Capital Diary: The personal touch of the Idle No More movement -

Capital Diary: The personal touch of the Idle No More movement

Niki Ashton’s riding and Martha Hall Findlay’s new hair

Photo by Mitchel Raphael

Liberal leadership fatigue syndrome?

With a federal Liberal leadership campaign happening at the same time as the Ontario Liberal leadership, some Liberals are worried about leadership fatigue syndrome setting in and the fact they would be going to the same troughs to raise funds. Federal Liberal leadership contender Martha Hall Findlay says she has encountered many people who have been inundated by robocalls asking for donations to the provincial leadership campaigns. However, Hall Findlay says all these campaigns are overall a good thing, because “you have a whole lot of people and a whole lot of engaged Liberals.”

She has decided to go for shorter hair for this leadership campaign, with the help of Ernesto Domanico at Salon Solis in Toronto. She says she has not had short hair in over 25 years and had a bit of a complex about it. Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau has also opted for shorter hair, prompting this from Hall Findlay: “I think he has gone shorter than I have.”

Former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, who ran in the 2006 federal Liberal leadership race, is currently running in the Ontario provincial race. A twist is that this time around Kennedy is being praised for his French, compared to all the other candidates. In 2006 he was often attacked for his poor French. He says his decision not to run again federally was because he wanted to be close to his children, who both go to French school in Toronto. He says being home with his 10-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter is what has helped improve his French.

Idle No More fills Facebook inbox

Idle No More is a big issue in the Manitoba riding of Churchill, represented by NDP MP Niki Ashton. She says her riding has 33 communities of First Nations people, from one of which hails Raymond Robinson, who joined Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in her hunger strike the day after she began hers. Ashton says that around 65 per cent of her riding is Aboriginal. Ashton, who was first elected in 2008, says of Idle No More, “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s led by young people.” For Ashton, 30, that means people with whom she has worked and gone to school are helping to spearhead the movement: “I don’t talk about bills often, especially with people my age.” The Conservative government’s omnibus legislation is at the heart of the protests and Ashton says much time is being spent explaining it—mostly over Facebook. Most protest movements or issue-based activism send MPs form emails, but Ashton says Idle No More has resulted in her Facebook inbox being inundated with real, individual messages. When asked if she has read the whole omnibus bill, she says she has read sections of the hundreds of pages but mostly relies on the notes the NDP has provided, breaking it all down.