Thursday, April 06, 2006

Iggs Has The Movers And The Shakers

First, I would like to appologize for all the errors in my previous draft - I wrote it quickly on a lunch break and made some mistakes... ooopss... sorry Milton!

Young and old, we've got 'em: Senator David Smith, Marc Lalonde, David Peterson, Jim Peterson, Pablo Rodriguez, Rodger Cuzner, Eileen Carroll and more will come out of the woodworks tomorrow at Iggy's official announcement signalling his quest to become leader.

Senator David Smith:
Smith was elected to Parliament in 1980 and in 1982 became Deputy House Leader and Minister of State for Small Businesses and Tourism. Smith later returned to the legal profession and served as Chairman of Fraser & Beatty and its successor firms, Fraser Milner, and Fraser Milner Casgrain, one of Canada's five largest law firms, until his appointment to the Senate. In the 1990s, he worked as a senior backroom adviser to Liberal leader Chrétien and since Martin's resignation, Smith has been advocating for Party unity.

Marc Lalonde:
A lawyer, Lalonde worked as a special advisor to PC Justice Minister, E. Davie Fulton. He then left politics to pursue a legal career, only to return as an advisor to Lester Peterson and as a Principal Secretary to Pierre Trudeau. In 1972, Lalonde won a seat in Parliament and served in several Cabinet positions while also being Pierre Trudeau's Québec's Lieutenant. In 1989, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2004, was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. During the 1990s, he served as an ad hoc judge at the International Court of Justice and has represented Canada in numerous trade disputes. In 2005, Paul Martin named him Co-President of the Liberal Party's electoral campaign. Along with David Peterson, Lalonde will be Igg's Honorary Campaign Co-Chair.

David Peterson:
Peterson was the first Liberal Premier of Ontario in 42 years. Peterson's government introduced several pieces of progressive legislation. It eliminated "extra billing" by doctors, brought in pay equity provisions, and reformed the province's rent review and labour negotiation laws. He was also the founding chairman of the Toronto Raptors and was a member of Toronto's Olympic Bid Committee. Since leaving politics, he has been a professor at York, a senior partner and chairman of the Toronto law firm Cassels, Brock & Blackwell. In his legal practice he provides international advice to a wide range of clients about public policy issues and government affairs in Canada. With Marc Lalonde, David Petson will be Iggy's Honorary Campaign Co-Chair.

Jim Peterson:
A former MP, Peterson was appointed Secretary of State of the Ministry of International Financial Institutions, but Peterson was sent back to the backbench in 2002. He returned to serve in Paul Martin's cabinet, whom Peterson had long supported. Yet, Peterson first came to public attention in 1974 when he helped ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov defect from the USSR during a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet in Toronto. He is also the brother of former Ontario Premier, David Peterson and Tim Peterson who sits in the Ontario Legislature. He will be Mr. Ignatieff's Ontario campaign co-chair alongside of Aileen Carroll.

Aileen Carroll:
A former Alderwoman of Barrie, Ontario, she was the former Minister of International Cooperation under the Martin Administration. Along with Jim Peterson, Carroll will be Iggs' Ontario Campaign Co-Chair.

Pablo Rodriguez:
Rodriguez, who most of the potential contenders had courted, is aMontreal MP and former President of the Party's Quebec Wing. With a background in communications and consulting work, Rodriguez is one of two or three MPs with substantial organizational networks across the province. Currently, he is the Chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages and a Member of the Liaison Committee and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Rodger Cuzner:
As a former former political organizer, Partliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Chair of the Liberal's Canada Caucus in the last Parliament, Cuzner is now an elected MP in Nova Scotia. He will serve Iggy as his Atlantic Canada campaign chair.

As for the the Young Liberals, we've got Kim Emsley-Leik as our BC Organizer. Kudos to her (eat shit Coco!). Emsley-Leik is bright, articulate, driven, connected and principled. I look forward to working with her. She is a strong, capable woman and in inspiration to young girls.

In Ontario, it looks like Milton Chan will be Iggy's National Youth Chair. Chan is great. I've been working with him and I have been so impressed with his principled approach and his solid work ethic. Undoubtedly, it is his strong character that has made him so successful in his positions with the YLC, but you probably know him best for creating Election Predictions. On top of all Chan's accomplishments, he is a full-time law student at Osgoode and is still PASSING!

Last, but not least, Iggs has Antonio Di Domizio. Di Domizio is my personal favourite and is best known for his sincere, thought-provoking editorials on Fuddle Duddle. He is also the Vice President of Policy for the YLC(Q).

*** Also supporting the Igg-ster is Quebec-Wing President Robert Fragasso and Vice-President Mario Poirier.

Thanks For Taking This One For The Team

Dear Belinda,

I would like to thank you for not running in the Liberal leadership race. After losing the 2006 Federal Election to Stephen Harper of all people, our Party has become disillusioned and we are trying to redefine ourselves - what is a Liberal? What do we stand for? How are we different from the Tories? Where is our place on the Canadian political spectrum? Why is there so much internal discontent? In light of this, we need a leader who is ready to lead - someone who understands what it means to be a Liberal.

While I respect you for your contribution to the Country and to our Party, I am glad to see you announced your decision to not run. Having run for the Conservative leadership once before not too long ago, I think I speak for many of us when I say that you need to earn your place in our Party before you consider running.

Whoever becomes the next leader of the Party will likely go on to be a Prime Minister. A Prime Minister needs to be someone with hard-earned experience, someone who is articulate and someone with a strong vision.

Thank you for thinking before entering the race. You really took this one for the team and I'm glad. I would also like to thank you for raising the issue of how leaders are chosen in the Liberal Party. I agree with you compeletely that the technology exists to allow all members a leadership vote rather than just convention delegates. I hope that you will create change and I look forward to seeing who you will support in the race.

What I most enjoyed about your news conference is how you mentioned that the reason why you were bowing out was because of selection process and not because of your French. It's good to see you think the Canadian public is an intelligent crowd. It's just too bad that Brigitte Legault had to go to hell and back for defending you.

Pedro the Politico

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Know Them - Here Are The Tory Promises

Hopefully this post will serve as a tool to help keep our Government accountable. Thanks to Politics Watch and the Toronto Star, I've been able to list Harper's top five priorities - clean up government, cut taxes, get tough on crime, decrease health-care wait times and address the fiscal imbalance. I have also listed five other priorities not so high up on the totem pole that Harper should/will have to address. Hope this helps.

Top Five Priorities

1. Federal Accountability Act

A summary can be found here and the whole thing, here.

Harper has promised the first bill he will table will be an act to clean up Government. This is a wide-ranging bill that deals with a number of key areas in politics and makes 52 specific changes.

2. GST

The Tories are promising to reduce the GST from seven to five per cent over the course of their mandate. They have promised an immediate one per cent cut. That cut will likely be part of a budget bill and would be a confidence vote.

3. Crackdown on Crime

The conservatives have promised the following:

  • 1 000 more RCMP positions
  • Work with the Provinces and municipalities to hire 2 500 more police officers
  • Crackdown on firearm smuggling
  • Strengthen border security
  • Impose mandatory minimum sentences for firearms crimes

4. Choice in Childcare Allowance

The Tories are proposing giving families a new $1 200 per year Choice in Child Care Allowance for each child under six and have already made changes that will see cheques flowing to families beginning on July 1. However, they plan to cancel Liberal child-care commitments at the end of this year and that is being met by resistance from the Opposition Parties and the Provinces.

5. Patient Wait Times Guarantee

The Conservatives are proposing a plan to work with the Provinces to develop a Patient Wait Times Guarantee to ensure that all Canadians receive essential medical treatment within clinically acceptable waiting times.

Other Priorities

Fiscal Imbalance

Harper also plans to meet the Premiers to deal with what is known as the fiscal imbalance. Harper's promise to address this issue helped his campaign gain strength in Quebec. It is not clear if he will be able to make any serious changes before the summer break, but if he does the Bloc has already said they would support the Tories on this.

Gay Marriage

Harper said he will deal soon with the gay marriage issue. He has promised to introduce a motion in the House to revisit the Government's bill legalizing gay marriage. That will be a free vote. Most of the 125 Tories are opposed to gay marriage and 26 of the Liberals who voted against the Government in the summer were re-elected. The vote will be close but many expect it will not pass.

The Military

Harper's first international trip, purposefully, was to visit the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. He did this to send a powerful message to the Defense Department and the troops, but also to Canadians. It is one of the safest issues on which Harper can get the country talking about the thorny old issues of identity politics, since it's easier to talk about the Canadian vision when it's up against a clear foreign enemy.

Senate Reform

Of all the "other" issues on the Harper agenda, this may have been the one that landed on his to-do list by accident. By appointing an unelected party backroom official to the Senate and his Cabinet - Michael Fortier, the Public Works Minister - Harper created himself a democratic problem he must hurry to fix.

Canada-U.S. Relations

American Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, has welcomed a "fresh start" in Canada-U.S. relations and predicts the long-standing softwood lumber dispute to be resolved in a year. While the stubborn softwood lumber dispute has been simmering since ethe 1980s, Wilkins said there's now an awareness at the entry level in Washington and Ottawa that it is an "irritant" that must be resolved. Harper will need to produce results.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Milliken Re-Elected Commons Speaker

News just came in: MPs have re-elected Liberal Peter Milliken as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Milliken beat out fellow Liberals Diane Marleau and Marcel Proulx in a secret ballot. Marleau and Proulx both took veiled shots at Milliken, saying in brief speeches that Canadians are disillusioned with the ongoing bad behaviour in the Commons.

The fact that the Speaker is a Liberal is significant because it could tip the balance of power in the minority Parliament.

Since the Speaker only votes in a tie, the Liberals now have one less vote.

And with the tight numbers in the House, that means the Conservatives can now pass legislation with the support of just one opposition party rather than two.

'Dyke' The New 'Bitch'?

Language and society exist in a perpetual state of co-evolution - as language evolves, so does society; and as society evolves, so does language. Keeping this in mind, I spent the weekend with my very good friend and political muse du jour, LP. LP considers herself a "dyke", to take the words directly from her mouth.

The first time she used "dyke", I was a little thrown aback but didn't want to show it because the way she said it seemed to express a certain level of comfort with her sexual orientation - something she hadn't experienced her whole life. Little did she know that by using the word, she signalled what could be a marked stage in the word's ongoing evolution.

"Dyke". Was LP using self-deprecating humor or was she on the road to empowerment?

Since the Nineties, feminism has continued to reclaim words such as "bitch", "cunt" and "girl" as terms of empowerment. In particular, "bitch" has evolved from its original derogatory meaning to one which instead celebrates the qualities of strong, capable women.

In 1968, Jo Freeman (a.k.a. Joreen) wrote "Bitch Manifesto", where she articulates the word's evolution, claiming that "Bitch is Beautiful". Later, in 1997, one-hit wonder, Meredith Brooks, uses the word by celebrating it as one of her many qualities in her song, "Bitch":

I'm a bitch; I'm a lover
I'm a child; I'm a mother
I'm a sinner; I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed

Because the female character is often defined into traditional caring roles assigned to them through the patriarchal division of labour, other aspects of their characters have been denied. With the advent of Second and Third Wave Feminism, women have started to look at their more aggressive and independent qualities and celebrating them. The evolution of the word bitch from something negative to something of empowerment is symbolic of this struggle.

So can the same be true for "dyke"? I'm beginning to think so, but although I can speculate all I want, reclaiming the meanings or symbolic value of words occurs from within the specific group it affects - in this case, the lesbian community.

But as an outsider, I am witness to some pretty profound changes in our society regarding the lesbian community. Though far from equal, lesbians are legally entitled to marriage, adoption, spousal benefit packages; the community is becoming more and more accepted and even celebrated; and as LP has proven, words are being reclaimed, trading in shame for empowerment.

On Harper's Clothes

For all of those who thought Leah McLaren had a good point last Friday with regards to Harper's outfit in Mexico, you may want to check out the audio recordings obtained secrety by TDH Strategies from within 24 Sussex Drive on Wednesday evening. Funny stuff!