About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Schirk Says Voting is Easy... And Cool

To complete this rather busy political day, I'm posting this press release I got from the Greg Schirk campaign encouraging everyone to get out and vote. I like the message, because as much as our elections sometimes sink to the depths of partisanship, which may be a nice name to explain a wide variety of civil discourse, both positive and negative, the most important thing of all is get out and vote. It's where your voice really matters after all.
Greg Schirk, Guelph’s Progressive Conservative candidate, voted today at the advance poll set up by Elections Ontario in City Hall. He found the process quick and easy, and encourages all eligible voters in Guelph to exercise their democratic right and cast their ballot at an advance poll today or tomorrow, or on October 6th.
Greg wants to remind voters that “the Ontario provincial government – NOT the Federal government or the government of the City of Guelph -- is responsible for two really important areas that affect everyone and their future - health care and education. If you have an opinion about what you want heath care and education to be in Ontario, please take a few minutes to understand the platform of each political party, then vote for the one that best reflects your views.”
Greg also wants people to recognize that “the right to vote is the cornerstone of democracy. It is a fundamental democratic right that people in many countries do not have and are fighting for right now. We have it. We shouldn’t take it for granted.” Furthermore, “contrary to how many people feel, every vote really does count. It’s our way of making it clear to politicians the direction we want our governments to take over the next few years. The more votes, the clearer that message.”

A Funny Thing Happened While at the Cafe...

As per my previous post, Premier Dalton McGuinty popped in to the Red Brick Cafe on Westmount Road for some java juice and quick turn at making a latte. It has a perfectly cozy and chilled atmosphere, a picture perfect opportunity for the Premier in the waning days of this re-election campaign. Then, from behind me, someone yelled, "Are you going to help us out at the pharmacy?"
And then everyone got kind of uncomfortable.
The heckler was Carla Bradshaw, the owner and operator of Westmount Pharmacy, and her issue was with the Liberal governments changes to prescription drug sales which was passed last summer, ending professional allowances that generic drug companies pay pharmacies in return for stocking their products. Apparently Bradshaw, who was one of the main local opponents to the change in fees last year, is still rather sore about the whole situation.
At the cafe, McGuinty ignored her, and his people quickly and quietly tried to address Bradshaw's concerns. But the media swarmed, and as McGuinty quietly took his leave, Bradshaw successfully took the spotlight. Her point: that the government's elimination of professional allowances has irreparably impacted her business, with Bradshaw saying that the effect on her bottom line is that with her current profit margin, she's basically getting paid like an employee in her own store. 
Bradshaw was asked if she had planned her ambush on the Premier, and whether or not she was a supporter of any particular party. She said that her protest was not planned and that she didn't have any particular political affiliation. But a source tells me that Bradshaw donated $117.41 to the PC association in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot in 2005. She was also heavily involved in the local campaign to protest the change in drug policy and was quoted in many newspaper articles on the subject.
As for the policy itself, a source inside the Liberal campaign told me that it's helped more than it's hindered. They said that the intention of professional allowances was to assist with the proper administration of services at the pharmacy, but instead many of the pharmacy owners were padding their own pockets with it. They also noted that $500 million has been re-invested in healthcare, and that pharmacies have been helped out with $100 million more in funds for dispensing fees. Additionally, rather than then resulting in the closure of independent pharmacies, 63 additional pharmacies have opened in the last year.
But back to the Red Brick, and after the media scrum was over Bradshaw seemed satisfied that her point of view was heard. The pity being, I guess, that a few shouted words over the espresso machine didn't produce a meaningful conversation about an important issue. But then again, this was International Coffee Day, and the Premier was on a coffee break.
One week to go till election day.

Photo Bomb

Greg Schirk campaigner Allan Boynton sent this photo along shortly after the Premier's visit to Guelph this afternoon. It's the McGuinty campaign bus sitting parked along Carden Street in front of a "Wrong Way" sign, which I suppose for the partisan is good for a laugh. It's completely out of context, and I don't know why the campaign bus was stopped there. Perhaps McGuinty was hankering for some sushi, or perhaps he wanted to stop be the Cornerstone and do a cafe tour of Guelph, or maybe something caught his attention in the window at Dis-a-Ray. Of course the notion of Dalton McGuinty doing a pop-in at Ray Mitchell's store offers plenty of comedic material in and of itself, but I digress. Here's the photo:

McGuinty Takes Coffee Break in Guelph

On the occasion of International Coffee Day, Premier Dalton McGuinty stopped at the Red Brick Cafe on Westmount Rd in Guelph on his way to a campaign stop in Cambridge. News of the impromptu stop came quite all of the sudden this morning, but there were about 50 Liberal supporters in attendance along with Liberal candidate and MPP Liz Sandals. McGuinty and his wife Terri hoped off the bus, talked to Red Brick owner Shelley Krieger, placed their order and then helped out the baristas behind the counter.
The stop wasn't meant to be political, and no press questions were taken. There was a moment of controversy, which I will follow up in a later post, and on his way out to the campaign bus, a total of three PC supporters were there to chant at McGuinty that he's got to go, but for the most part, the Premier's visit was short and sweet. Check out the photo slideshow below.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Editorial: Flag Flap

Patriotism achieved.
Apparently there's an epidemic in Canada. An epidemic of people not being allowed to hang the Canadian flag when they want, where they want. Because of this rash of, uh, flag blocking, the Federal government is taking action to make sure that we the people can hang our flag where we deem appropriate and/or necessary.
And a grateful nation says, "We're doing what now?"
I take it this is the kind of proactive action that the people who voted for the Conservatives to a majority situation last spring were expecting. I can only assume that the economic situation is rosier than the Prime Minister's pessimism would have us believe. Or maybe John Carmichael, Tory MP for Don Valley West knows that a more dangerous threat exists to our nation's flags. 
With the support of Heritage Minister John Moore, Carmichael introduced his private member's bill, the National Flag of Canada Act, today. "This proposed law seeks to protect the rights of Canadians to fly their national flag where they live and encourage Canadians across the country to display the national flag, not just on Canada Day or Flag Day, but every day of the year," said Carmichael.
The proposed law would make sure someone is prevent from displaying the flag, as long as it is displayed in a "manner befitting this national symbol," and as long as the flag isn't being used improperly or being desecrated. If you try to get between a man, or woman, and their flag, they will be punished by restraining orders, injunctions, a fine, or a jail term of up to two years. Talk about getting tough on crime.
But is this really a problem requiring immediate government attention? The HuffPost article cites an incident in 2010, where residents of a retirement community in Belle River, ON, were told by the Cooper's Mill Retirement Community homeowners' association that no additions or substitutions were permitted to the exterior of homes without permission, and that included flags. Apparently the association had received complaints from other residents that the flags looked "trailer trashy," but the residents declined to remove their flags. Now the government wants to get their backs in a legal sense. 
I'm reminded of all those times some official in the United States government, with fire and brimstone, saying that their country needs, I mean NEEDS, to pass a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. I guess sometimes flag burning happens every day and in such alarming numbers that only a nip/tuck to the constitution can stop the scofflaws. We're not there yet, but the mere fact that our Conservative government's been sitting in Parliament for a week and a half and is already obsessed with protecting the flag has got me worried. 
There's an uncomfortable obsession in the U.S. between some people and the flag. And while it would upset me to see the Canadian flag set ablaze, I would never want to see a law stop someone from burning that flag in protest. And while some condo administrator may tell you can't fly your flag, he's a jerk, but he's well within his rights too. After all, don't people buy condos for the dullard uniformity and a stringent rule system that makes it happen. And while it might perhaps be strongly encouraged that people who want to hang a Canadian flag properly should be left to do so, do we really need to make sure no one might enforce a contrary opinion with the threat of a jail sentence.
I guess what I mean to say is this is the type of ridiculousness we've come to expect from the Republicans south of the border. The kind of wedge issue politics that keep government leaders with a black and white mindset in power, as others with a more colourful worldview are kept on their toes. "How can you not be for a law that stops people from preventing the display of our nation's colours," or as Moore put it when Bob Rae accused him of trying to "change the channel," "If the opposition are so inclined this can take up no time and we can pass this by unanimous consent." Message: If it's not such a big deal, then why don't you just let it pass.
For the nation's progressives it's another sign that a Conservative majority just might as well mean a Republican government. Super jails, laws to protect the flag and hard right MPs trying to stymie international funding for abortions, and it seems that some members of the government don't mind inflating the perception that some of the nightmares of Canada's left are coming true. But it will be alright. Take one flag pin and call us in the morning, because if you don't they'll report you.

YouTube Blast From The Past

As a subscriber to Retrontario's YouTube page, this little number appeared on my log-in screen today, practically screaming for my attention. Retrontario, for those of you who don't know, is a man who collects old VHS tapes of stuff people recorded off TV, and then digitizes them and posts them on You Tube. They're mostly commercials of just about every kind, from old Canadian Tire ads ("Give Like Santa, But Save Like Scrooge") to CityTV bumpers for old Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ("Your Federation Station," bellows the late Mark Dailey).
The timing of this ad being uploaded is ideal on three counts, 1) It's from the 1985 provincial election, 2) It features a young and scrappy new leader of the New Democrats, and it features him in his first election, just two elections ahead of his eventual ascension to the Premier's office, and 3) That leader was Bob Rae, who is now, of course, interim head of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Let's roll the clip.

Monday, September 26, 2011

No Dead Heat in Guelph

A Forum Research poll released over the weekend has some sad news for people hoping for a changing of the guard in Queen's Park for Guelph, and their supporters. The poll showed that Liberal Liz Sandals will walk to re-election with 37.6 per cent of the vote. PC Greg Schirk comes in second with 30.3 per cent followed by NDP James Gordon and Green Steve Dyck with 21.9 per cent and 8.8 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, province-wide, it remains a toss up as to what the political landscape in Ontario is going to look like a week from Thursday. Across Ontario, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives are in a statistical dead heat, with the NDP in a respectable, but distant 23 per cent. With these numbers and others, ThreeHundredEight.com’s seat projection model shows that the Liberals are likely to win 55 seats, which is one more than they need for a majority. It’s a loss of 15 seats for the Grits, but just barely enough to win their third majority. 
Not to brag, but unless there's a major (or is that minor) change in the situation it appears that the prediction I made on CFRU's Beyond the Ballot Box before the start of the campaign will pan out on Election Day.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The End of Libertarianism

One of the things that stuck out at me in the Guelph Mercury debate was the performance by Libertarian candidate Philip Bender. Bender himself wasn't the problem, his performance was perfectly fine. My problem was the Libertarian doctrine. In the midst of several questions from people looking for government help on matters like transit, education, and healthcare, Bender represented the school of everybody for themselves, and offered lessons no one wanted to learn from.
In the year 2011, after a near total economic collapse and a burgeoning gap between the haves and the have-nots, I wonder how resonating the school of Libertarian thought is. Even the Progressive Conservative candidate, the one most like to have a political ideology to line-up close to the Libertarian perspective, conceded that a degree of government intervention is required. In fact, if you look at the Federal Conservatives reaction to the recession, one might argue that Canadian Conservatives have abandoned all notions of libertarianism. 
The part where Bender lost me is when someone asked about GO Transit, and its imminent, belated return to Guelph. Bender riffed on the idea that government shouldn't be involved in transit, and leave it to the market to decide. And oh yeah, the market has already decided that the car is more efficient, convenient and all around better, so why are we dumping all this money in transit. 
Leaving aside the environmental implications, how about because not everyone can afford to own and operate a car? If there were no buses, I would either have to walk or bike everywhere, regardless of my physical condition, or pay through the nose for a taxi cab everywhere I go. How is society better served when a large percentage of the population that has limited mobility? We have built a society around cars; most people live in one area, shop in another, and work in another still. Can you seriously see someone without a car being easily able to navigate life living in Guelph when there are no buses available either. Heaven forfend if you should work beyond the city limits. 
But that's one issue, and one example. How about the notion of Libertarianism? The idea that the market will out. Given the events of the last couple of years, one would think that people like Bender would be less firm in their faith in "the market." To believe that the market takes care of itself, is to presume that the market is as obsessed with quality as it is with quantity; quantity being profit. Unemployment is still high, and in the U.S. people are still struggling to keep their homes or not default on bills, but the market recovered quickly. The Dow was back over 10,000 inside of a year, and it was continued to hover there despite the ongoing rut of the economy. 
It also presumes that "the market" is a an objective and natural force, like fate or destiny. Libertarians talk as if it's an ethereal notion that knows no bias, and shirks corruption. But "the market" is run by people. People that can be corrupted, taken by greed, obsessed with their own selfishness and self-interest. "The market" as a neutral force, would not have allowed sub-prime mortgages to be sold to begin with. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that selling houses to people that can't afford them, even at an initial cost that's in their ball park, will come to a bad end. 
The other thing about Libertarianism is that it requires us all to be economically equal, or at least that there are no people disadvantaged by the economy so that participation in a market-driven society isn't mitigated by their economic conditions. In a society where you have to make your own way, you have to be able to make your way. Like the example with transit, saying that the market has made cars the preferred mode of transportation only means anything if you can afford to own a car, or better still, if you're physically unable to drive. In this society, people who have a visual impairment, or are out and out blind, are probably left stranded. 
When looking for an image to go with this article, I found the cartoon at the top and was kind of struck with how true it was. But while I've heard anarchists talk about social responsibility in a land of do as you please, it's something I've not heard about from a Libertarian. Saying that government has too much involvement in our lives is one thing, but what happens when government withdraws that support. With corporations becoming more macro in its focus as a result of the global economy, who will look out for the have-nots if government follows suit? Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Guelph Politicast #5 - Liz Sandals

It's almost fitting that the chips fell this way, talking to all her competitors for the seat of Guelph's MPP before talking to our current representative Liz Sandals, who's hoping to get elected for a third time on October 6th. Sandals has come under attack from many of her opponents for unavailable and unattached to the city, bringing edicts from Queen's Park to Guelph rather than talking Guelph concerns to Queen's Park as it were. I asked Sandals about it in the interview and she hit back at that one pretty hard.
Other areas touched upon include Sandals' pet issue education, as well as the environment and her own political future. It was an interesting discussion, and I even got a chance to ask Sandals to describe a day in the life. I don't know if this might get people to see the bigger picture of how jammed an MPP's schedule can be, but like the man said, I report, you decide. 
On a side note, this is the last podcast I have scheduled. I'm going to do what I can to see if I can do a proper sit down with Philip Bender and Julian Ichim, and I'll keep you posted if that materializes. In the meantime, enjoy Politicast #5.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mercury Debate Stays Civil, Has a Few Laughs, But No Blows

The crowd that gathered at the Italian Canadian Club to hear the all-candidates debate between the seven candidates running for MPP of Guelph were treated to hearty and occasionally frank discussion about the issues affecting the people of Guelph. Those of us who watched online, were irked by pop-ups and obnoxiously loud ads.
Still, despite those petty annoyances, there was a lot to appreciate about the night's events. First of all, the Mercury opened the door to all candidates, giving so-called fringe candidates a platform they don't usually enjoy: a major debate. Second, all the candidates came and were ready to have an honest exchange, and nary a spec of mud was slung.
Despite the format and the number of candidates, a lot of ground was covered during the nearly hour and half debate. Here's a breakdown of my thoughts on the debate per candidate:
Philip Bender (Libertarian) - It takes a lot of guts to be one of the two guys to slant right, but it takes even more to be one guy to advocate less government intervention when all the questioners seemed to be inquiring about more. Bender stayed mostly ideological in the debate, not really referring back to Guelph as to how his policies and ideas might affect our city, but even if he did, I don't think it would have mattered much. A lot of people asked questions about transit, help for students, and concerns about healthcare, and Bender's message that the market will out, in the face of those voter concerns, seemed rather hollow.
Liz Sandals (Liberal) - As the incumbent, Sandals took the most hits, but as a wise man once said, it's not how many hits you take, but whether or not you're still standing by the end. By this standard, Sandals rose to the occasion and in the process managed to stay above attacking other parties and driving home the Liberal platform for the future as well as past accomplishments. And despite the discussion about Guelphites feeling like they're not being heard, a percentage of people watching online seemed as if they were hearing Sandals, with many of the insta-polls giving her the edge.
Greg Schirk (PC) - Like Bender, Schirk was the face for the ideological right (albeit centre-right), however unlike Bender, he put a Guelph-minded face on the issues and came across as personable and invested in the Royal City. Schirk's goal for the night was to portray a feasible alternative to Sandals, and to downplay notions, in particular from some further down at the table, that a PC vote isn't a vote for the boogie man. I think he was a success on both counts, and even people online who I know wouldn't vote PC in a million years agree that Schirk seems like a good man, and a good candidate. He also stayed above a lot of personal attacks, and admitted that he didn't like his own party's TV attack ads.
Steve Dyck (Green) - If one person shattered expectations last night, I think it was Steve Dyck. The Green Party candidate came out swinging - hard - and pushed against all the other major party candidates. (If you've listened to the Dyck Politicast, you know that he doesn't even give the NDP benefit of the doubt.) By far, Dyck's biggest strike of the night was on the question of MPP availability, which Dyck accused Sandals of being unavailable when trying to propose a solar energy project for a downtown church, seemingly knocking Sandals off her perch for a brief moment. In all, I think Dyck single-handedly dispelled the popular appearance of the hippie-dippy Green nominee into something that means business. The coup de grĂ¢ce: "I claim those 1,000 [Green] jobs [created in Ontario] for the Green Party."
James Gordon (NDP) - Sticking to form, Gordon was calm and cool, and seemed content to present the NDP platform without trying to make too much hay at the expense of the other candidates. When the opportunity presented itself, he did pile on the "Liz doesn't listen" express, if only to help promote his own efforts to take the conversation directly to the people of Guelph with the past summer's "Listening Tour." 
Drew Garvie (Communist) - Garvie held his own, and along with one other candidate got the best lines of the night. With four campaigns in four years, of course Garvie was arguably the most experienced candidate on stage, and was able to land some pretty compelling blows on the other candidates, and for the his policy on issues.
Julian Ichim (Independent) - Ichim began with a bold statement: "I've caused enough trouble outside of Parliament, imagine what I can do inside." He then expounded on the need to recall elected officials if they fail to meet up to the expectations of their constituents and how the poor have limited access to the system and are often disregarded for the interests of wealthy individuals and corporations. For Ichim, I think the strategy was to sell the contrary point of view, and to make people try and think twice about what's important to them. Of course, Ichim had his somewhat nefarious reputation to combat as well, but I think his message was received.

Guelph Politicast #4 - James Gordon

Will James Gordon be The Music Man that leads Guelph voters to an Orange Wave of our own on October 6th? He certainly thinks so. After years of combining his love of music with his love of community and social values, Gordon is putting his politics to the ultimate test by running as the NDP nominee for Guelph in this Provincial Election. 
From the arts (Hillside Festival), to the environment (Wellington Water Watchers), to community engagement (Guelph Civic League), Gordon has been immersed in politics for so long that running for political office is a natural next step. With a combination of experience and name cache, Gordon is sitting in prime position to make a solid run for Guelph's seat in Queen's Park, and in an Ontario-wide race that seems like a three-way dead heat, Gordon's chances are as good as anyone's. 
With so much to talk about, let's not waste anymore time. Click play below to start the podcast and my interview with James Gordon. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guelph Politicast #3 - Greg Schirk

After going from zero to campaign mode in just over a month, you would think that Greg Schirk would show the strain. He doesn't. In fact, he's beaming, and he talks very joyfully about how much he's enjoying the campaign trail. He could campaign forever, is the message I got, but all campaigns have to end sometime, and Schirk is looking to help the Provincial Tories breakthrough and retake Queen's Park after an eight year drought on October 6th. 
Of all the candidates, Schirk has arguably the best chance of unseating Liberal incumbent Liz Sandals, but he's not taking anything for granted. With a long history in Guelph and a background as a small businessman and salesman, he's got the right credentials to help promote the Tory platform of helping businesses and lowering taxes to get the economy back in the black, but as you listen to the interview you'll also note that Schirk is strong believer in grassroots organizing, and community-focused decision making. 
You can hear those and other tidbits by clicking play below, and, of course, if you haven't already, check out the previous podcasts with Steve Dyck and Drew Garvie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Because an Election Hasn't Really Got Started Till the Word 'Nazi' Comes Up

Not a Real Nazi
Yes, it's another election cycle and people are throwing around the 'N' word. No, not that N-word, the one that has to do with book-burning, concentration camps and goose-stepping across the face of Europe.
Anthony Marco, the NDP candidate in Niagara-West-Glanbrook (which is also PC leader Tim Hudak's riding), has some Liberals calling for his figurative head for a podcast he recorded over a year ago when he made some comments that they're construing as pro-Nazi. The quote they're upset about is as follows:
"For some people the old politics of Nazi Germany might be their religion. And just as I can't condemn other people's religion, I can't, I don't agree with them, but you can't stop somebody from believing in something." [...] "You're the one who is pretty messed up if you're going to devote your entire life to trying to convince somebody not to believe what they believe."
Liberal translation: If you want to believe in the Nazi doctrine of racial superiority then that's okay with Anthony Marco. But as reported by The Huffington Post Canada today, the quote on its own is out of context. Marco prefaced the above quote saying that he doesn't believe in burning books, even if he is against the ideology in a book:
"But there are a couple that I would suggest burning, and it’s not even from an ideological perspective, like 'Oh, burn stuff by Adolf Hitler.' Whatever. If you want to read that stuff, read that stuff. For some people the old politics of Nazi Germany might be their religion..." 
Marco did make an exception for one book though, "If you want something to burn and feel good about it, burn Bieber's book." For me it would be Kardashian Konfidential by the trio of spoiled sisters of the same name, but I also underline the base principle that burning any book is wrong.
Marco also had some choice comments about religion, but those don't seem to be getting him into as much trouble. For the time being, Andrea Horwath, Provincial NDP leader, is standing by her candidate. Hudak hasn't waded in too far saying he'd like to see a transcript before commenting, but the drum plays on for Liberals looking for a wedge.  
In the meantime, the word "Nazi" is teetering so dangerously on the verge of overuse that it threatens to no longer have any real meaning at all. What the Nazis did was awful, and the philosophical undercarriage of Nazism reprehensible, but every out of context use of the term only desaturates it further so that eventually it will as neutral a descriptor as cool, or douchebag. "Dude, why are you being such a Nazi?" "Mom stop being such a Nazi!"  
I don't think that's where we want to go, and I hate to say it, but do you know who else took people's political comments out of context and censured them for it, The Nazis. The circle is now complete.

Guelph Politicast #2 - Drew Garvie

It takes a lot of guile to put your name on a ballot, and it takes a bit more wherewithal to put one's principles to the test by running as third party candidate. But to go there four times in four years takes a special kind of chutzpah, and that's the kind that Communist Party candidate Drew Garvie seems to have. 
You may not agree with his ideals, but I think you'd have a hard time arguing that Garvie isn't passionate, and that perhaps he hasn't become an important contrary voice in the local political scene. It's almost a matter now of not if Garvie will announce his candidacy, but when, and he has certainly become a more experienced campaigner with each passing election.
In this Politicast, I sit down with Garvie to talk about the issues as he sees them, what the term "communist" means to him, and why he's the only candidate calling for the complete repeal of the HST. 
Click play below to list to the podcast.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guelph Politicast #1 - Steve Dyck

Having trouble making voting decisions until you get the Guelph Politco interview? Never fear, because I have finally begun posting my interviews with the candidates running in Guelph this provincial election, and this time, it's a podcast! There will be a podcast for each candidate, so keep coming back here to see when I post the next one until, hopefully, you've heard from all the candidates. 
And I am pleased to say that I've received a warm reception from all the campaigns. The conversations I've had so far have been really good, and it seems like the candidates themselves have been enjoying the format. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner, but better late than never I suppose. It's one small step for multimedia; one giant leap for Guelph Politico.
So without further ado, let's get to the podcast. First up is Steve Dyck, the Green Party of Ontario candidate. I'll save the intro because it's all there in the podcast, so just click play and listen to the conversation.

Rogers Debates Reruns

Courtesy of Guelph Mercury
As predicted, Rogers has released an impressive schedule of future dates in which you can watch last weeks Chamber of Commerce debate at the Cutten Club in case you missed it when it was on live. As well there are future dates for the initial airing and subsequent repeats of this Thursday's Social Justice debate. Check out the press release below:
Rogers TV presents two Guelph candidate debates as part of The Local Campaign on Cable 20.
Guelph residents can find out more about their riding and the candidates running to be their next MPP by watching the debates on Rogers TV, Cable 20, and on rogerstv.com. Coverage starts with the Guelph Riding Debate, hosted by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday, September 20 at 7 AM, 1 PM and 8 PM on Cable 20. The complete schedule of local candidate debates is as follows:
The Local Campaign: Guelph Riding Debates on Rogers TV, Cable 20
Guelph Riding Debate hosted by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce
  • Tuesday, September 20 at 7 AM, 1 PM, 8 PM & Midnight
  • Saturday, September 24 at 8 PM
  • Tuesday, September 27 at 7 AM, 1 PM & Midnight
  • Saturday, October 1 at 1 PM
Guelph Riding Debate hosted by Guelph-Wellington Coalition for Social Justice
  • Thursday, September 22 at 7 AM, 1 PM, 8 PM & 12:30 AM
  • Sunday, September 25 at 11 AM
  • Thursday, September 29 at 7 AM, 1 PM, 8 PM & Midnight
  • Sunday, October 2 at 11 AM
*Schedule is subject to change. Updated schedules will be available at www.rogerstv.com.
“Our debate coverage gives viewers the opportunity to hear from the candidates in their riding and see where they sit on the issues that matter,” says Charles Wechsler, Station Manager, Rogers TV. “The availability of these debates on our channel and website gives voters several opportunities to view the debates before they cast their ballot on decision day.”
On election night, Thursday, October 6, viewers are invited to watch Rogers TV, Cable 20, for the most comprehensive coverage of The Local Results from their riding.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cannabis Club Director Wants Answers About Officer

It was a small item in Friday's Mercury, but an item nonetheless. Const. Chris Panylo, a six-year veteran of the Guelph Police Service was arrested and charged Thursday with theft under $5,000 and breach of trust. He was suspended with pay on July 22nd, and will appear in court on these charges at the end of October. 
The alleged theft took place following a drug case investigated by the police, so it's perhaps unsurprising that someone has quickly stepped forward to call Panylo's credibility on account. Below is a press release from Medical Cannabis Centre of Guelph director Rade Kovacevic, whose downtown business was raided last year by police. 
The Medical Cannabis Centre of Guelph Inc. (MCCG) is very concerned about the allegations that have been reported in the local media about a Guelph Police Constable being charged with theft and breach of trust. Const. Chris Panylo, a six-year veteran of the service, was charged after an investigation into an alleged theft of materials obtained by city police in a drug case.
"I am extremely troubled that there are allegations that a key police constable has committed criminal acts," said Rade Kovacevic, director of the MCCG. "Const. Panylo was very much involved in the allegations against three of my employees, and the allegations against Const. Panylo further raise questions about his credibility in regards to our case."
Three employees of the MCCG were arrested in May of 2010, following search warrants that Const. Panylo was an integral part of compiling surveillance information for. The charges are still before the courts and all three have plead not guilty.
"The MCCG is deeply concerned that over 300 patients have lost their access to medical cannabis that their physician has authorized based largely on information provided in writing by Const. Panylo, who's credibility is now in question due to his arrest and the accompanying allegations that have been made," Mr. Kovacevic explained. "This directly brings to question the legitimacy of their choice to arrest MCCG employees."
The Medical Cannabis Centre of Guelph Inc. (MCCG) was established in 2006. The MCCG is a medical cannabis resource centre and provides both support and information regarding the medicinal use of cannabis. The MCCG is a proud member of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Friday, September 16, 2011

...And Then There Were Seven

Very exciting news today as our election slate has grown by two with the close of nominations yesterday. One is a familiar face to the local ballots, and the other is a familiar face to the local advocacy community.
First, Philip Bender of the Libertarian Party is back on the campaign trail for his first provincial run to represent Guelph. Before that, Bender has been a candidate in the last two Federal elections. He's a professional engineer and once owned and operated a small independent telephone company and an apple orchard.He's also been a volunteer with the Rotary Club of Erin, Erin Township Public Library Board, Erin Community Radio, Ontario Libertarian Party, and Collingwood Regional Airport Commission.
The other candidate is a little more, shall we say, notorious. Julian Ichim will run in Guelph as an independent after several previous runs in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, most recently this past spring as the Marxist-Leninist candidate for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding. Ichim first came to prominence in Guelph after taking part in the Hanlon Creek Business Park protest and was one of the organizers of the G20 protests in Toronto last summer. 
With these final two additions, the slate for the 2011 Provincial Election in Guelph is complete, the nomination period closed at 2 pm yesterday. To see the full, official list of candidates, click here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back on the Trail

Well, it's about half way through September, it's an election month and I've what, put up like three posts since the month began? Pretty pathetic, right? Well, pretty busy is more like it. I've spent the better part of the last two weeks covering the Toronto International Film Festival, and though we like to talk about what a multifaceted society we are, sometimes the reality is we can only take one thing at time. So that's where we are, mid-September and not a lot of movement on a political blog in the middle of an election campaign.
But that is about to change. With TIFF officially behind me I will be now moving on with election coverage from now until October 6th. Candidate interviews? Yes, I'll be doing candidate interviews, the first one is tomorrow point of fact. I'm doing something different this election season, I'll actually be producing podcasts of my candidate interviews, and I'm going to try and get all the candidates on a podcast. We'll see if I can do it, I have three out of five candidates booked so far. 
I'll also be trying to do daily posts, parsing the issues and checking out campaign events. We'll see what happens, but it's been a surprisingly quiet campaign so far. Maybe it's because of the ill-timed early September start of the election, a busy time with kids getting back to school and people getting back into their routines after August vacations, but every election has its own excitement, and now I'll be digging in to find it.
See you on the election trail.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Drew's Back for Round Four

Communist Party candidate Drwew Garvie has officially added his name to the list of local candidates running for the riding of Guelph in the 2011 Provincial Election.
Garvie first ran in the 2007 Provincial Election, eventually winning .4 per cent of the vote. Running the next fall in the Federal Election, he didn't finish as well with only .13 per cent of the popular vote, but he did however capitalize on that in this past spring's Federal Election, increasing his vote share to .17 per cent True it doesn't sound like much, but for a so-called third party candidate, literally every vote counts.
Here's the announcing press release from the Garvie campaign:
Drew Garvie announced today that he will once again be the Communist Party’s candidate in Guelph, in the upcoming October 6th provincial election. He will be one of nine candidates running for the Communist Party in the election on a platform of “real, progressive change for Ontario.”
Drew Garvie, 26, is a service sector worker, part-time student, and a campus and community activist. He was the Communist candidate in Guelph in the 2007 provincial election, as well as in the last two federal elections.
Drew supports the student movement in its call for universal, quality public education at all levels and calls for the elimination of tuition fees, massively increasing public education funding, and stopping military recruitment and privatization on campus. He actively protests Canada's war in Afghanistan and is a supporter of the Six Nations reclamation in Caledonia.
“Youth and working-people in Ontario are justifiably angry at the Liberal Government for protecting corporate wealth and privilege while real wages and living standards are falling, real unemployment is rising and the real economy is tottering on the edge of another deep recession. But voting Tory to punish the Liberals is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” Garvie commented.
The Communist Party is calling on working people to block the right, and to elect a progressive block of MPPs, including Communists to fight for policies that will put people’s needs ahead of corporate greed. Full employment policies, strong social programs and public services, quality healthcare and accessible post-secondary education, and progressive tax reform and tax relief for working people.
Garvie and the Communist Party will also be raising policies that the larger political parties refuse to raise such as scrapping the regressive HST entirely and replacing it with a truly progressive tax system that taxes those with the ability to pay, the “greedy and not the needy”.
The Communist Party works with the labour and democratic movements, and all those who struggle for peace, democracy, equality, sovereignty, and social progress. The CPC’s history has been intertwined with the struggles of labour and the peoples’ movements 1921, when it was founded in Guelph, Ontario.  It is the second oldest political party in Canada.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Election News

Also in 2014.
As I was covering the opening of James Gordon's campaign office last night, something strange occured to me: I'm about to start covering the last campaign in Guelph till 2014. 
I know. It seems weird after having three elections in less than a year that we won't be having an election again until Fall 2014, the next municipal election. That's three long years with no election news. I might not even be still doing this blog in three years (although I probably will). 
Just a little reminder to enjoy this election season while you can. And get out and vote because we'll be stuck with our three levels of government for a while from October 7th on.

Summer Editorial Series: The Conclusion – Has Guelph Changed?

Sometimes wading into the online debate and trying to make common sense of the issues is like yelling at chestnuts for being lazy. If you’re interested in sampling some of the Whitmanesque wit that makes up the Guelph political discourse, one needn’t look any further than the comment section on the latest blog post at 59 Carden St.
The topic du jour was last week’s unveiling of a new logo for Guelph Transit, a mitigating nugget of public relations to help cover for the fact that we won’t actually get our new routes and schedule till the late fall, and won’t step foot in the inter-module transit hub till next spring. Many of the comments were about the wasteful cost of an obviously aesthetic manoeuvre, but never underestimate the anonymity of the internet to allow for the most puerile and base comments to be made in the name of “debate.”
Let’s scroll down, as it were, to a couple of comments in particular. “Waiting for a slow, roundabout ride that almost gets you there, accompanied by the smelly freak show, is for people who can't afford better,” said a regular poster named Grumpy Old Corporal. Adds Doug, of no fixed last name, “If you think that a new logo and slogan will get me out of my car, so I can ride with drooling, mumbling staggering, rude, loud, profane, sloppy and the freak show of Guelph. You're crazy!”
First of all, you know your day’s gone topsy turvy when Grumpy Old Corporal is the voice of reason, and regulars on 59 Carden Street know what I’m talking about. Second of all, would these guys say any of this aloud if not for the anonymity of the internet? I’d bet my bus fare that if Doug or Grumpy ever come into direct contact with the Hills Have Eyes mob from central casting that is apparently the transit using population of Guelph, they’d be too busy trying to not lose control of their bowels.
But this isn’t about the not-so-startling lack of civility on the internet. This piece is about a tonal shift I’ve been sensing in Guelph for some time now. (Hence the above name of the piece.) Now granted, the internet is a terrible place to gauge the temperament of people on average since it typically attracts extremists from both ends, but I’m thinking of something more basic. A gut feeling. This isn’t the city that fought Wal-mart tooth and nail for 10 years. This isn’t the town that revels in, as my friend Oliver from CFRU observes, being the Berkley of Canada. Heck, this isn’t even the place they took Mondex for test drive in back in the 90s.
Remember Mondex? It was to the debit card what HD-DVD was to Blu-Ray. Never mind.
I guess what I’m trying to say, simplistically, is Guelph used to be cooler. Don’t get me wrong, Guelph can still be cool, and is infinitely more cooler than, say, Burlington, but I do feel, what I will call a “Stepford Effect,” creeping into the works. The Stepford Effect, of course referring to Bryan Forbes’ subversive cult classic, where in people start imposing a set of characteristics on a city for what it should be, not what it can be or what it is. A city should have low taxes, lots of shopping, malleable borders, a quiet downtown, and no roustabouts with a cause ready to disrupt.
The assumption now is that Guelph, as it was, is wrong. Being known as the place that held out for so long against Wal-Mart is bad for business. Being known as a place where conscientious objectors occupied green space to try and stymie urban sprawl is bad for business. Despite the fact that our downtown is a centre of arts of culture, you better not put up posters to promote and celebrate that culture because the city will slam you with fees. Then, when its time for a budget crunch, we’ll always make sure to cut transit first, because no one worthy of being pandered to takes public transit. Oh, and by the way, in the one area of the city where we know the highest concentration of low-income people live, we’ll support the closing of the area’s only discount store and replace it with a mid-priced furniture outlet, because there’s one thing our city’s poor needs it’s not paying a cent on a new living room set till 2013.
As with any editorial piece, I don’t mean to say that my way is the right way, but the intent, like with all my editorials this summer, is to try and get people to think and promote dialogue. This is the complete opposite of the intent of the above comments discussed, but it seems like this the only kind of conversation that counts anymore. As we head into a new election cycle, let’s try and reverse that trend together.
And now, on with the news…