It wasn’t a close one

Contrary to pundits‘ polling, it wasn’t even close in York South–Weston. Ahmed Hussen won in a landslide, with much more than half the vote. The other candidates trailed far behind, none getting more than 19%.

The results must be particularly upsetting for Yafet Tewelde, who ran a strong campaign. He was shellacked by Hussen and barely eked out a lead against a lackluster Conservative parachute candidate.

Perhaps we are seeing demographic change in the riding and we are moving rightward. In the past, the York South–Weston has voted NDP or Liberal, but in this and the provincial election, the conservative candidates did reasonably well. Rattan tied Tewelde despite her lack of experience, poor debate performance, and absence in the community. Before her, PC Mark DeMontis received a strong second-place finish in the provincial election.

On the fringes, Gerard Racine did dismally, with 1.7% of the vote. Nicki Ward fared hardly any better; despite a strong debate and considerable charisma, she received only 3.6% of the vote.

 

Upcoming events

 

Shakespeare in Action is putting on “Sound and Fury”—their version of Macbeth, but with a twist. I’m so in.

 

“With the same sword they knight you
they gon’ good night you…
that ain’t even half what they might do”
– Jay Z

Music, dance, and spoken word collide in this sharp, bold, and accessible world-premiere of Shakespeare’s most haunting play, MACBETH.  Inspired by the sounds and poetry of 90s era hip hop music and performed by five diverse and dynamic actors, SOUND AND FURY is Marcel Stewart’s smart and imaginative adaptation that bursts with rhythms and lyrics, putting a contemporary spin on this classic story of bloody ambition.

The public performances will be  on Fridays and Saturdays from November 15th to December 7th at 8:00pm

Tickets are available here.


Frontlines is hosting “Roots and STEM” on Friday, November 22. It’s

a program for youth ages 13-17 where they are able to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, while exploring their cultural roots through Black History


 

Guest post: Diana Stapleton on Weston’s food bank

WAES (Weston Area Emergency Support) was founded in 1986 by 12 area churches in response to the growing poverty in the Weston community. As its name suggests, it was meant to be an emergency support. Unfortunately the emergency continues. In 2019 WAES has served over 700 people each month from within our York South Weston catchment area.

WAES has been run out of the back of the Frontlines building at 1844 Weston Road for 30 years. This space was provided for us by the generosity of Weston Park Baptist church. We are so grateful to them for their support.

In September of 2019 we closed the door on our space at 1844 and moved into our new, expanded space at 1 King St in the Central United Church building. After only a few weeks there it is clear this was a good move for the food bank, the volunteers and the community.

Due to the increased space the food bank can now offer a “shopping model” of service. This allows community members to select the foods that best serve their needs. We are all very happy with the new set up.

WAES is totally volunteer run. We receive financial donations from Weston Lions, York Lions, High Park Rotary, many area churches, service clubs and individuals. We use this money to purchase food that is not donated, like chicken, vegetables and fruits as well as other key necessities.

In 2018 33% of those that came to us for help were children and youth under 18, and nearly 10% were seniors. 51% of adults and 20% of children stated they went hungry at least once per week due to lack of food in their home.

Some people will say – “food banks aren’t the answer to hunger in Canada”. I totally agree with that statement. They are not, and were never meant to be. Food banks are to our social service system what emergency wards are to our health care system. A person goes to a hospital emergency ward due a critical injury or illness for immediate help, but an emergency ward does not solve or prevent a health crisis. A person goes to a food bank for 3-5 days of food once per month. This will hardly end hunger for any family living in poverty. Both emergency wards and food banks fill a very specific need. Just like improving health care, ending poverty and hunger will take a lot of work, by all levels of government, businesses and individuals.

I believe that WAES serves a specific need in York South Weston, and that without it many more people would be hungry. A person can never tell what will happen in the future, a few bad breaks and anybody can end up needing to get this type of basic food support.

If you have any questions about WAES, or would like to volunteer or make a donation please call 416-247-3737 and leave a message.

Diana Stapleton

Chair, WAES

I’m voting Green

This week’s debate left me deeply impressed. All the candidates were worthy of consideration. Most were more than worthy: they were excellent, and any riding would be lucky to have them. We’re spoiled for choice in York South–Weston.

That said, I’m voting for Nicki Ward, our Green candidate. She is thoughtful, smart, articulate, and fiery. She would be an excellent representative for us. She would be a particularly excellent Green candidate because she would stand out in a party of beige.

It’s taken me a long time to reach this decision, though I was able to eliminate two parties quite quickly. I won’t vote Conservative because they do not have a viable plan to deal with climate change. Their plan is nonsense on stilts. I won’t vote for the PPC because they are far-right populists.

The Liberal party has led on issues I believe in, including legalization and carbon taxes. I would gladly vote for them if Hussen weren’t our MP. However, I don’t think he is a good representative for his riding, and he has been a quite bad Minister of Immigration.

Hussen lauded and posed with Turkey’s autocrat warmonger, Erdoğan, who this week launched an invasion of Kurdish-controlled Syria.

Turkey’s autocrat, Erdogan, L. Ahmed Hussen, R. Edogan has imprisoned journalists, among other repugnant acts.

He has mismanaged the Safe Third Country agreement.  He has lied about his ministry. He has insulted other politicians. And he has consistently blamed the Conservatives for his department’s problems.

I think Hussen is the worst kind of politician: he’s a team player. We elect people to work for us, not their party. I’ve long felt that Hussen shows up every day for the Liberals.

That leaves the NDP and the Greens.

I think that Yafet Tewelde would make an excellent MP. He seems to work hard and be serious. He lives in the community, and he is smart. He also has a good ground game and support. I was going to vote NDP until I saw Ward in the debate.

Nicki Ward was very impressive. She seems to have run her campaign almost alone (and by public transit!), and she brought a well researched, zingy performance in a field of bright minds. She was brave and funny, and she held her own against better supported candidates. I would love to see what she is capable of if she had a party apparatus behind her.

Ward also impressed me very much when she said she would express only her own opinions, not her party’s. Canada needs more of that. While everyone else was standing on platforms,  Ward committed to building one to represent York South–Weston.

But, I hear you say, “strategy”! “Divided votes!” “The next Harper!”. I hear you complain “the Greens don’t stand a chance”.

Honestly, I don’t care. Strategic voting is a bit of silly “I know that you know that I know…” where we all try to guess what everyone else is doing. Knock yourselves out. Really. I can’t be bothered.

I think the real strategic vote is for a person who should hold a prominent position in a party that could hold the balance of power. The real strategy is electing a hard-working, respectful, smart and principled person to represent us.

That person is Nicki Ward.

 

Frontlines launches cookbook

Photo from Frontlines

I know you’re not supposed to talk about Christmas until Hallowe’en is gone, but Frontlines has written a cookbook, and it looks like it’d make a great gift for your loved ones—or yourself.

 The cookbook contains recipes as well as creative workshops that the youth created. Some workshops include “Don’t Jerk me around” —A workshop on bullying and a recipe on jerk chicken. We hope the books create conversation about issues happening for youth in general.

I’ve ordered some. If you want one (or several) contact [email protected] They’re $25 .

Debate was tons of fun. I declare a winner!

Nobody goes to a political debate to hear about policy. If you want policy, get a white paper.

We go to see the candidates in action, sense their personalities, and watch them duke it out. By those measures, tonight’s political debate was a huge success. It’s a bit silly to name winners and losers, but if we must, I’d say Nicki Ward, the Green candidate, won. She was very impressive.

All candidates

Ahmed Hussen, Liberal, was spirited and confident, confrontational and in command of the facts. He did very well, and often spoke passionately. Having watched his career, I was surprised. He’s often seemed at turns needlessly defensive and aggressive. He was very good tonight, speaking with feeling and purpose.

I can’t think of a kind thing to say about his touts, though. They were atrocious. Several times they shouted over the speakers, yelling dim-witted criticisms and true-believer hoots. They reached a nadir when they shouted down Yafet Tewelde, making him impossible to hear. I can’t imagine what Hussen is thinking. His crowd is having an effect opposite to what he intends: they’re utterly off-putting.

Ahmed Hussen and Yafet Tewelde

Yafet Tewelde, NDP, punched back hard. He took Hussen to task on his record and his (supposed?) absence in the community. He went full-tilt against Hussen, fighting hard and tenaciously. He knew the facts and had some zingers. He went at Hussen like an underdog should.

 

Tewelde was very good, but principled too: he stood up for both his Liberal and Conservative peers when they were unfairly heckled. It was quite honourable.

The underdog to match, though, had to be Nicki Ward. I thought that the last of the three people to find the Green’s AGM had to run as the riding’s candidate. The party has no presence between elections—they don’t even tweet—they don’t seem to have an infrastructure or pull, and they never do very well. I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything.

And was I ever wrong.

Nicki Ward started off the debate brilliantly. She emphasized her independence, saying the party doesn’t have a whip, and “the opinions expressed on this stage are mine. I’m a one-issue candidate. My issue is York South–Weston.” It was a bold thing to do: to promise her brain, rather than focus-grouped policy promises. It could have been a disaster of dim-witted improvisation and talking points. I’ll spoil the ending: it was anything but.

Nicki Ward and Jasveen Rattan

Ward was bold, well read, and aggressive. She jabbed her opponents and wrestled with the issues. Her principled, articulate, and passionate stand on Indigenous clean water rights was the most inspiring moment of the night. She made it clear she didn’t have a monopoly on truth, too: “Take our platform. Take our ideas. But for God’s sake, implement them”, she told her peers. They’d do well to.

 

Gerard Racine, the PPC candidate, was both physically and emotionally distant. He sat, somewhat unfortunately, off to the right of the rest of the candidates. It suited him, though. He doesn’t seem to have any pretensions about winning, and judging from his Twitter feed, I thought he was a bit of a kook.

Gerard Racine

He may be, but he was charming enough as a bit of a grump, all function and no inspiration, pointing out that the feds don’t do transit, childcare, or healthcare, that the climate crisis is merely a climate problem, and that “complex problems have complex solutions”. He put his foot in it a bit when he said that kids these days should “learn a little more about Canada”, but I doubt he cares. He said he wasn’t going to  pander. He kept that promise.

 

Jasveen Rattan, PhD, and the Conservative candidate, did fairly poorly. There’s a kind of academic who speaks knowledgeably, because she knows. There’s another who speaks bullshit, as if she knows. And then there’s the kind that figures out answers based on what they know already. I like this kind of academic. They puzzle things through. They’re honest. They’re great to drink with. But they’re not the least bit fun to watch.

I think Rattan is that last kind. She fumbled. She spoke in fragmented sentences as if she was figuring things out as she went—because, I think, she was. She didn’t nail any zingers as a result, and she didn’t seem in command of her platform.

Rattan also, frankly, screwed up. She said that she has a lot of experience with youth, “but not in York South–Weston” and humblebragged that she’s travelled to more than 200 cities and learned so much. She is a parachute candidate and privileged. She doesn’t need to emphasize that. When I met her, she said she was in the race to win. If that was the case, she should have spent more time prepping.

The organizers, as always, did an excellent job. They deserve our thanks. For the first time, the livestreamed the debate, and it’s well worth the watch.