Hussen responds

One of Ahmed Hussen’s campaign officers has responded to my questions about why he did not attend the community-group-organized debate this week.

Ahmed didn’t attend the debate last night for a number of reasons, chief among them being canvassing, scheduling, and the fact that he has committed to two other debates – a Rogers TV debate being taped on Wednesday and the West Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Debate on October


The organizers had asked him more than three weeks in advance if he would be able to make it, and the event lasted 3 hours. They say that they were “appalled” at his “cheery” decline 12 days before the debate.

Fanny Sunshine from InsideToronto was able to get some more answers from the candidate and his party (and the article is worth reading in full): he told her that he sees many people when he is out going door to door.

Sunshine was also able to get a response from the Conservatives, who never talk to me.

When reached by The Mirror the next day, Robinson’s campaign manager Ansford Pearson said he could not say why the political hopeful did not reply to the invitation or attend the debate.

“It’s the responsibility of the candidate to respond, not mine,” he said.

What an operation. On to other news.


Hussen blows it.

The Federal election campaign has been running for, well, a whole campaign now and some strange things have been happening on the road to Ottawa.

Ahmed Hussen was the surprise nomination of the York South-Weston Liberals back in December last year. Many had expected YSW Liberal Riding executive Jules Kerlinger to be a nominee but he inexplicably withdrew from the race quite early and wouldn’t talk about it. Rumours were that he’d been invited to step aside by the Liberal Party but confirming those rumours proved elusive. Riding Association President, Ryan Ward was unable or unwilling to open up on the subject, referring me to Ottawa functionaries. Jules himself declined to respond.

Former Toronto councillor Bill Saundercook was then expected to get the nod but during the voting process, a strange turn of events took place. Large numbers of people came by the busload to vote and somehow, a bottleneck occurred at the membership and credential checking process. Late in the afternoon, with time pressing, organizers decided to close the polls before everyone was able to reach the voting booths. Outsiders shrugged and thought that this was simply business as usual for the Liberals.

Bill Saundercook.

Bill Saundercook confidently awaits the result at the nomination meeting.

The result of the vote that fateful day was a shock, not merely because a seeming long-shot had won but also because of the surprisingly small number of votes cast when compared to the huge numbers lined up – no doubt a result of the glacial pace of the voting line. The winner was a relative unknown, Ahmed Hussen but he had a well known local backer, George Smitherman.

As 2015 progressed, Mr. Hussen was seen at various events in York South-Weston and it was thought that his campaign was shaping up nicely. With a good tail wind from Justin Trudeau, he had a reasonable chance of winning the seat.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

John Johnson (Green) and Mike Sullivan (NDP) tackle the issues.

There is usually one major debate in York South-Weston before an election. This is meticulously organized by an army of hard-working volunteers from one or more organizations in the riding who do what is necessary to hold a fair debate. Many of these people are politically active but not exclusively for any one party. On September 16, Mr. Hussen announced to organizers that he would not attend the debate. More recently, the candidate allegedly let it be known that he considered the debate to be partisan; skewed in favour of the NDP.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

Knowing the scrupulous lengths to which organizers of these events go makes it clear that no party owns or controls these debates. To make the allegation even more fatuous, Liberal riding executive Jules Kerlinger was part of the proceedings and read audience questions to the candidates. Witnessing the event were former YSW Liberal MP, Alan Tonks and Liberal MPP Laura Albanese who would have quite correctly blown the whistle had anything underhanded been transpiring.

Jules Berlinger reads audience questions at last night's debate.

Jules Kerlinger reads audience questions at last night’s debate.

At this stage it should be mentioned that the Conservative Party candidate also failed to show up at the debate. This was neither a surprise nor much of a disappointment as it seems to be Party policy, especially in York South-Weston where the right-wing vote along with Tory candidates’ speaking skills are generally on the marginal side.

York South-Weston's democratic deficit.

York South-Weston’s democratic deficit.

One can only surmise that Mr Hussen’s sudden attack of shyness was not from a fear of entering some sort of NDP stronghold where he would be ambushed by frothing hordes of rabid lefties. The only conclusion that the public can come to is that he was woefully unprepared to respond to audience questions and decided to bolt. That alone is telling.

So much for the Big Red Wave. Thanks to Mr. Hussen, its now likely to be a trickle in this riding and YSW federal Liberals are facing four more years in the political wilderness. Perhaps the geniuses at Party HQ should have gone with Mr. Kerlinger after all.

Liberals do not show up to debate

The Liberal candidate, Ahmed Hussen, seems to think that we are not worth campaigning for. He did not show up to the all-candidates debate tonight, which was organized by five local groups.¹

About 100 people were at the York Civic Centre tonight to hear the candidates speak. Ahmed Hussen, the Liberal candidate, declined the invitation to attend. The Conservative candidate, James Robinson, who nobody expected to show up, fufilled those low expectations.

The debate was an exceedingly cordial affair; far from sparring, John Johnson and Mike Sullivan seemed to support each other. Johnson made no concerted effort to separate himself from the other left-leaning candidate, and once or twice Sullivan reached out, both figuratively and literally, to the man beside him. There was some laughing and no jabbing.

Sullivan was polished and stuck to the party platform: pro-transit, anti-war, pro-niqab, anti-Conservative and pro-environment (with the disappointing exception of pipelines). He was genuine though, and he was relaxed and charming. He seemed most passionate when speaking about Weston and his decision to run here.

Johnson may have been a bit less polished and a little less schooled in the doctrines of the Greens. He never had the inclination (or the occasion) to bang the table, and seemed content to answer questions with his own ideas and to improvise. I respect him very much for putting himself forward. I do regret, however, that he did not hold Sullivan more to account.

Of course, that is not really his job. He is a fringe candidate. The other parties–and especially the Liberals–should have been here, testing their own ideas and those of their opponents.

And in this, they have let us down. No. That doesn’t do this situation justice. Allow me to take off my thin veneer of objectivity and put it aside for a moment.

Ahmed Hussen and James Robinson want the fame, feeling, and fortune of political candidacy, but they do not deserve a vote, let alone a job. They refuse to stand before you and your neighbours and answer your questions. They refuse to explain. They will not say how their party’s platforms will affect you and your riding.

You wouldn’t hire a plumber who wouldn’t meet you, but this is much worse. Politics is war by other means. It makes winners and losers, and Hussen and Robinson owe it to you to explain their doctrines—after all, you might be one of the losers. They should have the guts.

Worse, much worse, they missed their chance to challenge the incumbent, Mike Sullivan. They would not face him, test him, and hold him and his record to account. Even if they think they will lose (and they are ensuring that) they owe us their expertise. Democracy, like capitalism, works only with competition. Gerrymandering and vote suppression are evil because they prevent that battle of ideas. Refusing to engage your opponent is no better: it makes a clash of ideas into a contest of advertising.

So shame on these gutless cowards who want much and give little. Shame on Ahmed Hussen, in particular, whose put himself forward in a competitive riding and refused to compete.

Ahmed Hussen did York South–Weston a terrible disservice. He asked to be elected but not accountable, and, worse, he abetted Mike Sullivan in being the same.


¹ The 12 Community Alliance, the Rockcliffe-Smythe Community Association, The Weston Village Residents’ Association, the Mount Dennis Community Association, and the Greenhills Community Association deserve your thanks and support.

Hub meeting location announced

The meeting to assess public reaction to the latest Weston Hub proposal will be held at Weston Collegiate Institute at 100 Pine Street on October 7; 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Councillor Frances Nunziata will host the proceedings. No doubt there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

The original proposal has undergone a considerable detour over the past four years from this to this. The meeting will probably be the last opportunity for public input before council approval.

Result of polling: NDP win

Mike Sullivan and the NDP will easily sweep Weston, if our unscientific poll is to be believed.

Last week, I asked your voting intentions. 63% of respondents said they would vote for the NDP; 29% said they would vote for the Liberals, and 6% said they would vote Conservative. A sole soul said he would vote with her heart and put a ballot in for Green.Polling results

These results contradict the analysis of the only pollster I know has written about York South–Weston. says that the Liberals have a 56% chance of winning the riding.

There are three reasons why this might be the case: I am wrong, he is wrong, or we are both wrong. I think it’s probably the last–he is not polling (he is modelling), and my poll is vanishingly small and hyperlocal. This poll, such as it is, does agree with my gut though: that Sullivan has broad local support. Realistically, though, it is not at all scientific, for the simple reason that only people in Weston read this humble blog (except for the dudes. Hi, dudes!) but the riding is much bigger than the town.


News in politics

Your humble correspondent hadn’t heard of a Green Party candidate and couldn’t find the candidate on the Elections Canada site. But, as so often, he was wrong.

There does seem to be a Green Party candidate—although Elections Canada will be surprised to hear it: John A Johnson. Johnson is even campaigning, and he has said he will participate in the debates likely to be held on September 28. Of course, Johnson is vanishingly unlikely to win, but his candidacy will challenge Mike Sullivan.

Sullivan is already facing a challenge. The NDP is now trailing the Liberals in York South—Weston, according to, which says that Ahmed Hussen, the Liberal candidate, has a 62% chance of winning the riding. (The site does say that these are “riding projections” and “not polls”, and so they may not be accurate.)