What was Ethics Commissioner talking about when it comes to Peter MacKay? Read on.

What would you conclude from this exchange today at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics?

Liberal MP Scott Andrews: Have you looked into recent events between the Minister of Defence (Peter MacKay) and the chair of a public Crown corporation board boing to a luxury fishing lodge for a vacation? Has that been brought to your attention? Have you looked at maybe investigating whether this was a breach of ethics?

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson: I've only see press reports about it.

Andrews: So you yourself wouldn't initiate an investigation as such? It would have have to have been brought to your attention through a requests?

Dawson: And there would have to be reasonable grounds of a specified provision that was contravened. Yes.

Andrews: Well, let me ask you this: Did you see any potential of a minister of the Crown going to a luxury fishing lodge of a member of a Crown Corporation board?

Dawson: Yes. There could be contraventions in those areas.

So what do you think? [You can watch it online here. This exchange comes at 31:43] I, and at least two other reporters, concluded that Dawson had just given poor Peter MacKay another headache, that Dawson believed there was a chance that that trip put him offside with conflict of interest rules.

So I asked Dawson's office to clarify or elaborate what she meant and here's what spokesperson Jocelyne Brisebois sent over:

“There is nothing to elaborate on.  The Commissioner was responding to a hypothetical question.  She has not commented on Minister MacKay's situation.”

I think she did comment on MacKay's situation. You?


Harper warns Sri Lanka: Canada won't attend Commonwealth summit without human rights reform

Today in Question Period, opposition MPs wanted the government to take a harder line on Sri Lanka on the issue of human rights.

Here, for example, is a press release from Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis:

The Honourable Jim Karygiannis, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt and Liberal Multiculturalism Critic, called on Canada’s Conservative Government to condemn the Sri Lankan government’s cover-up of war crimes by taking a leading role to ensure that Sri Lanka’s membership in the Commonwealth is revoked until it holds the perpetrators to account.

“In February 2009, the Sri Lankan government offered an amnesty, as the first step toward an inclusive political dialogue that would have contributed to a lasting peace.  It then proceeded to brutally murder thousands of innocent refugees.” said Mr. Karygiannis.  “It is time that the Sri Lankan government acknowledges that atrocities were committed in its name and brings the perpetrator to justice.”

Independent, international aid and humanitarian agencies have reported widespread abuses of human rights and summary killings during the last days of the Sri Lankan civil war.  Since no independent journalists were permitted in the war zone, the only record of the crimes, such as the Channel 4 documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”, was smuggled out by the survivors.

“The evidence is irrefutable.  There are scenes of Sri Lankan soldiers shooting bound and blindfolded people in the head.” Mr. Karygiannis stated.  “The Sri Lankan government must ensure that these thugs are brought to justice and pay for their crimes.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will attend the biannual Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia next month and this issue may come up.

Sri Lanka is scheduled to host the 2013 CHOGM. Last month, in a roundtable discussion with reporters from news organizations that serve Canada's ethnic communities (hate that term — is there a better one?), Harper was asked about Sri Lanka. Here's that exchange from Sept. 9:

REPORTER:  I’m from CMR, and one of our largest listenership is Tamil and Sri Lankan specifically. You’ve taken a very strong position when you were at the Commonwealth summit to say that the next summit should not happen in Sri Lanka because of their human rights records. And recently there’s been many calls for an investigation into war crimes, at least war crimes in Sri Lanka by the UN… But Canada has been particularly silent about this over the past few months. What is Canada’s current position on it?

HARPER: Well, Canada’s position hasn’t changed. First of all, in terms of the specifics you raised in your preamble, I have expressed concerns about the holding of the next Commonwealth summit, the one after the one coming up, in Sri Lanka. I intend to make clear to my fellow leaders at the Commonwealth that if we do not see progress in Sri Lanka in terms of human rights and some of the issues that you raised, I will not as Prime Minister be attending that Commonwealth summit. And I hope that others will take a similar position, but I hope that this will pressure the Sri Lankan government to take the appropriate actions.

We are concerned about the situation. That country needs to make progress, not just in terms of what they did against…yeah, the Tigers, but they do have to make advances in terms of political reconciliation, democratic values and accountability. We support the calls of the United Nations Secretary General’s representative for an independent investigation, and we will… we hope that that work will continue, and we will… our position’s very clear that we are supportive of seeing an independent investigation on the matters that the United Nations has raised.


In global diplomacy circles,  the threat that Canada — obviously one of the most significant partners in the Commonwealth — would boycott a CHOGM and encourage others to do so is fairly significant development.


NDP trio aim to reverse Tory funding cuts to travelling First Nations film school

I'll be the first to admit it: I'd never heard of Wapikoni Mobile until I got the media advisory from the federal NDP late this afternoon that a trio of Quebec NDPs — Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, Jonathan Genest-Jourdain, Romeo Saganash — will hold a Parliament Hill press conference Thursday to press Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to restore federal funding to Wapikoni Mobile.

What is Wapikoni Mobile? Check out the Wapikoni SOS site on Facebook but, if you're not in the click-and-go frame of mind, I'll cut and paste from this call to action issued on Aug 17:

Wapikoni Mobile is a unique project, with mobile video music studios that have been travelling for seven years in isolated Quebec communities. It offers practical skills development workshops in new media technologies to First Nations youth.
These workshops, up to now mainly financed by the ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development, are intended to develop skills, competence, employability, self-esteem and cultural pride among First Nations youth.
The mobile studios have visited nineteen communities over seven years¬. More than 2000 First Nations youth have participated in Wapikoni Mobile workshops. These youth have directed 450 films that have been translated into several languages, a cultural heritage that is unique in the world. Their films have been distributed everywhere, from South America to New Caledonia, from Paris to New York. Many of the youth travel with their productions. Some participants of Wapikoni Mobile have thereby landed jobs and contract work. Others, like the performer and musician Samian, have even begun an international career. Many have found the desire to return to school and make their contribution to their community.

Samian [Wiki bio in English / his Web site en français] by the way, will also be at tomorrow's Parliament Hill press conference.

You can watch a selection of the films made through the Wapikoni Mobile initiative at the National Film Board's Web site or using the NFB iPhone/iPad apps.

But they've not been seen just there. I'll cut and paste again:

The Shanghai Pavilion broadcast films directed by First Nations youth over and over again at the Universal Exposition in 2010. The Vancouver Olympics did the same, and various Canadian embassies organize screenings in the countries they serve. In these ways, the young creators become proud ambassadors of their culture and active citizens. A great deal of work has been invested by First Nations youth to attain this status.

Now, I try my darndest to track every spending announcement our federal government makes but I've not seen anything for Wapikoni.

Some reports from July in the Montreal Gazette and elsewhere seem to indicate this project was getting $490,000 a year in federal funds (for the last several years, I believe) which represented about a half of its annual budget. Not a lot of money — but, of course, we're fighting a monster deficit, ladies and gentlemen, and belts must be tightened.

And, as the PC report from July noted, the e-mailed response from the government was pretty clear: Other projects “better meet the program's objective, that is to say: gettin young people to learn the wide range of skills and work experience needed to participate in the labor market.”

Ok but: I've travelled a fair bit in remote and northern Canadian native communities — got family on some, even — and there is not a whole heckuva lot going on there youth-opportunity-wise.

To quote from the Gazette piece written by Christopher Curtis published on July 26:

It was never Abraham Côté's dream to work as a cashier in a cigarette shop, but in the Algonquin village of Kitigan-Zibi there are only so many jobs to go around.

“There's a gas station, two stores and the band council, but beyond that there isn't that much potential for work,” he told The Gazette by phone.

“So you're kind of lucky if you can get a job.”

Curtis reports that 2,000 youth have participated in this initiative which has spurred the creation of 450 (!) films which have won 45 awards in Canada and abroad. (Most interestingly: These films present a rich visual record of Cree and Algonquin life in early 21st century northern Quebec which I'm pretty sure has a value all of its own no matter what).

I don't know what the criteria was that prompted HRSDC to cut the funding but, for only a half-a-million bucks a year, this seems to touch a lot of young people in remote communities. If you're gonna spend training money, this sounds not so bad.

And yet, though my interest is piqued: I must send my apologies in advance if I'm not in 130-S at 1030 tomorrow to learn more. I've got an Ethics committee to cover and my colleagues are similarly spread hither and thither on on a busy morning on Parliament Hill. Look forward to learning more though.






Get used to it: The new dynamic in federal politics is a two-way fight: Blue Vs Orange

Tomorrow's column today — an extended version, with hyperlinks, of some ideas I'll have in the 50+ Sun Media papers across the country tomorrow:

It’s early in the life of this historic 41st Parliament of Canada but already we’re seeing Conservatives and New Democrats take sharply different partisan approaches to the business of the nation. If this keeps up for four years, as I suspect it will, it could radically re-shape the dynamic of federal politics in Canada, something both Conservatives and New Democrats should be pleased with though it will scare Liberals who now stand to be further marginalized from the national conversation.

Before I try to convince you of the merits of that reasoning, let me first bring you up to speed on what has happened in just the first day-and-a-half this week on Parliament Hill.

On Monday, the New Democrats broke with other parties in the House of Commons to oppose the extension of the military mission in Libya. For most of the last decade, on broad foreign policy questions such as our commitment in Afghanistan, the Liberals and Conservatives largely agreed with each other, regardless of who was in power. Indeed, though the Liberals pushed the governing Tories for allocating more resources and foreign aid in Libya, Liberals and Conservatives voted the same way.

Then, yesterday, to speed the adoption of their controversial omnibus crime bill through the House of Commons, the Conservatives moved to limit debate. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies called this “a nasty motion” by the Conservatives intended “to stifle debate.” Rookie Conservative MP Mark Strahl replied: “We're just delivering on campaign promises. Get used to it.”

The Liberals were with the NDP on this one.

As that was happening, MPs on a House of Commons committee were arguing about how best to proceed with a study of CBC’s decision to fight in court an order by Parliament’s Information Commissioner that it, like other government departments, must release information about some of its activities.

Ostensibly, the committee meeting should have been all about “process” – timing of future meetings, who will speak, etc. – and it should have been behind closed doors, as almost all committee meetingswhere they sort out this usually dull procedural stuff takes place. But, lo and behold, Conservative and New Democrats were champing at the bit to start arguing about CBC itself and so the doors were thrown open and it was all committee chair, New Democrat Nathan Cullen, could do to remind members to stop debating real issues and get back to the procedural questions at hand.

Now, during the last few years of minority parliaments, committee work would often get bogged down in procedural minutaie as all parties sought to frustrate their opponents by using parliamentary procedure. Committee chairs would be making the reverse of the plea that Cullen made several times yesterday, that being to get off the procedural arcana and back to the issues “that matter to Canadians.”

Yesterday’s arguments at the Commons Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics committee is evidence that committee chairs need no longer worry about getting bogged down in procedural arcana. As NDP MP Charlie Angus acknowledged at that ethics committee meeting, the Conservatives have the numbers to get their way no matter what and so Angus fired up some attacks on some substantive – though possibly off-topic – points, such as Treasury Board President Tony Clement’s complicity in cutting the corners in G8 funding last summer.The Conservatives fired back at the NDP over alleged violations of election financing laws for taking money from “big labour”, as Conservative Dean Del Mastro put it, to finance their spring convention.

Strahl’s right: We should get used to this.

With the voting outcome assured because of the Tory majority, there will be few of the procedural logjams that gummed up our last minority Parliaments. Ethics Committee chair Nathan Cullen was overruled on a procedural matter by that very same Tory majority yesterday. Message: The Tories are doing it their way. “Get used to this.”

The opposition is right to take the cue from Angus and have at them while they can as hard as they can. And that is precisely what the NDP are doing, whether it’s Libya, Tony Clement or new crime legislation. They will spend the next four year always be arguing a different vision.

And so we’re going to get some real debates. Socialists versus Conservatives. Peacenicks versus militarists. Big Labour versus Big Oil. Hallelujah! The political conversation in Ottawa will no longer be Conservatives and Liberals grasping over degrees around the political centre. The party whose constitution still calls for a federal government based on socialist values versus one that (in theory, but not always in practice) believes in small-government and free markets.

Strong opinions on either side will help Conservatives and New Democrats raise money by pushing the “hot buttons” of their bases. The fundraising e-mail from the NDP will read: Stop Harper’s militarist agenda! From the Conservatives: Help us kill the CBC!

And from the Liberals? Right.That’s the problem. Already Tories are smoking the Liberals when it comes to raising money. The NDP's fundraising machine is more organized and efficient than the current Liberal one. Without the sharp focus that comes from being at the extremes of the political spectrum, the Liberals will have trouble raising money and attracting volunteers.

The cliché has always been that Liberals campaigned on the left and governed from the right. Canadians who voted Liberal will spend the next four years watching a pitched battle on substantive, high-stakes issues between a party that will campaign and then actually govern from the left and a party that will actually campaign from and then govern from the right.

That includes Quebecers, I suspect, many of whom are tired of voting for old-line parties both federally and provincially who saw every public policy choice as a chance argue about being in or out of Canada. Instead, those Quebecers who voted NDP federally and would vote provincially for François Legault if only he led a real party, seem to be those want to do politics the way it’s done in the rest of Canada – a battle between left and right instead of in or out.

Given this new dynamic in Quebec, in the House of Commons, and in the rest of the country, I suspect more and more Liberal voters will desert the centre of the political spectrum and choose a new team. They will get off the fence. The big question is: How many will go left and how many will go right?

Netanyahu to Harper: We have the "same hearts, same values": Audio and pix

I'm a bit late with this but, here's the pix (from Reuters photog Eric Thayer) and the audio from the bilateral meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in New York City on Wednesday Sept. 21, 2011:

RE 2011 09 21T200903Z 01 ET408 RTRMDNP 3 UN ASSEMBLY

RE 2011 09 21T201057Z 01 ET407 RTRMDNP 3 UN ASSEMBLY

Journalists were not allowed to hang around and record their meeting, but here's the audio of the three minutes or so while these pix were being taken when Netanyahu said Canada and Israel have much in common: “same hearts, same values.” Netanyahu also tries to be funny. See if you can spot that bit …


The sound of hate: Iran's foreign minister at Durban III


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a wonderful, well-deserved reputation as one of the leading beacons in the world when it comes to advancing knowledge and enlightenment.

That said: Not all of their graduates go on to the kind of distinguished career the MIT community might hope for. Take Ali Akbar Salehi (please!), for example. The Iraq-born Salehi's current title is Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Islamic Republic of Iran (that's a Reuters pic of him on the right). But in 1977, MIT awarded him a doctorate. He also spent time at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics. So he must be a smart guy. And yet, this week while I was in New York covering the United Nations, I watched him embarrass himself with this statement to the equally embarrassing charade known as Durban III.

Canada, to its great credit, was the first country to boycott the UN-sponsored Durban process. Canada got the hint that it was all going to turn out rather badly when it learned that Durban II, the 2009 followup to the 2001 hatefest the UN sponsored in Durban, South Africa, would be led by those notorious human rights champions: Moammar Ghadhafi’s Libya, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran and Fidel Castro’s Cuba (the conference chair, vice-chair, and rapporteur respectively). The U.S., the UK, France and others followed Canada's lead in abandoning the UN-sponsored Durban process. And even though Ahmadinejad, at Durban II, was applauded (!) by other UN member countries for condemning Israel for being “totally racist”, senior UN officials chose to criticize Canada (!) for not showing up to listen to such drivel rather than criticize Iran or those who applauded Iran.

And so we come to Durban III, held Thursday at the UN in New York. I was there and I watched this from Salehi: It's just three minutes long but here's the audio This is what hate sounds like, folks . And if you'd like read

Excerpt: “…Supporters of the racist Zionist regime (that would be Canada et al) boycotted this conference on the account that this might support those Palestinians who have been victims of such state racism in the occupied territories …

Salehi, incidentally, spoke in a UN meeting room minutes before his boss spoke to the UN General Assembly. Canada didn't even show up for this nuttiness and most Western diplomats walked out a few minutes into Ahmadinejad's rant. Watch for yourself by clicking here.


Gary Mar cleans up in race for Alberta Premier, will face one more ballot

Members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta voted today to pick their successor to Ed Stelmach. To win outright today, a candidate needed 50 per cent plus 1. None of the six managed that. That means there will be another vote in a couple of weeks with the top three finishers from tonight.

Which means, you're next Alberta PC Leader and Premier will be one of: Gary Mar, Alison Redford or Doug Horner.

Based on Saturday's voting, it looks like Mar is in a commanding position:



Some alternative thoughts on the Spy Who Loved Bob Dechert

The Bob Dechert (left) scandal. Have you heard about it?

I first wrote about it last Friday:

The parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, MP Bob Dechert, says flirtatious e-mails he sent to a Toronto-based reporter for China's state news agency are harmless.
But the e-mails, some signed “Love, Bob Dechert,” raise questions about foreign influence in official Ottawa circles
Last year, the head of Canada's spy service, Richard Fadden, suggested the Chinese government was actively seeking ways to influence decision-makers in Ottawa, though he declined to name any politicians.
John Baird, the foreign affairs minister, told QMI Agency in Calgary Friday that he had no knowledge of the matter.
Karl Belanger, a spokesman for NDP leader Nycole Turmel, said: “We want this Conservative government to be more friendly on the world stage, but this isn't what we had in mind.”
Dechert, a two-term MP for Mississauga, Ont., said in a statement posted on his website that he met Shi Rong of the Xinhua News Agency while doing “Chinese-language media communications” and that he came to know her as a friend. [Read the rest here]

Since then, the drumbeats — including many thumps from within my own organization —  have grown for Dechert to resign his position as Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister for, depending on the critic, showing bad judgment or compromising national security.

Regardless of why they're calling for his resignation, though, the common assumption of Dechert's critics is that Shi was a spy and we know that because — according to the unchallenged narrative now sweeping us all along — is that all reporters for Xinhua News Agency are spies working against the interest of Canada and for the interests of the government of China.

What we have here, then, is  “Logic 101”:

  1. All reporters for Xinhua News Agency in Canada are spies for China.
  2. Shi Rong is a reporter for Xinhua News Agency in Canada.
  3. Shi Rong is a spy.

But the key assumption behind that logic — that all reporters from Xinhua News Agency in Canada are spies — seems to me far from proven. And now there is growing evidence on the public record to suggest it is not true that all Xinhua reporters are spies and, if that's not true, then we need some more evidence that Shi Rong is or acted like a spy. For if we don't have that, then what's Dechert's foul? (His wife, Ruth Clark, might yet have some awkward questions but his fellow MPs, not so much. And I note that, so far, only the NDP have called for Dechert's resignation but the Liberals — to their credit — have not yet done so.)

So: Was Shi acting like a spy? (How do spies act? Beats me.) On that point, The Globe and Mail this evening reports:

… notes [from Shi's husband back in China] accused Ms. Shi of seeking to dissolve her marriage “in order to be in love” with this “congressman,” or MP. “This is the Shi Rong you should have known,” the angry note says in Chinese.
Another is apparently directed at Ms. Shi’s Xinhua editors in Beijing.
“Shi Rong’s husband found out about these problems but failed so many times to persuade her [to stop], so [I] wanted to reflect this situation to [Xinhua] which sent her to work” in Canada. “Shi Rong was praised many times by headquarters and has also almost reached the end of her posting, [so she] is afraid this thing will affect her future development.”

Ok. First of all: maybe I'm naive but if Shi Rong was a spy and had gotten a Really Important Canadian like Bob Dechert to fall for her, wouldn't that be good for her career as as spy? Why, if her real mission was bagging Bob Dechert, would anyone be afraid that that wouldl affect her future development. Hell, she should go print up a t-shirt  with “Mission Accomplished” on it!

The Ottawa Citizen correctly spots an interesting twist: A note written in Chinese at the top of the e-mails sent around to journalists and others last week quotes the aggrieved husband back in China saying Shi wanted a divorce to continue her relationship with Dechert:

The person who hacked emails between the Mississauga MP and Xinhua News correspondent Shi Rong appended the note at the top of the package of emails, which were forwarded last week to 250 recipients on Shi's contacts list.
“In order to love this MP, Shi Rong has not hesitated to ask to end her marriage while posted abroad,” the note said in Chinese. “This is the Shi Rong you should know about.”
Shi has said it was her own email account her husband hacked, and that he circulated the messages between her and Dechert, which date to April 2010.
An alternate translation of the message by the newspaper Epoch Times reads: “To continue her love affair with this member of Parliament, Shi Rong pitilessly asked to end her marriage while stationed overseas.”

But I'm not sure the Citizen piece gets the significance of that added note. Certainly, it opens up some more questions we'd like to put to Mr. Dechert as to the candour and honesty of his statement on Friday. But where does this leave us on the issue of whether Shi was a spy? If she was a spy, wouldn't she be rock-solid with the real husband back in China while doing the equivalent of “Close Your Eyes and Think of China” thing here in Canada? If Shi was, in fact, getting ready to leave her husband in China in the hopes of staying in Canada with an MP — or any other Canadian citizen — well, do spies do that? I don't know, to be honest.

And if, as we all seem to be assuming, that all Xinhua News Agency reporters in Canada are spies, why does a Xinhua reporter have the same press credentials I do from the Parliamentary Press Gallery? (This is a rhetorical question for I was on the executive of the Press Gallery when we approved applications for credentials for reporters from Xinhua. And while I had suspicions, they satisfied our criteria.)

And finally, here's an interesting piece from Parliamentary Press Gallery member Mark Bourrie, a Canadian, who, he reports himself, was almost sucked into the Xinhua vortex

Now don't get me wrong: The Dechert e-mails are certainly worthy of continuing public discussion. But as for me: I'm not ready just yet to pronounce Dechert's doom. I'd like to know a little bit more about this whole relationship. Over to you, Mr. Dechert …


Asian Cyberspace on the Rise: Challenges and Opportunities for Canada

The guy who runs the very cool Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto just published this:

Asia now comprises nearly 45% of the world’s Internet population. China alone – home to the world’s largest number ofInternet users – makes up more than half of the region’s entireInternet population. The China Internet Network Information Centre estimates that China’s online population rose  6 per cent to 485 million in 2011.  What is remarkable is that nearly two-thirds of Chinese, and close to 70 per cent of the Asian population as a whole, are not yet even online.
As this growth continues,the culture of global cyberspace will change. The concept of “Asian values” may have limited merit in academic circles, but there is no doubt that a sociological and political shift will occur that will affect cyberspace writ large. With these new users will come new ways of using and governing cyberspace, both at home and abroad, which will have far reaching implications for the world.

Interesting, no? Read on …


Game on: Brian Topp first in to NDP Leadership race

Brian Topp

Can the NDP become the Government of Canada? Did you ever doubt that the party Preston Manning created could one rule the nation?

I mention both in the same breath because I see many parallels in the success of the NDP, their motives, diligence and commitment to political hard work that I've seen in what Manning's Reformers evolved into, today's governing Conservative Party.

And like those Reform-Conservatives, I think this new New Democratic Party may have to go through a process that could take two or three elections to convince enough Canadians that it is not dominated by a bunch of blind ideologues and that, like the Conservatives of the last five years, could find big-time electoral success when/if they can convince enough Canadians that they are not beholden to some ideological basis. Getting rid of the reserved union vote was a good first step. Curious to see if the party faithful wants to elect a leader that will take them further to the centre. I'm not sure about that part.

With that pre-amble, here's the full-text of the press release from the first guy in the race to succeed Jack Layton and take the NDP to the promised land, party president Brian Topp:


OTTAWA — Flanked by former NDP Leader Ed Broadbent and by Gatineau MP Francoise Boivin, Brian Topp today launched his campaign to lead the New Democratic Party of Canada.

Topp (pic on this page by Sun's Andre Forget) pledged to carry on Jack Layton's work by providing Canadians with a progressive national alternative to the Harper government.

“I know that New Democrats can deliver a successful NDP government in both official languages and in every part of the country,” said Topp. “A fiscally responsible and economically literate government that offers Canadians hope for a better future.”

“That's the work Jack left us to complete, and that's the job I pledge to get done.”

Former NDP Leader Ed Broadbent said that Topp has what it takes to take on Stephen Harper and to win the next election.

“I have known Brian for many years. He has that special mix of character and intelligence that is so important in a leader,” said Broadbent “He's a listener and a team player and he knows how to get things done. He will make a great leader of our party.”

Topp said his top priority will be to fight the growing inequality in Canada, adding

that, “In today's economy we can't afford to waste the talent of a single Canadian.”

“Too many young people can't afford an education. Too many families are living from pay check to pay check. Too many seniors can't afford to retire in dignity. And too many children- one in seven -live in poverty.”

“The time has come to stop this slide. To work towards a more equal and prosperous country for all Canadians. It's the right thing to do. And it's the smart thing to do.”

Born in Longueuil and raised in Montreal, Topp joined the New Democrats under Ed Broadbent. He chaired the NDP's first successful campaign in Quebec and worked in Parliament, before moving to Saskatchewan to join the government of Premier Roy Romanow.

Topp has worked for the credit union system, as a leader in the Labour movement, and at the heart of all four of Jack Layton's national campaigns.

Gatineau MP Francoise Boivin said that Topp has the national experience necessary to lead the NDP.

“Brian is not only fluent in both official languages, he is at home In Quebec and throughout the country. He understands Canada and he understands Quebec. That's key to building our party and winning the next election.”

Topp closed by saying, “Together we can honour jack and his legacy. Together we can build a party and a government that would make him proud. And together, we'll get the job done.”