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TODAY: Brian Topp answers your questions on his candidacy for NDP Leader

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

 

Long-time NDP strategist and NDP Leadership candidate Brian Topp will be dropping by babble today, February 22, at 11:30am PST/2:30pm EST to answer your questions on his quest for the keys to Stornoway.

Potential interview questions have already been submitted here and here, and a list of those submissions has been assembled by the editorial staff of rabble.ca. Each selected question will be posed by a moderator (i.e. me) and then Brian will offer his response. Once Brian has responded to the initial question, babblers are welcome to offer comments and follow-up questions in this thread; although, Brian may not be able to get to them all. 

For an idea of how this session will run, see our previous Q&A with Nathan Cullen.

Unlike other threads on babble, abusive posts will be deleted immediately. In the interest of tidyness and readability, superfluous or digressive posts may be removed as well.

Come back at 11:30 PST/2:30 EST to read what Brian has to say!

 


Comments

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Hi everyone! We are very close to starting up our next NDP Leadership Q&A with candidate Brian Topp. Let me be the first to welcome Brian to babble (although as our regulars know, Brian is already quite familiar with our place here).

Welcome Brian!


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

Hi, Brian, really glad you are here today.


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
Nice to be here once again.

Socrates
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Joined: Jun 30 2004

Welcome Brian! Glad to have you here.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Hi Brian - let's rock 'n' roll! Welcome.


Catchfire
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Great to have you, Brian. Our first question from algomafalcon has to do with representation in the House of Commons:

 algomafalcon wrote:
 M.P.s and federal parties have suggested that the current representation formula for the House of Commons should be changed to ensure that Quebec receives representation by population. Will this unify Canada by making us more equal or will this further marginalize the lower status of Canadians living in Ontario, BC and Alberta who continue to be under-represented in the House of Commons and the Senate?


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
The issue you are raising here is whether or not Quebecers should retain a 25% share of the House of Commons, or should we be strictly “represented by population” (which would take the province to about 23%). The last time I tuned in this discussion, Parliament was discussing a proposal to set the number at about 24% -- what you might call a typically Canadian compromise that all Canadians could perhaps grumpily live with, given we are talking about very small variances in seats. I think the truly pressing Parliamentary issues lie elsewhere – in the existence of an unelected and unrepresentative but powerful Senate; in the perversities of our electoral system; and in the attack on responsible government we witnessed in 2008. I support Senate abolition. The conditions for this might be found in a showdown between a new NDP government and the Senate should it try to frustrate the will of the House (those were the conditions that led to the abolition of all of Canada’s unelected second chambers in provincial legislatures long ago). I favour a mixed proportional house, blending the current House with a tier of MPs elected by proportional representation somewhat on the German model. A clear commitment on this issue – that if an NDP government is elected in 2015, the people of Canada will be voting on a mixed proportional system in 2019 – might be a compelling way to “unite the left” by persuading progressive-minded Greens and Liberals as well as New Democrats to vote NDP next election. And I favour enacting a Parliament Act in the first sitting of Parliament after we have rid Canada of the Tory government, for the purpose of forbidding a Prime Minister from ever advising the Governor-general to prorogue the house when a confidence vote is before it.

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

A reminder to everyone to limit your questions to follow-up questions and/or direct responses to Brian's answers. We may have time at the end for other questions and comments.


heatherclarke
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Joined: Feb 19 2012

Mr. Topp?  What is your definition of democracy in Canada?  Is it concerned with the rights of corporations or the rights of individual persons?


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

You mean there would be no separate MMP referendum - electing an NDP govt in 2015 would suffice?


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006

heatherclarke wrote:
Mr. Topp?  What is your definition of democracy in Canada?  Is it concerned with the rights of corporations or the rights of individual persons?

Democratic rights are about the rights of citizens -- and citizens are people, not corporations. Mitt Romney's line that "corporations are people too" was one of the more surreal moments of recent American politics.


to_the_left
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Given that abolishing the Senate would require re-openning the Constitution, how would you do it without openning a Pandora's Box? 


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
I'm open to debate about a referendum but my preference would be that the election is the referendum.

heatherclarke
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Joined: Feb 19 2012

Thank you Mr. Topp. 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Thanks Brian for your detailed response. We have a related follow-up question from babbler Wilf Day:

Wilf Day wrote:
The convention in Vancouver, June 17-19, 2011, overwhelmingly supported a resolution “That the federal New Democratic Party make electoral reform and proportional representation a priority issue within the coming sessions of parliament and in communities across Canada.” The resolution was submitted by Palliser riding, in Saskatchewan, where NDP voters elected none of the province’s 14 MPs despite casting 32.3% of the votes, enough to elect five MPs


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Merci Brian, je suis d'accord!


Wilf Day
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Joined: Oct 31 2002

And the question was: how will you go about this?


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
To the left: Sente abolition is a tricky proposition, no doubt about it. A real crisis between the two houses (something similar to the House of Lords crisis in Westminster in 1911) might give us a shot at provincial support without getting us back into a fruitless swamp. No prior agreement -- don't try.

to_the_left
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Joined: May 18 2011

If you weren't able to abolish the Senate, would agree to a compromise whereby it becomes an elected body instead?


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Thanks Brian. I'll continue to our next prepared question, about unions:

toronto_radical wrote:
I know that you are committed to the trade union link and that's great. Are there any initiatives that you would undertake as leader to further integrate unions or attract more to affiliate?


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
Catchfire: I am the head of a union, and am running for leader having been endorsed (so far) by the United Steelworkers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) – two of our party’s most committed trade union affiliates. Our party’s partnership with the trade union movement is literally a foundational one – as is true of every other social democratic/democratic socialist party in the world contending seriously for office in the democratic world. I support working closely with the house of labour (and the rest of our movement) to take the initiative back from the Harper conservatives and to start setting the political agenda in Canada -- on issues like repairing the damage liberals and tories have done to the public finance; climate change; and economic and social equality. I support working equally closely together on our policy offer as we approach the next election. And I would like us to develop an outreach program tailored to each labour affiliate with the goal of substantially building party membership, and promoting NDP voting by rank-and-file union members. In the 2000 election we earned about 25% of the vote among union households. In recent elections we have more than doubled that vote – providing us with the margin of victory in many ridings. That’s work we need to continue to pursue diligently. We have a special obligation to earn the partnership and support of the labour movement in Quebec, now that we are the principal representatives of that province in the House of Commons.

Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Mr Topp, do you have any thoughts on creating a national energy policy instead of the current one being dictated to us from corporate board rooms in America? A sovereign oil wealth fund?


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

A reminder to babblers to limit their questions to follow-ups. But Fidel, we'll be addressing that issue a bit later.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Would your government limit no-strike measures to those specified in the Code - i.e., "immediate and serious danger to the health or safety of the public"?

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

[That's intended as a follow-up, given Harper-Raitt's anti-union crusade.]


bazie
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Joined: Apr 17 2011

Mr. Topp, 

With many US and Israeli polititians increasing the rhetoric regarding a mitary strike against Iran and with this becoming an increasingly realistic possibility, what diplomatic steps do you believe Canada should take to try and dissuade such an action from occurring? 

If a UN based or Iraq-esque "coalition of the willing" formed regarding military action against Syria, do you believe Canada should be involved in this action if the conditions were sufficient that countries like the UK thought they were justified?


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
hi Wilf: To how we do this: Senate abolition requires a constitutional amendment. Perhaps conditions for this will be created by the Senate itself. Electoral reform: Requires a legislative reform. We can debate whether we'd like to make it a core commitment of our platform we will implement if elected (my preference) or refer to a referendum. Prorogation: The message I'd like to send could be written into House's standing orders by act of the House alone, but I'd prefer a bill that the Governor-general signs. Just so we all see it very clearly. It would be "advice" to the GG but, one hopes, worthy of being respected.

Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
Unionist: Yes. Some lessons learned there.

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Thanks Brian. Here's our third question, about environmental policy:

Gonzaga wrote:
Roy Romanow's Saskatchewan government was committed to fighting the Kyoto accords, yet you have held that government up as an example of what an NDP government can achieve. Are you an environmentalist? As Prime Minister will you committed to substantial, meaningful laws and programs to address Canada's shameful environmental record?


Brian Topp
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Joined: Apr 21 2006
I am indeed an environmentalist, and I am committed to substantial, meaningful laws and programs to address our global responsibilities to address climate change and many other environmental issues. I spelled out my commitments in this paper (http://www.briantopp.ca/sites/default/files/8-Green%20Canada,%20Prospero...). I was, incidentally, one of the drafters of our last three federal election platforms. Jack Layton cared passionately about these issues as well, and as I hope you saw in those documents, we put them at the heart of our recent federal campaigns. In my own paper I argue that good environmental policy is the best economic policy. When we look at our results over the past three campaigns, we can also say that good environmental policy is an excellent electoral strategy.

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