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SCOOP: Nate Erskine-Smith targeted Muslim supporters with campaign promo
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ABOVE THE FOLD
First in Observer — NATE ERSKINE-SMITH is being accused of targeting Muslim supporters with an email blast that lays out his track record on human rights and advocacy for civilians in Gaza — something he says is par for the course when communicating with common-interest groups.
The email in question came from the Liberal leadership contender’s campaign and was signed by organizer TANVEER SHAHNAWAZ, who describes himself as a young Muslim who, like many, are reeling from the conflict in the Middle East.
“Here at home, like our friends in the Jewish community, our Muslim community is also seeing a disturbing rise in hate and discrimination…We need more allies like Nate,” Shahnawaz wrote.
He then lays out a laundry list of Erskine-Smith’s advocacy over the years, including that the federal MP co-signed a joint letter calling on Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU to support a ceasefire (also co-signed by fellow leadership candidate and MP YASIR NAQVI).
“If this work is of interest to you, please join me and support Nate’s campaign,” Shahnawaz said. The email closes with a button to “Pledge Your Support for Nate.”
Multiple sources tell me the email was sent primarily to Muslim folks and those with names that typically sound like they could be Muslim.
“Highly disturbing he would seek to use the conflict in the Middle East to attempt to win a leadership race,” said one senior Liberal. “Targeting Muslims in this way — and assuming they don’t care about the economy, health care, education, just Gaza — is offensive.”
Erskine-Smith’s camp said that while party rules limit leadership emails to the full membership list, candidates send smaller campaigns “based on common interest, including to Northern, rural and Francophone communities.”
“Similarly, Muslim members of the Liberal Party are looking for leadership on the issues that matter to them, and we have received a significant number of inquiries about Nate’s position on a ceasefire and his response to the war in Gaza. Our Muslim volunteers and organizers wanted to share Nate’s advocacy on that subject, alongside a broader track record of advocacy in support of human rights and against Islamophobia, antisemitism, and anti-Black racism.”
It’s not the first time Erskine-Smith has taken flak for alleged targeting of minority communities. During his federal nomination in 2014, he was accused of using robocalls and mailers to suppress low-income South Asian communities, which he vehemently denies.
Did you get the email from Team Nate? I want to hear from you, on or off the record. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just reply to this email.
OG OP: BACK TO BASIC BOUNDARIES, IMMUNITY AND MZOs
Hot off the presses: Housing Minister PAUL CALANDRA’s hotly anticipated Bill 150, which cancels controversial urban boundary changes and scraps official plan amendments for Barrie, Belleville, Guelph, Hamilton, Ottawa, Peterborough and Wellington County, ditto the regions of Peel, Halton, York, Niagara and Waterloo.
Many municipalities were not on board with the changes, saying they weren’t necessary to hit their housing targets.
The background: Calandra signalled the move soon after taking up the mantle from STEVE CLARK, citing “too much involvement” from his predecessor’s office. That was pretty much confirmed when environmental advocates released 7,000 pages worth of FOIs showing the Premier’s Office also had a heavy hand in the sketchy process. As we first reported, Tory MPPs were warned the document dump was coming and got the vibe that’s what pre-empted Calandra’s one-eighty.
Now, Calandra is enshrining yet another land-use planning reversal. The highlights:
The bill is retroactive to the date the changes were made, November 4, 2022, or this past April 11.
Construction projects that have already scored a building permit can continue, while ongoing applications for planning approvals such as zoning bylaw amendments will be subject to this new legislation.
Immunity: As with the Greenbelt-codifying bill, the Ford government is giving itself and municipalities a legal shield to help mitigate the risk of potential lawsuits arising from this latest policy flip-flop.
MZOs, too: The Planning Act would also be amended so that the province isn’t legally on the hook for the “making, amending or revoking of Minister’s Zoning Orders.” That hasn’t happened yet, but it could. “This provision would help mitigate risk should revocations be necessary as the ministry reviews a use it or lose it policy. Don’t forget: The Auditor General’s office is investigating the PCs prolific use of MZOs, which bypass local decision making in the name of development.
My way for the highway: Some changes are sticking around — including those made in Halton and Peel — in order to protect the planned path for Highway 413, which carves through a chunk of the Greenbelt.
Have your say: Impacted cities and towns have until December 7 to weigh in.
OPPO ITIN — 10 a.m.: NDP Leader MARIT STILES hits the hustings in Kitchener Centre with candidate DEBBIE CHAPMAN and area MPP CATHERINE FIFE (Waterloo). First stop: The Kitchener GO station, where the trio will push for two-way, all-day train service to Toronto.
B-TOWN BOUT — Sunday at 1 p.m.: TED HSU, YASIR NAQVI, NATE ERSKINE-SMITH and BONNIE CROMBIE face off for the fifth and final party-sanctioned leadership debate in Brampton. Livestream.
THE HOUSE IS OUT. Ditto committees. It’s Friday!
Tabled I: Infrastructure Minister KINGA SURMA’s Bill 151, the Improving Real Estate Management Act.
It would remove or change some organizations’ ability to deal with real property and hand it over to the Minister of the day. That includes the Ontario Science Centre, Public Health Ontario, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Ontario Health, and the forthcoming Ontario Health atHome.
It would also prohibit the following organizations from undertaking certain realty activities, or force them to get ministerial approval, to acquire or dispose of freehold real property: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre Corporation, Ottawa Convention Centre Corp, Royal Ontario Museum, Science North, Algonquin Forestry Authority.
Tabled II: Bill 150, Calandra’s aforementioned Official Plan-reverting legislation.
Off to committee: Bill 146, Finance Minister PETER BETHLENFALVY’s mini-budget implementation legislation, is now off to be studied by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs after clearing a second-reading vote on division.
— CHILD-CARE CASH: Early childhood educators, rejoice! Education Minister STEPHEN LECCE is bumping up the base wage for most ECEs to $23.86 per hour next year — more than the planned $20 raise — with an eye to easing staff shortages advocates say have thrown a wrench in the $10-a-day program.
It’s a good start, but nowhere near what’s needed, says CAROLYN FERNS, policy coordinator with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. “It’s good to see the acknowledgement that low wages in child care are a major driver of the workforce crisis. But while today we got a raise for the lowest earning [registered early childhood educators], it leaves us short of a real salary scale and leaves out non-RECE staff entirely. We are still waiting for the funding formula. And of course this announcement is short of our position of $30 for RECEs and $25 for non-RECE staff,” Ferns said by email.
A moment of levity: Lecce got in on the tots’ arts and crafts during the photo-op.
— POLL WATCH: The PCs may be tapping into something real as they continue their anti-carbon-tax crusade. Per a new poll from the Angus Reid Institute, a plurality — 42 per cent — want the levy scrapped outright.
(Another) comms problem for the Trudeau Liberals: Angus Reid found folks had “a profound lack of awareness, and misconceptions about how much tax they believe they pay, whether they receive a rebate and the extent to which they are ahead or behind financially once that rebate is paid.”
— WAGE WIN: Another day, another arbitrator has awarded public-sector workers a retroactive remedy in the wake of wage-capping Bill 124. This time, it’s education workers under CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions.
— FOR THE PLANNING WONKS: A new research paper asks: “What did the Ontario Greenbelt do to housing prices in Toronto?” The answer, in part: “The Greenbelt can be a useful tool to curtail urban sprawl, but they must be paired with a relaxation in zoning regulations elsewhere in the city. If not, the argument that the Greenbelt contributes to higher prices is not incorrect,” says author ALEXANDER HEMPEL.
— DAYCARE DROP-OFFS: “New rules for Ontario child-care operators coming into effect next year are aimed at preventing the rare but horrific deaths of children in hot cars. As of Jan. 1, licensed home daycares and child-care centres will need to develop a policy setting out the steps they will take when a child doesn't arrive as expected.” CP reports.
— A ROSY OUTLOOK: New(ish) Financial Accountability Officer JEFFREY NOVAK offered an update on Ontario’s credit rating, and things are looking up. Specifically, the province was scored as “an extremely strong, investment-grade borrower.” Even better: Three of the four big agencies — Moody’s, S&P and DBRS — revised their outlook from stable to positive. Dig in.
— CHARGED UP: The Ford government continues to make it rain for EV manufacturing. The latest: Welcoming a $60-million package from Dana Canada Corp to help manufacture EV batteries in Cambridge and Oakville. Trade Minister VIC FEDELI is putting up $2.5 million from Invest Ontario — that agency JANET ECKER was recently turfed from, something we first scooped in October.
— OMG MZO: “Developers — who had the scale of their Mississauga waterfront project nearly double at the stroke of the housing minister’s pen — are asking the Ford government to stick to the decision as city council calls to revoke the special zoning order.” More from Mississauga News.
— PICKING UP WHERE MOTHERISK LEFT OFF: “Launching Thursday, First Exposure aims to fill the gap left in Ontario after the well-known Motherisk Helpline, housed at the Hospital for Sick Children, shut down in 2019.” The Star has the story.
— GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS: It’s rare when the government and official Oppo agree — but five guilty verdicts for NATHANIEL VELTMAN, the accused in the fatal London attack on the Muslim AFZAAL family, is one of those times.
“I am relieved to see that the vile criminal responsible for the reprehensible hateful attack in London has been brought to justice. This horrific and senseless act of Islamophobia, racism and hate, will never be tolerated — they have no place in Ontario or anywhere,” said Multiculturalism Minister MICHAEL FORD.
“Today’s verdict brings well-deserved justice for the Afzaal family and the London community. Our community’s loss, with multiple generations of a family lost to hate, is irreparable,” reads the statement from the NDP’s London reps: PEGGY SATTLER, TERESA ARMSTRONG and TERENCE KERNAGHAN.
A message from Ontario’s Universities
After a 10% tuition cut in 2019, four years of a tuition freeze, and pressure from inflation, Ontario’s universities are at a breaking point. Without ending the tuition freeze and providing additional government funding to universities, the programs and services that Ontario’s students rely on and deserve are at risk.
The time for government action is now. Find out more about how government, businesses, community partners and universities must work together to ensure that universities have the resources to continue to support students, lead innovation, and drive economic growth for Ontario here.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
#ONPOLI INFLUENCERS — Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential list has dropped, and there are some familiar faces from the provincial arena. At #7: JENNI BYRNE, “PIERRE POILIEVRE’s potential ticket to the PMO”…#8: Ex-Auditor General BONNIE LYSYK, “for saving the Greenbelt”… #10: Premier DOUG FORD, “because, despite a gaffe-laden year, his clout is undeniable”…#29: Infrastructure Minister KINGA SURMA, “for presiding over the most controversial files at Queen’s Park.” And the rest.
KEEPING UP WITH THE KITCHENER-ITES — Eighteen candidates have secured a spot on the ticket for Kitchener Centre — and yes, that includes perennial contender JOHN TURMEL, who holds the Guinness world record for most elections contested, and lost. Full roster.
SPOTTED: Councillor PAUL AINSLIE at Queen’s Park, reportedly to grab lunch with the Premier.
The NDP kicked off the debate true to form — hammering the PCs on their secretive cellphone records and the RCMP investigation, which Government House Leader PAUL CALANDRA again flipped into criticism of NDP byelection candidate DEBBIE CHAPMAN.
THE HIGHLIGHTS: “If the Premier has nothing to hide…why is he sending government lawyers to block the disclosure of information about government business that is being conducted on his personal phone?” — “The government’s already three ministers down. To the Premier: How many ministers will have to take the fall before he fesses up?” — “How is hemorrhaging public funds innovative or cost-effective health care?” — “Stop bullying municipalities and finally adopt policies that will actually get more homes built, such as ending exclusionary zoning and investing in non-market housing” — “Compensate municipalities for all revenue losses due to Bill 23” — “Does the Premier see a conflict of interest in having Shoppers Drug Mart responsible for distributing vaccines to their competitors?” — “Why is this government implementing fare evasion quotas that may additionally harm communities — certain ones more than others — especially during an affordability crisis?” — “Support the elimination of the HST from home heating” — “Commit to bringing Ontario’s per student funding in line with other Canadian provinces” — “Cut HST on home heating” — “Explain why Kitchener-Waterloo residents are not able to access breast cancer prevention care in their own community?” — “Ensure that the infant program at High Park YMCA can continue.”
Here are the new, renewed and amended registrations over the past 24 hours:
Benjamin Lamb, Wellington Advocacy: PointClickCare
Terrance Oakey, One Persuasion: Spark Power Corporation
Adam Yahn, Summa Strategies Canada: Binti
Bruno Jesus, Lakehouse Energy: Algoma Steel Inc.
Christopher Chapin, Upstream Strategy Group: Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization
Felix Burns, Counsel Public Affairs: Waterloo Region Home Builders' Association
Johanna Chevalier, Counsel Public Affairs: Impact Auto Auctions Ltd.
Alexa Sipeki and Lee Boswell, Crestview Strategy: Wee Watch
Lee Boswell, Crestview Strategy: Canadian Association of Exposition Management
🥳 HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Independent VINCENT KE (Don Valley North)…ON SATURDAY — PC RAYMOND CHO (Scarborough North).
🍽️ ON THE MENU: The Quorum Cafe is serving up root vegetable goulash with egg noodles on special.
⏳ COUNTDOWN: T-minus 6 days until advance polls open in Kitchener Centre…13 days until Byelection Day…15 days until the Liberal leadership contest…27 days until the House breaks for winter…141 days until the Premier has to call a byelection for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.