I’m endorsing Mike Sullivan, NDP, as our federal candidate. I do so cautiously.
The five federal candidates are
- Stephen Lepone, Libertarian
- James Robinson, Conservative
- John Johnson, Green
- Ahmed Hussen, Liberal
- Mike Sullivan, NDP
I won’t vote for Lepone. He’s a libertarian.
Robinson does not respond to my emails, had an extremely unusual education, and does not debate. He’s out.
John Johnson, bless the man, mounted a campaign and worked tirelessly. He seems honest and decent. But, and this might be a compliment, he’s not a political creature. He doesn’t have a head for policy or wonk. I don’t think he’s suitable for a career on The Hill.
That leaves Hussen and Sullivan, the Liberals and the NDP. We face the same decision as all right-thinking Canadians who want to end Harper’s governance.
There is a good argument for voting Liberal, which I owe to a regular reader: if the Liberals hold power, then we might benefit from federal pork0barrel spending, and god knows we could use some. Also, Hussen does seem like a smart, accomplished man.
He still won’t get my vote.
First, Hussen didn’t debate in front of his electors because, the organizers allege, he thought the debate was organized by NDP partisans.
This is dead wrong. The organizers were outraged he would suggest so. Alan Tonks, our former Liberal MP was there, as was Liberal MPP Laura Albanese. The questioner, Jules Jose Kerlinger, is a former Liberal nominee, for Pete’s sake.
But who cares? If Hussen wins, more than half of the residents will not have voted for him. Will he refuse to hear their ideas? Will he refuse to engage with them? Explain himself? Challenge or be challenged? It bodes poorly that he will not face his public—even if he believes, wrongly, that they are partisan—now, when he needs votes. He competes, after all, to win them, not gather them.
Is this a weakness? I think so. Hussen does seem to run rather cool; he has certainly not courted this site with prompt and polite communication.
Debating on TV is an unacceptable substitute. Hussen does not live in the riding—nor, I presume, does the television questioner. He missed his only opportunity to face a heterogenous local audience and their questions about the particular issues that matter to them. He also missed his only chance to challenge Sullivan’s failures to his constituents.
So he is out.
That leaves Sullivan.
Sullivan is a capable MP, no less. He and his staff seem to do a good job in the riding, helping constituents with their problems. He is interested—perhaps overly—with local problems.
And though the intervening years have been a little fallow, Sullivan had a substantial early success on the national stage, creating a cell-phone registry that cut phone thefts, which had plagued Weston, among other places. He’s active in committees, speaks in the House now and then, and has taken an leadership position on railcar safety, a serious issue with local implications.
Still, I’m not thrilled about my endorsement. I don’t feel like Sullivan wakes up every morning excited to be our advocate.
Perhaps its too much to ask that an opposition MP brings real change, real money, and real jobs to the riding. It is hard, I’m sure, to get federal money here for infrastructure, a department, a museum, or a federal building. I remain saddened that we haven’t seen more of our federal tax dollars returned to our riding.
I certainly don’t think it’s too much to ask our representatives to publicize, promote, and defend Weston’s interests. Sullivan does this half-heartedly.
Under Harper, for instance, the Humber River had its environmental protection gutted. Sullivan, to his credit, tried to mitigate the damage in 2013. And then…. What?
It’s been two years. Nothing happened, as far as I know. Was Bill C-502, which he introduced, only a token gesture? If not, why hasn’t it been reintroduced? Has he lost interest?
I stand corrected. The bill was winding its way through parliament. My apologies.
Then there is his view of our riding. When he speaks in Ottawa, it is almost always with despair about York South Weston.
- In June, he said that many of us are poor and “scared” and that “the biggest problem is my riding is unemployment”
- Yet in May, he said “In fact, the problem in my riding is the preponderance of handguns, particularly among young people.”
- He also said are many trains, filled with explosive crude, going through town.
- And even when news is good, it is bad: “While the success of the Hammer Heads program is something to celebrate, the grip of poverty in my riding shows that we have much more work to do.”
You can read his speeches yourself or watch the Rogers’ debate. Sullivan appears worn down by our misfortune, not convinced of our potential. His frustration is too close to abdication.
In the next four years, I want to see Mike Sullivan energized by our latent power, advocating for us, not only because we have needs, but because we have capacities.
We have problems. Some are serious. But we have much to offer, too.