NDP leadership and New Politics

Since the election in May I had high hopes for the NDP. The party had achieved two major breakthroughs.  The first becoming the official opposition and the second being the massive win in Quebec.  The reason in large part was the leadership of Jack Layton and the parties decision to do politics differently.

The NDP campaign was less about the other guys and more about what the NDP would do. Sure there were attacks on the Conservatives, Liberals and BLOC, but not in the same way these other parties were attacking each other and eventually attacking the NDP.  I was proud of the campaign and even happier with the overall behavior of the NDP in the House of Commons.  The NDP have largely stuck to their no heckling rule.

During the campaign, Layton stressed that the NDP would try to make parliament work. As opposition, the NDP would not only oppose, they would propose.  They did this, much to the frustration of the main stream media, who are use to the cut and thrust of question period.  The official opposition were expected to attack the government.  If the Government announced it was sunny outside, the NDP were expected to say it was raining.  I lost count of the number of occasions I read tweets from the press gallery chiding the NDP for not acting in the expected way.

The NDP approach to official opposition was and is different. It has been lost in all the attention of the media on the leadership and the Conservative legislation.  I believe the current NDP approach will continue after a new leader is elected.  That with the focus of a new leader the public will actually see that the NDP are doing something that other parties only pay lip service too, ie, being less about scoring points and more about working for Canadians.

One can only imagine what could have been. The NDP with Layton still at the helm would have performed much better in the House. They would have had their full team there.  Important critics like Nash, Mulcair, Cullen, Dewar, Aston and Saganash would be fully focused on House business.  Even though the Conservatives have the votes, they would have been under a great deal more pressure with the popular Layton, with a full team at hand.

The NDP leadership campaign has been pretty boring for most of the media.  They want sparks. That's how you are supposed to separate yourself as a candidate from the others.  Again, the media have almost never cared about previous NDP leaderships, largely because it didn't matter a great deal to them.  Now of course its different as the person elected stands a reasonable chance of becoming the next Prime Minister.

If the Media had covered NDP leadership contests in the past, they would know that there are not many sparks,at least not publicly.  The old adage was if you want to go to a fun convention go to the Tories for free booze, to the Libs for swanky stuff and the NDP convention if you want to discuss policy.

Until today that has been the NDP leadership race.  A few soft little jabs but nothing that the Conservatives could really use in an election ad.  That changed.  Brian Topp seems to figure his main obstacle to becoming leader is Mulcair.  He may be right.  Topp all but said today that Mulcair was a Liberal dressed in NDP colours.  The strategy may work for Topp and it may backfire. NDP members don't usually take too kindly to our leaders attacking each other.  If Mulcair fires back, he could do more harm to himself than Topp.

I did not care for Topp's attack. We don't need that. Put forward your ideas, let us decide.

I have yet to decide who to support.  It's likely to be one of four, Topp, Nash, Mulcair or Cullen.  I just might vote for Ashton on the first ballot and make my real choice for leader on the second ballot.


my Canadian smugness just left me

Here I sit, in the middle of the great Christian Empire, in the southern USA.  The land where if it has anything to do with a woman's body or two guys kissing, the men will set it all straight.  Being Canadian, I have always felt a little smug when I visited the Empire. Generally Canada seemed to be more progressive, we didn't like to get into shooting wars and respected human rights.  Of course measuring our efforts up against the Empire did set a pretty low bar to leap over.  The smugness is gone.  I never had a right to it in the first place.

We did recognize queer rights way before the Empire.  We did leave abortion to women.  We treated most cases of pot possession as minor, you certainly didn't go to jail.  Our health care was universal.  We said the right things about the environment and we banned land mines and the death penalty is long gone. And banning assault weapons and creating a national long gun registry was pretty good.

The list above is good. Banning land mines was easy.  Generally we're never in a position to use them anyway. Health care access use to be good, then we slayed the deficit by cutting health, then forgot we did it so we could spend more on health care.  Signing the Kyoto Agreement was awesome, doing nothing is priceless as the ad says. Six plants or a single marijuana cookie now means jail time.  The Long gun registry is gone now.

It had only be a matter of time before abortion reared its head.  Mainstream Canada has long accepted the current state of affairs.  Prime Minister Harper being shrewd as he is, knows this.  To ensure his chance at majority government, he said gay marriage and abortion were not on the agenda, and in any case the Supreme Court was a check on his abilities to change these things.

It was truly astounding that he had to say these things.  Yet it was enough for him to get some extra votes, now he has a majority and as many of us suspected, he is acting as if he has absolute power. They limit debate on legislation. They vote down every opposition amendment.  They reallocate government money without parliamentary approval.  They have ignored a court decision that said they broke the Rule of Law.

What's next? That question was answered yesterday by Conservative MP, Stephen Woodworth.  Woodworth says he simply wants to look at the law and determine when a fetus becomes a human being.  Here we go folks.  Harper will have a tough time keeping back bench MPs in line here. Expect a vote on a motion and or a private members bill in the next year.

Right after that issue is debated, we will likely get a chance to re-visit capital punishment.

I don't expect that a Harper Government would support a private members bill, that is in fact a back door to  limiting abortion access. At least not in this term of government.  He has much more important things to do like ripping more holes in the already badly torn social safety net.

Our rights are only as good as the next election and or the next appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Want to learn more, check out these articles at  Dammit Janet and the Unrepentant Old Hippie


Noise - Equality Now

Every now and again you hear another protest song, you see another bigger better 'It gets better' video. After awhile they all sound and look the same.  Yet tonight, Robbie Roth, a queer Toronto song writer and performer, sent me a link to his latest contribution for the march to equality.

The song is about making some noise, getting into action.  Its good.  Robbie wrote the song with Gavin Creel of Broadway stuff in New York.

Have a listen.  If you like the song, you can buy it from iTunes. All the proceeds go to queer equality efforts in the US of A, Broadway Impact to be precise.

Broadway Impact here
I like it, I hope you do too.

Now I want to meet this Robbie dude.  If you are in Toronto some day soon Robbie, I would love to talk to you about your work, Toronto and being queer.

GOP Sex Scandal - News that says WTF

Anti-Gay Conservative, GOP Bill Johnson, donated sperm to lesbians.  The guy travelled to New Zealand and was shopping his sperm over the Internet.  He managed to donate to nine women in all, including some lesbians.
Bill Johnson

It seems he is married to a woman that can not have children and he felt the need to spread his seed. Trouble is he didn't share this with his wife.  Trouble is he was opposed to gays marrying, but had no problem donating his sperm to lesbians.

He is a hypocrite if I may be so bold. I really don't care what these guys do in the personal lives.  It becomes an issue for me when they feel they can say and enact laws against people then do something different in their personal lives.  If they stopped doing that, I would leave them alone on the personal lives aspect.

Anti-Gay Conservative Donated Sperm To Lesbians

Alabama politician Bill Johnson caught in sperm donation scandal in New Zealand


Harper can count on media

This is a lesson for all the mainstream media.  It comes from NPR in the US.  NPR tried to find a millionaire job creator to ask them  if the GOP claims that a surtax on the wealthy would stop job creation. NPR called many Republican congressional staff and leadership offices of the GOP in the Senate and House. They were unable to get a single name!

NPR then went to business groups who are aggressively lobbying against the surtax.  They did get a few millionaires to talk.  Apparently the personal income tax surtax is not a factor in their decisions to invest.

Now wouldn't be wonderful if the rest of the media would take claims made by political parties and check them out.

Here in Canada, our Harper led government missed the fact we were headed to a recession in 2008.  We will balance books chimed the Conservative talking points.  Canada is on sound footing. Yet when they didn't do the job, the media in Canada never made the connection for their readers and viewers.  Every country in the world was gearing up for a recession. Here in Harper bubble land all we heard from the government is that we will balance the books.  They did not do that.  They ran the biggest deficit in Canadian history.

Our finance minister and Stephen Harper's Conservatives promised to balance the books during this term in office in the last election.  The Conservatives knew what shape we were financially, yet campaigned as if their 'lie' was possible.  Less than four months of coming back, they admitted the budget won't be balanced until after the next election.

I understand that things can change.  What is wrong here is the Media's failure in communicating the facts.  They seem more interested in the back and forth between opponents.  Now we have Harper, in a majority government going even further than the Liberals, ramrodding legislation through the House of Commons.  No debate needed, they say.

The media must remember Stephen Harper and many of is buddies screaming when Chretien used closure or time limited debate on legislation.  Why is that not a question and a reminder in every instance of Harper using closure or time limits?  Its like Harper has a free ride.  All opposition members claim the government is limiting debate, so Harper never gets asked.

Remember the Harper in opposition, talking about democracy? Remember when he went after the Liberal government on  patronage? The media actually gave points to Jason Kenney when he stood in the house recently to respond to opposition questions on the issue.  The Minister simply said the Liberals did it.  If it was wrong when the Liberals were in power, why is it okay for the Conservatives when they are in government?

The media are too keen on access to the power in government.  No tough questions here.  No fact checking either.  And don't get me going on the Canadian Wheat Board.


Harper must act legally

The Stephen Harper Conservative government has once again shown us that they believe they can do anything they want to because they have a majority.  The Government has been found guilty of breaking the law and what his their response?

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the government will appeal the decision and press ahead with the legislation, which it hopes to have in place by August. “The Parliament of Canada alone has the supremacy to enact, amend or repeal any piece of legislation. This is a fundamental feature of democracy,” Mr. Ritz said Wednesday.  - Globe and Mail, Dec 7, 2011: Ottawa broke law on Wheat Board, court rules, Federal 
Minister Ritz stated further that the Conservatives have a majority and have the authority to make changes as they see fit.  The Minister is right on this point, as long as the government is acting within the rule of law.   Federal Court Judge Douglas Campbell ruled the government must consult Producers (Farmers) before changing the Canadian Wheat Board, pointing to the rule of law, essentially saying that albeit the executive branch (Government) can write the laws, they must abide by the rule of law when doing so.

Judge Campbell included this quote from another decision, made by the Alberta Court of Appeal, in his decision...

The starting point is this. The greatest achievement through the
centuries in the evolution of democratic governance has been
constitutionalism and the rule of law.  The rule of law is not the rule
by  laws where citizens are bound to comply with the laws but
government is not.  Or where one level of government chooses not to
enforce laws binding another.  Under the rule of law, citizens have
the right to come to the courts to enforce the law  as against the
executive branch.  And courts have the right to review actions by the
executive branch to determine whether they are in compliance with
the law and, where warranted, to declare government action
unlawful.  This right in the hands of the people is not a threat to
democratic governance but its very assertion.  Accordingly, the
executive branch of government is not its own exclusive arbiter on
whether it or its delegatee is acting within the limits of the law.  The
detrimental consequences of the executive branch of government
defining for itself – and by itself – the scope of its lawful power have
been revealed, often bloodily, in the tumult of history.   
When government does not comply with the law, this is not merely
non-compliance with a particular law, it is an affront to the rule of
law itself […].
Chief Justice Fraser in Reece v Edmonton (City), 2011 ABCA 238 at paragraphs 159 and 160
Ritz and the Conservative government plan to appeal the decision and at the same time pass the bill and have it enacted before Christmas. The decision to proceed with the legislation in this manner is both reckless and potentially harmful.  There will be much confusion and its possible the Harper government will lose its appeal. In the mean time Producers will be at a lose as to what to do.

It does not seem to matter much to this government. They are in a hurry, they have an agenda, and it appears they will implement that agenda come hell or high water.  This action will come back to bite Harper and the Conservatives.  They have a majority, a majority that must also act legally.

See Federal judge rips Ritz's plans for CWB reform - Canadian Cattlemen 


He could be your son or daughter...

I posted this video last night.  A young boy going into grade eight. He is scared.  Lots of people call him names. This is bullying.  This is wrong.  I wish I could reach out and hug this boy.  He needs support.  He needs a safe place to be.

You can see that he has put a lot of thought into his video.  He made up all of the cards. He choose the music. I suspect he could not have said out loud what he wrote on the cards.

This young man is not expendable. He should not be left to fend for himself. As it stands he is alone against the world. He is reaching out.

He is in every school in the land. Help him in those schools.

The video is here. Watch it.  He could be your son or daughter. He could be your brother or sister. He could be your neighbour or your friend.  He could be your student.


McGuinty and Harper making it worse for Queer kids

It's a crime. While Stephen Harper and his government are building prions to put pot smokers in jail, they are ignoring the plight of many young people in this country. While the Harper Government ramps up the new program to speak out for religious freedom around the world, the Ontario Liberal government is finding ways to allow systemic, may I say religious passive genocide against queer kids. They do that by allowing the Catholic Church to continue to teach gay is bad, that you gays can have a club, but it can not be called the Gay straight Alliance or the rainbow group or the queer Clan. Perhaps in McGuinty's world we can call it the FHnN, (Faggots have No Name").

Those are tough words. In polite society one would not say this. Can any of you say I am too hard in my views? Can you defend the endless numbers of attempted and unfortunately successful suicides due to bullying and perceived/understood homosexuality?

Our society doesn't care. Look at the case of the young girl in Quebec that just killed herself, Quebec teen bullying victim laid to rest | CTV News. Read the stories on this blog. Watch this you tube video posted by a boy headed to the eigth grade.

Think about the previous post to this one. Three very powerful US politicians have stated that they will investigate the gay community. Investigate them for what?

The boy in the video may not be gay. He could be gay. He could be straight. What's missing from our society is that he is a boy. No boy or girl should suffer like this.

I pledge as President, to get all those faggots

You have have got to be kidding,

Only in America could this happen, or Russia maybe... Okay Iran too.  Three leaders running for the GOP nomination in the US have promised to investigate the gay community.

You read that right, they want to check us out.

The pledge ....  
I, [candidate name], pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will:
[...] establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

We grow friends and peace

Many of you have written and asked about my farm. Its not a real farm, it was once, for some poor folks that moved to it 200 years ago. They had to make the rock piles and forest work for them. It must have have been tough. The land is all rock.

Today we grow many apples here, we grow many veggies and we and our friends relax here. We share much with the deer and bear, and the Faeries too. This is my sanctuary, this is what it looked like only two days ago.

Little Drummer Boy from Winnipeg

Little Drummer Boy in Winnipeg.

16 year old Sean Quigley expresses the song much differently.


Bullying Law Not Good Enough for Queer Kids

New anti-bullying law is good except for one thing...
McGuinty said this in the legislature: “We’re going to require that, at every school where students request that this be put in place, they be permitted to organize themselves with a gay-straight alliance,”  
“It may not be that name that they use, but the important thing is we’re going to have that kind of a supportive group there available in all our schools.

This is just wrong headed. Gay kids and their allies will have to join an "Equality group" that may in fact have people that are not sympathetic to queer kids or their issues.  The effect will be to prevent queer kids from feeling comfortable about sharing.  It could even be unsafe.

Perhaps as they did in the 1950's, queer kids will ask each other if they were a friend of Dorothy. That was code for "are you a homosexual like me."

Even if clubs are set up for queer kids and allies, if they can't call themselves the Gay Straight Alliance, we are teaching these kids that they're less than others.  That Gay is a bad and not spoken of in polite circles.

The Globe and Mail editorial today says:
To be made nameless is not a small thing. It is to be told that some shame is associated with who you are. The clubs can exist but, depending on how the Catholic schools react, perhaps only in the closet, a place of shame.
Kudos for this editorial.  I cannot for the life of me understand why the Ontario Liberal government has such a hard time with the concept of a gay straight alliance. Further I cannot understand how a queer former Education Minister and a second queer Cabinet Minister can let this BS happen.  

The MPP for Toronto Centre has a lot of explaining to do over this government bill.

Steven Hennessy 1958 - 2002

World AIDS Day -   Steven, he made me laugh, cry and love. He was special, like so many others. He was brave, stronger than me.  I miss you Steven.
Stephanie, Steven and me

To where you are Steven

Photo - Birds at sunrise

This morning birds flying over St Jamestown in Toronto