NEVER AGAIN: DA supports Parkland students’ demands for action

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          by Virginia Smith

Parkland shooting survivor Dimitri Hoth speaking at the Florida legislature on Feb. 21, 2018: “We, the students, will make a difference.”

With heavy hearts, dozens of Democrats Abroad members gathered for a vigil near Toronto’s U.S. consulate on the sunny Sunday afternoon after the deadly rampage at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. The consulate’s U.S. flag stood at half-mast as DA members voiced their determination that, this time, strong positive measures to control the sale of guns would have to follow the usual expressions and symbols of grief.
Democrats Abroad Toronto vice-chair Danielle Stampley said that the vigil was an occasion to express solidarity with the victims and survivors of the shooting and to launch action for change: “This is not acceptable. We have been acting as though nothing can be done. We can do something about this. Let’s commit to taking action.”
Vigil participants read out the names and short descriptions of the victims. The list included students and teachers, boys and men, and girls and women, who ranged in age from 14 to 49:
  • Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was a soccer team member who had just had what her mother called “the best game of her life” on Feb. 13.
  • Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, was freshman who, according to his brother, was “a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet.”
  • Scott Beigel, 35, was a teacher who brought students into his classroom before he was killed himself. One parent says that Mr. Beigel saved her son’s life.
  • Jaime Guttenberg, 14. Her father posted on Facebook: “I am broken as I write this, trying to figure out how my family gets through this.”
  • Aaron Feis, 37, was a football coach who also attempted to save students. A graduate of the school, he always tried to help those who were struggling.
  • Nicholas Dworet was a high school swimmer who visited the University of Indianapolis recently. He said that he wanted to swim there after his graduation this year.
  • Christopher Hixon, 49, was the school’s athletic director and a prominent figure in high school sports in Florida.
  • Luke Hoyer, 15, was an aspiring basketball player. “He loved his family, he had a huge heart,” said his cousin.
  • Cara Loughran, 14, was an excellent student. Her aunt wrote on Facebook: “We are absolutely gutted…..while your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING….”
  • Gina Montalto, 14, was said to be a member of the school’s winter color guard team. A Facebook tribute to her said: “we lost a beautiful soul tonight.”
  • Joaquin Oliver, 17, played basketball in the city’s recreational league. He was also a writer who filled a notebook with poetry.
  • Helena Ramsey, 17, would have started college next year. A relative wrote on Facebook: “…she had a relentless motivation toward her academic studies…”
  • Alaina Petty, 14, was a member of a volunteer group with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. She helped with clean-up work after Hurricane Irma.
  • Meadow Pollack, 18, was a senior who planned to go to a nearby college next year. A relative said that “she was a very strong-willed young girl who had everything going for her.”
  • Alex Schachter, 14, played the trombone in the school’s marching band. His father said that “he was a sweetheart of a kid.”
  • Carmen Schentrup was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Her cousin said in a Facebook post that she was the smartest 16-year-old that he had ever met.
  • Peter Wang, 15, helped his cousin, Aaron, to adjust when Aaron started living in Florida. “He was always so nice and generous,” said Aaron.
After the reading of the list, Toronto chapter chair Julie Buchanan said that “Canadians care about this shooting too.” She stressed the need to get out the vote and to vote out the politicians who take money from the NRA. Hamilton chapter chair and former Democrats Abroad chair Ken Sherman sadly recalled a gathering of DA members in Toronto after the 2011 shooting of U.S. House of Representatives member Gabby Giffords. Sherman read a statement by Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez, which stressed that people should not be afraid to go a shopping mall, baseball field, or movie theater. Sherman, who is a member of the DNC, called on Congress to enact a ban on automatic rifles and to enhance background checks


Democrats Abroad Canada Steve Nardi ended the vigil by stating the firm resolve that “this has got to stop.” He called on Americans living in Canada to encourage other Americans to go to so that they can vote this year for political leaders who will enact measures to protect U.S. communities from deadly violence.

The Democrats Abroad vigil was covered by CTV, CBC, and CP24. DA’s pledge to take action for peace is being heard. Will it be heeded?

The Vietnam Project: 50 years of striving for peace and justice

Democrats Abroad Toronto is planning a meeting of DA members who moved to Canada during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The meeting will be an opportunity to talk about developing a people’s history of that era.

Sunday, April 29, 2 pm, community room at 71 Charles St. East, Toronto.

Many Democrats Abroad members first came Canada in the late 1960s or early 1970s. At that time, Americans’ moves to Canada were often motivated by a need to resist participation in the Vietnam War. Many Americans who came to Canada put down roots in the country and became permanent residents. At the same time, they remained loyal to their identities as Americans and never lost their hope that the U.S. would fully realize the belief of its founders that "all men are created equal."

Half a century after the eruption of the Vietnam War as major conflict, members of Democrats Abroad want to talk about ways to gather some of the stories of those who came to Canada during that period. We want to do the gathering in a way that reveals events and motives, but at the same time protects the privacy of the story tellers. There are two purposes for this initiative: to develop a record of our personal and political lives, and to discover the contemporary relevance of resistance to the Vietnam War and other wars.

Democrats Abroad Toronto members who came to Canada during those years are invited to a meeting on Sunday, April 29, at 2 pm in the community room at Paxton Place, 71 Charles St. E., Toronto. The person at the front desk can provide direction to the room. The meeting will be an opportunity to share stories and make plans for written stories, interviews, videos, and possibly a public meeting. An email invitation to the meeting will be sent to members at the end of March. The time and place announced on the website are definite.

If you would like more information about this project, please contact Virginia Smith at


Calling All Democrats Abroad

This January we need everyone to join the effort! We need you to go here and request your ballot. AND we need you to help the Toronto Chapter reach out to our thousands of members who haven’t heard from for us in a while. We need to update their updated information to send them voting information! Our goal is to do this January 31st!

This event has passed, but phoning Democrats will be happening all year long! 

What: Phoning Democrats in Toronto and Canada

When: Sunday, January 14 - 10 am - 1 pm

Where: Artscape Youngplace
180 Shaw Street,
Suite 314 the Office of Inspirit Foundation
Toronto M6J2W5

We  had  coffee, tea and light snacks,  brought our laptops and even got occupy an office or two for easy phoning. 

Danielle Stampley was there to walk us  through the  steps. Brooke Scott organized the event and Kate Leuschen Millar arranged for the space. What a great teamwork.  Here are some pictures of the days heroes.

You can phone from your from the comfort of your own place!

If you are new to phonebanking or just need a refresher, you can find sign-up instructions and training materials on our website at: Join the campaign for DACA Membership. 

Phone campaigns, run from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and Democrats Abroad strictly uses CallHub program to make calls.

If you are already a phonebanking volunteer, just go to to login to your CallHub account and join the campaign for DACA Membership. You can check out the script here: Script DACA Membership Verification

Brooke Scott,
Volunteer Co-ordinator, Toronto Chapter

RSVP here - Event has passed!


Women's Caucus Event January 20th- Women March On

WOMEN MARCH ON - Defining Our Future - Saturday, January 20, 2018

Two hours before the Toronto Women’s March 1/20/18 the Women’s Caucus organized a meet up at the Richtree Natural Market in the Eaton Centre for conversation. The excitement and determination from last year’s March was undiminished, evidenced in our turnout. The common cause of empowerment and creating community for progress united new friends and set the table for future Caucus events. ~ Brooke Scott, Co-Chair DA Women's Caucus Toronto

We keep the  RSVPs for the event Here.


Larry Cohen, Chair of Our Revolution, in Toronto - Saturday, January 20, 2018

Democrats Abroad and Our Revolution are hosting an event with Larry Cohen following  the Women March On event. A highly respected Union Leader in the US and Canada, Cohen was head of the 700,000 member Communications Workers of America. Cohen is a member of the DNC and joined the Sanders campaign in 2015. Our Revolution hopes to leverage the success of the Sanders campaign to transform America and advance a progressive agenda.

When: 4:00 p.m.

Where: Jack Astor's Bar and Grill, 133 John St - note this is  venue change  from original post

An informal gathering is planned to follow the presentation.  RSVP soon!


Women's March Canada Info for January 20th 2018

Check back here as we add photos from this historical day!


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.” 

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