Tag Archives: jack layton

Letter Writing, To No Veil

I will begrudgingly admit that the Globe is under no obligation to publish everything I send them, but it’s unfortunate they didn’t print the following letter, sent yesterday, as a way of correcting their incorrect statement from yesterday’s editorial that “not one [party] has come out against the new bill.”

The Globe and Mail is absolutely correct to condemn the NDP for joining with the Conservatives in “pandering to fears of Islam” and targeting Muslim women, especially considering that MPs have no problem with Canadians who vote without showing their faces so long as they live abroad. This follows Jack Layton’s strange and disturbing pronouncement late last year that he “prefers” Canadians who aren’t dual citizens to lead political parties, as if Canadians who hold dual citizenships are somehow second class. His party, which should be the champion of social justice, human rights and equality, seems to have lost its way in the pursuit of power and a closer relationship with those who hold it. Readers should know that there is one party, the Green Party of Canada, that opposes this shameful piece of legislation.

When there’s only one party taking a position that a significant number of Canadians support, it’s critically important for the media to report that so that voters can make informed decisions. Scott’s roundup on how NDP bloggers are reacting is also quite informative:

The decision by the NDP and Jack Layton to support the Cons. motion on prohibiting veiled voters from casting ballots has enraged traditional NDP supporting bloggers, and unaffiliated blogs on the progressive left who are normally sympathetic to the NDP today, although with the NDP’s view on blogging regarding it as the black sheep of the family, one wonders what if any effect it will have, or if anyone in NDP HQ even notices the discomfiture this has caused amongst their normally very loyal supporters.

Elizabeth Buys Dinner With Jack

As you know, Elizabeth May has been trying to get a meeting with Jack Layton, but to no avail. She’s of the opinion that politicians need to work together to address the climate crisis, and that it would be helpful for the leaders who want to take action to discuss how to do that in the face of a Prime Minister who doesn’t.

So, last Saturday night at the parliamentary press gallery dinner when Layton (who was not actually on the agenda) stepped up to the microphone and announced that he was auctioning off a dinner date with himself and his wife Olivia Chow for charity, Elizabeth saw her window.

Mr. Layton auctioned off dinner for four with himself and Ms. Chow to raise money for a scholarship in memory of Dennis Bueckert, a respected Canadian Press environment and science reporter who died suddenly this year.

Ms. May said Monday she had already planned to make a $1,000 donation to the scholarship as she and Mr. Bueckert were old friends, so the auction was perfect.

“I decided I’ll go as high as $1,000,” she said. “If anyone goes higher than that, I can’t afford it.”

Funny thing: no one went higher. Oh, and another funny thing: she plans to invite Stephane Dion as her guest, so that they can all sit around the same table together. “That would make a very interesting dinner,” she said. “Who knows, something good could come of it.” Let’s hope.

That’s assuming, of course, that Layton actually honors his commitment:

Polls and election results suggest the Greens pose an electoral danger to the NDP, and Mr. Layton seems unwilling to do anything to lend legitimacy to Ms. May or her party. At the end of the auction, Mr. Layton did not even acknowledge that Ms. May was the winner

…A spokesman for Mr. Layton, Karl Belanger, did not sound keen on the May-Dion-Layton dinner.

“We didn’t talk about who this person might be,” he said. “She won the auction, so we’ll see, but co-ordinating the schedule of three leaders . . . two leaders is already tricky. Three leaders could be even more tricky. But you know, it looks like the Liberal party would be well-represented at that dinner, since she’s the Liberal party candidate in Central Nova.”

Smooth, Karl. And classy too.

How Do You Get To Massey Hall?

“It’s hard to beat the system / when we’re standing at a distance / so we keep waiting / waiting on the world to change.” -John Mayer

I don’t know, I only came close. I can at least tell you that practice has nothing to do with it. I’d practiced my speech a lot.

This evening I was invited to represent the Green Party of Canada at Vote Out Poverty, a sold-out event at Massey Hall put on by Make Poverty History and the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice. I was really excited about it. Poverty–domestically and internationally–must be aggressively addressed, and I looked forward to explaining what we propose to do about it. Besides, it would be an honour to share the stage with the likes of Mary Walsh, Stephen Lewis, The Nylons, and others. When I arrived, I was greeted outside by a nice woman with a headset and a clipboard, given my ticket and told that someone would come get me before it was my turn to speak along with the other federal representatives (Ken Dryden and Jack Layton).

Then, before the event started, a twist. The woman with the headset came back and told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to speak, because we’d “RSVPed too late” and there wasn’t time to change the script. (My attendance was confirmed this morning. There’d previously been a mix-up at the federal office since the invitation was sent to Elizabeth a day before her surgery.) I expressed my disappointment (politely, it wasn’t her fault after all) and asked if she could double-check if it really was impossible to add the words “and, from the Green Party, Chris Tindal” to the script. She went off to see what she could do.

Then, with the event already underway (The Nylons were singing John Mayer’s “Waiting for the World to Change”) she came back and told me that I’d been added to the script and would be able to speak after all. “Great, thanks,” I said.

First, the provincial representatives spoke. It was a very NDP-friendly room. The Liberal was heckled, the Conservative John Tory’s Candidate was outright booed, and Howard Hampton was given several standing ovations. Then, the federal representatives spoke. Um, except for me. I don’t really know why. They just never introduced me as I stood in the wings, waiting. Once Jack was done doing his thing they moved on to the next part of the evening.

Regardless of the fact that I’d canceled two other events to be there, I was already becoming profoundly discouraged at the way this campaign is going. Just a little more than one week left and we’ve talked about almost nothing other than funding for religious schools, as if that’s the only thing that mattered. And then there’s the referendum, which, we’re told by polls and news articles, Ontarians like when they understand it, but might vote it down since they don’t. Add to my frustration-pile that Howard Hampton reportedly went on CTV last night and told outright lies (sorry, but there’s just no other word for it) about what the Green Party stands for. You can only get away with that if people don’t actually know what we stand for. And you can only ensure that if you make sure we’re not allowed to speak for ourselves.

Ontario, you wouldn’t really keep voting for the same parties, using the same voting system, and expect a different result, would you? After all, you’re not insane.

ps. Yes, I’m aware that this has been a bit of a disjointed and emotional rant. Maybe I’d be wise to sleep on this before posting. Then again, it’ll be hard to get to sleep without getting this out first.

pps. Sorry I haven’t been blogging very much the past few days. If someone could please arrange for the federal government to award me a $20,000 communications contract, that could really help subsidize my income and free-up some time.

Layton Asked Greens For A Deal In 2004

Darnitall. I keep wanting to stop fighting with the NDP on this. I really do. But I’m exceptionally bad at backing down from a debate. Call it a weakness.

It was upsetting enough to listen to Ed Broadbent, a person who I respected, yell angrily at Elizabeth May on the radio in what I felt was an irrational, inconsistent and purely partisan way. And it’s been upsetting enough to listen to what I would call Jack Layton’s hypocrisy in opposing cooperation with Elizabeth after he’s been cooperating with Stephen Harper all this time, and by refusing to talk to her while instead saying he’d like to talk to the Taliban.

Now, it turns out the hypocrisy runs even deeper. Today The Toronto Star reports that Jack Layton asked then-Green-Party-Leader Jim Harris not to run candidates against the NDP in 2004.

Former Green party leader Jim Harris says NDP Leader Jack Layton sought a deal with him before the 2004 federal election, so he’s baffled why New Democrats are suddenly saying that it’s wrong for the Greens and Liberals to co-operate in the next campaign.

“Methinks they doth protest too much,” Harris said in an interview yesterday, describing a meeting he held at a College St. café in Toronto with Layton before the 2004 campaign.

Layton has been one of the most vocal opponents of the pact reached last week between Green Leader Elizabeth May and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, by which both parties agree to let the leaders run unchallenged in their Nova Scotia and Montreal ridings in the next campaign.

Layton has condemned this as “wheeling and dealing” that denies citizens the right to vote for parties of their choice.

But according to Harris, Layton asked for the Greens not to run candidates in 2004 and to endorse the NDP instead. A 2004 newspaper story makes mention of the meeting and includes confirmation from an NDP strategist that Layton was looking for the Greens to back his party.

To review, what Elizabeth and Stephane Dion did was decide not to run candidates against each other, and to endorse each other as valuable Parliamentarians. Elizabeth did not endorse the Liberal party itself, and, of course, Green candidates including myself will be giving Liberal candidates a run for their piles and piles of money all across the country. Layton, on the other hand, wanted Jim Harris and the Green Party to actually endorse the NDP and not run many or any candidates against them.

I’ve sent a few messages to NDP friends over the past few days trying to make peace, and I know that by pointing out this latest development I’m probably not helping my cause. But this is the first time I’ve actually gotten emotional about this whole thing. I don’t mind my party or my leader being attacked — in fact, I welcome it. Greens are now being taken seriously and criticism comes with the job. I just wish those attacks were based on fact and integrity. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Hopefully we can all get our eyes back on the rapidly overheating ball that we call home soon. Name calling is fun and all, but when we are (or should be) in crisis mode, it’s pretty irresponsible.