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One for the books: 2022 Politics and the Pen – Ottawa Business Journal

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Pity poor Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota, who had the job of getting a roomful of social butterflies to hush up and listen during this year’s Politics and the Pen dinner, which was back in the flesh Tuesday for its first time since 2019.

It took a bagpiper to get the roughly 500 guests to clear out of the cocktail reception areas and into the Fairmont Château Laurier’s main ballroom, where the laughs, smiles and chatter continued. Rota repeatedly called for order. Former politician Brian Tobin, now vice chair of BMO Financial Group, tried the tapping-the-utensil-against-a-glass trick. Eventually, folks took their seats and settled in.

“After two years of COVID, an event like this is just wonderful for the soul,” Rota told the black-tie dinner crowd. “It’s nice to see people interacting in person rather than on video conference.”

The sold-out gala, which had the support of CN, CIBC, Imperial and other corporate sponsors, is the largest fundraiser for the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a charitable organization that advances, nurtures and celebrates Canadian writers and writing. It also brings politicians together with prolific authors and journalists to poke a little fun at each other and themselves. 

The event raised more than $300,000 this year, culminating with the awarding of the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing to Joanna Chiu, senior journalist for the Toronto Star and author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder.

Rodger Cuzner, former long-time Liberal MP for Cape Breton, may have left politics but everyone was happy to have him back for his always-popular video to open the evening program, done by Shaw Communications. Cuzner is now Canada’s consul general in Boston.

Elizabeth Gray-Smith and Patrick Kennedy were co-chairs of the Politics and the Pen literary gala that took place at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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It was a sold-out crowd at this year’s Politics and the Pen gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota tries to quiet the crowd in order to start the evening program at Politics and the Pen. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Elizabeth Gray-Smith, co-founder of GSD&Co, co-chaired this year’s Politics and the Pen with Patrick Kennedy, principal at Earnscliffe Strategies. They were joined by fellow volunteer committee members Jim Armour (Summa Strategies), Hardave Birk (Shaw Communications), Maureen Boyd (Parliamentary Centre and Carleton University), Heather Bradley (Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons), Catherine Clark (Catherine Clark Communications) and Dan Mader (Loyalist Public Affairs).

Clark also chairs the board of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a Toronto-based national organization led by award-winning Canadian author Charles Foran as its executive director.

Clark’s famous parents — former prime minister and former PC leader Joe Clark and Maureen McTeer, who’s a long-time advocate for gender equality and women’s health — attended that night as authors.

So did former governor general David Johnston and his wife, Sharon Johnston, and retired Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin, who in 2020 was presented the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for her memoir.

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien, 88, was also among the distinguished guests. 

Marci Ien and Seamus O’Regan, both of whom are federal cabinet ministers, served as this year’s delightful co-hosts. They’re close pals from their days together in television broadcasting on CTV’s former morning news show, Canada AM.

“It is so much fun, I have to say, co-hosting with you here again,” Ien told O’Regan on stage during an affectionate moment shared between the two. 

Ien went on to point out that she’s the second black woman from the GTA to serve in cabinet, after Jean Augustine, while O’Regan is the second gay man to serve in cabinet, after Scott Brison.

“Yeah, yeah, the second gay man to serve in cabinet,” replied O’Regan with a ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ expression that had the whole room laughing. “This is a political award for non-fiction, right?”

Ien, who’s the MP for Toronto Centre, is minister of women, gender equality and youth while O’Regan, who’s the MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl in Newfoundland and Labrador, is minister of labour.

Also finalists for the literary prize were Mike Blanchfield, international affairs writer for The Canadian Press, and Fen Osler Hampson, Chancellor’s Professor at Carleton University, for The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War; Stephen Poloz, former governor of the Bank of Canada, for The Next Age of Uncertainty: How the World Can Adapt to a Riskier Future; Geoffrey Stevens, former managing editor of Maclean’s and The Globe and Mail, for Flora!: A Woman in a Man’s World; and Jody Wilson-Raybould, former justice minister and attorney general, for “Indian” in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power. Wilson-Raybould was not in attendance.

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lisa Raitt, vice chair of global investment banking at CIBC, was part of the three-member independent judging panel for the literary prize, joined by Charelle Evelyn from The Hill Times and Jacques Poitras from CBC News in New Brunswick.

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Federal cabinet ministers Marci Ien and Seamus O’Regan, who had former broadcasting careers on CTV’s Canada AM, reunited to host the Politics and Pen literary gala dinner held at the Fairmont Château Laurier in support of Writers’ Trust of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Former prime minister and former PC leader Joe Clark and his wife, Maureen McTeer, both published authors, with their daughter Catherine Clark, board chair of The Writers’ Trust of Canada, and her husband, Chad Schella, general manager of government and community affairs at Canada Post, at the Politics and Pen literary gala held at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Stephen Poloz, finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, with his wife, Valerie, at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Sen. Donna Dasko, a former pollster, with retired Supreme Court chief justice and author Beverley McLachlin at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Allan Thompson, head of the journalism program at Carleton University, with former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Michael Scrivens, partner  at Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions, with Janice McDonald, author of Fearless: Girls With Dreams, Women With Vision, and Heather Bradley, member of the organizing committee for Politics and the Pen and director of communications for the Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, at Politics and the Pen. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Former Newfoundland premier and federal cabinet minister Brian Tobin, vice chair of BMO Financial Group, with his colleague Kimberley Goode, chief communications and social impact officer with BMO Financial Group, at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Power Play, with National Post political columnist John Ivison, former environment minister Catherine McKenna (who’s now chairing a UN panel related to climate change), Rodger Cuzner, consul general of Canada to New England, and François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry,  at the Politics and Pen literary gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Sharon Johnston and her husband, former governor general David Johnston — both of whom attended as published authors during this year’s Politics and the Pen literary dinner — seen with Joyce Napier, Ottawa bureau chief for CTV National News, at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Sean Finn, executive vice president, corporate services and chief legal officer for CN, with Politics and the Pen committee member Jim Armour, managing partner of Summa Strategies, and author Alex Marland at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillip
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From left, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng with Cindy Woodhouse, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Susan Smith, co-founder and principal at Bluesky Strategy Group, at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, former Conservative cabinet minister Lisa Raitt with Treasury Board President and Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jennifer Madigan, executive vice president of media and communications at Syntax Strategic, with Jennifer Stewart, president and CEO of Syntax Strategic, and Liberal MP Jenna Sudds (Kanata-Carleton) at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillip
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Charles Foran, executive director of The Writers’ Trust of Canada, with Geneviève Dumas, who recently took over as the new general manager of the Fairmont Château Laurier, at the hotel on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, for Politics and the Pen. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Dan Mader, founder of Loyalist Public Affairs, with Rob Rosenfeld, vice president, national capital region and public sector lead, at LifeWorks at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillip
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From left, retired senator Jim Munson with Rodger Cuzner, consul general of Canada to New England, and Paul Genest, senior vice president of Power Corporation of Canada, at the Politics and Pen literary gala held in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Photo by Caroline Phillip

caroline@obj.ca

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Funding and politics hit N.Ireland abortion services – FRANCE 24 English

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Issued on: 04/07/2022 – 07:36Modified: 04/07/2022 – 07:35

London (AFP) – Campaigners in Northern Ireland are closely watching US moves to restrict abortion, particularly concerns that women will now have to travel across states for terminations.

Abortion was only decriminalised in the British province in 2019 — 42 years after terminations were made legal up to 24 weeks in most circumstances in the rest of the UK.

But despite legislation, lack of government funding and political wrangling have meant women are still having to travel to the British mainland for abortions.

Currently, there are still no surgical abortion services available in Northern Ireland and no options for abortion after 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Last year, 161 women crossed the Irish Sea to England and Wales for an abortion, according to UK government statistics published last month.

“The fact that 161 people travelled last year is totally unacceptable, even one should be a scandal,” Dani Anderson from the Abortion Support Network told AFP.

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which enshrined the right to abortion prompted some states to introduce a ban.

That has raised fears women from low-income, rural and black and minority ethnic backgrounds will be hit hardest if they have to travel.

Barriers

In Northern Ireland, campaigners say this is already a reality.

Grainne Teggart, deputy programme director for Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said travelling for an abortion had not been “safe or viable” for many during the pandemic.

From a healthcare perspective, “later trimester abortions are more complex, so it is the women who should be travelling the least who are being made to travel”, added Naomi Connor, co-convener at the grassroots campaign group Alliance for Choice.

She said they have seen cases where women facing domestic violence or in coercive relationships were reluctant to make long journeys because they were “really anxious about anyone finding out”.

As in neighbouring Ireland, where an abortion ban was overturned in a 2018 referendum, religious conservatism is strong in Northern Ireland, both among Catholics and Protestants. This also led to a delay in legalising same-sex marriage.

In rural communities particularly, women have been hesitant to explicitly seek terminations because of stigma.

One refugee in Belfast, who fled her home country after a forced marriage, was told she would have to travel to receive an abortion.

But with limited knowledge of English and other restrictions, she was unable to make the journey, said Connor.

Abortion was only decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019 Niklas HALLE’N AFP

She was eventually helped, but there have been times when case workers have had to say nothing can be done.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Connor.

Politics

Healthcare is a devolved issue for the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.

But the main pro-UK party is currently refusing to join the power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists in a row over post-Brexit trade.

Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann claims he is unable to commission full abortion services without a functioning executive.

Individual health trusts that have stepped in are struggling due to limited funding.

“Since April 2020, when services were supposed to be commissioned, different individual health trusts have had to withdraw services due to a lack of resources,” said Connor.

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling Samuel Corum AFP

Last year, one trust had to temporarily suspend its early medical abortion services for a year, redirecting patients elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

Campaigners also complain of a lack of public information about options for women before they are past their first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Still, there is renewed hope that abortion services may finally be commissioned, despite the current political paralysis.

MPs in the UK parliament in London recently voted to implement access to services in Northern Ireland, passing the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022.

They allow the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to step in, controversially overriding the authority of the devolved administration in Belfast.

Teggart welcomed the regulations as a “very necessary move”.

“For the health minister (Swann) it is a damning indictment on his failure to prioritise the health of women and girls,” she said.

Lewis wants services to be “delivered and available to all across Northern Ireland as soon as possible”.

Swann was “currently awaiting legal advice” on the implications of the new regulations, his department said.

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ROTHENBURGER: Council proves absurdity of politics on parking, code of conduct – CFJC Today Kamloops

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Why? Because, claimed Mayor Ken Christian, Coun. Dieter Dudy and others, it’s just fine that it’s flawed. If it’s not any good, it can be changed later. It’s the good intention that counts.

As Singh and Walsh challenged clause after clause in the proposed Code, the answer from corporate officer Natalie Garbay to most of their questions was that the wording came from a provincial working group template, or from other cities. Not exactly an explanation.

So, the Code went through as presented, almost unscathed. Not so with Singh’s parking proposal. According to Singh, reducing parking-space requirements would help both affordable housing and the fight against climate change.

This time, though, Christian, Dudy and others supported sending it to a committee because it’s vague and needs further discussion. According to Dudy, there was too much “ambiguity” in Singh’s motion. Christian noted that the idea hasn’t gotten much traction in the community and isn’t a priority.

Singh’s motion does, indeed, require further discussion, and I suspect Singh and the rest of council will back off of it entirely as public opposition grows.

But the Code of Conduct also needed further examination because it’s very poorly written and, in some respects, too restrictive. Yet that one, according to the majority, needed to get passed right now.

Sometimes, politics is simply absurd.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or Pattison Media.

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New York's Primaries Were Decided by Politics As Usual – New York Magazine

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Governor Kathy Hochul greets people during a campaign stop on a corner of Second Avenue and 86th Street on June 28.
Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Even with earthshaking news sweeping the nation — notably, the recent Supreme Court rulings overturning decades-long laws governing abortion, environmental protection, and the carrying of concealed firearms — New Yorkers held decidedly ordinary primaries for most state offices last week. Politics is how democracies process change, and the basic rules apply to all kinds of change, be it commonplace or cataclysmic.

Rule one: Incumbency and the support of the political Establishment is often decisive. Governor Kathy Hochul, whose ten months in office were preceded by years of crisscrossing the state by car as lieutenant governor, has been making friends, cutting ribbons, and collecting IOUs for years. Since taking office last August, she’d had an incumbent’s power to hand out tax breaks, regulatory rulings, and cash grants, and could call in favors from Montauk to her hometown of Buffalo.

“She dominated what I like to call the iron triangle of New York Democratic primaries,” Democratic consultant Bruce Gyory told me. “It’s the minority vote at the base. It’s highly educated, professional women along one side, and white ethnics along the other. And she was able to win all three.”

On the Republican side, Representative Lee Zeldin was backed by nearly all of the state’s county-level party organizations, winning 85 percent of delegate votes at the GOP state convention in March. As the only elected official in the race, he gained the visibility that comes with the power to steer federal funding to different projects on Long Island, where he racked up huge majorities that powered him to victory.

While progressive candidates didn’t fare as well as they’d hoped, it’s worth noting that parts of New York have a left-leaning Establishment — and like their more mainstream counterparts, these mini-machines dutifully turned out their supporters and performed well in the Assembly primaries. In Manhattan, where Dick Gottfried is retiring after 52 years as the longest-serving Assembly member in state history, his handpicked successor, Tony Simone, was backed by nearly every incumbent on the west side, including Representative Jerry Nadler, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and City Councilman Erik Bottcher.

In Queens, the Democratic Socialists of America claimed a decisive victory for the Assembly seat left vacant by the retirement of Cathy Nolan. Juan Ardila won over 43 percent of the vote in a crowded field, thanks in part to the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Senator Jessica Ramos, and Councilmembers Tiffany Cabán, Shekar Krishnan, and Jennifer Gutiérrez. And Brooklyn’s DSA-backed incumbent, Phara Souffrant Forrest, won re-election with over 67 percent of the vote, as did self-identified socialist Emily Gallagher with about 80 percent.

In short, this was an ordinary primary in many respects, even coming just days after the repeal of New York’s concealed-carry law and the striking down of Roe v. Wade. People did not surge to the polls — but they didn’t stay away, either. Despite a lot of hand-wringing reporting about low-voter turnout — the Daily News called it “torpid” — Gyory says it’s “a bit of an optical illusion” that some journalists have misinterpreted by not taking into account an explosion of new voter registration over the last 30 years, thanks in part to registration drives and motor-voter laws that make it easy to sign up while renewing driver’s licenses.

“Historically, it’s not a low turnout. It’s actually going to probably hit 900,000. It’s going to wind up being the third-highest gubernatorial turnout since we started having these primaries,” Gyory told me. “The highest turnout ever was just shy of 1.6 [million], four years ago. The previous high was 1.2 million, the famous Koch-Cuomo gubernatorial primary of 1982.”

The state Board of Elections website records over 864,000 votes cast in the Democratic primaries, with another 446,000 among Republicans for a total of over 1.3 million.

As we gear up for congressional primaries in August and the general election in November, it remains to be seen whether big national questions — including responses to the Supreme Court rulings, and the ongoing, explosive revelations from the investigation of the January 6 insurrection — will dominate local contests.

“I believe that come September, October, that the top two issues of this campaign will be the same as the top two issues of this campaign today, and that’s crime and public safety and the economy,” Zeldin told me. “They are as personal as it gets for a broad range of New Yorkers who are seriously thinking about fleeing.”

As an anti-abortion candidate who celebrated the repeal of Roe v. Wade and would not say publicly whether he thinks Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election, Zeldin is out of step with most New Yorkers, who polls say support abortion rights and gun control. His path to victory depends on New Yorkers focusing on local issues like inflation and rising crime rates.

Zeldin has his work cut out for him — but he’s not wrong to assume that, even at a time of major upheavals, New Yorkers will focus on pocketbook issues and the need to walk the streets in safety. We should expect him and Hochul to spend the rest of the year making promises, raising money, doling out government funds, calling in favors, lining up local political clubs, and generally doing what wins elections: politics as usual.

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