Conservative insiders salivating at the propect of a Tory government would do well to keep their mouths shut rather than speculate, as one did in the Star last week, on what a Stephen Harper cabinet would look like.
In a word: scary. Some of the names offered Jim Flaherty , John Baird and Carl DeFaria are enough to turn off thousands of voters who remember what it was like to live under Mike Harris 's vicious Nonsense Revolution.
Flaherty, whose record includes disparaging comments about the homeless and native people, was a dud as finance minister, inheriting a $1.9 billion surplus and leaving Ontarians with a $5.5 billion deficit.
Baird, who served as Community and Social Services Minister, was point man for the massive cuts to social services and drug testing for welfare recipients under Iron Mike.
DeFaria, meanwhile, is famous for issuing a pamphlet of Christmas songs to constituents in 2002 as Citizenship Minister, no less that included Stephen Foster 's Way Down Upon The Swanee River, which refers to black people as "darkies."
Ottawa-area Tory MP Gordon O'Connor , also mentioned as a possible cabinet minister, is a former paid lobbyist for the defence industry who has on at least two occasions publicly pushed military equipment of former clients. Let's hope he isn't bucking for Defence Minister.
And then there's Harper confidant MP Scott Reid , who has stated publicly in the past that a Conservative government would remove bilingual services in parts of the country.
Can it get any uglier? Well, yes. Harp doesn't have much to choose from outside the Bible-thumping, anti-Quebecker mould of the old Reform party.
Grits' head tax hell
Paul Martin may have apologized personally to Chinese Canadians seeking redress for the head tax.
But for those organizations pushing for a formal government apology and compensation for survivors forced to pay the tax when they were brought here as labourers in the 1920s, Martin's flip on the issue is a case of too little too late.
It also stinks of political opportunism, a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding of Liberal votes in ridings where Chinese voters make up a sizable portion of the population.
At a press conference last week, a coalition of organizations seeking redress and compensation identified 22 ridings most around Vancouver and Toronto where a backlash over the government's failure to apologize and compensate 250 head tax survivors may cut traditional Liberal support enough to unseat Grit incumbents.
Among the Toronto-area incumbents who may be in trouble are John McCallum in Markham-Unionville (37 per cent Chinese), Jim Karygiannis in Scarborough-Agincourt (37 per cent), Derek Lee in Scarborough-Rouge River (34 per cent), Bryon Wilfert in Richmond Hill (23 per cent), Tony Ianno in Trinity-Spadina (18 per cent), Yasmin Ratansi in Don Valley East (14 per cent) and John Cannis in Scarborough Centre (11 per cent).
The NDP, Tories and Bloc have all committed to a formal apology and compensation. "It's hard to understand why the prime minister and his party persist in refusing to do the right thing," says Susan Eng , co-chair of the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Payers and Families .
Muslims' NDP burn
The Canadian Islamic Congress 's (CIC) failure to endorse NDP Muslim candidates Gary Dale (Pickering-Scarborough East) and Ali Naqvi (Etobicoke North) - supposedly because of their support of gay marriage - has triggered a stream of criticism from the left-leaning Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC).
Why, asks MCC president Niaz Salimi , would the CIC endorse Svend Robinson and Mary-Woo Sims , both leading advocates of same-sex marriage, and not Dale and Naqvi?
CIC head Mohamed Elmasry and vice-president Wahida Valiante did not respond to NOW's e-mail requests for comment.
But the CIC's refusal to endorse Dale and Naqvi probably has more to do with the fact that neither candidate supports, as the CIC does, sharia law in Ontario or the idea that Israeli civilians are legitimate military targets of Palestinians.
The CIC supports 37 Liberals, 12 Tories, 23 NDPers and 12 Bloc candidates. In 2004, it endorsed only Liberals.
Why the CIC would support any Liberals at all is another question. After decades of voting with other countries, Canada abstained from voting on a resolution urging Israeli withdrawal from territories it has occupied since 1967.
Nash sitting pretty
As if the support of Mayor David Miller and author June Callwood weren't enough, Parkdale-High Park NDP candidate Peggy Nash now has former Canadian UN ambassador and special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis to add to her list of backers.
Street nurse Cathy Crowe and black businessman and activist Bromley L. Armstrong have also come out publicly for Nash, who lost by 3,000 votes to Liberal incumbent Sarmite Bulte last time.
Says Lewis: "The issues Peggy Nash raises are the issues that Parkdale-High Park cares about. And you will never as constituents feel neglected. I dare say that Peggy Nash will prove to be the most conscientious MP that voters could hope for." A more enthusiastic endorsement you won't find.