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Category: News.

Local Grits gear up for leadership vote

This article was originally published in the Daily Gleaner on Thursday, October 4th, 2012, by STEPHEN LLEWELLYN. I’m re-posting it here for my own portfolio.

The excitment is mounting for hundreds of Fredericton Liberals as they get ready to chose a new leader at the end of this month.

The party’s new one-member-one vote selection process means casting a ballot will be as simple as clicking a computer mouse, activating a cellphone, making a phone call or mailing a letter.

But it doesn’t mean the leadership convention in Moncton on Oct. 27 won’t attract a couple of thousand delegates with the usual hats, signs, music and political speeches, say local riding presidents.

“They’re excited after coming off of 2010,” said Mike Girard, president of the Liberal Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak Riding Association, about the mood of his members.

“To say it (the provincial election result) was a bit of a downer in the association is putting it mildly … But as the convention’s gotten closer, certainly my membership anyway is getting very excited.”

Girard also said there’s a sense of relief the leadership campaign is almost over.

“It’s been a long process,” he said.

“Usually there is a delegate format, and it is not a very long race … This one has been going on for almost two years. People are getting ready for it to be over and move forward into 2014.”

Running for the Liberal leadership are Moncton lawyer and former Graham government Health minister Mike Murphy, Moncton lawyer Brian Gallant and Belledune dairy farmer Nick Duivenvoorden.

The leadership convention is being held at the Moncton Casino.

Brent Melanson, president of the Liberal Fredericton-Lincoln Riding Association, said 19,000 Liberals provincewide have registered to vote.

“It really is huge,” he said.

“It is a testament to, I think, not only the three candidates, but also the renewal process which was started after the last election … Part of that renewal process wanted better communications.”

That led to the decision to move to a one-member-one-vote process, he said.

“There’s been some resonance within the province with respect to that,” said Melanson.

“There is that flexibility that you can vote from anywhere in the province electronically, by cell phone, by ballot.”

The deadline to sign up to vote for a new Liberal leader was Sept. 28.

Melanson said the convention will still have a sense of excitement.

“What I’m hearing within my riding is that a lot of people intend to go,” he said.

Allison Wrynn, president of the Liberal Fredericton-Nashwaaksis Riding Association, said there is a leadership buzz in his riding.

Some local riding members have backed off a little bit in terms of political activity since the big Tory election win two years ago, he said.

“There were some people who were on the list who were very enthusiastic for T.J. (Burke), who was our candidate last election,” said Wrynn.

“Since that time they said, ‘Well, we’re still going to vote Liberal, but we don’t know if we are that keen on participating (in the leadership convention)’ … That’s fine.”

Marty Mockler, president of the Liberal Fredericton-Silverwood Riding Association, said he isn’t sure how many people will be going from his riding to the convention because of the ability to vote from anywhere in the province.

“I think there is going to be a lot of that,” he said.

“But what it has done in Fredericton-Silverwood is that the people that have now joined the party seem to be very committed to working for the party … You can feel a different vibe in it. Before you had a lot of people who were members but they weren’t active.”

He said he expects about 2,000 Liberals to attend the convention in Moncton, and that’s still a good size.

Girard said opening up the voting process was the right thing to do.

“Not everyone can get there, especially if you are from the north,” he said.

“There will definitely be a lot of buzz on the floor.”

Voting on the web is especially attractive to younger riding members, said Girard.

“One of the things I’m hoping we’ll see out of this is that … the campuses will be organized and we’ll see a lot of youth vote,” he said.


A glass of orange juice remembered as Bev Oda’s legacy on social media.

Canada’s former Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda officially retired from the House of Commons yesterday. As Oda returns to life as a private citizen she leaves a controversial legacy in her wake.

The Good:

First elected to the House of Commons for the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004, Oda was named opposition critic for the Ministry of Heritage. Re-elected in 2006 as a member of the Conservative Party’s minority government she was named Minister of Heritage and in 2007 was appointed Minister of International Co-operation (CIDA). Oda has the distinction of being the first Japanese-Canadian member of parliament and cabinet minister.

As Heritage critic Oda introduced Bill Bill C-333, the Chinese Canadian Recognition and Redress Act, that called on parliament to recognize the unique contributions of Chinese immigrants to Canada’s and the injustice done to them as a result of racist legislation. As Minister of CIDA Oda received praise from international aid organizations for Canada’s response to the earthquake that rocked Haiti in January 2010. She also restructured Canada’s foreign-aid program on a core group of the world’s most needy countries. Oda was also the Minister responsible for seeing the Conservative government’s policy of increasing funding for maternal health in Third-World nations.

The Bad:

These policy successes were not without controversy themselves. Some organizations suggested Canada’s response to the Haiti disaster lacked focus and Oda took considerable heat over Canada’s decision to give aid for maternal health while withholding funding for abortion services.

In February 2011 it was revealed that Oda had ordered a staff member to enter a hand written annotation – the word “not” – to a 2009 recommendation for funding for KAIROS – a Canadian faith-based ecumenical organization – that resulted in the recommendation being ignored. When asked about the issue in the House of Commons Oda first told Parliament that she did not know who had made the annotation and then later, when threatened with contempt of Parliament, she admitted to giving the direction to her staff.

Despite these controversies Oda was re-elected to the House of Commons for the riding of Durham with considerable margins in both 2008 and 2011.

The Ugly:

In the end it was a $16 glass of OJ that brought Bev Oda’s career as a cabinet minister and member of Canada’s parliament.

In 2011 Oda attended an international conference on the immunizations of poor children in London, England. Rather then stay at the hotel being provided by the conference Oda opted to stay at the much more expensive Savoy hotel and rented a limousine to transport her. While staying at the Savoy and working on a speech late at night Oda ordered the fateful glass of OJ.

Based on the social data it would appear that a glass of OJ is how Canadians are remembering Bev Oda. Whether it will become a lasting legacy, overshadowing her work as MP, opposition critic, and cabinet minister will only be know in time. The word cloud to the right represents the 50 most used words on social media conversations related to Bev Oda on her last day as a Canadian politician.





The Council of the Federation: A Social Media Review

Last week Halifax, Nova Scotia hosted Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders for the annual Council of the Federation meetings. The meetings promised to be great political theater as the premiers and territorial leaders tackled the subjects of health care reform and the creation of a national energy strategy. As the premiers met in ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ Canadians across the country weighed in with their thoughts on social media.

Center Stage: Health-care delivery and the debate over a national energy strategy.


Premiers Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, and Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island presented their report on health-care reform at this year’s summit. It was at last year’s Council of the Federation that the premiers were taken by surprise when Ottawa announced its decision to stop using its funding power to enforce national standards of service delivery, and give the provinces more autonomy to recreate their health-care systems. The premier’s report: ‘From Innovation to Action’ is the first public response from the provinces.

The biggest announcement was that the provinces will begin purchasing generic prescription drugs in an effort expected to save millions of dollars. Premier Ghiz has suggested this plan could save the Atlantic provinces upwards of $15 million dollars annually.

National Energy Strategy.

The debate over a national energy strategy was the other topic to dominate this year’s Council of the Federation meetings. Premier Alison Redford of Alberta has been advocating for the creation of a national energy strategy. Such a strategy would allow Alberta to move its land locked oil through British Columbia via privately owned, publicly regulated pipelines and deliver it to Asia bound tankers.

The national energy strategy is a politically contentious issue. Premier Redford of Alberta and Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia have been exchanging words for some time over royalties earned by the Northern Gateway project – BC is fighting for greater royalties. The dispute boiled over Friday when Premier Clark announced that British Columbia would not sign a national energy strategy unless it met a list of demands.

While the national energy strategy is territorially a western issue the Atlantic Canadian premiers are demanding it be a truly national strategy. Atlantic Canada is concerned about energy self-sufficiency and New Brunswick’s premier, David Alward, raised the issue of extending an oil pipeline to the region to relieve the pressure of having to purchase foreign oil.

Premiers Greg Selinger of Manitoba, Alison Redford of Alberta, and Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland & Labrador will be chairing the national energy portfolio as the premiers forge ahead with the plan with or without British Columbia.

The Social Reaction

Canadians kept track of the proceedings on social media throughout last week; following and debating the issues as they emerged. Not surprisingly Canadians focused their attention on health-care and the national energy strategy. Both subjects saw a triple digit percentage increase in total conversations over the week before.

Mentions of the premiers increased as well. Not surprisingly the premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford dominated social conversations, followed by Nova Scotia premier and host, Darrell Dexter. Premiers Brad Wall and Robert Ghiz, authors of the health-care report, round out the top five mentions.

Next year’s Council of the Federation is scheduled to be hosted by Ontario.