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Quite a few Globe & Mail columnists, among others, have been predicting doom and gloom for the NDP in Québec, post-Layton. These people forget that Layton is the second popular leader that Québec has lost this year; Duceppe's defeat and resignation has also left the Bloc in tatters, and since the wind is out of the sovereigntist movement's sails, there are a lot of political activists, Québec nationalists, out of a federal party. The more separatist among them will stay home, but many militants who were supporting the Bloc for its social-democratic policies will now need a new home. Doesn't joining the official opposition to Stephen Harper sound like the best thing to do in these circumstances? I think many of them will, and that the NDP will inherit a fair chunk of the Bloc's network. Many of them are disillusioned with the PQ anyway, so it's not like they'll just retreat to provincial politics and stay there.

So a party that won Québec on Layton's sheer force of will and 8 years of dedication to bringing the province to the NDP fold will have an organization worth talking about next time around.

But whether the NDP wins big in Québec next time around is not the most important thing. What counts the most is that the Bloc stays down, and if it does, we will be able to credit Layton with putting one of the final nails in the separatist coffin, and bring Québec's left as full participants in the federation. That's a game-changer. This will have an impact for the NDP, and maybe even for the Liberal Party.

* * *

If it wasn't for the fact that Québec Solidaire is a sovereigntist party (I think that's mostly a pro forma commitment, but it's definitely official policy, since until Layton, the left in Québec seemed uncurable of its separatist disease), I think Amir Khadir would make an excellent candidate for the NDP leadership. I don't think he would win the race, but he would be the most compelling standard-bearer of the left-wing of the party in a long time.

F. mentions Judy Rebick. I don't think she's interested in the job at all, but I'd go to the front for her.

I'm curious to see how the caucus will shape up. I hope they won't coalesce around a Mulcair too early and wait for candidates come out of the provincial parties...
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Judy Rebick:
It has taken a while for non-Tamil support to build because of the confusion about the role of the Tamil Tigers.   The discourse on the war on terror has allowed goverments like ours to ignore massive slaughter of civilians by oppressive states in the name of fighting terrorism.  Moreover the Tamil Tigers have committed atrocities.  But whatever our concerns about the Tigers it is critical to separate the human rights issues from the political ones.

We have a special responsibility to mobilize support for the Tamil community in Canada as they are the largest Tamil diaspora in the world.  So please take a moment to express your support by writing your MP, calling in to talk shows, writing letters to the editor , joining the demonstrations, whatever you can do.

Moreover, we can learn from the Tamil activists who have be organizing for months, escalating their tactics in face of silence from the government.  First they organized  protests on the sidewalk in Toronto, where most of them live, then they took their protest to Ottawa, where they had thousands of people on the Hill for days.  Finally when they agreed to take down their flags only Jack Layton spoke in support. When that didn't get more of an impact they sat down in front of the US Consulate for an entire week. That's when they started getting more attention from the media, from other community organizations and from some politicians.

Yesterday I was assisting at a Q and A for Velcrow Ripper's fantastic film about combining spirit and activism, Fierce Light, opening in theatres on May 15, and someone asked, "What can we do in Canada, where people are so complacent"  I pointed out that at that very moment there were people demonstrating at Queen's Park to stop a genocide in Sri Lanka and he could join them.  Over the last year,  we have seen massive protests by Tamils, Palestinians and Burmese. The 20th anniversary of the massacre at Tienamen Square is coming up on June 4.  Unlike when I was young and demonstrating against the war in Viet Nam, today the people from the conflict regions of the world are our neighbours.  Their struggle is our struggle.  Talking about the global village may be a cliche but the global city is a reality and Toronto is in the forefront.  We are all Tamils.
Read Judy's full entry.

I have written to my MP, Olivia Chow. Not so much because I think the NDP needs to be convinced that this is a right cause, but to counterbalance the mail probably coming in from the car drivers who are pissed off at their traffic being affected who won't care that there is a war on the other side of the globe which greatly affects one of Toronto's largest communities.


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