By Mika Rekai - Friday, January 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
What you need to know about the six candidates, and then some
After the surprise resignation of Dalton McGuinty in October, the Ontario Liberal Party is finally ready to elect a new leader. While there are currently six candidates vying to be Ontario’s next premier, the odds are it will come down to a two-way race between Toronto’s hyper-progressive Kathleen Wynne and Windsor spitfire Sandra Pupatello. The voting process, however, may render a few surprises. Instead of allowing all party members to vote, the next premier will be selected by 2, 200 chosen delegates and “ex-officios”—former and current Liberal MPPs and MPs. The same process was used in the federal Liberal leadership contest in 2006, which saw Stéphane Dion upset front-runners Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae after Dion received overwhelming support from delegates of defeated candidate Gerard Kennedy. While the process has been criticized for being both time-consuming and elitist, watch for it to inject a little drama into the weekend’s voting.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 4:22 PM - 0 Comments
Liberal MP Mauril Belanger is the only federal Liberal willing to openly criticize Dalton McGuinty’s prorogation.
The only Liberal MP among many interviewed by The Globe and Mail on Thursday who would say publicly that Mr. McGuinty is doing the wrong thing was Mauril Bélanger, who represents Ottawa-Vanier. “I stood out there when Mr. Harper put a padlock on the House of Commons because I didn’t think it was an appropriate thing to do,” said Mr. Bélanger. “I don’t think the Ontario Liberals should proceed in that way either. Prorogation can be used, has a use, but not indeterminately.”
Two of his caucus colleagues expressed similar frustration with the decision but did not want their names attached to the criticism. Both said there were alternatives that Mr. McGuinty should have considered. Several others refused to discuss the matter.
Former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, who might seek to replace Mr. McGuinty, says he doesn’t understand why the Ontario legislature needed to be prorogued. Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi says the legislature had to be prorogued so the Liberals could “make the economy our priority.”
By Jonathon Gatehouse, Charlie Gillis and Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
For someone who worked hard to be liked, he departs under a cloud
If Halloween had been any closer, they might have thought they’d been pranked. The 53 Liberal MPPs had been summoned to a hastily assembled caucus meeting at a stuffy room in Toronto’s Queen’s Park legislature. It was odd for a Monday evening; odder still given the gaggle of reporters who’d been allowed through the doors. But nothing else about the gathering seemed out of the ordinary. Premier Dalton McGuinty arrived in shirtsleeves, as is his wont, and even the presence of his wife, Terri, strategically seated near the front, wasn’t enough to signal the weight of the news to come.
Then, the bombshell: leaning against the dais, McGuinty announced he was resigning from office as soon as the party could select a new leader, ending a nine-year run as Ontario premier and more than decade and a half at the helm of his party. And more controversially, he had prorogued the legislative session, thereby keeping his minority government alive until the handover was complete. At the back of the room, behind the TV cameras, Chris Morley, McGuinty’s former chief of staff, drank in the reaction. “In a place where there’s so much manufactured news,” he later told Maclean’s, “it was fun to watch something so important be broken in way that nobody knew.” Indeed, even those in the premier’s innermost circle had just a couple of days’ notice. On Saturday, McGuinty had dialed up a handful of close colleagues, including Morley—backers and advisers who had been with him since the beginning—to let them know his mind was made up. “When it’s time, it’s time. And I feel in my gut it’s time,” he told one political confidant who asked not to be named. “And I’m going to take some pleasure out of shocking everybody by doing it.” Morley describes the premier as resolute and firm: “He was a man who had reached his decision.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 9:00 PM - 0 Comments
Parade gathers politicians, leadership hopefuls and Mulcair Bears
Politicians were out for Toronto’s annual gay pride parade.
By John Geddes - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 5:30 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberal’s star attraction has the name and the buzz. But who is in his inner circle?
When Justin Trudeau stood in front of a Liberal crowd in a Winnipeg restaurant and bar early this month, it was no surprise that he easily grabbed and held the room’s attention. After all, the approximately 150 party members and potential supporters at the Pony Corral, a dockside establishment on the Red River not far from the University of Manitoba, had turned out expressly to hear the Montreal MP with the famous last name who is arguably the Liberals’ sole star attraction these days. But Neil Johnston, the local party organizer behind the event, said if the way Trudeau went over with the partisan patrons was predictable, the impression he evidently made on servers and cooks was less expected. They stopped working to listen, too. “The kitchen staff, they were probably recent immigrants,” Johnston said, “and they were talking about it afterwards.”
The spread of Trudeau’s celebrity well beyond the desperate, diminished ranks of Liberal stalwarts is what makes him by far the party’s most closely watched personality as it slowly ramps up to choose a new leader. Interim leader Bob Rae’s decision not to try to win the job for real next spring has left the eldest son of the late Pierre Trudeau strikingly isolated as the only putative candidate capable of generating serious buzz. Still, even Liberals galvanized by the scion’s sizzle wonder if there’s enough substance beneath it. And that leaves party insiders unusually curious about exactly which veteran strategists might gather around Trudeau to lend their experience to his excitement—assuming he relents and reverses his stated position that as the 40-year-old father of two young children this is the wrong time for him to attempt the leadership leap.
By John Geddes - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 1:18 PM - 0 Comments
The cover of the issue of the Maclean’s that’s on newsstands today features my colleague Paul Wells making the case, which you will surely want to read, for a certain pugilistically proven Liberal for the party’s vacant leadership. Working in Wells’s corner, I provide a glimpse into the Liberal party’s internal rebuilding effort, leaning heavily on an interview earlier this week with Mike Crawley, who was elected the party’s new president at its convention back in January.
But beyond Crawley’s insider perspective, I spoke with many Liberals about efforts, after last spring’s election knockout punch, to clear the party’s collective head, and start getting back in shape for the next campaign, expected in 2015. Inevitably, quite a few telling observations ended up on the cutting room floor, so here’s a compendium of what I wish I’d been able to squeeze into the article.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 12:00 AM - 7 Comments
Ontario’s unlikely premier now ranks among the most successful politicians of his generation
Twelve years ago, after an underwhelming first provincial campaign as Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty’s future was in some doubt. The columnist in McGuinty’s hometown paper, the Ottawa Citizen, duly wondered if he was a lost cause.
“Should the Liberals keep Dalton McGuinty as leader? Now that the dust is starting to settle on his mediocre election campaign, it’s a question they are going to have to ask. The quick and easy answer is that there’s no one better on the horizon so Dalton’s the man. One can imagine the positive reception this idea receives among Tories. They’d like to see McGuinty keep the job until mandatory retirement age of 65. What better way to assure another 50-year Tory reign?”
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 1 Comment
Martha was supposed to do the party
When MP Peter Stoffer… entered the NDP’s
Martha was supposed to do the party
When MP Peter Stoffer entered the NDP’s first post-election caucus meeting, he thought he was in the wrong room. The supersized NDP means there is no longer enough space for tables. “I have no place to put my coffee,” the Nova Scotia MP jokes. Stoffer may find he’s squeezed for space in other places, too. He has always liked to sit in the back row in the House, “seat 308” as he calls it. But he thinks Leader Jack Layton will want him to sit on the front bench (which he would happily do if asked). The good thing about sitting in the back was, “I got a much better view of everything and you get more legroom because the curtains are behind you.”
For the sake of a larger caucus, though, Stoffer is willing to adapt. Aside from landing official Opposition status, there are other benefits to more people in caucus. One is more soccer players. Stoffer is the MP who organizes soccer games between MPs and other groups, including the pages, the media and diplomatic corps. He says he has found at least two new players (one is even a soccer coach) and that the new young people in the party will also be a huge advantage. Quips Stoffer: “Now we have people who can run and breathe at the same time.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, May 6, 2011 at 1:10 PM - 5 Comments
At the Toronto NDP victory celebration, which was filled with people sporting
At the Toronto NDP victory celebration, which was filled with people sporting fake Jack Layton moustaches, the partiers kept the music playing over Michael Ignatieff’s concession speech as it was broadcast on giant screens. They turned the music down for all of Gilles Duceppe’s, and for half of Green Leader Elizabeth May’s. When Layton acknowledged the campaigns of the other leaders, May got the most applause. Layton was happy about the re-election of his wife, Olivia Chow. There had been a huge battle to keep her riding safe. The week before the vote, Liberals Bob Rae (who won) and Gerard Kennedy (who lost) went to Chow’s riding to support the Liberal candidate there. The NDP claimed it was an attempt to get at Layton by doing everything they could to take down his wife. Chow had her stepson, Toronto city councillor Mike Layton, helping her with door knocking, since the area he represents overlaps with hers. For his efforts, he ended up with a pile of complaints from constituents about local problems, mostly broken sidewalks and potholes.
Each day during the election campaign, Thomas Mulcair would have a conference call with all the other Quebec NDP candidates. There were ridings they knew they could win, ridings in which they thought they had a chance, and ridings where the odds were against them. When candidates would report suspicious things like a large number of their signs being removed, Mulcair said that was their way of knowing the competition must be worried and they took it as a signal they should up their game in those areas.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 2:00 PM - 3 Comments
Plus: the scene in Ottawa on Parliament’s first day back
Was it Gerard Kennedy’s cologne?
Illness and injuries seemed to be the theme of the day as the House of Commons resumed last Monday. Treasury Board President Stockwell Day was on crutches. “There was a puppy on a railroad… ” Day quipped. The truth, he confessed, was that a giant Labrador retriever came out of nowhere and knocked him down while he was on a run. Day now has a severe ankle injury. The dog didn’t just run him down: as he was running, Day was holding his shirt in his hand; after the fall, the dog grabbed the shirt and ran off with it.
Ontario NDP MP Glenn Thibeault slipped on some ice over the break, fracturing his arm and suffering severe hand injuries. Which meant, he says, that he could no longer do his hair. At one point it was looking like a comb-over, so he decided to just shave his head. He returned to Ottawa with a short buzz.
Quebec Liberal MP Alexandra Mendes showed up to question period wearing a medical mask. She was on day six of pneumonia. (It looks like the post-H1N1 trend of not coming to work on the Hill if you are sick is now officially over.) Her seatmate Gerard Kennedy asked whether she was trying to save him or was allergic to him. Later, Ted Menzies, the minister of state for finance, quipped to Mendes: “We thought Gerard just had strong cologne.” Other Conservatives joked about how the Liberals are literally muzzling their MPs.
Why’s Peter Kent so far away?
The House’s first day back for 2011 saw Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff ask the first five questions in question period, as opposed to just the first three. He has done this before, but Liberal MPs say watch for more QPs with Ignatieff piling on the first questions. Since this Prime Minister’s press conferences are few and far between, at least Stephen Harper now has to answer more questions in a public forum. Also on the first day back, Green party Leader Elizabeth May says she was not impressed with the remote seating position assigned the new environment minister. Peter Kent is now on the front bench, but is the second-last Conservative seat from the Speaker, down where the NDP sit. “We’ve never had an environment minister way down there,” says May.
Much ado over size
The first day of Parliament saw Speaker Peter Milliken throw his annual Robbie Burns dinner. This year, Ontario Conservative MP Ed Holder had the honour of addressing the haggis. When he pulled out a small knife to cut the Scottish delicacy, there were many chuckles. One MP shouted out, “Bill Blaikie‘s was bigger.” (The former NDP MP addressed the haggis with a sword.) Holder then pulled out a larger knife, to the delight of the crowd. This was Milliken’s 10th Robbie Burns dinner and likely his last as Speaker, since he does not plan to run in the next election. In honour of Milliken, a set of bagpipes was donated to the Rob Roy Pipe Band in Kingston, Ont., the city Milliken represents, for young people who want to learn to play the expensive instrument.
The tartan bazaar
The Cape Breton Highlanders were recently reinstated. (Formed in 1871, in 1954 they were combined with two other Nova Scotia battalions and renamed the Nova Scotia Highlanders.) Cape Breton Liberal MP Mark Eyking helped the brigade get reinstated, and for that he was made an honorary member. He says he now needs to get a kilt, but quips, “Can a Dutchman be a Highlander?” He says his wife, Pamela Eyking, is half-Scottish, so he is going to use her family tartan (the Gordon). Coincidentally, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, through his mother’s side of the family, already has a Gordon family tartan kilt, which he wore to Peter Milliken’s Robbie Burns dinner. MacKay said he would give Eyking his Gordon tartan kilt if Eyking would have a MacKay tartan kilt made up for the defence minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff has significantly restructured his government-in-waiting. Ralph Goodale is elevated to deputy leader, David McGuinty becomes house leader, Scott Brison replaces John McCallum in finance, Gerard Kennedy takes over environment, Dominic LeBlanc goes to defence, Ujjal Dosanjh goes to health, Marlene Jennings gets justice and Denis Coderre returns to the shadow cabinet as natural resources critic.
Full list after the jump. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, August 20, 2010 at 10:07 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff is on his Liberal Express tour across Canada. In Toronto, he stopped…
Michael Ignatieff is on his Liberal Express tour across Canada. In Toronto, he stopped at a BBQ in Thornhill just north of the city and then a restaurant downtown in Chinatown.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 29, 2010 at 1:07 PM - 25 Comments
The Liberal MP dares champion the notions of “discussion” and “consideration” and even “debate.”
Leading economists, former Finance officials and Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page have all said sales tax increases are required to balance the books. It has not gone unnoticed among some Liberals that in Britain, the Conservative opposition is leading the polls and winning praise for “authenticity” after proposing specific deficit-fighting measures that include some tax increases. ”I think we do need to talk about it,” Mr. Kennedy said yesterday in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 11:53 AM - 11 Comments
(Left to right) MPs Navdeep Bains, Mark Holland, Martha Hall Findlay, Mario Silva, Gerard…
(Left to right) MPs Navdeep Bains, Mark Holland, Martha Hall Findlay, Mario Silva, Gerard Kennedy and former MP Omar Alghabra.
MP Mario Silva (centre) with Navdeep Bains (right).
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 12:37 PM - 9 Comments
National Inuit Leader Mary Simon, below, and her organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) kicked…
National Inuit Leader Mary Simon, below, and her organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) kicked off their “2010: Year of the Inuit” initiative with a special reception in Peter Milliken’s dining room.
Simon with senators from The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen.
By Mitchel Raphael - Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 11:29 AM - 7 Comments
The seventh annual Champions of Mental Health Awards were held at the Fairmont Château…
The seventh annual Champions of Mental Health Awards were held at the Fairmont Château Laurier ballroom. Margaret Trudeau, seen below with son Justin, got an award for being open about suffering from bipolar disorder.
Also on the awards list were Defense Minister Peter MacKay (left) and General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff, for their work launching the “Be the Difference” mental health campaign in the Canadian Forces.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 6:55 PM - 45 Comments
“The Conservatives,” he said, “are engaged in an orgy of partisan abuse.”
And you needn’t apparently take Mr. Goodale’s word for it.
“Three independent investigations confirm the research of the member for Parkdale-High Park,” he continued. “A shocking part of the stimulus plan is earmarked for partisan Conservative purposes. Will the Conservatives admit this is a threat for those who didn’t vote for them?”
The Prime Minister stood, apparently quite confused by the Liberal house leader’s tone.
“Mr. Speaker, the program for the reconstruction of leisure facilities is a very important measure for the Canadian economy and for communities. I do not understand at all why the Liberal Party of Canada opposes such projects and, even in their own counties. The allegations of the honourable member are quite untrue and, indeed, the Liberal deputy premier of Ontario said so.”
So there. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:55 AM - 82 Comments
The Stars gets Gerard Kennedy’s numbers on hockey rink stimulus in Toronto ridings.
Toronto 23 ridings — all but two held by Liberal MPs — got about 38 per cent less than the average Conservative riding in Ontario, prompting accusations that the government was again playing favourites as it doled out its massive stimulus fund.
The Toronto ridings got an average of $1.3 million, compared with an average of $2.1 million that was approved for Conservative ridings in Ontario — a difference of $777,787, according to Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale—High Park).
Kennedy’s office provides various figures and tables here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 7:59 PM - 43 Comments
Susan Delacourt first wrote about the problematic nature of giant novelty cheques in July. At the time, Gerard Kennedy made a shrewd observation that should perhaps be repeated here for the benefit of those who now find themselves in possession of a giant novelty cheque signed by a government MP.
“The one thing I did learn when I worked for the food bank is you can actually cash those things. It’s a legal document. I think we’re going to try to get hold of those people and tell them they actually got double grants there. They got one from the government and one from Peter Van Loan, who’s apparently so riven with guilt over the time it took to get to them that he wants to make it up to them.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:35 AM - 74 Comments
Gerard Kennedy humbly suggests his private member’s bill won’t lead to lawless anarchy.
A generation ago, Canada accepted thousands of “draft-dodgers” and also thousands of resisters who left active military service in the United States because of that conflict.
Today, the Canadian government of the day resorts to smears and innuendo to stifle even a debate on our reaction to the two to three hundred American service people from the Iraq War who are looking for asylum in Canada, with official spokespersons throwing around vile words like rapists and terrorists. It is sad, the Harper government doesn’t have the courage of its convictions to debate the issue openly on its merits but sadder still if Canadians don’t insist on such a debate.
The facts of my private members bill Bill C-440 are plain: it would create grounds for humanitarian consideration for permanent residence in Canada. The narrow grounds would be a finding of genuine moral or conscientious objection to leave the armed services in a war not sanctioned by the United Nations (such as the Iraq War), and subject to compulsion by way of return to service or stop-loss (a controversial U.S measure that forced military personnel back into war zones even after their service was concluded). All the other protections to screen out unwelcome elements remain in place; against anyone who has a prior criminal record would not be considered (eliminating the rapist canard raised by the Harper government). National security or human rights concerns or even considerations health, financial or inadmissible family members would also all be protections of Canadian interests that would remain in place.
A year and a half ago, the House passed a motion that recommended the government allow conscientious objectors to seek asylum here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:45 PM - 54 Comments
The Scene. To evidence of the Prime Minister’s particularly brand of genius, you can add this, the first exchange of Question Period on this, the last day of September.
Michael Ignatieff opened with some cause for concern. “Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada reported that the economy stalled in July,” he said.
The Conservatives across the way groused loudly as he proceeded to report the afternoon’s news.
“While the government spent millions of dollars telling Canadians that everything is fine, experts do not agree,” the Liberal leader continued. “The chief economist at the Bank of Montreal stated that the economy’s flat performance is a shocker. ‘It is not just a shot across our bows,’ said the bank, ‘it is more like a torpedo through the hull.’ ”
The Conservatives yelped.
“Can the Prime Minister advise,” Mr. Ignatieff finished, “when he and his ministers plan to start bailing?”
The Prime Minister pretended not to notice this question of proper seafaring. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 5:45 PM - 86 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister was pleading humble competence, all shrugs and up-turned palms. But then Michael Ignatieff, having tried his first two questions in French, had to go and repeat his accusations in English.
“Mr. Speaker, Canadians should be able to count on their government to help them find jobs no matter how they vote and no matter where they live, but instead we have a government that is using infrastructure money like a rewards program,” the Liberal leader alleged.
Mr. Ignatieff leaned forward and put his fingers together. The Conservatives groaned.
“Quebec’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, yet Quebeckers are receiving the lowest per capita infrastructure funding in all of Canada,” he continued. “How does the Prime Minister explain this? How does he explain his own numbers?”
Turns out he explains it quite simply.
“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper reported, “of course, that is completely false.”
“Your numbers!” a Liberal cried in confusion.
And soon enough, Mr. Harper’s pointy finger was back out, poking a hole in the air before him. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 1:10 PM - 74 Comments
Gerard Kennedy may be the first Liberal to figure out what it is to be an opposition backbencher.
The Liberals are rejecting claims by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that 80 per cent of the $4-billion set aside for immediate job-creating infrastructure projects are underway. Instead, the Liberals say, their research shows only 12 per cent of the projects were underway and generating jobs … Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal critic for infrastructure and communities, said he conducted an analysis of 946 infrastructure stimulus projects out of a total of 1,697 announced. He said his research also indicates Conservatives are directing projects to Tory ridings
For example, Kennedy said, in British Columbia, Conservative ridings had been allocated 13 times as much money as opposition ridings. In Quebec, 2.7 times as much money went to Tory ridings, he claimed. In Ontario, Conservative ridings got 11 per cent more than opposition ridings, he said. He said 14 of the 16 announcements the prime minister has made were about infrastructure projects previously planned or won’t be built for years.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:15 PM - 61 Comments
The Scene. Having not had the opportunity a day earlier to add his unique voice to the discussion, Conservative Gord Brown stood a few minutes before Question Period with a bulletin.
“Mr. Speaker, throughout my great riding of Leeds-Grenville there are shovels in the ground, there are roads, sewers and other infrastructure works being built and repaired and folks are looking forward to the future. Everywhere I travelled in my riding this summer the people told me they are pleased with the direction our government has taken to help position Canada to face tomorrow,” he reported. “My constituents have one message: ‘Remain focused on the economy and do not have an expensive and unnecessary election.’ ”
No doubt. Our last exercise in electoral representation cost the national treasury some $280 million. Even with a drop in the price of oil, another one might add approximately the same to our already overdrawn account.
Mind you, that surely pales in comparison to the cost of sending several dozen men and women to Ottawa after each election so that they might stand in their places every so often and repeat the rote partisan rhetoric of the day.
Not that one should fuss too much over the numbers. For who among us, really, can put a price on precious democracy?