Thoughts on the BC NDP 50th Anniversary Convention #bcndp50

imageThis weekend was the first time I’ve ever attended a political convention, so I was quite happy that I was able to represent my riding as the youth representative (which came with a discounted admission).

I wasn’t the first convention-virgin there, although a couple people in attendance had attended the first BC NDP convention back in 1961.

You can read my play-by-play thoughts on my Twitter stream under #bcndp50. I can be seen tweeting from the convention #tweetup at the right of the picture.

Continue reading Thoughts on the BC NDP 50th Anniversary Convention #bcndp50

The light at the end of the tunnel…

This afternoon I defend my masters thesis, after which I will hopefully have only a few minor corrections and then I will have earned my masters in physics. I also hope to be done school for a while, so if you know of any good job openings…

But the busy life won’t end this afternoon.

This weekend I will be one of the Vancouver-Point Grey delegates to the BC NDP’s 50th Anniversary Convention. I won’t be live-blogging it, but I will try to tweet updates. There’s a federal leadership townhall on Saturday from 4:30-6 PM, so those tweets will be under #ndpldr while general convention tweets will be under #bcndp50. I’ll try to make it to one of Brian Topp’s meet-and-greets at The Lion’s Pub (either Friday or Saturday night) and we’ll see if I can find any other leaders.

After the convention I will have my corrections and then holiday parties begin. Then I head to Alberta for Christmas, but will be back in Vancouver by New Years.

In other words, I will try to get some blogging in next week, but otherwise it might be quiet around here until January.

Nathan Cullen, the republican NDP candidate? #ndpldr

Nathan Cullen seems to be finding his niche as the controversy candidate in the federal NDP leadership race.

His first idea to hold joint nomination meetings quickly moved him to the bottom of a number of peoples ballots, but I’m reconsidering him given his latest statement

Hold a plebiscite on the future of the monarchy in conjunction with a referendum on voting reform. This would be the first time citizens have been asked about whether the monarchy plays a valuable role in 21st Century Canada.  It’s hoped the results would guide Parliament and legislatures on Constitutional changes, should Canadians indicate a desire for change.

Wow, I didn’t know Cullen was a republican, although he ironically referred to himself as a democrat in an interview with The Tyee. Anyone who says the monarchy “irks” them is good in my books.

He does note that the monarchy issue is a “distracting” debate and that there are more pressing issues that he’d deal with.

See also: The Globe and Mail.

John Horgan on Smart Meters

I wrote this morning’s post last night and scheduled it, assuming in part that it would be a few weeks to never when I received a reply (as if often the case with many politicians).

It was to my surprise then that one of the first emails I read this morning was a reply from John Horgan. He actually responded to me before I posted this letter!

Anyways, his response displays honesty and a respect for democracy. I think the skeptics can feel safe with the BC NDP for now.

Good morning Ian, thanks for the e-mail.

I have been monitoring the smart meter program since it was announced in 2007.  I have significant concerns about the cost of the initiative and the absence of an independent assessment of the benefits or possible impacts of the technology.  In addition, I do not believe time of use metering will have much impact on conservation.  Our water based system is not as sensitive to hourly price spikes as thermal based utilities.  Our conservation activities should be focused on reducing overall consumption, not just peak times as the smart meters plan proposes.

I am not a physician nor a physicist. I have received over 5000 e-mails from people that profess an intolerance to wireless radiation.  I have no concern about impacts to my health, but they most certainly do.  I was asked to table a petition as is my right and responsibility as a Member of the Legislature and that is what I did last Thursday -  15,528 signatures.

Evidence will always guide my personal activity. I do not fear monger. If you have issues with the StopSmartmeters website, I suggest you contact them.


John Horgan

#ndpldr Peggy Nash in Vancouver

In my whirlwind tour last night, I first saw Paul Dewar before racing downtown to catch Peggy Nash’s meet and greet at the Railway Club.

While Dewar’s event was held in a large condo meeting room, a slightly larger crowd packed into the small backroom of the Railway Club (where Skeptics in the Pub downtown meets) to meet Nash. While Dewar’s event had pop, chips, veggies, cookies, and some leftover Halloween candy, Nash’s event had veggies and mini-sandwiches – a happy sight since I hadn’t had time to find dinner. Sadly it was still a cash bar, but I wouldn’t hold that against any candidate.

Venues and snacks aside, I still didn’t walk away from Nash’s event as impressed as I was with Dewar. I met a friend there and we were both a little underwhelmed with the buzz and feel-good fluff that composed most of her speech.

I re-listened to it again this morning and I think the above characterization is a bit harsh, but listen yourself:

Peggy Nash speech

I think she planned on taking more questions later in the evening, but I was getting a bit tired and the room was hot, noisy, and crowded, so I snuck off, had a beer, and went home.

Her speech focussed a lot on what we need to differently than Harper, specifically focussing on the economy, becoming the greenest country, and working together as a country. Proposals may come later, but after witnessing the winning policy-heavy campaigns of Naheed Nenshi and Alison Redford, it makes me long for something more substantive.

The final thing I’ll say about her event is that while she attracted an enthusiastic crowd of all ages, it was a very heterogeneous crowd – predominantly Caucasian. Perhaps this was due to the venue and location difference, but it was a bit striking.

Regardless, I haven’t written her off after last night, but I was much more impressed with Paul Dewar last night.

#ndpldr Paul Dewar in Vancouver

I should note first that Nathan Cullen, a BC MP and NDP leadership candidate will be meeting tonight at 5pm at The Greedy Pig on Cordova St. I’m still trying to decide if I’ll go or if I need a break from running between events. I have said a few words before about Cullen’s proposals.

After meeting Thomas Mulcair last week, last night I raced around Vancouver and got to meet NDP leadership candidates Paul Dewar and Peggy Nash. Last night was a busy evening as I ran from SFU in Burnaby to King Edward Village (at Knight and Kingsway) for a meeting with Paul Dewar to the Railway Club downtown for Peggy Nash’s event.

My best advice is that you shouldn’t try to do this. After each of these events I like time to sit and collect my thoughts and impressions about the candidate, but this time I was running from one event to the other and only just made it in time for Nash’s speech. Luckily, I grabbed a video of Dewar and the audio of Nash (the lighting in pubs is too poor for good video) so you and I can review their speeches today.

My initial impressions though are that Paul Dewar quite exceeded my expectations, while Peggy Nash was a bit underwhelming. Since I have quite a bit to say, I’ll cover Paul Dewar first and post about Peggy Nash’s event in a subsequent post.

This is perhaps mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dewar. I’ve never really heard him speak, and I had partially written him off after being disappointed by his religious views. Yet last night he came off smart, articulate, friendly, and focussed on issues. Unlike Thomas Mulcair who cruised the bar quickly, shaking hands but failing to really connect with anyone, Dewar seemed genuinely interested in everyone he spoke to.

When he spoke to issues about how to promote social democratic values, he talked about the need to promote positive policies that will prove that social democracy is good for the economy. His example, dear to my heart as a masters of science student, was our current (and arguably failing) approach of giving research tax credits to industry. He says we should instead be looking to places with better success, like the German model of investing in public research institutions.

He also suggested establishing a national green energy grid to get renewable electricity efficiently across the country. I could see some federal-provincial conflict here, but I think it’s better to be too visionary than too cautious here.

In the question and answers he was also asked about the Israel-Palestine issue. As foreign affairs critic, Dewar had little trouble establishing a firm and respectable position. He fully supports a two-state solution established peacefully. Canada’s role, he argued, was to start doing our parts again, and to act as a leader to other countries. By getting each country to do a little bit, he says the peace process will get moving again. Specifically, our part involves reinvesting in the UNRWA who help out on the ground in Palestine and by supporting refugee programs – both things Canada used to do.

He was also asked about growing the party, to which he didn’t just give platitudes about the grassroots, but called for more on the ground organizers, and constituency associations in every riding.

The event organizers basically had to cut him off from taking more questions, but he also answered a question about the Occupy protests. He says New Democrats get the protests and should fight not just for tax fairness, but tax justice. He ruled out any sales tax increases and promised to recover money from tax havens. He was also asked about his position on unions in the NDP, to which he said they are an important part as unions helped form the NDP, but that union values are also NDP values and that the NDP needs to fight for those rights (pensions, labour laws, etc.) for everyone. Finally, federal NDP candidate Meena Wong asked about how to increase diversity in the party, to which Dewar responded that we need to keep reaching out in the same way that Jack Layton and Olivia Chow reached out to her.

Also in the audience was Sheryl Palm, wife of MP Don Davies (who was in the air during the meeting). She said she hadn’t made up her mind, but lived so close to the event that it was worth checking out.

I will finally mention that the event had a very diverse audience with young and old, and a mix of ethnicities. It may have just been partially a function of the area, but it was definitely a promising mix.

Paul Dewar will be back in Vancouver on November 20th and will be speaking for my riding, Vancouver-Quadra at the NDP constituency association AGM.

Here’s the video of his speech:

#ndpldr Is Quebec the key?

First, I’m going to try to tag the titles of future posts about the NDP leadership race with #ndpldr. This way if you don’t care you can skip over or if you do you can perk up. It also makes the posts a bit more obvious when they get posted to Twitter.

The quick question I want to consider this morning is this standard media narrative that whoever wins the NDP leadership must appease Quebec first and foremost.

The standard line of thought is that since the NDP elected 59 MPs in Quebec in May, that they will need a leader who is popular in Quebec and will win over the francophone vote to hold Fortress Layton. The argument is not without merit, the Quebec caucus counts for over half of the total NDP seats, but I still think it is misguided.

Poll numbers and Threehundredeight’s seat projections are starting to suggest that the NDP has reached a ceiling in Quebec. It’s possible that they may squeak a bit higher, but even the Conservatives have trouble breaking 60% in Alberta. Sure 60% will give you all but one seat, but there’s only 75 seats in Quebec. A gain of 15% in Quebec would translate to 10-12 more seats in total while potentially risking seats in BC and Alberta to Western isolationism.

In the next election there will be 30 new MPs. 3 of these MPs will come from Quebec while 27 will be scattered across BC, Alberta, and Ontario. If the NDP wants to form the next government, they need to win these provinces. Ontario alone will account for over 1/3 of the seats in the country.

The NDP currently has no seats in Saskatchewan despite winning 32% of the vote there. Meanwhile they only have 35 seats in BC, Alberta, and Ontario combined (minus one vacated by Jack Layton, RIP). In 2014 these four provinces will total 211 seats.

Whoever wants to be the next prime minister doesn’t need to win Quebec. He or she needs to be able to hold the majority of those seats, but also needs to reach out strongly to the West.

The NDP was born in the West, now it’s time to take it back.

Paul Dewar ALSO in Vancouver Thursday

For those who can’t get enough of NDP leadership candidates, Thursday looks like a good day to live in Vancouver.

I just found the Facebook event for Paul Dewar’s planned appearance at King Edward Village (Knight and Kingsway) at 5:30 PM.

This event is scheduled to wrap up just before Peggy Nash makes her appearance at the Railway Club downtown at 7:00 PM.

Nash has been tweeting from Occupy Vancouver and the CUPE meeting in town. I wonder if Dewar will be around either of those events.

Even more interesting would be to see Nash attend Dewar’s event and vice-versa. The relative attendance at each event ought to be a good early indicator of their support levels.

I’ll definitely attend Nash’s event (since I heard of it first and her campaign interests me more), but if I can make it work, I may try to attend both events. You can look forward to some updates on Friday.

Peggy Nash in Vancouver this Thursday

Vancouver will get another NDP leadership candidate through town this Thursday when Toronto MP and (former) Finance Critic Peggy Nash comes to town. Brian Topp has already visited once, Nathan Cullen announced his race here, and Thomas Mulcair was here last week.

She’ll be meeting up with people at the Railway Club downtown (Seymour and Dunsmuir) and I’ll try to get a recording of any speech she might give.

More details are available on Facebook.

Thomas Mulcair in Vancouver

While I didn’t manage to get a picture, tonight I did get to meet Thomas Mulcair, leadership candidate for the federal NDP, deputy leader, and Quebec MP.

Mulcair was a polished politician in the small Dentry’s Pub. He managed to shake the several dozen hands a couple times each. He remarked to me that it’s better to introduce yourself twice instead of never.

Once the crowd had assembled and he’d made his first round he gave a brief speech. I recorded it on my phone (I was at a bad angle so I just took audio), and you can listen here:


Continue reading Thomas Mulcair in Vancouver