NDP leadership rules shouldn't squeeze out new Quebec New Democrats

There is speculation from unnamed sources in the Hill Times today that the NDP brain trust will set up rules for the upcoming leadership contest that would hurt prospective candidate Thomas Mulcair, whose political base lies in Quebec.

This assumption, if you think about it for a second, defies all logic and assumes that all the political smarts that New Democrats have shown in the past decade also died with Jack Layton.

For if someone is trying to game the rules to shut out Mulcair, they are, in essence, saying to the province that just gave them 59 MPs — thanks, but the rest of Canada will choose the next NDP leader. Your help is not required.

And of course, that won't happen.

In fact, for New Democrats, the only silver lining that I can see to the very dark cloud that is Layton's death, is that it could hasten the work that Layton and others had already started to “consolidate” their historic gains in Quebec.

And to do that, a strong Quebec candidate — like Mulcair — or perhaps another, like, say, Alexandre Boulerice or Guy Caron (see below), is vital.

As every political organizer knows, there is nothing like a leadership race to build interest in a party and find new card-carrying members. And this is precisely what the party was starting to do in Quebec — sign up new card-carrying members.

I cannot under any circumstances envision the NDP's ruling council foregoing such an opportunity by, say, limiting voters in a January leadership contest to those who were members four months prior to the vote (something the NDP has done before). In fact, I quite expect the ruling council to go out of its way to encourage Quebecers to get involved in this leadership race.

And, if they don't run themselves for the leadership, I expect Boulerice and Caron will be invaluable to prospective leadership candidates both of whom have strong ties to organized labour in Quebec which would be, if you ask me, an easy source of new NDP members.


NDP organize "celebrate Layton's life" events across Canada

Sun News Network will have live coverage of Jack Layton's state funeral from Toronto beginning at 1400 ET Saturday. But if you can't make to Toronto (or to your TV set), the NDP have posted a list of places where well wishers and supporters will be gathering across the country.

“This Saturday, in communities across the country, people are coming together to watch Jack Layton’s Celebration of Life, live from Toronto. From St. John’s to Victoria and from Terrebonne to Courtenay, these large and small communities will have the opportunity to celebrate the life and honour the work of the popular New Democrat leader. Here is a list of events we have heard are taking place across Canada tomorrow. (NOTE: All times are local)”

  • Halifax, NS – Bella Rose Arts Centre, 283 Thomas Raddall Drive, 2:00 PM
  • St John’s, NL – Foran Room, City Hall, 10 New Gower St., 2:30pm
  • Quebec City, QC – Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg, 7950, 1ère Avenue, 1:00 PM
  • Montreal, QC- Société des arts technologiques, 1201 Saint-Laurent Blvd, 1:00 PM
  • Lanaudière, QC- 663 rue Saint-Pierre, Terrebonne, Les Oeuvres de Galilée, 1:00PM
  • Salaberry, QC – Willy's Pub, 1205 Boulevard Monseigneur-Langlois, 1:00PM
  • Winnipeg, MB – Knox United Church, 400 Edmonton St., 12:00PM
  • Regina, SK – Tommy Douglas House – 1122 Saskatchewan Drive, 11:00 AM
  • Saskatoon, SK – École Canadienne Française de Saskatoon 2410 Woodward Ave, 11:00 AM
  • Yellowknife, NT – PSAC Boardroom, 4916 49th Street, 12:00 PM
  • Edmonton, AB – Myer Horowitz Theatre – U of A Campus, 2nd Floor, Students' Union Building (SUB), 8900 – 114 St., 10:30 AM
  • Penticton, BC – Shatford Centre – Galleria Room, 760 Main Street, 10:30 AM
  • Vancouver, BC – Canada Place, outdoor video screens, 999 Canada Place, 10:00 AM
  • Nanaimo, BC – Diana Krall Plaza, 90 Commercial St., 11:00 AM
  • Victoria, BC – First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Rd., 10:30 AM
  • Courtenay, BC – Florence Filberg Conference Hall, 411 Anderton Ave, 10:30 AM
  • Smithers, BC – Alpenhorn Pub, 1261 Main Street, 11:00 AM
  • Terrace, BC – Community Room – Skeena Mall, 4741 Lakelse Avenue, 11:00 AM
  • Kitimat, BC – CAW Hall, 233 Enterprise Ave, 11:00 AM
  • Prince Rupert, BC – Ocean View Pub, 950 1 Avenue West, 11:00 AM




Details on the music, readings, and eulogies for Jack Layton's funeral


This just out from the NDP:

SATURDAY, AUGUST 27                                                                                                              TORONTO
9:00 am – 11:00 am    Public Visitation, Toronto City Hall

1:15 pm (approx) Procession to Roy Thomson Hall
Horse-mounted police will lead procession, followed by pipe and drum bands and an honour guard. They will proceed south along Bay Street, turning right on King Street and left on Simcoe Street, arriving at Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street.
2:00 pm                       Jack Layton's Celebration of Life
2500 people expected to gather in Roy Thomson Hall, with more in overflow areas outside of the Hall. Four large video screens will be set up in David Pecaut Square, to the west of Roy Thomson Hall, for overflow crowds.

Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings G.F. Handel, Pifa from Messiah
Members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
Richard Underhill

Magnificat – J.S. Bach
Richard Underhill

The Choir of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto

O Canada
Joy Klopp

Aboriginal Blessing
Shawn Atleo

Welcome / Bienvenue
Rev. Brent Hawkes
Anne McGrath

Philippians 2
Nycole Turmel

Isaiah 57-5
Myer Siemiatycki

Qu’ran 2:153
Tasleem Riaz

Martin Deschamps

“Together, we’ll change the world”

Stephen Lewis
Karl Belanger
Mike and Sarah Layton

Steven Page

Rev. Brent Hawkes

Rise Up
Lorraine Segato

Rev. Brent Hawkes

Get Together
Julie Michels

Hymn to Freedom
Chris Dawes

In keeping with Layton's wishes, the program ends with a chance for those assembled to write down something they will do to make our world a better place.

And here is the list of pallbearers, courtesy of the Department of Canadian Heritage:

The Honourable Ed Broadbent, P.C., C.C., Former Leader of the federal New Democratic Party and former Member of Parliament 
Alexa McDonough, O.C., Former Leader of the federal New Democratic Party and former Member of Parliament 
Gary Doer, O.M., Ambassador of Canada to the USA, former Premier of Manitoba 
The Honourable Roy Romanow, P.C., O.C., Q.C., S.O.M., M.L.A., Former Premier of Saskatchewan 
Ms. Marilyn Churley, Former Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto-Danforth and Cabinet Minister 
Mr. Bob Gallagher, Former Chief of Staff to the Honourable Jack Layton 
Professor Tim Flannery, Internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist and activist 
Mr. Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada, United Steelworkers 
Dr. Winnie Ng, CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University in Toronto 
The Honourable Audrey McLaughlin, P.C., O.C., Former Leader of the federal New Democratic Party and former Member of Parliament 
The Honourable Greg Selinger, M.L.A., Premier of Manitoba 
The Honourable Darrell Dexter, M.L.A., Premier of Nova Scotia 
Ms. Joy McPhail, Former Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and Cabinet Minister 
Professor Charles Taylor, C.C., G.O.Q., FRSC, Professor Emeritus at McGill University and acclaimed Canadian philosopher 
Mr. Brad Lavigne, Principal Secretary to the Leader of the Official Opposition 
Mr. Jamey Heath, Former Research and Communications Director of the New Democratic Party


The Bells of Parliament Hill ring out for Jack Layton

This just in, the music programme today on Parliament Hill as Jack Layton final few hours lying in state in the foyer of the House of Commons:

Today Dr. Andrea McCrady, Dominion Carillonneur, will be playing the following program to commemorate the late Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition.

She will be playing the 53 bells of the Carillon.

11:30 a.m. – noon: Fanfare for the Common Man, by Aaron Copland, arranged for carillon duet by Andrea McCrady (Andrea McCrady, primo; Jonathan Hebert, secondo)

Hymn: St. Anne (O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come), arranged by Leen ‘t Hart

Hymn: Michael (All my hope on God is founded), arranged by John Courter

Song Without Words: “Consolation”, by Felix Mendelssohn, arranged by Don Cook

Hymn: We Shall Overcome, arranged by Milford Myhre

St. Louis Blues, by W. C. Handy, arranged by Randolph Philbrook & Sally Slade Warner

Andante cantabile, carillon duet by Ronald Barnes (Andrea McCrady, primo; Jonathan Hebert, secondo)

Dominion March, by Phillip Layton, arranged by Andrea McCrady (Phillip Layton was Jack’s grandfather)

2 p.m., following 15-gun salute:O Canada

Imagine, by John Lennon, arranged by Andrea McCrady

Dominion March, by Phillip Layton, arranged by Andrea McCrady (Phillip Layton was Jack’s grandfather)

Some remarks about the Thursday morning program: Dr. Andrea McCrady is the Dominion Carillonneur.  For the duets, she will be playing with student Jonathan Hebert.  Dr. McCrady thought Jack would have appreciated having a musician from the “next generation” participating in this recital.

The hymns prominently feature the word “hope” in their lyrics.

Layton to receive state funeral

Jack Layton will be accorded a state funeral. Here's why, according to a statement distributed this afternoon by Dimitri Soudas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications:

“The practice since Confederation has been for the Government of Canada to offer a state funeral to current and former governors general, current and former prime ministers and current members of cabinet.
It is possible for the prime minister on behalf of the Government of Canada, to accord the honour of a state funeral to other eminent Canadians, should it be deemed appropriate.
Prime Minister Harper has exercised his discretion and has offered Ms. Chow a state funeral for Jack Layton. She has accepted.
Canadians will have an opportunity to salute Jack Layton’s contribution to public life as well as offer their heartfelt condolences, their thoughts and prayers to Mr. Layton's family.
More details will follow in due course.”

Now: Wondering if you can help me out? Was Pierre Elliott Trudeau the last Canadian to receive a state funeral? Am I missing someone since?

Former tax crusader now "celebrating" tax dollars for tennis courts

Once upon a time, John Williamson was president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an organization that then and now rails against almost all federal government spending in the hopes that slashing spending will slash your tax bills. We all want lower taxes right? Of course, we do. And lowering government spending is the way to do that, right? Simple as black and white.

John Williamson

But now, Williamson (left) is a Member of Parliament for the riding of New Brunswick Southwest and is apparently learning that the issue of government spending is not so black-and-white when your constituents expect some of their tax dollars to be spent in their riding.

Constituents of his in the town of St. Andrews (where Williamson's family is from, I believe) wanted to rebuild a local arena and expand some tennis courts. In his days as the head of the CTF, Williamson would likely have counselled the good people of southwest New Brunswick to find a way to raise the money themselves to do fix up these recreational facilities.

But when the recession hit, the Harper government set up something handy called the Recreational Infrastructure (RiNC) fund — billions of tax dollars for tennis courts, arenas, playing fields, and so on. If you agree with this kind of Keynesian intervention — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a definite convert — then the RiNC fund was a good idea.

And, now, presumably, Williamson is also a fan of this kind of government spending.

“Our Government understands that investments in recreational infrastructure help to build strong, vibrant communities, and strong communities mean a stronger Canada,” said John Williamson, Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, on behalf of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and La Francophonie. “Our investment of close to $100,000 has helped the Town of Saint Andrews improve the W.C. O’Neill Arena and expand the tennis court facilities. These improved facilities will add to the quality of life and the quality of services available to the families and individuals who are building their futures in Saint Andrews.”

This press release, from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is the first funding announcement I've seen, incidentally, with Williamson's name on it.


The final numbers on the the Air Force's Afghanistan activity

AR2011 0294 008
Mission Transition Task Force Commander Brigadier-General Charles Lamarre and his Command Team, load themselves into a CH-147 Chinook helicopter to conduct a flyover of Kandahar Province on 22 July 2011.
The Mission Transition Task Force is comprised of approximately 1,000 personnel of all ranks that will be responsible to conduct mission closure of Operation ATHENA in order to enable the Canadian Forces to transition to subsequent operations as directed by the Government of Canada. Photos by: MCpl Dan Shouinard, Senior Imagery Technician, Mission Transition Task Force © 2011 DND-MDN Canada

While the Canadian Army was (and will continue to be) the focus of our military activity in Afghanistan, we should also note that the Royal Canadian Air Force (are we using that term now/yet?) also played a significant role, particularly the transport squadrons. Early on, some wished we had more air assets, particularly helicopters, in Afghanistan to move move troops and materiel about the country and help them avoid the IED perils on Afghanistan's roads.

The Canadian Forces notes today that air operations by Joint Task Force Afghanistan's Air Wing have now officially ended. In a release, Lt-Gen Marc Lessard noted that “it was the first military formation of its size and type deployed by Canada had deployed to an armed conflict since the Second World War.”

Since the Air Wing stood up at Kandahar Airfield 32 months ago on Dec. 6, 2008, RCAF crews have moved a total of 211,396 people and more than 37 million pounds of cargo. All told, Canadian helicopters and planes spent a combined 11 years (!) in the air over Afghanistan.

For those who counting, here's the numbers from the air force:

Air Wing Stats