Monday, August 3, 2015

(this was my hope)

and although I am cowardly
I have to speak
I have made a small place
where I can seek

and although I am cowardly
I have said what I must
these stories that speak about failures
and the betrayals of trust

and although I am cowardly
although I love my family best
I have expanded the circumference
and tried to help the rest

and although I am cowardly
and I mostly hide in my room
I have been brave here and spoken out
I have spoken of shame and doom

and although I am cowardly
and knew nothing of the heart
here are the stories I have written
in fragments and in part

and although I am cowardly
the soul is blue now     because I spoke
instead of staying silent
(this was my hope)

and although I am cowardly
once I see something that is bad
I must risk myself to correct the matter
    this is all so very sad

and although I am cowardly
my example is now before you
if I can speak for my handicapped sister
surely you can too?

and although I am cowardly
and would rather remain silent
I have seen evil and it grows in the darkness
if I do nothing the situation becomes malevolent

and although I am cowardly
I understand how to make myself free
I put down the stories so that you might attempt
these are the stories of others     that have changed me

the world aches for such visions in each of us

do what you can
to free yourself
read your way out of prison
and think hard about myths and fairy tales
these are the tools you can use
to dig yourself out of  the grave
and make a garden out of hell

do what you can
to free yourself
make yourself clean
and speak kindly (or as kindly as you can)
about all     be gentle with those you encounter
for one day you will be in their places of doubt
and trouble       there is time enough for all you want to do

do what you can
to free yourself
look back at history
to see how we were fooled by politicians
miming success and victory
trust only in your mind to understand
the path you must make      the stones you carry will be heavy

do what you can
to free yourself
and in meeting with strangers
speak love love love to everybody
understand courage is simply the decision
to be afraid and still go relentlessly forward
to the future you     that you become by deciding to act

do what you can
to free yourself
but act  for words alone will not be enough
the world aches for such courage of ordinary people
the world aches for us to speak and dissent
the world aches for ordinary people to believe and trust
in themselves sufficiently   to act on behalf of others

the world aches for such visions in each of us

there is time enough for all you want to do
 love love love
but act 
the world aches for such visions in each of us


and the garden slumped
so I went out
to rip out delphiniums
they were threadbare
I put them in the wheelbarrow
and ignored the remnants
still struggling to grow
instead I was hard
and replaced them
with Home Depot annuals
that are placed where they were
in groups and clumps
the story is always about change
and persistence

and the garden slumped
so I went out
to see the apples on the roses
they had somehow got stuck
as they fell
the mice reaped what I had planted
and the hare lurks to snatch what I can't hide from him
the lilies are again decapitated
and only the thorns and canes prevent
the criminal hare from attacking the roses
that are pink in the fists of the bushes
the sunflowers open their bibles to speak
about the eternal life as a light for the world
I am staring at the congregation that prays
I would say this the stance to take in the world

and the garden slumped
so I went out
to rip out the thistles that were seeking heaven as well
in among the lilies that have put up their orange lanterns
so that in the darkness we might see
the fools and debauchees
who use public funds to continue their own party in power
I am not sure if we are going to be fooled again
(it is hard to figure out the asses from the donkeys)
but certainly I have been reborn from the ass I was
this is to say I won't be voting Tory yet again
the sad regime of terror in Canada will end
the incompetent and useless will hopefully be put out
deMockracy flourishes  and you must do what I do to ensure compliance
you must weed the garden of Eden and seek heaven in your backyard

and the garden slumped
so I went out
to find the work to be endless but I have made a small clearing
in the jungle outside   I have sprayed the tenacious ants
by the peony that shelters them
and encouraged younger boy to learn HTML and CSS
so that he might be free to start his own business
instead of depending on the staples of our society
who use everybody    the dignity of being self employed
will be his   it might be more risky but I figure
the greatest risk to is to not risk at all
I teach my sons independence
and when the world is weedy
I tell them to take the spade and dig deep
for the things that they want to grow won't come easily
it takes relentless determination to simply keep your place in the chaos

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Yesterday was shot in terms of dealing with the bird. I left the chicken in the fridge as I had to take my mother to little India in Millwoods. I got her to this store where ten million items were squished everywhere and mum had to go through all of them. Sue had to follow her around with a small shopping thing to put her purchases there. She won't buy much but is terribly afraid of it all being beyond her budget. Her budget hasn't changed from the time we arrived in Canada with dad's $500 in hand. It's amazing to me that a childhood without stuff makes you now a senior who will go without stuff. She managed to spend about $32 and we were going home when she spied the New Asian Village restaurant. I had no idea that dad had in a moment of irrational exuberance bought a vegetarian curry for her as a take out item for $29 one episode in the past that she clearly relished. She was obviously ready for another curry. We ignored her chatter about it not being necessary and went to the place. There were flies about there and the place was closed for the afternoon until 5 but this did not deter us from asking for takeout. It seemed a bit pricey to me for stuff we can make at home but mum wanted some more of the vegetable curry so we got it plus some nan bread and samosa (vegetable).
Her entire trip out cost us about $55. She was surprised by her own frugality.
I dropped her and Sue off exhausted by the entire trip.
I did not deal with the chicken yesterday.

Just now I confronted the bird. It looked defrosted. I mean it has been three or more days in the outside of the freezer and in the fridge business.
I got the marinade together as noted here:

Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

For the Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, from 2 limes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 pound whole chicken

But as I was putting the marinade on the bird, I realized I had forgot the olive oil and added it to the rest of the marinade. Hopefully this is not a critical mistake.
I have put the bird back in the fridge.
A bird marinating in the fridge takes up a lot of space.
I won't look at it until Tuesday.
I am exhausted by the bird roasting business.
Who knew that it was this involved?
I think it would easier to dump it with salt and pepper and butter in the oven to cook.
But I might be able to cook it tomorrow with some effort. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

-The changes to the Citizenship Act introduced through Bill C-24 are a smoke and mirrors response to terrorism. In an effort to appear “tough on terrorism” Canada is placing its energy and focus on reintroducing a model of security that it outgrew hundreds of years ago.----------For many supporters of the amendments to the Citizenship Act, Canadian citizenship is a privilege not a right (See Debates of the Senate, 41st Parl, 2nd Sess, Vol 149, Issue 73 (17 June 2014) at 1930 (Hon Nicole Eaton)). Canada prides itself on being a peaceable and safe nation. It is easy to sympathize with those who hold the position that a person who has committed a terrorist offence (naturalized or Canadian-born) does not deserve to be a Canadian citizen. What makes this position more difficult to grasp is when it is accompanied with an understanding of the recent redefining of what it means to be a terrorists. When one imagines a “terrorist” they may conjure up images of groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Boko Haram, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). What one likely does not picture is someone who shares a blog over social media or who was convicted of a terrorism offence in a country that does not respect the rule of law. However, as a result of the passing of Bills C-51 and C-24, such expressions and situations may constitute a terrorism offence and could lead to revocation of citizenship. Changes to the definition of terrorism: Bill C-51 amended and expanded the Criminal Code, RSC 1985 c C-46 definition of “terrorism offence” by adding provision 83.221, which states: “Every person who, by communicating statements, knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general-other than an offence under this section-while knowing that any of those offence will be committed or being reckless as to whether any of those offences may be committed, as a result of such communication, is guilty of an indicatable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years” (emphasis added)--------------I have three main issues with the recent amendments to the Citizenship Act. First, in a globalized world, readopting the long-abandoned archaic practice of banishment is not an effective response to terrorism. Second, Bill C-24 and the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 Bill C-51 (which received royal assent on June 18, 2015) work together to reimagine the word “terrorist” in broad, amorphous terms, potentially encompassing people who would not typically be considered terrorists. Third, providing the Minister with discretionary powers to revoke citizenship denies people due process in what is likely one of the most critical decisions of their lives. ----------------In one of the signal moments of his long career and, indeed, of the entire war, an enraged General Patton refused to recognize that the Weimar citizens’ ignorance might be genuine—or, if it was genuine, that it was somehow, in any moral sense, pardonable. He ordered the townspeople to bear witness to what their countrymen had done, and what they themselves had allowed to be done, in their name. Margaret Bourke-White’s pictures of these terribly ordinary men and women—appalled, frightened, ashamed amid the endless evidence of the terrors their compatriots had unleashed—remain among the most unsettling she, or any photographer, ever made. Long before the political theorist Hannah Arendt introduced her notion of the “banality of evil” to the world in her 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Margaret Bourke-White had already captured its face, for all time, in her photographs of “good Germans” forced to confront their own complicity in a barbarous age.

In the book "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" by Al Ries and Jack Trout, there is mention of a strategy used by folks called positioning that has apparently been in vogue for ages.  And it can be used by anyone to advance the company, the nation, the political party etc.

When political parties use positioning with voters who aren't fully invested in politics-positioning can help voters decide how to vote. If you don't know too much about the candidates voters will go with the position of the candidate that fits their own ideology . Low information voters are voters who don't follow politics, don't have an interest in democracy but can still be voters who can vote according to the will of any political party that is able to establish a last minute position in their heads.
The positioning of a political party can be an important way to acquire the votes of the silent majority or the folks who normally vote out of duty only.
But how do political parties position themselves to win our votes? I had to go look at President Obama's campaigns to see how the keys being fitted into the locked mental doors of citizens were being cut.

A More Perfect Union


How President Obama’s campaign used big data to rally individual voters.


The Obama 2012 campaign used data analytics and the experimental method to assemble a winning coalition vote by vote. In doing so, it overturned the long dominance of TV advertising in U.S. politics and created something new in the world: a national campaign run like a local ward election, where the interests of individual voters were known and addressed.
Two years after Barack Obama’s election as president, Democrats suffered their worst defeat in decades. The congressional majorities that had given Obama his legislative successes, reforming the health-insurance and financial markets, were swept away in the midterm elections; control of the House flipped and the Democrats’ lead in the Senate shrank to an ungovernably slim margin. Pundits struggled to explain the rise of the Tea Party. Voters’ disappointment with the Obama agenda was evident as independents broke right and Democrats stayed home. In 2010, the Democratic National Committee failed its first test of the Obama era: it had not kept the Obama coalition together.
But for Democrats, there was bleak consolation in all this: Dan Wagner had seen it coming. When Wagner was hired as the DNC’s targeting director, in January of 2009, he became responsible for collecting voter information and analyzing it to help the committee approach individual voters by direct mail and phone. But he appreciated that the raw material he was feeding into his statistical models amounted to a series of surveys on voters’ attitudes and preferences. He asked the DNC’s technology department to develop software that could turn that information into tables, and he called the result Survey Manager.
That fall, when a special election was held to fill an open congressional seat in upstate New York, Wagner successfully predicted the final margin within 150 votes—well before Election Day. Months later, pollsters projected that Martha Coakley was certain to win another special election, to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat left empty by the death of Ted Kennedy. But Wagner’s Survey Manager correctly predicted that the Republican Scott Brown was likely to prevail in the strongly Democratic state. “It’s one thing to be right when you’re going to win,” says Jeremy Bird, who served as national deputy director of Organizing for America, the Obama campaign in abeyance, housed at the DNC. “It’s another thing to be right when you’re going to lose.”
It is yet another thing to be right five months before you’re going to lose. As the 2010 midterms approached, Wagner built statistical models for selected Senate races and 74 congressional districts. Starting in June, he began predicting the elections’ outcomes, forecasting the margins of victory with what turned out to be improbable accuracy. But he hadn’t gotten there with traditional polls. He had counted votes one by one. His first clue that the party was in trouble came from thousands of individual survey calls matched to rich statistical profiles in the DNC’s databases. Core Democratic voters were telling the DNC’s callers that they were much less likely to vote than statistical probability suggested. Wagner could also calculate how much the Democrats’ mobilization programs would do to increase turnout among supporters, and in most races he knew it wouldn’t be enough to cover the gap revealing itself in Survey Manager’s tables.
His congressional predictions were off by an average of only 2.5 percent. “That was a proof point for a lot of people who don’t understand the math behind it but understand the value of what that math produces,” says Mitch Stewart, Organizing for America’s director. “Once that first special [election] happened, his word was the gold standard at the DNC.”
The significance of Wagner’s achievement went far beyond his ability to declare winners months before Election Day. His approach amounted to a decisive break with 20th-century tools for tracking public opinion, which revolved around quarantining small samples that could be treated as representative of the whole. Wagner had emerged from a cadre of analysts who thought of voters as individuals and worked to aggregate projections about their opinions and behavior until they revealed a composite picture of everyone. His techniques marked the fulfillment of a new way of thinking, a decade in the making, in which voters were no longer trapped in old political geographies or tethered to traditional demographic categories, such as age or gender, depending on which attributes pollsters asked about or how consumer marketers classified them for commercial purposes. Instead, the electorate could be seen as a collection of individual citizens who could each be measured and assessed on their own terms. Now it was up to a candidate who wanted to lead those people to build a campaign that would interact with them the same way.
Dan Wagner, the chief analytics officer for Obama 2012, led the campaign’s “Cave” of data scientists.
After the voters returned Obama to office for a second term, his campaign became celebrated for its use of technology—much of it developed by an unusual team of coders and engineers—that redefined how individuals could use the Web, social media, and smartphones to participate in the political process. A mobile app allowed a canvasser to download and return walk sheets without ever entering a campaign office; a Web platform called Dashboard gamified volunteer activity by ranking the most active supporters; and “targeted sharing” protocols mined an Obama backer’s Facebook network in search of friends the campaign wanted to register, mobilize, or persuade.
But underneath all that were scores describing particular voters: a new political currency that predicted the behavior of individual humans. The campaign didn’t just know who you were; it knew exactly how it could turn you into the type of person it wanted you to be.
The Scores
Four years earlier, Dan Wagner had been working at a Chicago economic consultancy, using forecasting skills developed studying econometrics at the University of Chicago, when he fell for Barack Obama and decided he wanted to work on his home-state senator’s 2008 presidential campaign. Wagner, then 24, was soon in Des Moines, handling data entry for the state voter file that guided Obama to his crucial victory in the Iowa caucuses. He bounced from state to state through the long primary calendar, growing familiar with voter data and the ways of using statistical models to intelligently sort the electorate. For the general election, he was named lead targeter for the Great Lakes/Ohio River Valley region, the most intense battleground in the country.
After Obama’s victory, many of his top advisors decamped to Washington to make preparations for governing. Wagner was told to stay behind and serve on a post-election task force that would review a campaign that had looked, to the outside world, technically flawless.
In the 2008 presidential election, Obama’s targeters had assigned every voter in the country a pair of scores based on the probability that the individual would perform two distinct actions that mattered to the campaign: casting a ballot and supporting Obama. These scores were derived from an unprecedented volume of ongoing survey work. For each battleground state every week, the campaign’s call centers conducted 5,000 to 10,000 so-called short-form interviews that quickly gauged a voter’s preferences, and 1,000 interviews in a long-form version that was more like a traditional poll. To derive individual-level predictions, algorithms trawled for patterns between these opinions and the data points the campaign had assembled for every voter—as many as one thousand variables each, drawn from voter registration records, consumer data warehouses, and past campaign contacts.
This innovation was most valued in the field. There, an almost perfect cycle of microtargeting models directed volunteers to scripted conversations with specific voters at the door or over the phone. Each of those interactions produced data that streamed back into Obama’s servers to refine the models pointing volunteers toward the next door worth a knock. The efficiency and scale of that process put the Democrats well ahead when it came to profiling voters. John McCain’s campaign had, in most states, run its statistical model just once, assigning each voter to one of its microtargeting segments in the summer. McCain’s advisors were unable to recalculate the probability that those voters would support their candidate as the dynamics of the race changed. Obama’s scores, on the other hand, adjusted weekly, responding to new events like Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential nomination or the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Within the campaign, however, the Obama data operations were understood to have shortcomings. As was typical in political information infrastructure, knowledge about people was stored separately from data about the campaign’s interactions with them, mostly because the databases built for those purposes had been developed by different consultants who had no interest in making their systems work together.
But the task force knew the next campaign wasn’t stuck with that situation. Obama would run his final race not as an insurgent against a party establishment, but as the establishment itself. For four years, the task force members knew, their team would control the Democratic Party’s apparatus. Their demands, not the offerings of consultants and vendors, would shape the marketplace. Their report recommended developing a “constituent relationship management system” that would allow staff across the campaign to look up individuals not just as voters or volunteers or donors or website users but as citizens in full. “We realized there was a problem with how our data and infrastructure interacted with the rest of the campaign, and we ought to be able to offer it to all parts of the campaign,” says Chris Wegrzyn, a database applications developer who served on the task force.
Wegrzyn became the DNC’s lead targeting developer and oversaw a series of costly acquisitions, all intended to free the party from the traditional dependence on outside vendors. The committee installed a Siemens Enterprise System phone-dialing unit that could put out 1.2 million calls a day to survey voters’ opinions. Later, party leaders signed off on a $280,000 license to use Vertica software from Hewlett-Packard that allowed their servers to access not only the party’s 180-million-person voter file but all the data about volunteers, donors, and those who had interacted with Obama online.
Many of those who went to Washington after the 2008 election in order to further the president’s political agenda returned to Chicago in the spring of 2011 to work on his reëlection. The chastening losses they had experienced in Washington separated them from those who had known only the ecstasies of 2008. “People who did ‘08, but didn’t do ‘10, and came back in ‘11 or ‘12—they had the hardest culture clash,” says Jeremy Bird, who became national field director on the reëlection campaign. But those who went to Washington and returned to Chicago developed a particular appreciation for Wagner’s methods of working with the electorate at an atomic level. It was a way of thinking that perfectly aligned with their ­simple theory of what it would take to win the president reëlection: get everyone who had voted for him in 2008 to do it again. At the same time, they knew they would need to succeed at registering and mobilizing new voters, especially in some of the fastest-growing demographic categories, to make up for any 2008 voters who did defect.
Obama’s campaign began the election year confident it knew the name of every one of the 69,456,897 Americans whose votes had put him in the White House. They may have cast those votes by secret ballot, but Obama’s analysts could look at the Democrats’ vote totals in each precinct and identify the people most likely to have backed him. Pundits talked in the abstract about reassembling Obama’s 2008 coalition. But within the campaign, the goal was literal. They would reassemble the coalition, one by one, through personal contacts.
The Experiments
When Jim Messina arrived in Chicago as Obama’s newly minted campaign manager in January of 2011, he imposed a mandate on his recruits: they were to make decisions based on measurable data. But that didn’t mean quite what it had four years before. The 2008 campaign had been “data-driven,” as people liked to say. This reflected a principled imperative to challenge the political establishment with an empirical approach to electioneering, and it was greatly influenced by David Plouffe, the 2008 campaign manager, who loved metrics, spreadsheets, and performance reports. Plouffe wanted to know: How many of a field office’s volunteer shifts had been filled last weekend? How much money did that ad campaign bring in?
But for all its reliance on data, the 2008 Obama campaign had remained insulated from the most important methodological innovation in 21st-century politics. In 1998, Yale professors Don Green and Alan Gerber conducted the first randomized controlled trial in modern political science, assigning New Haven voters to receive nonpartisan election reminders by mail, phone, or in-person visit from a canvasser and measuring which group saw the greatest increase in turnout. The subsequent wave of field experiments by Green, Gerber, and their followers focused on mobilization, testing competing modes of contact and get-out-the-vote language to see which were most successful.
The first Obama campaign used the findings of such tests to tweak call scripts and canvassing protocols, but it never fully embraced the experimental revolution itself. After Dan Wagner moved to the DNC, the party decided it would start conducting its own experiments. He hoped the committee could become “a driver of research for the Democratic Party.”
To that end, he hired the Analyst Institute, a Washington-based consortium founded under the AFL-CIO’s leadership in 2006 to coördinate field research projects across the electioneering left and distribute the findings among allies. Much of the experimental world’s research had focused on voter registration, because that was easy to measure. The breakthrough was that registration no longer had to be approached passively; organizers did not have to simply wait for the unenrolled to emerge from anonymity, sign a form, and, they hoped, vote. New techniques made it possible to intelligently profile nonvoters: commercial data warehouses sold lists of all voting-age adults, and comparing those lists with registration rolls revealed eligible candidates, each attached to a home address to which an application could be mailed. Applying microtargeting models identified which nonregistrants were most likely to be Democrats and which ones Republicans.
The Obama campaign embedded social scientists from the Analyst Institute among its staff. Party officials knew that adding new Democratic voters to the registration rolls was a crucial element in their strategy for 2012. But already the campaign had ambitions beyond merely modifying nonparticipating citizens’ behavior through registration and mobilization. It wanted to take on the most vexing problem in politics: changing voters’ minds.
The expansion of individual-level data had made possible the kind of testing that could help do that. Experimenters had typically calculated the average effect of their interventions across the entire population. But as campaigns developed deep portraits of the voters in their databases, it became possible to measure the attributes of the people who were actually moved by an experiment’s impact. A series of tests in 2006 by the women’s group Emily’s List had illustrated the potential of conducting controlled trials with microtargeting databases. When the group sent direct mail in favor of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, it barely budged those whose scores placed them in the middle of the partisan spectrum; it had a far greater impact upon those who had been profiled as soft (or nonideological) Republicans.
That test, and others that followed, demonstrated the limitations of traditional targeting. Such techniques rested on a series of long-standing assumptions—for instance, that middle-of-the-roaders were the most persuadable and that infrequent voters were the likeliest to be captured in a get-out-the-vote drive. But the experiments introduced new uncertainty. People who were identified as having a 50 percent likelihood of voting for a Democrat might in fact be torn between the two parties, or they might look like centrists only because no data attached to their records pushed a partisan prediction in one direction or another. “The scores in the middle are the people we know less about,” says Chris Wyant, a 2008 field organizer who became the campaign’s general election director in Ohio four years later. “The extent to which we were guessing about persuasion was not lost on any of us.”
One way the campaign sought to identify the ripest targets was through a series of what the Analyst Institute called “experiment-informed programs,” or EIPs, designed to measure how effective different types of messages were at moving public opinion.
The traditional way of doing this had been to audition themes and language in focus groups and then test the winning material in polls to see which categories of voters responded positively to each approach. Any insights were distorted by the artificial settings and by the tiny samples of demographic subgroups in traditional polls. “You’re making significant resource decisions based on 160 people?” asks Mitch Stewart, director of the Democratic campaign group Organizing for America. “Isn’t that nuts? And people have been doing that for decades!”
An experimental program would use those steps to develop a range of prospective messages that could be subjected to empirical testing in the real world. Experimenters would randomly assign voters to receive varied sequences of direct mail—four pieces on the same policy theme, each making a slightly different case for Obama—and then use ongoing survey calls to isolate the attributes of those whose opinions changed as a result.
In March, the campaign used this technique to test various ways of promoting the administration’s health-care policies. One series of mailers described Obama’s regulatory reforms; another advised voters that they were now entitled to free regular check-ups and ought to schedule one. The experiment revealed how much voter response differed by age, especially among women. Older women thought more highly of the policies when they received reminders about preventive care; younger women liked them more when they were told about contraceptive coverage and new rules that prohibited insurance companies from charging women more.
When Paul Ryan was named to the Republican ticket in August, Obama’s advisors rushed out an EIP that compared different lines of attack about Medicare. The results were surprising. “The electorate [had seemed] very inelastic,” says Terry Walsh, who coördinated the campaign’s polling and paid-media spending. “In fact, when we did the Medicare EIPs, we got positive movement that was very heartening, because it was at a time when we were not seeing a lot of movement in the electorate.” But that movement came from quarters where a traditional campaign would never have gone hunting for minds it could change. The Obama team found that voters between 45 and 65 were more likely to change their views about the candidates after hearing Obama’s Medicare arguments than those over 65, who were currently eligible for the program.
A similar strategy of targeting an unexpected population emerged from a July EIP testing Obama’s messages aimed at women. The voters most responsive to the campaign’s arguments about equal-pay measures and women’s health, it found, were those whose likelihood of supporting the president was scored at merely 20 and 40 percent. Those scores suggested that they probably shared Republican attitudes; but here was one thing that could pull them to Obama. As a result, when Obama unveiled a direct-mail track addressing only women’s issues, it wasn’t to shore up interest among core parts of the Democratic coalition, but to reach over for conservatives who were at odds with their party on gender concerns. “The whole goal of the women’s track was to pick off votes for Romney,” says Walsh. “We were able to persuade people who fell low on candidate support scores if we gave them a specific message.”
At the same time, Obama’s campaign was pursuing a second, even more audacious adventure in persuasion: one-on-one interaction. Traditionally, campaigns have restricted their persuasion efforts to channels like mass media or direct mail, where they can control presentation, language, and targeting. Sending volunteers to persuade voters would mean forcing them to interact with opponents, or with voters who were undecided because they were alienated from politics on delicate issues like abortion. Campaigns have typically resisted relinquishing control of ground-level interactions with voters to risk such potentially combustible situations; they felt they didn’t know enough about their supporters or volunteers. “You can have a negative impact,” says Jeremy Bird, who served as national deputy director of Organizing for America. “You can hurt your candidate.”
In February, however, Obama volunteers attempted 500,000 conversations with the goal of winning new supporters. Voters who’d been randomly selected from a group identified as persuadable were polled after a phone conversation that began with a volunteer reading from a script. “We definitely find certain people moved more than other people,” says Bird. Analysts identified their attributes and made them the core of a persuasion model that predicted, on a scale of 0 to 10, the likelihood that a voter could be pulled in Obama’s direction after a single volunteer interaction. The experiment also taught Obama’s field department about its volunteers. Those in California, which had always had an exceptionally mature volunteer organization for a non-­battleground state, turned out to be especially persuasive: voters called by Californians, no matter what state they were in themselves, were more likely to become Obama supporters.
Alex Lundry created Mitt Romney’s data science unit. It was less than one-tenth the size of Obama’s analytics team.
With these findings in hand, Obama’s strategists grew confident that they were no longer restricted to advertising as a channel for persuasion. They began sending trained volunteers to knock on doors or make phone calls with the objective of changing minds.
That dramatic shift in the culture of electioneering was felt on the streets, but it was possible only because of advances in analytics. Chris Wegrzyn, a database applications developer, developed a program code-named Airwolf that matched county and state lists of people who had requested mail ballots with the campaign’s list of e-mail addresses. Likely Obama supporters would get regular reminders from their local field organizers, asking them to return their ballots, and, once they had, a message thanking them and proposing other ways to be involved in the campaign. The local organizer would receive daily lists of the voters on his or her turf who had outstanding ballots so that the campaign could follow up with personal contact by phone or at the doorstep. “It is a fundamental way of tying together the online and offline worlds,” says Wagner.
Wagner, however, was turning his attention beyond the field. By June of 2011, he was chief analytics officer for the campaign and had begun making the rounds of the other units at headquarters, from fund-raising to communications, offering to help “solve their problems with data.” He imagined the analytics department—now a 54-person staff, housed in a windowless office known as the Cave—as an “in-house consultancy” with other parts of the campaign as its clients. “There’s a process of helping people learn about the tools so they can be a participant in the process,” he says. “We essentially built products for each of those various departments that were paired up with a massive database we had.”
The Flow
As job notices seeking specialists in text analytics, computational advertising, and online experiments came out of the incumbent’s campaign, Mitt Romney’s advisors at the Republicans’ headquarters in Boston’s North End watched with a combination of awe and perplexity. Throughout the primaries, Romney had appeared to be the only Republican running a 21st-century campaign, methodically banking early votes in states like Florida and Ohio before his disorganized opponents could establish operations there.
But the Republican winner’s relative sophistication in the primaries belied a poverty of expertise compared with the Obama campaign. Since his first campaign for governor of Massachusetts, in 2002, Romney had relied upon ­TargetPoint Consulting, a Virginia firm that was then a pioneer in linking information from consumer data warehouses to voter registration records and using it to develop individual-level predictive models. It was TargetPoint’s CEO, Alexander Gage, who had coined the term “microtargeting” to describe the process, which he modeled on the corporate world’s approach to customer relationship management.
Such techniques had offered George W. Bush’s reëlection campaign a significant edge in targeting, but Republicans had done little to institutionalize that advantage in the years since. By 2006, Democrats had not only matched Republicans in adopting commercial marketing techniques; they had moved ahead by integrating methods developed in the social sciences.
Romney’s advisors knew that Obama was building innovative internal data analytics departments, but they didn’t feel a need to match those activities. “I don’t think we thought, relative to the marketplace, we could be the best at data in-house all the time,” Romney’s digital director, Zac Moffatt, said in July. “Our idea is to find the best firms to work with us.” As a result, Romney remained dependent on TargetPoint to develop voter segments, often just once, and then deliver them to the campaign’s databases. That was the structure Obama had abandoned after winning the nomination in 2008.
In May a TargetPoint vice president, Alex Lundry, took leave from his post at the firm to assemble a data science unit within Romney’s headquarters. To round out his team, Lundry brought in Tom Wood, a University of Chicago postdoctoral student in political science, and Brent McGoldrick, a veteran of Bush’s 2004 campaign who had left politics for the consulting firm Financial Dynamics (later FTI Consulting), where he helped financial-services, health-care, and energy companies communicate better. But Romney’s data science team was less than one-tenth the size of Obama’s analytics department. Without a large in-house staff to handle the massive national data sets that made it possible to test and track citizens, Romney’s data scientists never tried to deepen their understanding of individual behavior. Instead, they fixated on trying to unlock one big, persistent mystery, which Lundry framed this way: “How can we get a sense of whether this advertising is working?”
“You usually get GRPs and tracking polls,” he says, referring to the gross ratings points that are the basic unit of measuring television buys. “There’s a very large causal leap you have to make from one to the other.”
Lundry decided to focus on more manageable ways of measuring what he called the information flow. His team converted topics of political communication into discrete units they called “entities.” They initially classified 200 of them, including issues like the auto industry bailout, controversies like the one surrounding federal funding for the solar-power company Solyndra, and catchphrases like “the war on women.” When a new concept (such as Obama’s offhand remark, during a speech about our common dependence on infrastructure, that “you didn’t build that”) emerged as part of the election-year lexicon, the analysts added it to the list. They tracked each entity on the National Dialogue Monitor, TargetPoint’s system for measuring the frequency and tone with which certain topics are mentioned across all media. TargetPoint also integrated content collected from newspaper websites and closed-caption transcripts of broadcast programs. Lundry’s team aimed to examine how every entity fared over time in each of two categories: the informal sphere of social media, especially Twitter, and the journalistic product that campaigns call earned press coverage.
Ultimately, Lundry wanted to assess the impact that each type of public attention had on what mattered most to them: Romney’s position in the horse race. He turned to vector autoregression models, which equities traders use to isolate the influence of single variables on market movements. In this case, Lundry’s team looked for patterns in the relationship between the National Dialogue Monitor’s data and Romney’s numbers in Gallup’s daily tracking polls. By the end of July, they thought they had identified a three-step process they called “Wood’s Triangle.”
Within three or four days of a new entity’s entry into the conversation, either through paid ads or through the news cycle, it was possible to make a well-informed hypothesis about whether the topic was likely to win media attention by tracking whether it generated Twitter chatter. That informal conversation among political-class elites typically led to traditional print or broadcast press coverage one to two days later, and that, in turn, might have an impact on the horse race. “We saw this process over and over again,” says Lundry.
They began to think of ads as a “shock to the system”—a way to either introduce a new topic or restore focus on an area in which elite interest had faded. If an entity didn’t gain its own energy—as when the Republicans charged over the summer that the White House had waived the work requirements in the federal welfare rules—Lundry would propose a “re-shock to the system” with another ad on the subject five to seven days later. After 12 to 14 days, Lundry found, an entity had passed through the system and exhausted its ability to alter public opinion—so he would recommend to the campaign’s communications staff that they move on to something new.
Those insights offered campaign officials a theory of information flows, but they provided no guidance in how to allocate campaign resources in order to win the Electoral College. Assuming that Obama had superior ground-level data and analytics, Romney’s campaign tried to leverage its rivals’ strategy to shape its own; if Democrats thought a state or media market was competitive, maybe that was evidence that Republicans should think so too. “We were necessarily reactive, because we were putting together the plane as it took off,” Lundry says. “They had an enormous head start on us.”
Romney’s political department began holding regular meetings to look at where in the country the Obama campaign was focusing resources like ad dollars and the president’s time. The goal was to try to divine the calculations behind those decisions. It was, in essence, the way Microsoft’s Bing approached Google: trying to reverse-engineer the market leader’s code by studying the visible output. “We watch where the president goes,” Dan ­Centinello, the Romney deputy political director who oversaw the meetings, said over the summer.
Obama’s media-buying strategy proved particularly hard to decipher. In early September, as part of his standard review, Lundry noticed that the week after the Democratic convention, Obama had aired 68 ads in Dothan, Alabama, a town near the Florida border. Dothan was one of the country’s smallest media markets, and Alabama one of the safest Republican states. Even though the area was known to savvy ad buyers as one of the places where a media market crosses state lines, Dothan TV stations reached only about 9,000 Florida voters, and around 7,000 of them had voted for John McCain in 2008. “This is a hard-core Republican media market,” Lundry says. “It’s incredibly tiny. But they were advertising there.”
Romney’s advisors might have formed a theory about the broader media environment, but whatever was sending Obama hunting for a small pocket of votes was beyond their measurement. “We could tell,” says McGoldrick, “that there was something in the algorithms that was telling them what to run.”
The March
In the summer of 2011, Carol Davidsen received a message from Dan Wagner. Already the Obama campaign was known for its relentless e-mails beseeching supporters to give their money or time, but this one offered something that intrigued Davidsen: a job. Wagner had sorted the campaign’s list of donors, stretching back to 2008, to find those who described their occupation with terms like “data” and “analytics” and sent them all invitations to apply for work in his new analytics department.
Davidsen was working at Navic Networks, a Microsoft-owned company that wrote code for set-top cable boxes to create a record of a user’s DVR or tuner history, when she heeded Wagner’s call. One year before Election Day, she started work in the campaign’s technology department to serve as product manager for Narwhal. That was the code name, borrowed from a tusked whale, for an ambitious effort to match records from previously unconnected databases so that a user’s online interactions with the campaign could be synchronized. With Narwhal, e-mail blasts asking people to volunteer could take their past donation history into consideration, and the algorithms determining how much a supporter would be asked to contribute could be shaped by knowledge about his or her reaction to previous solicitations. This integration enriched a technique, common in website development, that Obama’s online fund-raising efforts had used to good effect in 2008: the A/B test, in which users are randomly directed to different versions of a thing and their responses are compared. Now analysts could leverage personal data to identify the attributes of those who responded, and use that knowledge to refine subsequent appeals. “You can cite people’s other types of engagement,” says ­Amelia ­Showalter, Obama’s director of digital analytics. “We discovered that there were a lot of things that built goodwill, like signing the president’s birthday card or getting a free bumper sticker, that led them to become more engaged with the campaign in other ways.”
If online communication had been the aspect of the 2008 campaign subjected to the most rigorous empirical examination—it’s easy to randomly assign e-mails in an A/B test and compare click-through rates or donation levels—mass-media strategy was among those that received the least. Television and radio ads had to be purchased by geographic zone, and the available data on who watches which channels or shows, collected by research firms like Nielsen and Scarborough, often included little more than viewer age and gender. That might be good enough to guide buys for Schick or Foot Locker, but it’s of limited value for advertisers looking to define audiences in political terms.
As campaign manager Jim Messina prepared to spend as much as half a billion dollars on mass media for Obama’s reëlection, he set out to reinvent the process for allocating resources across broadcast, cable, satellite, and online channels. “If you think about the universe of possible places for an advertiser, it’s almost infinite,” says Amy Gershkoff, who was hired as the campaign’s media-planning director on the strength of her successful negotiations, while at her firm Changing Targets in 2009, to link the information from cable systems to individual microtargeting profiles. “There are tens of millions of opportunities where a campaign can put its next dollar. You have all this great, robust voter data that doesn’t fit together with the media data. How you knit that together is a challenge.”
By the start of 2012, ­Wagner had deftly wrested command of media planning into his own department. As he expanded the scope of analytics, he defined his purview as “the study and practice of resource optimization for the purpose of improving programs and earning votes more efficiently.” That usually meant calculating, for any campaign activity, the number of votes gained through a given amount of contact at a given cost.
But when it came to buying media, such calculations had been simply impossible, because campaigns were unable to link what they knew about voters to what cable providers knew about their customers. Obama’s advisors decided that the data made available in the private sector had long led political advertisers to ask the wrong questions. Walsh says of the effort to reimagine the media-targeting process: “It was not to get a better understanding of what 35-plus women watch on TV. It was to find out how many of our persuadable voters were watching those dayparts.”
Davidsen, whose previous work had left her intimately familiar with the rich data sets held in set-top boxes, understood that a lot of that data was available in the form of tuner and DVR histories collected by cable providers and then aggregated by research firms. For privacy reasons, however, the information was not available at the individual level. “The hardest thing in media buying right now is the lack of information,” she says.
Davidsen began negotiating to have research firms repackage their data in a form that would permit the campaign to access the individual histories without violating the cable providers’ privacy standards. Under a $350,000 deal she worked out with one company, Rentrak, the campaign provided a list of persuadable voters and their addresses, derived from its microtargeting models, and the company looked for them in the cable providers’ billing files. When a record matched, ­Rentrak would issue it a unique household ID that identified viewing data from a single set-top box but masked any personally identifiable information.
The Obama campaign had created its own television ratings system, a kind of Nielsen in which the only viewers who mattered were those not yet fully committed to a presidential candidate. But Davidsen had to get the information into a practical form by early May, when Obama strategists planned to start running their anti-Romney ads. She oversaw the development of a software platform the Obama staff called the Optimizer, which broke the day into 96 quarter-hour segments and assessed which time slots across 60 channels offered the greatest number of persuadable targets per dollar. (By September, she had unlocked an even richer trove of data: a cable system in Toledo, Ohio, that tracked viewers’ tuner histories by the second.) “The revolution of media buying in this campaign,” says Walsh, “was to turn what was a broadcast medium into something that looks a lot more like a narrowcast medium.”
When the Obama campaign did use television as a mass medium, it was because the Optimizer had concluded it would be a more efficient way of reaching persuadable targets. Sometimes a national cable ad was a better bargain than a large number of local buys in the 66 media markets reaching battleground states. But the occasional national buy also had other benefits. It could boost fund-raising and motivate volunteers in states that weren’t essential to Obama’s Electoral College arithmetic. And, says Davidsen, “it helps hide some of the strategy of your buying.”
Even without that tactic, Obama’s buys perplexed the Romney analysts in Boston. They had invested in their own media-intelligence platform, called Centraforce. It used some of the same aggregated data sources that were feeding into the Optimizer, and at times both seemed to send the campaigns to the same unlikely ad blocks—for example, in reruns on TV Land. But there was a lot more to what Lundry called Obama’s “highly variable” media strategy. Many of the Democrats’ ads were placed in fringe markets, on marginal stations, and at odd times where few political candidates had ever seen value. Romney’s data scientists simply could not decode those decisions without the voter models or persuasion experiments that helped Obama pick out individual targets. “We were never able to figure out the level of advertising and what they were trying to do,” says McGoldrick. “It wasn’t worth reverse-engineering, because what are you going to do?”
The Community
Although the voter opinion tables that emerged from the Cave looked a lot like polls, the analysts who produced them were disinclined to call them polls. The campaign had plenty of those, generated by a public-opinion team of eight outside firms, and new arrivals at the Chicago headquarters were shocked by the variegated breadth of the research that arrived on their desks daily. “We believed in combining the qual, which we did more than any campaign ever, with the quant, which we [also] did more than any other campaign, to make sure all communication for every level of the campaign was informed by what they found,” says David Simas, the director of opinion research.
Simas considered himself the “air-traffic controller” for such research, which was guided by a series of voter diaries that Obama’s team commissioned as it prepared for the reëlection campaign. We needed to do something almost divorced from politics and get to the way they’re seeing their lives,” he says. The lead pollster, Joel Benenson, had respondents write about their experiences. The entries frequently used the word “disappointment,” which helped explain attitudes toward Obama’s administration but also spoke to a broader dissatisfaction with economic conditions. “That became the foundation for our entire research program,” says Simas.
Carol Davidsen matched Obama 2012’s lists of persuadable voters with cable providers’ billing information.
Obama’s advisors used those diaries to develop messages that contrasted Obama with Romney as a fighter for the middle class. Benenson’s national polls tested language to see which affected voters’ responses in survey experiments and direct questioning. A quartet of polling firms were assigned specific states and asked to figure out which national themes fit best with local concerns. Eventually, Obama’s media advisors created more than 500 ads and tested them before an online sample of viewers selected by focus-group director David Binder.
But the campaign had to play defense, too. When something potentially damaging popped up in the news, like Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen’s declaration that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life,” Simas checked in with the Community, a private online bulletin board populated by 100 undecided voters Binder had recruited. Simas would monitor Community conversations to see which news events penetrated voter consciousness. Sometimes he had Binder show its members controversial material—like a video clip of Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment—and ask if it changed their views of the candidate. “For me, it was a very quick way to draw back and determine whether something was a problem or not a problem,” says Simas.
When Wagner started packaging his department’s research into something that campaign leadership could read like a poll, a pattern became apparent. Obama’s numbers in key battleground states were low in the analytic tables, but Romney’s were too. There were simply more undecided voters in such states—sometimes nearly twice as many as the traditional pollsters found. A basic methodological distinction explained this discrepancy: microtargeting models required interviewing a lot of unlikely voters to give shape to a profile of what a nonvoter looked like, while pollsters tracking the horse race wanted to screen more rigorously for those likely to cast a ballot. The rivalry between the two units trying to measure public opinion grew intense: the analytic polls were a threat to the pollsters’ primacy and, potentially, to their business model. “I spent a lot of time within the campaign explaining to people that the numbers we get from analytics and the numbers we get from external pollsters did not need strictly to be reconciled,” says Walsh. “They were different.”
The scope of the analytic research enabled it to pick up movements too small for traditional polls to perceive. As Simas reviewed Wagner’s analytic tables in mid-October, he was alarmed to see that what had been a Romney lead of one to two points in Green Bay, Wisconsin, had grown into an advantage of between six and nine. Green Bay was the only media market in the state to experience such a shift, and there was no obvious explanation. But it was hard to discount. Whereas a standard 800-person statewide poll might have reached 100 respondents in the Green Bay area, analytics was placing 5,000 calls in Wisconsin in each five-day cycle—and benefiting from tens of thousands of other field contacts—to produce microtargeting scores. Analytics was talking to as many people in the Green Bay media market as traditional pollsters were talking to across Wisconsin every week. “We could have the confidence level to say, ‘This isn’t noise,’” says Simas. So the campaign’s media buyers aired an ad attacking Romney on outsourcing and beseeched Messina to send former president Bill Clinton and Obama himself to rallies there. (In the end, Romney took the county 50.3 to 48.5 percent.)
For the most part, however, the analytic tables demonstrated how stable the electorate was, and how predictable individual voters could be. Polls from the media and academic institutions may have fluctuated by the hour, but drawing on hundreds of data points to judge whether someone was a likely voter proved more reliable than using a seven-question battery like Gallup’s to do the same. “When you see this Pogo stick happening with the public data—the electorate is just not that volatile,” says Mitch Stewart, director of the Democratic campaign group Organizing for America. The analytic data offered a source of calm.
Romney’s advisors were similarly sanguine, but they were losing. They, too, believed it possible to project the composition of the electorate, relying on a method similar to Gallup’s: pollster Neil Newhouse asked respondents how likely they were to cast a ballot. Those who answered that question with a seven or below on a 10-point scale were disregarded as not inclined to vote. But that ignored the experimental methods that made it possible to measure individual behavior and the impact that a campaign itself could have on a citizen’s motivation. As a result, the Republicans failed to account for voters that the Obama campaign could be mobilizing even if they looked to Election Day without enthusiasm or intensity.
On the last day of the race, Wagner and his analytics staff left the Cave and rode the elevator up one floor in the campaign’s Chicago skyscraper to join members of other departments in a boiler room established to help track votes as they came in. Already, for over a month, Obama’s analysts had been counting ballots from states that allowed citizens to vote early. Each day, the campaign overlaid the lists of early voters released by election authorities with its modeling scores to project how many votes they could claim as their own.
By Election Day, Wagner’s analytic tables turned into predictions. Before the polls opened in Ohio, authorities in Hamilton County, the state’s third-largest and home to Cincinnati, released the names of 103,508 voters who had cast early ballots over the previous month. Wagner sorted them by microtargeting projections and found that 58,379 had individual support scores over 50.1—that is, the campaign’s models predicted that they were more likely than not to have voted for Obama. That amounted to 56.4 percent of the county’s votes, or a raw lead of 13,249 votes over Romney. Early ballots were the first to be counted after Ohio’s polls closed, and Obama’s senior staff gathered around screens in the boiler room to see the initial tally. The numbers settled almost exactly where Wagner had said they would: Obama got 56.6 percent of the votes in Hamilton County. In Florida, he was as close to the mark; Obama’s margin was only two-tenths of a percent off. “After those first two numbers, we knew,” says Bird. “It was dead-on.”
When Obama was reëlected, and by a far larger Electoral College margin than most outsiders had anticipated, his staff was exhilarated but not surprised. The next morning, Mitch Stewart sat in the boiler room, alone, monitoring the lagging votes as they came into Obama’s servers from election authorities in Florida, the last state to name a winner. The presidency was no longer at stake; the only thing that still hung in the balance was the accuracy of the analytics department’s predictions.
The Legacy
A few days after the election, as Florida authorities continued to count provisional ballots, a few staff members were directed, as four years before, to remain in Chicago. Their instructions were to produce another post-mortem report summing up the lessons of the past year and a half. The undertaking was called the Legacy Project, a grandiose title inspired by the idea that the innovations of Obama 2012 should be translated not only to the campaign of the next Democratic candidate for president but also to governance. Obama had succeeded in convincing some citizens that a modest adjustment to their behavior would affect, however marginally, the result of an election. Could he make them feel the same way about Congress?
Simas, who had served in the White House before joining the team, marveled at the intimacy of the campaign. Perhaps more than anyone else at headquarters, he appreciated the human aspect of politics. This had been his first presidential election, but before he became a political operative, Simas had been a politician himself, serving on the city council and school board in his hometown of Taunton, Massachusetts. He ran for office by knocking on doors and interacting individually with constituents (or those he hoped would become constituents), trying to track their moods and expectations.
In many respects, analytics had made it possible for the Obama campaign to recapture that style of politics. Though the old guard may have viewed such techniques as a disruptive force in campaigns, they enabled a presidential candidate to view the electorate the way local candidates do: as a collection of people who make up a more perfect union, each of them approachable on his or her terms, their changing levels of support and enthusiasm open to measurement and, thus, to respect. “What that gave us was the ability to run a national presidential campaign the way you’d do a local ward campaign,” Simas says. “You know the people on your block. People have relationships with one another, and you leverage them so you know the way they talk about issues, what they’re discussing at the coffee shop.”

Few events in American life other than a presidential election touch 126 million adults, or even a significant fraction that many, on a single day. Certainly no corporation, no civic institution, and very few government agencies ever do. Obama did so by reducing every American to a series of numbers. Yet those numbers somehow captured the individuality of each voter, and they were not demographic classifications. The scores measured the ability of people to change politics—and to be changed by it.
All this information was interesting. I see that political parties have made databases full of voters likely to vote for them and are using efficient methods to connect with us personally at election time. The use of such databases of information has been fine tuned by Mr. Obama and in Canada, by Mr. Harper.
Low information candidates who aren't well known combined with low information voters who do not bother to learn much or who are merely interested in doing their voting and getting it done with --result in the incumbent often winning repeatedly even with a track record of poor performance. Nowhere is this more evident than in Alberta where we haven't even had such science applied to elections and have had low information voters re-elect the same useless Tory candidates over 44 years for no damn reasons that I can determine.
After living through most of the these Tory years it began to feel as if the voters in Alberta were in some sort of bubble where the facts of poor governance never appeared.
It was enlightening for me to understand that you can have voters who vote seemingly without thinking; that these voters still counted as a voting bloc that seem to have irrational decision making processes in place; and that positioning by political parties as well as the use of the legislation and hyper donation will ensure that a particular party such as the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta or the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada stay in power for long periods of time.
It was enlightening but it wasn't satisfactory.
What did I learn from all of this?
What can be used from this information to ensure that we have turnover at the federal level?

It seems clear to me that there has to be a personal element to the performance of the leaders. The use of personal relationships is important.  What made Rachel Notley a good choice in Alberta was not her politics but her character.
We're looking for people of character to lead us.
When I consider the candidates we have to choose from at the federal level we have only Mr. Mulcair with the requisite character to lead us through the recession that is ongoing.
Why do I think Mulcair is the one?
I've looked at Mr. Harper and his performance and I haven't been convinced about him. There is a very strategic mind in this guy and he knows how to make war but does he know how to connect to people at the personal level?
It's important.
You can advertise all you want but when you meet at a human level well-you want someone who is likeable, kind, decent and wise.  You want someone you can trust. You want someone who won't knife you in the back as a citizen. You want someone who can be sure to defend all citizens and not the few or many that the political party deems defendable.  You want someone with character--with the right sort of character--which includes temper, courage, passion and intelligence.  Mr. Harper may have all of these matters, but they don't appear in the pattern that fits into my conception of leader.

Mr. Harper may be the leader you want.
But he is not the leader I want.

Mr. Trudeau -with his support of Bill C-51 has indicated to me that he is a Harper imitation. I'm not going for that.

Mr. Mulcair is left. I don't know much about him. I'm a low information voter where he is concerned.  But luckily federal elections are not a low information event--and this election will go on for 11 weeks. This is enough time to get to know him.

Smart, tough and nasty: the definitive portrait of Thomas Mulcair

John Geddes on the NDP leader’s rise through the ruthless world of Quebec politics to become the PM’s toughest opponent yet

September 19, 2012
Smart, tough and nasty
Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail
Thomas Mulcair grew up in a Montreal suburb as the second-oldest of 10 children in his family, which is noteworthy enough. Even more remarkable, though, at least by today’s standards, is that he remembers his parents hoping for just a few more kids. “When my mother would have a child,” the NDP leader recalled recently, “my father would always bring her 14 roses, because they decided when they were married that they would have 14 children.” His father, Harry, was an insurance man of Irish-Catholic descent, and his mother, Jeanne, a teacher from an old French-Canadian family, was of course Catholic, too. For another public figure, details like these might be mere background colour. In Mulcair’s case, apart from the roses, every bit of it—the many brothers and sisters, the Quebec roots, a Catholicism devout enough to entail mass on weekdays before school, even the Irish streak—is central to his emergence as a formidable political fighter and plausible future prime minister.
By his own account in an interview with Maclean’s, backed up by the observations of some who have worked closely with him, Mulcair’s upbringing in such a large, tightly knit, complex household remains the template for his important relationships. Aides and allies say he maintains unusually close contact with family and old friends, cultivating an intensely personal network and leaning on time-tested loyalties more than most top politicians. While he is no longer an observant churchgoer, Mulcair’s brand of left-leaning politics flows directly out of his home province’s distinctive and deep well of progressive Catholicism—a powerful influence on seminal Quebec politicians of the past, including Pierre Trudeau. As for Mulcair’s Irishness, Graham Carpenter, an old family friend and long-time aide, alludes to his “Irish world view,” and not jokingly, as an explanation for Mulcair’s storied scrappiness and more. “There’s mystique to it,” Carpenter says, “that’s for sure.”
Bringing Mulcair’s defining qualities into sharper focus is a prime preoccupation on Parliament Hill as the fall political season begins. Following his convincing win last spring in the bitterly fought New Democratic Party leadership race, Mulcair’s first few months squaring off against Stephen Harper in the House erased any doubt that theTories must view their new chief adversary with the utmost concern. Before he took over as NDP leader on March 24, the party had been either languishing in third place in the polls, or, at best, vying with the Liberals for second. But after Mulcair assumed control, they moved swiftly into rough parity with the Tories, and, starting with a few early summer polls, even a shade ahead—the first time the polling firms Ekos and Nanos ever put the NDP in first place in their national tracking of voter preferences.
That early flush of success was far from preordained. At the moment he won the NDP leadership, two troubling questions loomed over Mulcair. Wasn’t he bound to be a letdown compared to Jack Layton, whose spring 2011 election breakthrough—vaulting the NDP into second place for the first time ever, followed less than four months later by his death from cancer—elevated him to iconic stature? And, as a fresh leader of the official Opposition whose image was still unformed in the minds of most voters, wasn’t Mulcair liable to be defined—just as the last two hapless Liberal leaders, Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, had been—by derisive Tory attack ads?
As it turned out, Mulcair has rarely been measured against his beloved predecessor’s memory. Perhaps the contrast between Layton’s warm, outgoing populism and Mulcair’s dogged, self-contained pugnacity is just too glaring. As for those inevitable Tory attacks, Mulcair seemed to feed off them. In their first bid to portray him as a menace, Harper’s wrecking crew tried a variation on the theme they’d used to devastating effect on Ignatieff, casting Mulcair as an “opportunist” within minutes of his winning the NDP leadership. Mulcair says that line gave him the “biggest belly laugh” of that happy night. After all, he might have many flaws, but having arrived in Ottawa in 2007 as the rarest of political birds—the sole NDP MP from Quebec at the time—Mulcair couldn’t plausibly be accused of having sought an easy path. “I think they had to reset the dial,” he says. “I think they’re still trying to figure out what the target is with me.”
For anyone trying to figure out this would-be prime minister, the starting point has to be that sprawling family. He was born on Oct. 24, 1954, at Ottawa’s Civic Hospital, delivered by the same doctor, his mother was pleased to note thereafter, as Princess Margriet of the Netherlands about a decade earlier, when the Dutch royal family was taking sanctuary from the Nazis in the Canadian capital. In the mid-1950s, the Mulcairs lived across the Ottawa River in what was then Hull, Que. (later renamed Gatineau), but they moved to Montreal while Tommy was still a preschooler. They eventually settled into a five-bedroom house in the comfortable Chomedey neighbourhood, where there’s a large English-speaking community, including many Greek immigrants, within the predominantly French-speaking suburb of Laval.
The children kept on coming. Mulcair and his one older sibling, his sister Colleen, now a public-health nurse in Ottawa, often took responsibility for their younger brothers and sisters. “It was great. It was riotous,” Mulcair says. “I can remember my mom or dad saying, ‘Okay, Colleen, you take care of those two; Tom, you take care of those two,’ when it was bedtime.” His younger sister Deborah Mulcair says her brother did more than read bedtime stories. “He essentially raised his younger siblings,” she says. “He was quite attentive.” When they had a problem in school, for instance, she says it was often Tom who talked them through it. Indeed, when Deborah was unsure about whether to go on to university at all, it was her eldest brother, she says, whose encouragement persuaded her to go. She now teaches finance at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C., and helped organize West Coast events in his NDP leadership run.
the fights of his life
Mulcair was a stellar student and a tough athlete. Religion figured prominently in his upbringing. “As kids, we would often go to church before breakfast on weekdays,” he says. He eventually attended the local Catholic high school, playing basketball and defensive tackle on a local minor football team. (He still sprinkles his political chat with sports analogies.) But the more telling influence was that of the school chaplain, Father Alan Cox, who “inspired us all to get very much involved in social action.” Cox organized Saturday subway rides into Montreal’s poorer quarters to engage students in good works. “You know,” Mulcair says, “help an old person to move some stuff in a house, work the phones in a drop-in centre for people in crisis.” He’s still in touch with the priest, describing him as “a great adviser.”
Social responsibility instilled at school blended with political talk encouraged at home. His parents were staunch Liberals. In fact, Mulcair is directly descended on his mother’s side from Honoré Mercier, a founding figure of the party at the provincial level and Quebec’s ninth premier. Both his mother and father read widely and paid respectful attention when Tom, even at an early age, expressed views on politics. “It was one of those areas,” he says, “where you were allowed to be an adult.” As a direct result, he says, he decided on a career in politics when he was only 14 years old.
Through the 1960s, his father was first the regional manager for one insurance company, and then a vice-president of another. His eldest son says he was “a very strong character, very wilful, very determined.” But a change in corporate ownership put him out of a job in the early 1970s, prompting him to give up on the city grind. He came home one day declaring that he would never wear a tie to work again, and moved his family to Ste-Anne-des-Lacs, a bucolic town in the Laurentians less than an hour’s drive north of Montreal, where the family already had a cherished summer cottage on Lac Marois.
Harry set up shop as a small-town insurance broker. Jeanne had already gone back to teaching in Laval, despite still having young children at home, and went on to teach French for many years near Ste-Anne-des-Lacs at a school for juvenile offenders and other troubled youth. Now 80, she lives in retirement in the area, where her children, including Tom, still retreat for summer breaks. Harry Mulcair died in 1994, a few months before his eldest son’s first election win.
By the time the Mulcairs were re-establishing themselves on the lake, Tom was already studying law—at a precociously early age. In Quebec, university-bound students complete a two-year college program after high school. Mulcair attendedVanier College, where he says he was “very, very active” in student politics. He was among the leaders of a student strike, which ended, he says with characteristic bluster, when the administration “had to meet all of our demands and come crawling back.” Activism didn’t hurt his grades: he was accepted directly out of Vanier into McGill University’s prestigious law school in 1973 at 18, a rarity. “The first year was quite daunting,” he says. “The reading was monumental.”
He more than held his own among classmates who were typically a few years older, with B.A.s or sometimes M.A.s under their belts. To this day, Mulcair’s formidable intellect and ability to quickly master large volumes of written material is often cited by those who work with him on policy files. He did more than hit the books at law school, though, becoming president of its undergraduate students’ association. But Mulcair is less than glowingly nostalgic when he reflects on his McGill years. “The faculty wasn’t very open,” he says. “There was still a 1940s wall between faculty and students.” And for the former Catholic-school social-causes volunteer, McGill’s establishment aura wasn’t entirely congenial. “I wouldn’t have back then, and I still wouldn’t today, describe McGill as progressive,” he says. There were exceptions. The venerable Frank Scott—constitutional law expert, poet, and long-time stalwart of Canadian socialism—gave a guest lecture series that thrilled him. “It was really quite something,” Mulcair says. In contrast to a faculty he often found closed off from the political and social concerns of students, Mulcair says the grand old man was “all openness.”
Yet Scott, a founding figure in the NDP and its predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, didn’t quite draw Mulcair into his partisan fold. Julius Grey, a Montreal lawyer who has known Mulcair well since the late 1970s, sees his friend as an example of Quebec’s distinctive sub-species of Catholic “centre-left progressive.” Many in the CCF and then the NDP were inspired, like Grey himself, by socialist ideas close to those at the heart of the British Labour Party. But in Quebec, Grey says, Catholic progressives—like Trudeau, his friend Gérard Pelletier, the journalist and politician, and Claude Ryan, whom Mulcair would come to revere—blazed another trail. They were a varied group, but a common denominator was the influence of “personalism,” a French intellectual movement that spread among liberal Catholics in the middle of the last century. It emphasized individual responsibilty—rather than, say, class conflict—as the moral underpinning for Catholics seeking reforms such as greater economic equality.
With his religious upbringing and formative high school experiences, Mulcair naturally leaned toward this progressive stream. He bonded with others of the same bent at McGill. Among them was his law school pal Steve Foster, who went on to become an Ontario judge before resigning from the bench in 2011 to work on Mulcair’s leadership campaign, and then join his staff as a policy adviser. Mulcair says Foster is “a guy out of the Catholic left, and a lot of the people he brought on board are out of the Catholic left.” In fact, Foster’s network was extensive enough to give Mulcair a ready-made support base in Toronto, where his leadership rivals had expected the Quebec-rooted candidate to be weak. “That was really stealth,” Mulcair says with palpable satisfaction. “They didn’t see that one coming.”
If tapping old relationships can stand Mulcair in good stead, the degree to which he’s steeped in a political culture that can at times seem almost quarantined could prove a liability. Indeed, one of his top aides, asking not to be quoted by name, describes the way Mulcair has internalized Quebec’s unique political style and preoccupations as both his undergirding strength and a limitation he must overcome. “He’s got to develop instincts on the ROC,” the official said, meaning “rest of Canada.”
Smart, tough and nasty
Photograph by Jenna Marie Wakani
Unlike most Montreal anglophones of his era, Mulcair was drawn straight to Quebec City when he graduated from McGill in 1977. With his adolescent political ambitions still burning, no law firm could match the lure of a junior post in the provincial justice ministry. Still, his entry into the bureaucracy was far from easy. Although Mulcair could speak French reasonably well, English was used most often at home when he was growing up, and his entire education was in English—typical, as he points out, for kids from mixed English-French households when he was young. In his first job, he would have to draft formal legal documents, and converse with accomplished lawyer colleagues, all in French. “I was way behind,” he says. “It was a huge effort to bring my French up to snuff.”
Fortunately, he had a tutor at home who’d been raised in Paris. In 1976, Mulcair had married Catherine Pinhas when they were both just 21. They had met two years earlier when she was visiting Quebec from France for a cousin’s wedding at Ste-Anne-des-Lacs. As he struggled to make his way in the Quebec civil service, his young wife corrected his French in the evenings. Although Pinhas went on to her own career as a psychologist in Montreal, friends say she remained a constant, steadying factor in his professional life. During his interview with Maclean’s, she sat by him in the booth of a diner, near their modest home just west of Montreal in Beaconsfield. While far from intrusive, she laid a cautionary hand on his sleeve at one point, when he seemed on the verge of turning argumentative, after his second double espresso, in answering a critical question about his possible shortcomings as an orator. (He conceded none.)
Mastering French with her help was, he says, “a huge turning point in my life.” But that didn’t erase his McGill-educated, mostly English-speaking background—and certainly didn’t make him a separatist. So, in the emotionally charged days of then-premier René Lévesque’s 1980 referendum bid to take Quebec out of Canada, he stood out as a rare supporter of the federalist No side within the justice ministry. “It was so openly pro-Yes within the department itself,” Mulcair says. “Sometimes the words would get a little harsh. I remember one guy, another lawyer, sitting me down to have lunch and literally haranguing me for the whole time, just saying, ‘How can you possibly vote against Quebec?’ And I’d say, ‘Well, I’m not voting against something, I’m voting to keep something, which is our attachment to Canada.’ ”
The referendum is often dramatized as a mano-a-mano bout between Lévesque and Trudeau, with the country’s future hanging in the balance. But Mulcair conjures up a vivid memory of another key combatant for the federalists, Claude Ryan, then the provincial Liberal leader, former editor of Montreal’s influential Le Devoir—and one of those progressive Québécois Catholics. The scene is a hall in Val-Bélair, very near Quebec City. “The guy’s voice is cracking. Four thousand people in a packed, packed hall. Hot,” Mulcair says. “I just remember the drive and determination.” Ryan would become Mulcair’s most influential mentor.
After the No side’s historic referendum win, Mulcair worked for a few years as the only anglophone bureaucrat on staff at the Conseil de la Langue Francaise, the politically sensitive body that oversees Quebec’s controversial language laws. That experience was invaluable when he moved back to Montreal in 1983 as director of legal affairs for the English-language rights group Alliance Quebec. As Mulcair was immersing himself in Quebec’s fraught language politics, Ryan lost the 1981 provincial election, and was replaced as provincial Liberal leader by Robert Bourassa, who in turn made Ryan his education critic. Since schooling was a hot-button issue in the language wars, Ryan and Mulcair found themselves entangled in the same files.
After Bourassa’s Liberals returned to power in 1985, Ryan became education minister and pulled Mulcair more tightly into his circle. He named him to help grapple with a thorny issue, involving illegal English Catholic schools set up in defiance of the language laws. Mulcair helped craft a compromise that allowed the outlaw schools to keep operating, while imposing stiff fines to stop new ones from being created. “This is the Claude Ryan method: put all the best people around the table and really hammer it out,” he says of the way they settled the matter, adding: “You’d better come prepared to a meeting with Ryan.” Next, Mulcair was appointed head of a provincial regulatory body that oversees professions. He made headlines in Quebec by confronting the formidable doctors’ organization over what he saw as its failure to discipline physicians for sexual misconduct.
During these years, he credits Ryan with instilling in him the values of “rigorous public administration” and the “enforcement of regulation,” especially against powerful interests. “Ryan was very tough; he was very Irish in that way,” Mulcair says. “But he also had a good Catholic streak in him; he was always devoted to social causes.”
In Quebec’s 1994 election, Mulcair made his long-planned jump into politics as a Liberal. Although the Parti Québécois beat the Liberals badly, he managed to win the Chomedey riding on his old Laval home turf. The aging Ryan continued to advise him, but Mulcair soon gained a reputation as a hard-driving opposition fighter in Quebec’s national assembly that didn’t bear much outward resemblance to his mentor’s exacting and often aloof image.
Mulcair’s run as an enforcer for Jean Charest’s Liberals reached its apogee in 2002, when his relentless attacks helped force a Parti Québécois minister’s resignation for alleged influence peddling. Soon after, Mulcair was making similar claims against a PQ lawyer, when they crossed paths in a TV studio. Mulcair snarled off-air, “I’m looking forward to seeing you in prison,” and added, for emphasis, an unprintable French insult. He later lost a defamation suit related to that clash. But when Charest took power the next year, he named his elbows-up lieutenant to the post he most coveted, environment minister, and also made him deputy premier.
Mulcair says he and Charest worked well together for a time, but their relationship soured. The rift was partly about ideology. In Quebec, the main partisan dividing line is between federalists and separatists. That made the provincial Liberal party home for federalists across a sometimes uncomfortably wide ideological band. Charest, a former federal Conservative leader, governed from well to Mulcair’s right. As premier, he tried to reduce the clout of Quebec’s unions, for instance—one of several steps that angered the province’s left. Charest faced protests on the streets.
From retirement and in failing health, Ryan voiced misgivings to his protege in a final phone conversation. “I remember his words well: ‘The way things are going doesn’t respect Liberalism in terms of social responsibility,’ ” Mulcair says. “He was sending a clear message to me as one of his close acolytes in the new government that he thought it was drifting too far right.”
Ryan died on Feb. 9, 2004, at 79. Two years later, Mulcair quit Charest’s cabinet rather than accept a demotion to minister of government services. As environment minister, Mulcair says he “bumped heads” with Charest more than once. Their differences turned irreconcilable when Mulcair refused to sign over land in a provincial park to a condo developer. At the precise moment when Mulcair had to decide whether to swallow Charest’s offer of a lesser role or quit, he stood in an antechamber outside Charest’s office in Quebec City’s landmark 1920s-era Édifice Honoré-Mercier, and phoned his wife and their two adult sons—one now a sergeant in the Quebec provincial police force, the other a science teacher at a Montreal college. All three agreed he shouldn’t bend and settle for a role that he saw as “sort of a joke.”
His dramatic exit made Mulcair a valuable free agent. He was approached, he says, by federal Liberals, Tories and New Democrats—though not by the Bloc. Pierre Ducasse, Layton’s key Quebec adviser, was the NDP’s emissary. Ducasse had been an architect of the party’s so-called Sherbrooke Declaration, which controversially asserts, among other things, that Quebec’s national assembly has the right to set the sovereignty question in any future referendum, and that a bare majority—50 per cent plus one—would be enough for Quebec to leave Confederation. That contradicts the Supreme Court of Canada’s key 1998 reference decision, which says any referendum question and the vote’s result would have to be deemed clear by the Parliament of Canada to trigger succession negotiations.
It was Layton’s bid to make the NDP an attractive new option for Quebec’s soft-nationalist francophones, and happened also to enhance the party’s appeal for Mulcair. Although he had been, along with Grey, a prominent defender of English language rights, he accepted the Quebec government’s efforts to promote French, and was enthusiastic about an assertively distinctive, left-of-centre Québécois political culture. Now Layton pursued Mulcair with the message that he saw Quebec much the same way, even if his NDP had barely a toehold in the province’s politics. Layton and his wife, Toronto MP Olivia Chow, dined one night with Mulcair and Pinhas at the country-style Mon Village restaurant near Layton’s hometown, Hudson, Que. “I guess it was about a six-month process,” Mulcair says of the courtship. “Sometimes I sat back and thought maybe I should hang up my skates, and get a decent-paying job in an area that I like, maybe just do that for a few years.”
But that didn’t look like a serious possibility. In the fall of 2006, Mulcair strategically accepted an invitation to speak at a federal NDP convention in Quebec City. As Charest’s environment minister, he had passed a European-inspired Sustainable Development Act, lending him added star appeal among green-tinted New Democrats. Quebec’s French-language media took notice, and incredulous talk spread that Mulcair might join a party that didn’t hold a single seat in the province. “Good friends were openly laughing,” he says. After all, the NDP had drawn a dismal 7.5 per cent of Quebec’s popular vote in the 2006 federal election.
Layton persuaded Mulcair that all that could change. “A lot of people had seen the NDP as a nudge party, kind of pushing the other guys in the right direction,” Mulcair says. “But Jack had every intention of bringing us up to governing status.” Mulcair took the leap, and ran for the NDP in a by-election in Montreal’s Outremont, a long-time Liberal stronghold, in the summer of 2007. In the previous year’s election, the NDP’s candidate had taken 17 per cent of the vote in the riding. Mulcair won it resoundingly with 48 per cent.
Still, behind the scenes, Mulcair’s integration into the NDP as its new Quebec star was far from frictionless. Although Layton was born and raised near Montreal, he had forged his political career in Toronto, and his key aides were from Ontario and points west. Mulcair soon lost patience over their approach on his home turf. “One of the things I had to make them understand in Ottawa,” he says, “is that they could no longer run a unilingual English shop and then have some stuff translated into crappy French.” He complained directly to Layton during the by-election about wooden French in NDP pamphlets.
But it wasn’t just a matter of poor translations. Mulcair also objected to what struck him as hackneyed leftist messages. “It was this 1950s boilerplate,” he says, “which is already bad enough, stilted enough, in English, but it was being translated into even worse French.” And Mulcair found the NDP’s emphasis on expanding entitlements like government-funded daycare and prescription drugs problematic—since Quebec already offered these benefits as provincial programs. “That’s why we pay pretty high taxes,” he says he told Layton. “If you start promising a whole series of new social programs to Quebecers who are already paying for the ones they’ve got, they’re not going to get it.”
Not surprisingly, Mulcair’s acid, early judgments rankled some NDPers who had been toiling for the cause long before he joined. He derided some of them for aiming too low, content with incremental growth in their share of the vote. He even sparred occasionally with veteran NDP MPs, going public, for instance, with blunt criticism of B.C.’s Libby Davies over anti-Israel comments she made at a demonstration. Much later, during the leadership campaign, stored-up resentment over Mulcair’s penchant for finding fault emerged in the form of persistent complaints from within the party apparatus that he was hard to work with.
In the 2008 election, though, Mulcair remained the only NDP winner in Quebec. Returning to Ottawa, he kept living up to advance billing as a tough customer in question period. And, as Layton’s Quebec lieutenant, he gave the NDP its first marquee player in the French-language media. For all that, nobody saw the 2011 election result in Quebec coming. Layton’s personal appeal soared across Canada early that year after he bounced back from his first bout with cancer. His campaign that spring, cane in hand as he recovered from a broken hip, was extraordinarily compelling—especially, it turned out, among Quebec voters. The NDP won a staggering 59 seats in the province as a result.
Or, at least, the bon Jack phenomenon was widely credited. For his part, Mulcair tends to put the emphasis on organizational work he oversaw in the years and months before the election-day breakthrough. Asked to explain what came to be called the “Orange Wave,” he says: “A lot of hard work on the ground. There were not a lot of people in Ottawa who understood that if we wanted to go beyond having the symbolic presence of one guy who was able to get elected in Outremont—if we wanted to make it real—we were going to have to get some resources and we needed some people.”
Layton’s death late last summer, after a brief, second battle with cancer, released a national outpouring of grief. Mourning had hardly subsided when leadership speculation inside the NDP began in earnest. First out of the gates last fall was Brian Topp, who had been Layton’s campaign director. Topp boasted establishment NDP endorsements and the backing of key elements of Layton’s machine. Mulcair started much more slowly, but by early 2012 he had overtaken Topp—and he never looked back. He campaigned tirelessly, holding events every single day, including over the Christmas period, and sleeping just four hours a night.
Raoul Gebert, formerly president of the NDP’s Quebec wing, came aboard as campaign director. Gebert ran a patient, disciplined race, showcasing what he calls Mulcair’s “skill set”—polished, fluently bilingual, unflappable debating and confident media presence—rather than emphasizing policy or ideology. It worked almost flawlessly. Even an unusually nasty, last-ditch bid to stop Mulcair backfired. Ed Broadbent, the former NDP leader and Topp’s most prestigious endorser, went public in the campaign’s final days to slam Mulcair as temperamentally too divisive to lead.
If anything, being attacked by an elder statesman seemed to earn Mulcair sympathy. It wasn’t just Broadbent lashing out. Some of Mulcair’s rivals picked up on his readiness to criticize the NDP from within as evidence that he wasn’t quite one of the tribe. “How can you inspire people to vote for our party,” asked Ottawa MP and leadership aspirant Paul Dewar, “when you don’t seem to be inspired by our party?”
Gebert makes no grand claims about Mulcair having overcome those reservations to win the hearts of the NDP rank-and-file. He emphasizes instead the party’s clear-eyed decision to pick the leader who looked most capable of consolidating and building on Layton’s 2011 gains. “It’s a very mature choice,” he says, “The party knows where it wants to go and knows that Tom is the person who can bring us there.”
Some politicians feed on the love of the crowd, or at least the fervour of the party faithful, and learn to stoke those passions. That doesn’t seem to be Mulcair’s way. Even his victory speech after he triumphed at the NDP convention in Toronto was oddly flat, laced with dispiriting stats on low youth voter turnout. Perhaps he’s sustained less by public adulation than by private feedback from trusted aides, family and friends.
For Mulcair, those groups tend to overlap. Graham Carpenter, for instance, who manages his Montreal riding office, is a lifelong family friend—the Carpenters, like the Mulcairs, have summer a place on Lac Marois. Carpenter had studied philosophy and was making a living tearing down old barns and recycling the wood when Mulcair, back in his early days as a Quebec cabinet minister, recruited him as a staffer. “I’ve heard him say he learned this trick from Claude Ryan,” Carpenter says. “In politics you find smart people you know, and everything else they learn on the job.”
Gebert says he hadn’t worked intimately with Mulcair before the leadership campaign, and soon came to realize there was no quick way to break into “the very tight-knit group who had worked with him for years and years.” Asked why some NDP insiders find their new leader hard to warm up to, Gebert suggests that Mulcair’s pronounced preference for long-term relationships over new allegiances is part of the explanation. “It’s very much a family affair, a loyalty affair,” he says, adding that Mulcair’s reliance on long-standing friends and advisers goes “beyond what I’ve seen elsewhere in politics.”
Carpenter suggests Mulcair’s staunch commitment to anyone who’s stuck with him is the flip side of his determination to crush opponents. “If he’s your friend, he’s the best friend you ever had,” he says. “And if he’s your enemy, you don’t sleep well.”
If that’s so, then restless nights might be in store for Harper’s strategists. Their first sustained frontal assault on Mulcair, launched May 17 in the House, didn’t seem to phase him. That day in question period, with no particular prompting, Heritage Minister James Moore, Harper’s B.C. lieutenant, accused the NDP leader of attacking “all of the West.” His grounds? Mulcair subscribes to the so-called “Dutch disease” theory that high oil prices push up the value of the loonie, making Canada’s manufactured exports more expensive abroad. It’s a widely held notion, though economists debate the extent of the damage to exports. Such nuances, however, aren’t QP fodder. “He should be ashamed of himself,” Moore thundered.
In a similar situation, Dion, the former professor, might have given a disdainful, detailed reply that wouldn’t have provided a TV sound bite. Ignatieff, the proud public intellectual, might have raised his eyebrows and tried to remain above the fray. Mulcair, politician since puberty, plunged into the fray. “Their priority is the unbridled development of the oil sands,” he countered. “We stand for sustainable development.” He argued that properly enforcing environmental rules would boost the cost of developing Alberta’s oil sands, thus easing oil-fuelled upward pressure on the Canadian dollar and helping manufacturers sell abroad. Tactics, temperament and training blended in his gut reaction. Ryan had taught him that “rigorous public administration” meant applying regulations fearlessly. And then there’s that fighting instinct, the Irish thing. He boasts of besting Moore that day in the House. “The guy blanched,” Mulcair says. “You’re supposed to back down when they’ve screamed at you.”
If Mulcair showed he can counterpunch when cornered, he’s not by habit an improviser. He prepares doggedly, working dark-to-dark shifts. Up most days by 5 a.m., he takes a run nearly every morning, then puts in a couple of hours at his desk at home before heading to his office around 8 a.m. He typically returns at 9 p.m. or later. Yet he’s selective about how he invests all that time. “His general preference is to do things well,” Gebert says, “and do one or two things less, rather than do every little thing.” Family matters, however, can divert him. On a B.C. swing during his leadership campaign, for example, he found out his mother was scheduled for a routine medical appointment. “We actually shifted the time of one event, and cancelled something else, so he could fly home in time to take our mother to the doctor,” Deborah Mulcair says.
Those who’ve seen it up close often find his attentiveness touching. Others who have been on the receiving end of a Mulcair critique are likely to find his manner cutting. It’s too early to predict how these counterpoised traits might combine—as Canadians gradually get to know him—into a more fully rounded public persona. What’s becoming clear already, though, is that this tough politician—his roots so deep and complex—might just have what it takes to withstand Stephen Harper’s efforts to tear him down long enough to make theirs the sort of rivalry that could define a political era.
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So this article tells me a bit more about our next Prime Minister.
I think he's a decent sort.
He's close with his family and friends.
He makes time for his mum.
That's the sort of information that is important to me-not this dumb law and order junk that the Tories are sprouting in a Hydra head fountain so that we can be scared of our own shadows.
I've no idea what or who Mr. Harper is. Certainly he is far more politically smart than I'd ever imagined; he's been able to keep together a party that in Alberta has torn itself apart and managing a union of all the odd folks in the right is work enough.

The disintegration of the right in Alberta is complete.
I mean the Wildrosies are still here but I don't believe they will capture the cities.  So they are an opposition party in my mind. The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta is toast.  And the Liberals have been toast for a long time unfortunately. The Alberta Party isn't useful; I've met one of their folks and he was a nice guy but I could not tell the difference between the Alberta Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta except for the lack of money.

With such political parties---at both the provincial and federal level-- we have experienced a degradation of democracy accompanied by abuses of power and the stifling of citizen rights.
It's remarkable that all of this went on in the background of our lives like a constant white noise at a mall that is perceptible to us and that we don't think determines our buying decisions.

If we do not rouse ourselves to vote in the next federal election we will be stuck with a party that appears to be rather anti-democratic in its treatment of the other; in addition they decide who the other is.

If the other is anyone who opposes the views of the governing political party and is punished for this well then we don't have democracy in place.

If we don't have democracy in place then what we have is an Orwellian statehood that is becoming overweening in its powers and we have a situation where ostensibly rare and infrequently used powers will be used more often.

It's my opinion, that government makes laws such as Bill-C51 for purposes that come up later. It's how they Tories made the changes in electoral law that allowed them to increase the amount of money they could use with a longer campaign period. Why didn't we pick up on this strange change in the electoral law when it was processed? I would say we didn't think of the uses of this law in positioning the federal Tories for the upcoming election, and in the same way we don't see the uses of the C-51 law or its ills until later in the day when it is used by the federal government.

All of this junk is bad news for citizens. We have been apathetic. It is summer. We are in la la land.  The Huns were in charge of us in Alberta. They continue to be in charge of us at the federal level. The chihuahuas we thought we had hired to clean out the federal corruption turn out to be pit bulls and we're in deep deMockracy right now.

The book that I have gone through yesterday indicates that positioning is the new way to brand oneself as a political party. The positioning of the Tories at the provincial level was utterly abysmal and this is why they lost the election; they basically told voters we were the reason for the state of the province.  Folks don't like being told they are wrong about who they voted for 44 years and Prentice and crew found out the perils of telling a loyal Tory base that they were the problem. Now the Tories are positioned as the wrongdoers rather than the saviours of a province; it is doubtful that after such stupid positioning, they will ever return to politics as a viable fertilized egg and develop as anything other than an aborted political embryo.

As for the Harper crew? They are more canny. They have followed the political games of parties in the USA and elsewhere. They know voters are always right. They know that mummies direct families in voting decisions; and so they butter us up with increased Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) payments.  They are smart enough to provide a lump sum for retroactive payments that they legislated in and then they reinforce the good feelings with increased payments from July 20, 2015 right up to and beyond the time of the federal election. What's not to like about getting money? For money is the way to the votes as has been proven in Alberta until there was no money to hand out and then it was game over.
The federal Tories are using the public purse to bribe us all to re-electing them.  These are the tricks of all incumbents and don't seem to be irregular practices.  The governing party will spend us into a deficit all the while telling us they have a balanced budget or even a surplus and we won't really know what we have in the kitty until we elect another political party to do the forensic audits.
The Tories will spend lavishly and will be reelected  in Alberta. They have been providing cash for many things.

Tories pour out $4 billion ahead of election call

  • PHOTOS ( 1 )
Tories pour out $4 billion ahead of election call

The Toyota Canada plant in Cambridge, Ont., was a big winner, getting a $58-million loan from Ottawa.

Photograph by: Aaron Lynett, The Canadian Press , Ottawa Citizen

With an election call expected this weekend, the Conservative government embarked on a campaign of dozens of taxpayer-funded photo ops and press conferences to highlight hundreds of government projects, before the tap is turned off.
An analysis of these announcements shows Conservative MPs announced - or in some cases re-announced - nearly $4 billion worth of government projects in communities across the country since Monday, with more rolling in as this paper went to print.
Those included everything from a $500-million ring road in Calgary to a $5,000 investment in an Ontario faucet company. There was also $1.2 million to turn Stompin' Tom Connors's old stomping grounds in Prince Edward Island into a tourist attraction, and $30 million to light up two Montreal bridges in 2017.
Asked Friday whether the Conservatives were using government resources to campaign before the election campaign actually starts, Conservative party spokesman Kory Teneycke said: "I'm sure there will always be criticism no matter what the government does in terms of announcements."
Aaron Wudrick, head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said it isn't necessarily wrong for a government to want to tell Canadians what it is doing with their money.
But he said it would be "silly" to claim there was a coincidence between the sudden flurry and the pending election call, at which point all such activity must stop. Wudrick suggested this was another unexpected symptom of Canada having a fixed-election date.
"Any government that ramps up its announcements and ad spending before an election shows that it is trying to gain partisan benefit heading into the campaign," Wudrick said. "This blurs the lines between government work and partisanship."
Non-Conservative MPs appear to have been completely excluded from any announcements, including those in their own ridings.
On Friday, Independent MP Brent Rathgeber noted on Twitter that Health Minister Rona Ambrose had visited his Alberta riding in the past two days to announce more than $500,000 for renovations to a local YMCA, theatre and arena.
Rathgeber said Ambrose's visit "proves the (government) is more interested in ridings it needs than those it has," before saying that if the Conservatives don't win back his seat in the election, "I understand they will pave every street ... with gold."
Most of the projects announced this past week will be funded with money that has already been set aside by the Conservative government. Those include $150 million in community-based projects ostensibly linked to Canada's 150th birthday, but which critics have described as a Conservative slush fund.
Many of the announcements have resulted in positive media coverage for the Conservatives in local media. The Pembroke Daily Observer, for example, published a photo of Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant announcing $7,979 for a local museum. Similar photos have appeared in other newspapers.
However, Conservative MP David Wilks admitted to making a "mistake" after the Revelstoke Mountaineer in B.C. uncovered a $32.6-million discrepancy in a $156.6-million funding announcement Wilks made on July 16. Some of the projects Wilks was announcing had started last year, and at least one was already finished.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to call the election this weekend, with Canadians going to the polls on Oct. 19. At nearly 80 days, it would be the longest federal campaign in recent history.

These sorts of payouts are common at elections and it is only surprising that they are even bothering to pretend that these payouts are for anything other than getting re-elected.  I mean who is going to believe that the community based projects money that they say is linked to Canada's 150th birthday is anything but bribes to get the Tories re-elected?

There are other payouts to cities in terms of infrastructure grants that they have timed for the pre-election period such as the Calgary ring road money. All of this bribing could have been spread out throughout the years but is cannily put together as a pre-election package that can only be given at this time because the Tories know that they have many mistakes that they have to cover up. But they insist that they are simply handing out the cash because of the fact they have to go do the election on a fixed date.

Barlow also announced, on behalf of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, the government allocated $113 million to upgrading border infrastructure across the Prairies, including the port of entry at Chief Mountain.
These are two of many funding announcements in the area made by the federal government in the past week.
"We have a fixed election date for October 19th. We have to get these things done before the election," Barlow said.

 Too funny.  Do they think we are dumb?


Waterton receives $107 million from federal government for infrastructure upgrades

By Jocelyn Doll, Pincher Creek Echo
Friday, July 31, 2015 6:15:04 MDT PM
MP of the Macleod riding, John Barlow, announces $107 million grant for upgrades in Waterton Lakes National Park. Ifan Thomas, superintendent of the park opened the press conference and introduced Barlow.
MP of the Macleod riding, John Barlow, announces $107 million grant for upgrades in Waterton Lakes National Park. Ifan Thomas, superintendent of the park opened the press conference and introduced Barlow.
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Tourists enjoyed Waterton Park early Friday afternoon, unaware that a federal politician unveiled a multi-million dollar investment that would transform the park as they know it.
Conservative MP for the Macleod riding, John Barlow, announced a $107 million dollar grant for Waterton Lakes National Park on behalf of Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
The investment is intended for infrastructure and deferred maintenance projects over the next five years. According to Barlow the funds are part of $2.6 billion that Stephen Harper allocated to infrastructure in national parks and historic sites last November.
"Waterton is like the front lawn of Canada," Barlow said from the Bayshore Inn Conference Centre in the park. "We want to make sure it's as beautiful and welcoming as can be."
At the moment there are plans to complete eight different projects within the park. Highlights include resurfacing the Akamina Parkway for $24.3 million, replacing the roads, water and sewer pipelines in the Waterton town site for$17.5 million and building a new visitor information centre at a different location.
Many of the projects are already underway says Ifan Thomas, park superintendent. They started bringing people on for the project in February, but couldn't say anything until the official announcement.
"We will be working on this year round," Thomas said. "We are going to try to minimize the impacts on the visitation. We want to ensure that the people who come here can continue to enjoy the park."
According to Thomas, parks employees as well as the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce have been working towards getting this funding for the last two years at least, if not more.
Barlow says it was one of the first things the mayor and parks staff approached him about when he was first elected in June 2014.
Mary Ann Reeves, president of the Waterton Park Community Association, was so excited she, “could hardly stand it."
"It's going to be the most pristine village and park on the map anywhere," she said.
Not only will the money improve the park for tourists, residents will also see maintenance they have been waiting for.
"As far as the village itself, you've driven around I'm sure and seen the potholes. We've all been complaining about that for years. So that will all be smooth and wrinkle free,"Reeves said. "It's a win, win."
Barlow also announced, on behalf of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, the government allocated $113 million to upgrading border infrastructure across the Prairies, including the port of entry at Chief Mountain.
These are two of many funding announcements in the area made by the federal government in the past week.
"We have a fixed election date for October 19th. We have to get these things done before the election," Barlow said.
Waterton, founded in 1895, is the Canadian half of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is located 250 kilometres east of Calgary on the Alberta, Montana border and hosts over 400,000 visitors annually.

The blizzard of public money going out to citizens now is astonishing.
News ReleaseArticle from Canada Border Services Agency
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MP John Barlow welcomes funding from Harper Government to modernize ports of entry in Alberta

MP John Barlow, on behalf of Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today announced the Harper Government will invest an estimated $113.65 million to improve infrastructure in the Prairie Region including the Chief Mountain port of entry in Alberta. This investment is part of the $440 million in infrastructure funding announced in November 2014 by Prime Minister Harper to replace aging ports of entry across Canada.
The infrastructure investment includes design finalization, site services, geotechnical and environmental assessments, as well as modular building construction, including structural, mechanical, electrical, internal fit-up, commissioning, project management and signage. Construction work is planned to begin as early as 2017.
The $440 million border infrastructure investment, combined with previous Beyond the Border infrastructure commitments, provides a huge boost to upgrade ports of entry. The majority of Canadian ports of entry will be fully upgraded or replaced with modern facilities, consistent with the Canada Border Services Agency’s efforts towards modernization.
This is over and above the $241 million that the Harper Government has already invested in expanding and modernizing its ports of entry over the last five years.
New and modern facilities will help meet new space demands due to recent operational requirements. Improvements to facilities will help ensure our small, remote and medium ports of entry will continue to deliver service excellence to travellers and traders.
“Improvements to port of entry facilities help ensure the free flow of legitimate travel and trade across Canadian borders. Our commitment to invest $440 million in border infrastructure to modernize ports of entry demonstrates our government’s ongoing commitment to the safety and prosperity of our country.”
The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“By investing in border infrastructure at the Chief Mountain port of entry, the Harper Government is helping support the economy in Alberta.”
MP John Barlow, Macloed
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Government of Canada supports the upgrade and expansion of Highway 1 near Revelstoke

Project made possible thanks to New Building Canada Plan and BC On the Move
August 1, 2015 – Revelstoke, British Columbia– Infrastructure Canada
David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay – Columbia was joined today by Greg Kyllo, British Columbia Member of the Legislative Assembly for Shuswap, to jointly announce funding for the upgrade and expansion of Highway 1 near Revelstoke that will increase safety for all drivers and improve the efficiency of this important regional and trans-provincial route.
The main components of the $35 million project include the widening of 2.5 kilometres of Highway 1, 40 km east of Revelstoke from two lanes to four lanes, expanding the Illecillewaet brake check station to more than double its capacity, and improving safety through the addition of new acceleration and deceleration lanes at the brake check. These improvements will provide increased passing opportunities to improve safety and mobility along the Trans Canada Highway. It will also provide a safe area to store vehicles as part of a strategy to improve how traffic is managed during winter closures for avalanche control operations.
The New Building Canada Plan is the largest and longest federal infrastructure plan in Canada's history. This unprecedented commitment is providing $53 billion to support provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure between 2014 and 2024.
Over this ten year period, British Columbia will benefit from approximately $3.9 billion in dedicated federal funding, including almost $1.1 billion under the New Building Canada Fund.
This project reflects a commitment to improve highway safety as part of the province's 10-year transportation strategy – B.C. on the Move. This plan will improve the province's transportation network providing a comprehensive road map for transportation investments and strategic policy actions over the next decade..

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has selected this project for funding consideration of up to one half of eligible costs, to a maximum of $15.5 million under the New Building Canada Fund's Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component-National and Regional Projects. This funding is conditional on the project meeting applicable federal eligibility requirements with respect to the New Building Canada Fund and the signing of a contribution agreement.
  • The Government of British Columbia will be contributing the remaining $19.5 million to the project. The total estimated cost of the project is $35 million.
  • As part of B.C. on the Move, almost $2.5 billion will be invest to grow the economy, improve safety, maintain and replace aging infrastructure and support trade for B.C.'s expanding resource sectors over the next three years alone.
  • Included in this, the government of B.C. will invest more than $800 million in highway and bridge rehabilitation and safety improvement.
  • The B.C. government has budgeted almost $1 billion over the next three years to ensure our network has the capacity to meet the transport and trade needs of the province – a key to growth and prosperity.
  • The $53 billion New Building Canada Plan provides stable funding for a 10-year period, and includes:
    • The Community Improvement Fund, consisting of the Gas Tax Fund and the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for Municipalities, which will provide over $32 billion to municipalities for projects such as roads, public transit and recreational facilities, and other community infrastructure.
    • The $14-billion New Building Canada Fund, which consists of:
      • The $4-billion National Infrastructure Component that will support projects of national significance; and
      • The $10-billion Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component for projects of national, regional and local significance. Of this amount, $1 billion for projects in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents through the Small Communities Fund.
    • An additional $1.25 billion in funding for the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Canada Fund administered by PPP Canada.


"Our Government's support for public infrastructure has never been stronger. We are pleased to work with the Province of British Columbia to approve projects under the New Building Canada Fund, to ensure that infrastructure funding continues to flow in British Columbia as we focus on creating jobs, promoting growth, and building strong, prosperous communities across Canada. We are proud to invest in this transportation project. It will increase commuter safety and improve the flow of traffic to and from Revelstoke along Highway 1."
-David Wilks
Member of Parliament for Kootenay—Columbia, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
"We are pleased to be working with our federal partners to deliver on the commitment to increase the number of four lane sections on Highway 1 as well as making safety improvements to a local brake check area. These improvements will ensure truck traffic flows as efficiently as possible along this route, and increased capacity of Highway 1 will ensure the continued movement of goods and people along this important corridor."
-Greg Kyllo
British Columbia Member of the Legislative Assembly for Shuswap


Vincent Rabault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Infrastructure Canada 613-960-9251
Toll free: 1-877-250-7154  Follow us on Twitter at @INFC_eng
Canada's Economic Action Plan Visit to learn more

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These endless action plans to keep the momentum of the flat tire trucks of the Tories moving.

And yet what about the mistakes made by the Tories?
One major mistake that we never seem to hear about right now is the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Image of the Budget 2015 Header
Economic Action Plan 2015 confirms the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continues to promote Canada’s economic and labour market interests.
The Government remains committed to reforming the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure the program is used as intended and that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs. In 2014, the Government announced significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and introduced the International Mobility Programs.
The Government will continue to implement these reforms, including introducing legislation to allow the Government to set relevant fees in a timely manner, to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continues to promote Canada’s economic and labour market interests.
Canada is experiencing significant skills shortages in many sectors and regions, and Canadians must always have first chance at job opportunities when they become available. The purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to help fill genuine and acute labour needs so that businesses can continue to grow and create more opportunities for Canadians.

About the Program

The purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to help fill genuine and acute labour needs. The Government has been reviewing the program to ensure that goal is met and that Canadians are never displaced as a result. To strengthen and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Government is introducing legislative, regulatory and administrative changes that will:
  • effective immediately, require employers to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage by removing the existing wage flexibility;
  • effective immediately, temporarily suspend the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion process;
  • seek to increase the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke Work Permits and Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) if the program is being misused;
  • add questions to employer LMO applications to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs;
  • ensure employers who rely on temporary foreign workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time through the LMO process;
  • seek to introduce fees for employers for the processing of LMOs and increase the fees for work permits so that the taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the costs; and
  • identify English and French as the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement.

Primary agricultural occupations will be subject to the reform that will increase the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke Work Permits and LMOs if they are being misused. The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Agricultural Stream will be unaffected by the remaining reforms as there continue to be labour shortages in this industry and the unfilled jobs are truly temporary. Since 2006, the Government has pursued much-needed reforms to focus Canada’s immigration system on fuelling economic prosperity for Canada. The Government has placed top priority on attracting immigrants who have the skills and experience our economy needs. The Government is committed to making our immigration system truly fast and flexible in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth. As part of this strategy, Economic Action Plan 2013 will reform the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that it is being used to help fill genuine and acute labour needs and that Canadians are never displaced as a result.

Who Is Eligible

Canadians will benefit from better assurances that they will have first opportunity at available jobs and that the program is not being used to displace Canadian workers. Temporary foreign workers will benefit from guarantees that they will be paid the prevailing wage for their work. The reformed Temporary Foreign Worker Program will also continue to benefit those regions in the country facing acute labour shortages in certain sectors.

Progress to Date

As announced in Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government is taking action to reform the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs. The results of these changes will strengthen and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to support our economic recovery and growth, and ensure that more employers hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers. The comprehensive review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is ongoing. As part of the this review, the Government of Canada will seek input from Canadians on further changes to ensure that the Program is working in the best interests of Canadian workers and businesses. Cross-Canada consultations will be held with businesses, industry and trade organizations, unions and others on additional changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Find out more

For more information, please visit the website of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada or Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
- See more at:

So I am curious why we have this program in the first place.
Why don't we simply abolish it so that Canadians have first dibs on the jobs?
If there are skill shortages then Canada should simply acquire immigrants with these skills sets. I mean if this program is able to acquire cheap labour with these skills why can't we acquire immigrants with these skills?
In my mind -it's all about catering to businesses in Canada who profit from having a cheap labour pool.
Modifications to this booming program was only made when voters found out about it and when they expressed their disapproval to their Tory MPs.
But the program isn't being terminated; such a program closure won't go over well with the folks who need cheap labour in Canada.

This program was gifted to us by the Liberals and went racing with the Tories. It's a mistake on both parties' part to have taken part in this slave business. I believe it was designed to help the Tory base and it was using foreign folks to do the dirty work that Canadians won't do or at least won't do cheaply. Why would foreign folks be brought in like donkeys and camels to do the work of Canadians at prices we don't want to see anyone getting? I believe that the industries who need these workers, have to earn profits and the only way they will earn profits is to pay human beings a non-living wage. Better yet, they can dump the more expensive Canadian workers to  do this sort of junk.

As the mother of two sons, I don't like this program. I have told the Tories I do not like it. As a citizen who believes that there should not be any use of human beings as slaves I believe that if the government of Canada wants to curry favour with its industry partners then it can jolly well allow foreign workers in as citizens if Canadians do not want to do grunt work. They should also let the so called free market force an increase in the wages Canadian workers get in these grunt jobs and thereby increase the pool of domestic workers who would be willing to do the grunt jobs. It is no use crying to this citizen that Canadians cannot be found to do grunt work; it is a recession period in Alberta and I'm pretty sure now that Canadians can be found.  If they cannot be found than an increase in minimum wage will help the problem to a resolution. The Tories have created a rigged free market and was only exposed in their bad doings by yappy former workers. All this junk was going on without us knowing and now we have had the government change some of its rules just before the election. But I have no trust in the Tories. We will elect them only to get the reversal of these rules. It is clear to me after 44 years of governance at the provincial level, that the provincial Tories were useless for citizens and good for business. It is similarly clear to me that the federal Tories are of a similar genetic background as the provincial Tories.

The lack of trust or belief in the Tories is not limited to the Tories. I believe that any political party that is allowed to stay in power for decades will be corrupted and begin to feel it is immortal. Only cancer cells are immortal you would think but the Tories have proved this wrong; political parties can also become cancerous.

Our best bet as citizens is to watch each political party we hire and not be afraid to dissent. It is our democratic right to speak our minds and ask for the changes in society that benefit all of us. It's important that all of us have decent health care, education and continuing care. There might be increased costs to all of us but so what? Disease, ignorance and abuses of power in continuing care are also expensive for a society and we end up with more instability in the rise of extreme parties who position themselves rather like the Nazis did --as the saviour of people who have suffered and need not suffer any more. If you read the accounts of what such positioned parties have done for their nations and the world, it might encourage you all to vote out any party that has been in power for more than a term or two. It's only the change in political parties that ensures we do not have the rise of groups of people who think they are above the laws of democracy and who continue on to make laws that ensure that deMockracy is established. Do we want this in Canada?

I think not.
These sorts of errors in the decision making process of citizens happen over decades. We believe in a group of people. This group of people is usually more strategic than we are or they would not be in government-- and they understand how to fit the keys of their information into the locks of our mental doors. We are opened. We vote for them for years. But they become deranged in their functioning (or perhaps all political parties are slightly deranged to begin with and simply get worse over time without appropriate checks and balances). We have a slow erosion of what is considered to be ethical and humane behaviour. It becomes appropriate to accept abuses of power that are explained to us as the citizens not following the rules or endangering others (see where I'm going here with reference to continuing care?) This sort of acceptance of baloney by government expands to other areas. Terrorist mummies start to show up in the newspapers defending their babies from cancer causing carcinogens but we're not to consider them as human beings but folks who aren't bowing down to the oil and gas government of the Tories. We are to believe everything we are told because our jobs depend on it we are told. We are told that anything we say will ensure we don't get jobs in Alberta and in fact we are provided with case studies of yappy doctors who lost their jobs because AHS is and was stocked by Tory puppets who did the bidding of the Tories or were also sacked for their disobedience. Then things become interesting in that ordinary Tory voters start to yap about rural problems such as the fracking contamination or the long term care centre that isn't being built at Fort McMurray even after a decade of yapping because I guess oil and gas makes you eternally young in this city.

Finally the implosion. We get the political party doing everything possible to commit hari kari --as if the folks of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta wanted to get it's last few toys before they were done. And they were done.

It's the same story at the federal level. The keys don't fit our locked doors. But the folks at the federal level are busy committing hari kari in all the ways possible to show us a party in descent using all the tricks and gaming devices it has at it's disposal to play the election game to win.

But will it win? It could. There are those low information voters. There might be some low information candidates that we aren't sure of.   And there is fear and intimidation. There is real stupidity. There is human nature which is always to not get involved because what can you do?  But if you don't do this work of dissent and resistance it's not unimaginable that what happened before won't happen again.

Government isn't designed for the people it serves.
It is designed for political parties to use to maintain power.
Sometimes we get the government that also serves the people.
But the real purpose of government is for political parties to get charge of public money and from that base, establish a dynasty that they will keep them in power for extended periods of time with positioning.

It's all very neat.
I wonder if it will work.
I wonder if this will all go bad again.
I am curious about the low information voters and their impact on the high information voters.
I am most of all curious now about the people of every political party who rig the elections we think are free elections.
We don't live in a democracy.
But we think we do live in a democracy.
It might be an approximation of a democracy.
Or it might be the inverted totalitarian business that seemed to have been what has been dumped in Alberta thanks to improper positioning of the Prentice crew.
The Harper crew, in contrast, are masters at positioning.
They're positioning government for their own ends.
More power to government.
Less power to the people.
Do we trust government with such major powers --that can even revoke citizenship without involvement of the judicial system? In my mind, we are putting too much power into the hands of transient folks --politicians and we are not going to benefit as citizens.
The Tories are masters at this sort of positioning of themselves as terrorist detectors, citizen saviours and all that rot.
It is important for us to see that this sort of anti-democratic junk benefits only the political parties that form government and does nothing to improve safety of citizens who are more likely to get hit and killed by a speeding motorist in Riverbend than to be the target of a terrorist plot in Canada. It's a positioning of an issue, that has however instilled fear into the seniors all about me and has guaranteed the Tories some sort of low information voter turnout that might indeed give them another kick at the bucket of deMockracy. The irony of a bill that purports to strengthen democracy but actually weakens it is another master play of positioning of the Tories in the minds of low information voters so that they come off as not only saviours but also as defenders of the democracy that we think we have but actually are not in possession of.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ablawg <>
Date: Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 11:06 AM
Subject: Bill C-24: Strengthening Canadian Citizenship – Weakening Global Security
To: Bill C-24: Strengthening Canadian Citizenship – Weakening Global Security

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 09:00 AM PDT
By: Hannah Buckley
PDF Version: Bill C-24: Strengthening Canadian Citizenship – Weakening Global Security
Statute Commented On: Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActSC 2014 c 22
On June 11, 2015 the final host of amendments created under the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (Bill C-24) came into force. Among those were amendments to section 10 of the Citizenship Act, RSC 1985 c C-29 greatly expanding the government’s ability to revoke Canadian citizenship. The amendments apply to naturalized Canadians, dual citizens and Canadian-born citizens who are eligible to obtain dual citizenship. Prior to Bill C-24, only naturalized citizenship could be revoked, and revocation was limited to cases where citizenship was obtained by means of fraud or false pretenses (See Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Legislative Summary of Bill C-24: An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts by Julie Béchard, Penny Becklumb, & Sandra Elgersma (Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2014) available here). Now treason, terrorism, aiding the enemy, espionage, and communicating safeguarded or operational information have been added to the list of exile-worthy offences.

The government announced that the measures, “underscore the government’s commitment to protecting the safety and security of Canadians and promoting Canadian interests and values [and] reinforces the value of Canadian citizenship” (See the backgrounder published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada). However, opponents contend that the amendments are unconstitutional and create a highly-problematic two-class system of citizenship in which naturalized Canadians are vulnerable to having their citizenship arbitrarily revoked.
I have three main issues with the recent amendments to the Citizenship Act. First, in a globalized world, readopting the long-abandoned archaic practice of banishment is not an effective response to terrorism. Second, Bill C-24 and the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 Bill C-51 (which received royal assent on June 18, 2015) work together to reimagine the word “terrorist” in broad, amorphous terms, potentially encompassing people who would not typically be considered terrorists. Third, providing the Minister with discretionary powers to revoke citizenship denies people due process in what is likely one of the most critical decisions of their lives. Each of these concerns are addressed below.
We live in a globalized world. Never has it been easier to share ideas, transport goods, and exercise personal mobility. Consequently, terrorism is no longer an issue that can be confined within borders. The legislation must reflect this conceptual evolution. Terrorism is a global issue that requires a global response. It is irresponsible for Canada to revoke citizenship of convicted terrorists and send them to countries that may not have the ability to adequately or appropriately deal with the situation. In a featured article by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Director Michael Coulombe astutely wrote , “even if a Canadian extremist does not immediately return, he or she is still a Canadian problem. Just as Canada expects other nations to prevent their citizens from harming Canadians and Canadian interests, we too are obligated to deny Canadian extremists the ability to kill and terrorize people of other countries.” (emphasis added). If every country were to adopt Canada’s response to terrorism, the solution would look like a global conveyer belt of terrorists being transferred between countries.
In recent headlines is the case of Hiva Alizadeh. In September 2014, Alizadeh pled guilty to the offence of possessing explosive materials for the purpose of endangering life or causing serious property damage involving Canadian citizens in their homeland (R v Alizadeh, 2014 ONSC 5421). Though Alizadeh did not in fact carry out a terrorist attack, he admitted to travelling to Iran and then Afghanistan in 2009 to attend a terrorist training camp and to smuggling customized circuit boards into the country with the intention to build explosive triggering devices, upon his return to Canada. During sentencing Justice Colin McKinnon stated, “you are now a convicted terrorist. The fact carries with it an utterly deplorable stigma that is likely impossible to erase … . You have betrayed the trust of your government and your fellow citizens” (Alizadeh at para 1). Alizadeh was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Alizadeh is a dual Canadian and Iranian citizen. This month the government began to take the initial steps under the   Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to revoke Alizadeh’s Canadian citizenship (See here). The question for me is whether deporting Hiva Alizadeh or similar cases actually increase Canadian security?
Since 2012 Canada has listed Iran as a state that supports terrorism (See Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada on Terrorism). It is difficult to believe that Canada’s solution to terrorism is to send a known terrorist to Iran instead of keeping him in a Canadian prison where we can have confidence that the risk to the public is low and he may even be able to rehabilitate. Terrorists do not need to be on Canadian soil to undertake attacks. Canadians and consular services can be found in almost every country in the world. By sending known terrorists to foreign countries Canada is shirking its responsibilities and naively relying on other governments to keep Canadians safe.
For many supporters of the amendments to the Citizenship Act, Canadian citizenship is a privilege not a right (See Debates of the Senate, 41st Parl, 2nd Sess, Vol 149, Issue 73 (17 June 2014) at 1930 (Hon Nicole Eaton)). Canada prides itself on being a peaceable and safe nation. It is easy to sympathize with those who hold the position that a person who has committed a terrorist offence (naturalized or Canadian-born) does not deserve to be a Canadian citizen. What makes this position more difficult to grasp is when it is accompanied with an understanding of the recent redefining of what it means to be a terrorists. When one imagines a “terrorist” they may conjure up images of groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Boko Haram, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). What one likely does not picture is someone who shares a blog over social media or who was convicted of a terrorism offence in a country that does not respect the rule of law. However, as a result of the passing of Bills C-51 and C-24, such expressions and situations may constitute a terrorism offence and could lead to revocation of citizenship.
Changes to the definition of terrorism:
  • Bill C-51 amended and expanded the Criminal Code, RSC 1985 c C-46 definition of “terrorism offence” by adding provision 83.221, which states:
“Every person who, by communicating statements, knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general-other than an offence under this section-while knowing that any of those offence will be committed or being reckless as to whether any of those offences may be committed, as a result of such communication, is guilty of an indicatable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years” (emphasis added)
Opponents contend that this provision is problematic because it is written in broad vague terms and consequently has the potential to convict people who may have no intention of promoting a terrorism offence.
  • Bill C-24 amended the Citizenship Act and added section 10(2)(b), which states:
(2) The Minister may revoke a person’s citizenship if the person, before or after the coming into force of this subsection and while the person was a citizen,
(bwas convicted of a terrorism offence as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code — or an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a terrorism offence as defined in that section — and sentenced to at least five years of imprisonment (emphasis added)
To understand opponents’ concerns with this provision, take for example the case of Saudi Arabian human rights activist Waleed Abu al-Khair. Waleed Abu al-Khair is currently serving a 15 year sentence in Saudi Arabia, convicted on terrorism charges stemming from his “peaceful activism, including comments to news outlets and on Twitter criticizing Saudi human rights violations” (See Human Rights Watch “Saudi Arabia: Prominent Activist Marks Year Behind Bars”). Commentators worry that if someone like Waleed Abu Al-Khair were to one day become a Canadian citizen, they would be vulnerable to having their citizenship revoked under section 10(2)(b) of the Citizenship Act. It is difficult to imagine a court of law interpreting this section to encompass Al-Khair’s acts (since the provision specifies that the offence committed abroad must constitute a terrorism offence as defined by the Criminal Code)However, a court would not be making this interpretation; the decision is left to the Minister or one of his delegates.
An enormous amount of trust has been placed in the hands of the Minister or one of his delegates to make the critical decision as to whether or not an individual’s citizenship should be revoked. The government claims that by separating this process from the judicial system, they are cutting financial costs and increasing efficiency. While this may be true, we must ask, “at what social cost”? In allocating this power, the government is denying due process. All citizens should be entitled to a federal court hearing to determine whether their citizenship should be revoked. It is fundamentally unjust to leave a decision of this magnitude to an arbitrary body.
The changes to the Citizenship Act introduced through Bill C-24 are a smoke and mirrors response to terrorism. In an effort to appear “tough on terrorism” Canada is placing its energy and focus on reintroducing a model of security that it outgrew hundreds of years ago. Canada owes a responsibility to the global community to deal with Canadian terrorists on Canadian soil. This is no longer an era of kingdoms, castles, and moats. We can’t simply throw someone outside of the Kingdom walls and expect that the problem is exiled along with the perpetrator. The changes introduced by Bill C-24 fail to protect the safety and security of Canadians from what is today, a threat that has no boundaries.
Update: the government has recently started a second application under the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to revoke the Canadian citizenship of Misbahuddin Ahmed.
This post originally appeared on Rights Angle.
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It's an interesting business.
We have free speech under attack.
And government can do whatever it wants with impunity because guess what? It's all been positioned to be so.
It's very neat stuff. And we were mostly all oblivious to this positioning business until we arrived here at this police state situation.
In my mind, we're on a slow decline to this chaos yet again. We are entering a new world of government takeover of individual rights and I'm pretty sure we're not doing much about this junk.
It's time for all of us to remember the past.
They came for folks and citizens just pretended that it wasn't happening.
Or they knew and they were afraid.
Then when they were confronted with the truth, they denied.
But how does one deny legislation that is being enacted all about us folks?
Are we all low information voters?


Behind the Picture: The Liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945

Of the countless photos made during World War II, Margaret Bourke-White's portrait of Buchenwald survivors remains among the most haunting.

[Note: This gallery contains graphic images.]
Some photographs are so much of their time that, as years pass, they acquire an air of genuine authority—about an event, a person, a place—and even, perhaps, an air of inevitability. This is what it was like, these pictures seem to say. This is what happened. This is the moment. This is what we remember.
Of the many indispensable photos made during the Second World War, Margaret Bourke-White’s portrait of survivors at Buchenwald in April 1945—”staring out at their Allied rescuers,” as LIFE magazine put it, “like so many living corpses”—remains among the most haunting. The faces of the men, young and old, staring from behind the wire, “barely able to believe that they would be delivered from a Nazi camp where the only deliverance had been death,” attest with an awful eloquence to the depths of human depravity and, perhaps even more powerfully, to the measureless lineaments of human endurance.
What few people recall about Bourke-White’s survivors-at-the-wire image, however, is that it did not even appear in LIFE until 15 years after it was made, when it was published alongside other photographic touchstones in the magazine’s Dec. 26, 1960, special double-issue, “25 Years of LIFE.”
Pictures from Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and other camps that LIFE didpublish—made when Bourke-White and her colleagues accompanied Gen. George Patton’s Third Army on its storied march through a collapsing Germany in the spring of 1945—were among the very first to document for a largely disbelieving public, in America and around the world, the wholly murderous nature of the camps. (At the end of this gallery, see how the original story on the liberation of the camps appeared in the May 7, 1945, issue of LIFE, when the magazine published a series of brutal photographs by Bourke-White, William Vandivert and other LIFE staffers.)
Here, eight decades after the liberation of Buchenwald, presents a series of Bourke-White photographs—most of which never ran in LIFE magazine—from that notorious camp located a mere five miles outside the ancient, picturesque town of Weimar, Germany.
Her justifiably iconic picture of men at the Buchenwald fence suggests the horrors made manifest by the Nazi push for a “final solution”: the other Bourke-White photographs here, on the other hand, do not suggest, or hint at, the Third Reich’s horrors. Instead, they force the Holocaust’s nightmares into the unblinking light.

In Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly—her devastating 1946 memoir, subtitled “A Report on the Collapse of Hitler’s ‘Thousand Years'”—Bourke-White recalls the ghastly landscape that confronted the Allied troops who liberated Buchenwald, and her own tortured response to what she, the Allied troops and her fellow journalists witnessed and recorded there:
There was an air of unreality about that April day in Weimar, a feeling to which I found myself stubbornly clinging. I kept telling myself that I would believe the indescribably horrible sight in the courtyard before me only when I had a chance to look at my own photographs. Using the camera was almost a relief; it interposed a slight barrier between myself and the white horror in front of me.
This whiteness had the fragile translucence of snow, and I wished that under the bright April sun which shone from a clean blue sky it would all simply melt away. I longed for it to disappear, because while it was there I was reminded that men actually had done this thing—men with arms and legs and eyes and hearts not so very unlike our own. And it made me ashamed to be a member of the human race.
The several hundred other spectators who filed through the Buchenwald courtyard on that sunny April afternoon were equally unwilling to admit association with the human beings who had perpetrated these horrors. But their reluctance had a certain tinge of self-interest; for these were the citizens of Weimar, eager to plead their ignorance of the outrages.
In one of the signal moments of his long career and, indeed, of the entire war, an enraged General Patton refused to recognize that the Weimar citizens’ ignorance might be genuine—or, if it was genuine, that it was somehow, in any moral sense, pardonable. He ordered the townspeople to bear witness to what their countrymen had done, and what they themselves had allowed to be done, in their name.
Margaret Bourke-White’s pictures of these terribly ordinary men and women—appalled, frightened, ashamed amid the endless evidence of the terrors their compatriots had unleashed—remain among the most unsettling she, or any photographer, ever made. Long before the political theorist Hannah Arendt introduced her notion of the “banality of evil” to the world in her 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Margaret Bourke-White had already captured its face, for all time, in her photographs of “good Germans” forced to confront their own complicity in a barbarous age.

Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of


Together with its many satellite camps, Buchenwald was one of the largest concentration camps established within the old German borders of 1937. The camp was constructed in 1937 in a wooded area on the northern slopes of the Ettersberg, about five miles northwest of Weimar in east-central Germany. Before the Nazi takeover of power, Weimar was best known as the home of leading literary figure Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a product of German liberal tradition in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and as the birthplace of German constitutional democracy in 1919, the Weimar Republic. During the Nazi regime, "Weimar" became associated with the Buchenwald concentration camp.
SS authorities opened Buchenwald for male prisoners in July 1937. Women were not part of the Buchenwald camp system until late 1943 or early 1944. Prisoners were confined in the northern part of the camp in an area known as the main camp, while SS guard barracks and the camp administration compound were located in the southern part. An electrified barbed-wire fence, watchtowers, and a chain of sentries outfitted with automatic machine guns, surrounded the main camp.The detention area, also known as the Bunker, was located at the entrance to the main camp. The SS often shot prisoners in the stables and hanged other prisoners in the crematorium area.
Most of the early inmates at Buchenwald were political prisoners. However, in 1938, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, German SS and police sent almost 10,000 Jews to Buchenwald where the camp authorities subjected them to extraordinarily cruel treatment upon arrival. 255 of them died as a result of their initial mistreatment at the camp.
Jews and political prisoners were not the only groups within the Buchenwald prisoner population, although the “politicals,” given their long-term presence at the site, played an important role in the camp's prisoner infrastructure. The SS also interned recidivist criminals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), and German military deserters at Buchenwald. Buchenwald was one of the only concentration camps that held so-called “work-shy” individuals, persons whom the regime incarcerated as “asocials” because they could not, or would not, find gainful employment. In the camp's later stages, the SS also incarcerated prisoners-of-war of various nations (including the United States), resistance fighters, prominent former government officials of German-occupied countries, and foreign forced laborers.
Beginning in 1941, a number of physicians and scientists carried out a varied program of medical experimentation on prisoners at Buchenwald in special barracks in the northern part of the main camp. Medical experiments aimed at testing the efficacy of vaccines and treatments against contagious diseases such as typhus, typhoid, cholera, and diphtheria resulted in hundreds of deaths. In 1944, Danish physician Dr. Carl Vaernet began a series of experiments that he claimed would "cure" homosexual inmates through hormonal transplants.
Also in 1944, camp officials established a "special compound" for prominent German political prisoners near the camp administration building in Buchenwald. In August 1944, the SS staff murdered Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the Communist Party of Germany before Hitler's rise to power in 1933, in Buchenwald after holding him there for several years.
Buchenwald: Forced Labor and Subcamps 
During World War II, the Buchenwald camp system became an important source of forced labor. The prisoner population expanded rapidly, reaching 112,000 by February 1945. The camp authorities deployed Buchenwald prisoners in the German Equipment Works (Deutsche-Ausrüstungs-Werke; DAW), an enterprise owned and operated by the SS; in camp workshops; and in the camp's stone quarry. In February 1942, the Gustloff firm established a subcamp of Buchenwald to support its armaments works, and in March 1943 opened a large munitions plant adjacent to the camp. A rail siding completed in 1943 connected the camp with the freight yards in Weimar, facilitating the shipment of war supplies.
Buchenwald administered at least 88 subcamps located across Germany, from Düsseldorf in the Rhineland to the border with the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in the east. SS authorities and firm executives (both state-owned and private) deployed prisoners in the satellite camps, mostly in armaments factories, in stone quarries, and on construction projects. Periodically, the SS staff conducted selections throughout the Buchenwald camp system and dispatched those too weak or disabled to work to so-calledeuthanasia facilities such as Bernburg, where euthanasia operatives gasse them as part of Operation 14f13, the extension of euthanasia killing operations to ill and exhausted concentration camp prisoners. SS physicians or orderlies killed, by phenol injection, other prisoners unable to work.
The Liberation of Buchenwald
As Soviet forces swept through Poland, the Germans evacuated thousands of concentration camp prisoners from German-occupied areas under threat. After long, brutal marches, more than 10,000 weak and exhausted prisoners from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, most of them Jews, arrived in Buchenwald in January 1945.
In early April 1945, as US forces approached the camp, the Germans began to evacuate some 28,000 prisoners from the main camp and an additional several thousand prisoners from the subcamps of Buchenwald. About a third of these prisoners died from exhaustion en route or shortly after arrival, or were shot by the SS. The underground resistance organization in Buchenwald, whose members held key administrative posts in the camp, saved many lives. They obstructed Nazi orders and delayed the evacuation.
On April 11, 1945, in expectation of liberation, starved and emaciated prisoners stormed the watchtowers, seizing control of the camp. Later that afternoon, US forces entered Buchenwald. Soldiers from the 6th Armored Division, part of the Third Army, found more than 21,000 people in the camp. Between July 1937 and April 1945, the SS imprisoned some 250,000 persons from all countries of Europe in Buchenwald. Exact mortality figures for the Buchenwald site can only be estimated, as camp authorities never registered a significant number of the prisoners. The SS murdered at least 56,000 male prisoners in the Buchenwald camp system, some 11,000 of them Jews.