By John Geddes - Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
The scoffing term for what’s about to happen to Justin Trudeau, in case you haven’t picked up on it, is “coronation.” The implication being that the dauphin strolled unimpeded through the Liberal leadership race, which wraps up with presentations today in Toronto from Trudeau and his five remaining—well, I guess they are still to be called—rivals. (The online and telephone balloting by some 127,000 Liberal party members and supporters who signed up to vote runs April 7 to April 14, when the winner will be announced in Ottawa.)
Yet if a crown is to be placed, so to speak, on the most ogled head of hair in Canadian politics—the wavy antithesis of Stephen Harper’s helmet—it’s not like those locks haven’t been mussed a bit along the way. Trudeau’s frontrunner status may never have been threatened, but all his key purported weaknesses—thin experience, a cosseted upbringing, a brittle stance on Quebec, aversion to left-of-centre cooperation—were pointedly highlighted along the way.
At those moments, Conservatives and New Democrats were watching most closely, and so they are worth recapping for signs of whether these tests did more to expose Trudeau’s vulnerabilities or fortify his defences.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 8:53 AM - 0 Comments
Martha Hall Findlay is also worried about Justin Trudeau’s focus on the middle class.
“If someone says ‘I’m going to focus on a particular group’ what does that say to everybody else?” she said. “Every Canadian wants a job, every Canadian wants a future for their kids and every Canadian wants to be proud of their country. So as a prime minister, the last thing I would want to say is that my focus is on a particular segment of our society.”
This is what she seemed to be trying to get at on Saturday when she decided to question Mr. Trudeau’s ability to understand the average Canadian’s financial situation (she expanded on her concerns in her subsequent apology). Here is Mr. Trudeau’s op-ed on the middle class. But Ms. Hall Findlay could ask the question of Barack Obama. Or Bob Rae. Or Michael Ignatieff.
This strikes me as an odd attack, not least because of the reason politicians focus on the middle class: most people consider themselves to be part of it. In a 2006 survey, 64.9% of Canadians identified themselves as either “upper middle class” or “lower middle class.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
“The party has to make a decision on far more substantial and fundamental decisions than celebrity,” she said. “There is no such thing as a silver bullet. This is a really big decision and it is absolutely a question of substance and experience. It’s also not about celebrity. Fame is fickle.”
She also struck a conciliatory note towards her 41-year-old rival. “We’re friends,” she said of Trudeau. “I have all sorts of respect for Justin and the celebrity he brings to the party is fantastic, but I wouldn’t be running for the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada if I felt he had enough experience and substance to be a prime minister.”
Marc Garneau is likewise vowing to carry on questioning the frontrunner.
This will probably make some Liberals nervous—direct and most likely futile attacks against the individual who is likely to be the party’s next leader—but it’s also, objectively, a bit silly to criticize a politician for trying to wage a political campaign in pursuit of political office. This is obviously a tricky question for partisans, who would like to say their party staged a viable leadership race, but who would also like the winner to emerge from it unscathed. In 2006, Michael Ignatieff got into it with Stephane Dion during a leadership debate and the Conservatives later used the clip for an attack ad. Such is the stuff of Liberal nightmares. But they might also remember that they managed to make Mr. Ignatieff leader in 2009 without any kind of leadership race and not having to be criticized by anyone who was unlikely to beat him didn’t matter much two years later when he led the party to its worst result in two decades.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
Martha Hall Findlay has apologized for her jarring outburst about Justin Trudeau’s privileged upbringing in last Saturday’s Liberal leadership debate. But her misstep is worth dwelling on a little longer if we see it less as an aberration than as a reminder of a tension running not far below the surface of Canadian politics.
“You yourself have admitted that you actually don’t belong to the middle-class,” Hall Findlay said to Trudeau from behind a podium in solidly middle-class Mississauga, Ont. “I find it a little challenging to understand how you would understand the real challenges facing Canadians.”
Her words called to my mind the way Stephen Harper framed, back when he was launching his bid for the leadership of the new Conservative party in 2004, how he was different from then-Liberal leader Paul Martin. “I was not born into a family with a seat at the Cabinet table,” Harper said. “I grew up playing on the streets of Toronto, not playing in the corridors of power.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 8:03 AM - 0 Comments
Martha Hall Findlay apologized this weekend for suggesting Justin Trudeau’s financial situation made it more difficult for him to relate to the concerns of average Canadians.
There are some who believe that I overstepped a line in the Leadership debate yesterday. To Justin, his family and to those who were offended, I apologize. My comments were not meant to be personal, in the sense of being in any way a comment on Justin’s character – indeed, I have the greatest respect for Justin’s passion, enthusiasm and commitment…
When choosing a Leader, it is a person’s record of experience, substance and achievement that are important, regardless of the circumstances into which that person was born.
The idea of the “knockout punch” in political debates is more myth than reality, but this might count. Or at least it could count if you assume that Ms. Hall Findlay had much of a chance of winning before Saturday afternoon. If she did have a chance and if that moment eliminated that chance, it was probably one of history’s first self-inflicted knockout punches (even before Mr. Trudeau responded, the crowd was booing). And so maybe, actually, it was just a plain old gaffe.
(I think I disagree with Alice Funke’s description of the attempted attack as “career-ending.” It’s hard to imagine Ms. Hall Findlay was going to become Liberal leader, but it’s also hard to imagine that this moment would, say, necessarily prevent her from ever again running in Willowdale as the Liberal candidate.)
By John Geddes - Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6:13 PM - 0 Comments
What are the most urgent matters confronting the federal government just now? I ask because I wonder if anybody heard the issues they’d list mentioned much at the Liberal leadership debate—well, not really a debate, but a series of laid-back on-stage interviews—in Winnipeg this afternoon.
Reasonable observers will naturally differ on such a broad question. Still, I’d expect, if we’re talking domestic policy, many to cite the dicey problem of budget-making during such a prolonged stretch of slow economic growth. How to shrink the deficit while still maintaining, even expanding, priority programs? It’s the daily dilemma of governing. It didn’t come up.
On foreign policy, Mali is driving home the lesson that even with Canadian troops no longer fighting in Afghanistan, the pressures of Islamist extremism in vulnerable, far-away countries will continue to demand responses from western nations, Canada inevitably included. Again, not touched at today’s Liberal event.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberals are holding their leadership debate (or, rather, their first series of “Davos-style” conversations with the candidates) in Winnipeg this afternoon. Each of the contenders will sit down for an 11-minute conversation with Harvey Locke, the Liberal candidate in last year’s Calgary Centre by-election.
You can stream the proceedings here. We’ll start the live blog shortly (hit refresh for the latest update).
2:00pm. So, again, this is “Davos-style,” only without all the powerful and influential people that make Davos interesting. At least Winnipeg is a more interesting place than Switzerland.
2:03pm. First up is Karen McCrimmon. First question from Mr. Locke isn’t actually a question: “Please tell us a personal insight that you’d like Canadians to have about you.”
2:05pm. Second question: There is a perception that we’re an urban party beyond the Maritimes, should we do more to attract rural voters? Tough one. Ms. McCrimmon goes with “absolutely.”
2:10pm. There now seems to be some kind of disruption. Someone is banging on a drum and shouting.
2:11pm. Mr. Locke and Ms. McCrimmon are attempting to talk over the noise. Apparently the disruption, now concluded, was related to Idle No More.
2:14pm. Next up, Marc Garneau. He likes to do household chores, particularly vacuuming.
2:18pm. Adam Goldenberg argues this format is valuable because a party leader will do many one-on-one interviews. Perhaps. But these seem to be the easiest interviews a politician will ever do. If this is a test, it’s a pretty basic test.
2:24pm. If the challenge is basically surface-level: looking and sounding the part, Mr. Garneau did fairly well there. Looks and sounds like an experienced politician.
2:30pm. Joyce Murray might make a good environment minister in a Liberal government.
2:32pm. I hope one of the candidates answers one of Locke’s questions with “no comment.”
2:34pm. Ms. Murray busts Mr. Locke for being too long-winded in this questions. That will be the sharpest exchange of the afternoon. Suggested headline: “Murray lands knockout punch on Locke”
2:36pm. Justin Trudeau goes with the “no jacket/rolled up sleeves” look. Very Jack Layton. Asked for a personal anecdote, he says he misses his children. Boom. That is how you do politics. And then, somehow, he segues from that into a comment on the young people in Idle No More and an acknowledgement of the protester. Double Boom.
2:38pm. Mr. Trudeau launches into a defence of supply management, which serves as a swipe at Martha Hall Findlay.
2:41pm. Thinking back on Mr. Trudeau’s opening remarks, he probably missed an obvious opening to sing the first verse of the Greatest Love of All. Bit of a mistake. But he’ll learn not to let those opportunities go missed.
2:46pm. Mr. Trudeau explains that he has been to Sweden and that Canada needs its own Ikea (I’m paraphrasing). So there’s Scott Feschuk’s next column.
2:48pm. Deborah Coyne’s personal anecdote is that it’s Groundhog Day and she loves the movie, Groundhog Day, and that the movie is sort of an analogy for the Liberal party’s present challenge. Idea alert: What the Liberal party needs is Bill Murray.
2:59pm. David Bertschi comes out wearing a Liberal party scarf. In case there was some doubt about which party he supports.
3:04pm. The professionalization of politics is a touchy subject and it’s problematic to argue against political participation: But can we have a Davos-style conversation about who should be running for leader of a political party? If you’ve never held political office, how well can you hope to lead a party in a parliamentary system? Set aside the question of finding a seat to win so that you can sit in the House (Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton didn’t have seats when they became party leaders). What evidence is there that individuals who’ve never been elected can win a party leadership and then succeed in that role? Haven’t the most successful political leaders of the last 20 years been experienced, practiced politicians? What evidence is there that outsiders or unconventional politicians can succeed? What does this tell us about politics? Should we, perhaps, view politics as we do any other profession: something at which you must be experienced in to succeed?
3:14pm. Martin Cauchon warns that dumping supply management means eating unsafe food.
3:18pm. Here’s one request I’d make: If you enter a party leadership race as a relative long shot, bring some unique angle to the race. Call it the Ron Paul Rule (or the Rick Santorum Rule, or maybe the Nathan Cullen Rule). Joyce Murray is sort of doing this with electoral cooperation and Martha Hall Findlay is kind of doing this with supply management. But you should have either a particular ideology or a set of really bold policy proposals.
3:24pm. Martha Hall Findlay defends ending supply management. This is a fun debate. Ms. Hall Findlay is smart to make it about the cost of food for families.
3:32pm. Ms. Hall Findlay accuses Mr. Locke of asking too easy a question about crime policy.
3:33pm. Ms. Hall Findlay says the Liberals should have done a better job standing up to the government’s crime bills in the last two parliaments. The party needs more courage. Fair enough. Where was that courage at the time?
3:36pm. George Takach describes him as the “tech candidate.” I’m not sure that meets the Ron Paul Rule. Unless Mr. Takach’s answer to every dilemma is computers. (Although that would be interesting.)
3:39pm. Mr. Takach really wants to fight somebody.
3:44pm. Mr. Takach, answering a question about supply management, “And I will weave in my modest upbringing.” Very meta.
3:46pm. Closing statements. No lectern and all the candidates are on the stage at the same time. Ms. Murray pitches cooperation and picks up on Ms. Coyne’s Groundhog Day analogy. Mr. Trudeau pitches his democratic reforms. Mr. Garneau says the Liberal leader needs to be clear and specific about what he or she wants to do (subtext: Mr. Trudeau isn’t being clear enough about what he would do and where he stands). Ms. Hall Findlay says she’s pretty good with substantive policy and that this is about substance, experience and intelligence and tough decisions and courage and that there are no silver bullets (subtext: Mr. Trudeau is the silver bullet I’m contrasting myself with). Mr. Takach criticizes Mr. Locke for not asking enough questions about the economy.
4:01pm. And that’s that. This changes… probably not much. My general take on this race remains the same as it was two weeks ago.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of the first Liberal leadership debate. The debate begins at 4 p.m. EST and can be streamed at CPAC.ca, Liberal.ca and CBC.ca. CPAC and CBC News Network are also carrying the proceedings on television.
We’ll commence the live blog shortly. Hit refresh for the latest updates.
3:49pm. The theme of this debate is “Can anyone here pierce the aura of invincibility that surrounds Justin Trudeau?” The first round will focus on hair care. Officially, there will be opening statement, then two questions for all nine candidates, then 12 mini-debates among groups of three candidates and then closing statements.
3:52pm. Despite the fact that there are nine candidates, the Liberal party has apparently declined to use a Hollywood Squares setup.
3:56pm. Here are your official themes for the afternoon: aboriginal issues, the environment, social housing, Pacific Rim Trade and electoral cooperation and reform.
4:05pm. Legalized weed obviously gets the first applause of the afternoon.
4:10pm. Marc Garneau goes with a Kim Campbell joke. (The one about how she said an election wasn’t the time to discuss
policyserious issues.) Probably gets his point across: He’s about policy, not nice hair. But Kim Campbell said that 20 years ago. Most of the NDP caucus wasn’t even in grade school when she made that gaffe. It’s time to get a new punchline.
4:15pm. Justin Trudeau does his Trudeau thing: staring into the nation’s soul, enthusing about the possibility of greatness and so forth.
4:19pm. There are four people on stage who ran for the Liberals in 2011 and lost. If you ran for the Liberals in 2011 and lost, there’s a 1.5 per cent chance that you’re a leadership candidate now.
4:24pm. Opening statements give way to a discussion of aboriginal issues. Time for collaboration and discussion and cooperation and leadership, everyone seems to agree. Martha Hall Findlay is really mad that Thomas Mulcair suggested that some progress had been made with last week’s meeting between the Prime Minister and First Nations. “The gaul!” she says. For that matter, if the NDP hadn’t helped defeat the Liberal government in 2004, the Kelowna Accord would’ve been implemented. Liberals love talking about the Kelowna Accord. New Democrats and Conservatives would probably love to talk about why the Liberal government fell in 2004.
4:37pm. Nobody but Joyce Murray wants to work with the NDP. She is the Liberal party’s Nathan Cullen. Well-positioned for a strong third-place finish. Karen McCrimmon argues that the best countries in the world have more than two parties. Risky move to openly disparage the United States and China like that.
4:42pm. Marc Garneau notes his ranked ballot proposal. Martha Hall Findlay endorses the idea. How about a coalition? Are any of these candidates willing to say they’d entertain the possibility of forming a coalition—either as the junior or senior partner—after the 2015 election?
4:46pm. With everyone but Ms. Murray having dismissed electoral cooperation with the New Democrats, an audience member asks how the Liberals might cooperate with the New Democrats in 2015 (because Mackenzie King did it once, apparently). Deborah Coyne allows for the possibility of post-election cooperation.
4:51pm. Martha Hall Findlay raises the example of Liberals voting for Joe Clark in Calgary in 2000 as an example of… something. The Liberals need their Joe Clark? Liberals need to be willing to vote for other parties?
4:53pm. On the issue of energy development and sustainability, Marc Garneau notes that he was an astronaut. David Bertschi and George Takach make fun of him. Mr. Takach refers to himself as “the tech candidate.” Mr. Garneau says he is also a tech candidate. Mr. Takach suggests that Mr. Garneau cannot be both the astronat and the tech candidate. That’s about the extent of the disagreement so far.
5:00pm. Joyce Murray shouts out a “price on carbon.”
5:06pm. A mini-debate on scrapping first-past-the-post. Karen McCrimmon wants to circulate petitions to determine what people want. I suspect this would result in the people demanding a Death Star.
5:09pm. Justin Trudeau wants a ranked ballot. Joyce Murray wants to cooperate with the NDP. Mr. Trudeau happily takes the opportunity to champion a principled Liberal party. Ms. Murray challenges him to demonstrate he has a plan to defeat Stephen Harper. Mr. Trudeau happily takes the opportunity to champion the Liberal party. Here’s my question: How do you cooperate with the NDP if the NDP doesn’t want to cooperate? Are you hoping that NDP riding associations will go maverick and dare Thomas Mulcair to stop them from cooperating with Liberals?
5:16pm. I think David Bertschi just took another shot at the fact that Marc Garneau was in space while Bertschi was doing stuff on earth. How big is the anti-space vote in the Liberal party? Is this an attempt to repeat the Conservative campaign against Michael Ignatieff?
5:24pm. Mr. Takach loves the Internet. He needs to go further with this. Replace the House of Commons with gchat. Reorient our military to cyber-warfare. Give every citizen an iPhone. Turn Manitoba into a cyberworld like Tron.
5:34pm. A three-person debate about living conditions for First Nations and social housing gives Marc Garneau, Justin Trudeau and Martha Hall Findlay a chance to perform directly beside each other. All three probably come away feeling fairly good about their 90 seconds. Give those three an hour on stage together and you might get a real debate (or the sort that could shake this race up a bit).
5:44pm. There’s obviously a good reason to avoid a divisive leadership race: you want to avoid splitting the party, you don’t want to give the Conservatives or New Democrats any fodder for future attacks (remember those Conservative ads with Michael Ignatieff telling Stephane Dion that the Liberals didn’t get it done?). But the conventional wisdom here is that there’s an obvious and clear frontrunner (Mr. Trudeau). So can the other candidates resist the urge to attack him? Can they afford to (if they truly think they have a chance of winning)? Do they just hope he self destructs with his own gaffes? One possible caveat: if, say, the Garneau campaign has some sense that on the ground Mr. Trudeau’s advantage isn’t as great as the conventional wisdom assumes and that, as a result, they can win without having to tear him down.
5:54pm. Joyce Murray shouts out marijuana. More applause. How does the Marijuana Party respond to this? Their central agenda has been completely hijacked by the Liberals. Do they move on to harder drugs? Do they present the Liberals with a proposal to run joint nomination meetings ahead of 2015?
5:57pm. A question about putting a price on carbon. Deborah Coyne says “carbon tax.” Justin Trudeau says a lot of nice words about the unfortunate tenor of political discourse, notes that the Conservatives have acknowledged the need to put a price on carbon, but he doesn’t commit to how he’d put a price on carbon. George Takach says lots of nice words about political centrism and says there are “at least five ways” to put a price on carbon, one of which presumably the Liberals would go with if he was leader. I dare say the Conservatives have successfully scared the crap out of some of their rivals on this file.
6:06pm. Closing statements and that’s that. All in all, it was… fine. Nine candidates squeezed into two hours doesn’t allow for much of a debate. Probably a good day for Justin Trudeau, who showed again what he has to offer as a public figure and wasn’t obviously taken down a peg by any of the other candidates, and Marc Garneau, who made a concerted effort to set himself up as the anti-Trudeau and might’ve succeeded. See this tweet and this tweet from John Geddes. (And then this tweet from Alice Funke.) Not sure the conventional wisdom on this race changes much after this, but Mr. Garneau has to hope that, at the very least, the narrative now makes him the obvious (if still distant) second place.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Niki Ashton’s riding and Martha Hall Findlay’s new hair
Liberal leadership fatigue syndrome?
With a federal Liberal leadership campaign happening at the same time as the Ontario Liberal leadership, some Liberals are worried about leadership fatigue syndrome setting in and the fact they would be going to the same troughs to raise funds. Federal Liberal leadership contender Martha Hall Findlay says she has encountered many people who have been inundated by robocalls asking for donations to the provincial leadership campaigns. However, Hall Findlay says all these campaigns are overall a good thing, because “you have a whole lot of people and a whole lot of engaged Liberals.”
She has decided to go for shorter hair for this leadership campaign, with the help of Ernesto Domanico at Salon Solis in Toronto. She says she has not had short hair in over 25 years and had a bit of a complex about it. Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau has also opted for shorter hair, prompting this from Hall Findlay: “I think he has gone shorter than I have.”
Former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, who ran in the 2006 federal Liberal leadership race, is currently running in the Ontario provincial race. A twist is that this time around Kennedy is being praised for his French, compared to all the other candidates. In 2006 he was often attacked for his poor French. He says his decision not to run again federally was because he wanted to be close to his children, who both go to French school in Toronto. He says being home with his 10-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter is what has helped improve his French. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal Party I lead will…
…NOT be afraid of discussing policy in public. The current hoopla over whether I would, or would not, raise the GST highlights exactly what ails politics in this country: fear of speaking out.
140 character tweets, sound bites taken out of context, and fear of attack ads all, shamefully, now seem to rule our public discourse. Here is what I really think about the GST.
- Yes, I have said that I would consider raising the GST but only if needed. I supported the GST when it was brought in, and was among the most vocal in calling Harper’s politically-motivated reductions from 7% to 5% bad economics. It would be hypocritical of me now to say otherwise.
- I do not advocate any tax increases right now – not GST, not corporate taxes, not personal income taxes – not while we’re still struggling with the economy and the sluggish exit from the financial crisis. Indeed, this is exactly what Harper has done with his increases in EI premiums, a tax on jobs which I object to.
- I do not advocate a rise in the GST, even when the economy is stronger, to the exclusion of other things. For example, I would prefer a price on carbon, which would do double duty by also improving our environment.
- I would consider raising the GST if, using just one example, increased costs of aging demographics, health care and the all-important education for our next generations are not sufficiently off-set by spending cuts elsewhere.
Needless to say, that level of discussion never gets into tweets or sound bites or headlines. Only the ‘sexy’ attack parts do. And that is wrong – because Canada must engage in this debate.
AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT
Are we so afraid of Harper and his attack ads that we can’t even debate significant economic issues in public? Have we no confidence left whatsoever? No wonder Canadians have lost respect for Liberals – and for politicians generally. I refuse to let us conduct ourselves out of fear. We MUST be able to have these discussions.
We keep talking about needing more engagement – how do we do that, when we ourselves refuse to engage in any real debate?
TAXATION AND SPENDING:
We have taxation and we have spending. Determining the right mix is a critical part of Canada’s economic and social prosperity. Canadians should expect politicians to have the courage to engage in this kind of debate and discussion – and not to be afraid of doing so.
- No sensible Canadian objects to at least some level of taxation- it’s how we pay for roads, sewers, health care, old age security, passport services, immigration issues—all manner of government services that significantly improve our society. We understand that some taxation is needed in today’s world.
- What form it takes, and how much, paid by whom, and how it should be used, should always be part of our public policy debate. We can always do better.
- Despite initial concerns, Liberals quickly recognized that a value-added tax was a sensible form of taxation. We have supported it ever since.
- Liberals were therefore, and appropriately, among the most vocal in condemning Harper for his ‘cheap politics’ of reducing the GST from 7 to 6 and then to 5%. Because cheap politics is exactly what it was. It certainly was bad economics.
- Many believe that Canada now has a structural deficit, thanks in large measure to those GST cuts. If Harper had correspondingly cut spending, then that’s a different story – but he didn’t. His first two years in government, while cutting the GST, he spent the two largest-spending budgets in Canadian history. This BEFORE the financial crisis hit.
This is close to the position Michael Ignatieff seemed to try to articulate before abandoning it entirely: possibly raising the GST if necessary at some point in the future.
The question for the Liberal party remains not so much the likelihood of Conservative attacks, but whether the party is capable of responding: with a leader who can handle the attacks and a party that is agile enough and financially prepared to respond with its own ads.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal leadership contender explains herself to the Canadian Press.
The former Toronto MP pointed out Thursday that Liberals — and most economists — opposed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to cut the seven per cent goods and services tax — first to six per cent, then to five. “You can’t say that it was a bad idea to drop it and not have the guts to say that, when the economic circumstances are right, that you would consider raising it back up. It’s inconsistent,” Hall Findlay said in an interview.
She added that Liberals have “run away” from the issue over the past few years because they were afraid of Tory reprisals. “Well, I’m not afraid of Stephen Harper. The right policies are the right policies.” Not all Canadians will like the idea of paying more GST, Hall Findlay acknowledged. But the third-place Liberal party won’t win back support until it starts showing some conviction on difficult issues, she said. “Not everybody in this country is going to agree with everything, but they’re certainly not going to support a party that doesn’t have the courage to stand up for what it believes. And if we don’t feel we can stand up for what we believe because we’re somehow afraid of Stephen Harper’s attack ads, then we have a way bigger problem.”
In Ms. Hall Findlay’s Reddit AMA she also explained her support for a guaranteed minimum income and a price on carbon.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
Former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay does, apparently.
An important thing she mentioned was that if she were elected, and the LPC won a majority government (and only a majority), she would raise the GST.
The former and current Liberal leadership candidate seems not to deny this Redditor’s account.
Stephen Gordon has argued that the cut to the GST is responsible for the current federal deficit.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael on the minister’s favourtie musical and wine issues at the Liberal party
What Raitt expects under the tree
On Dec. 25 expect to find Labour Minister Lisa Raitt in the movie theatre watching Les Misérables. She is a huge fan, having seen the musical twice in London and twice in Toronto. The song I Dreamed a Dream, she confessed, makes her cry every time—but only in the context of the play. That means no tears were shed for Susan Boyle, the underdog who sang it famously on Britain’s Got Talent. Raitt has told her partner Bruce Wood that advance Les Misérables movie tickets “better be under the Christmas tree.”
Someone is posing
It was a rare moment of cross-partisanship on the Hill, with politicians from opposite sides coming together for a photo op. But there’s no shared version of events as to how that photo came about. Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau told Capital Diary that Tory MP Eve Adams was hosting a group of visitors, including one from her home city of Mississauga, Ont., and asked him if he would pose for a picture with them. They went to the House foyer for better lighting. Adams, however, says it was Trudeau who asked her group if they wanted a picture, though she did join in for the snap. Trudeau says opposition MPs asking him to pose with people, even constituents, “happens all the time.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM - 0 Comments
Photos by Mitchel Raphael
Liberals gathered at the Westin Hotel for their annual holiday party. Northern Ontario MP Bruce Hyer, who quit the NDP to sit as an Independent, was the date of Liberal leadership candidate and MP Joyce Murray.
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:37 AM - 0 Comments
So many people are gunning for the Liberal leadership that it’s quite possible you’re one of them
Have you heard who’s running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada? Pretty much everybody. So many big names! Justin Trudeau is running. That Martha Something Something person is running. Plus, there are two (2) completely different guys named David and a dude who’s driving across the country in a van—because nothing says political momentum like: van.
In fact, so many people are running for the Liberal leadership that it’s quite possible you’re one of them. Here’s a quick way to check: have you heard of you? If you or anyone else has heard of you, then you’re probably not running.
Jonathan Mousley is running. I was not previously aware of Mousley but, weirdly, this has not stopped him from existing. On Remembrance Day, as part of his campaign, he tweeted that Canadians should “press [the Harper government] to provide financially strapped veterans with a decent and dignified burial.” A solid policy, sure, but not exactly a mood-brightener for veterans.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 5:01 AM - 0 Comments
A star-studded photo gallery by Mitchel Raphael
The 2012 Press Gallery Dinner was a night of glamour and mock awards.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Wayne Easter defends supply management.
By eliminating supply management and opening our border to “cheap” milk and dairy products we would be doing indirectly what is illegal directly, namely placing on the retail shelves dairy products produced through the use of a growth hormone. Currently in the US, 17% of the 9 million dairy cattle are injected with this growth hormone.
Criticizing supply management in favour of the “blameless market” is relatively easy. What is more difficult is to ensure a system that provides Canadians with safe and secure food products at reasonable prices while returning fair prices to producers. The current supply management system does that. Why some promote transferring market power from producers and consumers to a system that allows the exploitation of both by global corporations is beyond me.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 4:22 PM - 0 Comments
The Dairy Farmers of Canada are not impressed with Martha Hall Findlay. The Conservatives at least attempted to register their dismay yesterday, while the New Democrats issued the following release this morning.
Conservatives have put Canada’s supply management on the table in trade talks – and now we see some Liberals openly opposing our supply managed sectors, according to NDP International Trade Critic Don Davies. “New Democrats have a clear and strong policy: Canada’s supply managed sectors provide clear benefits to Canadians and will not be compromised, in trade talks or otherwise”, insisted Davies. He pointed out that supply management in Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg industries is a tested system for efficient delivery of safe, local food to Canadians. Davies said that, unlike other countries who subsidize their producers, Canada’s supply management policy doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent.
NDP Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen added his concerns of what any concessions could mean for these important industries. “By putting supply management in the cross hairs of these negotiations, the Conservative government is attacking the livelihood of dairy, poultry and egg farmers right across the country; farmers who expect this government to live up to its word.”
Deputy NDP Agriculture Critic Ruth Ellen Brosseau added that supply-managed products are competitively priced, with Canadian milk costing less than Australia and New Zealand – and in the US taxpayers subsidize milk. “New Democrats will continue to stand up strongly for the dairy, poultry and egg sectors, important industries that employs thousands of people,” said Brosseau.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
Dairy farms are governed by a byzantine system that prices milk based on intended usage, locks out most foreign products with exorbitantly high tariffs and even determines how much farmers can produce. Everyone suffers. First in the line of people harmed by supply management are consumers – Canadians are forced to pay two to three times as much for whole milk as Americans.
It is simply untenable that Canadian families pay upwards of $300 more a year than they need to, for milk alone, let alone higher prices for other products like cheese, yogourt and ice cream, to subsidize a tiny number of relatively well-off farmers. Worse, it’s regressive, which means that the ones who suffer most are the low-income families – the very ones who most need affordable access to nutrition. Many others, including processors and restaurants, have been calling to an end to supply management for years.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
The recipe for billion-dollar decisions
The folks in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty…’s office
The recipe for billion-dollar decisions
The folks in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office are starting the late nights to prepare for the upcoming budget. Binders have been sent in from all government departments to be reviewed and assessed. Last year one of the biggest beneficiaries of the late nights was Gabriel Pizza, whose slogan is, “Bigger, better pizza.” When the minister has lunchtime meetings with staff, it’s usually over cold cuts that the billion-dollar decisions get made.
Cupboard out, Bloc in
The Bloc Québécois have finally got a small place to call their own in the House of Commons opposition lobby. A free-standing cupboard was moved to create a space. The Bloc has only four MPs and no official party status. As independents they don’t get a designated area in the opposition lobby. New Bloc Leader Daniel Paillé lost his seat in the last election, but since he is a former MP he is allowed to enter the lobby area. Green Leader Elizabeth May is also technically an independent MP, but the Liberals let her use a chair near the phones in their designated area. May says she appreciates the gesture very much, especially when she had problems with her hip and needed a place to sit.
A room with a view
Conservative Sen. Salma Ataullahjan has one of the nicer offices in the Centre Block. She was appointed to the job in 2010 and managed to get the office because the senator who was supposed to move in was allergic to carpet and a new one had just been laid. It has become one of the warmer offices to visit because the senator has hung several of the watercolours she painted herself. Ataullahjan laments the lack of colour she sees around so much of the Hill. She wasn’t permitted to hang the pictures herself because of asbestos issues in the Centre Block. She even had to wait for government officials to move two pictures closer together after they were not hung quite properly the first time.
Liberals plan to supersize
As part of the Liberals’ Valentine’s strategy, they had bilingual buttons made that stated: “Have a heart. Save the OAS.” Currently the Liberal party has two button machines that allow them to crank out instant messages, like the one about Old Age Security, with the help of party volunteers working the machines. Liberal strategist Kevin Bosch says he wants to go bigger and get a two-inch button machine.
A top Tory critic
Rona Ambrose, minister of public works and government services, was recently wearing a huge button that said, “Warning: Old fart’s birthday in progress.” It was part of a surprise 60th birthday party for Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, at hip Ottawa restaurant Play. Menzies was legitimately surprised, which impressed many considering the difficulty keeping secrets in the capital. He was surrounded by many colleagues and family members, including his wife, Sandy Menzies, a jovial ﬁxture on the Hill. “Who needs an opposition when you are married?” joked the minister. “Actually, they are your best critic.” Also in attendance was former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay and Treasury Board President Tony Clement. Menzies is seen by many as less partisan than most Tories, especially his boss, Jim Flaherty. If Flaherty seeks out other political pastures, Menzies is seen a strong candidate to take his place.
Hear the one about the comic and his MP?
Vancouver comedian Charlie Demers was recently in Ottawa to be on an episode of CBC Radio’s The Debaters. Demers lives in the riding of NDP MP Libby Davies and is a big supporter. When asked what jokes he tells about Davies, he confesses he has not incorporated her into his stand-up routine: “You know you have a good MP when they don’t provide any comedy material.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
A surprise 60th birthday party was held for Ted Menzies, minister of state for…
A surprise 60th birthday party was held for Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, at Ottawa’s hip restaurant Play.
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 - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 6 Comments
The 31st annual Genie Awards were held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. Below, Industry…
The 31st annual Genie Awards were held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. Below, Industry Minister Tony Clement.
Shannon Tweed and the boys!
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 2:36 PM - 3 Comments
At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25…
At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25 000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing for her book The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future. Below, Porter with House Leader John Baird.
Belinda Stronach and Peter Mansbridge.