Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Packet Article: Local Liberals vote for Kennedy

This article was originally published in the Orillia Packet and Times on October 2, 2006 - SK.

COLDWATER — Federal Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy won eight of a possible 14 delegate spots in the Simcoe-North federal Liberal Riding Association delegate selection Sunday.

Local voting saw the other leading leadership contenders: Stephane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, and Bob Rae, all held to just two delegates each. Other contenders, Ken Dryden, Joe Volpe, Scott Brison and Martha Hall Findlay, were shut out.

“The Kennedy camp is very satisfied with the results from Simcoe North,” said newly elected delegate and Kennedy Central Ontario Campaign Chair, Chris Ethier. Kennedy received just over 60 per cent of the ballots cast.

“The Kennedy camp clearly had the best organized team in Simcoe-North,” said previous Simcoe-North federal candidate Karen Graham, herself a Dion supporter.

She said the Kennedy and Dion camps were working together, and had agreed to support the other camp’s candidate, should their candidate be dropped from the ballot at the convention.

“So in fact we have elected 10 people who will support Dion if he is on the ballot at the end, or 10 for Kennedy if he is on the final ballot,” she said.

“Ignatieff has two delegate spots, which is more than I expected,” said Ignatieff supporter Mark Puddy, who ran, but did not get elected in the delegate election.

Of some 679 Simcoe-North federal members eligible to vote, just 103 actually voted. There were two spoiled ballots, with 101 ballots counting.

“I am disappointed with the turnout,” said riding President Dan Williams. “But to be realistic, people who vote are people who supported someone.”

Elected for the Kennedy camp were Carmine Cipolla, Chris Ethier, Gerry Hawes, Stephan Kramp, Scott MacLeod, Sarah Petrevan, Fred Smith and Donna Wakefield.

Elected for Stephane Dion were Paul Northcott and Alicia Smith.

Elected for Bob Rae were Janet and Kathryn Shaw.

Deborah A. Brown and an as yet to be named senior adult female were elected for the Ignatieff camp.

Voters chose from some 26 separate names on the ballot. The Kennedy camp was by far the largest, with 13 delegate candidates; followed by Stephane Dion and Joe Volpe, with five delegate candidates a piece. Bob Rae had three. Michael Ignatieff had two and Ken Dryden had one.

The delegates elected will be travelling to Montreal to participate in the Federal Liberal Leadership Convention being held Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

Stewart Kiff will be travelling to the Montreal convention to report on the federal Liberal convention from an Orillia perspective. Kiff can be reached at

Packet Article: Kennedy and Dion Camps Unite in Local Liberal Contest

This article was originally published in the Orillia Packet and Times September 22, 2006 - SK.

The Grit front runner Michael Ignatieff seems too slick for local Liberals, as many are coming out in support for Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion. .

With 14 local delegate spaces up for grabs in Simcoe-North, supporters of Federal Liberal Leadership candidates Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion are working together to win at the Simcoe-North Federal Liberal Delegate selection being held this October 1st in Coldwater.

Saying front runner Micheal Ignatieff is “Too slick and not representing the grassroots,” Simcoe-North Liberal Executive Member Alicia Smith has thrown her support behind Quebecer Stephane Dion. “Electing Ignatieff with be missing an opportunity for the party to rejuvenate.”

Another Leadership frontrunner, former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, while respected, is not believed to be electable by local grits.

“As far as I know, all the potential Dion delegates would choose Kennedy as their second choice and vice versa,” said previous Federal Liberal Candidate and declared Dion supporter Karen Graham. She says that both Dion and Kennedy have organized camps are working to support their respective candidates within Simcoe North.

“The Kennedy camp and the Dion camp are working hand in hand in Simcoe-North,” confirmed Liberal Activist and Queen’s Park Political Staffer Gerry Hawes, who has declared his support for Gerard Kennedy.

Under convention rules, all prospective delegates had to submit their official request to become a delegate by this September 15. At the same time they had to declare which candidate they would support on the first ballot at the convention.

“The majority of Simcoe North’s prospective delegates are declaring for Kennedy”, said Riding President Daniel Williams who has also declared his support for Kennedy. He noted that that the big push from now until October 1st will be for the individual camps to pull their respective votes and elect delegates for their candidates as possible from the 14 possible positions.

Eligible Simcoe-North Liberal Party members must vote in person to choose the 14 delegates. The delegate election is being held on Sunday October 1st from 11 AM to 4 PM at the Coldwater Hall at in Coldwater. The Simcoe-North Federal Liberal Riding Association has some 700 members who are eligible to vote.

Simcoe North Federal Liberal Party Members will see their support reflected proportionally in the delegates selected.

Local liberals expect that the leadership campaign will be a hot topic of discussion this Friday, September 22 at the Midland Community Centre where the riding association is gathering for “A Tribute to Paul DeVillers.” Cocktails will be served at 6PM and Dinner at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available from Ralph Cipolla.

Stewart Kiff, Special Correspondent to the Packet and Times, is a native Orillian and former staff reporter for the Packet and Times. He currently is a government relations specialist at Queen’s Park and is the President of Solstice Public Affairs. He will be traveling to the Montreal convention to report on the Federal Liberal convention from an Orillian perspective. Stewart can be reached at

Explanation: Writing for the Orillia Packet in Fall 2006

Since starting my own government relations company - Solstice Public Affairs - this April I have had the opportunity to really focus on what I want to do.

By far, one of the professional actitivies I enjoy most is writing.

When that is combined with the fact that I love politics, it seems like writing about politics is a natural combination.

With that in mind, I approached Mark Bisset, the managing editor of the Orillia Packet and Times. Orillia is my home town. And I worked with Mark when I was a staff reporter for the Packet back in the late eighties.

Mark agreed to let me write a series of articles on the upcoming Federal Liberal Leadership convention. The assignment is to attend the convention and the various Federal Liberal nomination meetings prior to the convention, and report on them from an Orillian perspective.

For me this is a great opportunity to rework my skills as a reporter. Instead of just blogging, my work will also be read by potentially thousands of people - and I think having a real audience and writing for a published publication really makes a difference.

And as a writer, having an editor makes a big difference.

And as a political junkie, I think this Federal Liberal Convention is one of the most facinating political events of the year. And to be there with press credentials is a great opportunity.

I will be posting all the Packet articles in this blog as they are published.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Book Review: The Handbook of Public Affairs

edited by Phil Harris and Craig S. Fleisher

The Handbook of Public Affairs sets out toward an admirable goal - to provide public affairs practitioners and researchers with a core reference text of leading-edge articles. The book is an anthology of scholarly articles by leaders in the emerging field of the study of Public Affairs. It is edited by Phil Harris of New Zealand, and Craig S. Fleisher of the University of Windsor, a former PAAC Board member. It will have special interest to PAAC members because PAAC is cited as an organization for public affairs professionals in the book.

This work focuses on examples from the "Anglosphere" with a variety of comparative articles looking at commonalities and experiences in the English speaking jurisdictions of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Other jurisdictions such as the European Union are also covered.

Some articles are better than others, and with some 31 separate articles, there should be at least one that provides elements of value. For me, Chapter 10, The Measurement and Evaluation of Public Affairs Process and Performance, by Craig S. Fleisher stands out as a pointed analysis of a thorny issue in the delivery of any public affairs program. So yes, on the content side, there is definite merit to this work.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend the book. It comes down to this: There is a whole lot of irony in a title, The Handbook of Public Affairs, which suggests practicality and ease of use, when the book turns out to be a slog of a read. The book claims to be something it is not. There is still value in the work; it is just mislabeled.

Former PAAC President Chris Benedetti says in his back cover endorsement of this work, "This handbook will help readers gain a better appreciation of strategies and tactics that comprise successful public affairs campaigns." I agree fully with Benedetti's endorsement. Reading the book will give you those things, but it's not a handbook. There is nothing reader-friendly or accessible about it.

It is often weighed down by suffocating prose, such as the opening to a chapter by Martin B. Meznar, who writes: "The appropriate structural configuration of any organizational function depends on a variety of factors." I refuse to be charitable about that sort of irresolution hiding behind such a verbal thicket. Even the most junior public affairs practitioner knows that effective communication begins with making your message accessible and interesting to your target audience. That's the first lesson in Public Affairs 101.

This is clearly an academic work targeted at other academics. Many of the authors chose a prose that excludes a broad readership and speaks in an idiosyncratic style with references that are likely opaque even to the public affairs practitioners that are the target of their work, let alone the public.

Not recommended.

I can't recommend this "handbook" that reads like an academic tome, but if you're looking for a good book on the actual practice of Canadian public affairs, I suggest PAAC Member Warren Kinsella's still very relevant 2001 work: Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics, referenced earlier in this newsletter. Kinsella's is a practical and useful book, and one I do recommend. If you haven't read it yet, do so.