Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the news that the US Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade and what it might mean for Canada & the Federal Conservative Party Leadership Race plus try and find some lighter news.
So Jean Charest is running to be leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Yes, THAT Jean Charest. The former Quebec Premier and Maple Spring antagonist who lost power after over a decade because people took to the streets en masse after he refused to budge an inch.
I have three thoughts on this completely expected announcement last week (the fact that he caught COVID and is campaigning from home was a bit of a surprise, but doesn’t change my thoughts on him) :
1. I despise Jean Charest
He is the living embodiment of bourgeois arrogance and austerity for everyone but the rich. Charest was kicked “dehors” but wasn’t someone supposed to find him “un job dans le Nord”? I guess that didn’t work out and instead we have the most undeserving and undesirable of political comebacks.
Maybe he feels that others in Quebec may remember his political exit in 2012 more than anything else, which could be why he chose to launch his campaign in Alberta. That or a desire to appeal to the party base. Either way, typica crafty, slimy Charest.
2. He’s the Conservatives’ Best Chance of Actually Winning
Sadly, it’s true. The first time he ran for Conservative leadership (it was the PC party then, not the CPC), Charest lost his bid but was one of only two MPs to keep their seat when Jean Chretien wiped the Kim Campbell-led party off the political map.
Unless Quebec decides to collectively do something unexpected (which they do every few decades or so), federal elections in Canada are decided by hockey moms and dads in the 905 and 519. Charest can play to that crowd, a right-winger cannot.
And Charest is the one with name recognition. Sure, in Quebec it’s complicated, but that’s not the case everywhere else, like in Calgary where he announced his candidacy.
3. He Won’t Win the Nomination
Pierre Poilievre will most likely get the nomination. He’s Justin Trudeau’s dream opponent. Getting the CPC base to replace Erin O’Toole with a far right winger was part of his reasoning when he called the last election.
Canada is a center-left country and Trudeau knows it. Neo-Cons like Charest or right-wingers in centrist clothing like Harper can win here. Right wingers like Poilievre only appeal to the base which can maybe swing a few ridings and are thinly spread out across the rest. Just ask Maxime Bernier (or maybe don’t, that guy doesn’t need any more attention).
So it may be a little premature to dust off those old anti-Charest posters, but then again, who knows.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
It’s official. After a quick 36 day campaign, Canadians will head to the polls on September 20th. This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve the current Minority Parliament in place since October 2019, which she did.
As Trudeau seeks a Majority, his Government’s handling of the pandemic will most likely play a dominant role in the five week campaign. The current pandemic situation will also directly effect the election itself, with all poll workers masked, a fresh pencil for each voter, hourly cleaning and some provinces not allowing schools to be used as polling places. Whether or not voters themselves will have to mask up depends on the current provincial health rules in place where they live.
While Trudeau had hoped to pass legislation allowing for three days of voting, it came off the table when Parliament was dissolved. Voting will be limited to election day, advanced polling days and mail-in ballots, which Elections Canada expects a significantly larger than average number of.
Trudeau argued that this election is necessary to give voters a say in the COVID recovery: “In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here?”
While the opposition parties all say they are ready, they are also critical of the decision to call the election. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called it a “selfish” election and argued that Trudeau is calling it “to be able to do less, not more” for Canadians in need, referring to the fact that his party was able to push the Minority Government for more in the COVID support benefits like the CERB and CRB.
All parties now have the shortest amount of time allowed by law to make their case.
Featured Image by Coolcaesar via WikiMedia Commons
Host Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Niall Clapham Ricardo discuss Canada’s Parliament voting for the Conservative Party motion to declare China’s treatment of the Uighur minority a genocide. Is this genuine concern for what is a real and tragic situation or is it political brinksmanship setting up the next Cold War? Are we ignoring other atrocities in China and around the world? Are we conveniently forgetting our own capitalist interests in the situation?
Follow Niall Clapham Ricardo on Twitter @NiallCRicardo
Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean
“I called it! Liberal Minority Government.”– Pretty much every Canadian political pundit on Election Night, professional or otherwise, and even me this time.
The 2019 Canadian Federal election turning out the way it did was, for the most part, about as predictable as Justin Trudeau taking selfies in the Montreal Metro the next day. The next few years in Canadian politics, though, are about as unpredictable as which metro lines will go down with service interruptions every other day.
When the Trudeau shine started to fade and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s popularity rose, the Liberals pulled the old strategic voting chestnut out of their playbook and ran with it. A Majority Government was now out of the question but the fear of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer coming to power made a Liberal Minority Government almost inevitable.
Fear-based strategic voting helped to lower the NDP seat count in most of the country, including on the Island of Montreal, but a resurging Bloc Québécois undid what was left of the Orange Wave in Quebec. That last part is both the most unfortunate turn of events and a little bit unexpected.
I honestly had thought the Bloc was done for and irrelevant. But they found their relevance through an appeal to bigotry and now both the second and third-place parties in this Liberal Minority are right-wing.
Yes, the Bloc are progressive on some issues, most notably the environment, but their support of the xenophobic Bill 21 means they are not a progressive party. Secularism of the state means no state-imposed religion, banning public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols on the job is nothing more than an attack on customs that aren’t white and European in origin designed to appeal to bigoted fear of the “other” and latent Eurocentric white supremacist instincts.
Speaking of bigots, the People’s Party of Canada didn’t get enough people to vote for them to win them one seat, even leader Maxime Bernier’s in Beauce. So that’s a good thing.
Trudeau Has Many Options
Minority Liberal governments with a strong NDP (and despite losses, this NDP is strong, more on that later) have given us some great things in the past. Universal healthcare and the Canada Pension Plan are just a couple of examples.
These happened, though, because the NDP (and a few Red Tories) were able to force the Libs to the left. I’m not sure if the makeup of the incoming Parliament will offer the same sort of incentives.
In fact, Justin Trudeau may very well still be in the drivers’ seat as long as he switches up who rides shotgun depending on the bill. If it’s a social issue, say protecting LGBTQ rights, call on Singh and the NDP for support. SNC Lavalin investigation rearing its head again? Yves-François Blanchet and the Bloc have your back. Want to build a pipeline? Pretty sure Scheer and the Official Opposition Conservatives won’t oppose this one, officially or otherwise.
No wonder it was Trudeau selfie time the next day. While this doesn’t give him the same power his last majority did, he has the right setup to stay in power for a while and get most of what he wants done.
And he knows it. He’s already ruled out forming a Coalition Government and announced he plans to move ahead with the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The Power’s in the Details
That doesn’t mean that the opposition parties are powerless, far from it. Their power, though, won’t be felt in what gets put on the table, but rather in the tweaks they get to make to proposed legislation in exchange for their support.
It’s also crucial for them to be the party that Trudeau needs support from. If he goes to the Cons, they’ll make him move to the right. If he goes to the NDP, they’ll make him move to the left. If he goes to the Bloc, they’ll just try and get some sort of special deal for Quebec.
The first vote will be on the budget, which is automatically a confidence vote. If Trudeau puts Trans-Mountain into it, there’s no way the Bloc or NDP could support it, so he’ll have to rely on the Cons, which will push the rest of the budget to the right.
If he leaves the pipeline out for now and adds a bunch of progressive things, then the NDP can push him just a bit more to the left. Yes, they’ll be making him look good, but also potentially getting a better deal for everyone.
I suspect that out of the gate, Trudeau won’t go to his right, because he knows another election will happen sooner rather than later. But honestly I really don’t know.
Opposition Leaders Should Be Safe
I have been hearing some talk from certain members of the opposition parties (except the Bloc, for obvious reasons) demanding their respective leader’s political head on a platter. While some of the “Scheer/May must go!” calls have merit and none of the calls to replace Singh do (more on that later), I suspect none of the opposition leaders are going anywhere.
Simply put, no one replaces a leader in a Minority Parliament unless the party establishment wanted them gone before the election (see Stéphane Dion). It’s just too risky, even for the well-funded parties (see Michael Ignatieff).
For the parties whose pockets aren’t as deep, paying for a leadership race and then potentially paying to compete in another election campaign a year later could be financially disastrous. Also, what happens if the government falls and your party doesn’t have a new leader in place yet?
Singh Has Reason to Celebrate
If you watched Jagmeet Singh talk on election night, it really came across as a victory speech (or at least it did until Scheer cut him off only to be cut off himself by Trudeau). And with good reason.
This wasn’t the decimation of the NDP many had predicted just a few months ago. There was a Singh Surge, it just didn’t turn into the wave New Democrats had hoped for.
I’m sure there will be arguments that the NDP should ditch Singh now because they pushed Thomas Mulcair out after he won more seats. Yeah, Mulcair’s seat count after the 2015 election may have been bigger, but he actually lost more seats than Singh did.
Mulcair went from a pre-election total of 95 seats, already down from the 103 the party won under Jack Layton, to 44 , meaning the party lost 51 seats (including a good chunk of the Orange Wave) on his watch. Singh, by contrast, went from 39 to 24, only losing 15 seats.
Singh may not have stopped the bleeding entirely, but he bandaged it up pretty well. Also, holding 24 seats with a Liberal Minority Government in power is potentially a more powerful position to be in than holding 44 seats with a Liberal Majority in place.
It’s important not to forget that while Mulcair may have been a solid Member of Parliament and even Deputy Leader, his tenure as leader was due to a deal he didn’t live up to his part of. The party let him move the NDP to the right and in exchange he promised them they would form government but they didn’t.
If you make a deal with the Devil and the best the Devil can deliver is third place, you get out of that deal as fast as you can. Singh, on the other hand, campaigned as a bold and progressive New Democrat, one Trudeau couldn’t outflank on the left, and did okay.
Yes, some solid Quebec NDP seats were lost and Alexandre Boulerice, the party’s Deputy Leader, currently holds the only New Democrat seat in Quebec, but Singh didn’t abandon us, at least not in his speech. He wants to win back what Mulcair lost and what he was unable to hold on to.
Now, with a Minority Parliament, who really knows what will happen next. It’s going to be an interesting few years (or months).
With the 2019 Canadian Federal Election looking like it might be a close one, we’re hearing calls for strategic voting once again. The narrative, coming mostly from Liberal supporters online is a familiar one: If you vote for anyone other than a Liberal, you’re helping to elect Andrew Scheer and his ultra-regressive Conservatives (or basically re-elect Stephen Harper).
The Liberals are acting like they’re still “Canada’s natural governing party” and the only alternative to the Conservatives. In reality, they’re the group who were in third place just five years ago until they vaulted to Majority Government last election, defying expectations.
This time, though, it looks like people are realizing that the Lib tricks are soo 2011. If the Liberals could jump like that, then if everyone who supports the NDP votes for the NDP instead of strategically, we might just have Jagmeet Singh as our next Prime Minister.
Minority or Coalition
Or, as the latest polling indicates, we may be headed for a Liberal Minority Government where the NDP could hold the balance of power, which would mean the NDP could force the Libs to the left on key issues. Even if Scheer gets the most seats, but not enough to form a majority, we could be looking at a Liberal-NDP Coalition Government, which could be interesting.
Such a scenario is a very real possibility, but don’t just take my word for it. Scheer clearly thinks a coalition could happen. So much so that he came out swinging against the very notion of it.
The Conservative leader is pushing the narrative that since the “modern convention” has the party that wins the most seats forming government, that needs to happen. He should ask former BC Premier Christy Clark if the “modern convention” helped her out at all.
We almost had a Liberal/NDP coalition government in 2008 but Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. He knew that the break would give the Liberal Party establishment enough time to show Stéphane Dion the door.
Harper bet that the Lib brass would rather be in opposition with their handpicked leader Michael Ignatieff than let fluke candidate Dion elevate himself to PM and he was right. The coalition evaporated about as quickly as Liberal relevance under Ignatieff did the following election.
This time around, though, the Liberals are very much the party of Trudeau. Their goal is to keep him in power by any means necessary.
Obviously Trudeau doesn’t want to talk about a coalition before the votes are cast. Doing so would invalidate his party’s “only way to stop Scheer” narrative. But if it turns out a coalition with the NDP is the only way he can keep his job, he will take it.
Broken Promise as a Campaign Tool
Funny thing is, strategic voting wouldn’t even be a thing this time around of Trudeau had made good on his 2015 election promise to bring in electoral reform. He didn’t even try.
Why would he? Our current First-Past-The-Post system works very well for his party and the Conservatives. It was only when the Liberals found themselves in a crouch that he even brought it up.
Most electoral reform models involve switching from FPTP to some form of Proportional Representation. They have their strengths and weaknesses, which I go through in a post on my personal blog (so as not to get too sidetracked here) and also propose a model of my own.
The only party that will actually bring in electoral reform or at least put it to a vote in a referendum is a party that campaigned on it and then finds itself in power for the first time under the current system. Changing how it works is not just a promise to voters for them, but a way to ensure that their party and other smaller parties don’t continue to suffer the same disadvantage that kept them out of power for decades.
Therefore, Liberal and Conservative voters who support electoral reform voting for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP this election would, in fact, be a strategic vote. And it’s the only kind of strategic voting I can get behind.
For everyone else, let your vote, your real vote, count!
Featured image by ishmael n. daro via Flickr Creative Commons
For the first time, younger voters are set to overtake the baby boomers as the largest voting block in Canada, and it’s about time. The planet is dying due climate change, and wages have stagnated since the 1970s resulting in a wealth gap that is partly on generational lines.
While older people enjoy their golf courses and retirement nestegs, Millenials, Gen Xers, and GenYers who will never see the latter are increasingly frustrated and demanding change that helps them, not just their parents.
That said, only recently has there been a real drive to get younger people to vote, recognizing that their votes can finally make a difference. It is with this notion in mind that I write this article.
In this piece I’ll be giving a crash course on the main political parties, but not in the way you’d expect. Instead of discussing their platforms related to the economy and health care, I’m going to discuss the parties based on their plans and track records with regards to issues that concern younger voters: Climate change, LGBTQI2+ rights, and Income Inequality.
This is not to say these issues do not concern some older people. It IS to say that these are the issues that have not been sufficiently addressed for younger voters by politicians in the past.
For the purposes of this article, the main parties I’ll be discussing are the Liberal Party, The Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and The Green Party. Smaller fringe parties like Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party will be addressed in a future article.
First, as Montreal took to the streets yesterday, let’s talk about Climate change.
The incumbent Liberal party’s Climate change platform seems to benefit primarily the wealthy, with much of their programs targeting homeowners – when most young Canadians will never be able to afford to own a home – and corporations. Their platform in this regard includes:
- Offering a $40 000 interest-free loan to homeowners and landlords to make their homes more energy efficient, with an additional Net-zero emissions home grant available to make clean living more affordable.
- Cut corporate taxes in half for companies that develop products and technologies that produce zero emissions
- Protect 25% of Canada’s land and ocean habitats by 2025 and work towards increasing that to 30% by 2030
- Set a target of zero emissions by 2050
The New Democratic Party’s Climate Change platform seems far more ambitious than that of the incumbents, with plans focusing on punishing big polluters and investing in local clean projects. Their platform includes:
- Declaring a climate emergency
- Rolling back tax breaks given by the Liberal government to big polluters as well as abolishing current oil and gas subsidies
- Reaching a target of carbon-free electricity by 2030, and 100% non-emitting electricity by 2050
- Establishing a Canadian Climate Bank to boost investment in Canadian-made renewable energy technology, community-owned clean energy projects and the transition to renewable energy
The Conservative Party’s climate change policy seems far less comprehensive compared to the other parties, and leader Andrew Scheer’s absence from today’s climate marches is also quite telling. Their policy includes:
- Getting rid of the carbon tax (though their website claims they are still committed to meeting obligations under the Paris Agreement)
- Launch a green tech patent tax credit for businesses
- Offering a green public transit tax credit to alleviate costs of public transportation and incentivize its use
- Have Canada sign agreements allowing us to get credit for helping reduce emissions internationally
True to the party’s name, The Green Party has the most comprehensive climate change platform to address the climate emergency. Their platform includes:
- Canceling the Trans Mountain Pipeline and other subsidies to fossil fuel industries, as well as denying approval to new pipelines, coal, oil, or gas drilling
- Ramp up renewable energy targets, with a target of making a hundred percent of Canada’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030
- Work with provincial governments, “ideally in partnership with First Nations” to determine which former oil and gas wells are best-suited to producing geothermal energy in order to turn liabilities into income-generating renewable energy
- Ban the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030
Though the Liberal Party has no official 2019 platform regarding LGBTQ rights, they do have an excellent track record when it comes to protecting sexual minorities in Canada. Aside from the symbolism of their leader marching in Pride Parades and raising the Pride flag on Parliament Hill, the government has made some dramatic improvements to LGBTQ rights in Canada.
This includes adding gender identity or expression to the definition of hate crimes in the Canadian Criminal Code, as well passing legislation to permanently destroy the past criminal records of people convicted for consensual sex with same sex partners if such sex would be legal today.
The New Democrats have integrated LGBTQ rights into their platform on fighting hate in Canada. Their list of the different forms of hate to be addressed include homophobia and transphobia, with their platform including better access for victims of hate crimes to services, support, as well as a say in court-related services that may impact their safety.
Their platform also includes establishing a National Working Group to fight online hate, and addressing radicalization though youth-focused community-led initiatives.
Symbolically, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been seen at Pride parades and drag shows, tipping generously at the latter.
On LGBTQ rights in Canada, it is the Conservative Party that has by far the most to answer for. Their leader, Andrew Scheer is a self-professed devout Catholic and social conservative who has criticized marriage equality on the record. He is also the only federal leader conspicuously absent from Pride marches.
When questioned about his current position on LGBTQ rights, Scheer has been extremely evasive, giving people just cause to fear that transgender and LGBTQ protections will be rolled back under a Conservative government. Also telling is the lack of a policy platform addressing this issue on the Conservative Party website.
Though the Green Party is being criticized as a greener version of the Conservatives, their LGBTQ platform is quite enlightened. It includes ending discriminatory blood donation bans, banning medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children, and banning and condemning conversion therapy – which attempts to force a more straight binary form of sexuality and gender expression on LGBTQ people, despite wide disapproval from the medical and psychiatric communities – in all its forms.
Their platform also includes ensuring access to comprehensive sexual health care and gender affirming health care including hormone treatments, blockers, and surgeries.
This is the one that infuriates young people the most because surrounding the issue are criticisms from baby boomers that if we just bought less coffee we wouldn’t be in so much debt when they entered the job market at a time when you could afford a home with one minimum wage job as opposed to the many we need to afford basic expenses. That said, here is what the main parties are doing to tackle the issue.
The Liberal plans seem to benefit primarily middle class families when so many young people cannot even reach a middle class income. Their plans include:
- Lowering cell-phone bills by 25%
- No taxes on the first $15 000 of income earned
- Cut the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%
- Creation of a First-Time Home Buyer Incentive that would cut 10% off the purchase price of new homes
The NDP’s plan to tackle income inequality is far more comprehensive and seems to target all Canadians, not just the middle class. Their platform includes:
- Universal prescription drug coverage for all Canadians regardless of job, age, health, status, or income
- Investing five billion dollars to create five hundred thousand quality affordable housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, and waiving federal GST/HST for the construction of these affordable units
- Expand public education “from kindergarten to career”
- Free dental coverage for families making under $70 000 a year
The Conservatives plan to address income inequality has some similarities to that of the Liberals in that it centers on cutting taxes and regulations, though the nature of these cuts does not seem to vary depending on the means of individuals. Their plan comprises of:
- A universal tax cut for all Canadians
- Address the housing crisis by easing building regulations to facilitate the building of new homes
- Build pipelines to create jobs
- Exempt home heating bills from the GST
The Green Party’s platform recognizes the increasing precariousness of work and the growing gig economy that is exacerbating unstable incomes for younger voters. It also acknowledges the ongoing poverty rates. Their platform comprises of :
- Establishing a Guaranteed Liveable Income program to replace current income supports including disability, social assistance, and income assistance with payments set at a liveable level for different regions across Canada
- Set the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
- Design and implement a national mental health strategy to address the link between mental health and productivity
- Enhance the use of Community Benefits Agreements to increase inclusion economic opportunities for people of color
Over the past twenty years there has been a lot of apathy among young voters who felt like their votes didn’t count. That is all about to change. For the first time in a long time, young Canadians have a chance to have their voices heard within the system, not just on the streets.
Voting day is October 21, 2019. GO VOTE!
You can also let us know who to endorse in the FTB Election Poll
Featured Image is a composite of four separate paintings by Samantha Gold
It’s that time again. The 2019 Canadian Federal Election is underway and Forget the Box is launching an election poll.
The winning party gets the endorsement of FTB readers with a site post written on their behalf. One vote per person, but please feel free to campaign to drive up votes for your choice just like with real politics.
FTB contributors are also free to try and drive up votes as well and you’d better believe I’ll be doing the same if needed. Writing an endorsement for a party you don’t support is not a pleasant experience.
But it is one we’ll endure. That is, however, with one exception: we won’t be endorsing Maxime Bernier’s far-right roadshow known as the People’s Party of Canada.
Like the debate commission, we’re starting with just the five major parties with MPs already elected under those banners (Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Greens and Bloc). Unlike the debate commission, we’re not going to cave.
You can add any officially registered party you like and if we get enough votes for, say, the Libertarian Party or the Communist Party, we’ll consider that option, but we reserve the right to limit the endorsement to the five main ones and will certainly exercise that right to not endorse the People’s Party.
This poll is designed to get an idea of what our readership supports and there’s no way the majority of readers on a generally left-leaning site support the dangerous xenophobic rhetoric of Bernier and company, no matter what some trolls may want people to believe.
So have your say below or in the sidebar of any page on this site:
- New Democratic Party (NDP) 52%, 73 votes73 votes 52%73 votes - 52% of all votes
- Deez nuts* 14%, 19 votes19 votes 14%19 votes - 14% of all votes
- Liberal Party of Canada 10%, 14 votes14 votes 10%14 votes - 10% of all votes
- Conservative Party of Canada 10%, 14 votes14 votes 10%14 votes - 10% of all votes
- Green Party of Canada 10%, 14 votes14 votes 10%14 votes - 10% of all votes
- None of the Above 3%, 4 votes4 votes 3%4 votes - 3% of all votes
- Bloc Québécois 1%, 2 votes2 votes 1%2 votes - 1% of all votes
Also, please feel free to let everyone know why you voted the way you did in the comments below. This certainly is a contentious election, so let’s discuss.
Featured Image by Alirod Ameri, via Flickr Creative Commons
The 2019 Federal Election campaign is now underway, but before it even started officially, there were stories of the Green Party of Canada picking up support and poised for a breakthrough. This was largely at the expense of the NDP.
While I’m a card-carrying New Democrat and don’t plan on changing my vote, I’m always happy to see other progressive parties making inroads. The more the conversation veers left, the better for us all.
Unfortunately, this time, Elizabeth May’s success is fueled by a bigoted undercurrent that she and some in her party would rather the rest of us not notice. Plus some of their moves make it look like they are abandoning the left in favour of giving a coat of biodegradable green paint to some truly reprehensible stances.
Pierre Nantel’s Dubious Motives
Let’s start with Pierre Nantel. Member of Parliament for Longueuil – Saint Hubert first elected under the NDP banner as part of the Orange Wave in 2011. He announced a few weeks ago that he would finish out his term as an independent and run for re-election as a Green.
His rationale for leaving, as disseminated by the Greens to their email list (which, for some reason I’m on) is all about the environment. He didn’t cite any specific problems he had with the NDP’s environment platform, which is arguably more solid, or at worst, equally as solid, as what May and company are running on.
It’s also interesting that his concerns didn’t materialize sooner, given that getting elected as a Green was just as pie in the sky as getting elected as a New Democrat in Quebec at the start of the 2011 campaign. Guess he was just some misguided 48 year old kid who matured in the last eight years.
Or maybe, just maybe, Nantel’s defection has nothing to do with the fate of our planet, but rather what the current NDP leader wears on his head. Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, wears a turban in keeping with his religion.
During the NDP leadership race, Nantel, aping Pauline Marois, told Radio-Canada that “ostentatious religious symbols are not compatible with power, with authority,” and that Singh’s bid for leadership doesn’t align with what Quebecers want to see from their political leaders. Sadly, Nantel’s bigoted views are what the Federal Green Party doesn’t mind seeing from its candidates.
Memo to Quebec Candidates: Try Not to Piss Off the Bigots
Bill 21, the CAQ Government’s new law that bars public sector workers from wearing religious symbols while on the job, will definitely be an issue in Quebec this election. The Greens would rather it not be.
While officially opposed to the legislation, the party has issued a directive to its Quebec candidates to avoid talking about it, if possible. Meanwhile, May has no problem with Green candidates supporting 21, a position the National Council of Canadian Muslims calls unacceptable and said so to her face.
It makes you wonder if official opposition to such a bigoted piece of legislation is worth anything if you let your candidates support it and discourage them from opposing it in the very part of the country where it actually affects people.
May’s New Brunswick Statement
Last week, we heard that 15 former NDP provincial candidates in New Brunswick had jumped ship to join the Greens. Then we heard that five of them didn’t and are quite upset their names were listed.
While this is an interesting political story, it’s also pretty standard brinkmanship and somewhat dirty politics. The part that’s relevant here is what Elizabeth May said about the possibility that racism played a part:
“Indeed, it may be a horrible reality that some people will not vote NDP because they are racist. I condemn these attitudes. But it is quite wrong to attack anyone who is disillusioned with the NDP by saying that the only reason they are disillusioned is because they are racist.”– Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
No. No it’s not wrong to attack someone if their racism factors into their reasoning at all.
Sure, there are completely valid reasons for being disillusioned with the NDP, even hating the NDP and Singh’s leadership, but if his brown skin or turban is one of them, then you are no longer someone making a political point, you’re just a racist. And it’s always okay to attack racism.
It’s also never okay to benefit from someone else’s bigotry, even if you’re not a bigot yourself. Even if it potentially increases your seat count.
Nazis Aren’t a Distraction, They’re a Threat
And then there’s Danny Celovsky, Green Party candidate in Bay of Quinte. That’s where, earlier this year, a man raised a Nazi flag over his property and Celovsky decided to try and stop a Twitter discussion and condemnation, arguing that fascism and even Nazism were distractions from the only real issue: climate change.
One part in particular was telling:
“I disavow the stupid fascist freaks called Nazis. Put them in jail. Covered? Now … let’s start solving the problems my kids futures face.”Danny Celovsky, Green Party of Canada candidate, Port Quinte ON, Twitter, May 18, 2019
His kids’ futures. What about the futures of the children who aren’t so white and Christian. Climate change is a real threat to them, too, but so are Nazis.
Imagine if AOC or Bernie or any of the other proponents of the Green New Deal south of the border, people who have called climate change the greatest threat of our time repeatedly, came out and said that what happened in Charlottesville and the kids in cages on the southern US border with Mexico are distractions. It would never happen, because while their environmental bona fides are beyond reproach, so is their commitment to social justice.
That’s what a real alternative from the left needs to be. Climate justice and social justice go hand in hand.
Not Left. Not Right. So, By Default, Right
At this point, you might be expecting me to say something like: “The Greens aren’t real progressives. They’re just neoliberals playing to the left to get votes!” Well, that’s not what I’m going to say.
Our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a neoliberal who likes to play to the left during elections to get votes if there ever was one, is clear in his opposition to Bill 21 and I can’t imagine him allowing anyone who thinks the rise of fascism and Nazism is a mere distraction to run, or continue to run for his party.
The Green Party slogan this election cycle is “Not Left. Not Right. Forward Together” and it’s a recipe for disaster. If you say “Not Racist. Not Anti-Racist.” you are essentially saying that racism is okay.
To illustrate this problem, let’s turn to another topic:
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer recently had to stress that his party would not re-open the abortion debate despite allowing individual members to try. Elizabeth May, meanwhile, said that despite the party’s official pro-choice stance, she wouldn’t stop anti-choice MPs from trying to open the debate.
Her party corrected her and she changed her tune later that same day, but if your party needs to issue a statement to correct the perception that you are to the right of Andrew Scheer, then you have a serious problem.
No matter how important the one issue you care about is (and the future of the planet is of paramount importance), you can’t ignore the rest. It’s not a distraction.
If Maxime Bernier woke up tomorrow and declared that he had been visited by three very white spirits and now believes that we need to stop climate change (dude’s loopy, could happen), he would still be a racist asshole. And, at this point, one I fear Elizabeth May would welcome to the cause.
Not All Greens
It’s important to note that quite a few people involved with and running for the Green Party are truly trying to be a progressive alternative to the mainstream political parties in Canada. In particular, I know that the Green Party of Quebec isn’t trying to bank on or ignore bigotry to get votes.
I also realize that a provincial party distancing itself from its national counterpart is risky. So is a federal candidate standing against their party’s leader on a particular point, while arguing for them to be Prime Minister because of a bunch of other points.
So I’m not calling on Green candidates and provincial parties to disavow their federal leader. I am, however, calling on potential Green voters to realize just who the leader is welcoming into the fold. And I’m calling on Elizabeth May and the federal Green leadership to, excuse the language, get their fucking shit together quickly.
People, myself included, have frequently warned the NDP against becoming Liberal lite. I never thought I’d have to warn the Green Party against becoming an eco-friendly version of the far right.
I really didn’t want to start this election campaign railing against the Green Party and I truly hope I don’t end it that way. Greenwashing bigotry is not how you save the planet, it’s how you marginalize yourself with voters who may otherwise rush to support you.
Featured image via CPAC
In a Sud Ouest Special, panelists Andrew MacDonald and David DesBaillets discuss FolkFest, the changing face of SouthWest Montreal, Barack Obama’s visit and more with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup, Community Calendar, Lat Night’s Weather and Predictions!
News Roundup Topics: UK Elections, New Conservative Leader, RIP Adam West
Andrew MacDonald: Musician, Sud Ouest resident
David DesBaillets: Legal student, political pundit, former Sud Ouest resident
Host: Jason C. McLean
Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)
Production Assistant: Xavier Thomas
Matt Large/FolkFest interview by Hannah Besseau
Recorded June 11, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec
Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons
M-103, the Private Members’ Motion introduced in the House of Commons by Iqra Khalid, Liberal MP for Mississauga—Erin Mills, to fight Islamophobia in Canada has sadly and predictably sparked anger and debate. While most of the venom being spewed in comments sections and at rallies comes from Islamophobes afraid they may have to stop hating Muslims in public, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is fighting it in a different way, at least officially.
The CPC’s Religious Freedom Critic David Anderson introduced a counter-motion which doesn’t use the word Islamophobia and instead calls on the government to “condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious communities.”
Looks like this was the kind of “doesn’t sound that bigoted” cover some were waiting for. I’m now seeing arguments on social media that start by asking why Muslims should be singled out for protection. Of course these are made by some of the same types of people who have no problem singling them out for criticism.
Generally, a few comments later, or sometimes even in the same paragraph, their cover drops and they show exactly why we need to take Islamophobia seriously. As if the recent Mosque attack in Quebec City, Friday’s “anti-Islam” blockade in Toronto and the threats received by Khalid and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly over this motion weren’t each enough to do just that.
The CPC approach sounds very familiar to that employed by opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and here in Canada as well. Instead of speaking out against police indiscriminately murdering people in communities of colour, some opted to promote the All Lives Matter narrative instead.
Basic deflection. Saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that other lives don’t whereas insisting that people say All Lives Matter instead means that you want everyone to ignore the disproportionate amount of young people of colour being murdered by police. No one counters a Stop Cancer fundraiser by saying All Diseases Matter.
And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Yes, there are hate crimes against other religions, too. Here in Montreal, synagogues get vandalized on a regular basis. Antisemitism is a problem that needs to be dealt with and people are trying to fight it. That doesn’t mean Islamophobia shouldn’t be attacked as well.
When there is a real and present danger to a specific group of people within a society, that danger needs to be admitted, addressed and fought. I’m not sure if a motion in the House of Commons is anywhere near enough to fight Islamophobia, but admitting that it is a problem that needs to be dealt with is essential.
The CPC would stop us from performing even that most basic of civic duties. Meanwhile, some of their leadership candidates are openly campaigning for the Islamophobic vote. It’s two sides of the same coin, like the All Lives Matter crowd and the open racists.
Defending the right of the special snowflakes in their base (two can play at that particular name game) to be bigots is no justification to block fighting Islamophobia. Muslims are a target and no amount of defensive re-wording of language will change that, only action.
* Featured image of David Anderson in the House of Commons
We might get to hear Kevin O’Leary speak French, after all. The Conservative Party leadership favourite will attend a bilingual debate in the Montreal area on February 13th. O’Leary has so far not spoken a word of French in public, conspicuously announcing his candidacy the morning after the only mandatory French debate.
He and ten others confirmed they will take part in a debate in Pointe-Claire, organized by the local association of Lac–Saint–Louis and Pierrefonds–Dollard. Since it’s not officially set up by the Conservative party of Canada, it is on a voluntary basis. It will start at 7pm at the Holiday Inn. According to CBC, the central themes of the debate will be the economy and national security.
The other implicit theme will be how well can each candidate connect with French-speaking Quebeckers. The French debate on January 17th showcased the cringe-worthy language skills of most conservative candidates. Although the Montreal debate is advertised as bilingual, it is not clear how much of it will be in French or whether all questions will be translated.
Despite being a Montreal native, O’Leary has never been fluent in French. When Tout le monde en parle host asked him “Parlez-vous français?” in 2014, he replied: “No I don’t. I left here when I was six years old and I am very ashamed of that. If I had been able to stay longer, I probably could have done it.”
He sang a wildly different tune in more recent interviews. One year ago, he told David Akin, host of Everything is Political on SiriusXM Canada Radio that learning French was not necessary to be Prime Minister. He said he was amused by politicians who thought they could score some points in Quebec by learning French in accelerated classes. “I know what Quebec wants in Canada because that’s where I came from,” he claimed.
He refused to be shamed for blatantly avoiding the French debate, retorting instead that he spoke the language of jobs and economy. On January 18th, he told Global News: “There’s three official languages in Canada: There’s English, there’s French, and there’s the language of jobs.” He added that Trudeau will never be fluent in jobs. He has nonetheless promised to get better at French too.
Ten days later, his campaign associates are very confident about his French skills. “Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure that he’s going to surprise a lot of people,” said O’Leary’s Quebec organizer, Norm Vocino, in an interview with CBC.
His press secretary Ari S. Laskin told FTB that O’Leary has been working on his French on a daily basis for several weeks and that “he will be able to hold his own in a debate against Justin Trudeau.” Laskin assures that “it is a priority for him to be able to engage with the entire country in both national languages.”
He denies that O’Leary has ever been flippant about the importance of French: “I don’t think French wasn’t a priority. He was born in Montreal and has incredibly deep respect for the bilingual culture.”
O’Leary still on top
As to how O’Leary will appeal to the notoriously anti-Tory Montrealers, the language of jobs and economy still seems to be his favourite answer. According to his press secretary, Quebeckers are as tired as the rest of the country of Trudeau’s “platitudes” in that area. “What Mr O’Leary wants is to make sure that we have a strong economy and jobs created on a daily basis,” he said.
O’Leary has been called Canada’s Trump. Like him, he is a Reality TV star with a flourishing financial empire and he is leading the race despite the fact that he has no political experience.
While he doesn’t share Trump’s radical views on immigration and same-sex marriage, he is known for his inflammatory statements. He infamously claimed that the global concentration of wealth in the hands of the few richest people on earth is “fantastic news” and a source of inspiration.
He is currently the top candidate for the leadership of the party with 26% of the votes. His closest competitor, Maxime Bernier, polls at barely 11%. The leader of the Conservative Party will be elected on May 27th.
* Featured image: screengrab from CTV News
Although it may feel like our federal politicians have been in election mode for a few months, Canada’s 2015 Federal Election was only officially called this morning, August 2nd. That’s eleven weeks away from Monday, October 19th, election day, making it the longest federal election campaign in recent memory.
I already know who I’m voting for. While sometimes I choose None of the Above, this year I’m going Orange and voting for my local NDP candidate, mainly because I want to see C-51 repealed.
That doesn’t mean that everyone involved with Forget the Box or our readers feel the same way. That’s why we don’t do political endorsements from the editorial team as many media outlets do.
Instead, we ask our readers, contributors and editors to decide who gets an endorsement, which I will write up, whether the result is what I want or not. You get a vote – one vote – but, just as with real politics, you can also campaign by sharing this poll with your friends on social media who agree with you. Believe me, if my choice isn’t winning a few days before the election, I will.
So here it is: FTB’s 2015 Canadian Federal Election Poll:
Who do you plan on voting for in the 2015 Canadian Federal Election?
- New Democratic Party (NDP) (51%, 137 Votes)
- Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) (30%, 82 Votes)
- Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) (4%, 11 Votes)
- Green Party of Canada (Green) (2%, 6 Votes)
- Bloc Quebecois (BQ) (2%, 5 Votes)
- Pirate Party of Canada (2%, 5 Votes)
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (1%, 4 Votes)
- There's an Election? (1%, 4 Votes)
- Communist Party of Canada (1%, 3 Votes)
- Libertarian Party of Canada (1%, 3 Votes)
- None of the Above (1%, 3 Votes)
- Other (1%, 3 Votes)
- Marijuana Party (1%, 2 Votes)
- Forces et Démocratie (1%, 2 Votes)
- Rhinoceros Party (0%, 1 Votes)
- Non-affiliated Candidate (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 271
You can vote above or in the sidebar of every page on the site. The poll closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time the day before electips day. The results and the endorsement post will be published the following day as people are voting for real.
We included as many so-called fringe parties as we felt our readers may actually consider voting for. If you’re planning on voting for a registered party not listed, you can either check the “other” box or let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.
Pros and Cons
To get this started, I have compiled a list of the pros and cons of each political party as well as the None of the Above option. Now, what is considered pro and con is entirely subjective, but given the progressive bent of a large portion of our readership, these should pass the test. Honestly, it was kind of difficult coming up with “pros” for some parties, but I did it.
Please feel free to debate these pros and cons in the comments below and, of course, debate the election.
Here goes in the order they are currently polling in the major polling firms:
New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP)
- Against C-51: The NDP is the only party with a decent expectation of forming government that not only voted against Bill C-51, Harper’s so-called anti-terrorism legislation, but promises to repeal it if elected.
- MMIW Inquiry: NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has promised an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on the first 100 days in office.
- No Community Mailboxes: The NDP has promised to reverse Canada Post’s decision to end door-to-door mail delivery and replace it with community mailboxes.
- Energy East: The federal NDP doesn’t have a clear policy on the proposed trans-national pipeline project. In fact, Alberta NDP leader and premier Rachel Notley is actively campaigning for it.
- Gaza: It took the party’s grassroots occupying MP offices to get Mulcair to offer a balanced approach to Israel’s attack on Gaza last year. Also, Paul Manly was denied the chance to run for the party’s nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, BC, supposedly due to his father and former MP Jim Manly, being on the flotilla to Gaza.
The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)
- What You See is What You Get: If you’re happy with the last four years of federal policy, then you can expect more of the same with Harper & Co.
- Protest Recruitment: If you think mobilization on the streets against the government is the only way to achieve social justice, then there is no better recruiting tool then Prime Minister Stephen Harper (though it may be more difficult now that C-51 is law).
- Band on the Backburner: The silver lining of another Conservative majority is four more years of Harper only rolling out his musical chops on special occasions. He’s really terrible.
- What You See is What You Get: Omnibus bills, fear, second-class citizens, bromance with Bibi, Duffy, fraud, community mailboxes, muzzling scientists, muzzling charities, the list goes on
Liberal Party of Canada (LPC)
- 420: Trudeau supports the legalization of weed for recreational use. It worked for Colorado, why not for Canada?
- First Nations: The Liberals also support Nation to Nation talks with indigenous populations.
- Experience: While the CPC love to mock the Liberal leader’s lack of experience, quite a few of the candidates have considerable government experience.
- Voted for C-51: How can you be against something and vote for it? Also, only promised to change it, not repeal it.
- Pipelines: The Liberals may also be unclear on Energy East, but their leader went down to Washington to pitch Keystone.
Bloc Quebecois (BQ)
- Against Energy East: This may be a wedge issue against the NDP. The Bloc has released ads against the pipeline project and presumed Dipper support.
- Gilles Duceppe: Although he got his political ass handed to him in 2011, Duceppe is a consumate, likeable and ultimately progressive politician.
- Conservative Vote Splitter: Harper had hoped to make inroads in rural and suburban Quebec. Some of those right-leaning voters may also be nationalist and a viable Bloc may just make those Con inroads impossible.
- Electoral Math: The Bloc cannot form government, the best they can hope for is opposition.
- Mario Beaulieu: Before Duceppe took over, the Bloc was attacking the NDP from the right, releasing xenophobic ads and pushing a Marois-esque message. Despite changing gears, the Beaulieu faction is still around.
The Green Party of Canada
- Democratic Reform: While not the only party pushing to get rid of the First-Past-The-Post system, the Greens have made it one of their core issues.
- Against C-51: They were the first party to raise the alarm about Bill C-51.
- Clean Energy & Green Transport: One of the main planks of their platform is investment in clean energy. Another is investment in green transport.
- First-Past-The-Post: The electoral system which the Greens hope to reform could be the greatest impediment to them being able to pull off any real change after this election.
- Policies Adopted by Other Parties: Most of the best ones have been.
None of the Above
- Record Your Displeasure: If you really don’t like any of the options, then not voting for any of them by scratching your ballot means your displeasure will be heard. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Why vote for evil?
- Broken Promises: Party platforms are not written in stone. Politicians break promises all the time, even major ones if they become impossible in the current system (cough, Greece, cough).
- The State: If you are fundamentally opposed to the state and would like very much to get rid of it, it makes sense not to perpetuate it with an endorsement.
- The State Exists: While the Canadian state still exists, the winner of the election will be able to form its policy. By voting None of the Above, your only recourse against the one of the above that wins may be the streets.
- C-51: With Bill C-51 now law, it’s a helluva lot easier to be labelled as a terrorist. With Bill C-24 people with dual citizenship could be deported after being labelled a terrorist for doing something as simple as protesting an injustice. With these laws on the books, taking to the streets may be considerably more difficult. For some, repealing C-51 is an “at all costs” sort of thing and None of the Above isn’t an option this time.