An open letter to Justin Trudeau

What’s your answer, Mr. Trudeau?

OPEN LETTER TO Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from a Canadian, a woman and a victim of harassment by a Liberal politician.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I will be brief. I understand that my “file” is at the PMO this week. I was assaulted and harassed by the Milton Liberal candidate Azim Rizvee while he was a candidate in 2015.

I have fought and defeated him in court over the last three years when he sued me to silence me.

Now I understand you are deciding whether or not I deserve an apology. Whether or not the party should block Azim Rizvee.

I was a Liberal for decades. I was and somehow still am one of your staunchest supporters. This situation has broken my heart. This man assaulted me, hurt me, harassed and threatened me. This is not a he said she said situation. There were witnesses and other less vocal victims. I have provided testimony under oath. I have been cross examined, vigorously.

With great respect Mr. Prime Minister, I humbly beg you to stop this man, acknowledge my pain with an apology, and allow me to once again support the party whose values, I have always believed, align with my own.

I am a real person. This happened to me. I have provided the evidence and it has been tested.

Please hear me. I walked past your office today…as my husband and I are in Ottawa (he is a national award recipient this evening). It prompted tears and great emotion to be so near to the place where you are deciding whether or not to believe me.

With my profound respect,

STACEY NEWMAN

Photographer | Writer | Journalist

Milton, ON


Help us fight hate

Lisa and I will be in the criminal courts starting today, Tuesday, October 23 for the start of the prosecution we initiated against the editor and publisher of the neo-Nazi rag, Your Ward News. If you can attend – or if you can indicate support in some other way – we would be most grateful. We expect media turnout, and of course the bigots’ usual cabal.

Background you can read and share is here:

The trial runs from October 23 to October 25, starting at 9:30 am at College Park Courts, 444 Yonge Street, Second Floor.

They have arranged for one of the larger court rooms for this trial.

If you can be there, we would be honoured.


Why Tory won (bigly), why Keesmaat lost (badly), and who was behind the scenes

What, presently, is the biggest election in Canada?

It’s big, really big. Close to two million voters, and close to three million citizens. A budget of $13 billion. Greater population density than metropolitan New York City.

And – most critically – it involves all of the major political parties, and has lessons to offer all of them.

Toronto, come on down!

Now, before we get started, full disclosure: this writer is volunteering for one of the mayoral candidates. Been doing so for many months. So, bias spoiler alert.

But the Toronto municipal election perhaps provides some helpful insights about the federal election that will be concluding one year from today. Three points.

One: the so-called Left – New Democrats and orangey-red Liberals – is in trouble.

Consider their candidate, Jen Keesmaat. Toronto’s former chief planner jumped into the race way back in July. She was, and is, smart, articulate and telegenic. She attracted a top-notch team of professionals to advise her: former NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp, senior Ontario New Democratic comms guru Chris Ball, former federal Liberal ministerial advisor Beth Clarkson, Jack Layton muse Brad Lavigne, and a former Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Adam Vaughan. Among others.

Keesmaat gave as good as she got in debates. She knew the issues. The camera loved her, the media gave her plenty of attention, and she could speak in pithy soundbites on command.

But her campaign – despite all of that – never caught on. It stalled, and then it ground to a halt. When the Toronto mayoral campaign concludes, a week from today, Jennifer Keesmaat may well end up more than forty percentage points behind her main opponent, Toronto mayor John Tory. As such, she is days away from the most humiliating municipal loss the Left has experienced in Toronto in decades.

Not everything that ails the Left can be pinned on Jagmeet Singh, folks. If the disastrous Jennifer Keesmaat has shown us anything, it is that voters remain suspicious of political options on the Left. Even in Toronto, where the political Left has traditionally found a foothold, things have gotten decidedly frosty.

Two: the centre is still the place to be.

In the Trump era – post-Brexit, when so-called “populist” candidates are seemingly winning public office across the Americas and Western Europe – we have become accustomed to centrist candidates being squeezed out by the political extremes. In these nasty, brutish and short-sighted times, voices of moderation seem to be outnumbered.

But, again, consider Toronto’s mayoral race. John Tory, the incumbent, may have a Progressive Conservative pedigree – he was formerly the provincial Tory leader, and has been a federal Progressive Conservative strategist – but he and his campaign have hewn closely to the political centre. And it has paid rich political dividends.

Tory’s mayoralty has been characterized by moderation and balance. He has held the line on taxes, but also championed a transit discount for seniors, and a Kids Ride Free transit program. He’s pushed to hire more police (which has pleased the political Right) – while also becoming a national voice for a handgun ban (which has delighted the political Left). As a result, polls show Tory is supported by as much as 70 per cent of traditional Liberal voters – and a majority of Conservative voters, as well. Not many politicians can claim to do that.

As such, his team – campaign and/or mayoral – has been always comprised of advisors from across the ideological spectrum. Luke Robertson, Vic Gupta, Amanda Galbraith, Vince Gasparro, Keerthana Kamalavasan, Don Peat, Deb Hutton, Andrew Tumilty, Courtney Glen, Chris Eby, Amanda Galbraith and (of course) Nick Kouvalis – they were brought together, and kept there, by Tory’s centrist approach. (Me, too.)

The mayoral race has itself become a microcosm of the wider political clashes now taking place across Western democracy. On Tory’s Left was the aforementioned Jennifer Keesmaat, around whom the ideological Left has rallied. On the mayor’s Right were assorted candidates of the Right and far-Right – among them Faith Goldy, a white supremacist with a formidable social media presence, and James Sears, the publisher of a neo-Nazi newspaper.

In Toronto, the ideological extremes essentially reminded voters why they wanted to vote for John Tory. The attacks that Keesmaat (in particular) levelled at Tory – that he was dull, that he delayed, that he dithered – rebounded on her. Voters rallied around him, preferring Tory’s calm, methodical and decidedly centrist approach.

Three: campaigns still matter.

In Trump times, again, it had seemed that running a chaotic, shambolic election campaign – as Trump did in 2016 – won’t hurt your chances, so much. The candidates who seemed to be winning seemed the be the ones who didn’t run campaign ads, didn’t prepare for debates, and didn’t have staff with any experience. Donald Trump, in other words.

The outcome of the Toronto municipal race suggests all of that was the exception, not the rule. John Tory’s campaign was staffed by experienced Conservatives, Liberals and even a few New Democrats – and the experience showed. On election night, Tory will not merely win: polls suggest he will win in a landslide against a capable and smart opponent.

It’s never a good idea to read too much into by-elections. So, too, municipal races, and what they mean for politics generally.

But this Toronto municipal race has been significant – for what it means for Canada’s political Left, for centrist politicians, and for traditional election campaigns.

It matters.