Leadnow Under Attack

Leadnow is under attack. Earlier this week, a complaint was filed with Elections Canada by a group of Conservatives accusing us of using foreign money to pay for your 2015 Vote Together election campaign – the campaign that helped defeat the Harper Conservatives.

We want to be clear: the allegations are false. No foreign money was used in our 2015 election campaign. But the media picked up the story, and it’s making the rounds from the National Post to the Calgary Herald and the CBC.

Our community doesn’t need to break the rules to get things done. This is is part of a larger conservative witch hunt to strangle our people-powered movement. Even though we have a small staff team and limited funds compared to the political parties, we’re effective at making our voices heard. And quite frankly, they hate that.

We would rather spend our time running effective, important campaigns, instead of responding to these unfair and untrue allegations. But we’re speaking up now because our reputation and integrity are being questioned. We are working with a lawyer to help us speed up the Elections Canada investigation, so that we can clear our name and get back to winning campaigns.

The real story behind our funding model is simple: Leadnow is 75% funded by individual donors. People like you, who chip in when you can, to help make a difference on issues you care about. The average donation to Leadnow is $19, and we have over 2600 monthly donors who help keep the lights on. The rest of our funding comes from carefully vetted like-minded organizations and donors, for specific campaigns that are aligned with our community’s top-ranked priorities. Less than 18% currently comes from international donors, for international collaboration on some of the biggest challenges of our times, including on climate. No international money goes towards any of our election campaigns.

We haven’t seen the full text of the report so we can’t comment on what’s in it, but here’s the bottom line: we took every precaution to ensure we obeyed the law throughout the campaign (in addition to running hard-hitting and effective campaigns, we are also fantastic record-keepers). We have filed and submitted a report and audit with Elections Canada, and we are confident Elections Canada has a comprehensive understanding of the campaign.

We know that won’t be good enough for our enemies, and this may continue to make the rounds in the media. It’s an attempt to distract us from what really matters and undermine our work together. This isn’t the first time we’ve been attacked and it won’t be the last. The right will continue to try to stop us because we’re big, we’re people-powered, and we’re effective.

We have already seen an outpouring of support from the Leadnow community this week. If you believe in what we do, we could use your help too. Can you chip in $5, $10, or $15 today? The best way to respond is to strengthen our people-powered movement, so we can continue to campaign on the issues that matter.

We look forward to getting back to our real priorities: electoral reform, stopping climate-killing pipelines, and fighting for social justice at every turn.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Leadnow reacts to Trudeau government ‘betrayal’ on voting reform

Toronto, Ontario – Feb 1st, 2017. Today, the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, announced that the Liberal government is abandoning their promise to reform Canada’s electoral system before the 2019 federal election.

Katelynn Northam, Campaign Lead on electoral reform with Leadnow, made the following statement in response.

“We’re shocked and disappointed that the government has broken their promise to make 2015 the last unfair election. If Trudeau is willing to betray voters on his signature election promise, what does that mean for his other commitments?”

“This is a cynical move from the Liberals. The voting reform committee made a clear recommendation for a proportional representation system, after extensive consultations with experts and the public. When the government didn’t get the answer they wanted, they threw the committee under the bus, launched an outrageous survey explicitly designed to create confusion, and ultimately betrayed voters by abandoning their promise.

“We aren’t backing down. In fact, the rise of Trump’s hateful politics suggest we need voting reform now more than ever. A Trump-style candidate could never win over a majority of Canadian voters — but in our broken first-past-the-post system, a hateful candidate could win with as little as 35% of the vote.”

“The fight for proportional representation isn’t over. A majority of Canadians do want electoral reform, and we’ll keep fighting until we win.”


About Leadnow: Leadnow is an independent, member-based organization that runs campaigns to build and defend a just, sustainable, and equitable Canada.

Katelynn Northam
Leadnow.ca campaigner
647 530 8882

Your Community Survey results

This month, 7,284 Leadnow members shared their campaigning priorities as part of a major Community Survey to set our collective direction for 2017.

Our member-driven approach is part of what sets Leadnow apart — everything we do, from the issues we campaign on to the way we do our work, depends on the input, actions, and donations of the hundreds of thousands of you who make make up our community.

Now, we’re excited to share your results and what they mean for our work.

Your top priorities for 2017

We heard loud and clear that campaigning to replace our broken first-past-the-post system with a proportional system needs to be a top priority this year. Our Democracy Campaigner, Katelynn, is already getting to work on a strategy to ramp up our Vote Better campaign this year.

Environment and climate issues came in second place, and we’re currently meeting with allies in the environment and climate movements to find the most strategic opportunities for Leadnow members to take action for a clean environment and a safe climate.

Hundreds of you wrote in comments emphasizing that these issues are all important. We’re working on developing more nimble “rapid-response” capacity, so we’re ready to spring into action with hard-hitting campaigns at key moments on any of these issues.

The campaigns you’re most excited about.

 Q: What campaigns are you most excited about? Please rank these options in the order that you personally would most want to take action on as part of a Leadnow campaign. Overall Rank Score
Supporting ambitious action on climate, with major investments in a clean energy economy 1 36743
Pushing for a proportional voting system that makes every vote count 2 35986
Cracking down on tax dodging by huge corporations and the super-rich 3 28075
Ensuring adequate health funding to provide quality care to everyone who needs it. 4 27879
Stopping CETA and working to repeal the parts of NAFTA that allow corporations to sue our government in secret courts. 5 25926
Challenging the racist forces that Trump has emboldened, and stopping Trump-style politics from taking hold in Canada 6 25515
Campaigning to make sure everyone can afford decent housing 7 23121
Working to secure more support for refugees fleeing war and violence 8 16589
Helping elect progressive candidates in the B.C. provincial election 9 15562

When we asked you to rank the campaigns you were most excited about, we again saw voting reform and climate action rise to the top of the list.

Cracking down on tax dodging and defending our public healthcare system ranked high. We’re currently researching those topics to identify the best campaign angles.

Your top priorities for social justice campaigns

Q: In previous surveys, we’ve consistently heard that our members want to see Leadnow take on more campaigns on issues of social justice, and we want to know which issues you care about most. Please rank the following issues in order of their importance to you. Overall Rank Score
Reconciliation with Indigenous people 1 16905
Fighting racism and white supremacy 2 13059
Pushing for gender equality 3 11779
Campaigning in support of people with mental and physical disabilities 4 11154
Improving conditions for refugees and undocumented/migrant communities 5 8397
Working to advance LGBTQ+ rights 6 7114

In previous surveys, we’ve consistently heard that you want more opportunities to take action on social justice issues with Leadnow. In this survey, we asked you to get specific on your priorities, and reconciliation with Indigenous people and fighting racism and white supremacy topped the list.

We’ve worked with First Nations in some past campaigns — you helped crowdfund for First Nations legal challenges against the Enbridge pipeline, or thousands of you signed a petition to clean up the Grassy Narrows First Nation’s river. This year, we’ll work to build the relationships and capacity needed to do more focussed campaigning in solidarity with indigenous communities.

We’ll also begin to explore options for how our community could help fight racism and white supremacy, and watch for opportunities to campaign on other highly-ranked justice issues.

How the Trudeau government relates to your values

 Q: Which of the following statements most closely fits your feelings about the how the Trudeau government relates to your values? Jan 2017 Jun 2016 Nov 2015
1. The Trudeau Liberals share my values. I trust them to do the right thing in most ases, and we should support them to take action on our priorities. 7% 15% 20%
2. The Trudeau Liberals share some of my values. I expect they will do the right thing in some cases, and we’ll need to pressure them on other issues. 63% 61% 62%
3. The Trudeau Liberals don’t share my values, and I don’t trust them to do the right thing. We will have to stand up to them like we opposed the Harper Conservatives. 20% 15% 4%
4. I’m not sure yet. I’ll make up my mind based on their decisions in the next few months. 10% 8.5% 13%

We’ve asked you this question in two previous community surveys — the first just weeks after Trudeau’s government took office, and a second time in a survey last summer.

In all three surveys, a majority of the Leadnow community has indicated that the Trudeau Liberal government shares some of their values, and will do the right thing in some cases, but that we’ll need to work together to raise the bar in other cases.

What’s most interesting is the shift since previous surveys. We’ve seen a massive drop-off in the number of you who think the government fully shares your values and a corresponding jump in those who think the government simply can’t be trusted.

We expected to see some decline in support for the government, after their recent approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and their widely-criticized handling of the voting reform file last fall. The government will need to course correct or risk losing even more progressive support.

Leadnow’s approach to campaigning in the Trudeau era

In a community survey right after the election, the Leadnow community voted to adopt a “support and push” approach to the government — supporting them when they’re doing the right thing, pushing for improvement when there’s room for them to do better, and opposing them when they’re moving in the wrong direction.

So, are we getting the mix right?

Overall, the majority of the Leadnow community think we’ve got the mix between supporting the government and pushing them to do better / opposing where necessary about right. We see that very few people think we’ve been too oppositional (3%), while a larger portion (9%) think there is more room to push the government harder on the issues.

We’re glad to see most of our community thinks we’re more or less on the right track. Moving forwards, we’re seeing a degree of shift within the Leadnow community toward pushing the Liberal government a little harder on the issues, and we will be considering that as we develop our campaigns this year.

Final thoughts

2017 is going to be a big year, with lasting consequences for the future of this country, and the world.

This year, Trudeau could write his major progressive promises into law this year — or give in to pressure from corporate lobbyists to preserve the status quo. Trump-style politics could take hold in Canada — or we could come together as a country to reject the politics of fear and division.

It’s time to get to work. Planning is already underway to scale up our Vote Better campaign for voting reform, your top priority issue. At the same time, we’re building up our capacity for rapid-response campaigning, so our community is ready to strike fast in key moments, to push for change on the issues this community cares most about — from the environment and healthcare, to reconciliation with First Nations people.

Leadnow.ca is an independent voice—a way for hundreds and thousands of us to speak truth to power, regardless of who “power” is. To preserve that independence, we don’t take big checks from government, CEO’s or corporations—we’re funded by small contributions from regular people like you.

If you value the work of our Leadnow community, please donate to make sure our community has the resources we need to make our voices heard.

Dear Leadnow Community: Thank you



Dear friends,

This letter is about thanking you.

In January I’m going to start a new job after completing six years of work at Leadnow. I’ll tell you more about the new job at the end of his note, but that’s not what I want to focus on today.

An organization’s origin story is almost always told as the story of its founders. That story is important, but it can hide an important truth: a huge network of people and communities have built Leadnow – and the vast majority are people I don’t know and will never meet.

It’s impossible for me to properly thank the people I do know. If I just started a list then it would turn into a movie-credit scrawl – and it would still leave way too many people out.

There have been countless people at each stage of the start-up. The seed for Leadnow was planted by a tiny crew that set up Canadians for a Progressive Coalition after the 2008 election. The seed began to grow as people from the Canadian youth climate movement emerged after the wreckage of the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

We came out of Copenhagen ready to do everything we could to bring people together across party lines to defeat Harper, strengthen our democracy and take on major challenges facing our generation. Many early mentors – people like Patricia Lane and Jason Mogus – helped us find our feet as we prepared to take on Harper’s majority government after the 2011 election.

The community started to grow. Hundreds of thousands of people across Canada took action together through those campaigns – reminding each other of our shared values and strengthening all of our voices.

Tens of thousands took another step with us: donating hard-earned money, adding input to guide Leadnow’s direction, rallying in front of hundreds of MP offices.

Thousands of you jumped in with both feet: joining Leadnow community action teams to put on a purple shirt, knock doors and talk to strangers in dozens of communities across the country.

It took all of you working together, and joining with many partner organizations and movements across Canada, to stop some of the worst of Harper’s agenda and then defeat his government in 2015.

In 2016, hundreds of thousands of you have joined together again to take action for justice, equality and democracy. You’ve been supporting the new government where their actions line up with Leadnow community values, and pushing them for lasting change on the great crises facing us today. We’ve won victories and suffered setbacks this year, and we’ll keep building strength together in this new era of Canadian politics.

As an organization, we’ve faced one big challenge after Harper: fundraising. Harper’s attacks on the institutions so many Canadians value motivated people to give generously. Progressive organizations across Canada have seen a decline in donations since his defeat, and Leadnow was no exception.

That’s why I want to reserve a special thanks for the people who assure the Leadnow community’s continued strength and independence: monthly donors. We’ve been asking people in the Leadnow community to help by becoming regular monthly donors, and the community has really stepped up. There are now almost 3,000 people across Canada who give a monthly donation to the Leadnow community – even more than before Harper’s defeat.

Everyone in the Leadnow community – the overwhelming majority of whom I will never meet – contribute to keeping us independent, focused and strong enough take hard positions free of political interference. The monthly donors provide the foundation for everything – and I am deeply grateful to you all.

For me, it’s time to make way for our new leadership and take on new challenges. A few months ago I accepted a new job as the first Director of Communications and Campaigns at the Centre for Social Innovation. I’ll be joining them at their Toronto co-working spaces in January. I’m going to be focused on supporting their global expansion, organizing campaigns to strengthen the non-profit sector as a whole, and building long-term solutions for a new economy that puts people and planet first.

As I look back on my six years with Leadnow I’m struck by the transition from male to female leadership. In 2011 there were five determined white dudes in a barn in Grimsby, Ontario talking about how we could make Leadnow successful: co-founders Adam Shedletzky, Matthew Carroll, and myself working with the brilliantly talented Ryan Baillargeon and getting advice from Ben Brandzel. We poured ourselves into this work.

Over the years women have taken on more and more of the leadership at Leadnow. Maggie Knight built our organization, Julia Pope upped our game, Jodie Tonita developed our board, Logan McIntosh built our organizing network, Amara Possian delivered a world-class election campaign. My partner, Reilly Yeo, brought a new focus on equality to our board before we started dating – and she has provided years of good advice since.

Now Lyndsay Poaps is our executive director, Marie-Margueritte Sabongui is the chair of our board and Logan McIntosh is taking on my responsibilities. I’m grateful to all of them, and confident in their leadership. As I prepare for my new role I see an organization that’s scrappy and mature, filled with a strong team of campaigners, organizers, technologists who will take the work to the next level. I am excited to support them in the new year.

Leadnow has always been about more than defeating Harper, and people-powered movements for democracy and progress have never been more important than they are now. In 2016 we have seen neoliberalism start to fall apart as it fails to deliver greater democracy and equality – or the necessary action to tackle massive problems like climate change.

Now the question we are faced with is whether the neoliberal order will be replaced by right-wing demagogues, or a popular progressive alternative. Leadnow will be bringing people together and fighting for that alternative.

Thanks to all of you, we’re ready for this new age. And, if you feel so moved, please join me in making a monthly donation to support the Leadnow community in 2017.

Thanks for all you do.

With hope and respect,


Leadnow’s people-powered funding model, 2016 update

Hi there,

Thanks for engaging and looking more deeply into how Leadnow funds our work. We take integrity and accountability seriously – so I’ll be happy to fill you in. My name is Marie-Marguerite Sabongui, and I’m honoured to be picking up the torch from Leadnow’s founding Board Chair, Adam Shedletzky, and serving this community as we continue to build the Canada we believe in.

We are already 9 months out from a turning point election and more than halfway through 2016. You don’t need me to tell you that we are now in a radically different political climate — so what does that mean for how Leadnow funds and executes its work?

First some background: Leadnow was created in 2011 by a group of young people who cared about elevating the voices of Canadians across the country to fight together for a strong democracy, a fair economy, and a clean environment. Community is at the heart of Leadnow’s identity — and today, hundreds of thousands of people work together to set our agenda, fund our work, and take action online and in face-to-face events to create lasting change.

Even with the Harper Conservatives defeated, thousands of people have donated what they can to push for progress in this political moment, and the overwhelming majority of our funding still comes from individuals, like you. Since the start of the year, we have received more than 8881 single donations through our crowdfunded campaigns. Most of those donations have been $10, $20, $50 – the average donation is $33. There are 2644 Leadnow community members who give a monthly donation. They fund our core operations, and that means we’re free to do the work the Leadnow community wants us to do. We’re proud that all together, individual donations make up 75% of our funding.

The remaining 25% of our funding comes from vetted like-minded organizations and donors for specific campaigns that are aligned with our community’s top-ranked priorities. These include rising to the challenge of the international climate crisis, and fighting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Less than 17% currently comes from international donors for international collaboration on some of the biggest challenges of our times, including on climate. For more details, you can read our financial statements for 2014 and 2015.

Just a few weeks ago, thousands of members of our community gave us vital feedback: we’re largely on the right track with our “support and push” approach to this new government, and increasingly, it will be critical to make our voices heard to ensure we make the most of this major opportunity to create lasting change that aligns with our community’s values.

Based on your input, we are creating big, ambitious campaign plans for the fall, with public consultations taking place nationally on each of our core issues – electoral reform, climate action and the TPP – and the government about to make major decisions in each area.

Your participation is more critical than ever in this new political climate because our work is far from over. Our small staff team relies on our community’s support to power our work together. Please contribute in whatever way you can. Every vote, voice, and dollar counts.

Marie-Marguerite Sabongui

Results from the Summer 2016 Leadnow Community Survey

The Leadnow campaigning community brings people together across political lines for a strong democracy, fair economy and clean environment. Everything we do, from the issues we campaign on to the way we do our work, depends on the input, actions, and donations of the hundreds of thousands of people who make up our community.

It’s now nearly 9 months since 39% of the vote in the 2015 election gave Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government a majority of the seats in Parliament – and with the government poised to make key decisions on major issues this fall, it’s time to check-in.

So, a few weeks ago, we invited the Leadnow community to participate in a major survey about our approach to campaigning in this new context.

This survey focused on the community’s top-ranked campaigns for this year – electoral reform, the TPP, and climate change. We also organize “rapid response” campaigns that bring people together around key moments when our actions can have the biggest impact – and these results will help guid that work as well.

Our small staff team will be using the input from the thousands of people who took part to directly inform our campaign priorities and approach for the rest of this year.

In this blog post we’ll go through the results of the Leadnow community survey, and add our thoughts on what the results mean for our work together going forward. We’re interested in your thoughts too, so please leave a comment, or email us at leadnow@leadnow.ca

How the Liberal government relates to my values

Which of the following statements most closely fits your feelings about the how this government relates to your values?


November 2015 June 2016
The Trudeau Liberals share my values. I trust them to do the right thing in most cases, and we should support them to take action on our priorities. 20% 15%
The Trudeau Liberals share some of my values. I expect they will do the right thing in some cases, and we’ll need to pressure them on other issues. 64% 62%
The Trudeau Liberals do not share my values, and I don’t trust them to do the right thing. We have to stand up to them like we opposed the Harper Conservatives. 4% 15%
I’m not sure. I’ll make up my mind based on the actions they take in the coming months. 13% 8%

We asked this first question about values in our community survey last November, and again now that the Liberal government has been in power for 9 months.

A majority of the Leadnow community currently feels that the Trudeau Liberal government shares some of their values, and will do the right thing in some cases, but that we’ll need to work together to raise the bar in other cases (62%). Since November, the number of people who feel this way has remained about the same.

What is most interesting here is the shift since November: We’ve see a dip from 20% to 15% who believe that the Liberal government fully “shares my values” and are to be trusted to do the right thing.

Similarly, the number of Leadnow community members who outright believe the Liberals do not share their values at all has jumped from 4% up to 15%.

We know that Leadnow’s community members pay closer attention to issues and politics than the public as a whole, and we are seeing that for some within our campaigning community, the “honeymoon” appears to have worn off somewhat.

On the whole we’re now seeing a balance across the Leadnow community – roughly equal numbers believe this government does or does not share their values, with the majority somewhere in the middle.

Leadnow’s Approach to Campaigning since the election

After the election, we surveyed the Leadnow community to help decide our approach to campaigning with a new federal government in place. The majority of Leadnow’s members said that our approach should depend on what the government is doing:

  • We should support the government when they’re moving in the right direction. For example, we supported raising taxes on the wealthy, and restoring the Long Form Census.
  • We should work together to push for improvements when there’s room for them to do better. For example, we’re campaigning to improve the government’s plans on climate change and voting reform.
  • We should help people to speak out and oppose them when it looks like they’re taking things in the wrong direction. For example, we’re campaigning against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Which of the following statements most closely fits your feelings about how Leadnow has approached campaigning in the context of this new Liberal majority government?


Leadnow has got the mix about right. We’ve successfully supported the Liberals when they’ve done the right thing, we’ve pushed them to do better on some issues, and we’ve opposed them where necessary 75%
Leadnow has been too oppositional. We need to support the Liberals more 4%
Leadnow has been too supportive. We need to oppose the Liberals more 12%
I’m not sure 9%

Overall, the majority of the Leadnow community think we’ve got the mix between supporting the government and pushing them to do better / opposing where necessary about right. We see that very few people think we’ve been too oppositional (4%), while a larger portion (12%) think there is more room to push the government harder on the issues.

We’re glad to see most of our community thinks we’re more or less on the right track. Moving forwards, we’re seeing a degree of shift within the Leadnow community toward pushing the Liberal government a little harder on the issues, and we will be considering that in our planning as we continue to look for opportunities to help people to speak out.

Leadnow’s Priority Campaigns

After the election, we asked the Leadnow community to help choose our focus for campaigning together in 2016, in each of our priority areas: clean environment, fair economy, and strong democracy.

In each of our main campaign areas, we asked whether our current approach is still one that Leadnow community members agree with.

Climate & Clean Energy

“Support and shift on climate. Stop on pipelines.”

The government is working on a national plan on climate change. At Leadnow, we’re working to support a strong climate plan, while pushing for bold targets including 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.

At the same time, the government has also said they want to build at least one new tar sands export pipeline. Leadnow is campaigning to stop new pipelines, and other projects that would make it impossible for Canada to meet our climate goals.

Electoral Reform

“Support the government’s commitment to implement a new voting system. Push for a strong, fair, proportional outcome to make every vote count.”

The government pledged to make 2015 the last election held under “first past the post”. Leadnow’s Vote Better campaign is working to support that commitment. At the same time, we are pushing for a fair, proportional voting system — one that ensures that all of our votes count, accounts for Canada’s unique geographic and regional differences, and maintains local representation.

Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The government has said they are a very “pro free-trade” party, but have expressed concerns with the TPP, and promised to consult Canadians before deciding whether or not they will ratify it. The Leadnow community voted very clearly to campaign to stop trade deals like the TPP, that would allow multinational corporations to sue Canadian governments in secret courts. Our approach here is to campaign to stop the government from passing this dangerous deal.

Building a Fair Economy

“Support increased taxes for the rich. Push to stop tax evasion. Push to secure living wages and a universal basic income to end poverty.”

The government promised to increase taxes on wealthy Canadians earning over $200,000, and the Leadnow community voted to support that policy. We’ve also been pushing for stronger action to stop tax evasion. The Leadnow community identified action on living wages and in support of a universal basic income to end poverty as priorities, and we’re looking for opportunities to build campaigns in these areas.


I think this is the about the right approach I disagree with this approach I’m not sure
Climate & Clean Energy 77% 12% 11%
Electoral Reform 86% 6% 8%
Stopping the TPP 89% 4% 7%
Building a Fair Economy & Stopping Tax Evasion 87% 6% 7%

In general, the majority of the Leadnow community felt that our approaches to campaigning on Leadnow’s priority areas are about right. That said, we’ve noted the areas where people disagree, and as an organization driven by you – the community – we deeply value feedback, especially when people think we may not be getting things quite right.

We see that the uncertainty and disagreement with our approach on climate change and clean energy was greater than in the other campaign areas. Leadnow’s staff team working on climate and clean energy is reading through the individual responses from those who told us they disagree with our approach to understand why, and develop a plan to address those concerns in the campaign.

Overall, we’re happy to see the broad agreement with our approaches to campaigning on these important issues, and we’ll be working to have an even bigger impact through the second half of 2016.

Next Steps: Climate Change & Clean Energy


In line with this feedback, the immediate next steps for the climate campaign will focus on stopping those pipelines and oil tanker plans – especially the Kinder Morgan pipeline where the government has launched new consultations and plans to make a decision within a few months. We’ll also be working to raise awareness of the contradiction in the government’s stated plan to meet evidence-based climate targets while building new oil pipelines.

Your Leadnow community has already had a strong presence at the government’s national climate plan consultations, with hundreds of people turning out to pack town hall meetings across the country. We’ll ramp that work up in the fall as the government moves closer to proposing a comprehensive climate plan.

Next Steps: Electoral Reform


We see that you want us to focus more on education. We’ve just launched a new website at VoteBetter.ca with educational resources, and we’ll work to develop more. We’ll also encourage people to attend consultations to call for proportional representation.

Next Steps: Stopping the TPP




We see that you want opportunities to be part of online actions and you want us to focus on engaging MPs before any parliamentary vote. We’ll look to ramp up that work over the coming months, while pushing for a strong mobilization to the government’s final TPP consultations.

We also see strong support for a campaign to stop CETA. We’ll look for opportunities to campaign to stop CETA, and in the meantime we’ll talk more about the problems that both of these lopsided and outdated agreements share.

Next Steps: Building a Fair Economy & Stopping Tax Evasion



We see overwhelming support for both of these ideas. We’ll look for key moments to push for both!

Final Thoughts

A huge thank you to the thousands of people from the Leadnow community who took the time to respond to this summer survey.

Last fall thousands of you responded to our survey shortly after the 2015 election to call for a “support and push” approach to the Liberal government, and to pick electoral reform, climate action and the TPP as the top priorities for Leadnow community campaigns in 2016.

Now that we’ve launched those campaigns and we’re over half-way through this government’s crucial first year we needed to check-in with you to see if we’re taking the right approach, and if you want any changes.

We’re seeing broad agreement that we’re on the right track – with more people agreeing that we should push the Liberals for greater progress on these priorities than suggesting we should push less. We’ll take that feedback, and the specific feedback on each of these campaign areas as we refresh the campaign plans for a busy fall – and continue to organize “rapid response” campaigns in moments when the community can have a big impact by working together.

The Leadnow community is member-driven and independent of any political party. That gives us all an important role to play in this new political context – holding the government accountable to follow through on their positive promises, pushing them to do better where they can go further, and standing up when their actions would hurt progress on the Leadnow community’s pillars – a strong democracy, fair economy and clean environment for all generations.

Thanks again. Our small staff team relies on your feedback to ensure that we’re organizing campaigns that bring us together for lasting change. The government is going to be making key decisions on all the priority areas this fall – and we’re excited to see what we can accomplish together. 

None of Leadnow’s work would be possible without the support of our amazing community, and especially our generous donors. If you can, please chip in a few dollars to help power our work through 2016. Many hands make light work. Click here to donate today.

You did it! Major crackdown on tax evasion.

For the past month, Leadnow and Canadians for Tax Fairness have been working together to push our new government to tackle tax evasion. Week after week, thousands of us have turned up the pressure, and shown that we’ll support progress.

We are winning. I’m writing to tell you what’s happened and to get your input about what’s next.

In a press conference yesterday, our new Minister of Revenue, Diane Lebouthiller, said, “we really want to put the axe into everything that touches tax evasion.”[1] She then announced new plans to detect, investigate, and prosecute wealthy tax evaders by:

  • Targeting four specific tax havens, including the Isle of Man, which was at the centre of the CRA’s amnesty deal with Canadians who had invested in shell companies through KPMG,
  • Going after “high-risk” individuals and corporations by hiring 100 new auditors and investigators, and adding lawyers to its investigation team,
  • Using penalties and criminal investigations to target the wealth management funds, accounting firms, and big banks that create and promote “these tax schemes for the wealthy,” and
  • Measuring the tax gap – the difference between what the government collects and what it should be collecting – in cooperation with the OECD. [2]

People power is working! Minister Lebouthillier’s announcements – and a number of other recent wins – came after sustained work by Canadians for Tax Fairness with a major push from the Leadnow community and a petition from SumOfUs. Here’s what we’ve already done together:

  • In mid-March, after the story broke that the CRA let massive accounting firm KPMG get away with facilitating tax evasion, 8,856 of you sent Minister of Finance Bill Morneau emails calling on him to close tax loopholes in the Liberals’ first budget.
  • Immediately after Minister Morneau announced $444.4 million to crack down on tax evasion in the March 22 budget, 2868 of you tweeted to thank him!
  • Last week, in the wake of the Panama Papers, another 9,178 (for a total of 18,034) of you sent messages to Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, Minister of Revenue Diane Lebouthillier, and Chair of the Parliamentary Finance Committee Wayne Easter calling on them to carry through a comprehensive review of tax loopholes.
  • When Wayne Easter, Chair of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, called for an independent and comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system, 926 of you tweeted to thank him!
  • And just yesterday, Minister of Revenue Diane Lebouthillier announced her plan for how the government will recover the millions of dollars that wealthy Canadians have squirreled away in offshore accounts.
  • We’ve shown that we can push this government to adopt good policies – and support them when they do.

So here’s where we’re things stand now. The Liberals have started to take steps to stop individuals from hiding their money and evading taxes. Now there are a couple of key tests on the horizon that will show if they’re serious about evening the playing field: will they charge KPMG for facilitating tax evasion? Will they close the tax loopholes that let corporations funnel billions offshore?

Through this campaign you’ve worked together to raise awareness, spoken out with a united voice, and built the people power we will need to keep up the pressure when big business pushes back on closing tax loopholes. Now, we need to decide what’s next: should we keep up this campaign?

Congratulations! And thanks for all that you do,

Amara, on behalf of the Leadnow team

PS. This kind of rapid response is what the Leadnow community does best – raising awareness of key issues, while supporting the government when they do something good – and raising the alarm when we need to push them to do better. Can you chip in to help us continue hard-hitting rapid response campaigns and analysis like this?


[1] ‘High-risk’ taxpayers, offshore tax havens part of Ottawa crackdown: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/04/11/high-risk-taxpayers-offshore-tax-havens-part-of-ottawa-crackdown.html

[2] Government of Canada cracks down on tax evasion: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1049689

This is what we’ve been up to this year

On October 19th, an overwhelming majority of Canadians voted for change, and Stephen Harper was defeated. After 10 long years, it was truly a turning point, and thousands of us in the Leadnow community worked incredibly hard to help make this possible.1

Defeating Harper has brought us a new beginning. Now we have a rare chance – maybe  once-in-a-generation – to make lasting changes on the major challenges of our time. 

Through community surveys, thousands of you voted for a “support and push” approach to the new government: support the good policies of this new government, and push for better progress on issues that matter.

In the same survey, thousands of us voted for Leadnow’s top priorities going into 2016: electoral reform, clean energy and climate change, and the TPP emerged as the top three. Other issues, like C-51, tax evasion and environmental protections all showed up strong as well.2 This email includes updates on all your campaigns:

Electoral reform and proportional representation

Electoral reform was a top priority for the Leadnow community before the last election. Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise to make 2015 the last “first-past-the-post” election is a historic opportunity to make our democracy strong, fair and proportional. Now the government is getting ready to consult Canadians.

We’ve co-founded a major alliance for proportional representation in partnership with groups like Fair Vote Canada, surveyed the Leadnow community to give our new government feedback on the consultations, and started organizing face-to-face in communities across the country – mobilizing the same people who came together for the Vote Together campaign to defeat Harper.

Next step: the full launch of a major campaign to engage people across Canada in the consultations themselves. You can click here to join over 20,000 people in the pre-launch campaign to show the government that more and more Canadians want lasting change.

Click here to join the Electoral Reform campaign

Clean energy and climate action

In the last few months we’ve set up new campaigns calling for major investments to create jobs and make Canada 100% renewable by 2050 while opposing climate killing projects like the Petronas LNG project in BC. The Trudeau Liberals have made bold national commitments to climate action, begun investing in clean energy and green infrastructure, and set up a federal-provincial process to create a climate plan this year. This is a historic moment – the best chance we have to turn things around before it’s too late, and Big Oil companies are already fighting back hard.

Next step: we’re almost ready to launch a major campaign with groups across the country to mobilize thousands of people to call for bold action in the national climate plan. In the meantime, you can click here to join thousands supporting the call for a plan to create One Million Climate Jobs.

Click here to support the One Million Climate Jobs campaign

Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

You’re pushing back against an army of corporate lobbyists. In January over 20,000 of you joined the campaign to call on Trade Minister Freeland to reject the TPP and your donations have funded everything from national polls to powerful ad campaigns. Powerful corporate interests want the TPP passed, but thanks to public opposition Minister Freeland has committed to fully consulting Canadians before making her final decision.

Next steps: The poll showed us the more people learn about the TPP, the less they like it. We’re prepping a series of creative, fun, and powerful actions for the coming months to educate Canadians about this dangerous, costly, and outdated deal and rally them to say “no” in the government consultations. You can click here to send a message to Trade Minister Freeland calling on her to reject the TPP.

Click here to send a message to Minister Freeland

Suspending C-51

We haven’t forgotten about Bill C-51, and we are making sure that the new government doesn’t either. In light of recent reports that new, intrusive powers under C-51 are already being used by our spy agencies, we are calling on the government to suspend C-51 immediately while broader consultations and revisions take place.

Next steps: this campaign is just getting started again. You can click here to join almost 8,000 people calling for the new government to suspend C-51.

Click here to help stop Bill C-51

Stopping Tax Dodgers

We’re already seeing concrete progress on this campaign. Last week’s budget included almost half a billion dollars to crack down on tax evasion, which the government estimates will generate $2.5 billion in lost revenue. While there’s more work to do to close tax loopholes, this is a great start. And it gets better: Minister Morneau has just announced that the review of tax breaks and loopholes has just begun. Huge thanks to the 9,000 of us who wrote to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, calling on him to stop tax dodgers in the budget.

Next steps: You can click here to thank Morneau for putting almost half a billion dollars into stopping tax dodgers.

Click here to thank Minister Morneau

Since the election last year, so much has changed in Canada. Our cabinet is more representative, our federal government is starting to move on climate, we’re seeing greater openness and improving relationships with First Nations.

Yet, there’s still so much work to be done. We need strong, independent people-powered movements to speak up now – because the forces who want the status quo are pushing back hard on the other side. And we’re going to keep asking for your guidance to get the balance of “supporting” and “pushing” the new government right. 

We have an opportunity right now to begin truly addressing the challenges of our times. But it will take long-term effort, with thousands upon thousands of Canadians working together across party lines, far beyond the term of any one government.

That’s why we’re building this together. Thank you so much for being a part of it, and thanks for all you do. 

With hope and respect,
Jamie, Matthew, Amara, Britt, Kelly and Rodrigo, on behalf of the Leadnow team


  1. Defeating Harper: Reflections on the Vote Together Campaign http://www.votetogether.ca/report
  2. Results from the 2015 Community Survey http://www.leadnow.ca/2015/12/we-heard-you/

Budget 2016

Dear friends,

Earlier today, the Liberals released their first budget since forming government. It’s a major milestone in federal politics. We’re writing to share some highlights, immediate reactions, and the implications for some of the Leadnow community’s key campaigns.

After the election, we asked our community how we should approach this new government. Over 10,000 people responded, telling us they expect the Liberals to do the right thing in many cases, and that “we’ll need to pressure them” on other issues.[1]

Today’s budget is no exception.[2] There is much to like, and – on some important areas – much more work to do. Here are three highlights from the budget on key Leadnow campaigns:

Targeting tax dodgers

Today’s budget includes almost half a billion dollars to crack down on tax evasion, which the government estimates will generate $2.5 billion in lost revenue. While there’s more work to do to close tax loopholes, this is a great start. Huge thanks to the nearly 9,000 of us who wrote to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, calling on him to stop tax dodgers in the budget.[3] Please click here to thank Bill Morneau for targeting tax evasion.

Re-opening the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station

Last April, after a major fuel spill in Vancouver’s harbour exposed the costs of Harper’s cuts to marine safety, more than 16,000 of us signed a petition calling the government to re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard base.[4] During the election, the Liberals promised to re-open the base, and today, they made good on that promise by pledging $23.6 million over 5 years to re-open the base. Please share this graphic to celebrate this victory.

Investing in a clean energy economy

Over the past month, nearly 15,000 of us have called on the government to invest in a Green New Deal that could create 1 Million Climate jobs.[5] Thanks to you, we’re one big step closer. Today, the government committed to spending:

  • $1 billion on clean technologies in the resource, energy and agriculture sectors
  • $3.4 billion to address climate change, protect sensitive ecosystems, and build trust in the environmental assessment process
  • $3.4 billion to improve and expand public transit in communities across Canada
  • $5 billion in green infrastructure projects that help support Canada’s transition to a “clean growth economy”

Thank you to everyone who took action. These investments are a major step for Canada and the world. Please click here to thank Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna for including this in the budget.

The progress in this budget is proof that elections matter. And, as we thank key decision-makers for these important steps, let’s remember that there’s still hard work ahead to keep building momentum for a strong democracy, fair economy and clean environment for all generations.

Last week, nearly 5,000 of you called on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to live up to the government’s promise to end massive oil, gas, and coal subsidies in the budget.[6] While the government has taken many positive steps today, they’ve undermined these actions by continuing to subsidize new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. They also just approved the Woodfibre LNG project in BC, a major climate polluter. We need to keep working together to stop dangerous LNG terminals, pipelines, and big oil subsidies.

Working to fix our broken electoral system and stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership deal are major priorities for the Leadnow community. The budget includes $10.7 million over four years to consult Canadians on voting reform, and reiterates the government’s commitment to consult people before making their final decision on the TPP.

We know that consulting Canadians is only a first step, and consultations on electoral reform are already behind schedule. We’ll be watching closely for meaningful action. And we’ll be reaching out to you soon with next steps in the campaign for a strong, fair and proportional voting reform before the next election.

We’d love to know what you think about the budget. Click here to join the conversation on facebook, or tweet or email us your thoughts.

Since we launched in 2011, the Leadnow community has come together time and again to take action for a strong democracy, fair economy and clean environment. That’s why we opposed the worst of former-Prime Minister Harper’s agenda and that’s why we organized to defeat him in the 2015 election. Now, we’re starting to see real progress on issues that matter and we need to keep working together to build the future we want.

Thanks for all that you do,

Amara, Francis, Jolan, Matthew, and Rodrigo, on behalf of the Leadnow team

[1] Results from the 2015 Community Survey:

[2] Growing the Middle Class: Budget 2016: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/docs/plan/budget2016-en.pdf – p.216 (tax evasion), p.189 (Kitsilano), p. 149 (climate spending), p. 209 (electoral reform consultations), p. 221 (TPP)

[3] Tell our government to close tax loopholes and stop tax dodging in the upcoming budget http://www.leadnow.ca/stop-tax-dodgers/

[4] No more spills. Protect Vancouver from oil spills http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/never-again-protect-vancouver-from-oil-spills

[5] A national climate strategy http://www.leadnow.ca/clean-future/

[6] End fossil fuel handouts in the 2016 budget http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/end-fossil-fuel-handouts-in-the-2016-budget

Community Snapshot on Electoral Reform

Defeating the Harper Conservatives last year was a watershed moment for the Leadnow community.  After years of speaking out and pushing back against a seemingly endless assault on our democracy, we now have a government in Ottawa that has made a significant promises – many of them echoing priorities the Leadnow community and been calling for over the past 5 years.  

Of all the opportunities that defeating Harper opened up to us, changing the voting system is one of the most fundamental.  While Liberal MPs in Ottawa have had their hands full undoing the many wrongs of the Harper decade, the Leadnow community has been working hard to keep this issue front of mind. From meeting with MPs and sending messages to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, to skilling up and canvassing neighbours, already over 24,000 people have joined Leadnow’s campaign for a strong, fair and proportional voting system.

Last month, Leadnow joined with key partners as a founding member of the Every Voter Counts Alliance – bringing together over 20 organizations from across the political spectrum in support of a fair voting system in which every vote counts. The launch of the Every Voter Counts Alliance gave a big boost to the national conversation in support of a fair voting system while we await the appointment of the all-party committee on democratic reform.

Recently, we asked Leadnow supporters for their thoughts on how they would want to see the all-party committee formed and what they expected out of the public consultation process. Over 6,800 people from coast to coast to coast, representing all political stripes responded to the survey.  

If you feel comfortable sharing, which party did you vote for in the 2015 election?

Which party did you vote for 2015

The Committee

When asked about the composition of the all-party special committee, 76.7% of respondents were in favor of the committee membership being proportional to the share of the popular vote the parties received in the 2015 election.  Using a typical 12-member committee as an example, this would mean 5 members would be Liberal, 3 Conservative, 2 NDP, 1 Bloc, and 1 Green.

Do you think Leadnow should support a proposal to make the membership
of the special committee on democratic reform proportional
to the share of the popular vote received by each party in 2015?

PR for special committee?

This is different from a typical all-party committee because, under standard rules, committees only have to include members from parties that have official party status.  This would exclude, for example, participation from the Green Party of Canada, even though they received 605,864 votes in the last election.

The Consultation

When asked how they wanted to be consulted by the committee, people were equally enthusiastic about participating in person and online. 73.5 percent said they would participate in an in-person consultation either held by the all-party committee or their own Member of Parliament. 73.1% answered they would like to be engaged in the process online.  

Leadnow would like to let the Minister’s office know how our members want to be
engaged in the special committee on electoral reform consultation process.
Please check all that apply to you:

Leadnow would like to let the Minister’s office know how our members want to be engaged in the special committee on electoral reform consultation process. Please check all that apply to you:
Leadnow supporters want a robust and transparent consultation process that is easily accessible and widely advertised in a timely way.  They want a process that works across party lines and emphasizes public input.  To strengthen our democracy, it’s going to take many voices, and to make sure our voices are heard, we need a process that is committed to thorough consultation.

Leadnow supporters identified the following important elements for the committee to consider when designing the consultation process:

  • A website that clearly lays out how the process will work, the timelines, and how people can get involved.
  • Dates and locations of the consultations that are announced to the public at least two weeks in advance of the events.
  • In person consultations that are held in accessible spaces.
  • A public report following the consultations with a clear indication of how public feedback was incorporated.
Next steps:

We have an unprecedented opportunity to introduce a strong, fair and proportional voting system – a Made in Canada solution that will make every vote count, and we’re building on what we did through Vote Together to make it happen.  The better the process, the more people across the country will be able to participate, and the stronger the outcome will be for our democracy.

We will be sending a report on these recommendations to Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions, so she knows that the Leadnow community would like to see inclusive representation from all parties on the committee and that we expect a fair, open and robust consultation process.

Do you live in Vancouver, Port Moody, Calgary,Winnipeg, Toronto or Kitchener-Waterloo? Learn more about how you can join a local team.

Can you chip in with a monthly donation until we fix our broken voting system? Signing up as a monthly donor, giving just $3, $5 or $15 a month, will provide us with a solid foundation from which to build this campaign. If you can’t donate monthly, please consider making a one-time contribution.