«¤»¥«¤»«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»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.
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!
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 Stéphane 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
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
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 <email@example.com>
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
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
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
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
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
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.