Jim Loney receives Chaplin Memorial Award; text of his UTC Convocation Address

Further to my description of some of the events at last week’s Convocation of McGill’s United Theological College, when Craig’s Memorial Award was presented for the first time, click here for the inspiring convocation address of the recipient – Jim Loney of Christian Peacemaker Teams.


Montreal Canadiens just squeaked past Boston last night in the first round but…

…the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs went all the way, winning the Stanley Cup, was the year before the assassinations of Martin Luther King Junior and Robert Kennedy – Canada’s Centennial and the year of Montreal’s world fair Expo ’67.

This is where the Leafs played back then. It was 37 years old at the time, built in 1930, is no longer used by the team, and plans for a supermarket to be built within the historic site are still just that – plans.

Royal Ontario Museum’s “Crystal” feted with music, lights


The pictures don’t adequately convey last evening’s opening ceremonies (as reported by cbc.ca) which were held outside the Bloor Street entrance to the new Daniel Libeskind-designed “Crystal”, named for lead benefactor Michael Lee-Chin. An array of talent, headlined by Jann Arden, provided a wide variety of music – from an opera aria to rap to Canadian Idol Eva Avila, Leahy and Natalie MacMaster’s fiddling.

The exterior makes a great projection screen and, by closing off the street, a genuine plaza was created (which I could easily see being repeated for other special occasions).

I will be able to get better pictures of the building when I take a members’ tour on Monday. My vantage point right at the stage did not allow for wider perspectives.

The unusual architecture has sparked quite a lively debate in the city but all I can say is it is quite spectacular!

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A consolation in London North Centre

At least Dianne Haskett can go back to Washington now – please. But she was uncomfortably tight, for a such a proper lady, against Elizabeth May in the end who has to be pleased with her second place finish.

Congratulations Glen Pearson. You’d better book yourself a hospitality suite in Montreal this weekend with more than a few national campaigners to thank.

The final results (253/253 polls):

Liberal Glen Pearson: 34.9%
Green Elizabeth May: 25.9%
(Ultra-)Conservative Dianne Haskett: 24.4%
NDipper Megan Walker: 14.1%
3 others’ combined total: 0.7%

Meanwhile, in Repentigny, QC, former sex trade worker-turned-priest Raymond Gravel easily won for the Bloc with 2/3 of the total vote; his nearest competitor, the Conservative, had just 18.7%. New Democrat Réjean Bellemare garnered a respectable, if still disappointing, 7 percent, but a small moral victory inasmuch as he was ahead of Liberal Christian Turenne’s 6.2%.

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How will London North Centre react to attempted cover-up?

There’s a reason we don’t hear some of the same expressions I remember as a kid. (I won’t list them here.)

Some of us, certainly many of us over 40, may not have realized how racist – or offensive in other ways – those childhood rhymes and game phrases were. Canada was not the multicultural, tolerant, feminist-honouring tapestry so many of us try to be about today. We have had a couple of generation’s worth of sensitivity training, but obviously not all of us were listening.

In his blog, “The Right of Left” (which, if I have the url right, has magically disappeared from cyberspace – replaced with pop-ups and spyware junk – since this controversy began), the communications director for London North Centre Liberal candidate Glen Pearson – someone by the name of Dave Burghardt – made some unacceptable, intolerant remarks. Then Glen Pearson asked the NDP’s Megan Walker to help him out.

I’m only catching up on this today because, as I casually checked my blog stats this morning, I noticed more than the usual number of hits on previous by-election entries I have written. None was about Dave Burghardt – I had not heard of him before today – and yet that was the name in these searches of my blog.

As the London Free Press points out Burghardt has also worked for Conservatives. Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum.

I don’t know a lot about London. It has a reputation for being small-c conservative (radically so in the case of Dianne Haskett!) which would explain why blue Liberals, even Conservatives in Liberal’s clothing like Pat O’Brien, have so often represented the area. Yet it is a university town, a sign of being progressive surely, with an NDP Member of Parliament, too – Irene Mathyssen – the party’s Status of Women Critic.

By-elections are a time for ridings to stand out. If ever there was an occasion in London North Centre to elect New Democrat Megan Walker it is now!

Vaughan running for T-O mayor in 2010?

One of the few Toronto City Council seats which had to change tonight was Trinity-Spadina where the former councillor, Olivia Chow, is now the area’s Member of Parliament. Chow’s former assitant, Helen Kennedy, was defeated for the seat by former CITY-TV reporter “political specialist” Adam Vaughan whose former colleagues were guessing he would take a run at the Mayor’s Office in 2010.Contrary to CITY-TV spin there are some of us New Democrats who aren’t terribly upset that Kennedy was unsuccessful. She had an air of entitlement about her candidacy which rubbed some of us the wrong way. And running on Chow’s coat-tails, after she (Chow) pissed off many young and lgbt NDippers at the federal NDP convention last September, did not add to Kennedy’s winnables.

Vaughan had a few prominent Liberals supporting him but, then, municipal politics isn’t partisan, is it? He told his TV chums tonight that City Hall is not the place for party politics.

Now that, with the City of Toronto Act, the municipality is practically a city-state maybe it’s time national parties did run candidates.

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London North Centre – By-election or Air Show?

With the exception of New Democratic Party candidate Megan Walker, and now Liberal pick Glen Pearson, the by-election in London North Centre has the feel of a skydiving club.

Of course we have Washington, D.C.’s Dianne Haskett, trying to say London is home again for her, jetting in with her theo-conservative experience for the Harpocrites, Green Party leader Elizabeth May road-testing the campaign she will eventually mount in Cape Breton, and now we have a third parachuting candidate, and just what every city needs, too – another real estate agent.

53-year old Robert Ede is running as an independent. Ede, from Thornhill, says he’ll file his candidacy credentials once he finds the minimum 100 signatures required.

The London Free Press quoted Ede as saying, “This is a special riding…and I’m a real estate salesman. I know how to go into a new market. I’m a quick study.”

Then, perhaps inadvertently, proving the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity when self-promoting – especially when it’s free – he said, “I’m a complete rookie…I’m here because the byelection is here.”

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Afghanistan: Plus ça change…

This morning CBC.ca reports “NATO soldier killed in Afghanistan” adding that eight others were wounded in the roadside blast. As I type this, NATO has not yet released the nationalities of the soldiers but recently the odds have been such that we should prepare for bad news for Canadians.

Anti-war rallies were held across Canada yesterday. Here’s what Jack Layton told the Toronto demonstration.

London North Centre NDP – Stephen Maynard shows he’s top of the class

I do not know what role, if any, local or national politics played in Stephen Maynard handing his nomination aspirations to Megan Walker Thursday. Frankly, if it was anything other than the class act it appears to be, I don’t want to know.

There were 200-plus NDippers at the Wolf Hall of the London Library, many members having been signed up by Stephen, who ran in the riding during last January’s election. Party rules prevented Walker, who declared her nomination intentions just a week ago, from selling memberships leading up to the meeting.

“I am young and have less formal experience,” Stephen said, as reported here in Friday’s London Free Press.

“Will people take me seriously? Potential may not be enough this time (and) we need a candidate with power to win,” he said, who ran for the NDP in the riding in the last federal election.

“I fear my perceived inexperience as a candidate won’t be accepted by voters. It’s not my turn yet. It’s your turn, Megan.”

Later, Maynard said the only person he told about his decision was Walker, at a coin toss earlier in the evening to determine speaking order for the nomination meeting.

“I was as surprised as everyone else” (about Stephen’s withdrawal), Walker told the crowd as she began to deliver what she had planned to be her nomination contest speech, much of it aimed at Conservative Dianne Haskett, someone with whom she shared many differences of opinion while the two were on city council.

Haskett came back to London last week, from a Republican Party job in Washington, to run for the Theo-Con Harporites and – in what may be a publicity stunt whose bite returns – she held up her new apartment lease at her nomination meeting on Tuesday.

Walker: “London-North-Centre isn’t the London parachute club. (The riding) is not here for you to drop in when you need a job.

“Dianne, I hope the new lease you signed on your apartment has a one-month expiry date, because you’re going to need it.

Walker had words for Green Party leader Elizabeth May, too.

“London-North-Centre is not rent-a-riding to be used and discarded. Real people with real problems live here.”

The Liberals’ nomination meeting is Sunday.

“(They) just don’t know who will lead them, or who they will follow. Well, London-North-Centre deserves a hell of a lot better than that,” Walker said.

Walker named health care, education, equality, the environment, housing and the war in Afghanistan as big issues in the by-election.

“We need to bring our troops home, and not in caskets. Canadians don’t even know why we’re in Afghanistan,” she said.

“We have to work as hard as we can because Dianne Haskett needs to be stopped and sent back to Washington.”