Monthly Archives: March 2009

Sit tight, Elizabeth

Some have already begun to suggest that Elizabeth May should move to New Westminster-Coquitlam and start campaigning for the anticipated by-election there, now that NDP MP Dawn Black is stepping down to run provincially. This is a somewhat tempting idea because of the double-dividend of being able to campaign for British Columbia’s referendum on improving their voting system. However, there are at least two major reasons for Elizabeth to stay put for now.

The first is that we don’t yet know who is going to run for the leadership of the Ontario PC party. One possibility is John Baird (even though he’s having fun playing coy), which would open up a federal seat in the Ottawa area. Both Elizabeth and the Green party itself have strong roots in Ottawa, so that could be a good option.

The second reason is a long shot, but an exciting one for federal Greens. If Peter MacKay became the next secretary general of NATO (a possibility slightly more likely now that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden is reportedly lobbying on his behalf), that would make a vacated Central Nova more winnable than ever for Elizabeth May. She could convincingly argue that she’s MacKay’s natural successor having already paid her dues there, and that she’s always remained loyal to the riding even when the going got tough.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens. In the mean time, Elizabeth should wait and see.

Vaughan on tax shifting

One of the most recent times I had a conversation with Adam Vaughan (at an Earth day rally last year) I remember him telling me that the Green party had to abandon it’s silly tax shifting idea. Either I’m remembering wrong or the debate itself is continuing to shift:

“Taxing waste is good as it motivates sound environmental stewardship, and those who act responsibly benefit without having to subsidize the wasteful habit of others.”

Welcome, Adam.

John Tory

“John Tory is a decent, hard-working, worldly and intelligent man… He never had a chance.” – Andrew Steele

For the record (immature reactive cheap-shots notwithstanding), I like and respect John Tory, and my heart goes out to him today. I disagree with him on many issues, but he comes by his positions thoughtfully and defends them with honesty and integrity. Would that we could say that about more politicians.

In the end, it turns out Tory was a bad politician—not because of who he is, but because of who we expect politicians to be.

That’s not to excuse or exonerate him completely. I would not have made many of the same decisions he did, and ultimately only he can be held accountable for his own performance. I just think it’s worth reflecting on what kind of political leadership we want in this country, and comparing that to the types of people we tend to vote for. Seems to me there’s a disconnect.

And finally, still for the record, the great religious schools debate of October 2007 (sometimes referred to as the Ontario General Election) should live on as Dalton McGuinty’s great shame, not Tory’s. At least Tory was taking a principled position on equality (it was the wrong principled position on equality mind you, but still). The Liberals and the NDP, on the other hand, formally adopted the position that they favour and support religious discrimination, and played on xenophobic sentiment towards people of faith in order to do it. As Andrew Coyne puts it:

History will record that the premier of Ontario, in the year 2007, could begin a televised debate with a veiled — you should pardon the expression — warning that the Conservatives’ religious schools proposal would mean “strife in the streets,” of the kind witnessed in “Paris and London.” Hmmm. Paris… London… What sort of strife could he have meant? Could he have had in mind… the Muslim kind? The beauty of it was, the Liberals never had to say it out loud: “eek, a Muslim!” The premier could appear to be singing the same old hymns to tolerance and pluralism, even as he was exploiting much darker sentiments.

Yes, let’s hope historians—and voters—are paying that much attention.

UPDATE (Saturday, 8:10 am): Today’s Globe editorial:

Both his personal defeat, and the party defeat, can be interpreted as a setback caused in some measure by a principled stand taken by Mr. Tory. He thought it proper to run in a constituency in which he had personal ties, and he thought that Roman Catholics should not be the only faith group to receive publicly funded religious schooling – that addressing this historic inequity was the correct thing to do. But as political decisions both were failures, and Mr. Tory was aspiring to be premier, not an ethicist.

…His critics will now have an opportunity to find a better leader, although they will be hard-pressed to find a better person.


Back on January 24th I took a screenshot of the Ontario PC party’s website and started a blog post with the title “Dear John Letter.” Their website, at the time, was basically announcing that John Tory was about to return to the legislature. That headline struck me as presumptuous, arrogant, premature, etc, so I thought I’d write an open letter to John Tory asking him to correct it. But then I abandoned the post and discarded the screenshot after deciding it was a bit mean. In a way, I’m now regretting that decision, as it would be fitting to be able to post that image now. On the other hand, I don’t feel much desire to kick someone when they’re down.

Goodbye, John. As I write this all the polls aren’t in yet, but it’s over. Even if he wins now, he has lost.

In other news, Mike Schreiner, who’s a great guy, is in 3rd. Not bad.