Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Politicians and Public Toilets

Very timely political satire.

via nag on the lake.

Chantal Hébert's National Affairs Column is Back

Chantal Hébert's national affairs column in the Toronto Star is back after a summer break. Hébert is my favourite columnist. Her analysis is always thoughtful and her understanding of the dynamics at play in federal politics, which are all too often lost on English Canadians, is a breath of fresh air.

Read her newest column here and her archived columns here.

MMP Debate Makes for Strange Bedfellows

This Tory Blogger says she won't vote for MMP because it's just a big scam to keep the Liberals in power forever and she points here to make her case, conveniently ignoring the fact that most Liberal MPPs and this popular Liberal blogger are dead set against MMP. There are Tories, like Senator Hugh Segal and this guy who support MMP. Meanwhile, this NDP blogger says he can't support MMP because it "is not the panacea that many are making it out to be." Although he is certainly a minority in his party, he's likley pleased by the NDP's decision not to campaign for MMP.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dennis Kucinich Talks Labour Politics

Unions in the United States have been most closely aligned with John Edwards's campaign. However, in recent debates, Dennis Kucinich has been upsatging Edwards on union issues. Although Kucinich doesn't stand a chance of winning the Democratic primary, he seems to be steering the front runners to the left. Kucinich's straight foward approach to union issues is certainly refreshing in a presidential field dominated by politicians on the centre-right.

PQ Back on the Map in Quebec

According to the latest CROP poll, the PQ is the most popular party in Quebec and PQ leader Pauline Marois is the most popular choice for "best premier".

The ruling Liberals -- led by unpopular Premier Jean Charest -- fell to third place, slipping to 27 percent support from 33 percent. The right-wing ADQ party dropped to 29 percent from 31 percent.

The results are significant because the Liberals have only a fragile minority in the Quebec legislature and could be brought down at any time.

In the wake of the election, then Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair quit and was replaced by former cabinet minister Pauline Marois. La Presse said Marois, a popular and respected figure, was one reason for the party's recovery.

The CROP poll showed that 37 percent of Quebecers felt Marois would make the best premier, compared with 25 percent for ADQ leader Mario Dumont and just 22 percent for Charest.

This bodes well for Marois' chances in the Charlevoix by-election. The PQ was potentially facing third party irrelevancy after losing seats in the 2007 Quebec election. This modest rebound will help sustain the federalist /sovereignist dichotomy in Quebec politics which has helped progressive fores to rally around the sovereignist option as part of a complex intersection of class and nation.

Ontario NDP Energy Plan Unveiled

I can't explain the weird dance.

Saskatchewan Democratic Action Party

John Murney asks "Who are the people behind this new party? What does the SDAP stand for?

Murney links to their facebook page. But it looks like they have a series of Youtube videos too. The new party is taking direct aim at both the NDP and the Sask Party.

And is it just me, or is there something weird about the voice overs in SDAP Youtube ads... especially the way in which the woman in the voice over says "Saskatchewan" almost like a computer would say it.

I'm willing to bet that this new "party" is actually one guy with a Youtube account. I wouldn't expect to see many SDAP candidates running in the upcoming Saskatchewan election.

The Conservative Case for MMP

I had the pleasure of watching several Conservatives, like this guy, give speeches in favour of MMP at the Citizens' Aseembly public forum in Niagara Falls a few months back. I don't think MMP has as much support on the right as it does of the left, but it's encouraging to see more and more conservatives come out in favour of electoral reform.

Pauline Marois Headed Towards Defeat in Charlevoix By-Election?

Ironically, Jean Charest's decision not to run a Liberal candidate against PQ leader Pauline Marois in the Charlevoix by-election, may just be her undoing.

Although PQ leader Pauline Marois' re-entry into Quebec's legislative assembly was supposed to be a cakewalk, the ADQ is aiming to pull off a dramatic political upset next month, and the former Liberal candidate in Charlevoix is not ruling out the possibility.

After the PQ MNA in Marois' former riding of Taillon refused to resign her seat, in order to allow the PQ leader back into the assembly, Marois was forced to settle for the riding of Charlevoix, held by PQ MNA Rosaire Bertrand from 1994 to 2007.

In the 2007 provincial election, the PQ held onto the seat with a pretty comfortable margin.

Rosaire Bertrand
Parti québécois
9 099
37,67 %

Conrad Harvey
Action démocratique
7 436
30,78 %

Jean-Guy Bouchard
6 541
27,08 %

David Turcotte
2,29 %

Lucie Charbonneau
Québec solidaire
2,18 %

However, the by-election promises to change the dynamic of the campaign because the Liberals will not be fielding a candidate. Premier Jean Charest has explained that the Liberals are not fielding a candidate out of parliamentary tradition. However, ADQ leader Mario Dumont has justifiably argued that voters should have a choice, and that this particular parliamentary tradition is not extended to third party leaders.

In any event, the absence of one of the major federalist parties may have stunning consequences for the PQ campaign. If the campaign unravels along federalist vs. separatist lines, the ADQ could easily carry the day given that the Liberal vote is far more likely to drift to the ADQ than to any other party. If the campaigns unravels instead along right vs. left lines, the ADQ also promises to pick up the largest number of Liberal voters given that the PQ has long been regarded in Quebec as a left-wing social democratic alternative to a right-wing Liberal Party closely aligned with the interests of big business in Quebec.

Marois' star power as a party leader may help her make up for these shortcomings. However, at this point, she is likely regretting that the Liberals have chosen not to run a candidate. Indeed, it may be the lack of a Liberal candidate in Charlevoix that ends up defeating her in the by-election.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Gay Republican's Hypocrisy Exposed

Sad and pathetic.

From the Vancouver Sun:

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in the men's public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to a police report cited by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call...

...According to the police report, Craig entered a bathroom stall next to the police investigator, placed his bag against the front of the door and tapped his foot in a gesture commonly used to try to pick up men in public toilets.

"I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct," Roll Call wrote, quoting the investigator in the police incident report.

Craig is in his third term and up for re-election next year. He is a former member of the Senate's Republican leadership and played an active role in the 1998 impeachment of former President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal....

...In a June 2006 Senate vote, Craig voted in favour of an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage in the United States as a union between one man and one woman. The amendment was defeated by one vote.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More Thoughts on the NDP and MMP

My post on the NDP's decision to not campaign on MMP seems to have generated a lot of comments. I'd like to address a few of them.

Lord Kitchener has argued that campaign regulations are preventing the party from campaigning on MMP. You can read the campaign regulations here.

"Individuals or groups who choose to advertise in favour of one outcome or the other will be required to meet financial disclosure and reporting requirements. For example, those spending over $500 on advertising must register with Elections Ontario and file a report detailing advertising spending and contributions. Political parties and constituency associations will be prohibited from registering."

I think some New Democrats are hiding behind this regulation in order to justify the party's decision not to campaign on MMP in the upcoming provincial election.

The Green Party doesn't seem fazed by Election Ontario's edict. In fact, the Greens explicitly ask people to "Vote for Mixed Member Proportional in the electoral reform referendum" on their website and they link directly to the VOTE MMP campaign.

For its part, the Family Coalition Party writes on its main page:

At the same time as the election, on October 10, a Referendum question will be on the ballot. Electors will be asked whether they wish to maintain the current system or adopt the alternative Mixed Member Proportional system.


We believe that this change will give us an opportunity to represent you at Queen's Park, if the Referendum is approved. To read more please follow this link: "The new system of Election for Ontario"

The NDP, on the other hand, doesn't mention MMP anywhere on its main page. Electoral reform is not even listed in on the website under the CAMPAIGN heading.

You can be sure that fringe parties will make MMP a central theme of their respective campaigns. They know that Election Ontario's regulations do not prevent them from taking strong principled positions on issues of public policy. The NDP has simply chosen to follow the Liberals and Tories into neutral limbo by refusing to make electoral reform a key issue. The party could easily get around the flimsy regulations with a little imagination. For example, the NDP could advertise the position that "the NDP has strongly favoured electoral reform in the past and that an NDP government would move swiftly to implement a system of MMP if the Citizens' Assembly's recommendations are approved in the October 10 referendum". However, my understanding is that the Ontario NDP is very much keeping its distance in the same way that the British Columbia NDP refused to campaign on STV. In my view, this is a bad strategy.

Mark Greenan writes: "Do we want WANT the NDP campaigning on MMP? Frankly, I don't see it as important. There are many better things the Ontario NDP leadership can do to support MMP than campaign on it."

Really? What exactly could they do in an election campaign that would be more important or useful than advertise their support for MMP? Many NDP voters are as clueless about the proposal as the general public. If the NDP were to campaign on the issue, these voters would likely be more inclined to support MMP. Furthermore, having individual NDP campaigns coordinate literature drops with the VOTE MMP camp would be very helpful. The NDP's position precludes these types of coordinated activities.

Lastly, the Daily Dissidence and Jan From the Bruce hit the nail on the head when they point out that the NDP's failure to campaign on MMP will further alienate the party in a campaign that will likely be dominated by the issues of education reform and electoral reform. The NDP's weak position on both issues, which very much mirror the Liberal positions, will surely push the party to the sidelines. (You can read my views on the NDP and education reform here.) Many progressive voters who care dearly about education reform and electoral reform may just drift to the Greens, who seem to have adopted solid and clear positions on what are sure to be important wedge issues.

The NDP has dropped the ball by choosing to not campaign on MMP.

NDP Won't Campaign on MMP

Today, a good source told me that the NDP, in consultation with caucus members and the party's election planning committee, has decided against actively campaigning in favour of MMP in the upcoming provincial election. Although the party supports the proposal, the party will not focus on electoral reform as a campaign theme and candidates will be advised against advertising their support for MMP in campaign literature.

Some New Democrats felt that actively campaigning in favour of MMP would hurt the party since the proposal is likely to fail. Others did not want the NDP exposed to allegations that it was violating the campaign finance rules set up by Elections Ontario in relation to the referendum. Another view was that the party did not want to alienate supporters who did not support MMP.

Instead, the NDP will focus its campaign around developing clean energy and the promotion of anti-poverty devices, like increasing the minimum wage. The party believes these issues are good wedge issues because they contrast well with the Liberal Party's support of nuclear energy and the McGuinty government's support for MPP pay raises.

***UPDATE*** Read my response to some of the comments below here.

Presidential Assassin Celebrated in Song

Leon Frank Czolgosz was a self proclaimed anarchist and assassin of U.S. President William McKinley.

As a young man, Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901) worked in a wire mill in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a good employee, retaining his job even through an economic depression.

In 1898, after witnessing a series of strikes (many ending in police confrontation), Czolgosz returned home, where he was constantly at odds with his family's Roman Catholic beliefs and with his stepmother. He became a recluse, and spent much of his time alone, reading socialist and anarchist newspapers. He was very affected by hearing a speech of Emma Goldman, and sought her out in New York City to discuss political matters. She later wrote a piece sympathetic to Czolgosz's assassination of McKinley, though not quite in favor of the act. However, Czolgosz, as far as is known, failed to be accepted into any anarchist group.

Czolgosz's experiences had convinced him there was a great injustice in American society, an inequity which allowed the wealthy to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor. He concluded the reason for this was the structure of government itself. Then on July 29, 1900, King Umberto I was assassinated by avowed anarchist Gaetano Bresci. Bresci told the press he had to take matters into his own hands for the sake of the common man. The assassination sent shockwaves through the American anarchist movement. In Bresci, Czolgosz found his hero: a man who had the courage to sacrifice himself for the cause.

On August 31, 1901 he moved to Buffalo, New York and rented a room near the site of the Pan-American Exposition.

On September 6, Czolgosz went to the exposition with a pistol in his hand, concealed in a handkerchief. McKinley had been standing in a receiving line at the Temple of Music greeting the public for several minutes when Czolgosz reached the front of the line and shot him twice at point-blank range. The time was 4:07 p.m. McKinley would die from his wounds on September 14.

Czolgosz was convicted and sentenced to death on September 23, in a trial that lasted 8 hours and 26 minutes from jury selection to verdict.

Czolgosz was found guilty and executed by electrocution, by three jolts at 1700 volts each, on October 29, 1901, at Auburn prison in Auburn, New York. His last words were "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people - the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime." As the prison guards strapped him into the chair, however, he did say through clenched teeth, "I am sorry I could not see my father."

Sulfuric acid was thrown in his coffin so his body would completely dissolve within 24 hours. His letters and clothes were burned.

The 1901 film used is a detailed reproduction of the execution of Leon Czołgosz faithfully carried out from the description of an eye witness. Czolgosz is executed with the fairly new invention of the electric chair in the prison of Auburn, New York. The keepers are seen taking Czolgosz from his cell to the death chamber, and shows State Electricians, Wardens and Doctors making a final test of the chair. Czolgosz is then brought in by the guard and is quickly strapped into the chair. The current is turned on at a signal from the Warden, and the assassin heaves heavily as though the straps would break. He drops prone after the current is turned off. The doctors examine the body and report to the Warden that he is dead, and he in turn officially announces the death to the witness. While the film is certainly an important historical document, revealing popular fascination with both the fact and the manner of Czolgosz's execution, it cannot be taken as a record of the actual execution. (more)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Can't 20% of Americans Locate Their Country on a Map?

Miss South Carolina gives us the answer.

h/t to the Daily Dissidence

Top Ten Blogging Dippers

In reviewing Paul's list of the Top 100 Canadian political bloggers, I think I counted ten Blogging Dippers.

1. Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations / 911,369
2. La Revue Gauche / 1,486,069
3. Buckdog / 1,591,003
4. Accidental Deliberations / 2,717,441
5. Devin / 2,718,187
6. Idealistic Pragmatist / 2,725,501
7. My Blahg / 2,800,670
8. Uncorrected Proofs / 2,891,152
9. Unrepentant Old Hippie / 4,284,573
10. Blogging Dippers / 6,135,616

I know almost half, if not more, of the bloggers on this short list are not even card-carrying New Democrats. I think this fact probably lends support to Paul's idea of creating a home for far left bloggers which, if I understand him correctly, would include anything to the left of social democracy. Many of us support some NDP initiatives, volunteer for the party, or may even donate to the party, but remain cynical about the NDP's true progressive, let alone socialist, potential.

The development of an alternate blogroll could also help shine the spotlight on some great left-wing blogs that have been lost in the shuffle. Don't get me wrong, I think the blogging dippers is a great forum that serves a useful purpose, but the fact that the NDP's blogroll ranks behind the Green party's blogroll in terms of traffic (The Greens are at #61 compared to the Blogging Dippers at #98 on Paul's Top 100 list) is a sad commentary on the NDP's capacity to generate interest, let alone influence, in the political blogosphere. Perhaps the development of a far left blogroll would lead to a mutually beneficial relationship based on healthy competition, dialogue and debate.

Canadian Idiot

A humorous reminder that Canada and the USA are two entirely different countries.

Weird Al parodies Green Day's American Idiot.

Shuffling the Deck

I have reshuffled my links list.... if you don't post, you can't expect me to keep you around.

In particular, check out the newest links:

Rusty Idols

Scott's DiaTribes

Joseph Facal

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Outremont By-Election Report: Part 2

Last week, Fuddle Duddle posted some pictures of defaced election signs in Outremont. Although I saw very few signs that were vandalized, I did capture this gem of Thomas Mulcair, complete with a piece of gum on his nose.

As I explained in my previous post, I couldn't locate a single Liberal sign within a five block stretch. Instead, this type of picture is common in main intersections throughout the riding.

However, the NDP's much smaller signs are attached to almost every single post in Outremont and therefore Mulcair is hands down the winner of the sign war. Admittedly, these pictures were taken on the same street as Mulcair's campaign headquarters (pictured below). However driving through the riding would leave no doubt in the minds of the average voter that an NDP breakthrough is certainly within the realm of possibility, if not probability.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Citizens Assembly Members Explain MMP

What is Mixed Member Proportional? A simple guide to electoral reform brought to you by members of the Citizens Assembly.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Working Families Coalition Ads

The Working Familes Coalition that aired the "Not this time Ernie" ads in the 2003 provincial election has returned in 2007, but this time the message has changed. In a series of four "Do you remember?" ads the WFC bashes the Tories while clearly indicating support for the Liberals. If you ask me, these ads are not as effective as the 2003 ads, largely because they are so clearly partisan. The ads have already generated an interesting but ultimately baseless complaint from the Tories.

The coalition is also sponsoring a contest similar to the contest in the United States wherein people developed anti-George Bush ads in the run up to the 2004 presidential elections.

Who is behind the WFC? It's unions...

The Chair is Gary O'Neil, Presidentof Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. The other major players include:

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association
Canadian Auto Workers
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 128
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Union Of Operating Engineers Local 793
Painters District Council 46
Ontario Pipe Trades Council

These unions have been alingned with the Liberals for the last several years. You'll notice that some unions like CUPE, USW, CEP, and OPSEU are not involved. They are backing the NDP. It will be interesting to see if the unions loyal to the NDP will be mounting a campaign of their own, or whether they will simply funnel money to NDP campaigns instead.

Outremont By-Election Report: Part 1

While exiting Montreal's Museum of Contemporary Art this evening, I noticed Jack Layton, Olivia Chow and NDP candidate Thomas Mulcair making their way up the red carpet at the World Film Festival which was taking place next door. It reminded me of the last time I was on vacation and ran into Jack Layton. The trio waved for the cameras and were smiling from ear to ear.

They certainly had reason to smile.

Earlier in the day, while walking the streets of Outremont, I noticed that NDP signs outnumbered Tory and Bloc signs by at least five to one. Within a distance of five blocks, I did not see a single Liberal sign. Outremont certainly isn't looking like a Liberal stronghold these days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bloggers for MMP

Join the bloggroll at Bloggers for MMP and help make history on October 10, 2007.

Although the pro MMP camp is clearly better organized than its detractors, it faces almost insurmountable obstacles in the form of a 60% threshold and an almost non-existent voter education campaign from Elections Ontario.

That said, stranger things have happened in Canadian politics. Visit the website, donate, volunteer!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Actor Danny Glover to Lead Niagara Falls Labour Day Parade

Join International Film Star Danny Glover in bringing the power of Labour Day to Niagara Falls.

Join us as we hold one of the first Labour Day actions in Niagara Falls.
1:30 PM
September 3rd
Rally at the corner of Union Ave and Hunter St. in Niagara Falls.

Buses will be leaving from locations in:
Toronto, Brampton/Mississauga, and from the end of the Hamilton Labour Day Parade.
Please call or email to reserve your seat.
For details: call Ethan Clarke at 905-354-2027 ext. 312 or visit

For a poster to print, please visit the website.

Teachers Union Favours Liberals Over NDP

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario may have invited both NDP leader Howard Hampton and Liberal Education minister Kathleen Wynne to address their annual meeting, but the Liberals got all the love. The party-union relationship continues to crumble for the NDP. Firefighters, Building Trades unions and teachers are firmly in the Liberal camp. Expect the CAW to endorse McGuinty and the Liberals in the coming weeks. From the Star:

The normally staid annual meeting of Ontario’s elementary teachers’ union turned into a rowdy election rally today for Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, with union officials calling for her to trounce Conservative Leader John Tory in one of the most fierce battles of the upcoming provincial election.

"We at the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario will do whatever we can to ensure she continues to be the minister this time next year," said outgoing federation president Emily Noble before a ballroom of 500 grade school teachers from across the province.

"This is an education minister whose heart is in the right place - in a government that believes in publicly funded education. We’re absolutely encouraging members to elect a Liberal government. This government has been positive for teachers and for education."

"With your help I can defeat John Tory in Don Valley West," said Wynne, in a talk that sounded like a pep talk to the party faithful.

"With your help, we can re-elect a Liberal government to Queen’s Park that believes in public education."

Niagara Falls teacher Sharon Aloian said she was comfortable with the meeting’s election buzz and sharp partisan edge.

"When you have a premier who calls himself the Education Premier, and you’re a teacher - how can we not work to keep them in office?"

Progressives Have a Lot at Stake in Roberval--Lac-Saint-Jean By-Election

Celine Houde, a trade union activist and sovereignist, is the BQ candidate in the Roberval--Lac-Saint-Jean by-election. She is in for the fight of her life against a Tory mayor and a right-wing Liberal.

The riding has been in the BQ camp since 1993, however the Tories almost took it from the Bloc in 2006.

2006 result:

BQ 45%
Cons 37%
Libs 8%
NDP 6%
Green 4%

The Tories are running Denis Lebel, the mayor of Roberval. The Liberals are running Louise Boulanger, a businesswoman.

The NDP candidate, Eric Dubois, is an anti-war and social justice activist, but the Mulcair effect is not likely to extend to this corner of the province where the NDP has no local organization or strong electoral history.

Former BQ Leader Michel Gauthier, served as MP for this riding from 1993-2007. He had a string local following and a high profile within the party. The lower profile Houde will be in for a tougher fight, especially since the Tories have attracted a very credible candidate in Lebel.

Public opinion polls have seen a decrease in BQ support since the election, however the Tories have failed to capitalize on this decrease. In addition, the PQ was able to hold onto seats in this region in the 2007 Quebec election, and therefore predictions of a sovereignist meltdown are likely exaggerated. That said, this race should be very tight.

And more importantly, progressives have a lot to lose if this BQ seat falls to the Tories. Expect the Bloc to abandon Outremont and channel its resources into this riding for the remainder of the campaign.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Liberal Spy Exposed in News Report

A Liberal operative armed with a video camera is stonewalled by an NDP staffer. The whole altercation is captured by the media.

Top 100 Canadian Political Blogs

Paulitics has compiled a list of the Top 100 Canadian political blogs based on a traffic analysis at Uncorrected Proofs made the list at #70. This is a great reference tool that brings together dozens of great political blogs. I encourage you to bookmark the link.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This is my Blog on Break

I won't be posting much for the next two weeks. However, rest assured that I am coming back. In the meantime, these blogs have been particularly good lately:


Nag on the Lake


Calgary Grit

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Firefighetrs Union Endorses McGuinty

The link between organized labour and the NDP takes another blow. Expect the CAW, most building trades, and teachers' unions to also endorse Liberals to varying degrees.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bloc Looks to Elect its First South Asian MP in By-Election

Eve-Mary Thai Thi Lac is the BQ candidate in the sovereignist stronghold of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. The Bloc's aggressive recruitment in ethnic communities in recent years has certainly paid dividends and a win in this by-election would be significant in terms of the BQ's overall strategy because the riding is located outside of the Montreal region. Thai Thi Lac is looking to join an impressive contigent of visible minority Bloc MPs like Maria Mourani, Maka Kotto, and Vivian Barbot. It's the new face of the sovereignist movement and it is making the Liberals very very nervous.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ontario NDP Candidate Criticizes Hampton

Former NDP MP and MPP Reid Scott, who will be running for the New Democrats in the riding of Ajax-Pickering in the upcoming provincial election, has upset the party establishment before even being officially nominated as the candidate... I guess when you're 80, you don't have much to lose. Check out what he had to say to the Toronto Star:

Scott has a salty tongue and spares no one, not even his own side. He believes the New Democrats have "no real leadership provincially. They should have been pounding away at the issues instead of waiting for the writ to drop; looking at doubling their seats, not just hanging on to the 10 they have. That's a goofy approach."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Will Canada Gaffe Sink Obama?

At the AFL-CIO Democratic Presidential debate tonight in Chicago, Barack Obama, in response to a question about NAFTA, referred to the "President of Canada"... Pretty serious gaffe for a presidential candidate given that the USA is Canada's largest trading partner and closest neighbour. Delaware Senator Joe Biden was quick to pounce on Obama's gaffe, declaring that he would be in touch with the Prime Minister of Canada in relation to NAFTA. If you ask me Kucinich is winning the debate. Ok, back to watching TV.

Cherniak Not Half As Important As He Thinks He Is

A colleague of mine recently pointed out to me the actual difference between the number of people Jason Cherniak claims read his blog and the actual number who do read his blog.

On his blog, Cherniak writes (in the third person!) "Jason has been blogging for two years and averages about 1500 readers a day, including many elected politicians and members of the national media."

However, his SiteMeter tells a different story.

As of late, Cherniak's blog has been visited by fewer than 600 people on a daily basis.

Historically, Cherniak has very seldom experienced 1,500 unique visitors per day and in the past 30 days he's averaged less than 800.

I'm sure a lot of bloggers, myself included, would love to attract this much traffic to their blogs, but why make yourself out to be something you're not?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bloggers of the World Unite!

From the Star:

In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labour union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.

The effort is an extension of the blogosphere's growing power and presence, especially within the political realm, and for many, evokes memories of the early labour organization of freelance writers in the early 1980s.

Organizers hope a bloggers' labour group will not only showcase the growing professionalism of the Web-based writers but also the importance of their roles in candidates' campaigns.

"I think people have just gotten to the point where people outside the blogosphere understand the value of what it is that we do on the progressive side," said Susie Madrak, the author of Suburban Guerilla blog, who is active in the union campaign. "And I think they feel a little more entitled to ask for something now.''

If you blog as part of your employment, you may want to consider joining this new bloggers' union. However, if you don't blog for anybody but yourself and your adoring readers, you're out of luck... there is no law in any North American jurisdiction that I am aware of that would allow such an organization to exist and actually enter into legally binding contracts to win benefits or any other benefit. Unions are based on employment relationships. Without one, you're out of luck.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Comments by UNITE HERE activist to Steelworkers’ Conference not Actionable in Court

Found this in my e-mail inbox today:

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has dismissed the defamation case brought by Canadian Niagara Hotels (CNH) and its owners, the DiCienzo family, against one of its employees, Kim McQuillan.

The defamation case was launched in 2004 against McQuillan, along with union officials, for a speech McQuillan made to a conference of members of the United Steelworkers (USW) in October 2003, at the Sheraton on the Falls Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The USW had invited the union representing workers at the Niagara hotel and convention centre -- UNITE HERE Local 75 (at the time, Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees) -- to address its gathering and McQuillan, then a food and beverage server with Canadian Niagara Hotels, gave the speech on behalf of UNITE HERE.

“Our members were inspired by McQuillan’s speech to our convention and happy to hear from the workers providing us with such excellent service at our event,” said Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Provinces) . “We were shocked when Canadian Niagara Hotels and its ownership chose to discipline, then discharge and finally launch this action against her and officials from her union. We are very happy to see this action dismissed.”

Canadian Niagara Hotels took exception to parts of McQuillan’s speech and suspended her indefinitely just a week after the USW conference. She was subjected to lengthy questioning by CNH’s Human Resources Director and then disciplined for giving the speech. She was told she had to give a full apology and retraction of her speech to her employer, CNH, to the owners of the hotel – the DiCienzo family -- to other employees and to the customer, United Steelworkers (USW) District 6.

In a letter January, 2004 letter to UNITE HERE from USW District 6 Director Wayne Fraser, which formed part of the evidence in the case, the USW expressed dismay at the actions taken by CNH and its ownership.

“I am now informed that the hotel has retained a law firm to threaten Kim with a defamation action in an attempt to extract from her apologies to and to [District 6],” says the letter, quoted in court documents, “Let me tell you as directly as I can that [District 6] is not requesting and will never request that Kim McQuillan make any sort of apology to [District 6] for her comment. Much to the contrary, our members found her comments to be both supportive of our decision to use [the Company’s] facilities and inspiring for the tale of determination that they told.”

The lawsuit was dismissed by the Superior Court of Justice, on the grounds that the Court has no jurisdiction to deal with the claim. In his decision handed down on Friday, July 27th Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Lederer found the dispute arose directly from the employment relationship and suing McQuillan and the union officials constituted "an improper attempt to remove the dispute to the court only after the Company's efforts to obtain an apology through its authority, under the collective agreement, to discipline failed".

In the ordinary course, costs of a motion and costs of an action are awarded against the unsuccessful party. No order has yet been made with respect to costs of this motion and the lawsuit itself.

Dumont's ADQ Ready to Embrace Quebec Nationalists

Given Marois' retreat on sovereignty, this is hardly surprising. However, the ADQ's careful balancing act on the National Question will be hard to sustain once national unity tops the public policy agenda in the future...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Why Shopping at Canadian Tire is a Bad Idea

This store owner has taken video surveillance a step too far... It's one thing to target shoplifters, it's another to print photos of "suspicious" shoppers. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

From the Niagara Falls Review:

Fed up with losing thousands of dollars in merchandise to sticky-fingered
thieves, Mike Cavanaugh took matters into his own hands.

"I had to react, I couldn't afford not to," said the owner of the Canadian
Tire store on Montrose Road.

Cavanaugh said a state-of-the-art digital surveillance system installed
last year has quashed in-store thefts by almost 80 per cent.

He now keeps a running tally of his successful captures and happily shares
the information with the public. A large billboard affixed to the front of the
store reads "Arrested or banned since digital cameras to date: 249."

While many retailers don't discuss their loss prevention techniques,
Cavanaugh believes warning thieves they're not welcome in his store is an
effective deterrent...

...He has also taken his fight against crime one step further.

Images of suspicious shoppers - not caught in the act - but captured on
video are printed out and placed on an easel inside the entrance vestibule under
the heading "persons of interest."