Monday, April 30, 2007

ADQ- BQ Alliance?

Via Le Devoir.

Alliance ADQ-Bloc ?

Par ailleurs, un rapport controversé commandé par la députée bloquiste de Québec, Christiane Gagnon, auprès d'une firme de relations publiques, suscite de nombreuses réactions.

Les conclusions de ce document, rendu public samedi par Le Soleil, suggèrent au Bloc québécois d'accompagner l'Action démocratique de Mario Dumont dans sa démarche autonomiste, et d'écarter tout référendum sur la souveraineté à court et à moyen terme.

Membre de comités exécutifs pour le Bloc et le PQ, Jean-François Jacob ne rejette pas d'emblée les recommandations du rapport. Il convient qu'elles vont à l'encontre du premier article du PQ de faire la souveraineté, mais il ajoute qu'en étant dans l'opposition, il faut faire des alliances quelque part.

Le député adéquiste de La Peltrie, Éric Caire, y voit une piste intéressante. Il soutient que les autres partis commencent à comprendre que l'autonomisme est une option à part entière. La députée conservatrice de Beauport-Limoilou, Sylvie Boucher, a déclaré qu'elle espérait que les conservateurs puissent continuer de compter sur leurs «amis» adéquistes. Mario Dumont, André Boisclair et Gilles Duceppe n'ont par commenté le rapport.

Does the Bloc Accept Political Contributions from English Canada?

In light of recent events, a strong progressive feminist candidate like Vivian Barbot needs our help in her re-election campaign in Papineau... but does anyone know if BQ candidates accept contributions from folks outside of Quebec?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Alec Baldwin Leaves Degrading Phone Message for John Baird Over Conservative Position on Kyoto

I think Canada should support Kyoto too, but Hollywood liberal Alec Baldwin went too far this time. ;-)

Richard Dawkins: An Atheist's Call to Arms

Via Milk and Cookies. Click the link to watch a rather long, but interesting talk on the status of atheism in America.

The session was titled "The Design of Life," and the TED audience was probably expecting remarks about evolution's role in our history from biologist Richard Dawkins. Instead, he launched into a full-on appeal for atheists to make public their beliefs and to aggressively fight the incursion of religion into politics and education. Scientists and intellectuals hold very different beliefs about God from the American public, he says, yet they are cowed by the overall political environment. Dawkins' scornful tone drew strongly mixed reactions from the audience; some stood and applauded his courage. Others wondered whether his strident approach could do more harm than good. Dawkins went on to publish The God Delusion and become perhaps the world's best-known atheist.

God Wants the Buffalo Sabres to Win the Stanley Cup

They were passing out prayer cards in Buffalo last night.

They read as follows:

Our God
Who art in HSBC
Miller be they name
Thy puck come
Thy save
be done
In the air as it is on ice.
Give us this day our Stanley Cup
and forgive us our slashing
as we send out Peters
for those who slash
against us.
And lead us not into golfing
but deliver us from injury.
For Miller is the Goalie
the power and glory
for ever and ever... Amen.

Go Sabres!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Green Party Members Say NO to an Electoral Coalition with the Liberals in St. Catharines

Looks like some Liberals were counting their chickens. Liberal bloggers were clearly unaware of what was happening on the ground. The Green Party rank-and-file in St. Catharines has clearly rebuked their former candidate who suggested making the no-candidate pact in the first place.

Here's an edited version of a story that appeared in the St. Catharines Standard a few days back:

No-candidate pact between Greens and Liberals in riding fails
to hatch

GRANT LaFLECHE, Standard Staff

Looking back, it was all a hallucination.

For a moment, Jim Fannon thought it would be possible: don't run a Green Party St. Catharines candidate in the next federal election, and cut a deal with the local LiberalParty candidate to shut out Conservative incumbent Rick Dykstra.

It seemed like a sound strategy, except for one thing. Local Greens hated the idea.
"There has been a lot of feedback since I put the idea out there, on both sides of the issue, really," Fannon said Monday about a resolution he was planning to put before local Green members at a meeting next month. "But it is pretty clear it doesn't have a lot of support here."

...."So I don't think there is much point is putting forward a resolution that, at this point, is really going to get crushed," Fannon said. "The Green party is a grassroots party, and this is not something the grassroots wants."

After Fannon told The Standard last week about the resolution, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May - who struck a deal with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion not to run candidates in each other's ridings - said she would allow the riding to decide the issue, though she was not in favour of it. Local Green leaders also said they would not support the resolution, echoing May's desire to run candidates in as many ridings as possible.

"I don't want to call my resolution and the thinking behind it a hallucination because that implies drugs or something, but the fact is that is what it was," Fannon said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Boisclair's Days as PQ Leader Are Numbered

PQ leader Andre Boisclair likely won't be leading his party into the next Quebec election. According to La Presse, only a handful of the 36 members of the PQ caucus openly support Boisclair's leadership. The party's executive is equally uninspired by his leadership. It looks more and more likely that Gilles Duceppe will make the leap to provincial politics.

Un membre de l’exécutif péquiste renchérissait hier. «Quand on voit que presque personne chez les députés ne défend André Boisclair, on peut se poser des questions». Des proches du chef bloquiste Gilles Duceppe ont lancé bien des perches du côté des élus péquistes au cours des dernières semaines.

McGuinty Liberals Giving Polluters a Free Ride

So says Ontario environmental commissioner Gord Miller. Read about it here.

Budget cuts and staff reductions at two provincial government ministries are having a "crippling" effect on the fight to protect the environment, a scathing new report says.

Ontario environmental commissioner Gord Miller issued a "special" report yesterday on the ministries of the environment and natural resources and concluded that:

-Industries spew more pollutants into Ontario's air than current standards allow simply because the government doesn't have the staff to review the files.

-Raw and inadequately treated sewage pollutes bodies of water throughout the province because there aren't enough people to regulate treatment plants.

-Wildlife conservation officers are increasingly unable to leave the office because their gasoline budgets are so low, prompting groups in the North to hold fundraising bake sales for them.

Anti-War Activists Sing "Don't Bomb Iran" to John McCain

John McCain's twist on the Beach Boys classic (see my previous post) has prompted anti-war activists to come up with a song of their own.

Songs About Che Guevera

"Hasta Siempre Comandante" is a favourite, but I had no idea there were so many songs about Che Guevera. Click on the link to find twenty different songs about Che available in mp3 format.

John McCain Sings "Bomb Bomb Iran"

The old Beach Boys classic with a Republican twist. This gaffe may have cost him the election.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is Quebec Sovereignty Dead?

Young bloquistes sure don't think so. And they make some compelling arguments in favour of indpendence too.

The NDP's Dairy Queen Boycott

When I read in the Globe this morning that NDP MPs Joe Comartin and Brian Masse were launching a boycott against Dairy Queen, I thought it must have to do with a labour dispute or some genetically modified ingredient in the ice cream. Instead, the boycott relates to a Dairy Queen ad... is it sexist? racist? homophobic? No, it depicts a boy being hung on a hook by his clothes... Apparently a young boy in Chatham died in a similar fashion nine years ago. I don't mean to be disrespectful to this boy's family, but this whole boycott idea seems a bit over the top considering we see ads on a regular basis depicting much worse forms of violence.


I just saw the ad on TV and noticed that along the bottom of the screen the words "Dramatization. Do not attempt" appear while a young boy hanging from a hook yells to his brother that he wants his DQ blizzard back. I suppose we are supposed to infer from the ad that the older brother stole his younger brother's blizzard and hung him up on a hook. After seeing the ad with my own two eyes I am even more convinced that these NDP MPs are overreacting. Stick to the ATM fee campaign guys!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Manitoba Election Projection

Via Werner Antweiler' Election Forecaster,
Projection of 2007 Manitoba Provincial Election Results

The projection is based on the 2003 results:

Popular Vote & Seats 2003
NDP 49.5% 35 seats
PC 36.2% 20 seats
LIB 13.2% 2 seats
OTR 1.1% 0 seats

Recent public opinion polls indicate a much closer race this time, but the concentration of the NDP vote makes it far more efficient. This could cause a scenario wherein the NDP loses the popular vote on May 22, but still wins a comfortable majority government. The following projection is based on the logic that the NDP will maintain 85% of its vote from 2003 while the other 15% will migrate to the Tories. This projection more closely resembles current opinion polls in the province. This projection demonstrates how first past the post elections can benefit the NDP - and why the Manitoba New Democrats have shown little interest in electoral reform.

Popular Vote & Seats 2007 predicted
NDP 42.0% 31 seats
PC 43.6% 24 seats
LIB 13.2% 2 seats
OTR 1.1% 0 seats

Check out the election forecaster and project your own results.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Barenaked Ladies Discuss Differences Between USA and Canada

Interesting that Page considers Americans to be more progressive on the environment.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hugo Chavez Talks Socialism in London

Love him or hate him, Hugo Chavez sure knows how to deliver a speech.

Manitoba Votes 2007

Election junkies should look here, here, and here for resources on what is essentially a two-way race between the governing NDP and the opposition Conservatives.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Billy Bragg's New Version of "Great Leap Forward"

Billy Bragg twists the lyrics to make them more contemporary... I think I like the original better, but he still entertains.

Disorganized Labour: Unions and the Chater of Rights and Freedoms - Part Three

Part One, Part Two

Constitutional Battles in the New Democratic Party

While the Supreme Court deliberated, the internal battle within the NDP raged on. In an effort to bring both sides of the party back together, David Lewis and Tommy Douglas met with Blakeney and Broadbent and senior NDP staffers in Hull Quebec shortly before Lewis’ death in May 1981. The meeting was a dismal failure. NDP federal secretary, Robin Sears, described the meeting as “the most personal, vituperative, unpleasant, unnerving, disillusioning, disheartening, experience I have ever endured in my political life.”[1] Douglas and Lewis, who sided with Broadbent, were worried that the dispute over patriation would cause irreparable harm to the party.

The same fears existed in the CLC. One senior CLC official admitted to Judy Steed of the Globe and Mail that “many labour staffers were against Ed.”[2] The unidentified high-ranking union official went on to say that "Trudeau gave nothing on collective rights, which are political rights and should be dealt with in Parliament by elected people, not appointed judges – but under Trudeau’s package, power was being shifted to the courts, there was nothing about the right to a job... So there was more off-the-record support for Blakeney’s position in the executive council of the CLC. But the CLC didn’t want to start a public war with Ed."[3]

However, internal dissent within the CLC continued to mount. McDermott and Blakeney met in March 1981. According to Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, “The strongest message [Blakeney] received from Dennis McDermott was that the CLC president wished the constitution issue would go away so that the politicians could talk about unemployment, inflation and patriation – as he put it – of the economy.”[4] McDermott opened the March 9, 1981 CLC Executive Committee meeting by expressing his concern over “the continued harassment of Ed Broadbent by the Saskatchewan people with respect to the Constitution”.[5] The CLC President's message was clear: “Quit attacking the federal Party; they made a political deal and they cannot now walk away from it.”[6] Later that month, at the CLC Executive Council meeting, Nadine Hunt of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) further frustrated McDermott by urging the CLC to adopt a similar resolution on the Constitution to the one adopted previously by the SFL Executive. The resolution stated:
That the SFL, with respect to the Constitution, campaign for the following:

a) abolition of the Senate or at least abolishing their veto power
b) amending formula which recognizes population and regional areas of Canada
c) the Charter of Rights does not infringe on trade union rights such as compulsory membership in legitimate trade unions, compulsory check-off, and the right workers to organize into the union of their choice.
d) On other rights, the Constitution should provide an override clause which would give elected legislators, federal or provincial, the ultimate authority to amend/or implement legislation.[7]

It is interesting to note that three of the SFL's four proposals were eventually adopted by the Federal government. Nevertheless, the CLC President rejected Hunt's resolution by stating that the CLC Council had previously agreed to take a neutral position. The CLC President went on to express his disappointment over the fact that the SFL wanted to enter into the constitutional debate. McDermott “appealed to Sister Hunt to exercise restraint”.[8] Hunt's retort that the CLC was “doing a disservice to the workers of this country”[9] did not sway the head of the CLC. The minutes report that “President McDermott said that whether our remaining quiet turns out to be right or wrong, it was a decision made by this Council.”[10] In the end, delegates to the NDP’s 1981 policy convention voted roughly 2-1 in favour of Broadbent’s position.

In September 1981, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in split decisions that although the federal government did have the authority to patriate the constitution unilaterally, in doing so, it would be violating a constitutional convention requiring substantive provincial consent. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Patriation Reference prompted a new round of constitutional consultation between Ottawa and the provinces. In November 1981, the federal government succeeded in gaining the support of every province, except for Quebec. During the “Night of the Long Knives”, Lévesque slept while the other Premiers and Trudeau hammered out a final agreement which included a Notwithstanding Clause to allay the worries of people like Allan Blakeney who feared judicial supremacy under the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Upon learning that the other Premiers had accepted Trudeau’s patriation scheme, Lévesque claimed that Quebec would neither sign, nor recognize the new Constitution.

Disorganized Labour: Alternate Explanations

Left-leaning critics of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms have taken numerous different perspectives on the issue of organized labour and patriation of the constitution. Michael Mandel has argued that labour's non-involvement in the patriation process stemmed from its belief that the Charter was of no consequence to Canadian unions.[11] Mandel's conclusion is partially supported by comments made by legal scholar Joseph Weiler. Weiler contends that "The union movement's refusal to attend the Special Committee hearings was not intended to be seen as a boycott or protest against the process of constitutional reform or the entrenchment of human rights in the Canadian Constitution. Rather, the leadership of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) decided that the unemployment rate at the time was so high that the unions could not use their limited resources to appear in front of another panel of politicians who were talking about the arcane issues of constitutional reform and human rights."[12]

Weiler's analysis, which was presented in 1985, is an excellent representation of the CLC spin which emerged after legal scholars first began hinting that organized labour had “missed the boat” or “fallen asleep at the switch” when it came to the Charter. Although Weiler's analysis omitted important information, (he fails to address the tension between the FTQ and the CLC or the internal dissent which existed within the NDP), it did superficially reflect the labour movement's desire to see the government deal with concrete economic problems rather than abstract constitutional issues. However, his analysis does not come close to a full explanation of the CLC’s motives. The CLC’s decision to not participate in the process of patriating the Constitution was significant for several reasons. Most importantly, the Congress allowed its preference for a strong centralized federal state to be overshadowed by the FTQ’s opposition to patriation. In other words, the tables had turned in the relationship between the CLC and the FTQ. For the first time, a provincial federation of labour was giving marching orders to the CLC. The CLC’s self-imposed censorship on the issue of patriation and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms left it out of step with its allies in the new social movements and arguably did a disservice to the Canadian labour movement outside of Quebec.

Admittedly, some members of the Congress were genuinely more concerned with inflation and unemployment than they were about the game of constitutional chess which was being played on Parliament Hill. It should therefore come as no surprise that the CLC Executive so easily acquiesced to Laberge and the FTQ. Labour leaders figured that the stakes were not high enough to merit a severe sovereignist headache. In general, dissident unions and provincial federations of labour (with the exception of British Columbia) lined up behind the CLC's position as an act of solidarity.

On April 17 1982, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed Canada’s new Constitution Act. A few months later, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec did not have a veto over constitutional amendments. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, the FTQ, the CSN and the CEQ joined the Société Saint, Jean-Baptiste and released a joint statement asserting “cette Constitution... n’est pas, ne peu pas être et ne sera jamais la nôtre.”[13]


This article has focused on the CLC's experience with constitutional reform in the early 1980s. The first half of the paper was devoted to explaining why the labour movement excluded itself from the process of patriating the Constitution. Primary sources strongly suggest that the both the CLC and the NDP were internally divided over the issue of patriation. Whereas CLC executive members argued over strategy and how best to deal with party-union relations, the NDP was internally divided over both the substance and the process of constitutional reform. The Saskatchewan NDP, in particular, argued that the unilateral patriation of the Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms violated provincial rights and would give too much power to unelected and unaccountable judges. On the other side, Federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent and the party’s establishment argued that support for patriation of the Constitution was a longstanding party policy and that the Charter of Rights would protect the interests of minorities. In the end, Broadbent’s position prevailed and Premier Blakeney eventually agreed to a modified patriation scheme. The CLC’s position on patriation was shaped by its allies in both the NDP and FTQ. In the eyes of many English Canadian labour leaders, the FTQ's strong opposition to Trudeau's constitutional vision was offset by NDP leader Ed Broadbent's enthusiastic support for a strong Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Reluctant to offend its political allies in either camp, the CLC officially decided to remain a neutral observer as the debate over patriation and the Charter unfolded.

The second part of this article was devoted to critiquing alternate explanations for the CLC’s silence on patriation. Several scholars have argued that the CLC was either unaware or genuinely disinterested in constitutional issues and therefore did not play an important role in the patriation debate. However, primary sources strongly indicate that these explanations are simply insufficient. Although it is accurate to suggest that the CLC was not an active participant in the process of constitutional reform, inactivity should not be confused with disinterest. The Congress made a strategic political decision to exclude itself from the patriation debate to avoid an internal battle between its political allies in the NDP and its labour allies in the FTQ.

Patriation of the Constitution with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in many ways, represented the triumph of liberalism in Canada. As Reg Whitaker has correctly noted, “That the Charter should reflect an image of liberal rather than social democracy is not particularly surprising given the structure of Canadian society, and the philosophical make-up of the governing party.”[14] Of course, Whitaker recognized that the role of the Left had traditionally been to challenge the limits of liberal democracy. However, in assessing the NDP and CLC approaches to patriation, he has correctly noted that, even among left-wing activists, “democracy in Canada seems well defined by liberal limits.”[15] The NDP’s limited approach to the patriation debate, evidenced by its failure to argue the merits of, let alone demand, the inclusion of social and labour rights into the new constitution, demonstrated the party’s own political limitations.

For its part, the CLC’s hands-off approach to patriation, in many ways, vindicated the NDP’s weak position on constitutional reform. By refusing to apply any sort of pressure on the NDP to make labour rights a condition of the party’s support for constitutional patriation, the CLC abdicated its responsibility as an organization representing the interests of workers. Rather than participate in the constitutional debate, the CLC simply wanted it to disappear. Although the Constitution was patriated with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, Quebec’s exclusion from the new Constitution ensured that Canada’s constitutional question had not yet been answered. If the patriation debate taught the CLC anything, it was that the Congress could not afford to sit on the sidelines and ignore constitutional questions while the media and politicians obsessed over them.

[1] Sears quoted in Love & Solidarity: A Pictorial History of the NDP, Cameron Smith, ed. (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1992), 220.
[2] Unidentified CLC official quoted in Judy Steed, Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power (Markham: Penguin Books, 1989), 253.
[3] Unidentified CLC official quoted in Judy Steed, Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power (Markham: Penguin Books, 1989), 253.
[4] Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, The National Deal: The Fight for a Canadian Constitution (Toronto: Fleet, 1982), 132.
[5] CLC Executive Committee minutes, March 9, 1981.
[6] CLC Executive Committee minutes, March 9, 1981
[7] CLC Executive Council minutes, March 10-12, 1981.
[8] CLC Executive Council minutes, March 10-12, 1981.
[9] CLC Executive Council minutes, March 10-12, 1981.
[10] CLC Executive Council minutes, March 10-12, 1981.
[11] Michael Mandel, The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 1994), 259-262.
[12] Joseph M. Weiler “The Regulation of Picketing Under the Charter” in Joseph M. Weiler and Robin M. Elliot, eds. Litigating the Values of the Nation: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Toronto: Carswell, 1986), 213.
[13] Déclaration conjointe, 11 décembre1982
[14] Whitaker, A Sovereign Idea, 223.
[15] Whitaker, A Sovereign Idea, 224.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Green - Liberal Alliance in St. Catharines?

h/t to A BCer in Toronto

The St. Catharines Standard reports that local Greens are considering backing former St. Catharines Liberal MP and current Liberal candidate Walt Lastewka in his bid to win back the riding frm Conservative MP Rick Dykstra who won the last election by just 246 votes.

From the story:

“If Mr. Lastewka comes out in favour of proportional representation and pollution taxes, then I think he would get our endorsement,” Fannon said. “This is not about doing something to get the other guy, it’s about creating better policies for Canadians.”

Given that Lastewka was one of a handful of Liberal MPs to vote against equal marriage and anti-scab legislation, and has not been a proponent of electoral reform, I could hardly see Greens being able to justify him as a "progressive" candidate.

Despite the optimism of some, I know a handful of Greens in Niagara, and I suspect this deal won't happen, largely because the Greens have been so critical of Lastewka and the Liberal record in the past. This will truly be an important test to see whether or not rank-and-file Greens support the collaboration strategy of their leader.

Even More Local Coverage of Liberal Blogger's Arrest

Fraud charges force Grits to regroup

COREY LAROCQUE Local News - Thursday, April 19, 2007

Liberals in Niagara Falls should regroup now to find a new candidate for the next federal election, party officials say. Jim Curran, a 42-year-old realtor, dropped out of the race Tuesday hours after Niagara Regional Police charged him with fraud. "At this time we all just need to take a deep breath," said Judi Longfield, executive director of the Liberal Party of Canada's Ontario wing. It will be up to Liberals in the Niagara Falls riding association to figure out how they want to proceed...

...Curran was expected to get the party's nomination at a meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday night. The party cancelled that meeting Tuesday after police said they had arrested him earlier in the day. He was charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 in what police described as a cheque-kiting scheme...

...A candidate search committee had also met last year with Coun. Carolynn Ioannoni and Joyce Morocco, the chairwoman of the GNGH Foundation, but they both ruled out running then. Both said Wednesday they did not plan to seek the nomination now in light of Curran's departure. The Liberal Party of Canada's website listed Niagara Falls as one of three ridings in Ontario where nominations were to be held Wednesday. But Niagara Falls had a line drawn through it with the word "cancelled" added to the website Wednesday morning. With the prospect of a federal election looming, Liberals have been acting quickly to line up their candidates. The party had 18 nomination meetings scheduled in Ontario this week alone. There are still numerous ridings that have not picked their candidates, Longfield said. "This process is still very much open," she said. A parachute candidate - someone from outside Niagara Falls - is always a possibility, but it's not something they've considered yet, Longfield said. Curran was known in party circles for writing a blog about national
affairs. "The What Do I Know Grit" blog was online Tuesday, but appears to have been taken down from the website....

Local Coverage of Liberal Blogger's Arrest

See my previous post here.

Local Liberals need to regroup


Local News - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Liberals in Niagara Falls should regroup now to find a new candidate for the next federal election, party officials say. Jim Curran, a 42-year-old realtor dropped out of the race Tuesday hours after Niagara Regional Police charged him with fraud.

“At this time we all just need to take a deep breath…,” said Judi Longfield, executive director of the Liberal Party of Canada’s Ontario wing. It will be up to Liberals in the Niagara Falls riding association to figure out how they want to proceed. “We’ve suggested they need to reactivate their candidate search committee,” Longfield said in an interview from her Toronto office.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Liberal Hopeful James Curran, "The What Do I Know Grit", Charged With Fraud

I hate to say I told you so, but Niagara Falls Liberal hopeful James Curran, author of the "What Do I Know Grit" blog has been charged with fraud. Read the details here. He was an accident waiting to happen from the very start. Cherniak has already started the spin cycle.

The federal Liberal party has been left scrambling after its candidate for a potential election was charged with two counts of fraud in connection with an alleged cheque-kiting scheme.

James Curran, 42, who is also president of the Niagara Falls Federal Liberal Riding Association, was to be acclaimed the party's candidate tonight at a nomination meeting. But Curran announced last night he would not be seeking the nomination...

..The longtime party worker, who runs a online blog called "What do I know Grit," was arrested yesterday afternoon at his Portage Road real estate office and charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000. It's alleged cheque-kiting place between $15,000 and $20,000 between two Niagara Falls banks. The RCMP say cheque-kiting is a fraudulent act whereby cash is recorded in more than one bank account, but in reality, the cash is either non-existent or is in transit.

David Miller, Buzz Hargrove and NDP Double Standards

I remember during the last federal election how angry NDP activists were at CAW leader Buzz Hargrove for suggesting that people should vote Liberal in ridings where the NDP did not stand a chance of winning. (Incidentally, he also suggested that Quebecers should vote BQ). At the time, I pointed out that many rank-and-file New Democrats were being hypocritical for spewing hate at Hargrove while David Miller was given a free pass for endorsing Liberal MPs and attending a press conference with Paul Martin in Toronto during the campaign. I also pointed out that Peggy Nash had supported the CAW council's strategic voting strategy and that Olivia Chow had endorsed an independent candidate running in Toronto Centre in the 1999 provincial election. Whereas Buzz got the boot, no one ever suggested that remedy for Chow, Nash or Miller.

Now that Miller has officially dumped his NDP membership, (and Nash and Chow are now NDP MPs), it's a moot point. However, I do believe that this kind of double standard is incredibly hypocritical.

Disorganized Labour: Unions and the Chater of Rights and Freedoms - Part Two

Part One

Part Two

Constitutional Paralysis in the Canadian Labour Congress

Although the CLC helped co-found the NDP in 1961, the Congress has never been able to deliver votes to the party in any significant way. Despite the CLC's million dollar campaign contributions, the federal NDP has never been considered a serious contender for office. That said, the party has definitely had a lasting influence in Canadian politics, as evidenced by its ability to push successfully for social reform, especially as the power broker in a minority parliament.

Much of the NDP’s electoral difficulties are owed the NDP's dismal record in Quebec. The sheer size and strength of the province of Quebec unquestionably makes it a key component of the Canadian political system and the NDP is never likely to govern federally without the support of Quebec’s working class. The province's influential trade union movement, which has identified itself with the nationalist cause since the late 1960s, has posed a serious problem for the NDP. The National Question has always been the NDP's Achilles heel in Quebec.[1] How do New Democrats balance a belief in strong central government and national social programs with the sovereignist and devolutionary demands of Quebec's labour movement? The debate over patriation and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not offer any new answers.

It could certainly be argued that the advent of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms provided organized labour's elected representatives in Parliament with an ideal opportunity to push for workers’ rights as part of an overall constitutional package, after all it is widely accepted that the NDP was in a position to win certain concessions from the government in exchange for the party's support.[2] Unfortunately for those concerned about entrenching labour rights in the Constitution, union rights were not a priority for the federal NDP. Only NDP MP Svend Robinson took up labour's cause by moving a modest amendment to section 2(d) of the Charter which would have explicitly protected the right to bargain collectively. The amendment was defeated.

It is important to note that constitutionally entrenched collective rights for workers were not of primary importance to any social democratic leader in Canada. After the new Constitution was proclaimed in 1982, Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy claimed that British Columbia NDP leader Dave Barrett confessed “The constitution on a scale of ten was never more than one and a half to me. The whole debate was a gross waste of time.”[3] The Ontario and Alberta sections of the NDP both made long, detailed presentations to the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution which dealt with a myriad of different issues, but both neglected to mention the absence of specifically categorized labour rights in the Charter. Garth Stevenson, the Alberta NDP's constitutional advisor, explained that the party supported “the principle of entrenching Human Rights in the Constitution”.[4] Stevenson went on to express the view that "Of course, we support very strongly, in addition to the ordinary catalogue of individual human rights, two particular categories of collective rights which, in effect, as Mr. Notley [Alberta NDP Leader] pointed out, are inherent in the whole course of our country's history, the right of our aboriginal peoples and the equal rights of the two official languages right across Canada. We feel very strongly that those rights must be protected as well."[5]

Although the Alberta NDP opposed extending Charter rights to corporations, it was silent on the prospect of entrenching constitutional collective rights for labour. This oversight would have normally prompted organized labour to act, but instead, Canadian unions remained silent.

In essence, the CLC’s neutrality was triangulated between its political loyalties to the federal NDP, its close political connection to powerful provincial sections of the party, and its practical need to retain the allegiance of the FTQ. When Prime Minister Trudeau announced in October 1980 that his government was prepared to move forward with unilateral patriation of the Constitution without provincial consent, Federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent gave his cautious approval, but demanded the inclusion of rights for women, the disabled, and aboriginal peoples as a condition of his party's support.[6] Content with the government’s commitment to consider appropriate amendments, Broadbent enthusiastically endorsed Trudeau’s plan to patriate the constitution unilaterally. Although patriation of the constitution was a longstanding policy of the NDP and its forerunner the CCF, Broadbent’s lack of consultation within the party raised the ire of NDP provincial sections in western Canada, where Trudeau was persona non grata. To complicate matters, Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney, the only NDP Premier in Canada at the time, opposed entrenching a Charter of Rights in the Constitution because he felt that it would shift power away from democratically elected legislators to unaccountable, potentially right-wing, judges.[7] The difference of opinion between Broadbent and Blakeney caused a major rift in the federal caucus and nearly ripped the NDP apart in the early 1980s.[8] Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley sided with Blakeney arguing that provincial agreement was necessary in order for patriation to take place. The two western NDP leaders were no doubt concerned about maintaining provincial control over resource revenues as well. From within Broadbent’s own caucus, a group of four Saskatchewan MPs (Nystrom, de Jong, Anguish, and Hovdebo) publicly broke ranks with their leader and sided with Blakeney instead. Saskatchewan MP, Les Benjamin, who supported Broadbent, described the political tension as follows: “I was as popular as a skunk at a garden party in my own province. Close friends told me they’d never again put my sign on their lawn; they said I was a traitor to Saskatchewan. It was traumatic...”[9]

In Quebec, Parti Québécois (PQ) Premier René Lévesque vigorously opposed the Charter and the patriated Constitution because of his belief that it did not recognize collective rights for Quebec. His government, along with the governments of Manitoba and Newfoundland, challenged the federal government’s authority to proceed with unilateral patriation. Amid the legal deliberations on the constitutionality of unilateral patriation, Lévesque’s position was eventually endorsed by the opposition Quebec Liberals, who joined the PQ in condemning unilateral patriation of the Constitution.[10] The Quebec government’s position was also endorsed by the FTQ, the Confédération des syndicats Nationaux (CSN) and the Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec (CEQ). In fact, the Quebec labour movement’s opposition to the patriation process was so intense that the trade union centrals actually toyed with the idea of appealing to the British Trade Union Congress for support in preventing a new constitution from being adopted in London. The FTQ did eventually join a group known as Solidarité-Québec which gathered 700,000 signatures on a petition calling on Queen Elizabeth II to protect Quebec from unilateral patriation of the Constitution.[11]

Caught in the middle of this entire constitutional mess was the CLC. The Congress did not take any sort of position on the Charter. According to CLC Executive Council minutes dated September 5, 1980, “President McDermott explained that he was of the view that we should not get involved in the 'circus' now completed, especially because the nature of our organization would not lend itself to us having a consensus even within our Council.”[12] After a brief discussion, it was generally agreed that the Congress should “stay out of the issue of the Constitutional Talks as much as possible at this time.”[13] These two statements are important because they shed light on the CLC’s structure, which weakens the cohesiveness of the Congress based on internal cleavages relating to region and language.

Specifically in terms of patriation the CLC was worried by the fact that the NDP was internally divided over the issue and that patriation was threatening to hurt the party electorally. It is also clear that the Congress understood that organized labour in Quebec was very much opposed to Trudeau's package of constitutional reform. The FTQ’s growing strength within the CLC (as evidenced by the special status it was granted in 1974) guaranteed that the Federation’s position could not be ignored. Furthermore, the CLC President was in an awkward political position personally given his unpopularity in Quebec at the time. McDermott’s failure to back CUPW President Jean-Claude Parrot when he encouraged his members to defy a federal back-to-work order during the 1978 postal strike enraged rank-and-file union activists, especially in Quebec. Prior to being confronted with the issue of patriation of the Constitution, McDermott had barely survived a spring CLC convention in 1980 where the FTQ, Quebec locals of CUPE, and the CUPW roundly condemned McDermott for the Parrot incident. These same unions mused openly about finding a replacement for McDermott as CLC President.[14]
Since Broadbent, Blakeney and the FTQ were adamant about their respective constitutional positions, McDermott decided to duck the issue entirely with the help of his friend[15], FTQ President Louis Laberge, who was able to successfully pressure CLC executive members to stay away completely from constitutional affairs.

Analysis of CLC minutes confirms that the Congress was forced to make a very important strategic decision over patriation and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The CLC had several options, but the most practical intervention would have been to demand that the federal NDP make the collective rights of workers a condition of support for constitutional patriation. This option would have unquestionably created a bitter conflict between the FTQ, the CLC, and the NDP. The FTQ would have been angered by the fact that the CLC had entered into the Charter debate, thus lending credibility to the patriation process. Moreover, the NDP would potentially have been troubled by the CLC's insistence on creating a new condition for the party's support of Trudeau's constitutional package. A public split between the NDP, the CLC and the FTQ was certainly not in the interest of the Canadian labour movement.

The CLC's September 1980 decision to stay out of the constitutional debate did encounter some internal opposition. At the December 1980 Executive Council meeting, Alberta Federation of Labour President Harry Kostiuk appealed “for support in making representation to the federal government on the question of the patriated constitution and the entrenchment of the workers’ rights in that constitution.”[16] Kostiuk was immediately supported by British Columbia Federation of Labour President Jim Kinnaird and Dick Martin, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour: “It was expressed by Brother Martin that in Western Canada there is tremendous pressure being applied by the affiliates to say something about workers’ rights, and he would rather see the Congress say something as a body, by reversing the decision made at the last meeting.”[17]

McDermott clearly did not want to reopen the issue. “If Brother Laberge were here he would be speaking very strongly in disagreement of voicing our opinion.”[18] The CLC President was supported by his colleague Bob White, “who felt we have no choice at this time to reaffirm our position or we will be opening serious wounds we thought had been solved long ago.”[19] McDermott's view prevailed and the original position of the September 1980 meeting was upheld.

In early 1981, the highest courts in Quebec and Manitoba upheld the position of the federal government. However, Newfoundland’s Court of Appeal ruled that unilateral patriation of the constitution would constitute a violation of constitutional convention. These contradictory rulings prompted the Prime Minister to refer the matter to Supreme Court of Canada.

[1] Ian McLeod, Under Siege: The Federal NDP in the Nineties (Toronto: James Lorimer & company, 1994), 66.
[2] Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, The National Deal: The Fight for a Canadian Constitution (Toronto: Fleet, 1982), 114.
[3] Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, The National Deal: The Fight for a Canadian Constitution (Toronto: Fleet, 1982), 219.
[4] Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada. Vol. 33 (January 7, 1981): 110.
[5] Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada. Vol. 33 (January 7, 1981): 110.
[6] Judy Steed, Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power (Markham: Penguin Books, 1989), 245.
[7] Charles Campbell “The Canadian Left and the Charter of Rights” Socialist Studies: A Canadian Annual no.2 (1984), 31.
[8] Judy Steed, Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power (Markham: Penguin Books, 1989), 242.
[9] Benjamin quoted in Judy Steed, Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power (Markham: Penguin Books, 1989), 250.
[10] Roch Denis et Serge Denis, Les syndicats face au pouvoir: syndicalisme et politique au québec de 1960 à 1992 (Ottawa: Vermillion, 1992), 131.
[11] Roch Denis et Serge Denis, Les syndicats face au pouvoir: syndicalisme et politique au québec de 1960 à 1992 (Ottawa: Vermillion, 1992), 131.
[12] CLC executive Council minutes, September 15, 1980.
[13] CLC executive Council minutes, September 15, 1980.
[14] Canadian Press “Quebecers ponder CLC restructuring” Montreal Gazette May 5, 1980 p. 4.
[15] Laberge and McDermott had know each other since 1964 when Laberge was hired as the UAW’s organizing director for Quebec.
[16] CLC Executive Council minutes, December 9-11, 1980.
[17] CLC Executive Council minutes, December 9-11, 1980.
[18] CLC Executive Council minutes, December 9-11, 1980.
[19] CLC Executive Council minutes, December 9-11, 1980.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Disorganized Labour: Unions and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Part One

This week marks this 25th anniversary of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As such, I'm going to be posting, in three parts, a paper that I am working on for a conference next month. Your comments are welcome.

Disorganized Labour: Unions and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

"I think we goofed as a labour movement, we should probably have paid a lot more attention to the Charter than we did."[1]

The 1980-81 Special Joint Committee on the Canadian Constitution heard submissions from over one thousand individuals and groups concerned about patriation and the future of the proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[2] Women's organizations, civil liberties associations, aboriginal organizations, ethno-cultural groups, and the business lobby all made their presence felt; the Committee even heard from a group of British Columbians who wanted the right to use hallucinogenic mushrooms entrenched in the Constitution.[3] Neither the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) nor the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) made a formal oral presentation to the Committee.

This paper examines the CLC and the FTQ positions on patriation of the Constitution and argues that the Congress adopted a neutral position in order to avoid a confrontation with the péquiste FTQ who opposed patriation. It will also be argued that the CLC's non-involvement in the process of patriating the Constitution was influenced by its desire not to exacerbate the internal dissension which already existed within the New Democratic Party (NDP) over the issue of unilateral patriation of the Constitution with a proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The second half of this paper is devoted to critiquing previously held assumptions about organized labour's decision not to participate in the process of patriating the Constitution and proposes that CLC's decision to adopt a neutral position represents a significant shift in the relationship between the Congress and the FTQ.

The Aftermath of the 1980 Referendum

After the victory of the federalist forces in the 1980 Quebec referendum on sovereignty-association, Federal Justice Minister Jean Chretien was dispatched to the provincial capitals to test the waters for a new round of constitutional reform. His efforts resulted in the establishment of the 1980-81 Special Joint Committee on the Constitution. The Committee’s task was to gather public input regarding patriation of the Constitution with a proposed Charter or Rights and Freedoms. Before the committee began hearing submissions, the CLC did take the time to write a letter in support of aboriginal rights,[4] but that is as far as the Congress would go.

In Quebec, the FTQ, in a December 1980 memorandum to the provincial government wrote:
"Nous sommes en conséquence profondément indignés de la forme et contenu de la démarche de M. Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Nous regrettons d’ailleurs vivement qu’un parti social-démocrate comme le NPD s’enligne sure des positions centralisatrices et étroitement économistes cautionnant ainsi un procédé aussi antidémocratique que cette entreprise de repatriement unilatéral de la constitution canadienne."[5]

The Federation followed up in February 1981 with a detailed brief to the Quebec government criticizing the content of Trudeau’s proposed constitutional package. The FTQ argued that unilateral patriation of the constitution was unnecessary, undemocratic and part of a strategy to increase the power of Ontario and the federal government at the expense of Quebec. The Federation also argued that the proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms threatened the rights of workers and that the proposed amending formula was unacceptable because it did not give a veto to Quebec.[6] In terms of labour organizations in English Canada, only the BC Federation of Labour bothered to submit a written brief to the committee which addressed the immediate concerns of the union movement. Its brief complained about the exclusion of social and economic rights from the proposed Charter of Rights:

"Nowhere does one find reference to a general right to employment, the right to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work, the right to form trade unions, the right to social security, the right to protection of the family, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, or a general right to education. It is our opinion that the failure of the Charter to make provision for this category of rights is its single most important shortcoming."[7]

Organized labour's absence from the Special Joint Committee's hearings was odd considering that Canadian unions had historically shown interest in the country's constitutional affairs. About a dozen labour organizations had participated in the Molgat-McGuigan Committee on constitutional reform which sat from 1970-1972. Local 444 of the United Auto Workers led the way by calling on the government to guarantee every Canadian the right to a job.[8] At the CLC’s 1978 convention, over a dozen labour organizations submitted resolutions on Canada’s Constitutional Question. The FTQ, CUPE, and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) all submitted resolutions in favour of the principle of self-determination for Quebec, while the International Woodworkers of America submitted a resolution calling for national unity.[9] Eleven resolutions calling for patriation of a new constitution or constitutional reform were submitted by various unions locals representing the UAW, the USWA, the Fishermen’s Union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), the Canadian Brotherhood of Rail and Transport Workers (CBRT), and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.[10] In 1979, a large number of labour organizations in Canada were making their views known to the Task Force on Canadian Unity. The Manitoba Federation of Labour, the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto, the USWA, the CSD, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, in their submissions to the Task Force, all stressed the economic dimension of constitutional instability. The Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto, for example, argued that “the primary source of the present crisis... is the failure of successive federal governments to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of Canadians.”[11] It was therefore odd that organized labour in English Canada ignored Prime Minister Trudeau's assertion that patriation would result in a new constitution, a renewed federalism, and a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Such bold pronouncements ought to have signaled to organized labour that the constitutional talks of the early 1980s deserved unprecedented attention.

Why then did Canadians witness such disinterest on behalf of organized labour in English Canada? The labour movement certainly did not "fall asleep at the switch" as some observers have suggested.[12] On the contrary, the CLC was certainly attentive to the tension between Quebec and the Rest of Canada over constitutional issues (as evidenced by the internal struggle within the Congress) and acutely aware that the Charter could potentially pose a serious threat to the union movement. At a September 1980 CLC Executive Council meeting, Pat Kerwin, head of the CLC Political Action department, reported that “the Charter of Rights may come up in the next few months which could inevitably threaten collective bargaining rights.”[13] The Canadian labour movement's decision to stay away from the constitutional battles on Parliament Hill in the early 1980s, it will be argued, was entirely political and based on a strategy of self-preservation. In order to understand the reasons behind organized labour's policy of non-involvement, one must first reconsider the political relationship between the CLC, the FTQ and the NDP.

[1] Fred Pomeroy, President, Communication and Electrical Workers of Canada, quoted in Pradeep Kumar and Dennis Ryan, eds. Canadian Union Movement in the 1980's: Perspectives from Union Leaders (Kingston: Queen's University Press, 1988), 222.
[2] Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, The National Deal: The Fight for a Canadian Constitution (Toronto: Fleet, 1982), 137.
[3] Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, The National Deal: The Fight for a Canadian Constitution (Toronto: Fleet, 1982), 137.
[4] CLC Executive Council minutes, December 9-11, 1980.
[5] Mémoire présenté par la fédérations des travailleurs du québec au gouvernment de québec, (décembre 1980), 2.
[6] Mémoire de la FTQ à la commission de la présidence du conseil et de la constitution relativement au project de résolution du gouvernement fédéral concernant la constitution, Québec, (5 février, 1981).
[7] British Columbia Federation of Labour Presentation to the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada, (Jauary 8, 1981), 10.
[8] UAW local 444 presentation to the Special Joint Committee of the Constitution of Canada, Vol 23 (October 12, 1970): 8.
[9] CLC, convention document, Québec, April 3-7, 1978.
[10] CLC, convention document, Québec, April 3-7, 1978.
[11] Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto, as cited in Task Force on Canadian Unity, (March 1979), 186.
[12] Union lawyers, as cited in Michael Mandel, The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 1994), 261.
[13] CLC Executive Minutes, September 15, 1980.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Anti-War Democrat on the Offensive

Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan tears a strips off George Bush and his war on terror.

ADQ Calls For Constitutional Reform

After turning Quebec politics upside down by bouncing the national question from centre stage, the ADQ is now calling for constitutional reform... More on this incomprehensible move here.

«Il faut progressivement réparer l'erreur de 1982. Si Ottawa est prêt à ouvrir le débat sur le pouvoir de dépenser, l'Assemblée nationale devrait avoir comme initiative de faciliter l'inscription de cela dans la Constitution canadienne», a déclaré samedi le chef du parti, Mario Dumont, en marge d'une réunion des candidats de son parti en Mauricie.

Electoral Reform in Ontario

Read more here and here. Get involved here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I'm Back and Blogging!

And the award for the best blog post I've read since arriving home from vacation is here. Paul's collection of thoughtful posts on religion deserves to be read far and wide, especially in the deep south, where I spent my last week.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

This is My Blog on Break

I'll be back next week... in the interim, check out the growing list of bloggers on my sidebar and the whack of YouTube videos I've been posting over the last couple days. That should keep you entertained until I get back.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Conservative Eye for the Liberal Guy

Hilarious YouTube video documents one liberal's transformation into a conservative.

Mario Dumont's 1995 Speech in Favour of Quebec Sovereignty

"CHANGE" seems to be a constant theme in all of Mario Dumont's speeches. However, what I found most interesting is that he ends his speech with a quote from former CAW President Bob White... It's not often that a right-wing politician ends a speech with a quote from a trade union leader, and a trade union leader from English Canada at that!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Morality Test: Find Out If You've Got Any Morals

Take the morality test, via Nag on the Lake.

Sample question:

An old woman was very ill. On her deathbed she asked her son to promise that he would visit her grave at least once a week. The son didn't want to disappoint his mother, so he promised that he would. But after his mother died, he didn't keep his promise. He was too busy. He didn't tell anyone about his promise, and he has never felt guilty for failing to do as he said he would. How do you judge the failure of the son to visit his mother's grave once a week as he promised?

Remeber When Political Ads Were Positive?

Liberal and Tory bloggers are busy bashing each other over the head over what constitutes a negative campaign ad. In truth, most of the Liberal and Tory ads we have seen have been negative in both style and substance. But is that because negative ads work and positive ads don't? I always kind of liked these positive ads that the Bloc ran during the 2006 federal election.

Neo Nazis and the Politics of Sport

Extreme right-wing soccer fans are truly a scary bunch. Check out this slide show of neo nazi soccer fans. "Faccetta Nera", a marching song from the Italian fascist period plays in the background.

Justin Trudeau: Shooting Star or Unproven Liability?

The Toronto Star's James Travers writes about the struggle between Stephane Dion and Justin Trudeau.

Here are a few select paragrpahs:

Behind their hands, federal Liberals are questioning if this Trudeau is the father's son or only a shooting star made visible by reflected light.

To shoplift Gertrude Stein's memorable line about Oakland, Liberals are wondering if there is any there there in the not quite young Trudeau. More specifically, they worry that his candidacy and inevitable media attention will stir memories of domineering federalism that a struggling party wants Quebecers to forget.

Along with those uncertainties are other doubts. There's not much in his resumé to build confidence, and some public appearances – one at Mont Tremblant – leave more informed and judicious audiences squirming.

Sometimes, it's enough just to be famous.

That's not the case with politics. Confusing entertainment with public service, fame with competence, first erodes the democratic debate and eventually the quality of national governance.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Liberal MPs Who Would Rather Quit Than Run Under Dion

The list grows longer everyday while Dion scrambles to find enough candidates. At this point, over 10% of the Liberal caucus is calling it quits.

Ray Bonin
Brenda Chamberlain
Joe Comuzzi
Bill Graham
Nancy Karetak-Lindell
Paul Martin
Joe McGuire
Stephen Owen
Jim Peterson
Andy Scott
Paul Steckle
Tom Wappel

Who's next?

***UPDATE*** Lucienne Robillard just called it quits today.

Al Franken Talks Politics With David Letterman

Al Franken, a 2008 candidate for a senate seat in Minnesota, talks about his campaign with David Letterman.


Ian Urquhart and Greg Morrow on electoral reform in Ontario.

Idealitic Pragmatist on the Green Party's new strategy.

Liblogs anti-Harper video page.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Stephen Harper and Sex With Animals

Montreal's Pink Panthers think that Stephen Harper sucks, but they want to know if he swallows... This radical queer group crashed the Tory convention in Montreal in 2005. A friend of mine just sent me the link to this video today. Better late than never.

How Much Does Big Oil Invest in Renewable Energy?

This Globe & Mail article is an interesting read.

Oil majors love to boast about their renewable energy activities but the glossy advertisements showing windmills and solar panels often mask modest investments and even skepticism.

The companies say their investments show they are doing their part to help fight climate change.

Environmentalists counter that the spending is inadequate and aimed solely at deflecting criticism away from the role that burning oil and gas plays in global warming.

“The advertising campaigns that are suggesting a big green shift within these
companies are misleading,” said Tony Juniper, executive director at Friends of the Earth.

Monday, April 2, 2007

John Cleese Explains Proportional Representation

Whatever works.

Proportional Representation for Quebec?

A group of prominent Quebecers from across the political spectrum is calling for proportional representation in the wake of last week's election.

La liste est déjà impressionnante. Parmi les signataires de l'appel figurent Claude Béland, ancien patron du Mouvement Desjardins, Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, ancien ministre péquiste et président de l'Assemblée nationale, les ex-ministres Louise Beaudoin et Liza Frulla, Luck Mervil, les adéquistes Marie Grégoire et Jean Allaire, Laure Waridel, etc.

Proportional representation was never really on the radar in Quebec given the nature of the two-party system. The PQ was least likely to benefit from a change in voting system, and the Liberals were not severely disadvantaged by the first-past-the-post system. However, last week's vote has changed all of that. The new political situation has offered some new political options for Quebec's federalist parties, who could use this opening to do some serious damage to Quebec's sovereignist movement by ditching the first-past-the-post system which tends to over-reward the PQ. Federalist parties aren't stupid... they know the PQ setback is only temporary, but a change in the electoral system could leave the PQ permanently hobbled in its quest for independence. Given the strategic reality, we may see proportional representation in Quebec before we see it in Ontario and British Columbia.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

From Bad to Worse for the PQ

A recent poll puts PQ support at 22%, down from 28% on election day. The ADQ enjoys the support of 38% of Quebecers while the Liberals have dropped to 31%. Looks like the PQ will want this minority government to last a while.

Meanwhile, PQ insiders are hoping and praying that Gilles Duceppe will save them by abandoning the Bloc for the PQ, thus opening up a leadership position for former Quebec Premier Bernard Landry at the federal level.

Election Prediction Website Up and Running for 2007 Federal Election

Election Prediction was the one of the first decent websites that aimed at predicting riding-by-riding results in a Canadian federal election. Better sites, like DemocraticSPACE have emerged since then, but political pundits can never have enough of these kinds of websites. You may also want to check out UBC's Election Forecaster, where number crunching can always produce some interesting results.

UN Branch Criticizes Quebec for Labour Rights Violation

The International Labour Organization, a branch of the United Nations, has criticized the Quebec government for its passage of bill 43, which is in violation of international labour standards. Read about the ILO decision here.

I found this section of the CSN's media release most interesting where Quebec's sovereignist labour movement explains that Quebec should live up to international labour standards that were negotiated by Canada...

Selon le BIT, le projet de loi 142 (devenu loi 43), adopté sous le bâillon en décembre 2005, va à l’encontre des conventions internationales du travail dont le Canada et, par conséquent, le Québec sont signataires.