frandroid: Head of Jack Layton photoshopped onto a very muscular man wearing a sleeveless NDP t-shirt (ndp)
People criticize Dewar for his French (I haven't watched that debate yet), but they seem to forget that aside from his accent, Jack's French was pretty bad when he won the leadership in 2003.

When I dropped by Jack's leadership campaign headquarters in August or September 2002 (i.e. his house), I was immediately invited for dinner with Jack and Olivia. Jack was super curious to know more about the current state of Québec's progressive scene, and boasted of his past credentials (such as attending the McGill Français demo back in the day) but he was the typical Montréal exile who had all but left the province behind when he moved to Toronto. He was really disconnected from present-day Québec. I mentioned a few names to him, and he hadn't heard of them. (Léo-Paul Lauzon ended up running for the NDP a couple elections later...) He tried out his French on me but it wasn't impressive at all, except for his accent, which was surprisingly as working class than mine. So he had good Québec roots, but he had to dig through some earth to find them again. In spite of that, it was clear right away that he took Québec's potential very seriously, and it lead to where we are today. His French improved, but Harper's improved even faster.

The Sherbrooke declaration was the most intelligent thing Layton pushed early on, essentially telling leftist PQ members that they had a second federal home. It was a master stroke of political ambiguity, the place where you want to live in order to pick up the broad middle (in this case, the middle being soft-separatists giving a federalist party a chance). Already after May 2nd we saw the ambiguity get clarified with some light blowback that has fallen by the wayside with Jack's disease and subsequent death.

So while the expectations of French fluency are higher today, what matters more to me is how much do the candidates understand Québec. Mulcair can school them all, obviously, and he's the master of ambiguity, when he's calm. I suspect that Topp is good too, having been part of the team maintaining this ambiguity, but I haven't really seen him in action. (I really have to go and watch the debates I missed!) Dewar, as a monolingual Ottawan, puzzles me. His job today is to demonstrates that he 'gets' Québec as much as the two Québec candidates, and even put forward some original policy position on one thing or another. Peggy Nash just tried that, even though she has a lot less to prove on Québec...
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
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...
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Pledge by NDP leader rescues starving Tamil
by Joe Fiorito
The people who closed the roads in recent days are the people who live next door to you and me; their relatives are caught up in a long and brutal war; their relatives have died, or they are starving in refugee camps; the word is that chemical weapons are being thrown at them, but no one is sure of the claims or counter-claims because no journalists can get in to take a look.

A road gets closed here.

A country is closed there.

I had a chat with Gunam Verakathipillai the other day. He is a Canadian; that is a Canadian name now. He is also Tamil, from Sri Lanka. He came here in 1987.

Long enough for you?

Gunam was on a hunger strike on the lawn at Queen's Park until yesterday afternoon. He was planning to starve himself to death unless there was some sort of action.

His life has just been saved by Jack Layton, who promised to push the Prime Minister to urge a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. That's all it took. A promise to urge.

How Canadian is that?

Gunam went without food for two weeks. I get twitchy if I miss lunch. He is 52 years old. He did not get up when I stepped inside his tent to chat the other day.
The hunger strike is now over. Gunam has made his point. Someone actually listened.

Now, what do you need to know about the roads?

Fears of Sri Lanka "Catastrophe"
The Red Cross says its staff in Sri Lanka are witnessing an "unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" in the area where troops have trapped Tamil Tigers.

The agency says a ferry loaded with aid has been unable to reach the battered north-eastern coastal strip for three days because of fighting.

The Sri Lankan army earlier said that more than 2,000 civilians had waded across a lagoon to escape to safety.

There are also reports that staff have quit the last hospital in the war zone.

Medics abandoned the hospital after persistent shelling over recent days, unverified reports say.

As the humanitarian situation worsened, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, was being rushed back to Sri Lanka to press for the protection of trapped civilians, a UN spokeswoman said.

In another development on Thursday, former colonial power Britain said the Sri Lankan government could face investigation into possible war crimes, as a result of violence against civilians caught up in the fighting.

The UN says about 50,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone, although Colombo disputes this figure.

U.N. envoy arrives in Sri Lanka, Clinton says IMF should not loan $1.9B to Sri Lanka right now

Sri Lanka army 'in final stage'
Sri Lanka's army says it is in the "final stage" of operations against the Tamil Tigers with troops just 1.5km short of "dominating the whole coast".

President Mahinda Rajapksa was quoted as saying that all trapped civilians would be "rescued from rebel control" within two days.

The government has rejected international calls for a truce.

The United Nations is sending a new envoy to discuss the crisis, but says a bloodbath "seems to be inevitable".

At UN, Sweden Links EU Tariffs to Sri Lanka Carnage, and Inner City Press points out that the brother of the U.N. envoy to Sri Lanka is an Indian general who has recently praised the Sri Lankan Army's offensive.

Why do Sri Lanka's Tamils watch the carnage in silence?
COLOMBO - Thousands of Tamils in European capitals and elsewhere continue to press the United Nations and Western governments to stop the war in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government dismisses these protests as efforts to provide a lifeline to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is now on the brink of certain defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces.

But the diaspora Tamils say they are protesting to save their kith and kin who are either suffering in a five square kilometer theatre of war or several military-run camps.
Though the true picture of the war zone is still hazy, one thing is certain - the civilians are suffering. But, strangely, the Tamils living in other parts of Sri Lanka stage no protest. They once called the Tamil Tigers "our boys". But there are no demonstrations in Jaffna, Batticaloa or other Tamil areas in Sri Lanka as the security forces are all set to score a landmark victory over the "boys".

Why aren't they protesting? Why can't the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the main Tamil party in parliament, mobilize the country's Tamils and take to the streets?

Sri Lanka refugees flee amid hail of Tiger fire (note: AP article with government source only)
frandroid: camilo cienfuegos in a broad-rimmed hat (camilo)
Via [ profile] sabotabby: "Comment on this post and I will choose seven interests from your profile. You will then explain what they mean and why you are interested in them. Post this along with your answers in your own journal so that others can play along."

being called sir by strangers: back when English was a Foreign Language to me, Britain was a very Exotic country for me. When I moved to Vancouver, my first job was a night shift at Subway. For some reason, Brits love their dreadful weather so much that they actually visit Vancouver in droves in January, just to get more gloomy-weather punishment. They would go to bars, and after that, end up at my Subway to pick up something to eat. Some would call me sir, and that made me giddy as hell.
against bourgeois-feminism: I acquired a lot of my LJ-interests by browsing other people's and copying theirs, especially when people added me. It's quite interesting that LJ actually has a feature that allows you to copy other people's interests by just checkmarking them. Now it's been a while since I've had so much time on my hands :] Bourgeois feminism, I guess, would be oblivious to the intersection of feminism with class and race. Actually, I'm starting to dislike the term bourgeois a lot, I find it a very crude way to describe things, and feminism has to start somewhere anyway. I'm going to remove this interest.
ultrabrutalist modern architecture: That's the descriptor that Ninjalicious gave to Robarts Library, which lead me to discover that Brutalist architecture is indeed a specific style of architecture. His love for the library has made me appreciate this type of architecture a lot more. I am anxiously awaiting its $75 million expansion, although I hear they'll take down some of the existing concrete panels. Hopefully the expansion meshes well with the existing building.
failed subcultures: So many subcultures seem exciting at the beginning, and then peter out, or become so successful as to become coöpted, go mainstream and lose the essence of what made them relevant in the first place. Dominant subcultures in my life have been ANSI art, punk rock and the anti-globalization movement. Of these, only punk rock has survived (but has it?), whereas ANSI art (art archive), the digital character art of BBSes, died of its medium's irrelevance with the advent of the internet. The anti-globalization movement died on September 11, scared shitless. I guess the bourgeois activists went back "home" to a different kind of "patriotism"...
red star nutritional yeast: The best kind of nutritional yeast, it is yellower than its competitors and "gels" a lot more. [ profile] hsifyppah gave me the book pictured to the right when she tired out of veganism, which I have enjoyed thoroughly. I have consumed RSNY in part because it provides vegans with the much-needed B12 vitamin, which is usually really hard to get without consuming dairy and meat. The lack of B12 can lead to permanent neurological damage, so it's not a minor thing to ignore. I have been told recently not to rely on RSNY alone for my B12 needs, and have thus started taking B12 supplements, until I talk to a nutritionist about this, which could be never. When I got for my next annual health check-up, I'll ask my doctor to send me for a B12 blood test.
responsible anarchists: a very rare animal. Its cousin species, the irresponsible anarchist, is a lot more common. Over time, I have come to assume that people become anarchists first and foremost because they have an unacknowledged desire not to take any responsibility for anything. The turn to anarchism usually happens during adolescence, when people first meet this necessity of taking responsibility. Eventually, as irresponsible anarchists mature, they stop being anarchists. They can then take three paths: go back to the mainstream or go bat-shit insane right-wing. What happens most often is that they become some sort of socialists with an anarchist sensibility, with a stronger resistance to state encroachment on individual rights. Not to be confused with a liberal.
jack layton's moustache: What's not to love? Some people believe that Jack and Olivia aren't a "real couple". I'm still on the fence, and maybe they are too.
frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)

So I got this enveloppe in the mail. Recognizing the type's colour, the profile and, well, the party logo on the other side of the enveloppe, there was no mystery to me who this was from, but I showed it to F, asking her who that was on the enveloppe, and she said "The L guy".

So I thought that she got it, that she thought that it was this guy, but no! I said some other comment, and she said "oh, I thought it was Lenin".

And she's right!! Look at the original sillouhette!!
frandroid: "End the lock-out" with a CBC logo shaped into a lock (End the lockout!)
confidential to [ profile] threeliesforone

Whoa, we've had the most amazing snowstorm. I went out and went to the bank machine just so I would be walking in the snow. It was totally awesome!

The French debate is very uninspiring. Harper's and Layton's cognitive weakness in French is giving me headaches. Plus, there was a fastball throw right onto the plate for Layton and he missed the homerun because he didn't understand the question. Arggg.


frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)

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