Tommy Douglas and the NDP opposed the War Measures Act. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, it wasn’t politically expedient and it wasn’t popular … but defending civil liberties was the right thing to do.
Yesterday a National Post article on the NDP’s rising fortunes went viral in political circles. It’s easy to see why it was shared so much; the article was reporting on the latest Forum poll which indicated the NDP support was rising – It was a perfect mix between good news, a great headline and the understanding among New Democrats that if even the National Post admits the NDP’s surging then it must be true.
But the article left out one of the most datasets from the poll – where the new support is coming from.
Forum asked the 1756 people it polled who they supported in the 2011 election (The sample was relatively accurate) and who they are considering supporting now. By looking at this data we can see how people have changed and the dataset is very interesting….
The NDP and the Conservatives are fairly stable, retaining about 80%. In the case of the NDP, I think this means we have retained the majority of the swing voters who supported us in 2011 but there have been some atrophy and we will need to do more work to outreach to them. In the case of the conservatives, I’d say that the slight drop corresponds with what we’ve seen in recent polls. The principle difference here is that the NDP gained a lot of new supporters in the final weeks of the election, including from people who have never voted NDP before, you might expect that there might be some shifting afterwards. The loss of some CPC support might be more significant because they did not have a huge swing in the final days of the election (outside of minor increases in some Ontario regions).
More significantly, the data shows the movement from other parties to the NDP.
I don’t think it is a stretch to say that it appears that the left is uniting around the NDP and that Canadians are looking for a strong, viable alternative to the Conservative Party.
Hopefully the trend continues….
(Read the whole Forum poll here – the crosstabs are sixteen pages long but it’s quite interesting)
When Thomas Mulcair raised important questions about the effects of high (and rapidly growing) oil exports on the economy, the conservatives said he was pitting region against region.
In fact, not only is Mulcair not doing that, but it is the conservatives who are pitting the west versus the East.
The recently announced changes to EI will most affect Atlantic Canada.
In the course of 2010 and 2011, about 4 or 5% of the adult populations of BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario used EI at least once. Québec was 6.4%. However, in Atlantic Canada EI, about 12% of people in New Brunswick relied on the service, 9.3% in Nova Scotia and 16% in both PEI and Newfoundland needed to access EI at least once. (See the chart below or this link for figures)
The reason is partially because of seasonal employment, a staple of Atlantic Canadian life. However, seasonal workers are implicated being targeted by the new EI rules which targets repeat EI users (and maybe this is a good time to remind that EI is not charity or a government perk, it’s something everyone pays into as insurance…)
Here’s what the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (a Progressive Conservative) Kathy Dunderdale said:
“There seems to be a real disconnect between what the federal government is trying to achieve and the reality of peoples’ lives in rural parts of the country — particularly here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
And regarding the new EI rules:
When the industry closes down because the season has closed, then there’s not somewhere to travel to. … Such a statement offends me — truly it does. All of us want to work towards the goals of having long-term, sustainable employment for our citizens that pays a living wage. But there are challenges, and you have to realize what people are living with every day, in their communities, in their homes, and the challenges that they have to face in terms of making the transition from part-time to full-time employment.
We expect our government to be responsible. They do have responsibilities to all of the people of this country of which we are a part.
Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz said the policy would have a negative impact on his province:
On Prince Edward Island we are very fortunate that our three largest industries are still agriculture, fisheries and tourism – all industries that are seasonal in nature. We are different than downtown Toronto and we are different than downtown Calgary.
The President of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association echoed those concerns:
You’re only giving us six weeks of unemployment and then we have to find a job. That’s going to be interesting here on Prince Edward Island. The jobs are not here. Plus we’re working. We have jobs to deal with. We’re filling gear. We’re painting buoys, repairing the boat – in order to get ready for next season.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said:
They seem to be saying there’s some widespread abuse that needs to be fixed. The people who they most seem to be targeting are actually those who are in seasonal jobs. That’s not an abuse, that’s part of the rural culture of Canada.
Beth Densmore, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture said, “Without it (EI), our industry will suffer.”
The Economic Manager of Sydney in Cape Breton called the policy change ‘one of the biggest threats to the development of Cape Breton’s economy’. He said:
To the extent that these types of policies are actually implemented, they’ll have a tremendous impact on Atlantic Canada. There’s tens of thousands of people who work in seasonal industries who have relied upon employment insurance to carry them through a full year.
The president of the Cape Breton Labour Council said it was “an attack on the region”.
Unemployment in the Atlantic provinces has been a long standing problem, my father (and many others) left 1970s Nova Scotia for opportunities elsewhere. Attacking the seasonal industries of fishing, farming and forestry is not going to help Atlantic Canada. We need to respect these industries as part of the Canadian way of life.
This isn’t about ‘reform’ … it’s about the fact that the Reform Party, and later the Alliance, and now it seems the CPC just don’t like people who use EI. They think using EI means you’re lazy, playing into a sterotype of Easterner’s ‘living off the system.
To highlight what I mean, here’s another quote: In 1995, Diane Ablonczy, then a Calgary Reform MP, now a CPC minister, said Atlantic Canada had “an unwelcome dependence on the social program known as unemployment insurance.”
Oh, and the Government is cutting the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency by 16 million and is eliminating support for regional development agencies. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/22/nb-acoa-funding-regional-economic.html)
This is divisive, pitting region against region and bad for the economy.
Every political organizer should know Saul Alinsky.
He was an organizer, leftie and self-proclaimed radical in the early to mid-20th century and wrote what should be considered the definitive handbook for anyone trying to organize political action. A legitimate criticism of Alinsky is that he’s world is a little black-and-white (those who have power and those who don’t, those who are rich and the have-nots, etc.) and his model for organizing doesn’t leave much space for consensus approaches. However, that being said, when it comes to pressure tactics or using conflict in social justice, Saul Alinsky literally wrote the book.
Rules for Radicals is Alinsky’s second book and focuses on 1) what it is to be a radical or community organizer, 2) ethics for organizers and, most importantly, 3) rules or tactics for political action.
A couple of my mentors referenced and taught me about Alinsky. And so informative and guiding is Rules for Radicals that I`ve given it out at least a half dozen times to young activists I was mentoring. I’ve reread or referenced this book every couple years or so, whenever I know I’m be working on a prolonged political struggle or need to think about strategy.
While I have some problems with some of Alinsky’s thoughts on ethics in a political struggle, his thoughts about tactics and strategies for organizing are extremely helpful. It has been suggested that the Tea Party used Alinsky-like strategies in their rise, Obama said that Alinsky was a contributing influence in his early days as a community organizer and Hilary Rodham (Clinton) wrote her senior thesis on Alinsky’s organizing methods.
This is a must have on any political bookshelf.
Title: Rules for Radicals (1971)
Author: Saul Alinsky
Price: Less than $15
A few years ago my aunt and uncle would probably never have considered voting NDP; now they are solidly in the NDP column.
They represent the newest demographic group to dramatically swing to the NDP, on top of the previously reported surge of NDP support among rural voters, urban/suburban men and women.
The increased support for the NDP by seniors was first reported more than a week ago by CARP, the Canadian Association of Retired People, in the Toronto Star. They reported that in their annual survey of members only 31 percent supported the Conservatives, down from above 50%, and 39% supported the NDP. This meant that the NDP had a major boost and was now polling first, although narrowly, in this category.
To be honest, when I first read the story about the CARP results I was skeptical. The CARP membership survey is not a scientific poll but is opt-in (because people have to join CARP, and then they have to take the time to do the survey). And in addition, CARP asked members what they thought about the OAS changes which, depending on the order that questions were asked, may have created some bias in the results ….
However, now we have another poll with similar results.
The new Environics poll, which was released Thursday (and was pretty much ignored by the media), shows the NDP in a 36-32% lead over the Conservatives. More importantly they released party breakdowns by age.
Here’s what they found:
According to Environics, the NDP has support of 39% vs. 34% (CPC) in the 45-59 age group and 39% vs. 37% among those above sixty years old. The sample size of the poll was 800 people and it had a margin of error at 3.5%, which would be larger in the subcategories. Because of the MOE it is hard to say for sure that the NDP is leading the Conservatives with seniors but this still is a significant boost.
And it’s important for several reasons: 1) Seniors are far more likely to vote (3 times more likely to vote than someone from 20 to 25 years old), 2) Seniors have traditionally been one of the bases of support for the Conservatives … and because, they are spread out and represent a vote boost in every riding across the country.
The orange surge continues …
Note: The entire poll results can be found here (PDF)
There was a Disney movie made a couple years ago on the basis of a businessman writing a blank cheque for a kid whose bike he had hit. The kid wrote ‘a Million dollars’ and used the cheque to buy a mansion, a waterslide and have a lot of fun.
What would you do with a blank cheque?
You’d probably have a pretty good time, right? Do whatever you want? Wouldn’t have to listen to your boss or get along with your co-workers anymore? It would almost be like winning the lottery, right?
Dalton McGuinty and Ontario’s Liberals want a blank cheque.
They want to be able to do whatever they want, without having to worry about what their boss (the people) might think. And they don’t want to have to get along with their co-workers?
They want a majority.
And they won’t say what they’ll do if we give them …
Get involved in the effort to keep McGuinty accountable. If you’re near Kitchener consider volunteering, if you’re in Kitchener-Waterloo don’t vote to give McGuinty a blank cheque …
Political Bookshelf: The fundraising book every organizer should have!
I feel that fundraising is an important skill for an organizer and I feel so strongly that it`s a useful tool to have in politics that I dedicated one of my first posts to the topic of the topic.
But in arguing that organizers should learn the art of effectively fundraising, I was trying to make it clear that I feel fundraising is a highly specialized skill, just like volunteer management or communications. Fundraising is something that should be studied and taught, it`s not something you just start doing and expect to do it well (although some people and groups try).
I have had a fairly high degree of success in my fundraising experience and I have a lot of people to thank for that, people who mentored me, taught me or showed me tips along the way and I took two crash courses in fundraising (one from the NDP, the other from the United Way) … but above and beyond all that, I have to thank Kim Klein for making me the fundraiser I am.
Her book ‘Fundraising for Social Change’ has helped me out a lot and I highly recommend it. It’s an all-out manual for progressives or non-profits covering everything from who donates in a society (hint: it’s mostly individuals), why people donate, how to ask for money, how to write a letter, how to plan events to budgeting best practices and long-term strategic fundraising planning.
I am going to try to write about many of these things with this blog over time (and link to other people doing the same), if you really want to know about fundraising and have the depth of knowledge to be an authority on the subject … get this book!
Author: Kim Klein
Price: I have the fifth edition (shown here) which can be bought online fairly cheaply. The sixth edition has just come out and can be bought on amazon for $45 US.
So what makes Kim Klein so qualified to speak on this topic? Well, 31 years ago she founded the bimonthy ‘Grassroots Fundraising Journal’ to talk about fundraising for social cause. That has since morphed into the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, which you should check out, although they still publish the journal. And she has raised more money for more causes using grassroots tactics than I could even start to dream about….
In fact, it’s so awesome a book that its actually used in some college courses for students getting a degree in fundraising (see, I told you it was a specialized skill, there are even degrees in it).
This is worse than all the misspending, insider charges and abuse of tax dollars.
The women, Judy Dearman, needed to be transferred from a rural hospital to an urban one. It was an emergency. It took six hours for the air ambulance to arrive amid confusion. She died. If she had gotten there earlier she might not have …
The family is alleging that Ornge is at fault … while I’d hate to make a claim of their negligence here, the family has a strong case. Read the article and decide for yourself.
When will the government step in and say that Ornge has been a costly and fatal experiment with privatization of essential services?
Surely we can agree that air ambulances are an important public good … why not have them managed by the public?
This morning we found out that the Conservatives are planning to change the EI rules so that someone on EI has to take whatever jobs are available regardless of if they are in their field.
As Peggy Nash said, “It is a colossal waste of skills if we have people who are trained as computer engineers or teachers or nurses or electricians who are working in retail, Tim Hortons or picking fruit in the agricultural sector because it means they may not be available when a job in their field comes open.”
The news of this change caused a bit of fun on social media as people pointed out all the different #FlahertyJobs, or #JimJobs, you could be forced to take. Like Shark Tank cleaner, or CN tower window washer, or Jim Flaherty’s assistant.
Well, I thought I’d join the fun….
Feel free to share!