21 posts categorized "heroes"

December 12, 2009

My Friend's Got a Bad Case of the Betrayed by Stephen Harper Blues

It's terrible when a friend is hurting.

It's even worse when that friend is hurting because she has terrible taste in men. I mean, the worst.

If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting Miss Ruby Jones, this video will explain who she is and why she's singing the betrayal blues. (Well, not literally. She left the singing to KISS.)

I hope 2010 will be a better year for you, Miss Ruby Jones (a.k.a. Harper Girl: the self-appointed president of the Stephen Harper Fan Club).

April 19, 2009

Flora MacDonald to Speak in Peterborough Tomorrow Night: Event in Support of YWCA Peterborough

This comes via Betsy McGregor (Peterborough Federal Liberal candidate):

An Evening with Flora MacDonald

The Hon. Flora MacDonald will be speaking on Monday April 20th, at 7:00 PM, at the Princess Gardens Atrium in Peterborough. Donations will support YWCA Peterborough Victoria and Haliburton's fundraising efforts for its new women’s shelter.

The evening will commence with the showing of her recent CBC documentary Flora’s Mission about her courageous work building girl’s schools in Afghanistan and promoting the use of solar panels in mountain villages. That will be followed by a short talk by Flora on Canada’s challenges; and an open community discussion.

Flora MacDonald has been active in Canadian politics since the 1970s. She served as an MP and Cabinet Minister, and in 1979 she became the first woman to be appointed Secretary of State for External Affairs. Since leaving politics in 1989, Flora has been deeply involved in a range of human rights and environmental activities around the globe, and is currently working in Afghanistan and India.

Flora MacDonald has received numerous honours in her life, including the Order of Canada and Companion of the Order; the Pearson Peace Medal; the Churchill Society’s award for Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy; the El Kawkab Medal by King Hussein for significant contribution to public service and was the Padma Shri Award (India’s highest award to civilians) from the President of India for distinguished service in the field of public affairs. She was given the EVE award from Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan advocacy organization committed to promoting the election of more women to every level of government, and to raising awareness about the under-representation of women in Canadian politics. Ms. MacDonald holds honorary degrees from universities in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom.

This remarkable woman was born in North Sydney, NS, in 1926, is a sixth generation Canadian whose forebears came to Canada from the Scottish Highlands in the 1790s. She also worked in Peterborough in her early career, singing in a local church choir. She will be departing within weeks of this event for her 11th solo trip to Afghanistan.

There is no charge for this event.

Seating is limited so please come early.

December 11, 2008

Emily Berrigan, Political Whirlwind

Peterborough Green Party of Canada Candidate Emily Berrigan must dream political dreams at night. (Does she count political sheep as she tries to fall asleep?)

It's the only way she can possibly have time to come up with all these great ideas -- and do all the things she's already doing.

In a town that has more than its share of political dinosaurs/neanderthals, it's so refreshing to have Emily speaking the language of political change. Go, Emily, Go!

December 08, 2008

Dion vs. Harper

Partofcanadianflag It's no secret that I've always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Stéphane Dion. A politician with his kind of personal integrity and long-term vision for what this country actually needs (as opposed to what it wants for itself over the short-term) doesn't come along very often.

Unfortunately for Canada, Dion had the bad luck to cross the political stage at the same time as another once-in-a-generation (or once-in-a-lifetime) politician: in this case, a mean-spirited, rabidly partisan politician who is willing to do anything to keep his bulldog grip on power, including creating a political and national unity crisis.

The contrast in personal styles or value systems between the two men couldn't be greater. Dion mapped out a vision that represents where we really need to be headed as a country, if we're to kick start the green economy and address the growing gap between the haves and have nots in this country (a root cause of much of the youth crime that the neo-conservatives bellow about so much). What prevented Canadians from hearing much of what Dion had to say was the bully who misled Canadians about what the man and his policies were all about.

I don't know about you, but I'm not proud to live in a country where the top politician in the land can savage a political opponent and get away with it -- and then go on to "hide behind the Queen" (as some Americans are putting it as they watch what's been happening in our country in amazement) in order to escape his own political day of reckoning. When George Bush was acting so outrageously a few years back -- and the American people went on to re-elect him, we Canadians looked smugly at one another and said, "That could never happen in Canada."

But, of course, it did: the neo-conservative way of thinking is alive and well and living in Canada now. And we're going to be stuck in this political twilight zone until enough Canadians wake up and realize that they are being lied to and misled by the party in power -- on a routine basis.

This is why parliament isn't working: the traditional rules about parliamentary conduct have been tossed out the windows of the House of Commons and replaced by the same U.S.-style political code of conduct that has made George Bush famous -- or rather infamous -- the world over.

Dion bore the brunt of the attacks from the bully-in-chief of the current regime. When history looks back on this time, people are going to be astounded that more Canadians didn't speak up and decry the McCarthy-like attacks that were carried out during this time -- and that the media was complicit in these attacks.

I feel proud that I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I spoke out against the attack ads, the campaign of misinformation about Dion and his policies (to say nothing of the Conservative Party of Canada and its record) and that I had the opportunity to let Mr. Dion know, on more than one occasion, how much I appreciated his efforts to hold the Harper government accountable.

Dion may not have been the most savvy politican our country has produced, but he is certainly one of our most dedicated. He has served his country well.

October 19, 2008

Stéphane Dion: When Was the Last Time There Was This Kind of a Show of Grassroots Support for a Canadian Politician?

And when was the last time a group of everyday Canadians were moved to take this kind of political action on behalf of a Canadian politician? You'd probably have to think back to the days of Pierre Trudeau to think of a time when ordinary Canadians felt this strongly about a political party leader. 

Over the weekend, ordinary Canadians

to urge Stephane Dion to stay on as leader and to protest the disrespectful treatment of Dion by some anonymous sources within the Liberal Party in recent days.

Will it be enough to prevent Stephen Harper from achieving what he set out to do on Super Bowl Sunday in January 2007, when he launched the now-infamous attack ads on Stéphane Dion: to prevent Canadians from ever experiencing a Canada under Dion?

Only tomorrow will tell.

Img_1397 In the meantime we might wish to ponder what Canada may have lost: a man of integrity and vision. Rather than pandering to the polls, true leaders put forth a bold new vision that inspires us and shows us the way forward that we need to take if we wish to realize our full potential as a nation. Dion did that brilliantly and Canadians let him down by allowing getting sidetracked by Harper's promise of a balanced budget (well on its way to becoming a broken promise) and solid economic leadership (solid because he cribbed it from Dion).

Dion has everything it takes to make a brilliant party leader, if given the opportunity to grow in the job. He's a man of intelligence, integrity, and vision -- and he also cares passionately about his country and its people. Politics, for him, is a means to an end; not an end in itself.  If he's replaced, he'll no doubt be replaced by Mr. Charisma, Mr. Business, or Mr. Shake Everybody's Hands and Refill the Party Coffers. What they won't find is another Dion. He's a once-in-a-generation kind of party leader. And, should he resign, he will be sorely missed.

October 17, 2008

My Letter to Stéphane Dion -- and Why I Wrote It

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to Stéphane Dion. It was a letter of gratitude and encouragement. It was also my way of dealing with what, for me, has been a terribly painful election outcome: an election in which political manipulation triumped over truth and integrity. What does that say about our country and our values, circa 2008? That's the question I've been pondering at both the local and the national level for the past three days.

I'm posting my letter for you to read in the hope that sharing my perspective on this sensitive, principled, visionary leader will help other Canadians to understand what a terrible injustice has been done to him -- and how our country has been diminished as a result.

Think back to the excitement that accompanied his election as Liberal Party Leader -- and how, almost instantly -- Harper and his rove-ing band of political thugs felt the need to launch a preemptive strike against Dion -- right at the get go. You don't take that kind of approach with an ordinary political adversary. You save it for someone you view as an extraordinary threat. Someone who is offering Canadians a bold new vision of what is possible. (CBC RealMedia file | Time: 17:41) Someone who threatens your own political ambitions.

If Dion tenders his resignation on Monday, as many are indicating he will do, I will hold the Prime Minister of Canada personally responsible for the sequence of events that led to that decision -- namely, for authorizing a 22-month-long attack ad campaign designed to destroy a man's political career and to turn him into a national joke. I'm talking about personal defamation and political bullying or, to borrow one of the Prime Minister's favorite phrases, misappropriation of personality. The attacks didn't stop there, of course. Anonymous Liberal Party insiders and -- in recent days -- would-be furniture-movers piled on as well: party politics at its most ugly and most vicious.

If Dion resigns, it will be to the detriment of every Canadian: a political possibility lost. We will never know what kind of Prime Minister Dion might have made or what kind of Canada we might have had if his vision of a greener, fairer, and more economically sustainable Canada had been realized.

I am only one citizen, but I am hoping that other Canadian citizens will finally hold their Prime Minister accountable for what was allowed to happen in our country to a truly decent man and visionary politician like Stéphane Dion. A true leader would accept responsibility for his actions and offer a sincere apology to the leader who has been wronged. If Harper is not willing to do that, some may start saying that Harper is not a leader.

Susan Riley, Dion deserved better, Ottawa Citizen.
Far and Wide: Outside the Beltway: Roundup of blog posts and detailed discussion about why Dion should not be pushed out as party leader.

Hon. Stephane Dion with Betsy McGregor
Photo: Stéphane Dion with Betsy McGregor,
Federal Liberal Candidate, Peterborough Riding
(2008 election).

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.

October 06, 2008

Some Simple Truths As Canadians Head to the Polls

Img_6649 Some simple truths, as I see them, as Canadians prepare to head to the polls.

  • We talk about how we want to feel safe and secure -- to have a government that makes sound economic decisions that take the needs of the ordinary citizen into account -- and that won't cause us to lose our bank account savings or our homes.

Simple truth: We need a government with sound economic vision and a willingness to steer clear of the mistakes of the Bush administration.

  • We talk about how important it is to us to stop destroying the planet so that our beautiful country will be able to provide the land and water that our children and grandchildren will need to grown and thrive.

Simple truth: We need a government that is offering Canadian voters a fully-costed visionary plan on tackling the biggest issue of our generation. The Conservative Party of Canada is completely at odds with the kind of action Canadians want to see on the environment. Every other party understands the necessity of making the environment a priority issue.

  • We talk about how industries that are doing the damage to the planet should be the ones to pay to clean it up.

Simple truth: We need an environmental action plan that taxes what we burn, not what we earn. Read this article to find out why David Suzuki thinks a carbon tax is the way to go.

  • We talk about how much our health care system matters to us -- and how important it is to us that every Canadian be able to have access to a family doctor and how chronically underserviced communities and provinces need to have their long-standing shortages in certain health specialties (for example children's mental health services; mental health services in general)?

Simple truth: The progressive parties understand what Canadians mean when they say that our health care system is failing us. It's not all about wait times and better record-keeping. Nor is privatization the answer.

  • We talk about how we want a government that protects the health and safety of Canadians.

Simple truth: Public health and safety should never be compromised; nor should our public health standards be lowered to appease business interests. And yet that's precisely what has happened under the Conservative government. When a respected health authority like the Canadian Medical Association issues a warning like this, it's time for Canadians to take that warning very seriously. Here's what the CMA had to has to say on this issue. (Read the full article in the October 7, 2008, issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, available for download from the cmaj.ca website.)

Government policy errors helped bring about this epidemic. Yet surprisingly, government has taken no remedial steps beyond issuing a food recall. Instead, officials praise the success of our infectious disease surveillance system — as if, with 16 dead [20 as of today], there were cause to celebrate — while food safety standards remain as low as ever.

The listeriosis epidemic is a timely reminder that the Harper government has reversed much of the progress that previous governments made on governing for public health.

....And listeriosis may be the least of it. The same November 2007 Cabinet decision that handed self-inspection to the owners of meat plants did the same for operators of animal feed mills and cut back the avian influenza preparedness program. Yet bad animal feed led to the epidemic of bovinespongiform encephalitis (mad cow disease), and in an influenza pandemic tens of thousands of Canadians may die. Listeriosis pales in comparison. Overall, it would seem that, as a country, Canada is far less prepared now for epidemics than in the past.

- Editorial, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Oct 7, 2008 issue

  • We talk about the importance of protecting our rural heritage while creating safe and healthy urban environments -- cities in which people can walk or bike to work instead of driving their cars.

Simple truth: We need a government that will ensure that the provinces, the cities, and our rural governments are able to create healthier, greener, communities where everyone has the same opportunity to thrive.

  • We talk about how we want a government that looks out for the needs of farmers and that provide Canadians with accurate and reliable information about genetically modified foods, agri-business, and other issues that affect the food that shows up on their dinner table.

Simple truth: The Conservative government defeated a bill designed to provide Canadians with full details about the genetically modified foods (the so-called frankenfoods) that are showing up on our grocery store shelves. We need a progressive government that will put the health and safety of Canadians first and the interests of big business second.

  • We talk about how much we value freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and government transparency, and government accountability -- and how much we want politicians who are accessible, genuine, and trustworthy.

Simple truth: It hasn't even been possible for Canadians to get full disclosure from Stephen Harper during this campaign. Or before the campaign, for that matter. He has conducted carefully staged media events and tried to stay out of the public eye as much as possible. The campaign has been one of the nastiest on record, with the Liberal campaign having to issue almost daily "Reality Checks" to counter the campaign of misinformation being carried out by the Prime Minister and key members of his cabinet. And the U.S. style attack campaign launched against Stephane Dion one month after he became Leader of the Official Opposition -- and that continued for the 21 months leading up to this election -- has taken the art of the political smear campaign to new and unimagined lows. But Harper and his team have learned from the best: they've had campaign coaching assistance from the team that taught George W. Bush how to fight dirty. (Oh yeah: one other thing. Members of the Conservative Party tried to defeat a bill that allows Canadian journalists to protect their sources -- an almost sacred principle of Freedom of the Press. Fortunately, members of the opposition parties rallied to get the bill through. Pretty incredible, don't you think?)

  • We talk about how much we regret the treatment that aboriginal people in this country have received -- and how we want to move forward in ways that take serious action to right those wrongs.

Simple truth: Destroying the Kelowna Accord, as the Harper government did, amounted to breaking a treaty between two nations. And aboriginal people in Canada continue to live with the fallout of historical wrongs that need to be addressed in a meaningful way.   

  • We talk about how much we value being part of a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to succeed -- including new Canadians -- and in which no one is discriminated against.

Simple truth: The Harper Conservatives changed the mandate of Status of Women Canada to eliminate all activities that have to do with "political equality" or advocacy work. You only have to consider the number of women who make it Parliament Hill in this country to see that this cut was ill-informed (and, many say, extremely mean-spirited). The fallout is being felt by women's groups who do valuable work across this country.   

  • We talk about how proud we are of the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and a justice system that assumes innocence until a person is proven guilty.

Simple truth: The Harper government chopped funding to the Court Challenges Program -- one of the only hopes "the little guy" in this country had of launching a Supreme Court challenge. Some of the key rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country were defined by Supreme Court challenges. The Liberal Party has promised Canadians it will bring back the Court Challenges Program.

But that's not all. The Harper government embraces a U.S.-style approach to justice -- "lock up young offenders and throw away the key" -- isn't just ineffective (it leads to higher crime rates); it's also at odds with our traditional belief in rehabilitation of troubled youth. Even the judge who prepared the report recommending changes to the Youth Justice Act has spoken out harshly against the Harper government's regressive approach to justice in this country. (He also didn't appreciate having Harper falsely claim that he had endorsed the Harper youth justice program.)

  • We talk about the importance of giving young people the best possible start in life -- how the early years are the most important years: a critical time when we must invest in our children because they are our country's future.

Simple truth: We need a government that is willing to invest in those early years by creating quality childcare spaces operated by not-for-profit operators rather than trying to mislead Canadians with a tax credit that shrinks down to very little once the tax man gets his hand on it.

  • We talk about how much we value our children and our families, including our seniors.

Simple truth: We need a government that will safeguard the health and financial well-being of seniors. Seniors are among the most vulnerable populations in times of epidemics and, as the Canadian Medical Association has warned, Canada is far less prepared for a global epidemic than it was before Stephen Harper came to power, as a result of incredibly ill-advised policy decisions in the area of Public Health.

And then there was the broken promise about income trusts -- a breach of trust that took a huge bite out of the savings of ordinary Canadians -- including seniors. 

  • We talk about how proud we are about being Canadian and having a uniquely Canadian identity.

Simple truth: At the heart of that unique and vibrant Canadian identity is a tradition of investing in the arts and culture sector in this country. The Conservative government has demonstrated that it doesn't value what artists contribute to the Canadian economy and that it would like to play Big Brother when it comes to deciding what types of material make for suitable entertainment for Canadians.

  • We talk about how fortunately we are to live in a country like Canada that is one of the safest countries in the world.

Simple truth: It's difficult to feel safe when there's so much we aren't being told about the safety of our food supply, our preparedness for a global pandemic, and who knows what else. It's the who knows what else that is the scariest part. We need a government that will be frank and open with Canadians and work with all levels of government -- provinces, cities, rural municipalities -- to ensure that no other Canadians are allowed to fall through the safety net that we Canadians both prize and take for granted. We don't want any more public health disasters under the watch of the Conservatives.

  • We talk about how proud we feel when we travel abroad and people from other countries speak glowingly about Canada and its peacekeeping and environmental stewardship record abroad.

Simple truth: Our international reputation has been badly damaged by the actions of this government. We're no longer seen as advocates for peace, justice, and the environment. We don't always step forward when the right thing needs to be done. Instead, we look over our shoulder to find out what the Americans are doing -- and then we adjust our position accordingly. Our independent voice in the world has been silenced and countries around the world are suffering as a result. What has happened to Canada? they ask. Many Canadians are asking themselves the same thing.

And, finally, the simplest truth of all:

If this is what we want and value as Canadians,
we can't afford to vote for Stephen Harper in this election.

When you vote, please vote for the kind of government that will create the Canada you want. And please urge other like-minded Canadians to get to the polls, too.
- Ann Douglas

CBC.ca Summary of Party Platforms

September 30, 2008

Strategic Voting in Peterborough Riding

Whatever your reason may be for seeking political change -- a desire for change at the Federal level or here in Peterborough Riding -- according to election analysts (see links below), there is only one candidate who has the potential to defeat our Conservative Member of Parliament Dean Del Mastro on election night. That candidate is Betsy McGregor, the federal Liberal Candidate for Peterborough Riding.

Before we go any further, let me state that I think that any of the three progressive candidates running in Peterborough county would make an excellent Member of Parliament: Emily Berrigan (Green Party of Canada), Betsy McGregor (Liberal), or Steve Sharpe (NDP). The problem is that if we split the approximately 65% of the vote that will likely go to the three progressive parties in our riding, Dean Del Mastro will win because he will receive approximately 35% of the vote. It's a dilemma that Canadians across our country are grappling with at the riding level: how to prevent the very non-mainstream minority from holding on to control of our country and carrying out an agenda that is anti-progressive and (many of us would argue) anti-Canadian as well. (Read my reasons for launching this blog in December 2006 and you'll see that I've been deeply concerned about this government, our MP, and Canada for a very long time.) This is where strategic voting comes into play.

Making the decision to vote strategically may be something entirely new to you, particularly if you have a long association with or a passionate commitment to a particular party. (You may want to read tonight's Peterborough Examiner to find out why peace activist and much-loved former physician Joyce Barrett -- a long-time NDP supporter -- has chosen to vote strategically in this election and rally behind Betsy McGregor. "I wept when Dean (Del Mastro) was elected in 2006," she told The Examiner.")

The idea of strategic voting is certainly something alien for me, too. Or it was until I started listening in on the thoughtful discussions of everyday Canadians like you and me and hearing how passionate they were about preventing a Conservative majority government -- and of allowing themselves to dream of a time when we might actually have a progressive government in power in Canada again.

Uniting the left is the only way to begin the process of unseating the Harper government. By going after the Conservatives in those ridings where they are most vulnerable -- in ridings like Peterborough where the race is going to be close -- we have a chance to end up with one more progressive voice on Parliament Hill. That person will not be a voice for any one party. That person will be a voice for all people in our riding who hope for a more progressive future for this riding.

As Liberal Party MP Michael Ignatieff stated earlier this week:

"What separates us from the Conservatives is that we believe you can’t have an efficient economy without a just society.

"A just society — where every citizen is equal; where we succeed together, because we look after each other; where no Canadian goes to the wall when times are tough; where no Canadian has to walk the lonely road of poverty or ill health alone.

"A market economy demands a just and equal society.  You can’t have an efficient economy, without a just and equal society. This is the key idea behind Canadian liberalism [and progressive Canadians in general, I would argue.]

"That’s not Harper’s Canada."

And speaking of inspiring politicians, here's what Elizabeth May had to say on the subject of strategic voting a few days ago:

The Green, Liberal and New Democratic parties should prevent vote-splitting that would favour Conservatives, and carve up electoral ridings according to who has the best chance of winning, May said. "We sit down and say, `Who has the best chance of winning in all these ridings?' What I've been calling for is proportional representation by other means."

Here are some resources you may wish to consult as you begin to consider whether voting strategically is the right move for you. I will continue to add to this list during the days ahead. You may also wish to use the voting tool in the upper-right hand corner of this blog. It tells you which candidate is considered Peterborough Riding's best bet for electing a progressive candidate.

Note: The tool is updated on a continuous basis as polling data changes.

Strategic voting resources and tools:




DemocraticSPACE: Strategic Voting Guide

Backgrounder 7: Strategic Voting

September 29, 2008

Harper's Lack of Environmental Leadership "Sabotages Any Claims to Environmental Leadership That Canada May Have in the World, Destroys Hope in the Future"

Peterborough Examiner nature columnist Drew Monkman has written one of the most heartfelt and compelling Letters to the Editor that I've read during the current election campaign. It's a call to environmental action that speaks of opportunities lost and opportunities we can't afford to waste. Here is a brief excerpt:

"Less than two years ago, it seemed that Canadians had finally woken up to the reality of climate change and were ready to support tough government action. HoweMapleleafonrocksanndouglasver, looking at voting intentions in this election, it's clear we have slipped back into complacency....

...Harper's blanket dismissal of Stéphane Dion and his carbon tax is a huge slap in the face to anyone who takes climate change seriously. It is grossly insulting to see how progressive, intelligent, expert-supported policy has been so unfairly trashed by bullying, ridicule and deception.

Stephen Harper is hoping to convince us it can be business as usual and that now is not the time to bring in change. The subliminal message seems to be that the warnings of scientists don't really need to be heeded. The lack of a viable program on the part of the Conservatives is profoundly destructive. It sabotages any claims to environmental leadership that Canada may still have in the world and, on a more personal level, simply destroys hope in the future."

Please take a moment to read Drew Monkman's letter in its entirety. You will be both inspired and left feeling profoundly sad.