Giving thanks for the gifts of resistance and change

by Virginia Smith

Over 50 DA members and their families gathered at Toronto's Globe Bistro on Thanksgiving to express their gratitude for both their capacity to resist and their firm resolve to change the U.S.'s political direction next year. They also had fun together as they enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner. London-based members Gena Brummit, the chair of the London Chapter, and Marnelle Dragila, an officer of DA Canada, drove to Toronto to bring greetings and join the celebration.

The evening was hosted by Toronto vice-chair Nathan Lujan, who welcomed diners to the annual dinner. Various DA members took the microphone to voice their thoughts about the significance of the day and about upcoming DA projects. Toronto member Virginia Smith talked about the Vietnam Project, which will reflect on the ongoing relevance of the experiences of Americans who came to Canada in the early 1970s.

A humorous quiz about the first year of the Trump administration was circulated by DA Canada vice-chair Ed Ungar, who led diners through a list of questions that seemed to have no right answers. Isn't that what the last year has been like for most of us? A book was the prize for the winner in this apparently no-win situation.

Two of the quiz questions were (answers below, no cheating!):

1. What Fox headline crawl represented the network's greatest hope for development?

a. Obama admits that he can't match Trump's eloquence.

b. Trump: eventually, we will get something done.

c. Early returns look like GOP Virginia sweep.

d. Kelly's praise of Trump sincere!

2. According to Trump, what can you not be?

a. too rich

b. too thin

c. too humble

d. too greedy

The evening closed with good will to all and a renewe sense of purpose to work for change in the U.S. Congress by Thanksgiving day 2018. Summing up the evening, Toronto chair Julie Buchanan expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to the occasion, including David Markham, who donated the portable sound system that enabled speakers to communicate with the big group as a whole. It was a great evening spent with friends old and new. There was good food and good service. The annual Thanksgiving event creates a sense of family among Democrats Abroad members.

Quiz answers: 1. b, 2. d


Toronto greets Bernie with Standing Ovations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            by Virginia Smith

Bernie Sanders’s late October speech at the University of Toronto advocating a single payer health care system in the U.S. was greeted enthusiastically by Democrats Abroad Toronto members. DA members gathered in two groups to respond to Sanders’s presentation – one group at Convocation Hall and one group at a nearby pub, where the event was watched on livestream.

Sanders’s Toronto weekend visit to Toronto included visits to three Toronto hospitals, where he discovered that it is not fair to say “that the system here is not a strong system and innovative system.” He said that the neonatal intensive care unit at Sinai’s health system was one facility that particularly impressed him. His speech about the necessity of health care for all was punctuated by standing ovations.

The DA members (who are officers of DA Canada and/or Toronto) who were able to attend the packed event were Christine Odunlami, Ed Ungar, Marnelle Dragila, Sue Alksnis, Carol Donahue, and Mari Rutka. The tickets were made available through DA Global to DA leaders and volunteers active in the DA health care stories campaign. Sue provided a petition calling on U.S. senators to cosponsor the Medicare for All Act brought forward by Sanders. Americans attending the event were invited to sign the petition, which was then sent to the national office of Health Care NOW.

These are a few of the responses to the speech by DA members in Convocation Hall:

Sue Alksnis: “When Dr. Danielle Martin of Women’s College Hospital asked how we will achieve the change we need, Bernie said the fight of this moment is to unify and take on the oligarchs. He said: ‘ I will tell you with 100% certainty there are people who are enormously powerful, with more wealth than you can dream of, who couldn’t care less about your lives, your children, about your parents. They want it all economically. They want it all politically. And we in the United States, in Canada, all over this world, we’ve got to stand together and tell these oligarchs that this planet belongs to all of us.’
….. Bernie also said the U.S. health care debate needs people in Canada and around the world to share their health care stories so that Americans cannot say that it isn’t possible to provide health care for all. Toward that end, DA has collected almost 400 health care stories from DA members. The stories are being printed in a book to be presented to Congress and Senator Sanders’s office. Stories can still be submitted at

Christine Odunlami: “Ever since Senator Sanders first put in his bid to run in the 2016 presidential election, to his current continuing activism, I knew something was indescribably extraordinary about him. Witnessing his speech solidified my expectations and more. It is my deepest hope that our fellow American citizens and politicians take full recognition of what Bernie’s speech communicates; single-payer healthcare is needed now. The passion and warmth displayed by Dr. Danielle Martin at Women’s College Hospital and at the other hospitals the senator toured show that patient-centred care as a human right is doable…”

Ed Ungar: “Every Senate term, Bernie introduces a single payer health care bill and, until this time, hardly anyone else signs on. But, this time, 16 of the most high profile Democratic senators are co-sponsors. The bill is basically modelled on Canada’s medical system. But as Ed Broadbent, former leader of the NDP, noted, Bernie’s bill improves on Canada’s system. Bernie thinks dental care, full psychological services, and dental services should be a basic right. If Bernie’s bill passes, and the odds are improving, then Canada may decide to catch up to the U.S. We shall see.”

DA members who watched the livestream at a nearby pub were greeted by Toronto Chapter Chair and Canada IT manager Julie Buchanan and Women’s Caucus Toronto Chair Karin Lippert, who worked as a team to set up the event.

Julie and Karin had these comments: “We're always happy to see our members at DemsAbroadTO events! We don't sponsor many brunches, but Brunch with Bernie at the Duke of York was a great opportunity to get together and hear his message on single payer health care. It was impressive that he had toured hospitals in Toronto the previous day and displayed detailed knowledge of the history of health care in both England and Canada. As Bernie said, change regarding health care came from ‘the bottom up’ in both countries. This has been true throughout history for change that benefits the general public. So it is up us to make sure we create the momentum and demand for single payer health care in U.S. elections going forward! The best moment of a Livestream event is when the tech works and we sign-up new volunteers. For those at the live event in Convocation Hall, Ed Ungar's sign summed-up what would be true for many of our members who benefit from Canadian health care: ‘ I'd be DEAD if I had stayed in the U.S.A.’"


In Person US Tax Seminars

DA Toronto - U.S. Tax Seminar

Thursday, October 26 and Thursday, November 2, 2017

Democrats Abroad Toronto is pleased to offer a new seminar on reporting requirements for U.S. citizens living in Canada.

U.S. citizens living abroad are required to file U.S. federal income tax returns annually, reporting their worldwide income. Are you uncertain about whether you’ve met the U.S. federal filing requirements? Have you filed your U.S. tax returns, but are concerned that what you reported may be incomplete or incorrect? Come get some answers to your questions and find out about potential relief from IRS penalties.

This live presentation will address both the technical and practical considerations associated with:

  • The impact of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) on filing requirements and IRS detection risk;

  • Submission of overdue or amended tax filings under the IRS’ Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP); and

  • Alternate means for submission of overdue or amended IRS filings.

You can choose to attend either of two sessions at Metro Hall in Toronto:

7 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Thursday, October 26, 2017 in Room 308 or

7 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017 in Room 310

This is an in-person event, and registration is required.


Jason Ubeika, CPA, CA, CPA (Illinois), the U.S. Personal Tax Practice Leader for BDO Canada LLP (BDO), has generously offered his time and expertise to host these sessions. Since 2003, he has specialized in Canada – U.S. cross-border taxation issues. Learn more about Jason and his practice at BDO here.

All funds raised by these seminars will be used to get out the vote in 2018 and 2020 and put Democrats back in charge!


Hillary’s Visit to Toronto: A Time for Celebration of Our Resistance

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  by  Virginia Smith

Democrats Abroad members celebrated Hillary Clinton’s September appearance in Toronto with drama, discussion, and a show of commitment. DA member Sue Alksnis, who attended the event costumed as Lady Liberty, was one of a group of DA volunteers who talked with the ticket holders, mostly women, as they stood in line for hours, about the importance of voting in the 2018 midterms if they are Americans. Ken Sherman, attired as Uncle Sam, also canvassed the lines. “I was overwhelmed by the numbers of Canadian women in attendance. I estimated at least 5,000,” he told Democrats Abroad.

The members of the group that engaged with people in line about voting were Melinda Medley, Gail Littlejohn, Kim Stone, Annie Parry, Shannon Parry, and Erin Campeau. The group was coordinated by Brooke Scott, who reported after the event that there “was such a positive feeling, some sadness and frustration, but actually a nice change.” The organizing team for the event included Danielle Stampley, Karin Lippert, and Julie Buchanan as well as Brooke. Both the volunteers and organizing team communicated the hope and energy that Democrats need to fuel their activities, now and in 2018.

A life-size cardboard cutout of Clinton also contributed to the drama of the event. Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti described how delighted her mother was to be photographed with the cutout. “This was her Woodstock.” DA member Tracy Hudson enthusiastically photographed ticket holders who wanted to be shown with the Hillary cutout and many others too. Over 100 photos were taken under the watchful scrutiny of the Secret Service officers who were there to protect the former First Lady.

 The event also featured serious discussion of the election and its outcome. The processes of talking about  and understanding the Democratic loss are vital to ensuring success in the 2018 elections. Sue Alksnis told an interviewer at CP24 about the importance of talking honestly about the 2017 result. After the election, “we were talking nonstop about it all the time, at home, at Democrats Abroad, and at work.” Hillary herself started the discussion with her book What Happened, and she made it clear that she is not afraid to tackle the facts.

Ken Sherman told DA that, in her talk, Hillary told the audience about how she emerged from her many walks in the woods, not only to reflect on her loss, but also to empower more women to seek elective office. She also said that “she believes that the Russian involvement in the election directly impacted her loss, but not as much as FBI Director James Comey’s announcements concerning her email investigations.” 

Read more

Proclaiming the Fierce Urgency of Now

Proclaiming the Fierce Urgency of Now

by Virginia R. Smith

DA Toronto members responded to the “fierce urgency of now” by gathering across the street from the U.S. Consulate on the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to reread those momentous words and rediscover their meaning as Americans confront the racism on display at events such as the recent neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A number of speakers brought viewpoints to the gathering based on their personal experiences:

-MC Carol Donohoe talked about how Dr. King’s speech expressed “the ideal we strive” for, which is stated in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” The "I Have a Dream" speech was fundamental to the process of passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, she said.

- Danielle Stampley, vice chairperson of DA’s Toronto chapter, said that “we need his inspiration right now…Dr. King showed us how to resist…His speech is a source of hope.”

- Ed Ungar, vice-chair of DA Canada, was present at Dr. King’s speech on August 28, 1963. When he and other young people travelled from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., they immediately sensed the “universal love in the air…I’ve never felt anything like it before or since…From his first words, we knew that this was something different.” Ungar said that he was “grateful for the opportunity to be there.”

- Dewitt Lee III, treasurer of DA’s Toronto chapter, emphasized that “we have to be honest about how Africans came to the United States” and about “how they are treated” even now. About Dr. King, Lee said that “we need to take his advice…we are the inheritors of his dream and as he said, 'we cannot turn back!'” Lee also cited Emancipation Month in Canada as a time to remember the abolition of slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834, and noted the UN General Assembly’s proclamation of 2015 – 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent.

- Ken Sherman, the chair of DA’s Hamilton-Burlington chapter, recalled that he was a pastor of a Black Lutheran Church during the 1960s civil rights movement. On February 6, 1968, he and other members of the organization Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam stood together with Dr. King at a vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Immediately following the assassination, Sherman went to Memphis to support the sanitation workers, and he marched with Coretta Scott King, SCLC and union leaders, and 42,000 others to honor Dr. King on April 8, 1968.

The "I Have a Dream" speech, which has become an oration second only to "The Gettysburg Address" in U.S. history, was then proclaimed. Readers, including Dewitt Lee’s children, Dewitt IV and Chy'Ana, took turns reading portions of the speech. A sense of deep respect spread through the gathering as we once again heard: “Free at last, Free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”

The gathering was well attended by Toronto media, which reported on the event that evening.


Report on Resistance Summer in Toronto

About a dozen Democrats engaged in discussion and postcard writing to members of Congress at an August 12 pop-up summer resistance event in Toronto’s High Park. Democrats Abroad (DA) banners alerted park strollers to DA’s active presence in the city’s west end. The event was one of three DA summer pop-ups in the Toronto area.

These events are important because Americans abroad want to be contacted so that they can show their resistance to hurtful initiatives such as the effort to repeal Obamacare, according to Danielle Stampley, vice-chair of DA’s Toronto chapter. DA Canada membership spiked after the 2016 election, and there is strong new interest in DA Canada’s women’s caucus and LGBTQ caucus. DA needs to keep raising its level of visibility through gatherings like the High Park pop-up.

Participants in the pop-up wrote postcards to their members of Congress about issues such as health care and peace making. Some wrote in support of a bill that would restrict the president’s first use of nuclear weapons, which was introduced this year by Senator Edward Markey (Mass.) and Representative Ted Lieu (Calif.). The bill, known as HR669, would require a declaration of war by Congress before the use of nuclear weapons.

By Virginia Smith, member at large on the Toronto board


Feminist Fiber Art Exhibit Thurs Aug 10th

Join the Toronto Chapter Women's Caucus and Come check out some feminist fiber art from around the world at Craft Ontario! Feminist Fiber Art (FFA) is a is an international woman-directed artist collective and educational organization that is headquartered in New York. We organize exhibits, craft fairs, community craft nights, classes, and benefit concerts for women's shelters and feminist charities. We feature the work of fiber artists from around the world and are building a tight-knit global craftivist community.

FFA is a DIY, multidisciplinary, intersectional, arts community focusing primarily on the versatile medium of fiber art. We illustrate how feminists have been using the medium to subvert its history as "women's work" in colorful, fun, thought-provoking, and sexually liberated ways.

Curated by Iris Nectar and Michelle Gauthier Art. Flyer by Aburrideitor.


Pop up Resistance Event in Solidarity with Women's March #NRA2DOJ July 15th

Some back ground information:

From the WMW website:

"On Friday, July 14, Women’s March and partners will set out from the NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, VA to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to demand justice for Philando Castile and send a bold message that united we are stronger than hate.

We know that we are not safe.

But we will not be intimidated into silence.

Please join us and spread the word about the Women’s March from #NRA2DOJ on July 14 and 15."

Read the Open Letter to NRA with three demands:

Warning! Prepare to be offended and outraged by the NRA's recent recruitment video. You can see and read about it here in the Huffington Post.

On Saturday, July 15, 10 am, as they gather again in DC, at the Department of Justice, we will hold a vigil in solidarity at

Withrow Park
725 Logan Ave
Near the playground
10 am to noon

What can we do as US citizens in Canada? Let your members of Congress know how you feel! Do your members take money from the NRA? Where do they stand on gun control? Find out and write them a postcard. We will have fact sheets, postcards and postage for your act of resistance on Saturday!

Our chapter thanks Brooke Scott and Kate Leuschen for their work pulling this event together so quickly.

RSVP here!

Statement from House Representative D. Ciciline, D-RI regarding the passage of the AHCA

As you know, House Republicans introduced their “repeal and replace” health care bill, entitled the American Health Care Act (AHCA), in March of 2017.  The AHCA would allow insurers to charge older customers up to five times more than younger customers, while also charging a 30% penalty to any person who has a lapse in health coverage, including people with preexisting conditions. It will also shorten the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by three years and eliminates the Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credits that millions of Americans depend on to pay for health coverage.
The AHCA also greatly reduces funding for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, reducing resources for some of our society’s most vulnerable members.  President Obama’s health care law expanded Medicaid and allowed more than 14.5 million people to get health insurance.  The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that “in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law” increasing to 21 million uninsured in 2020 and then to 24 million uninsured in 2026.
Like you, I believe that healthcare is a vital human right.  This bill benefits the rich while making it more difficult for seniors and low-income Americans to get the quality healthcare they need.  It gives huge tax cuts to insurance companies and the super-rich, while neglecting those members of society who require the most assistance.  As if these issues were not enough, the AHCA also cuts funding for Planned Parenthood without offering a replacement for the vital services Planned Parenthood provides, which would cause millions of women to go without cancer screenings, prenatal services, and family planning options.  Subsequently, healthcare premiums will go up and millions of Americans will lose coverage.  This is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, this legislation was passed by the House of Representatives by a margin of 217-213 on May 4, 2017 with no Democratic support.  Trumpcare is currently being considered by the Senate.  Please know I will continue to fight against this irresponsible, dangerous legislation should it be passed by the Senate and comeback to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about access to healthcare.  Your thoughts and opinions on this issue are of great value.  Please be sure to sign up for my e-newsletter so we can stay in touch about the issues most important to you.  Just visit my website at and sign up today.
    Warm regards,
David N. Cicilline
Member of Congress

2017-19 Chapter Election Results, AGM Minutes & Contact List

The DA Canada Toronto Chapter Nominations & Elections Committee are pleased to announce the results of the chapter board for the 2017-19 term, as reported by the Teller of Elections at the AGM of April 9, 2017.

 Following the election results are links to the draft AGM minutes and the contact list for the new board.

 Chair: Julie Buchanan

 Vice-Chair: Nathan Lujan

 Vice-Chair: Danielle Stampley

 Secretary: Mari Rutka

 Treasurer: Dewitt Lee

 Member-at-Large: Alyssa Ages

 Member-at-Large: Dylan Clark

 Member-at-Large: Paulette Kelly

 Member-at-Large: J. David Markham

 Member-at-Large: Kathleen Leuschen Millar

 Member-at-Large: Derrick Raphael

 Member-at-Large: Virginia Smith

 Member-at-Large (Peel Region): Susan Alksnis

 Member-at-Large (York Region): Brooke Scott

 Subsequent to the election results, the newly elected Chapter Chair designated both candidates for Secretary as Co-Secretaries, with their consent.

 Respectfully submitted,


DACanada–Toronto Chapter Nominations & Elections Committee


Star Goggins, Chair
Chris Eggers
David Letteney
Steve Nardi (Teller)


 -NEC Toronto Teller Elections Results of 2017-2019 Toronto Chapter Board may be viewed at this link


  -Draft of AGM Minutes to be approved at next Chapter AGM may be viewed at this link


  -DA Canada Toronto 2017-2019 Board contact list may be viewed at this link