tears stop me at the oddest times

Thankfully Montreal Simon wiped them up for me here .

And I absolutely love the idea of planting a little tree to remember him.

Like this one near the ferry dock...

So on an icy cold day I can wrap it in a blanket, or hurry over with a watering can on a hot one. Or ring my bicycle bell as I ride by it, like we did at Jack's funeral.

And of course guard it with my life eh?

Oh little tree of hope. May you grow like our beautiful movement.

Until you touch the stars...

All of this stolen from my blogging buddy MOntreal Simon...


Full text of Stephen Lewis’s stirring eulogy for Jack Layton

Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we’ve seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.

Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.

To hear so many Canadians speak so open-heartedly of love, to see young and old take chalk in hand to write without embarrassment of hope, or hang banners from overpasses to express their grief and loss. It’s astonishing.

Somehow Jack connected with Canadians in a way that vanquished the cynicism that erodes our political culture. He connected whether you knew him or didn’t know him, whether you were with him or against him.

"Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we’ve seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss."

Jack simply radiated an authenticity and honesty and a commitment to his ideals that we know realize we’ve been thirsting for. He was so civil, so open, so accessible that he made politics seem so natural and good as breathing. There was no guile. That’s why everybody who knew Jack recognized that the public man and the private man were synonymous.

But it obviously goes much deeper than that. Jack, I think, tapped into a yearning, sometimes ephemeral, rarely articulated, a yearning that politics be conducted in a different way, and from that difference would emerge a better Canada.

That difference was by no means an end to rancour, an end to the abusive, vituperative practice of the political arts. The difference was also, and critically, one of policy – a fundamentally different way of viewing the future of Canada.

His remarkable letter made it absolutely clear. This was a testament written in the very throes of death that set out what Jack wanted for his caucus, for his party, for young people, for all Canadians.

Inevitably, we fastened on those last memorable lines about hope, optimism and love. But the letter was, at its heart, a manifesto for social democracy. And if there was one word that might sum up Jack Layton’s unabashed social democratic message, it would be generosity. He wanted, in the simplest and most visceral terms, a more generous Canada.

His letter embodies that generosity. In his very last hours of life he wanted to give encouragement to others suffering from cancer. He wanted to share a larger, bolder, more decent vision of what Canada should be for all its inhabitants.

He talks of social justice, health care, pensions, no one left behind, seniors, children, climate change, equality and again that defining phrase, “a more inclusive and generous Canada.” All of that is entirely consistent with Jack’s lifelong convictions. In those early days of municipal politics in Toronto Jack took on gay and lesbian rights, HIV and AIDS, housing for the homeless, the white ribbon campaign to fight violence against women and consecrate gender equality once and for all.

And of course a succession of environmental innovations, bike lanes, wind power, the Toronto atmospheric fund – and now Michael, his progressive and talented son, as councillor can carry the torch forward.

And then came his tenure as president of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, where he showed that growing deftness of political touch in uniting municipalities of all sizes and geographic locations, winning their recognition of the preeminence of cities and the invaluable pillar of the public sector. Jack made the leap to federal politics look easy.

The same deeply held principles of social democracy that made him a superb politician at the city level, as I know, transferred brilliantly to federal politics. And also, from the many wonderful conversations we had together, I know led him to a formidable commitment to internationalism.

He was fearless in his positions once embraced. Thus, when he argued for negotiations with the Taliban to bring the carnage in Afghanistan to an end he was ridiculed but stood firm. And now it’s conventional wisdom. I move to recall that Jack came to the New Democratic Party at the time of the imposition of the War Measures Act, when tanks rolled into the streets of Montreal and civil liberties were shredded, and when the NDP’s brave opposition brought us to our nadir in public opinion.

But his convictions and his courage were intertwined – yet another reason for celebrating Jack and for understanding the pain and sadness with which his death has been received.

Above all – and his letter makes this palpably clear – Jack understood that we are headed into even more perilous economic times. He wanted Canadians to have a choice between what he described as the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and an economy that would embrace equity, fairness, balance and creative generosity.

This was the essence of the manifesto. That’s why he insists that we’re a great country, but we can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice and opportunity. These were not rhetorical concepts to Jack. They were the very core of his social democratic philosophy. He was prepared to do ideological battle, but as all things with Jack there was nothing impulsive or ill-considered.

He would listen as he always listened – he was a great listener – he would synthesize thoughtfully as he always did, and he would choose a political route that was dignified, pragmatic and principled. He was so proud of his caucus and what they would do to advance the agenda of social democracy.

He cultivated and mentored every member of that caucus, and as the country will see, that will speak volumes in the days ahead.

The victory in Quebec – and I will be followed by a eulogist in the francophone language – the victory in Quebec was an affirmation of Jack’s singular personal appeal, reinforced by Quebec’s support for progressive values shared by so many Canadians. And his powerful belief and trust in youth to forge the grand transformation to a better world is by now legendary. Indeed, the reference to youth spawns a digression.

From time to time, Jack and I would meet in the corridors of my foundation, where his supernaturally competent daughter Sarah works, and we would invariably speak of our grandchildren. You cannot imagine – I guess you saw it in the video – the radiating joy that glowed from Jack as he talked of Sarah’s daughter, his granddaughter Beatrice, and when he said as he often said that he wanted to create a better world for Beatrice and all the other Beatrices to inherit, you instantly knew of one of his strongest and most compelling motivations.

He was a lovely, lovely man. Filled with laughter and affection and commitment. He was also mischievous and musical, possessed of normal imperfections but deeply deserving of the love you have all shown. His indelible romance with Olivia was beautiful to behold, and it sustained them both.

When my wife and I met with the family a few hours after Jack died, Olivia said, as she said in the video, that we must look forward to see what we all can accomplish together.

I loved Jack’s goodness and his ideals in equal measure. Watching all of you react so genuinely to his death, the thousands upon thousands who lined up for hours to say a last goodbye in Ottawa and Toronto, it’s clear that everyone recognized how rare and precious his character was.

We’re all shaken by grief but I believe we’re slowly being steadied by a new resolve and I see that resolve in words written in chalk and in a fresh determination on people’s faces. A resolve to honour Jack by bringing the politics of respect for all, respect for the Earth and respect for principle and generosity back to life.

My wife Michele reminded me of a perfect quote from the celebrated Indian novelist, activist and feminist Arundhati Roy. Jack doubtless knew it. He might have seen it as a mantra. “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”

Thank you Jack.


Its a State Funeral

Jack died 22 hours ago.  Like many I was stunned.  I thought I had prepared for the news I knew in my heart it would likely come soon.I had my fingers crossed, I guess I wanted him back soon

He was an original. He was there for all of us. A man who practised what he preached.  A recurring theme from folks in other political parties today was that Jack would fight hard on something, but he was always approachable.

Maybe the reason Jack has a State Funeral is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper could see it would be just wrong not to have one.  Jack will be the first leader of the opposition to be granted a state funeral.

Jack and Olivia have one more public event to get through. And so do we.

Here is a link to those who have received State Funerals.


Asbestos is wrong, Even a Widow knows its true

If you feel the Government of Canada's support for exporting Asbestos is wrong, and you support the work of Michaela Keyserlingk. She is the widow who lost her husband to Cancer caused by Asbestos. Go here and get a badge like I have at the top of my sidebar! Like Alison says, sign this petition.

Get the badge and info here.


mob of flower wielding men

Flower power got two gay men released from jail in 1968.  The Los Angeles police vice squad arrested two men in the Wilmington Gay bar in August 1968.  The police witnessed a patron slap another patron on the rear end. Apparently this was against the law in that city in 1968 unless you happened to be the other patrons father.  Then you could beat the crap out of him if he was under 21.

The owner of the bar was quite pissed off.  He rallied the men in the bar to take action.  Lee Glaze the bar's owner asked if there was a florist in the bar.  A man stuck his hand up. Glaze told him to go to his shop and bring all the flowers to the bar.

With flowers in hand the men marched to the LAPD station that was holding the two men arrested earlier.  "We're here to get our sisters out!" said Glaze.  The station had never been confronted with a mob of flower wielding men before.  The two men were released on bail.

This little footnote in gay history and the struggle for equal rights was recently recognized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, when they bestowed "sainthood" upon Mr. Glaze. 

Its the actions of many, big or small, that set us apart, that set us free.

See LA Times story here


Hidden message on a shirt

Look out tea party homophobes!  This could happen to you .

A German group has taken new tech printing on t-shirts to a new level.  The group handed out free t-shirts to a gathering of 600 skinheads.  The t-shirts had a shull and crossbones image and the wording "Rebels Forever."

The t-shirts when washed saw the image fade and a new message appear.  The new message, "What happened to your shirt can happen to you. We can help you break with right-wing extremism."

The group (Exit Deutschland) that distributed the t-shirts works helps young people transition out of militant right-wing lifestyles.

Can you imagine the horror of some tea baggers?  As the image fades and the message is "you wore a t-shirt made by a fag," or "celebrate gay pride".  The possibilities are too rich.  I would love to make up this kind of product to hand out to the young Conservatives in Canada!


Take out six Wisconsin Senators today!

Wisconsin voters go to the polls Tuesday to recall six Republican state Senators.

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO lists some of the dirty tricks perpetrated by the right wing and allies of Gov Scott Walker and his rich buddies the KOCH Brothers1
  • Americans for Prosperity sending absentee ballot mailings with the incorrect election date.

  • Right to Life handing out monetary gifts to their volunteers based on how many absentee ballots they can obtain completed for their candidates. State law prohibits giving anything of value to any voter “or any other person” to induce someone to vote.
  • A right-wing third party “election bullying” scheme training poll volunteers with incorrect information on how to challenge voters at polling places, which could lead to intimidation at the ballot box.

Elections today will be held in these six districts...
  • District 2: Sen. Robert Cowles (R) vs. Nancy Nusbaum (D)
  • District 8: Sen. Alberta Darling (R) vs. Rep. Sandy Pasch (D)
  • District 10: Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R) vs. Shelly Moore (D)
  • District 14: Sen. Luther Olsen (R) vs. Rep. Fred Clark (D)
  • District 18: Sen. Randy Hopper (R) vs. Jessica King (D)
  • District 32: Sen. Dan Kapanke (R) vs. Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D)
Not sure where to vote or what you may need to have with you too vote.  Do not use information supplied to you from people you do not know or trust. (See dirty tricks above.)  Go to the Wisconsin Government site for Voter Accesshttps://vpa.wi.gov/

Dr. Dawg calls for a Posse

A canadian blogger was recently successfully sued for libel. You can read all about the case here.  Now you know it had to be bad when you see what has been written on blogs across the country.  Still, Patrick Ross has run for cover, likely hiding out in Northern Alberta or Saskatchewan.

You can read all about this on Dr. Dawg's Blog, Where, oh where, is Patrick Ross?


It was 1976 - A British Columbia Court dismisses the appeal of the Vancouver Sun against a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Commission's board of inquiry that found the paper discriminated by not publishing an ad from Gay rights group GATE.
The ad that the Vancouver Sun thought would offend its readers was...
“Subscription to Gay Tide, gay lib paper. $1.00 for 6 issues. 2146 Yew St., Vancouver."
The group would not have been successful were it not for a change in the BC Human Rights Code, made by the NDP government led by Premier Dave Barrett 
"The legislation would set a new standard in Canadian human rights law with a new section prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “reasonable cause." Other human rights laws banned discrimination on the basis of certain grounds, such as race. However, the 1974 British Columbia Human Rights Code banned all forms of discrimination unless the action could be justified on the basis of reasonable grounds. This new legislation would open the door to precedents in areas such as sexual harassment, pregnancy, and sexual orientation." - Canada's Human Rights History