Bill C-51 and the challenge to civil society

not democratic

If Bill C-51 passes in the Senate this week, our civil society in this country will once again have an opportunity—and more importantly, a responsibility—to publicly signal that our political climate in Canada has undergone a sea change, and that it therefore can’t be business as usual.

This is a crucial test for LeadNow that will determine its future legitimacy with other activists and supporters across the country. If they don’t publicly signal that there has been a sea change, LeadNow’s supporters and allies could be forgiven for thinking either that there hasn’t been one—or, if they already understand it, for thinking that LeadNow is actually willing to become complicit in a police state by supporting Liberals in their strategic voting campaign.

Make no mistake: we need to rethink things. And make no mistake: it is a police state. As our country’s pre-eminent constitutional lawyer, Rocco Galati said yesterday at the Stop C-51 rally in Toronto (in a speech posted by LeadNow to their Facebook page):

What this legislation creates, and make no mistake about it, is a modern day Gestapo. No exaggeration, that’s what it creates—and if it’s passed, it’s created it… I’m not politically partisan, but I’ll say two things: that any MP who voted for this bill should not get any Canadian citizen’s vote; [and] any candidate who’s running for a party who voted for this bill should not get a Canadian citizen’s vote. This is quite clearly a fascist and dictatorial piece of legislation, and appeasement of it is unacceptable.

If LeadNow doesn’t publicly signal that they are rethinking their strategic voting campaign in light of Bill C-51’s passage, then that group will have utterly failed in its role as an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan agent of democracy. They will have gained a prominent opponent in the person of Rocco Galati (the David Suzuki of constitutional law in this country) and many others who have fought on this campaign. Most importantly, they will continue to lose credibility with all Canadians who have been paying attention to Bill C-51, who are waking up to it more and more each day, and who will be following what is about to become the most important Canadian court case in at least a generation (to be led by Galati), which will challenge its constitutionality.

In short, they will be both on the wrong side of history, and actively strengthening the forces that brought us to this point in our history. They will not be agents of meaningful change, but rather, agents of repression and totalitarianism.

This kind of utter failure by LeadNow—a failure both to correctly and justly recognize the dangers posed by this bill, and a failure to courageously respond to it—wouldn’t just be a disappointment for their progressive allies in civil society. It would be shattering for all of those in Canada who want and need and expect their institutions of civil society to help protect our democracy.

Chris Wiseman
Editor, Stop Bill C-51 Facebook community page

Under Liberal pressure to quit, LeadNow steps up fight against C-51


It appears the Liberal Party has encouraged a high profile member of the Stop C-51 campaign to, in the words of the campaigner, “declare victory and go home.”

Jamie Biggar, campaigns director for the online advocacy group LeadNow, which has spearheaded the campaign in cooperation with OpenMedia and a broad coalition of other groups, has agreed to go public with his statements about interactions with an official from the Liberal party headquarters in Ottawa.

“[H]e was trying to persuade me that it [was] in my best interest to do what he perceived to be in his best interest,” said Biggar, by “try[ing] to turn the conversation back onto the economy,” an area where the Conservatives are perceived as weak right now.

Biggar informed this author early Monday morning that they were getting “a stream of emails” from the Liberal headquarters in (what he perceived as an) attempt to get them to drop or relax their challenge to Bill C-51—the so-called ‘anti-terror’ legislation which experts and lawyers’ groups have denounced as an attack on Canadians’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

According to Biggar, the attempt on the part of the Liberal official—whom Biggar won’t name—hasn’t worked because, in the words of the LeadNow staffer (and as he told the official), “this [struggle against C-51] is too important for that”—and they intend to carry on fighting the bill as a whole to ensure it doesn’t pass.

The government was intransigent about making changes to C-51 until very recently, and has even implied that some of its critics could be terrorists.

MPs in the government have also asserted that critics were “conspiracy” theorists who had been subject to “misinformation” and were “quoting rumours” and “mistruths.”

However, in recent days they have back-pedaled and admitted there were changes that could “clarify” the bill for those who were worried about its potential impact on peaceful protest, free speech and dissent.

The Liberals have floated their own amendments to C-51 but also said they would vote for it, throwing their support behind it even before its text was made available by the government.

The bill has now passed at the committee stage with limited amendments that bear seemingly little relation to the committee’s hearings on the bill, as reported by the CBC. Rather, the amendments seem to have been made in response to public pressure about C-51.

The bill will now go to third reading sometime in the third week of April, after which it will go to the Senate, assuming the majority of Conservative MPs in the House of Commons votes in favour.

Despite their support for the bill, the Liberals have been careful not to appear too close to the government’s side in the debate about it. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has said that it contains “worrying features” and that it wasn’t a bill his party would have introduced.

However, Biggar’s report to us is likely to influence perception of the Liberals somewhat, as it reveals the party’s willingness to appease the government with limited changes to measures that will still drastically expand the reach of the Canadian security state, both in Canada and abroad.

A Toronto Star editorial on Monday suggested that there was more “common ground” than not between the position of Liberals and that of the Official Opposition New Democrats, who have said they reject the bill outright. This report appears to contradict that view of the Liberals.

The email from Biggar came after rumours that Conservatives were floating amendments as a “trial balloon” that only “tinker around the edges” of the so-called anti-terror bill, in the words of people fighting C-51. It also came as the House of Commons was about to vote on an extended mission of combat in Iraq and a new mission in Syria.

The motion passed 142-129, with the Liberals and NDP both opposing the plan.

In recent days, organizers at LeadNow have suggested to this author that their group is going to step up their criticism of the Liberal party, and even to go so far as “publicly fighting” with them about C-51.

After other members of the campaign, including this author, alerted people to a strategic voting initiative from the group that omitted mention of the Liberals’ support for C-51, LeadNow was challenged to explain its actions in relation to the campaign against the bill.

According to the email itself, the message could have been been seen by as many as 400,000 supporters. Biggar claims that the mention was supposed to be included, and that it’s omission was the result of a mistake on LeadNow’s part.

LeadNow had also been quietly trying to persuade the Liberals that they would lose votes in the next election from those people if they supported the bill, but found the Liberals largely unresponsive to their appeals.

Biggar, who has been working with others on the campaign against C-51, wrote an email to this author early Monday morning, describing a phone campaign that would directly target MPs with objections to the bill’s passage in any form:

“The Liberal HQ is going to be very, very unhappy with the phone call move. I’m getting a stream of emails from them about how we should declare victory and go home – which is not at all what we’re going to do,” Biggar said.

“I’m also going to tell them tomorrow that bigger censure, directly about the election, is coming.”

As a result of its focus on C-51, LeadNow, which works to build bridges between supporters of all three opposition parties at election time, has decided to temporarily suspend a strategic voting campaign they have spent more than a year preparing and several years honing.

In an email to this author, Biggar stated that LeadNow would be “so far” doing 3 things to fight C-51:

1. Dropping [their] other work to focus so exclusively on C-51

2. Now, suspending a push for the election campaign until after the bill goes through third reading

3. Publicly fighting with the Liberals

As of late Tuesday, the group’s campaign against the bill appeared to be taking center stage once again, with Biggar vowing to more vocally criticize the third party at a moment when they are neck and neck with Conservatives in the polls.

At a rally on Parliament Hill, Saturday, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Alex Neve criticized the government’s proposed changes to C-51 as inadequate. Neve said:

“I can tell you that on every single page of Bill C-51, there’s something that violates, undermines, attacks or affronts human rights. We don’t solve that by a little tweak here, by removing a word [there]… Bill C-51 has to go. That’s the bottom line.”

Note: this post was published in an earlier form on the Stop C-51 Facebook page. Jamie Biggar responded to that earlier version in the comments of the post, which can be read here:

UPDATE, April 4: Jamie Biggar has responded in the comments below with the same comment he posted under the earlier Facebook post. He points out that Liberals never told him to stop campaigning against C-51. For the record, here are all of the instances—each in separate emails sent over the course of 48 hours—where Jamie reported what the Liberal official wanted him to do, either change course or declare victory:

Mar. 30: “I’m getting a stream of emails from them [Liberal HQ] about how we should declare victory and go home

Mar. 31: “The person I was talking about said that he thought we should declare victory and move on

Mar. 31: “[he said] you should call this a victory, it’s meaningful changes

Mar. 31: “He believes that focusing on terror plays into the Conservatives hands as it helps them turn the channel from the economy, where they are now weak, to an issue where they believe they can win”

Mar. 31: “he was trying to persuade me that it’s in my best interest to do what he perceived to be in his best interest.”

Mar. 31: “Trying to persuade me to do something in their interest, not pressure.”

I’ll have to leave it to the reader as to what constitutes pressure in this context, but I think when a senior Liberal who wields power—and stands to wield considerably more power if their party is elected to government because of your organization’s commitment to strategic voting—smiles and offers you his opinion, that meets a certain definition of pressure.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Pressure, noun:

the use of persuasion, influence, or intimidation to make someone do something

It isn’t more complicated than that.

Stop Bill C-51! March 14 National Day of Action

Stop Bill C-51! National Day of Action

“CSIS may come to judges asking them to bless in advance constitutional breaches. The proceeding will be secret. Only the government will be represented. There is no appeal mechanism. The person affected will not know about it. They may never know who caused the problems that they then would encounter… We just have never seen anything like this in Canada before.”
– Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa Law Professor

“The language of C-51 is so broad, it will almost certainly cast a chill over members of [the Muslim] community, many of whom have fled authoritarian regimes where people are often punished for their opinions. Rather than risk being accused of extremism, individuals will stay quiet. And more distressing, rather than debating opposing views and risk being associated with tainted individuals, those who could be on the vanguard of de-radicalization will be scared into silence.”
Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims

“It’s about creating a secret police. It’s the death of freedom.”
– Elizabeth May, Green Party leader

“I think Bill C-51 represents how desperate this government is. The extremes they’ll go to, to deal with the incredible resurgence and energy of Indigenous movements in this country. I’m not afraid of it. Absolutely not.”
Clayton Thomas-Muller, Co-Director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign

“When I first heard about this, I was like, wow, on one hand we are the victims of ISIS, and on the other hand we are the victims of the politicians in the West.”
– Mustafa Mustaan, former advisor to the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

“Some of these tactics are taken right out of the fascist playbook.”
– Francois Lavigne, former CSIS officer

“The problem with this bill is very simple. It lumps legitimate dissent together with terrorism. Indigenous peoples have a right to seek environmental and social justice through protest, communications and activism. This bill would call that work criminal. It would call that work terrorism.”
– Niki Ashton, NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic

“While the potential to know virtually everything about everyone may well identify some new threats, the loss of privacy is clearly excessive… All Canadians would be caught in this web.”
– Daniel Therrien, Canadian Privacy Commissioner

On March 14, people will gather together in communities across Canada to speak out against Stephen Harper’s reckless “secret police” Bill C-51.

Experts have pointed out that, if passed, the bill will:

• Create a secret police force with little oversight or accountability.
• Facilitate government spying and information sharing on innocent Canadians.
• Open the door for a variety of violations of our Charter Rights.

Despite the severity of this secret police plan, the government is trying to ram bill C-51 through parliament in record time.

This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials. The bill will also make it easier, and ostensibly lawful, for government to continue infringing upon the rights of ordinary citizens.

This legislation is reckless, dangerous, and ineffective. It must be stopped.

Stop Bill C-51!

National Day of Action
Saturday, March 14
Toronto rally: 12 noon @ Nathan Philips Square

City-specific event pages:
More cities…


Green Party of Canada

Toronto Day of Action Committee

Please forward and share widely!

“Serious fiscal restraint” wins in 2014 Ontario election

Kathleen Wynne - #14now!

With the Liberal majority now evident, the necessary question for self-identified progressives should be: what does this mean for the future of social justice struggles in Ontario? The Liberals have promised a budget that increases spending in a wide range of important areas, but they have also promised to impose three years of austerity after that. This makes it clear that their ostensibly progressive platform was only a cover for the same unimaginative, undemocratic program promoted by McGuinty-appointed bank economist Don Drummond in his austerity commission report. This will impose even more pain for the middle class, not to mention the poorest and most vulnerable in this province, whose numbers are growing.

On CBC radio’s election-night discussion of the results, it was repeatedly emphasized that the Liberals’ win would result in an overall program of “serious fiscal restraint” and public-sector austerity. Neglected in that coverage was any mention of the costs that would impose on those who can least afford it, and who are least responsible for the recent economic downturn. Nor did anyone mention the duplicity of the Liberals’ campaigning on a “progressive” budget while promising three full years of spending cuts (when population growth is factored in). Also not highlighted was how, to a significant extent, that direction was agreed to by the three major parties and how, therefore, austerity was the clear winner from the moment the election was called.

Unfortunately, while able to claim a significant short-term tactical victory, the anyone-but-Hudak campaign revealed a bankruptcy of meaningful strategy. The campaign failed to propose alternatives to the multi-party consensus on austerity, or present a vision for reducing inequality.  Also left unexamined was that all major parties backed spending reductions which, only a decade ago, would have been at home in any fiscal conservative extremist’s platform—a fact  barely mentioned by “progressives” in the labour movement or the mainstream media. This after a world financial crisis that was caused by the schemes of bankers and hedge fund managers who have escaped, not only unharmed, but almost immeasurably better off at the expense of the rest of us.

What can the left do to respond to this situation? Those within the NDP need to organize for a new leadership that is not afraid to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable in the province. They should also marginalize the strategists and pundits who took sides against longtime core supporters critical of the party’s direction under Andrea Horwath. This should not be dismissed as a futile avenue for political action, even though it also has its obvious limits. Regardless of what the NDP becomes, those on the left have a responsibility to organize effective political alternatives, both inside and outside the electoral system, which have the capacity to threaten the establishment consensus on what the limits of possibility are in Ontario. Without such alternatives, it is extremely unlikely that this province will see meaningful social change anytime soon.

The Ontario Liberals’ dirty secret

People in Ontario are understandably worried about Tim Hudak’s reckless plan to cut corporate taxes and slash government spending. However, what most people don’t realize (because it hasn’t been widely reported) is that the Liberals are planning their own cuts, and they are deeper than we’ve seen in a long time:

Premier Kathleen Wynne is presenting Ontario’s June 12 election as a stark choice between her Liberal economic stimulus plan and her main rival’s vow to cut 100,000 government jobs.

Yet Wynne’s own budget documents show this year’s spending surge will be followed by the deepest freeze in two decades.

After boosting program spending by $3 billion this year, the Liberal Party leader plans to hold the line the next three years in a bid to eliminate the deficit. Given population growth, a 2017 Liberal government would drop spending by the most per person since former Premier Mike Harris won election on deficit elimination in 1995.

Meanwhile, the NDP are proposing a whole ministry to cut $600M annually in “waste”—a project that Rob Ford attempted in Toronto, and which failed dramatically here. Almost all of that supposed waste was eventually deemed to support necessary and important services. In other words, there was no gravy to be found.

Still, all three provincial parties say that government spending is wasteful and inefficient, and needs to be cut, without providing evidence, and even though Ontario already has the lowest public spending per capita among all the provinces.

It’s therefore not surprising that no party says where those cuts will be found. We’re supposed to take it on faith that they will find the savings without further damaging the social fabric of this province, and that they have our best interests at heart.

Yet how can we believe them, when no major party has a proposal to introduce a living wage for people now subsisting on $11/hr, or on social assistance or disability support—even though more and more of the much-championed “middle class” are ending up in that situation themselves? (In the last decade, the percentage of workers earning minimum wage in Ontario almost tripled, from 3.5% of all workers in 2003, to 9.3% in 2012).

It hasn’t been said yet in this campaign, but we all know what happens when the middle class shrinks. They become poor. (And if you need another reason to care about that, poverty is bad for your health!)

The Liberals and NDP would tie future increases for the minimum wage and basic social supports to inflation (the NDP would fix the former at just $12/hr in 2014 dollars—below the poverty line even for full time workers). That would actually condemn increasing numbers of their fellow human beings to remain in poverty indefinitely. And no major party has a plan to address the growth of precarious work in this province.


Seattle has just introduced a $15/hr minimum wage. Australia’s is more than $16/hr, while anti-poverty activists in Ontario are calling for just $14/hr—enough to raise a full-time worker here out of poverty. In the US, Barack Obama has called for an immediate and dramatic increase in the minimum wage, and leading economists like James K Galbraith call this the best way to reduce equality and grow the economy.

What could be more reasonable? The people who work at the stores where we shop, the people who make and serve the meals in our restaurants, do not deserve to live in poverty. Neither do people with disabilities, or anyone else. Should we accept it when our political parties imply that they do?

With all of the big three parties planning dramatic cuts, and ignoring the most vulnerable in this province, the only way to fight them is to organize and speak out against these policies, both during and after the election period.

One way to do so is to support campaigns like this.

Voting isn’t enough. Staying silent simply because one party seems less bad than the others, or because you’ve supported them in the past, is neither wise, nor strategic.

Let’s be honest with each other about what is under attack. Public services are what build our capacity as a democracy. Put simply, they create the material equality between citizens that gives substance to the (otherwise abstract) notion that we all have a say. When you cut public spending, you attack that democracy.

Why not demand more democracy during this election, instead of accepting less?

A former teacher of mine visited Greece last year and learned that university professors there were being forced to bring their own toilet paper to work. This is the callousness of the global austerity program in action, a program whose principles every major party in Ontario accepts—even while banks are making record profits, companies are hoarding hundreds of billions in cash, and CEO salaries are going up… and this even though many already make an average worker’s salary in a day and a half or less.

The rich are getting richer and richer at the expense of the rest of us. It has recently been surmised that they like it that way (subscribers only, of course):

Why Wall Street Secretly Loves Piketty - excerpt

…but that doesn’t mean we have to!

We can resist these cuts, and insist on fairness instead; we can insist that the disadvantaged and marginalized are put first. We need a government and political institutions that are responsive to the needs of the rest of us.

We can, and should, demand these things now.

Bob Rae to Desmond Tutu: Africa’s filthy, too


In the Globe and Mail today, “Tutu’s harsh words prompt new focus on oil-sands fight“:

First the Athabasca Chipewyan partnered with Canadian rocker Neil Young in a treaty-rights awareness tour.

Then, this past weekend, the 1,100-person northern Alberta First Nation – whose members feel its land and water are being sacrificed for an estimated $200-billion in oil-sands investment over the next decade – hosted renowned human-rights leader Desmond Tutu, who toured the oil-sands region and, at a weekend conference on treaty rights and the environment, called Canada’s bitumen production “filth.”

By the time the Nobel laureate left Fort McMurray on Sunday, his beyond-famous personality had brought international attention to the First Nation’s push for more environmental protections and negotiating power.

What sayeth the wise-white-elder-turned-First-Nations-advocate, Bob Rae about this?

Former federal Liberal leader Bob Rae, who also spoke at the conference, said righting historic treaty wrongs is important for moving forward with energy projects. But, he said he disagreed with Mr. Tutu’s characterization of the oil sands.

“I don’t think the filth comment is very helpful because, I mean, oil and gas development is happening all over the world. It’s happening in Africa and elsewhere,” he said. “Everybody recognizes that there are environmental issues around the development of our resources. But I don’t think that [comment] really helps people to listen to each other.”

Because it’s true, you know, the filth is everywhere. And who’s fault is that?

The Disturbing Arrogance of Warren Kinsella, Robin Sears and Kathleen Monk


Updated below (x2).

For the last few weeks, Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP have been campaigning hard to drive the party to the right, placate big business, and show people that they are serious about balancing budgets. In the process, they have predictably alienated many longtime supporters and drawn criticism from some of their allies in the media (and, of course, some non-allies). While many on the left have been shocked and dismayed by the austerity-friendly direction the party has been going (and have even been publicly reprimanded for saying so), the leadership has nonetheless also picked up support from highly unusual places.

That includes people like Warren Kinsella, a longtime Liberal consultant, former Chrétien ally and Sun News commentator (who, as it happens, opposed Kathleen Wynne’s bid for the Ontario leadership). On Monday, Kinsella played slightly against type, with a column titled “Who needs friends when you’ve got foes?” In it, he quotes Robin Sears, former chief-of-staff for former Ontario NDP Premier-turned-federal-Liberal-leader-turned-wise-elder Bob Rae, who has praised Andrea Horwath’s strategy while mocking the critics who think she’s taken the party too far to the right:

Horwath, knowing most of the votes are found in the political centre, has been aiming the NDP ship in that direction for many months, talking up balanced budgets and the need to make life less expensive for the average Ontarian. She’s been rewarded with a four-point boost in an Ipsos poll in the past week, while her opponents have either dropped or stalled.

But that’s not enough for Caplan et al., apparently. As Sears put it, they’re Presbyterian about their politics; they think salvation only lies in pain. They don’t wish to see their principles ever, you know, sullied by actual power.

Aside from that Ipsos poll, which has not been duplicated and appears to be anomalous, these arguments are just laughably incoherent, and hypocritical, on their face. Given that the election was forced by Horwath et al. over the very question of ethics and principles in the face of Liberal corruption, how can anyone defend or support them in abandoning their own principles, and attacking their supporters, in a naked bid for power? And all that while wasting an opportunity to promote, never mind achieve, meaningful social change with their campaign.


Such logic is ignored not only by people like Kinsella and Sears, but also (unsurprisingly) members-in-good-standing of the NDP establishment. For example, Kathleen Monk, who tweeted “Bang on” in response to the Kinsella column, and praised the Sears column he quotes from:

Kathleen Monk is herself the consummate professional party operative, and a symbol of much that is wrong with Today’s NDP™. A communications strategist for Jack Layton, she was the founding director of the Broadbent Institute after Layton died in 2011, where she helped to plan inaugural events for BI that featured high profile pro-war politicos from the US and Australia, as well as former Conservative Prime Ministers and prominent right-wing & bank economists, to rally the spirits of Canadian “progressives”. Monk has also been one of the most visible media pundits for the NDP, appearing regularly on CBC’s The National “Insiders” panel, where she drones on nauseatingly with other parties’ insiders about their own insipid day-to-day striving for power.

Sears, on the other hand, was the president of the Empire Club of Canada (the name really says it all) from 2012-13. In 2008, he worked as a lobbyist for former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney while the latter faced a Parliamentary Ethics Committee investigation, with which Mulroney refused to cooperate, over his illicit relationship with a notorious arms dear. And in 2009, Sears apparently threatened members of the media for supposedly making his boss Mulroney cry (no, really), by allegedly giggling, at an inquiry hearing (Thanks to Jay Watts for uncovering these wonderful details). Meanwhile, Sears’ list of corporate clients would make even the most avaricious lobbyist drool. The 2014 ONDP, brought to you by… DeBeer’s, McDonald’s…

The Kinsella article is incoherent for other reasons, too. It leads with a quotation from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who once made a famous rhetorical appeal to be judged not by how many friends he made, but by the quality of his enemies. It is indeed a provocative statement. However, the profound irony in echoing this statement, which Kinsella and Monk both seem to miss, is that in his “Portland Speech,” FDR was actually railing against the big American power utilities, who were, not surprisingly, opposed to Roosevelt’s campaign to nationalize them.


In other words, the “enemies” he was speaking of are exactly the kind of business people on Bay Street with whom Horwath (and seemingly, some at the Broadbent Institute), have lately been trying to make friends, or at the very least, placate—by promising to cut government spending, keep corporate taxes and the minimum wage at historically low levels; and by abandoning historic social democratic demands for structural economic change, a climate change plan, or even any new social programs. FDR’s “enemies” were most definitely not the grassroots party activists that are the target of NDP (and now Liberal and Conservative) establishment derision.

Haven’t we had enough of this so-called “progressive” arrogance, which exhibits its obvious ignorance of progressive history, and contempt for party democracy, at every turn? As another commenter remarked (I’ve misplaced the reference, unfortunately), Horwath is constantly invoking Tommy Douglas on her campaign… but how would people like Monk and others react if he had also been on the list of her critics (hardly a stretch of the imagination)? Would he get the same callous dismissals that they have received, in the interest of winning a slightly larger share of the popular vote?

UPDATE (May 28):

Chris Lawson has written a thoughtful post on Sears’ piece, here. He also reveals the rather incredible nickname that Sears earned while working for Bob Rae: “Boy Stalin.” Whoa.

Robin Sears, who earned his nickname “Boy Stalin” as then NDP premier Bob Rae’s chief of staff [apparently it happened even earlier – CW] wrote this stunner of a commentary trashing the people who signed that open letter against Andrea Horwath’s current campaign plan/platform. I now understand much better where the moniker comes from.

He calls the letter writers “embittered NDP pensioners,” “yesterday’s losers” and the “aging commentariat.”

Yes, people are going to lose friends over this.

I don’t know about Lawson, but for the record, I’m both aging, day by day, and much younger than Robin Sears.

UPDATE 2 (May 29):

At Rabble, Michael Laxer has issued a devastating rebuke to those defending the ONDP betrayal of poor people, and the recent attacks on those who want the party of “progressives” to work in solidarity with them:

When did minimum wage workers and people living in poverty stop mattering?

When did we stop caring about those who most need our solidarity?

Lost in the media coverage of the letter by former ONDP stalwarts and the letter from Gerry Caplan, an activist who has literally been a member of the NDP since day one, lost in the inanity of the Hudak call for further punishing those on already cruel social assistance rates, forgotten in the wake of the idiocy of the typical Liberal silliness of sending plants to “protest” the NDP, the fact remains that minimum-wage workers and people living in poverty are not getting our solidarity.

Despite the fact that we as a society, as a left movement, as people working in activist communities, as people fighting for a vast array of human rights, demand and rightfully expect the left and “progressive” politicians to stand up and be counted on any number of social issues, we seem to often during elections be silent about the devastating reality that is poverty and that is working full or part time, often in multiple jobs, for what everyone knows are poverty wages.

In the ongoing farce that is the Ontario election none of the parties have a plan that would do anything to eliminate poverty or to lift minimum-wage workers out of poverty. None.

They have a great many plans about a great many things, and they all trot out their talking points about the “middle class,” “affordability,” “fiscal responsibility” and the like, but there is no mention, at all, of an actual plan to bring people on social assistance or people making the minimum wage out of poverty.

It is as if they simply do not exist.