Because of the suddenness of my decision to run for President of C.A.W. local 333, a lot of people are rightfully wondering what I have done in the past that would make me feel I could do as good a job as my predecessors. This is my reply.
My greatest weakness, as many see it, is the somewhat mistaken perception of my somehow not having ever being involved with this local and it’s business. Let’s start on the day I was hired.
During the union orientation meeting I offered then President Bill Young my services as an ex-web designer free of charge. I had previously reviewed the local 333 website and I offered my services happily. I was told that would be great, and that I should contact him later. I did just that, and no reply ever arrived. I eventually tried to help with the operators website as well, and each time I did I was eventually sent packing. On my computer at home is a completed website for the operators, and the design layouts I created for the union. To put none too fine a point on it, nobody cared.
Of course, attending meetings is important too, right? I did, numerous times with my wife Shauna Leamy who is also an operator. We stated our opinions, debated issues and because they didn’t tow the line we were eventually told we needn’t come to the meetings. So for two years I watched decisions not being made, and actions not being taken, and then I see our members railroaded into yet another invisible contract, and I am thinking that I am really out of luck, because I really want to do something to make things better and all the union seems to want is for me to go away. That’s my unfortunate, and hopefully not common, experience with this union to date.
Now for my other qualifications.
In 1996 I lived in Quebec. An Anglophone in Quebec during that time was a defensive animal to say the least. I eventually found an outlet for my frustrations with linguistic isolation in writing. I wrote articles to counter the separatist propaganda I saw in the media, and then published them online. The Internet at that time was very primitive by today’s standards, and even things like pictures were new. I ended up writing articles on the Sympatico network news feeds, and they were derided by separatists across the province, and read extensively by everyone else with access to the Internet and interest in the topic. As I was not alone in my writing, we Federalist writers eventually uncovered the fact most of the separatist writers were government employees, and we made wonderful political hay exposing them. Many Parliamentarians thanked us for our unusual effort. From those experiences I learned the value of a clear political message and the value of using the media for delivering it. I also learned about astroturfing, the deliberate faking of public opinion for gain. We blogged before it was called blogging, and we made a difference.
Later I took that newfound political empowerment and used it to help the political campaigns of Reformers in Alberta, just after the party was formed. I volunteered design skills, and foot on the ground grunt work including some minor ghost writing. I don’t remember all the candidates I volunteered for, but I know Jason Kenny was one of them. I also built and donated a website to Calgary City Council member Ric McIver, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ric_McIver) the infamous Dr. No.
More recently I have volunteered extensive graphic design work for The Pirate Party of Canada. I was slated to be a Candidate during the recent Federal election, but cash was too short to pay for the tracking and accounting requirements each candidate must meet to legally run. For those who don’t know, the Pirate Party is a group advocating for the modernization of digital rights, patent and copyright reform, and modernized privacy laws for Canadian citizens.
Most recently I volunteered to assist the campaign of Randall Garrison of the NDP. I didn’t do much, just signs on lawns, but it kept me feeling connected to Canada’s political pulse. The fact that he won made me feel even better.
I should mention as well, because of my early career in the hospitality industry, I met and chatted with pretty much every major Canadian politician worth knowing up to about 1992. Jean Chretien and I spoke about western alienation while I made his virgin Caesar, John Turner spoke at length on his wonderful baked Alaska, Lucien Buchard and I shared war stories regarding the huge scars we both have on our legs while I served him lobster at the Gaspe, Quebec, Lobster Festival, and Joe Clark laughed at me when I cut my hand on some broken glass. I became acutely aware that these famous people were just people, flaws and all … and that I don’t like Joe Clark very much.
As far as politics go, that’s about it. There are a few other things I could mention, but generally this paints a decent picture of what I have done and experienced politically.
As for organizations and team events, most of my life I have been volunteering for various arts groups large and small across Canada, being elected for various positions in them as my time with them warranted. In some of them I created newsletters for their members, to encourage better communication between the executive and the volunteers. Also, the aforementioned time in the hospitality industry gave me major experience helping organize major events of 1000+ attendees in a convention setting.