229 posts categorized "activism"

April 17, 2010

My Visit to Dean Del Mastro's Constituency Office -- And What I Learned

The first thing you need to know is that I didn't want to be in this place – my Member of Parliament's office – following up on my earlier correspondence. I had hoped that the entire situation would be resolved quietly, behind-the-scenes, in a non-public way. And, given the choice between having this particular discussion in this particular location and being any place else on earth – well, you can guess where I wanted to be.

It all began well enough. Sandra Brownlie, Constituency Assistant, ushered me into the board room at the constituency office and began to review the materials I had brought with me.

Almost immediately, it became obvious to me that this was the first Brownlie had heard of the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Fan Group and the libelous allegations posted in the news area of the group. She gasped out loud as she read the allegations in the news section. Clearly, she had not received the email that I had sent to her attention via the general contact account on the Dean Del Mastro constituency website.

It was also clear that she didn't want to end up being caught between a rock (the fact that the two of us belong to the same community organization) and a hard place (getting any heat from her employer). When the purpose of my visit became obvious – I wanted to ask Dean Del Mastro to intervene on my behalf to have the libelous statements removed from the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro fan group – she left the room to consult with someone else.

A few moments later, I was ushered into a backroom office and introduced to Alan Wilson. (Neither Brownlie nor Wilson provided his job title, but Wilson has been described as both Senior Advisor and Special Advisor in various media resports.) Brownlie exited shortly after introducing me to Wilson.

Wilson started out by asking me why I considered the comments on the We Love Dean Del Mastro Facebook Fan Group to be libelous. Because they are untrue and because they are in writing, I replied.

At that point, Wilson took the conversation in an entirely different direction. "You've done a lot of writing against Dean, haven't you?" he stated (a reference to the fact that that One Woman. One Blog. has often critiqued the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and more locally, its Member of Parliament in Peterborough Riding, Dean Del Mastro).

Wilson asked why I had brought my issue to Del Mastro's constituency office. I told him I had done so because I didn't think it reflected well on Del Mastro to have libelous and untrue statements about a constituent posted on a fan group that had been created in Del Mastro's honour. Wilson stated that he disagreed. Then he proceeded to launch into a series of rapid-fire questions that left me feeling like I was a guest on Fox News or a character in a Kafka novel.

Why do you attack Dean as much as you do? ("I don't attack him personally. I attack the CPC.") What do you know about him as a politician? ("That he is a member of the CPC.") You called him fatso. ("I never did. I never took out a kiiji ad. That's why I'm saying it is libelous and inflammatory.") Did you call him fatso? ("Never.") Did you call him a goof? ("Never.")

After a few minutes of this, the conversation got back on track. Wilson stated that he didn't know what to do about the group because "we don't know who [Douglas O'Driscoll, the group administrator: see footnote below] is. And I don't think Dean knows who he is either." I pointed out that Del Mastro family members belonged to the group (Dean Del Mastro's brother Doug was the first person to join the group) and that it shouldn't be difficult for Dean Del Mastro to make contact with the group's administrator, should he choose to go that route.

"Why would he do that?" Wilson asked.

I stated once again that I thought it reflected poorly on Del Mastro to allow the comments to stand.

"I beg to differ," Wilson stated. "I don't think his reputation is affected." He added that there are a lot of things that do reflect poorly on Del Mastro (referring to various unflattering comments that have been made about Del Mastro online).

"So I will advise Dean of this," Wilson stated as our conversation was winding down. "I will advise him to stay out of it."

[I can't help but wonder if Wilson would make the same recommendation to Del Mastro if the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Group featured negative comments about the Harper government, a campaign contributor, or one of the MP's projects or causes. It might be more problematic to let those types of comments stand.]

The conversation continued with Wilson offering me some advice. Wilson told me that if I thought that the material written about me was libelous, I should find out who this person is and sue them. I responded by pointing out that there didn't appear to be a real person named Douglas O'Driscoll living in Peterborough Riding. [Earlier, I had conducted a search of Canada 411 and found only one Douglas O'Driscoll in all of Canada. There weren't any D. O'Driscolls in Peterborough Riding or area code 705. If there is a Douglas O'Driscoll who truly LOVES Dean Del Mastro, he certainly wants to keep a low profile.]

"That's one of the great dangers about Facebook, isn't it?" Wilson responded.

"It is, for sure. People can do irresponsible things," I replied.

"A lot like bloggers," Wilson said.

It was clear to me that Wilson had a bone to pick with bloggers; and that he was angry with me in particular. ("I'm not a fan of yours," he'd said. "That's okay," I'd replied. "We don't have to be fans of one another.) Earlier in our conversation, Wilson had offered me some advice about writing, based on the one post from my blog he'd read. (Someone had drawn it to his attention.) "From what I've read. I think you have a very naive view of what and how to write." He pointed out that he is an author.

Wilson stressed that he doesn't read blogs; he didn't have the time to; that the people associated with Dean Del Mastro were too busy trying to help people. "If there are negative people out there, it's their choice. It's a free country. Dean has put himself out in the political arena, so he's open to attack."

What he couldn't understand, he told me, is why Dean had attracted so much negative attention: "When people spend a chunk of their time (which I think is wasted) attacking a person who is working very hard to do a lot of good things for the Riding; and who will probably leave politics in another four years when he feels he has done what he can; and will leave a legacy—it's your choice to attack that person. I choose to help that person."



Good, like beauty, is apparently in the eyes of the beholder.

If I thought that Dean Del Mastro was doing the right things for Peterborough Riding -- or that the Conservative Party of Canada was doing the right things for Canada -- I'd be helping to lead the parade.

But I don't share his (or their) vision of Canada. I want a true north strong and free.

I am grateful that my parents taught me to speak my mind and to do what is right, even when it is scary to do so. I am raising my children to live their lives in the same way. Using your voice may be difficult at first, but once you've done it—wow: the way you feel inside, knowing you've been true to your values and that you're linking arms with all the other people who are counting on you to stand up for the things that really matter: it's one of the most amazing feelings you'll ever have. You get to feel democracy pulsing through your veins.



Douglas O'Driscoll (human or sock puppet) is no longer the Facebook administrator for the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Facebook Group. The Douglas O'Driscoll account was deleted from Facebook sometime between Wednesday morning (when I visited Del Mastro's constituency office) and Saturday afternoon. The Douglas O'Driscoll account has also disappeared from Facebook entirely. The group is currently operating without an administrator.

By leaving the group and not appointing a new administrator, Douglas O'Driscoll account has cleverly ensured that the libelous information about me will remain on Facebook indefinitely – and Del Mastro can't be criticized for not intervening.

Here's why:

(1) It will not be possible for Dean Del Mastro to contact Douglas O'Driscoll because he is no longer the group administrator and he is no longer even on Facebook.

(2) Because there is no new administrator, Del Mastro cannot be expected to contact that person.

(3) The Facebook Group system suffers from a fatal flaw: if the last remaining administrator of a group leaves that group without appointing a new administrator, no one else can become the administrator.

April 08, 2010

Joel Parkes Describes Del Mastro Loyalists as Tea Party Crowd

Joel Parkes has written a number of Letters to the Editor to the Peterborough Examiner in recent months, critiquing Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro.

Each of his letters has triggered an avalanche of responses from Del Mastro loyalists, defending the MP's record.

Parkes had another letter published in last night's Examiner. In it he noted, in part:

As the "tea party" crowd rushes to respond to my specific criticisms of Dean Del Mastro I can't help but notice a pattern. There is no substantive reply to a substantive critique....Instead there is outrage at the tone of my criticisms. Partisan politics, as demonstrated by Del Mastro's supporters, is a kind of fundamentalism and, as such, tends to practice moral absolutism that manifests itself in demands that criticism be silenced rather than addressed. But that doesn't make those demands valid, or even ethical.

Parkes isn't the only letter writer whose Letters to the Editor encourage members of the Del Mastro camp to pick up their pens. Almost any critique of Del Mastro, however mild, will solicit a half-dozen or so outraged replies.

Heck, even this blog has attracted a libelous attack post on Facebook (from the "We Love Dean Del Mastro Group.") (Note: Letter to MP's office and related correspondence.)

March 19, 2010

The Invisible Woman

I haven't been blogging here a lot in recent months, but my political roots have been showing over here and over here. Just thought I'd let you know I haven't gone totally AWOL. Hope to be back to posting here more regularly soon. I just need to wrap up a big project first. See you on Twitter.

January 11, 2010

Elizabeth May's Reply to My Letter to The Governor General

Remember the letter I wrote to the Governor General, urging her not to agree to Harper's request to prorogue Parliament? I just received the most inspiring reply from Elizabeth May's office. Here's what the letter says:

Dear Ann,

Thank you for your message regarding the prorogation of parliament. The Prime Minister's latest move proves once again his extreme cynicism and mastery in political calculation. The Green Party of Canada was the first federal party to denounce Harper’s second prorogation in just over a year. This extended vacation for MPs is an affront to democracy.
The move brings government committees to a standstill, particularly preventing investigation into the critical matter of the Afghan detainees.  It delays any bills currently before the house including the government's crime bills. Pressing issues such as the climate crisis and Canada’s economic recovery issues will remain unresolved until March.
What now?  We need to expect the unexpected. We need to kick and scream at this insult to democracy -- because that is what it is.  We need to support each other, efforts by other parties, non-political leadership. Wherever a clear and compelling call for democracy emerges, that voice must be supported.
Join Canadians across Canada on January 23rd rallying against the prorogation of parliament. I am attending the rally in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, but visit the Facebook group to find the rally closest to you.
Harper's move this week is premised on the assumption that enough Canadians simply do not care about democracy or the role of Parliament.   It presumes that Parliament can be shuttered for partisan political reasons.

In the interests of democracy, let's hope this time his cynicism has miscalculated.
Elizabeth May, O.C.
P.S. Please visit the Green Party website to read my latest blogs on the issue.


I should also mention that I also received a lovely note from Betsy McGregor, Liberal Candidate for Peterborough Riding, who was also copied on the letter. She wrote, in part: "Ann - thank you for sending this explicit letter of concern to the office of the Governor General."

And as for the Governor General? I haven't had any acknowledgment of the correspondence from her office. I'll keep you posted on that front.

January 23 Rally - Peterborough, Ontario - No to Prorogue!


You can download copies of the event posters (there are four different ones) and share them all around town. I don't know about you, but I think they're gorgeous.

For more information about the rally and the cause, please visit

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament on Facebook

the website of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (noprorogue.ca)

noprorogue's Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/noprorogue)

January 07, 2010

Do You Think it Was the Ventriloquist Dummy Analogy That Got My Letter Spiked?

It appears that The Peterborough Examiner isn't going to publish my Letter to the Editor, so I thought I'd have my say here instead.

What kind of country has Canada become when the Prime Minister is more concerned about holding on to power at any cost than showing any type of leadership, moral or otherwise; and Conservative MPs function as ventriloquist dummies, dutifully mouthing the messages of the puppet master?

Harper must go. The opposition parties must defeat the Harper government on a motion of non-confidence at the first opportunity. They must also pull together to offer Canadians a progressive alternative at the ballot box: one that spells out a vision for Canada that transcends party lines. The problems that face Canadians globally and across the country demand visionary, collaborative problem-solving; not narrow, partisan thinking.

I urge the leaders of the opposition parties to be bold and daring. Too much is at stake for caution or inaction.

And speaking of Letters to the Editor, I thoroughly enjoyed Alissa Paxton's letter, which ran a few days ago. Some of the other letters on the subject of prorogation (specifically from the pro-prorogation camp) haven't proven nearly as link-worthy, but this one, from a fellow anti-prorogation enthusiast, made me smile. (I like a letter to demonstrate logic and/or original thought. How about you?)

Note (added Mon. Jan. 11): It turns out my letter did run in the end -- on Fri. Jan. 8. I didn't receive my usual call from the newspaper's fact-checker verifying that the letter was mine, so I was surprised to see it in print. (Perhaps they saw it here and took that as confirmation. I don't have a problem with that as long as they still go through some sort of process of verifying the authenticity of letters. If that goes, there will be total anarchy when it comes to letters to the editor.)


Suspending Parliament Puts Focus on Games: MP

December 30, 2009

Thinking like a CPC PR Operative: Kady's Challenge

UPDATED: ProrogueWatch: Is today really the day? - Inside Politics.

I took up Kady's challenge to think like a CPC PR operative and predict the PR key messages we might hear (to justify the decision to prorogue). Hey, it's good therapy.

I'll take you up on your "thinking like a CPC PR dude" challenge, Kady.

I predict we'll hear some of the following key messages.
- The economy is BOOMING - yes BOOMING - thanks to all the strategically invested infrastructure dollars, so the government has done its job.
- It's too soon to talk about the budget. We don't like that b-word as much as the other b-word (BOOMING).
- Canadians want to unite to enjoy the Olympics without being distracted by democracy. This country is all about hockey, not democracy. Did your dad ever get up at 5 am to drive you to parliament? Didn't think so.
- We can't really talk about that thing we were talking about a few weeks ago because it would compromise the security of the soldiers. The fact that I have to mention it at all is jeopardizing the mission. Thanks, opposition parties.

Freaky how natural that became.

My Letter to the Governor General: Just Say No

December 30, 2009

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall,
1 Sussex Drive,
Ottawa, Ontario,
K1A 0A1

Dear Madam:

I am writing to you to urge you not to grant any request from the Prime Minister that Parliament be prorogued.

There is no justifiable reason to do so.

If Parliament is prorogued at this time, Canadians will lose a great deal of faith in the democratic process in this country. This could lead to even lower voter turnouts during elections as well as widespread political discontent, if citizens feel that their interests aren't being properly represented by their elected officials.

It could also lead to a complete loss in confidence in the office of Governor General -- a very serious situation for a parliamentary democracy.

If the Prime Minister proceeds with the request to prorogue, I would urge you to ask the opposition parties if they would be willing to step forward and govern as a coalition until an election can be held. The Prime Minister should not be rewarded for his eagerness to prorogue on a whim by the continued privilege of holding the office of Prime Minister.

Thank you for hearing my concerns as spelled out in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Ann Douglas

cc. Betsy McGregor, Candidate, Liberal Party, Peterborough Riding
cc. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

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).

November 08, 2009

Hey, Big Spenders: Devolin and Del Mastro Rank in Top 25 for Printing Bills

MPs spending more on flyers - Peterborough Examiner - Ontario, CA.

The print version of this story contains additional information that the online version is missing. (It's a bit odd because it's not as if you have to crop online stories to work around space constraints. But whatever.)

Here are the key facts that are missing from the online version of this story, but that residents of Haliburton-Kawartha-Lakes-Brock and Peterborough Ridings should know:
  • Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Barry Devolin (CPC) spent $80,460 on printing in 2008-09 (ranking him eighth among all MPs).
  • Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro (CPC) spent $70,629 (ranking him 18th among all MPs).
It's a good thing the trees used to print these flyers aren't harvested locally or our tourist operators would be none-too-happy.....