Park…Brant’s municipal elections review committee, made up of Mayor Ron Eddy and councillors Joan Gatward, John Peirce and Shirley Simons, is backing a a staff recommendation to keep the current voting system for at least the 2018 municipal election instead of moving to ranked ballot voting.,,Gatward, who chairs the elections review committee, thinks Brant voters would not be receptive to a new system that they would find complicated.

So apparently ranked ballot is too complicated.. yet in both of these articles, the Toronto Star and the Brant News explain in a couple of sentences how this electoral system works:

(Ranked Ballot) works by allowing voters to rank at least three top candidates (cities can opt to allow more candidates to be ranked on each ballot). The candidate who receives the least first place votes is eliminated in each round and their votes are redistributed until one candidate has a majority.

That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? How did the Brant News explain Ranked Ballot to its readers?

Under ranked balloting, voters pick candidates in order of preference (potentially first, second and third). The candidate with the most votes — 50 per cent plus one — wins, just as in the current system. However, if nobody meets that threshold, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is knocked out. The second-place choices of that candidate’s supporters are added to the totals of the remaining challengers until someone has a majority.

Apparently, some municipal politicians don’t expect their voters to know how to put “1” “2” “3” beside a name on their ballot. Its an insult to the voters intelligence and quite frankly, an excuse for them to try and maintain the status quo.

Stephane Dion and his Green Shift are vindicated. More Hard Work needed though.

Vindication took eight years, but it finally showed up for Stephane Dion:

“The government proposes that the price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 per tonne in 2022.”

And then the kicker.

“If neither a price nor cap-and-trade system is in place by 2018, the Government of Canada would implement a price in that jurisdiction.”

When the prime minister concluded his remarks, Stéphane Dion left his seat and walked over to shake Trudeau’s hand.

 

This was extremely gratifying to read as someone who attended the 2008 Liberal Convention, witnessed Stephane Dion’s victory, and became a Liberal member because of it (based a lot on his green policies and his Green Shift) and then watched Dion and his Green Shift plan mocked relentlessly, which led to his defeat.

We now have a version of that plan about to take place, and I for one applaud the Liberal government’s move in finally moving on this file.  The provinces have time to come up with plans, and if they don’t, or if they are still stonewalling (as is the case with Premier Brad Wall and Saskatchewan), the federal government will do it for them. It’s not dis-similar to Obamacare, where the states were given opportunities to set up their own health care setup to comply, and if they refused or couldn’t, the US government would set up the health exchanges for them.

More needs to be done however. Elizabeth May is correct when she says that for Canada to meet our Paris Agreement goals, we must have carbon basically taxed at 200$ a ton by 2030;  so 50$ a ton at 2022 is a long ways away from that. There needs to be additional pricing or other measures taken to reach that goal.

It’s a good start however, on a file long neglected.

 

 

 

Electoral Reform Townhall in #Brantford #Brant on 10/2/16

There is an electoral reform meeting here in Brantford-Brant on Sunday to discuss (what else?) Electoral Reform. It is being sponsored by the three Liberal Party of Canada  Clubs here (the Women’s Commission, the Seniors Commission and the Young Liberals of Brantford-Brant), but it is meant to be a non-partisan event.

You can find more details at the Facebook Event here, and there is also an article about it in the Brant News.  If you’re  nearby and interested, you’re invited 🙂

 

After almost a year in power, approval rates for governing Liberals increasing

When you’re a blogger that happens to support the governing party and you approve of most of what they’re doing, it’s sometimes hard to blog about anything . However, this new poll and survey by Abacus is worth pointing out merely for the fact that the “honeymoon” with the Liberal government appears to have hardened into more permanent support:

If there were an election tomorrow, the Liberals would win 46% support, 6-points better than their result last fall. The Conservatives are steady at 28% while the NDP is at 16%. Both the NDP and Conservative are four points below their election result last year.Regional breakdowns show the Liberals with a 23-point lead (over the NDP) in Quebec, a 23-point lead in BC, and a 17-point lead in Ontario…57% approve of the job the federal government led by Justin Trudeau is doing, the highest number we have recorded since he took office, and 25-points above where Mr. Harper stood entering the last election.

It appears despite some hiccups here and there which all governments are going to have), the general voting public likes what the Liberals have been doing and the image that Prime Minister Trudeau projects.  There have been some promises that still need to be acted on (marijuana legalization, electoral reform being the two main ones), and I think the only advice I’d give to the Liberals is to act upon these sooner rather then later while the goodwill remains high amongst the populace.

 

 

Photos

Sorry for the absence from the blog.. life interrupts these things occasionally.. and I confess Twitter and Facebook are easier to post stuff on that dont require essays.

Just to prove I am still on here.. a nice picture of Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and myself. “Nate” was in Brantford onTuesday for 2 events: a roundtable on his private members bill Bill C0246 (which he is trying to get passed to update the animal cruelty laws) as well as a local fundraiser. Here he is with one of the shirts the local Brantford-Brant Federal Liberal Association helped create and our past LPC candidate Danielle Takacs has been championing (and took out to Winnipeg to the LPC Convention with much fanfare.. these shirts were a hit).     Nate was a very good speaker and was gracious, saying he hoped Danielle would be a part of Team Trudeau after 2019’s election.

nate-scott

 

The open primary debate south of the border

I realize the debate on Open Membership in the LPC is now a done deal.. but an interesting look at it from the US side of things, with the leading Democratic blogsite Daily Kos (or more accurately its founder) vehemently opposed, to say the least. I guess we’ll see over the next few years whether the idea to open the party up to allow “Supporters” rather then just Liberal Party of Canada members to vote on things like picking candidates etc. was a good idea or not. Just found this perspective interesting

Liberal Party leaders heard concerns of delegates – new constitution passed with amendments.

After all the buildup to a possible split in the party over the Liberal Party’s proposed constitutional changes, delegates backed the new constitution overwhelmingly to the tune of 96% – but only after the Liberal Party leadership realized that a fair # of delegates were not happy –  good on the LPC hierarchy for realizing this and responding to it by putting forward several amendments to address those concerns, which helped ease opposition.

I also gathered from reading a few delegates social media comments that the tension over delegates being bullied and intimidated (a chief concern of mine last week in my prior blogpost) was removed directly by this statement from the Prime Minister directly to the delegates:

Trudeau directly addressed the allegations of intimidation, telling opponents of the proposal: “It takes courage to speak out against something your party leadership believes in and I want you to know I admire and thank you for doing it.”

I give big props to Prime Minister Trudeau for being gracious and conciliatory to those folks who expressed their convictions not initially agreeing with all of what he was advocating, and resisting the pressure to fall in line.

That said, the complaints about the process that (nearly) got the party to the point of  a divide remain, even among those who supported the amendments and applauded Prime Minister Trudeau for his assurances. Hopefully, the Liberal Party hierarchy took a lesson from this convention and will take steps to address complaints on the process that we had this year, and we won’t be having a repeat performance in 2018 if and when other proposals like this get put forward.

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