Monthly Archives: March 2008

Election Eve Blogging

There’s something in the air. Sitting here in our campaign office, every computer is occupied with volunteers working to make sure everything’s ready for tomorrow. My email inbox is suddenly filling up with best wishes from family and friends (some of whom I haven’t heard from in years), as is my Facebook wall.

By any measure, this Green campaign has already been Toronto’s most successful ever. We have heard from far more supporters, delivered far more signs, raised more money, and received more media attention and endorsements than would have seemed possible when I first ran just two years ago. More importantly for me, we’ve also driven the agenda in a substantial way (more on this later).

Now, we need your vote. Call our office if you have any questions or need a ride. And happy St. Patrick’s day to all!

CBC Radio: It’s Tindal or Rae, and I Need Your Vote

I had no problem waking up to this radio report this morning, which frames this election as a choice between myself or my Liberal opponent. Have a listen.

By the way, people sometimes tell me “I agree with almost everything you stand for, I think you’re the best candidate, and I’d vote for you if you were running for another party.” There’s a problem with that: if I were running for another party, I wouldn’t be able to say the things I’ve been saying. I wouldn’t be able to represent the platform that so many people agree with once they hear it articulated.

I think people sometimes conclude that since I sound reasonable, and since they assume the Green Party isn’t reasonable, I must be some kind of rogue anomaly. I’m not. If you agree with what you’ve heard me say in a debate or in the media or on a piece of campaign literature and think that those ideas should be represented in Parliament, I need more than your good wishes (though those are always appreciated, too) to make it happen. I need your vote this Monday.

GROW Housing Toronto

GROW Housing TorontoLast Tuesday at the St. Lawrence debate I was very excited to announce a major policy initiative called GROW Housing Toronto. The plan would see the Moss Park Armoury replaced with an inspiring development that provides not only new affordable housing (based on proven mixed-income, rent-to-own and co-operative models), but also generates power, grows food and creates jobs. Even though the proposal is in a “conceptual” stage, many experts have contributed to GROW Housing’s design and, while not all of the details have been finalized, many have. Here’s the video of the announcement.

Details and images can be found at, and there’s also a Facebook group. Here’s Eyeweekly’s take on the proposal, as well as the debate in general:

“It’s tempting to let cynicism sink in,” says Green candidate Chris Tindal. “Because these are just words.” Recently noting that the number of news stories regarding his hair (one) exceeded the number of news stories regarding his platform (zero), Tindal shows off something practical: GROW Housing Toronto, a design to replace Moss Park Armoury at Jarvis and Queen with affordable residences that fulfill urban environmental fantasies — including a Vertical Farm.

The conversation keeps veering away from the local, though, but Rae manages to reel it back by expressing how more people across Canada migrating to cities will be even more of a challenge than the immigration of a previous era. Tindal is pleased to hear Liberal talk of an environmental tax shift, noting there was no such discussion by Bill Graham when Tindal last did this election schtick in 2006.

But there’s a bit less Rae worship from Tindal this time around, pointing out that he’s the only candidate on the St. Lawrence Centre stage that was there for the previous federal election.

“We are hearing that people should vote Liberal to stop the scary spectre of Stephen Harper when you know this is a by-election,” snipes Tindal. “The fact is, the Conservatives have no chance of winning — the best Don Meredith can say is that he believes in miracles. You’re slipping into the politics of fear, and I think there are more options than that.

“Vote for me, and if you don’t like me, you can vote me out — in a month … or a year … or a week … or a day … or however long this current government lasts.”

Tindal also used his personal blog to refute Rae’s assertion that there aren’t Canadian military officers serving in Iraq as part of the American command, and even served up the evidence.

Rae Seriously Uninformed Regarding Iraq

Canadian Maj. Gen. Peter DevlinWhile answering a question last night at the St. Lawrence debate, I mentioned that it’s important for us to realize that there are currently Canadian military officers serving in Iraq as part of the American command. Bob Rae interrupted me to object adamantly, almost angrily. “No there aren’t!”

Yes, I said, there are. “No there aren’t,” Mr. Rae said again. “They’re part of our military exchange program,” I explained. (I’m paraphrasing from memory for now, but will be able to check the tape later and will post the video when I can. UPDATE [March 13th @ 10:21pm]: Video of this exchange is now available, in both full and shortened versions.) Strangely, Mr. Rae demanded I tell him where in Iraq our officers were stationed, as if my inability to do so would prove they weren’t there.

At that point, seeing no immediate resolution to our disagreement, I moved on with the rest of my answer. Today, however, having confirmed that I was correct, I’m quite taken aback that Mr. Rae could have been so misinformed about our military’s exchange program with the United States and our direct involvement in the war in Iraq. It’s made worse by the fact that Mr. Rae isn’t just any Liberal candidate: he’s the party’s foreign affairs critic.

Ironically, some of the first criticisms of Canadian involvement in Iraq were directed at the Liberal government in 2003, and came from then-opposition Alliance Leader Stephen Harper. At the time, CTV reported that “there are currently 31 Canadian military officers serving with U.S. forces in Iraq.”

Then on December 14, 2006, according to this US military website, Canadian Maj. Gen. Peter Devlin became the MNC-I (Multi National Corps – Iraq) Deputy Command General. He’s even photographed for the CENTCOM website wearing a Canadian uniform.

Finally, in January 19th 2008, just two months ago and during this election campaign, Canwest News Service reported that Canadian Forces Brig.-Gen. Nicolas Matern had “recently arrived in Baghdad” to take “a leading roll in Iraq.” The report also confirmed that “a number of high ranking Canadian officers have been involved in helping direct operations in the Iraq conflict,” and offered this summary:

In 2004 Lt.-Gen. Walter Natynczyk, then a major general, served as deputy commander of the Multi-National Corps during operation Iraqi Freedom.

At the time, he was in charge of 35,000 soldiers. Natynczyk oversaw planning and execution of all multi-national corps-level combat support operations.

For his service in Iraq, Governor General Michaelle Jean, presented him with the Meritorious Service Cross.

At the time, the press release noted Natynczyk’s pivotal role in the development of numerous plans and operations “resulted in a tremendous contribution by the Multi-National Corps to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and has brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.”

Canadian Maj.-Gen. Peter Devlin was also recently a deputy commander in the multi-national corps.

Other Canadian soldiers have served in front-line positions. In May 2003 a Canadian Forces exchange officer was wounded near Baghdad airport after a grenade exploded next to the convoy he was traveling in. At the time there were 16 Canadian military members serving on exchange programs with various foreign forces involved in the Iraq war.

So, Canadian officers have been serving in Iraq since at least 2003 as discussed in both the House of Commons and the mainstream media. Further, our soldiers have actually been in front-line positions and even been wounded.

How is it possible that the Liberal foreign affairs critic was not only unaware of these basic facts, but was so sure of the opposite that he forcefully interrupted to contradict me – not once, but repeatedly? Mr. Rae is a good orator and a good candidate, but this raises some serious questions regarding his knowledge of his own portfolio.