Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sask Party Poised to Win Majority

The first, and as far as I can tell only, poll of the Saskatchewan election campaign suggests Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party will win a majority government on November 7. This is hardly surprising given the NDP's unpopularity in recent years.

Sask Party 50%
NDP 35%
Liberal 10%

With numbers like these the NDP will be lucky to hold onto 20 seats and the Sask Party will likely pick up an additional ten seats, thus securing a strong majority for Brad Wall. The silver lining for the NDP is that a greater proportion of Liberals than New Democrats are moving to the Sask Party, therefore increasing the likelihood that Liberal leader David Karwacki will go down to defeat.

For more election info click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Danny Glover and Niagara Hotel Workers Headed to Court

Danny Glover, international film star and union supporter, Wayne Samuelson, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, and
Alex Dagg, Canadian Co-Director of UNITE HERE, the hotel workers union are headed to court on October 30th in St. Catharines.

In September 2006, during a rally, Glover, Samuelson, and Dagg entered the Sheraton on the Falls and asked for a meeting with the owner. They were met with calls to police. Police refused to arrest the three and they left peacefully. Despite this, CNH decided to pursue a private prosecution of the three.

This YouTube video features Glover's speech to union members and supporters before the delegation entered the hotel. If you watch closely, you can see yours truly in the background.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Socialist Realist Paradise

Click here to be shocked, inspired, dismayed, and humoured all at the same time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sask Liberals Say Yes to Decriminalizing Pot

Saskatchewan NDP Premier Lorne Calvert and Saskatchewan Liberal leader David Karwacki both claim to have never smoked pot. However, the NDP is opposed to decriminalizing the drug, while the Liberals support decriminalization.

On the other hand Sask Party leader Brad Wall has admitted to smoking pot, but remains firmly against decriminalization.

Some bloggers are annoyed that the Liberals are portraying themselves as the true progressive alternative to an inevitable Sask Party government. However, this is a pretty good example of how the Saskatchewan NDP is being outflanked by the Liberals on a progressive issue. To be sure, the Liberals are not a left-wing party, but they are an attractive protest vote for traditional NDP supporters who see their party as having abandoned its core social democratic philosophy over the course of the last fifteen years.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Kormos is Unlikely to Run for Ontario NDP Leader

I’ve previously blogged about the Ontario NDP leadership here and here. You’ll notice I haven’t mused about a Peter Kormos candidacy. The reason is that I think there is little chance he will run.


He doesn’t seem to want the job. If Kormos really wanted the job, he would have taken it after Hampton lost official party status for the party for the second election in a row in 2003. The fact is that Hampton was willing to step aside, but no one, including Kormos, wanted the job. Why would he want it now?

Kormos would only differ significantly from Hampton in terms of style. Kormos knows how to rally the troops and energize a crowd. He is, by far, a better public speaker than Hampton and would make a much more effective opposition leader as a result. However, in terms of policy, Kormos and Hampton are not that far apart. Sure, Kormos is more left-wing than Hampton, but over the course of the last three election campaigns Kormos has effectively pushed his party to the left. In fact, the last two NDP platforms could have been written by Kormos. The party’s decision to re-commit itself to public auto insurance in 2003, its recent emphasis on anti-scab laws, and its disavowal of the Rae government’s Social Contract Act are all evidence of Kormos’ growing influence within the caucus and the party. That influence grew tremendously after the departure of Frances Lankin and David Christopherson. As House leader, Kormos was able to put his stamp on the party like never before. However, there is a sense that Hampton’s politics are as stale as his leadership capabilities. As such, Kormos may not have that much to offer policy-wise. For example, he is opposed to a single, secular public school system in Ontario – a policy currently embraced by the party’s left wing.

His time has passed. Although he was an MPP during the Rae government’s reign of error, Kormos doesn’t carry the baggage of the Rae government like some potential candidates. That’s because he was a thorn in the side of the government and criticized it for abandoning its core social democratic philosophy. That said, Kormos has been around Queen’s Park since 1988. He is as dynamic as ever, but there is a sense that the party needs to renew itself with a newcomer at the helm.

Kormos has done a lot for the party, especially since Rae’s departure. Rae’s conversion to the Liberals has only vindicated Kormos. Expect his caucus colleagues to appoint him as interim leader while others battle it out for the leadership, but don’t expect Kormos to seek the prize himself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Federal NDP MPs Eye Ontario NDP Leadership

Rumours are swirling that Hamilton Centre MP David Christopherson and Windsor Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin are testing the waters for a possible run at the Ontario NDP leadership.

Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton is widely rumoured to be leaving the post before the next NDP convention which is scheduled for 2009.

Christopherson, a former cabinet minister in the Rae government, left Queen's Park for a failed mayoral bid in Hamilton after a falling out with Hampton. He was subsequently elected as the MP for Hamilton Centre in the 2004 federal election and was re-elected with an impressive majority in 2006. Christopherson had explored the possibility of running for the Ontario NDP leadership back in 1996, but most of his potential support base had already committed to supporting Hampton or Frances Lankin. Christopherson is a dynamic speaker, but carries the baggage of the Rae government.

Comartin, who was the only NDP elected from Ontario in the 2000 federal election, finished 4th in his bid for the Federal NDP leadership in 2002. His riding is currently held provincially by Liberal cabinet minister Dwight Duncan. Comartin does not carry the baggage of the Rae government, but he had difficulty attracting support for his federal bid in 2002 and is not nearly as charismatic as Christopherson or other rumoured leadership contender Cheri DiNovo.

Hugh Segal Puts the 'Red' Back Into Red Tory with Senate Proposal

A certain Tory senator sounds an awful lot like a New Democrat these days...

After emerging as one of the only conservative voices in favour of MMP in this month's referendum on electoral reform in Ontario, Tory Senator Hugh Segal has outdone himself with a proposal to hold a national referendum on abolishing the Senate. Abolition of the second chamber has been NDP party policy for some time... Segal himself thinks the senate should be reformed rather than abolished.

But, Mr. Segal said, if the pro-Senate side campaigned on a pledge of reform, “that would constitute a basis to go forward.”

Looks like Harper and Segal are really only trying to scare the Liberal majority in the Senate into towing the line or risk losing their jobs... smart power play, it will be interesting to see who blinks first.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why New Democrats are DiNutso over DiNovo

One week after the October 10, 2007 provincial election and leadership speculation in the NDP revolves almost entirely around Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo.

Why does DiNovo appeal to so many New Democrats? After failing to increase the NDP's seat total for three elections in a row, New Democrats are tired of Howard Hampton and looking for someone to revitalize their party. Cheri DiNovo is everything that Howard Hampton isn't:

1. She's a woman
2. She represents an urban Toronto riding
3. She's articulate and charismatic.
3. She has no relationship to the Rae years.
4. She has support from both the party establishment and party reformers.
5. She knows how to get the media to pay attention to her.

Although there are certainly others who may be interested in the NDP leadership, DiNovo is clearly the front runner regardless of whether or not she is interested in the job.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Proportional Representation Debate Relaunched in Quebec

Despite the massive defeat of MMP in the October 10, Ontario election, Quebec Solidaire is proposing that a similar system be adopted in Quebec. However, with each of the three main parties vying for a majority government in the next election, don't expect to find any strong support for electoral reform. Everybody who thinks electoral reform is a debate about values should buy this book. It's about political self-interest, pure and simple. That's why the NDP in Saskatchewan and Manitoba oppose it, but why the NDP in Ontario supports it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Leave Stephane Dion Alone!

He's the only Quebec-based federal party leader, but he's also the most unpopular federal leader in Quebec. This YouTuber encourages us to just leave poor Stephane Dion alone.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The NDP and the MMP Referendum

Some interesting number crunching reveals the following:

In the ten ridings where the NDP won on October 10, a majority of voters rejected MMP.

Provincial average-- FPTP: 63.2% MMP: 36.8%
NDP ridings-- FPTP: 55.9% MMP: 44.1%

In the NDP ridings where the NDP candidate took more than 50% of the votes cast, support for MMP was even more unpopular. In Welland, MMP won the support of only 39.9% of voters. In Kenora-Rainy River, MMP won the support of just 30.1% of voters, and in Timmins-James Bay, support for MMP was a dismal 22%.

In four of ten NDP ridings (all of the Toronto NDP ridings) MMP won majority support. Support for MMP was highest in Trinity-Spadina (59%) - still under the 60% super majority. In the other six NDP ridings (all of the NDP ridings outside of Toronto) support for MMP was actually below the provinical average, largely due to the intense opposition to MMP in Northern Ontario.

A few weeks back I complained about the party's reluctance to campaign on MMP here and here. I think these results demonstrate how the party dropped the ball on MMP. Communicating with the base would not have changed to outcome of the referedum, but it could have certainly firmed up support for MMP.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Top 10 NDP Races to Watch

Top Ten NDP Races to Watch

Algoma-Manitoulin: Former NDP MPP House leader Bud Wildman held a large portion of this seat up until 1999 and the Federal NDP has been relatively competitive here in recent years. With NDP fortunes on the rise in Northern Ontario, this riding, held by Speaker of the House Mike Brown, could be in play. ADVANTAGE: Liberal

Davenport: This riding is by far the best chance for a new NDP seat in Toronto. However, Liberal MPP Tony Ruprecht has had a solid grip on Davenport for decades. The NDP has an outside shot with Portuguese candidate Peter Ferreira. ADVANTAGE: Liberal

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek: Liberal Nerene Virgin takes on the NDP's Paul Miller in this newly redistributed riding which went NDP in the 2006 federal election. McGuinty's decision to hand-pick the Liberal candidate has rubbed some Hamiltonians the wrong way. ADVANTAGE: NDP

Hamilton Mountain: This riding went NDP in 2006, but the provincial NDP has not been competitive here since the party was dumped from office in 1995. Although the Liberal incumbent has decided not to run for re-election, it's still an uphill climb for NDP candidate Brian Adamanczyk. ADVANTAGE: Liberal

London-Fanshawe: NDP MP Irene Mathyssen took this riding for the Federal NDP in 2006 and her constituency assistant,Stephen Maynard, is hoping to do the same for the provincial NDP in 2007. This riding is one of the very few three-way races in the province. Although the NDP had an advantage going into the campaign given the lacklustre performance of the Liberal incumbent, recent polling suggests that the Liberal could hold on, but just barely. ADVANTAGE: Liberal

Nickel Belt: An NDP stronghold for decades, the departure of longtime NDP MPP Shelley Martel has put this riding into play for the Liberals. NDP candidate France Gelinas is likely to hold on, thanks to the relative strength of the NDP in Northern Ontario, but don't expect her to post better numbers than her predecessor. ADVANTAGE: NDP

Oshawa: The NDP's Sid Ryan is hoping that the fourth time is a charm in Oshawa. He may finally get his wish due to sinking Tory fortunes. This riding is the only competitive NDP-Conservative race in the province. ADVANTAGE: NDP

Ottawa Centre: This riding that went NDP in both the 2004 and 2006 federal elections has no incumbent, but it's far from a slam dunk for the provincial New Democrats who are in a tight race with the Liberals. Sagging NDP numbers in Eastern Ontario may keep this riding in the Grit column. ADVANTAGE: Liberal

Thunder Bay-Atikokan: NDP candidate John Rafferty nearly took this riding for the federal NDP in 2006. He's back at it provincially, but with a much tougher hill to climb. Provinicially, this riding has been a Liberal stronghold over the course of the last few elections. Rafferty is popular and NDP numbers are up in Northern Ontario. This is the party's best chance for a new seat in Northern Ontario. ADVANTAGE: NDP

York South-Weston: The Ontario NDP's newest caucus member, Paul Ferreira, is in for the fight of his life after narrowly winning this riding from the Liberals in a 2007 by-election. It will be much more difficult for him to hold on in a general election. ADVANTAGE: Liberal

Friday, October 5, 2007

St. Catharines & District Labour Council Celebrates 50th Anniversary

St. Catharines and District Labour Council's 50th Anniversary

Come and Celebrate this Milestone with us on Saturday, October 13 CAW Hall , 124 Bunting RD. St. Catharines

Dinner and Dance Tickets $ 45.00 for dinner and dance $ 5.00 for dance Cocktails @ 6:30 pm, Dinner @ 7:30 pm Dance 9:00 pm

Guest Speaker: Hassan Yussuff

For tickets and more information please contact Mariea McNelis 905-688-5050 ext 105

You can order Confrontation, Struggle and Transformation: Organized Labour in the St. Catharines Area, the book the commemorates the anniversary here.

On Conservative-NDP Co-operation

Earlier today, Cherniak wrote:

The federal NDP would be hilarious if they weren't so destructive. You'll have to get to the end of the article, but just as they are starting to gain traction attacking the Tories they are back to attacking the Liberals. I think they just don't get it - people don't trust them to form a government. The federal NDP will never be more than a third party that makes it possible for Conservatives to win elections. Even the Conservatives admit it!

It may come as a surprise to some Liberals, but some New Democrats will admit it too.

Let me give you a good example of how Tory-NDP co-operation helped sink the Liberals in Niagara Falls.

In the 2003 provincial election, when it looked like the local Conservative campaign was going down with the ship, Bart Maves’ people sent the NDP campaign a list of voters who were identified as not supporting the Conservatives. The idea was that the NDP, with very few resources or volunteers, could more easily identify their supporters that way and hopefully, swing a few Liberal votes away from Kim Craitor’s campaign. The last minute Tory strategy failed and the Liberals won the riding.

I wasn’t involved in the 2003 campaign. However, less than a year later, while co-managing the Federal NDP’s campaign in Niagara Falls, we were able to rely on those 2003 Tory lists to build and, more importantly, broaden our base of support. In fact, we relied exclusively on those lists in that campaign and the NDP vote shot up to over 20% on election day and we quadrupled our vote total from the previous election. The Liberals lost a seat they had held since 1993 by fewer than 2000 votes to the Tories.

In 2006, I once again managed the NDP campaign in Niagara Falls. This time we had our own lists left over from 2004 and had more resources than ever before. Our advertising focused almost exclusively on attacking the Liberals despite the fact that it was now a Tory riding. We took this approach because we understood that the Liberals were in decline and our best opportunity for building our vote total came from disgruntled Liberals, not committed Conservatives. We attacked the Tories when it was convenient, but the Liberal record was our major focus.

Our efforts paid off. In fact, on election day we took over 12,000 votes, a record for the federal NDP in Niagara Falls. In debates, in the newspaper coverage, and in our election ads, we took direct aim at the Liberals, sometimes with the help of Rob Nicholson’s campaign. When Paul Martin was visiting the riding towards the end of the campaign to make an announcement about the development of a “heroes fund”, Tory MP Rob Nicholson personally contacted our campaign reminding us that this was originally an NDP proposal turned down by the Liberals. He left his personal cell phone number, said he was happy to help and encouraged us to contact him in case we couldn’t get research help from our own central campaign. Let's just say the Tory war room is faster. With Nicholson’s assistance, we were able to develop a targeted leaflet which exposed the Liberal flip flop and embarrassed the Liberal campaign. Nicholson also personally visited the NDP office and we were in contact with his office over advertising issues, successfully lobbying the Tories to pull a newspaper ad which the NDP candidate thought might hurt our campaign.

To call this collusion would be silly, since our campaigns were very much independent. We did, however, have a common enemy in the Liberals. We both understood, correctly in my view, that our campaigns both benefited from a collapse in the Liberal vote. In cooperating or accepting assistance from the Tories, we never sacrificed our beliefs or principles. Instead, we managed to run a great campaign, which promoted the NDP’s message and exposed the Liberals as a carbon copy of the Tories. This, more than anything, is why New Democrats attack Liberals in my view. The NDP was created because the two old parties were not addressing the needs of the working class. While Liberals like to portray themselves as centrists, they campaign on the left and govern on the right. As such, they can’t expect to be given a free ride by the NDP, even if it means electing a Tory.

Hampton Trashed by Hargrove

Read the story here.

Buzz Hargrove, leader of Ontario's biggest union, yesterday slammed Howard Hampton and the NDP, arguing the party has "lost complete touch" with the people of the province.

"They are worse than they've ever been. I see absolutely no reason to vote NDP," said Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers. His union has 185,000 members in Ontario and 265,000 nationally, mainly in the auto industry but also in other important manufacturing sectors...

Countered Ryan: "Buzz has no idea what he's talking about... It shows how out of touch he is with politics in the Durham Region and with the feelings of the CAW membership in Oshawa."

Pointing out he has the support of CAW Local 222 in Oshawa, Ryan added: "Buzz rarely ever sets foot in Oshawa. ... Buzz is in a bubble."

Hargrove also warned Hampton's election promise to roll back recent pay raises for MPPs is a precursor to cutting the wages of public sector workers in Ontario.

"You can kid some of the people who weren't around, but you can't kid me. I was there," said Hargrove of the NDP record in government from 1990-1995.

"If you look at the NDP when they were in power for five years – and Hampton was one of the key cabinet ministers – boy, they were on the extreme right, including cutting the wages of Sid Ryan's members by 5 per cent for three

How does that union song go again? Solidarity Forever?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New NDP Ad "Speaking Up"

The Ontario NDP's new election ad dispenses with the attacks and tries to put a positive spin on the party's priorities.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cherniak Wants Blogosphere to Leave Dion Alone

Hilarious spoof of Dion's blogging spin doctor, Jason Cherniak.