Thursday, January 19, 2006

You can't disenfranchise all of us, Ianno!

Tony Ianno's campaign team seems to think that their best strategy at this point is to disenfranchise as many voters as possible. The shutdown of campus polls engineered by Team Ianno was just the beginning. Now, Ianno's campaign manager is claiming that more than 4000 names on the Elections Canada voters list are improper. According to the Toronto Star,

Campaign officials for Liberal incumbent Tony Ianno say they have filed many objections with Elections Canada asking for a review of each of the names to rule out the possibility of fraud.

... [Olivia Chow spokesperson] Nader questioned why the Liberals were raising this in the final days leading up to the Jan. 23 vote. "The timing is interesting. We have the U of T students' vote cancelled, then all of a sudden 4,000 names are errors?"

There is no question that students are furious about the last-minute machinations to block on-campus voter registration stations. According to a Globe and Mail article,

"To students, this looks like an outrageous and desperate attempt to thwart our voting," Paul Bretscher, president of U of T's Students' Administrative Council, said in a statement yesterday. The council is the main student government group for undergraduates.

Livejournal blogger blindapprentice grumbles:

I think that it's shameful that a candidate would be opposed to measures
which are meant to increase voter participation. It isn't just about this
election - students who are being screwed over now may become disillusioned
with the whole process and give up on voting entirely. The last thing we
need is lower voter participation - it's already at 25% among people under

Most bloggers saw the shutdown as a transparent and desperate attempt by the Ianno team to prevent students from voting. The "Greg and Mail" says

In an earlier post I suggested that the students voting at the U of T might just
tip the balance in favour of Olivia Chow in Trinity Spadina. Guess I'm not the
only one thinking that way. As a result of complaints from the Ianno campaign
Elections Canada has put the kibosh on plans to set up polling station on the U
of T downtown campus on election day. I still don't think it will help him.

Macleans blogger Colby Cosh also wrote about the controversy.

I don't see how this can be construed as anything but a horrifying faceplant for Kingsley and Elections Canada. Ianno took two weeks to complain, either because of astonishing inattention on the part of his campaign staff or because he knew it made sense to have the registration drive cancelled just 14 hours before it was to begin.
One thing is clear: I have no doubt that election day will be intense in Trinity-Spadina, with Ianno doing their darndest to challenge the eligibility of anyone who looks like they might vote against the Liberals (i.e. everyone except Tony's infamous "busloads of 'instant Liberal' old ladies in black dresses").

Oh, in other news: apparently an anti-Olivia Chow blog popped up briefly last night and disappeared just as fast. People were laughing at it, calling it "classic liberal smear and fear campaigning" by "desperate Ianno workers". After the Klander affair, you'd think the Liberals would be more cautious about blogging. And, of course, at this late stage in the game it is unlikely that any new blog will have any effect. I've been writing this blog since April of last year, and only very recently has anyone begun to notice it; it has a pretty low pagerank on Google. That said, there are comments coming in so some are reading... thanks to all of you for your kind words and support.

Is Ianno quaking with fear?

The very-local newspaper, the Annex Gleaner has published an editorial cartoon critical of Tony Ianno. Thanks to artist Brett Lamb for allowing us to republish this image!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ianno shuts down campus polls

Elections Canada has reportedly caved to pressure from the Liberal Party and cancelled special voting stations for students at the last minute.

According to a press release from U of T's student council and the Canadian Federation of Students:
Elections Canada had officially notified the students' union, as well as candidates in the riding, that special ballot student voting would occur over three days, at seven locations in campus residences. The students' union had widely publicized these arrangements, in an effort to encourage students to participate in the Federal Election. On Saturday, January 14, at 9:45 pm, the evening before voting was set to begin, Elections Canada informed the students' union that these voting arrangements were being cancelled. No explanation was provided.
According to the Progressive Bloggers site:
This is incredible and perhaps the truest indication of how low the Team Martin will go in their quest for power. Taking a page out of the George W. Bush Florida Team’s handbook, the Liberal Party of Canada has apparently filed a legal complaint to prevent advance polling and special balloting at the St George U of T campus. Ianno’s team has confirmed that it was a Liberal Party challenge which caused the cancellation of the voting initiative effecting thousands of students. This is an important issue for the Trinity-Spadina riding because of the high rate of NDP support among students. Every student that doesn’t vote is likely a positive thing for the Ianno campaign.

Tony Ianno: Antihero

Maclean's magazine blogger Paul Wells pointed out some Liberal hypocrisy last week. On Friday morning, Paul Martin announced that the Liberals would create a "heroes fund" to compensate the families of 'first responders' - firefighters and other rescue workers who are killed in the line of duty.

Of course, this fund was in fact first proposed in October as an NDP motion in Parliament. When that motion came to a vote, nearly the entire Liberal cabinet voted against it, including junior minister Tony Ianno.

Despite Liberal opposition, the bill passed by 49 votes, but the Liberals have not yet done anything to make it happen. However it seems they have nothing against using it to gain votes.

The NDP calls these "values of convenience".

Friday, January 13, 2006

Projecting a defeat for Ianno

DemocraticSPACE's Jan 12 projection predicts that Tony Ianno will lose to Olivia Chow by a 9% margin (43% NDP, 34% LIB).

Of course, it was a lot closer than that last time, so it may be a little early to be counting chickens. However, I think a lot of factors point to a defeat for Ianno:
  • the Conservative surge: there's no way local CPC rep Sam Goldstein can win, but I would bet that he'll be siphoning votes away from Ianno, rather than the NDP
  • the Klander racial slur, and the Chinese head tax issue, will hurt Ianno in the Chinatown polls
  • Ianno is finally being taken to task for his support of the rogue Toronto Port Authority and the much-hated Island Airport
  • Recent revelations about possible corruption at the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative have tied Ianno's riding association to the companies that received untendered contracts
  • NDP supporters who were bitterly disappointed by the extremely close loss in 2004 will be redoubling their efforts to elect Olivia Chow this time around

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Corruption on the waterfront tied to Ianno

Breaking news from the Globe and Mail this morning. Federal officials failed to publish the most critical findings of an audit into how public money has been spent by the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative. The decision not to release these findings was made during a federal election in which government transparency and ethics has been a major campaign focus. Several of the companies that were improperly awarded waterfront contracts are large donors to the Trinity-Spadina Liberal riding association, thus linking Tony Ianno to the corruption.

The TWRI has spent almost $30-million since 2001. One of the recommendations of the audit team that was not included in the published report was that there should be an investigation as to "whether there was unauthorized usage of funds" involving some waterfront contracts.

The public report noted that two contracts were signed after work had already begun and that 10 contracts were awarded without competition even though they were above the $75,000 level that requires an open bid.

According to the Globe and Mail:

The public version of the internal audit by Human Resources Skills Development Canada also omits a chart that lists the 10 sole source contracts that were awarded in violation of the rule requiring public bids. The document shows some were well above the $75,000 maximum.

They include $2.2-million to Goodmans LLP for legal services; $1.7-million to KPMG for "procurement, financial reporting and bookkeeping services," including a contract signed Nov. 25, 2004, for work done between Sept. 1, 2003, and Aug. 31, 2004; and $1-million to McMillan Binch LLP for corporate legal services.

Several of the companies on the list were large donors to the national Liberal Party and riding associations of current and former Liberal MPs in the Greater Toronto Area, including Tony Ianno, Bill Graham, Carolyn Bennett, Bonnie Brown, Albina Guarnieri, Elinor Caplan and David Collenette.

I can hardly wait to watch Lazy Tony try to weasel his way out of this at upcoming debates!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

CBC misrepresentation

Last night's 6 o'clock CBC news had a short feature on the race in Trinity-Spadina, illustrated with coverage of Sunday's waterfront debate. Unbelievably, reporter James Murray described Tony Ianno's demeanor at the debate as "cool under fire". Murray must have been out of the room a lot; the reality is that Ianno repeatedly lost his temper and shouted angrily at the crowd at least twice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More Trinity-Spadina debates

Just a quick post to let readers know about two all-candidates forums in the riding. I will be at both of them and will be sure to give you my impressions of Ianno's performance in both.

The first is tonight (late notice, I know - but y'all check this site obsessively, don't you?)

Tuesday, 10 January 2006, *7:30pm: Trinity Spadina Federal Election Candidate Forum at Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (SW corner of Bloor and Spadina). Sponsored by local business improvement area organizations

The second is on January 16th, at U of T's Hart House:

WHAT: Trinity-Spadina All-candidates Debate
WHEN: 6:30 pm on Monday January 16, 2006.
WHERE: The Great Hall, Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle.
This event is organized by the Hart House Debates Committee, Get Your Vote On, Canada 25 and the Hart House Social Justice Committee as part of the January 16th National Day of Action on Youth Voting. The Day of Action is part of national non-partisan effort to get voters to the polls.
I hope that a lot of students will attend the Hart House forum. I wonder if many of them are aware that Tony Ianno voted against an NDP bill that would have eliminated the discriminatory way that student loan debts are treated by bankruptcy law. Basically, if you are in debt on your credit cards, or car payments, going bankrupt will discharge those debts... but not student loan debt! No, you have to carry that debt for at least ten years.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tony Ianno's Terrible Temper

I attended the Trinity-Spadina debate at the Harbourfront community centre yesterday. Tony Ianno took heavy fire from residents, particularly over the issue of the rogue Toronto Port Authority that he helped create, and the expansion of the Island Airport. You can read reports in the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, and Globe and Mail.

I've lived in this riding for ten years, and this was actually the first time I've seen Tony Ianno in the flesh. It quickly became clear that one reason Ianno keeps such a low profile in the riding is that he has a serious temper control problem. At least twice during the debate, Ianno stood up and raged at the audience. It was admittedly a largely partisan crowd, but still, you'd think any smart politician would know better than to shout at his constituents in a public meeting. I think Ianno has developed a sense of entitlement when it comes to this riding, and he seems to take challenges as a personal insult.

Another thing that was obvious is that Ianno has a major hate-on for Toronto mayor David Miller. You could hear the venom in his voice every time he mentioned the mayor, and he mentioned him a lot, trying to shift blame for the 35-million dollar bridge payoff Ianno engineered for the Port Authority.

The debate format itself was painful. Ten different community groups sponsored the event, and each submitted one question for the candidates in the first half of the debate. It seemed like eight of the ten were re-phrasings of the same question: what is the future of the Toronto Port Authority and the island airport? Are there really no other issues affecting this community? The ham-handed moderation by York prof Susan Swan was also poor.

By about the fourth question, even Ianno was claiming that he would listen to the community and work to close the airport, although he claims it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to do so. Of course, he has very little credibility, as he has been the incumbent for 12 years and has done nothing to date. His big claim on recent developments in the TPA/airport issue was that he had sent a letter to the Minister of Transportation inquiring about it. Oooh, a whole letter! And the Minister had "agreed to communicate" with him on it! Such progress! Such dedication!

The individual questions from the audience in the second half were slightly more varied, but still, about a third of them continued to harp on the airport. One questioner brought up the trust fund issue, which brought cries of protest from Ianno's team in the audience, who shouted "there is no trust fund"! Well, there isn't NOW. Apparently (and this only became clear a few days ago) Ianno's trust fund was dissolved two years ago when the election finance laws were changed to close that loophole. He still refuses to disclose the donors or reveal how the money liquidated from the fund was spent. As the questioner pointed out, the residents of the waterfront would dearly like to know if any of the people with financial interests in the Island Airport are amongst those donors. Surprisingly, the Conservative party candidate, Sam Goldstein, leapt to the defense of Ianno, pointing out that the trust funds were not illegal when they were established. Of course, while they were not technically illegal, they were never ethical. They made use of loopholes in campaign finance laws, and obviously any anonymous, unregulated donation to a political candidate raises major ethical issues. We must know to whom our members of Parliament may feel financially beholden! This is currently a major issue for MP Sarmite Bulte, and it should be an issue for Tony Ianno as well.

On's discussion board, some have suggested that it was unfair for Ianno to be "ambushed", "not shown any respect", and "heckled" by the audience. The fact is, Tony Ianno has had twelve years to gain the trust and support of the Trinity-Spadina community. Instead, he has hidden out in the backbenches for 12 years, stayed invisible to his constituents, and done essentially nothing but show up for photo ops. He clearly doesn't respect the citizens of this riding, so he shouldn't expect them to respect him. In addition, it wouldn't be possible to 'ambush' a politician with a record of accomplishment. Most incumbents who've been around for 12 years could easily produce a long list of things they've done for their constituents. Since Ianno has no such record (look at his own website - his own campaign team can't come up with anything significant), he has no positive defence. Any promises he makes in the campaign (eg closing the airport) are significantly weakened by the fact that he's had 12 years to make things happen and has not done so.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Talking to Team Tony

In an amusing post, Urban Sherpa describes a telephone conversation with a member of Tony Ianno's campaign team:
“Actually, no. We’re voting for Olivia Chow. We just think it’s time for some new blood in this riding…..Are you kidding me? Isn’t Tony Ianno the most ineffective MP in Parliament?… No, I didn’t read that in the Annex Gleaner, it was in the Globe and Mail….Well, I don’t think that Hansard Notes is totally erroneous. Okay. Merry Christmas.”

I keep hoping I'll be home when Team Tony comes to my door, so I can look one of his volunteers in the eye and ask them how they can possibly respect themselves, campaigning for such a useless candidate.

Catching up with Lazy Tony

OK, time to play catch-up with all sorts of news on the Terrible Tony front.

First I want to encourage any readers (ha! wishful thinking I'm sure) to attend the Waterfront debate this Sunday.
Federal election: Waterfront debate this Sunday
Date: This Sunday, January 8, 2006
Time: Noon to 2pm
Place: Harbourfront Community Centre — SE corner of Bathurst St. and Queen’s Quay W.

It has been 1,444 days since the Federal Transport Minister said the best plan for Toronto’s money losing island airport would be to close it down. How many more days before the Feds finally act? We’ll find out this Sunday at the Trinity-Spadina candidates’ debate. For more specifics on the event and questions that will be asked click here.

The focus of this debate will be the role and the future of the federal government’s waterfront airport on Toronto Island and the role and the future of the federal Port Authority, which runs the airport. This is your chance to hear from and question the four main candidates in the Trinity-Spadina race:

Conservative — Sam Goldstein, Green Party — Thom Chapman, Liberal — Tony Ianno (sitting MP), NDP — Olivia Chow

CommunityAIR and other waterfront community groups are sponsoring this debate.

As I said over at (which I just joined, at least partly in hopes of attracting more eyeballs to this site), I am hoping that Ianno gets reamed at this debate -- if he's brave enough to show up. Basically, due to his support of the Toronto Port Authority (see my previous posts!), he is personally responsible for much of what is wrong with Toronto's beleaguered waterfront. If only the Liberal condo-dwellers had done their research in the last election!

Tony Ianno's trust fund is also getting some attention. Blogger Inaki Mondragon seems to have been able to generate some traction on the issue of Ianno's $250,000 slush fund, which, due to loopholes in election finance laws, allows people to make large anonymous donations which Tony can use for just about anything he wants. Torontoist picked up the story on Wednesday, and apparently CBC radio had an item about it this morning. With luck Ianno will not be able to remain under the radar on this.

Torontoist also had a recent story about the 'Stop the Violence' vigil for Jane Creba, the girl who was shot while shopping at Yonge-Dundas square on Boxing Day. Apparently, Ianno stood next to the Torontoist reporter respectfully for most of the ceremony, but when rival Olivia Chow came forward with city councilor Pam McConnell to dedicate a candle, he wasted no time pushing his way to the front of the crowd. Wouldn't want to miss a photo op, now would we?

Going back even further, I must admit I was surprised to read that Ianno had spoken out against the racist blog comments by Liberal organizer Mike Klander. Surprised because first of all, we know that Ianno rarely speaks out on anything, even when he's being well-paid to do so as a Member of Parliament. Secondly, it seems entirely out of character for Ianno. If you'll recall, after Ianno won the last election, rather than graciously acknowledge his opponents, which is standard practise, he took the opportunity to insult Olivia Chow. I wouldn't be surprised if he had the insulting Olivia Chow graphic as his screensaver.