Thursday, December 27, 2007

Year End Review


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        The arrival of 2008 heralds the 40th year I've been in contact with Alan Heisey.  Al and I commiserated with each other after the 1968 election
        and have been in contact sporadically ever since.  Much more so now the internet has come into our lives.
        
        Upon request the portions of his last  "earthworm" of the year relevant to his party are forwarded to you.  alan heisey <hize@sympatico.ca> is his
        address .  I know he would appreciate any reactions you may have to the thoughts he has expressed be they supportive or denunciatory.

                 Joe
        
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Season's greetings, y'all

The fast-approaching new year justifies a note of thanks and goodwill  to those hundreds of Tories and others who permit "earthworm" to  intrude every couple of weeks.

This issue intrudes elsewhere,  probably unwanted, but perhaps a first annual connect - unless  unsubscribed - on a different level to many others.
I urge other pamphleteers who care about strengthening public  processes to launch regularly into the internet vacuum with their own  perspectives. But I despair that so few, within the Conservative  party like myself, actually do so.

I treasure my minor league standing in the local party structure as a  source of perspective on what it takes to see the Toronto city desert  bloom with our elected parliamentarians. I recognize that I push up  regularly against what others would write, but am pleased at how few  errors I need to correct.

And I ask those outside the borders of our vibrant city to recognize  that we Torontonians are proud of our little differences, and hope  that better understanding of these peculiarities will help the  national and provincial parties to win more seats hereabouts!

I even dare to think that any (grudging) acceptance of "earthworm"  suggests it has a little authority, ideally for good, within our  parties' local and other gangs, where we cheerfully fight for role.

This current issue ranges afar for inspiration and finds a lot to share.I ask a favour of keepers of email addresses to slip me whichever  names of party people they feel they can. I much prefer to identify  all as to local riding or region, since it helps keep a sense of  where these missives fly.

Share our gratitude at the gifts of this past year and  those that  are to come.

cordially, hize

Internal Communicationa

I repeat the above, word for word, from one year ago. But I confess  great disappointment at the lack of progress on a vital aspect of the  party's processes: internal communications!

Reason why I am so grumpy about our cruddy internal communications is  because 2008 ought to be an exciting year to be a backstreets  supporter of our dynamic national government in Ottawa.

This windy edition presents my thoughts for 2008 on how we   strengthen the ongoing activities of the citizen party, get S to give  them some bigtime, continuing media attention, and watch how our  national ratings in the polls tick upwards inexorably to whatever  magic number sees the plug pulled!!

I decry a specific neglect of our constitution!: HQ 'big 3' short-shrift section 6.1.2

Preparing for the recent meeting of the Whitby-Oshawa-Ajax policy  committee meeting I read over very carefully every word of the  party's constitution.

Our three key leadership groups ignore the last component of  paragraph 6.1.2.

The paragraph and context read as follows:

6.1.The governance of the Party shall adhere to the following  objectives:

6.1.1 full representation of the interests and views of members;

6.1.2 direct regular communication from National Council,  Conservative Fund Canada
and the Leader to electoral district  associations and members to ensure accountability;

I contend, as a "lay" member of a Toronto area electoral district  association, that there is virtually no "direct, regular  communication" from the party's "big 3", listed above, to this  interested member, nor to, apparently, literally many thousands of  other members.

I understand the subtleties of our language well enough to know that  if the drafters of this paragraph intended that "members" were to  receive communications through their local electoral district  associations the statement could have been set out accordingly.

As it is the paragraph should be refined to make it clear exactly who  the drafters intended as "electoral district associations" as  distinct from the general membership of each association.

In practise this phrasing has been used in the Toronto area to  authorize in some cases the presidents of associations to distribute  communications to the 30 members of the board of directors who  elected them to their positions, but not to their general memberships.

(However a late Saturday (yesterday) afternoon survey of nearly a  dozen random members of Toronto's 23  eda boards suggests that  literally none of them has in fact received two recent, outstanding  emails from Ottawa!)

The two emails I have received, from two other associations than my  own, concern the Constitution committee and the Policy committee.The  three-page constitution committee email of August 1, 2007 I forwarded  with "earthworm" on September 30th and I attach the policy  committee's 3-page email, apparently undated email, hereto!

The two emailings reveal very careful, national, orderly approaches  to inviting new submissions from associations for consideration in  the late 2008 annual convention. Interestingly, there is no mention  of the secrecy which overwhelmed all discussions of policy last time 
round. Is it possible that media  or un-washed, non-members could 
observe any of our policy discussions this time?

For the country's 308 district associations, emailings to all the  directors suggest that some 9,000 party members are eligible to  receive the communications but not the membership at large!! (I have  grave doubts that even a majority of the party's eda directors are  seeing these reports, going by what I sampled in Toronto yesterday!)

There is a standard warning on all such emails from headquarters  which makes it quite clear that informing other members of each eda  is forbidden, if not illegal:
Confidentiality Warning: This message and any attachments are  intended only for the use of the intended recipient(s), are  confidential, and may be privileged.  If you are not the intended  recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, retransmission,  conversion to hard copy, copying, circulation or other use of this  message and any attachments is strictly prohibited.  If you are not  the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by  return e-mail, and delete this message and any attachments from your  system.  Thank you.

I accept that various communications from one or more of the "Big 3"  into elements of the national party must have varying levels of  restricted distribution.

I have long felt that the concept of leaving it to the president  alone for each eda to determine who is to have Ottawa communications  passed on leaves the communications chain vulnerable to a president  who, for whatever reason, does not forward communications to his/her  board. A backup arrangement might be for the board Secretary and  Financial Officer to also receive all such communications.

The Crying Shame of It All is that these two constructive  invitations, apparently to the whole party, have been deliberately  held back from the general membership, meaning there will be much  less participation than could otherwise be the case.

It Beats Me why the party does not release these invitations via the  mass media to illustrate the positive processes open to members only,  to encourage membership and participation!

Constitution/policy issues bubble

If you are not one of the chosen to have already received the policy  committee's latest memo you will find that it is in fact the fifth in  a series and gives edas the right to add until February 15th, 2008,  an additional policy proposal to those that have already been  received, huh!? The report includes a most fascinating list of policy 
topics which have been already received, meaning some tories,  somewhere, are being plugged in right along

The constitution committee's deadline, please note, for new  statements, stays at January 1, 2008!! I pressed Ontario's  constitution committee co-chair Jason Hickman on this deadline and he  undertook to make minor allowances, but has no authority to have a  deadline parallel to the policy committee's.

Out here, in our party's nationwide "mushroom farm", I find  that our  caucus and leader are doing a solid job on most policy issues. After  all they have the backing of substantial civil service and consultant  resources - as long as they keep cutting the capital gains tax firmly  in mind!

The one policy exception is their continuing plan to short change  Ontario some 10 additional seats after the next re-distribution. I  address this issue in a separate section, and pray for a change of  heart - or should I call it a new song sheet? - wherever it is needed.

My fallback plan is prodding and pushing some powerful Grit friends  to have their beat-up leader score some big points across Ontario by  announcing soon that their caucus will move an amendment to bill C-22  to give the population the seats they are entitled to, if Peter Van  Loan does not see the error of his ways!

                 "Shortchanging Ontario voters"

I commend the Progressive-Conservative caucus in the Ontario  legislature for endorsing an all-party statement to the national  government opposing the shortfall planned for Ontario voters.

Happily, the Tory statement drew attention to the inequities in the  provincial Liberal approach to distributing seats in the legislature,  but went past that concern to the huge issue of the province being  short changed seats in the national parliament.

"Rep by pop", or "one person one vote" is my single most vital  principle in public life, ranking well ahead of concern for the two  party system, or other vital issues.

So I was struck by the bitterness of a recent correspondent to the  Globe in his letter claiming that the government in Ottawa   discriminates "with meanness and contempt" against Ontario and in  favour of Quebec.

I reproduced the letter on the front page of this edition, frankly,  may it be clear, because I view the proposed bill C-22 as one  singular example of just such "meanness and contempt", though I do  not share that view generally at all!

Unsurprisingly, The Star heads up the charge to see the bill amended  and I support their efforts unreservedly. I publish below their  recent general editorial which should afflict the solid phalanx of   federal Tory ridings, particularly in Toronto, keeping mum about this  calculated insult to our own democratic right.s

Star editorial: Opposition fails to defend Ontario

Why are Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion, NDP Leader Jack Layton and the 
40 Conservative MPs from Ontario not standing up for Canada's largest 
province by voicing their strong opposition to a Conservative 
government bill that would blatantly discriminate against Ontarians 
by shortchanging them of representation in the House of Commons?

It's a fair question to ask after Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 
government reintroduced a bill this fall that would restore full 
representation by population to Alberta and British Columbia, but 
inexplicably leave Ontario at least 10 seats short of the number of 
Commons seats its share of the country's population warrants.

Just as important as whether they oppose the Conservative bill is the 
question of whether the Liberals and NDP would actually introduce 
their own bill that treats Ontario the same as B.C. and Alberta are 
being treated under the current Conservative measure.

Faced with these questions, the response from politicians elected to 
represent Ontario's interests in Ottawa has been deeply troubling.

Predictably, Conservative MPs from Ontario, who are loath to 
challenge Harper's suffocating party discipline, have not uttered a 
peep except to take potshots at Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for 
insisting his province be treated fairly. Their constituents should 
keep this betrayal of their interests in mind when the next election 
is called, which could be as early as next spring.

Disappointingly, Dion has not commented directly on the Ontario seat 
distribution. However, a party official claims the party will press 
"to improve the bill in committee," but if the Tories block those 
efforts, the Liberals would ultimately oppose the legislation. 
Meanwhile, Ontario Liberal MPs are solidly against the Tory measure.

More surprising is that Layton, whose 30-member caucus includes 12 
MPs from Ontario, has said little so far. An NDP spokesperson says 
the party has reservations about the bill, but won't decide how to 
proceed until sometime in January. Given the inequity of the proposed 
legislation, Layton's waffling is a slap in the face to Ontario voters.

Clearly, Dion and Layton are anxious to stay out of this controversy 
for fear of drawing political criticism in Quebec and elsewhere for 
backing Ontario on an issue of fairness. But that is not leadership.

Leadership requires Dion and Layton to tell Canadians whether, if 
they were in power, they would redistribute seats to Ontario on the 
same representation-by-population principle that Harper proposes to 
apply to B.C. and Alberta.

Dion and Layton cannot afford to stay above the fray. They should 
join forces and mount a concerted attack on Harper's politically 
motivated bid to deprive Ontario of its rightful voice on the 
national stage.

For inspiration, they need only look to Queen's Park, where all 
parties joined last week to pass a resolution urging Harper to amend 
the bill to ensure Ontario gets its "fair share of seats" in the 
Commons. This is a welcome example of principle trumping partisan 
politics.

Ontario MPPs clearly recognize that ensuring their province is 
equitably represented in the House of Commons is not a political 
issue, but a matter of fundamental fairness and democratic rights.

Ontario residents should expect nothing less from their 
representatives in our nation's capital.

I wrote the Star (unpublished) : 07 12 16 reur editorial: "Opposition  fails to defend Ontario"

This lifetime Tory is not prepared to support, or vote for, my party  in the next federal election if Ontario is to be left short some near- dozen seats justified by our present, vigorous population.

Hopefully Peter Van Loan will come to his senses before bill C-22 is  actually before the House. If not, we can reasonably ask that either  the opposition Liberals or New Democrats, or, ideally both, will move  an amendment to the bill increasing the number of seats equitably.

Your editorial suggests those parties are both nervous about  reactions to such a move in Quebec and elsewhere.

While chewing over the options I respectfully suggest both men not  lose sight of the 106 existing seats in carefully-watching Ontario.

Greens, anyone? Cordially, Alan Heisey

Star column: The Tory bill muzzles minorities
Dec 16, 2007 By Rudyard  Griffiths <rudyard@dominion.ca>
http://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/285822

The Conservative government's ill-conceived legislation to increase 
the number of seats in the House of Commons while shortchanging 
Ontario voters has rightly been the subject of extensive public debate.

If passed, the proposal would give B.C. seven new MPs, Alberta five 
and Ontario only 10 ­ fully 11 fewer than if the province was treated 
the same as Canada's other fast-growing regions. This means 
effectively disenfranchising some 1 million Ontarians in the next 
decade, or approximately one in every 10 citizens of voting age.

What makes the perversely named "Democratic Representation" bill 
truly explosive, however, is the segment of Ontario society it 
impacts most.

As we know from the new census data released last week, Ontario is 
the overwhelming destination of choice for newcomers to Canada. Half 
of the 1.1 million immigrants who arrived in the country in the past 
five years have made this province their home.

Extrapolate the census numbers into the near future and punch them 
into the Conservatives' seat model, and it becomes all too clear 
whose votes will not be counted when Ontarians go to the polls in 
subsequent federal elections. The message is unavoidable: If you are 
immigrant and you settle in Ontario, your vote doesn't matter.

Things start to look sinister when the proposed legislation is 
considered in the context of the other big effect of immigration: 
Ontario's skyrocketing visible minority population. The reality of 
global migration today is that the vast majority of the 250,000 
newcomers who make Canada their home each year are visible minorities.

The result is that a decade from now, one in three Ontarians will be 
a visible minority, compared to only one in 10 Quebecers and less 
than one in 30 Atlantic Canadians.

Let me be purposely provocative here: There is a whiff of racial 
discrimination to the Democratic Representation bill. The ballots 
cast by white people will contribute to the election of 
disproportionately more MPs to Parliament than the same number of 
votes cast by the country's fast growing visible minority population.

Peter Van Loan, the Conservative MP charged with defending the bill, 
has done so by appealing to Ontarians' federalist sentiments. It is 
true that slow or zero population growth provinces such as Quebec are 
understandably worried about their ability to defend their interests 
in a federation where Ontario has, say, half of the seats in 
Parliament ­ something that could happen in the next couple of 
decades given current demographic trends. For Van Loan, Ontario 
voters should stop counting heads and support the bill to ensure the 
smooth functioning of Parliament and the larger federal system.

As high-minded as this analysis might seem, it is detached from the 
timeless truth that for every society, large or small, demographics 
is destiny.

Thanks to high rates of immigration and the fact that newcomers want 
to settle in Ontario, this province, not Quebec, and not Alberta and 
B.C., will become the political as well as the economic juggernaut of 
the federation. Trying to gerrymander Ontario out of its demographic 
destiny is short-sighted and downright unfair to immigrants and 
visible minorities.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where these hundreds of 
thousands of immigrants ­ who by virtue of their newcomer status are 
comparatively free of the old grievances of language and region ­ 
will take this country in the decades to come. Wherever this is, it 
will be the opposite direction of an anti-immigrant and racially 
problematic Democratic Representation bill.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Rudyard Griffiths is the co-founder of the Dominion Institute.

Former Toronto city councillor John Adams also feels strongly that  bill C-22 particularly discriminates against newer Canadians in  Toronto and other big cities. I resolve publicly to ask for a five  minute interview with Mayor Miller to beseech him to lead a council  resolution in defence of our whole urban population by fair  allocation of federal seats for the province.

Constitutional issues are an entirely different matter! The party's  constitution, in contrast to government policy, has few apparent  devotees in the ranks of our professional politicians, since it is  mostly for and about us amateurs and our roles.

As a longtime student of the Progressive Conservative and our party's  constitutions I find a lot which needs early attention. Much the  biggest shortfall is the general tenor of  "Section 5, Electoral  District Associations", which I reproduce here.

(The pdf of the constitution is so rigged that one cannot copy and  paste any portion of it, meaning that I have transcribed this  section, an unnecessary obstruction!)

"Conservative Party of Canada Constitution

5. Electoral district associations

5.1 The electoral district association is the primary organization 
through which the rights of members are exercised.

5.2 Recognition may be granted by the National Council to one 
electoral district association in each federal electoral district, 
and such recognition may be revoked, purusuant to rules and 
procedures set out by by-law.

5.3 Electoral district associations shall comply with such 
requirements as to their governance, financial management and 
reporting, as may be implemented by National Council by by-law or 
otherwise."

The present section 5 of the constitution gives short shrift to the  vital roles of the local EDAs and offers a head office view of  ensuring that they act in accordance with the National Council.

The following re-draft starts with:

recognition of the individual and their family, and clarification of  their immediate opportunity to serve and support their own address,  as a Steward, rather than the militaristic term, "poll captain";

introduces as the name of the governing group within the eda, a  deliberate shift away from "Board", with all its connotations of  corporate structures and secrecy, to District Council, as more  clearly a local counterpart to the National Council, and as  resonating with community councils and their open operating  characteristics;

introduces some needed balance into the importance of serving the  continuing political aspirations of our citizen members, as well as  the priority of electing a professional to represent them in parliament;

and reminds all that authority flows upward within the party as well  as downward!

5. Individuals and their roles in Electoral District Associations

5.1 The central element in the Canadian community is the individual 
citizen and their family.

5.2 Individuals and families substantially sharing the beliefs 
expressed in the the Party's constitution are welcome to join and 
participate in their local electoral district Conservative Association.

5.3 Individuals members can serve vital, immediate neighbourhood 
roles when elected as a continuing Steward for their particular 
apartment building, or city block, or concession.

5.3 The Association in each electoral districts enables members to 
participate fully in the citizen processes of the federal government. 
This participation is led by a members-elected District Council.

5.4 A priority in that participation is successfully nominating, 
electing and sustaining a Conservative Member of Parliament to 
represent their overall community in the Parliament of Canada.

5.5 Other priorities include providing forums for members and for 
others to nurture national and local values and priorities in public 
life, assisted by regular communication with the local communities at 
large.

5.6 Electoral district associations through the body of laws and 
practices delegate authority to the Leader, National Council, and 
Conservative Fund Canada which in turn establish national models and 
bylaws for the recognition and operation of the local associations.

Never having received even a single sentence from my own eda about  the processes for reviewing proposed constitutional amendments - and  with the deadline only a few days away - I intend submitting this re- statement of section 5 direct to the policy committee chair in Otawa  though I have also forwarded a draft of it to Jason Hickman.

The "Peter Tudisco Amendment" Two weeks ago in Whitby, the Whitby- Oshawa and Ajax edas adopted the thrust of the motion I had proposed  on regional elections for the desired five national councilllors for  Ontario on the national council. Their amendment calls for a  different way of balancing the populations of the five regions from 
the strict balance I had proposed. I will forward a resetting of my  statement so that the committee can evaluate which approach they may  choose to put before the convention.

Election at large of both the national party president and  electoral  district associations presidents. James Small, vice president of the  St. Paul's e.d.a. suggested informally to me some months ago that the  national president should be elected by all the delegates to the  national convention rather than by a decision of the elected members  of the national council. I support this reversion to the approach of  the former federal Progressive-Conervative Party. This would create  the office of the president of the national party as a powerful,  citizen counterbalance to that of the national leader!

I strongly favour also changing the method of election of the  president, and probably all officers of the individual eda executive,  to at-large, meaning by all members present at the annual meeting of  each association rather than the present method of election from  among the maximum 30 members of the board. This would serve to remind  the officers that their base of authority is the entire membership of  the local association not just the comparative handful elected to  serve on the board.

Election of national directors from regions is known to have support  in British Columbia and Alberta so will probably be in the  recommended changes put to next autumn's national convention.

On the other hand, direct election of the national president and of  the presidents of individual edas would benefit from endorsements by  whatever number of constituency committees and associations are  taking a direct interest in the work of the constitution committee.

Improving communications between the "big 3" and both individual edas  and individual members.

I charge the Ontario and national constitution committees and the  "big 3" with the need to urgently address the gulfs in communication  between the pious statement in present section 6.1.2 and the realities.

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