Personal endorsement for Anne Lagacé Dowson, candidate in Westmount-Ville-Marie, Quebec

Earlier this summer, I heard from Anne Lagacé Dowson, a 20-year veteran of CBC Radio who had quit her post to run for the New Democratic Party in a by-election in the Quebec riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie. I've known Anne all my life (literally -- she was my babysitter when I was an infant) and so I was glad to hear that she was doing this amazing thing, but I was even more delighted when she said that her campaign and her party were both passionate about the digital freedoms issues that I campaign on and she asked if I'd be willing to offer her my endorsement.

I've just spent half an hour on the phone with Dowson and I'm happy to say that based on what she told me about her platform, I'm absolutely delighted to offer her my unqualified endorsement.

Dowson pointed out that the NDP is the only federal Canadian party with a dedicated digital affairs critic: the always-sharp Charlie Angus, a former punk musician late of the band L'Etranger, who I used to see headlining punk shows when I was a teenager. Angus and the NDP have led the political criticism of the Tory Bill 61, a Canadian version of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright bill that was drafted in secret, without input from Canadian stakeholders, including coalitions of Canadian creators and music labels.

The NDP has also led the pack on criticising the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, another secretly negotiated proposal, this time for a global treaty on copyright that would dramatically increase the search, seizure and surveillance obligations to Canada and other signatories, forcing them to spy on everyday individuals to protect the profits of a few giant record companies.

Dowson also endorsed the NDP's activism on net neutrality -- Canada's major ISPs, Bell and Rogers, have led the world's Internet companies in a race to the bottom, imposing secret caps, spying on users, blocking protocols, and even blocking downstream ISPs' customers (so that ISPs that buy their backhaul from Bell are subject to the same filtering as Bell's own retail customers).

Dowson's riding is close to Outremont, where an NDP candidate upset the longstanding Liberal incumbent, and Dowson's bet her future on a similar result in Westmount-Ville-Marie. She tells me that she's already met people at their doors who told her that issues of digital freedom were key to them, and she points out that the current Liberal opposition has had dozens of opportunities to boot out the truly loathsome and autocratic Tory government and have instead voted with them on issues from Canada's war involvement to Canada's positions on network freedoms.

As mentioned, I've known Anne and her family all my life, and know her to be trustworthy, incisive and principled, an impression reinforced by her impressive reporting on CBC. I'm even more impressed, though, by her sophistication on digital issues. I talk to a lot of politicos in my routine, and it's rare to meet someone who really understands these issues as well as Dowson does. There are only 75,000 voters in Westmount-Ville-Marie; I don't know how many of them read Boing Boing, but if you're in that riding, I hope you'll go to the polls on September 8 and cast your vote for Anne Lagacé Dowson. Anne Lagacé Dowson


  1. um, Cory, it’s a by-ELECTION, not a by-LAW. And for those non-Commonwealthers among us, a by-election is an election that occurs outside its normal cycle with all the others (due to resignation, death, etc).

    Also, by-laws in the US often refer to corporate organizing documents, whilst in Canada, they refer to local ordinances (not ordnance, which would be a different kind of thing entirely).

  2. Nice catch on the by-law, I scanned that as by-election – the mind is a funny place. I didn’t know that about the US difference, very interesting… but hey, here in Quebec lawyer & avocado are the same word so we move pretty fast & easy with slips of the tongue, n’est-ce pas?

    Best of luck to Anne Lagacé Dowson; I voted for Tom Mulcair & I’d vote for her, too.

    FWIW Outremont’s not even remotely a similar demographic to Ville Marie, so it’s going to be a very different campaign battle IMO.

  3. i’m in that riding. she’s got my vote. i was just wondering today whatever happened to the ndp; now i know.

  4. I living in her riding and want to vote for her but I have no idea where to go to vote. I’ve searched the Montreal government website, Quebec government website and each candidates website and none of them mention where or how to vote in the by-election.

    I’ve never voted in a by-election before and I’m new to this riding, and I’d really like to vote, but I just can’t seem to find the info on how and where.

  5. For Soultrance and all the other you want to vote, there the page of election Canada in french :

    and in english :

    On that website, you’ll find all the info you need. Please verify in advance that your name is on the electoral list.

  6. Cory, thanks for the info. I appreciate all the work you’ve done on letting people know about the problems with the Canadian DCMA legislation.

    However, you don’t live in Canada. I find it odd when politicians seek the endorsement of foreign celebrities (you’re a celebrity, aren’t you?), and in fact I think the ethics of such an endorsement are questionable.

    I’m not saying it’s wrong. But it’s one thing to question another country’s policies, quite another to get involved in its electoral politics.

  7. @Kaden: not if you don’t live in the same country that the politics is going on in.

    The point being, not all of us live in the USA or Canada (or the UK, for that matter). Not that I mind, I just skim the political-type posts to get an idea of what’s going on where.

  8. Exexpat, unless I’m mistaken, Cory’s still a Canadian citizen, even if it’s been a while since he lived here.

    FWIW, I’m still voting Green. Mainly because they’re the only party committed to any kind of electoral reform, which I see as the major issue affecting all our politics. I do agree with the rest of their platform too. I wish we had a decent system for voting, where I could show support for both the NDP and Greens, and put the conservatives at the bottom of the heap where they belong, but it’s not likely to happen any time soon, the way things are going.

  9. Oh, and Soultrance, you should be getting a voter info card in the mail sometime soon saying where you will need to go to vote. The info should appear on as well, once it’s available. Bring ID with your name, photo and address if you can, or ID with your name and photo along with a hydro bill or something like that that has your address. has all that info too.

  10. @ Exexpat, Cory might be LIVING in Britain, but he is a Canadian. Check out his wikipedia entry if you don’t believe me.

    Don’t you think expatriates have the right to get involved the politics of their native countries?

    Good on Cory for continuing the good fight.

  11. @EXEXPAT – Isn’t Cory still Canadian? Just because he lives elsewhere doesn’t mean he’s lost his citizenship. Plus, I’m going to make the wild guess that it isn’t just Americans who read BoingBoing… funny how the Internet reaches multiple countries, huh?

    Anyway, I love the NDP as a swing party. In the Liberal minority government, they were perfectly positioned to affect change by forcing the grits to put some NDP policies in their bills. At the same time, they were kept on a leash because they weren’t in power. THAT is how minority government should work, not this “bend over and take it” method the Reform Conservatives are implementing.

    I’d hate to see the NDP in power though, but as opposition they’re great.

  12. @kaden : I get your point, but ignoring politics did not create the situation at hand. The people in politics created it. Plenty of people are passionately not ignoring politics, and the situation is what it is. Are you saying that the people the don’t follow politics are more to blame than those that had a direct hand in it? Don’t put the onus on the people that are sick of the BS.

    That being said, all people should play a part, however small, however frustrating.

  13. Wow, I also live in this riding now. Who’d have figured.

    Good to know about Anne– although she has quite the uphill battle, unless she is *also* an ex-astronaut.

    Of course, the last time I voted, my “strategic” (anti-Conservatives) candidate stole my vote, and immediately after the election became a Conservative cabinet minister. Disenfranchisement ftw!

    You can still find me walking around with my ‘De-elect Emerson’ button.

  14. Just a question for the dear moderators…if we are not able to discuss the US presidential Candidates until after the election, can we extend that to Canadian elections as well?

    1. Marley9,

      You are allowed to discuss the candidates in a thread about the candidates. You are not, however, allowed to post cut-and-paste screeds, slogans or anything generally offensive.

  15. I doubt a minor by-election in Canada will attract any significant number of thread-jacking, trollish , astroturfing scum.

  16. Voting green in Westmount Ville Marie is voting for a party created by Tories who thought the conservative party not conservative enough. They are trading on the green brand created in Europe. Social policies? They are against a woman’s right to choose. Greenpeace and the Sierra Club rank them below the NDP on environmental causes. The NDP is a serious party, whose founder was voted the greatest Canadian for his creation of universal medicare. the party also have critical mass, holding 30 seats in the House of Commons, with 40 per cent of their elected MPs women.

  17. It’s quite racist to say “here in Quebec lawyer & avocado are the same word so we move pretty fast & easy with slips of the tongue, n’est-ce pas?” – It implies that everyone speaks French in the province, which enacted laws which banned the public use of English and has done a great deal to destroy the English speaking minority. Of course, what it implies is that people of French ancestry are the only ‘real’ Quebecers, and all the others like the Hispanics who rioted after one of them was shot dead by police in Montreal-North this week are just subhumans who don’t deserve to be noticed.
    Furthermore, many people use avocado to refer to the fruit and avocat to refer to a lawyer when speaking Canadian French.

  18. I’m not sure I trust the endorsement — she may have naked pictures of Cory (at age 1) that she’s using to force his hand.

  19. I also live in the riding and I can say she’s got my vote. The astronaut came to my door one day, shook my hand, passed me a pamphlet, and was on his way before I could grab my 5 year old to introduce him.
    Ms. Lagace Dowson spent 10 or 15 minutes on my doorstep discussing the issues and then called me to follow up a couple days later. I think she’ll do just fine.
    Anonymous @ #24 that’s quite a case of twisted knickers you have there. Relax, you’ll live a longer and happier life.

  20. Jon-O,

    Don’t know where you’re getting your info but the NDP has been the only party in the House of Commons pushing for electoral reform since the late 1970s.

    Need evidence?

    By all means, support the Greens. But don’t pretend the NDP doesn’t support electoral reform. And unlike the Greens, they actually elected members in the House to enact sorely needed electoral system reform.

  21. #24 – ooh, you got me – I’m racist against Anglo & Allophones! Funny that, being an ex-Ontarian who only learned French after moving to Montreal… I’ve noticed that the politicization of language makes a lot of people a little jerky in the knee… just to clarify, I meant the avocat thing as a lighthearted rigolo, noting Cory’s slip of the tongue re by-law/by-election, not as a sweeping condemnation of Quebecois(es)/Quebeckers that aren’t de souche. Lighten up, willya? Come down to it, there aren’t many people in Montreal that don’t speak enough French to get the avocat joke… provided they actually still have a sense of humour.

  22. #31 RE:#24

    Totally agreed, and in fact, ignoring the joke aspect, it is still a stupid thing for #24 to say.
    Is it racist to assume people in England speak English? Or people in Spain speak Spanish? Do you offend the non-english speakers when a joke is made about how people say something colloquialy in the US?

    The official language of Quebec is French.. what is the problem?

  23. One more Montrealer now has her vote.

    And in response to “twisted knickers” I know a lawyer in Montreal who, due to his trilingual secretary, was often introduced as the fruit.

    Espanol: abogado
    Francais: avocat
    Franspanol (Espancais?): avoca-do

    “Les règles du jeu:
    tout apprendre, tout lire, s’informer de tout… Lorsque deux textes, deux affirmations, deux idées s’opposent, se plaire à les concilier plutôt qu’à les annuler l’un par l’autre; voir en eux deux facettes différentes, deux états successifs du même fait, une réalite convaincante parce qu’elle est complexe, humaine parce qu’elle est multiple.”

    Marguerite Yourcenar
    Mémoires d’Hadrien

  24. The NDP supports a “mixed proportional” type of electoral reform, which has been recently rejected by voters at the provincial level in Ontario. It gives greater power to party leaders, as they will appoint a certain number of candidates to the Commons based on the proportion of votes their party receives, creating a class of MP whose members are beholden in an even more direct way to their party leadership than is currently the case.

    I wasn’t able to find any specific electoral reform policy on the Green Party of Canada’s web site–the party is vaguely in favour of it, there’s a 2008 AGM proposal that sounds like it favours mixed proportional, and there was also some enthusiasm for Single Transferable Vote–the kind of reform rejected by voters in BC a few years ago, which vastly increases the amount of information voters are able to provide Elections Canada with regard to their preferences, unlike mixed proportional, in which Elections Canada would have exactly the same information they have now, but use it quite differently based on some presumptions about partisanship.

    In the case in point, the candidate Cory is endorsing may well attract votes from people who see the NDP overall as a bastion tired, disproven policies left over from the Cold War era, but who would be pleased to have this individual represent them in Parliament. It is not clear on what information-theoretic basis Elections Canada could properly infer from votes for her that the NDP’s national party leadership ought to have more power to appoint unelected members of Parliament.

    In summary: not all “electoral reform” is created equal. Being in favour of mixed proportional, as the NDP is, should only be counted as a plus if you believe Parliament is insufficiently partisan as it is currently constituted, or that party leaderships currently have too little power to over-rule the interests of the citizens MPs are nominally elected to represent.

  25. It’s a weird riding, Westmount will almost certainly vote liberal but if the Plateau part, downtown, and a good part of NDG go NDP…

  26. Elizabeth Thompson reported in the Gazette in May that:

    “New Democrat Thomas Mulcair echoed Duceppe’s call for the federal government to beef up the protections to ensure that francophones who work in areas under federal labour law have the right to work in French.”

    How well will the NDP’s call to extend Bill 101 to the federal civil service and to all federally regulated businesses fly in Westmount – Ville-Marie?

  27. I must say, it would be quite humorous if the historic establishment by the NDP of a beachhead in Quebec consisted of the ridings of Outremont and Westmount. Champagne socialism indeed!

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