Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Democrats narrowly regain seat in Cumberland byelection

LA RONGE, Sask. — It came down to the wire but the Saskatchewan NDP managed to pull ahead by barely a nostril Wednesday to win a byelection in the province's northeast.

The party has held the constituency of Cumberland since 1971 but there were some nervous moments for odds-on favourite Doyle Vermette, who see-sawed all night with dark horse Dale McAuley, the former mayor of Cumberland House who was running for the Saskatchewan Party.

"In the end, a win's a win's a win," said a thrilled NDP Leader Lorne Calvert. "Close only counts in horseshoes."

During the campaign, Vermette had dismissed suggestions that voters wanted a member in government to represent them, but after the vote he admitted that may have been a factor.

"People definitely looked at that," he said. "(But) even though the Saskatchewan Party is in power, they decided to elect an NDP candidate to represent them."

Calvert agreed the Saskatchewan Party's push to elect a government member was a "powerful argument" but also observed "that argument didn't carry the day."

By the time Wednesday's counting was done, Vermette, a one-time councillor for the northern village of Air Ronge, was declared the winner by just 164 votes.

With all 39 polls reporting, the unofficial tally was 1,564 for Vermette, 1,400 for McAuley and just 181 for Tory McGregor of the Greens. The Liberals didn't run a candidate.

Absentee and hospital ballots were still to be counted on July 7, but they numbered only about a dozen and were unlikely to alter the outcome.

McAuley hedged on whether he would apply for a judicial recount, which the Elections Act says he can ask for if the margin of victory is less than the total number of all unopened envelopes, rejected ballots and ballots objected to.

At first he said it was unlikely, then he said he'd like to sleep on it. Calvert said he thought the margin was sufficient to make a recount unlikely.

"I would have liked to have won, but I guess (it was) just not quite enough votes to come to be victorious," said McAuley, who was also at one time an area director for the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan.

"But it was close. I thought I was going to win."

While conceding defeat to the NDP, Ken Krawetz, the Saskatchewan Party's deputy leader, counted the closeness of the vote as "a huge success."

"It clearly shows there isn't a safe NDP seat in Saskatchewan," he said. "I think the Saskatchewan Party has proven itself in a short while and we're going to be competitive in every constituency in the province."

Cumberland is a massive constituency with a small population. It covers the entire northeastern quarter of the province, but had only 9,413 eligible voters in the provincial election last November in which the Saskatchewan Party wrested power from the NDP.

New Democrat Joan Beatty easily captured the seat with more than 3,000, or 66 per cent, of the 4,700 ballots cast.

But Beatty quit in January to run for the federal Liberals in a March byelection, which she lost. On Wednesday, she said she would again seek the Liberal nomination in the riding of Desnethe-Missinipi-Churchill River for the next federal election.

The vote did not change the balance of power because the governing Saskatchewan Party holds 38 seats to the NDP's 20.

Wednesday's result was just the latest tight election race in Saskatchewan.

Following the Nov. 7 election, three constituencies - Prince Albert Carlton, Moose Jaw North and Meadow Lake - had close results.

The final tally Nov. 19 gave the Saskatchewan Party wins in Prince Albert Carlton and Moose Jaw North. But in Meadow Lake, it took a judicial recount a month after the election to confirm that Saskatchewan Party candidate Jeremy Harrison had defeated NDP incumbent and former industry minister Maynard Sonntag by 36 votes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This is the most disgusting show in arrogance that Harper and the Conservatives have ever shown.



In a secret Cabinet briefing document dated August 10, 2006, the Harper Government spelled out a methodical, step-by-step plan to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) single desk for wheat and barley.

The document listed nearly every totalitarian tactic the government subsequently used against the CWB, including: a gag order, an attempt to change the CWB mandate through Cabinet Order, firing CWB CEO Adrian Measner and other appointed Directors and replacing them with Directors who “favour marketing choice,” a plebiscite with a three-part question and “no specified percentage” for victory.

The previously-classified Cabinet document was made public by lawyers representing the CWB during a court hearing in Winnipeg June 16. The six-page document contained several blacked-out portions, but listed a number of “options” the Harper Cabinet could use to circumvent the democratic Parliamentary process.

The document clearly shows the Harper Government had a pre-determined agenda, and was determined not to let democracy or real information get in the way, said National Farmers Union President Stewart Wells. “This document proves the anti-democratic actions of the Harper Government were mapped out in advance. Also, keep in mind that in court documents from the previous case led by the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board, the Harper Government admitted that it had done absolutely no financial analysis of the effects of weakening or destroying the CWB.”

Among the “options” contained in the once-secret document are:

1. Set up a “non-binding” vote among wheat and barley producers after implementing a gag order on the CWB to prevent any advocacy for the single desk option. The outcome of the vote would be pre-determined: “Following the vote, the Minister would return to Cabinet with the next steps to end the compulsory aspects of the CWB and to implement marketing choice for producers.”

2. Manipulation of the results of the plebiscite. The document states the government should tabulate the results to suit its objective. “There would be no specified percentage that constitutes sufficient support for a given option.”

3. Replace the appointed directors, “including the CEO, with individuals who favour marketing choice.” The document noted that if the government appointed five directors, and was able to gain “as few as three elected directors who favour marketing choice,” this “would constitute a majority of the board of directors and would be able to use the discretion provided to the CWB by the current legislation to lessen the compulsory aspects of the CWB and provide more choice to producers.”

4. Table legislation aimed at removing the requirement for a vote by producers from the CWB Act. The document admits this option would be unlikely to pass through Parliament until the Conservative Party achieved a majority following a general election.

4. The use of “Orders-in-Council” to force the CWB to “do certain things” to weaken the single desk.

Wells said the Cabinet briefing document is “an incriminating document” that spells out, in the government’s own words, its intention to end farmers’ democratic control of their marketing agency.

- 30 –

Contact: Stewart Wells, NFU President (306) 773-6852 or (306) 741-7694

Terry Pugh, NFU Executive-Secretary (306) 652-9465

Darrin Qualman, NFU Director of Research (306) 652

Friday, June 6, 2008

In Memory of Ed Tchorezewski

Today is one of the saddest days in Saskatchewan. Last night, Ed Tchorzewski passed away. It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog.

Ed was instrumental in pulling Saskatchewan back from the brink of bankruptcy. His style, manner and confidence was and will remain an inspiration to all that knew him.

Ed was never far away from a phone when I needed his advise or guidance. His words of wisdom moved me forward and his support fostered confidence.

To his loving wife, Shirley and his entire family, I wish to express my deepest heartfelt condolences. If I had but one goal achieved in my life, it would be to become half the man that Ed was. Then I would know that I had truly achieved success.

God speed my friend!

Please see the Saskatchewan New Democratic Caucus Release below:

News Release

June 5, 2008

ndp leader lorne calvert remembers ed tchorzewski fondly

NDP Leader Lorne Calvert today extended his deepest sympathy to the family of Ed Tchorzewski on his passing.

“Ed will be remembered as a stalwart individual,” Calvert said.

“In every endeavour, whether it be in his personal life, or in his political life, Ed gave 100%. He will go down in the history of Saskatchewan as someone who helped to move this province forward.”

Ed Tchorzewski was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1971, under Premier Allan Blakeney. He served in the Blakeney cabinet as Provincial Secretary, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Minister of Culture and Youth, Minister of Health, Minister of Finance, Minister of Education and Continuing Education. He also served under Premier Roy Romanow, in the nineties, as Deputy Premier, Finance Minister, Municipal Government Minister and Minister responsible for SGI and SaskTel.

“It didn’t matter what portfolio Ed was in, he always served with distinction,” Calvert said.

“Without a doubt, his most important role was that of finance minister following the 1991 provincial election. It was Ed Tchorzewski, who a very big way pulled Saskatchewan back from the brink of bankruptcy.”

Calvert telephoned Ed’s wife Shirley to personally extend his condolences on behalf of the NDP caucus to the entire Tchorzewski family.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

House of Commons adopts Layton’s Kyoto Plus bill

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OTTAWA – Today, with the passage of NDP Leader Jack Layton’s private member’s bill, The Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-377), Canada’s House of Commons has become the first elected chamber in the world to adopt science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, from 1990 levels, by 2050.

“This is a world first,” said Layton. “Our legislation sets tough but achievable targets that will ensure Canada does its share to avoid the dangerous two-degree increase in average global temperature that scientists warn us about.”

“When Conservatives filibustered this bill in committee, we kept fighting relentlessly for this law,” said NDP Environment Critic Nathan Cullen (Skeena Bulkley-Valley), who led the legislative efforts and negotiations in the environment committee. “The cost of doing nothing to combat climate change would mean economic and environmental disaster for Canada. This is exactly why working families don’t trust the Conservatives.”

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

See a pattern here? Part 5

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It was the first event of its kind in Regina since a 17-year-old-video surfaced earlier this year showing Lukiwski making derogatory remarks about homosexuals.

Lukiwski issued a lengthy apology for the comments, saying they don't represent his views and adding he would spend the rest of his life trying to make it up to the people he hurt.

However, Lukiwski hasn't made a very good start, parade organizer Nathan Markwart said.

"We haven't even been graced with an 'I won't show' or 'Unfortunately, I cannot attend due to conflicting events,'" he said. "Nothing, nothing. Obviously, when he said he would spend the rest of his life making amends, that's going to be a bit longer."

Lukiwski is still welcome to come to any and all of the gay pride events happening over the next week week, Markwart said.

Calls to Lukiwski's office were not returned on the weekend.

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The entire Conservative Party is rank with homophobia!! - Part 4

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Sound Effect of the Day.
When Liberal Sue Barnes rose to wonder why the famously repentant Tom Lukiwski has so far failed to meet with the gay and lesbian community in Regina, the Conservative benches audibly hissed.
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Thomas, your losing this one - Part 3

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Also seen on the same tape was Tom Lukiwski -- in 1991, a senior election campaign staffer in the Progressive Conservative party, but now the Conservative MP for Regina-Lumsden-Lake centre. Caught slurring gays on the tape, he did -- to his credit -- publicly apologize several times and in an April 4 speech in the House of Commons said: "I will spend the rest of my career and my life trying to make up for those comments."

How odd, then, that he was conspicuously absent from the weekend Gay Pride parade in Regina, to which he had been invited several months ago. A good speaker like Lukiwski could have shown up, absorbed a few jeers, then delivered a Wall-like speech again expressing apologies for his comments and calling on all to show tolerance toward others.

By declining to show up -- or even respond to the invitation -- he has merely recharged the energy of his critics. It was an opportunity lost and a wound left unhealed.

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Ahhh Thomas - Part 2

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"I was tied up in meetings all day on Saturday, had events in the evening as well as during the day," Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre MP Tom Lukiwski said Monday.

They also noted his absence at City Hall on Monday, where a rainbow flag was raised at noon, an event attended by city councillors and NDP and Saskatchewan Party members of the legislative assembly.

"Tom, where are you?" one organizer said into a microphone.

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Lukiwski Explained - Part 1

Here we go, an insight into sincerity!!!
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> Clarity. It's a great thing. Take today's appearance by Tom Lukiwski on John Gormley Live. He made it explicitly clear about what he meant in this apology two months ago.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, and all of my colleagues in this House, that I will spend the rest of my career and my life trying to make up for those shameless comments.*

* - Void where prohibited. Offer not always available on weekends when I'm busy or at times while the House of Commons is sitting. Some assembly required. Efforts to make up for comments will be made in private. Portions not affecting the outcome of the game have been edited for broadcast. Driver does not carry cash. You can name drop meeting me, but I won't name drop you. Contents under pressure. For office use only.

Whew! That made it explicitly clear!

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

MP a no show for Pride week

I am not surprised that Tom Lukiwski was would be present at the parade or kick-off, even though he is home in Regina for the weekend.

His belligerent, arrogant and homophobic remarks resulted in a complete and utter insincere apology to the country. When will we all realize that Harper and the Conservatives are NOT the party or the people to lead our country...Shame Shame and dbl Shame!!!

REGINA — A Conservative member of Parliament, who promised earlier this year to spend his life promoting tolerance after a video surfaced of him making anti-gay remarks in 1991, was a no-show Saturday at Regina's gay pride parade.

"Mr. Lukiwski stated in his public apology ... that he would spend the rest of his life making amends," said gay pride spokesman Nathan Markwart. "Well, when exactly does that kick in?

"It is clear that his apology is less than sincere and is, in fact, hollow as it has not been followed up with any concerted effort to join our celebrations as an elected official who respresents gays and lesbians in Regina and surrounding area."

Markwart noted that the disappointment was heightened by their understanding that Lukiwski was in the Regina area this weekend.

Gay groups said they were disappointed that Regina-Lumsden MP Tom Lukiwski didn't even respond to an invitation to attend the parade.

MP who apologized for anti-gay remarks a no-show for Regina pride parade

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