Dancing the CAN can

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

For the last year a group of disgruntled residents have been labouring over what they believe will be a bedrock grassroots organization that will eventually challenge Hamilton's political elite.

The Hamilton Community Action Network (CAN), with a six-member executive, have crafted policy platforms and are currently fishing for political candidates to run in the 2006 municipal elections this November.

CAN was created by a former Liberal party organizer who was fed up with political candidates supported by the the city's powerful development community. "I was concerned about a small minority controlling council," said Alice Smith, a Hamilton teacher and chair of CAN.

More than anything else, the group, populated by an amalgam of poverty activists, union representatives, David Christopherson supporters and political keeners, feels disenfranchised in their own community. They have looked at Hamilton's growing urban sprawl, the influence of the development community within local politics and the sclerosis that prevents councillors from solving Hamilton's poverty crisis, rotting infrastructure and debt.

"We need better people," says Dundas resident Ben Bull, creator of the popular 'Raise The Hammer' website and CAN's current spokesperson.

CAN advocates a hodge-podge of themes and community complaints heard many times around city hall for the last few years: it's against the Red Hill Creek Expressway, big box developments, Maple Leaf Foods,and the aerotropolis, and supportive of public transit and the compliance audit on Mayor Larry Di Ianni's campaign finances.

CAN is currently holding a number of public meetings seeking community response about ward issues and suggestions on potential candidates. Councillors Brian McHattie and Bob Bratina seem safe from a CAN attack. Smith said the constituents in those wards liked what they have done. But CAN seems determined to unseat Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli. Residents have complained about the continuing poverty and crime rates, high unemployment, lack of response from Morelli, and even the fact he has been in office far too long. Morelli has indicated that he will run again.

Bull said CAN will evaluate potential candidates and if they pass its test, help them campaign. There was speculation that CAN had secured what it believed was the perfect mayoral candidate to challenge Di Ianni in the form of former MPP John Bryden, who chuckled at the thought of entering politics again. "I have not been approached and I have not given it any thought," he said. Bull argued Bryden's name has never come up. But the names of Bratina, Sheila Copps and Ward 14 councillor Braden remain fluid. "We are trying to look up some high profile candidates," he says."

CAN organizers acknowledge they are new to local politics, and at times it shows. But CAN is in the political game for the long haul, they say. In 2006, CAN is only able to target what they believe are "winnable" wards. In the following election (either 2009 or 2010), says Smith, CAN hopes to become a similarly influential organization as COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors) in Vancouver.

CAN is holding two more community meetings, at 7 p.m. at the OOSTF office on Upper Ottawa Street on March 6, and Bowman's United Church on Garner Road in Ancaster on March 7.

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757, ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

Dancing the CAN can

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

For the last year a group of disgruntled residents have been labouring over what they believe will be a bedrock grassroots organization that will eventually challenge Hamilton's political elite.

The Hamilton Community Action Network (CAN), with a six-member executive, have crafted policy platforms and are currently fishing for political candidates to run in the 2006 municipal elections this November.

CAN was created by a former Liberal party organizer who was fed up with political candidates supported by the the city's powerful development community. "I was concerned about a small minority controlling council," said Alice Smith, a Hamilton teacher and chair of CAN.

More than anything else, the group, populated by an amalgam of poverty activists, union representatives, David Christopherson supporters and political keeners, feels disenfranchised in their own community. They have looked at Hamilton's growing urban sprawl, the influence of the development community within local politics and the sclerosis that prevents councillors from solving Hamilton's poverty crisis, rotting infrastructure and debt.

"We need better people," says Dundas resident Ben Bull, creator of the popular 'Raise The Hammer' website and CAN's current spokesperson.

CAN advocates a hodge-podge of themes and community complaints heard many times around city hall for the last few years: it's against the Red Hill Creek Expressway, big box developments, Maple Leaf Foods,and the aerotropolis, and supportive of public transit and the compliance audit on Mayor Larry Di Ianni's campaign finances.

CAN is currently holding a number of public meetings seeking community response about ward issues and suggestions on potential candidates. Councillors Brian McHattie and Bob Bratina seem safe from a CAN attack. Smith said the constituents in those wards liked what they have done. But CAN seems determined to unseat Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli. Residents have complained about the continuing poverty and crime rates, high unemployment, lack of response from Morelli, and even the fact he has been in office far too long. Morelli has indicated that he will run again.

Bull said CAN will evaluate potential candidates and if they pass its test, help them campaign. There was speculation that CAN had secured what it believed was the perfect mayoral candidate to challenge Di Ianni in the form of former MPP John Bryden, who chuckled at the thought of entering politics again. "I have not been approached and I have not given it any thought," he said. Bull argued Bryden's name has never come up. But the names of Bratina, Sheila Copps and Ward 14 councillor Braden remain fluid. "We are trying to look up some high profile candidates," he says."

CAN organizers acknowledge they are new to local politics, and at times it shows. But CAN is in the political game for the long haul, they say. In 2006, CAN is only able to target what they believe are "winnable" wards. In the following election (either 2009 or 2010), says Smith, CAN hopes to become a similarly influential organization as COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors) in Vancouver.

CAN is holding two more community meetings, at 7 p.m. at the OOSTF office on Upper Ottawa Street on March 6, and Bowman's United Church on Garner Road in Ancaster on March 7.

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757, ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

Dancing the CAN can

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

For the last year a group of disgruntled residents have been labouring over what they believe will be a bedrock grassroots organization that will eventually challenge Hamilton's political elite.

The Hamilton Community Action Network (CAN), with a six-member executive, have crafted policy platforms and are currently fishing for political candidates to run in the 2006 municipal elections this November.

CAN was created by a former Liberal party organizer who was fed up with political candidates supported by the the city's powerful development community. "I was concerned about a small minority controlling council," said Alice Smith, a Hamilton teacher and chair of CAN.

More than anything else, the group, populated by an amalgam of poverty activists, union representatives, David Christopherson supporters and political keeners, feels disenfranchised in their own community. They have looked at Hamilton's growing urban sprawl, the influence of the development community within local politics and the sclerosis that prevents councillors from solving Hamilton's poverty crisis, rotting infrastructure and debt.

"We need better people," says Dundas resident Ben Bull, creator of the popular 'Raise The Hammer' website and CAN's current spokesperson.

CAN advocates a hodge-podge of themes and community complaints heard many times around city hall for the last few years: it's against the Red Hill Creek Expressway, big box developments, Maple Leaf Foods,and the aerotropolis, and supportive of public transit and the compliance audit on Mayor Larry Di Ianni's campaign finances.

CAN is currently holding a number of public meetings seeking community response about ward issues and suggestions on potential candidates. Councillors Brian McHattie and Bob Bratina seem safe from a CAN attack. Smith said the constituents in those wards liked what they have done. But CAN seems determined to unseat Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli. Residents have complained about the continuing poverty and crime rates, high unemployment, lack of response from Morelli, and even the fact he has been in office far too long. Morelli has indicated that he will run again.

Bull said CAN will evaluate potential candidates and if they pass its test, help them campaign. There was speculation that CAN had secured what it believed was the perfect mayoral candidate to challenge Di Ianni in the form of former MPP John Bryden, who chuckled at the thought of entering politics again. "I have not been approached and I have not given it any thought," he said. Bull argued Bryden's name has never come up. But the names of Bratina, Sheila Copps and Ward 14 councillor Braden remain fluid. "We are trying to look up some high profile candidates," he says."

CAN organizers acknowledge they are new to local politics, and at times it shows. But CAN is in the political game for the long haul, they say. In 2006, CAN is only able to target what they believe are "winnable" wards. In the following election (either 2009 or 2010), says Smith, CAN hopes to become a similarly influential organization as COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors) in Vancouver.

CAN is holding two more community meetings, at 7 p.m. at the OOSTF office on Upper Ottawa Street on March 6, and Bowman's United Church on Garner Road in Ancaster on March 7.

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757, ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com