Saturday, September 26, 2009

'The Golden Pin' makes its European debut!

'The Golden Pin,'
the short dramatic film I co-wrote and helped produce, has its European premiere today at the Oslo Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Norway. Sadly we are not wealthy enough to attend, saving up valuable vacation time and money for later. But it's an honour to have been selected by the festival's programmers. We wish we could be there!

'The Golden Pin' is about a young swimmer torn between the expectations of his family and the demands of his heart. Here are our Facebook pages, which include details of future screenings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New United Nations president legitimizes homophobic violence and discrimination

Thanks to Bruce for alerting me to this story.

The new President of the United Nations General Assembly, who took office last week for a one-year term, has some 'unacceptable' views on the human rights of LGBT people in the world.

When asked during a press conference this week about last year's U.N. resolution calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality throughout the world, Ali Abdussalam Treki (pictured) called the matter “very sensitive, very touchy.”

"As a Muslim, I am not in favour of it…it is not accepted by the majority of countries. My opinion is not in favour of this matter at all. I think it's not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition...It is not acceptable in the majority of the world. And there are some countries that allow [homosexuality] thinking it is a kind of democracy…I think it is not,”
he added.

Individual human dignity and equality is the basis for democratic rights, as we know. It's too bad that fact is lost on the new United Nations president.

His comments are disgusting, especially since they were spoken on the same day Treki also declared, "Dialogue and mutual understanding are the way to resolve our problems."

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee, blasted the new president's comments. “The anti-gay bigotry spewed by this Qaddafi shill demonstrates once again that the UN has been hijacked by advocates of hate and intolerance,” she said.

After giving a platform this week to Iran's bigoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, I would tend to agree.

I also heartily agree with the words of Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, co-Presidents of EveryOne Group, and Roberto Malini as published on this site.

“Ali Abdussalam Treki made a very serious statement which cannot in any way be justified. Like every other Member of the General Assembly, the President has a duty to represent the principles and the aims of the United Nations, according to the Charter adopted on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco with its respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedom for all the human beings (article 1).

"In fact, with such a declaration, the president of the General Assembly has legitimized the violence, the imprisonment and the death penalty for thousands of homosexual people all over the world.

"Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau are appealing to the General Secretary and to the Security Council - whose duty it is to solve controversies in the General Assembly regarding the principles of the United Nations - to immediately remove Ali Abdussalam Treki from his role of President for his non-compliance to the aims and principles of the UN.

"EveryOne Group is also appealing to the associations and LGBT organisations, the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the governments of the democratic countries, particularly France and Holland - who put forward the above-mentioned moratorium - to stigmatize the statements made by the President of the UN General Assembly, and to ask for the immediate removal of Ali Abdussalam Treki from the presidency of the UN General Assembly."

To tolerate Treki's comments is to welcome any and all violence against LGBT people the world over. Sad thing is, I'm sure Canada's government under Stephen Harper probably has nothing to say about this outrage. I look forward to standing corrected on that.

Wounded Miller moves on

I guess Toronto mayor David Miller saw the writing on the wall. Voters, even progressive ones in his downtown base of support like myself, were appalled with how he managed the recent municipal workers' strike. With the loss of a major fundraiser, it was clear Miller was facing a big, perhaps insurmountable challenge next year were he to run again.

Overall, Miller has been a much better mayor than his lousy predecessor, Mel Lastman. When he opens his mouth, I don't wince. In fact, quite often I've been quite proud. He's choosing his exit wisely.

Now we have a new race to watch. We'll see if George Smitherman, John Tory or anyone else makes a major run for it. It will be a very interesting race!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Evangelical voting study comes to faulty conclusions...

This has got to be one of the most ridiculous studies I've ever read. There is no basis for its main conclusion that "the Liberal Party alienated its evangelical base over a decade sending former supporters in search of new political homes."

As we know, it's true that overall voter support for the Liberal Party in Canada went from 41% in 2000 to 37% in 2004 to 30% in 2006 and finally 26% in 2008. Over this same period, support for the Liberals among evangelicals also dropped, according to the study.

Meanwhile, support for the Conservatives started at 30% in 2004 (down from a combined 38% in 2000 for the Canadian Alliance and the old PCs), then increased to 36% in 2006 and then 38% in 2008. The NDP has also gone up among the general public: from 9% in 2000, to 16% in 2004, to 17.5% in 2006 and then 18% in 2008.

If the study's numbers are true, then evangelical voting trends mimic voter shifts in the general public. Yet the study's authors make the assumption dropping Liberal support among evangelicals has mostly to do with alleged Liberal denigration of evangelical Christians, rather than other issues like the sponsorship scandal, voter fatigue with the same party in power, as well as weak leadership after Jean Chretien.

The study's authors point to a handful of alleged Liberal insults as having done the damage to evangelical support, including Warren Kinsella's infamous Canada AM appearance during the 2000 election sporting a Barney the Dinosaur doll.

The report's authors even suggest that a minor comment made by former Liberal cabinet minister Pierre Pettigrew in 2005 during the equal marriage debate was offensive and drove more Christian fundamentalists away from the Liberal Party. What comment was that, you ask? Pettigrew said, "I find that the separation of church and state is one of the most beautiful inventions of modern times." The study claims many evangelicals saw that statement as a threat to religious freedoms.

So let me get this straight: somebody praises the division of church and state and many evangelicals find this offensive? The division of church and state is the basis for religious freedoms, not a threat to them.

This study is pure bunk and does a disservice to the evangelical community in Canada. Too often, assumptions are made in this study about how "many" evangelicals felt about a certain incident or a minor comment without any data to back up those assumptions.

And lo and behold, Sun Media reports on the "study" as news because that's what Sun Media does: it reports bullshit right-wing propaganda as fact.

Support for the Liberals dropped 15% among all Canadians between 2000 and 2008. Support for the Conservatives, NDP and Greens went up during that time. Those shifts also appear to be present in evangelical voting patterns. The only conclusion one can seriously draw is that evangelical voting patterns are largely in sync with the general populace in Canada.

The intentions of this study, based on its faulty conclusions, do appear clear to me: this is nothing but a baseless, partisan, cheap shot against the Liberal party.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Iggy should let democracy do its thing in Outremont!

Continuing press coverage of the recent decision by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to block former Liberal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon from running again in the Outremont riding has forced me to speak up.

Let me add my voice to the growing chorus of Liberal bloggers in favour of democracy in the riding of Outremont. I've always been a fan of Martin Cauchon, particularly the leadership he showed in promoting equal marriage, as well as the decriminalization of marijuana. These are issues which stand us apart from the ruling troglodytes in the Conservative Party.

I also have little respect for the likes of Denis Coderre, a man who actually enjoys the sleazy aspects of political life, as far as I can tell.

Michael Ignatieff, please let Martin Cauchon run for the nomination in Outremont. He's a proven winner there, with a great following among progressives right across the country. Let's not botch that riding again and hand Thomas Mulcair another victory!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ignatieff needs a narrative asap!

Michael Ignatieff, please read (if you haven't already) and learn from this column. I used to complain about Chantal Hebert's hate-on for Stephane Dion when he was leader. I was unable to admit that she was correct in her analysis of that great man's poor leadership qualities because I was too busy drinking the Dion koolaid (and wanted to stay loyal). The voters made clear my mistake (and those of other Liberals) last October.

Since then, I've developed a great respect for Hebert's thoughtful opinions. And on Ignatieff today, she is completely right, including her remedy, shared by many observers, for Ignatieff's current problems: Iggy needs to articulate a compelling narrative to Canadians, not only for an election campaign but for his own leadership.

Until Ignatieff does this, he's doomed to fail as Liberal leader. If we go into an election campaign and Ignatieff hasn't figured out a way to win over the hearts and minds of Canadians, he will lose to Harper, whether it be 2009 or 2010.

As we know, Ignatieff has little government/political experience. But such a lack of experience isn't a recipe for failure as long as he can communicate passionately to voters who he is and why he wants to lead us. Barack Obama's success is testament to that fact. What Obama lacked in actual experience, he made up for in perceived capability. In a year when voters wanted change, he inspired and he won big.

Ignatieff will have to do the same with his own unique, inspiring message that sums up his leadership and where he wants to take the country. And it better be meaty, yet simple enough to capture hearts and minds. Voters aren't yet tired of Harper, so in lieu of an inspiring alternative they simply can't resist, they'll keep Harper. I'm sure if we had an election this fall, Harper would've won. He might've even squeaked out a majority and Ignatieff's leadership would likely be finished. Now that Ignatieff has a bit more time, I hope he does his home work and comes up with that narrative asap!


How's this for a narrative?

Ignatieff is true to his own principles: he's a smart liberal who's learned to reconcile and maintain his own values in the face of the harsh realities of this world. We don't have to give up our values as Canadians to succeed in this world. Ignatieff's tough. He straddles the political divide between left and right, always prepared to do what's right for Canadians.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Liberals easily win St. Paul's byelection...

All the biased pro-Conservative stuff masquerading as news from the Toronto Sun in favour of Sue-Ann Levy in recent weeks has been a bust. In the end, Liberal Dr. Eric Hoskins (pictured) won today's St. Paul's provincial byelection with about the same percentage of vote won by his predecessor Michael Bryant in 2007. In fact, Levy has barely increased her party's support in the riding from the 26% it got in 2007.

Final results are here.

Still I respect Levy for making a go of it. There aren't many lesbian Tories as we know, so I hope she remains active in her party, if nothing else than to encourage it not to stray too far to the socially conservative right. I do fear that this failure to make any gains in the 416-area code might inspire Tory leader Tim Hudak to retreat back to a divide-and-conquer, rural versus Toronto strategy aka Mike Harris.

All of that talk of a grassroots revolt by voters against the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax was just that. Voters just aren't incensed about the proposal, I guess. Or maybe Hoskins' big win tonight is simply due to his own strength as a candidate and campaigner.

Regardless, the people seem pretty happy right now with the Grits at Queen's Park. Congrats to all of my former colleagues on this great win and congrats to Dr. Hoskins as well!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tony Clement may not be 'folkophobic', but most of his Tory colleagues are definitely homophobic...

I don't buy Industry Minister Tony Clement's recent denial that LGBT tourism events were given "special scrutiny" after he pushed Diane Ablonczy aside and took over full control of his government's Marquee Tourism Events Program last June.

As you may recall, Ablonczy had committed the chief Tory sin of treating LGBT Canadians as full and equal citizens, worthy of government attention and a bit of funding (we do, after all, pay taxes). She gave Toronto Pride as much as $400,000 from the program and posed with local organizers for photographers at the funding announcement in June alongside a drag queen. Two weeks later, she lost control over the program.

This Canadian Press story outlines the facts quite well, including new information gleaned through Access To Information.

"This is to formally advise Minister Clement has revoked delegation of authority for the Marquee festivals program," Clement's chief of staff, Bill King, wrote to senior bureaucrats on June 29. "All files, projects, correspondence and communications are now to be managed, approved and signed off by Minister Clement instead of Minister Ablonczy."

Clement's spokesperson maintained at the time it was always envisioned that Clement would take the file over from Ablonczy after a prescribed period of time. But Industry Canada did not provide any documents through Access to Information that indicated the pre-planned transfer of responsibility. As Canadian Press reports, an 'official notice of revocation of authority is generally communicated through senior bureaucrats charged with a department's finances, rather than by a political staffer such as Clement's chief of staff.'

In early July, a Tory backbencher bragged to a conservative Christian propaganda site that protests from a "large majority" of Harper MPs about funding Toronto Pride led to Ablonczy's demotion.

Soon thereafter, Montreal's Divers-Cité gay cultural festival was told by bureaucrats it met all the criteria for funding under the program, but was rejected at the ministerial level.

"The fact of the matter is some of those programs got grants, others didn't," Clement said yesterday. "We didn't fund every folk festival. Calgary Folk Festival got funding, but Mariposa Folk Festival didn't. That's doesn't make me folkophobic."

True, but nobody from the Tory backbench bragged to an anti-folk music website about how the former minister was specifically removed because she had funded, God forbid, the Calgary Folk Festival.

But it's a matter of public record that there was an outcry of opposition in the Tory backrooms against the funding of Toronto Pride. A message had to be sent to the Conservatives' dinosaur base of supporters and punishment needed to be handed out. Ablonczy got the shaft.

We did the math, Tony. We know most of you Conservatives still hate us! Enough with your bullsh*t!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thunder Bay residents unite to protest anti-gay attack...

Thunder Bay residents are walking and rallying Friday evening to protest the recent attack on Jake Raynard, a local gay man who was left severely injured and in hospital after last weekend's incident. I'll be with them in spirit...

The following press release was sent out today to the Facebook group, 'Unified Community around Jake Raynard'

Press Release
September 10, 2009

Our Community Response to Violence

Friends and family of Jake Raynard are inviting the greater Thunder Bay community to a walk and a rally starting at Waverly Park at 6 pm on Friday, September 11 to positively respond to the targeted violence Jake and some friends experienced a week ago.

On Friday, September 4th, Jake, a 30 year old gay man and some of his friends were attacked by a group of men outside a bar in downtown Port Arthur. The beating left Jake with 15 fractures to his cheekbone, a broken eye socket, a broken jaw and a broken upper palate. This violent hate crime has shocked, devastated and enraged Jake, his family, and the entire Thunder Bay community. This is not the first time this type of attack has taken place and it is time for the community to respond in a positive display of support.

The Unified Community around Jake Raynard is calling on all people in the greater Thunder Bay community to attend this rally to:

1. Welcome Jake back into our community from the hospital, give him support, help him with his desire to put a face to hate crimes of all kinds, and acknowledge his courage in coming forward.

2. To stand united as a community and declare that WE the residents of the greater Thunder Bay area and our response to this hate crime define this community, not the attackers or this terrible crime.

This is a matter that concerns the safety of all groups in our community, the image of our beloved city, and the future we build together.

Stand up for your community as we march through the Port Arthur downtown district, and return to Waverly Park to hear from a diverse group of community leaders.

This is a crucial time for the greater Thunder Bay community-- let’s make Jake’s heroism and our community response be the stepping stone for healing and positive change on our streets and in our homes.


Here's another link to the Facebook group.

The Real, Ugly, Un-statesmanlike Stephen Harper

If you haven't seen this video of Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking privately to Sault Ste Marie Conservatives, I suggest you do, if only to get a rare and authentic glimpse into the chameleon who is currently controlling Canada's government.

As this video makes clear, Harper is still the rabidly right-wing ideologue he's been his entire life. He hasn't had the power in Parliament to ram through his true Reform Party agenda because our voting system, as archaic as it is, has to date denied him a majority.

Harper now wants a majority so he can shut down gun control in this country. He now wants a majority so he can put the screws to the opposition and, as Harper puts it, their "little coalition."

Harper is petty, bitter and possesses base, divisive instincts that are unsuitable for governing a country as diverse as Canada. He continues to demonize those who share different views than he, including those he calls "socialists" and "separatists." He's more than happy to demonize every Quebecer who's voted for the Bloc Quebecois in order to win votes elsewhere in the country. This is the same Stephen Harper who, unchecked by his advisers, right in the middle of a recession, proposed to declare war on the opposition just weeks after Canadians confirmed another Harper minority.

Harper says he won't work with the opposition, despite the repeated wishes of Canadians as expressed in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Harper is not Prime Minister material, never was and never will be. If he's unwilling to work with the opposition, he needs to be replaced outright as soon as possible. I have every belief that Michael Ignatieff would make a better Prime Minister in virtually all ways, with either a minority or a majority.

Regardless, it's time to remove this petty, ugly, bitter Harper from office!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vicious anti-gay attack in Thunder Bay!

This is shocking and repulsive news. A Thunder Bay gay man is in hospital for reconstructive surgery after being attacked early Saturday morning in what his family calls a hate crime.

John "Jake" Raynard (pictured) reportedly suffered 15 fractures to his cheekbone, a broken eye socket, a broken jaw and a broken upper palate when six to eight men surrounded him and two friends outside a Thunder Bay bar.

I look forward to the police investigation and hope those bigots involved are brought to justice!

Raynard's friends and supporters have set up this Facebook group to keep those concerned informed.

George Smitherman for Mayor of Toronto!

I'll be hoping that George Smitherman makes a run for Mayor of Toronto in 2010.

David Miller's performance in his second term as Toronto mayor has been largely unforgiveable. The damned land transfer tax imposed by Miller and his cronies continues to annoy me, especially since we know waste continues at City Hall. (I truly hope Smitherman promises to do away with the tax.)

But I'm sure most will agree that this summer's fiasco of a strike was the last straw. If Miller had meant to capitulate the entire time and allow existing municipal employees to keep their banked sick days, why did he let the strike go ahead and drag on for six weeks? Complete and total mismanagement on his part. The city still stinks!

Like many Torontonians, Miller has lost of my confidence and I hope to be able to put my 'X' next to George Smitherman next November. Please, George, make it happen!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Michael Ignatieff launches 'Worldview' TV ad

After years of being bullied by Harper's Tories with pre-election advertising, it's SO NICE to see Michael Ignatieff's Liberals get into the game. And their first effort this election season is to go positive, putting Iggy front and centre along with the essence of his message to Canadians. I am truly excited about getting this guy elected as our Prime Minister as soon as possible.

Bring on the election and let's get rid of this interim Reformatory government!