It’s likely that Ahmed Hussen was reflecting on his spectacular political career at this week’s debate. After all, Weston Collegiate Institute was the building where he seemingly came out of nowhere to win the Liberal nomination back in December 2014. He won the seat in 2015 (the first Somali-Canadian to be elected to parliament) and was appointed Minister of Immigration in 2017. Mr Hussen could well have been wondering if the circle was complete or if he can win another four-year term as Member of Parliament for York South-Weston.
There’s a website called 338canada.com that uses polling data to prognosticate on elections. They have made a prediction on the outcome of York South-Weston’s tussle for the federal seat currently occupied by Mr. Hussen. Their four-point prediction scale ranges from ‘toss up’, ‘leaning’, ‘likely’ to ‘safe seat’. Readers may remember that Toronto went totally Liberal in the Big Red Wave of 2015. Times have changed and now only five of Toronto’s Liberal seats are considered safe. Four Toronto seats are thought by 338canada to be (merely) leaning Liberal and YSW is one of them. The latest prediction may be based on data that is a few days old and with the ongoing surge of the NDP in the polls, contender Yafet Tewelde (with a back story no less compelling) may be inching ahead enough to have a shot at unseating the incumbent. Incidentally, the predecessor to 338canada.com (threehundredeight.com) correctly predicted a strong win for Hussen in early 2015, well before the election was called.
You can bet as time ticks away today and tomorrow, the Liberal and NDP campaigns will be frantically redoubling their efforts.
Here at Weston Web it often seems as if we’re voices in the wilderness. When the Weston Hub was proposed it was extravagantly sold to the people of Weston as an indoor-outdoor community gathering space that would host a year round market.
“Nunziata reported she and York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese recently gained a financial contribution from Metrolinx to create an indoor farmers’ market to complement the existing, popular outdoor market in a parking lot, making the farmers’ market a year-round draw.” From toronto.com Feb 15, 2012.
“Councillor Nunziata has contacted WestonWeb to say that the John Street parking lot is being developed to accommodate a year-round farmers’ market, cultural hub and affordable condo living / workspace for artists. She goes on to say that nothing is being done behind closed doors. Perhaps she can shed some light on this topic (at a community meeting) on March 14th“. From Weston Web March 9, 2012
The Weston Farmers Market is a creature of the Weston Village Business Improvement Association. Once plans for the Weston Hub were revealed, it was clear that there would be no year round market and the space allocated for the WFM was miserly. In effect, the Market was used as part of a bait and switch scheme. The Weston Residents Association launched a full court press in support of the scheme and opponents to the development were regarded as progress-hating pariahs. Now it seems as if the forebodings were real and that residents were sold a bill of goods.
It was also clear that the farmers market on which Ms Nunziata based her plans was the one at Wychwood Barns; also held on Saturdays. It is basically a boutique market. No doubt there is a demand for rainbow catchers, sheep yogurt and hemp smoothies in Weston but we’re a working / middle class neighbourhood that has (thanks to the departure of Greenland Farms) just become a bit of a food desert. This is not the time to be alienating legitimate produce sellers who were fighting to improve the cramped and inaccessible Weston Hub space opening next season.
Market vendors have known for years that the new space in the Hub was inadequate. They were told to adapt or look elsewhere. Truckloads of fresh produce would have to be parked on side streets and delivered by hand to the new mini stalls.
Joe Gaeta had been with the WFM for 39 years. He was one of the few market vendors who genuinely grows his own produce, spring bedding and decorative plants. Joe is someone who speaks his mind and he made it known that the Weston Hub space was inadequate, poorly designed and inconvenient. He no doubt spoke truth to power once too often and was asked to leave with only a day’s notice.
Ms Nunziata has been busy this week campaigning for Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen. Incidentally other candidates running are Jasveen Rattaan (Conservative), Yafet Tewelde (NDP), Nicki Ward (Green), Gerard Racine (PPC).
Perhaps our Councillor can remove herself from the hustings long enough to fix this mess that threatens to destroy one of the few bright spots in our community.
Nothing happens in the Weston BIA (or indeed Weston) without the express approval of Frances Nunziata (and that includes Joe Gaeta’s expulsion). She must fix this by apologizing to Joe and offering to accommodate his needs and those of other legitimate market vendors. There has been a subsequent movement to boycott the WFM for the rest of the season. Just in case you need any further indication of the classiness of the Gaeta family, Joe’s daughter Sabrina posted this response on Facebook (edited for clarity):
“Boycotting the Weston Farmers Market for the remaining season on our behalf, Gaeta Farms and Greenhouses is NOT the right decision. As much as we appreciate everyone’s support with how unfairly we were treated we have to continue to support the farmers and other vendors who still attend the market. The Weston vendors did not ask for us to be ejected from the market, they don’t need to be punished as well. We want our vendor family to succeed. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so let’s be thankful.”
The loss of Gaeta Farms will be a death blow to the Weston Farmers Market. The loss of our Farmers Market will be another self-inflicted blow in the (apparently re-energized) decline of our community.
With great uncertainty and mixed polls, the October 21 general election is anyone’s to win or lose. After nearly four years of a Trudeau Liberal government, local MP, Ahmed Hussen is hoping for a second term. During the last election, a dump Harper movement coincided with a charismatic photogenic new Liberal leader. If that wasn’t enough, the NDP leader talked more like a Red Tory than the rabid socialist his opponents would have preferred. People had their doubts about Trudeau but gave him a chance and he won a majority government.
As the next election looms, the NDP and Tories have new, young leaders – Trudeau at 47 is the old man to Singh’s and Scheer’s 40 – even though Andrew Scheer is looking more and more like a young version of one of his Tory predecessors – John Diefenbaker.
Sadly, this time around, there is no clear and compelling reason to vote for any of the three main leaders (realistically, neither the Green Party’s Elizabeth May nor the People’s Party’s Maxime Bernier will form a government). During the last election campaign, Trudeau made and later ignored important promises. His promise of electoral reform was broken when the party realized that it meant fewer elected Liberals. On the Aboriginal file, he’s been less than stellar but in fairness the job is monumental and will take a lot more effort, time and money to deliver. Other negatives are his virtue signalling prissy mode, the firing of two cabinet ministers and his cringe-worthy trip to India. Justin’s costume changes are gifts that will keep on giving during the campaign. On the plus side, he’s almost universally hated in the prairie provinces.
Trudeau’s major achievements are that he legalized cannabis, instituted a carbon tax and didn’t give away the (non-dairy) farm during NAFTA negotiations.
In the meantime, Andrew Scheer promises to be the reddest Tory ever and wants us to believe he would fail to pick out Doug Ford in a police line-up.
Leading the NDP is Jagmeet Singh, a dynamic and charming man who, judging by recent polls, is failing to connect with the people of Canada. Fundraising is also becoming an issue for the NDP and a lack of money will hurt them in the final stretch of the campaign.
York South-Weston has been a Liberal riding since its formation in 1979 with two brief exceptions. Liberal John Nunziata (and brother of Councillor Frances Nunziata) was kicked out of the party and sat as an independent from 1996 – 2000 and more recently, Mike Sullivan unseated multi-term Alan Tonks in the Jack Layton propelled orange wave of 2011.
To win in York South-Weston therefore, it takes a compelling candidate plus a small red wave, large orange wave or a never before seen blue tsunami. Interestingly, for the 2019 election, it looks like a small beige wave is on the way. This should favour the incumbent.
The major candidates:
Incumbent Liberal Ahmed Hussen is currently making up for lost time in the riding and has increased his local presence considerably in the past few weeks. He has adopted the ‘meet, greet and feed’ style of Doug Ford in his latest encounters with constituents.
Mr Hussen has the power of incumbency. As Immigration Minister (and first ever Somali-Canadian in Cabinet), he has travelled extensively and rubbed shoulders with international leaders (not all of them savoury). His background is compelling having arrived in Canada as a refugee. Being a rookie MP and a cabinet minister is not for the faint of heart and Mr. Hussen seems to have coped well with the huge learning curve presented to him. I get the feeling his ambitions go beyond a cabinet appointment. On the negative side, Minister Hussen seems to run a pretty aloof and unresponsive operation and doesn’t live in the riding.
Yafet Tewelde is Ahmed Hussen’s main challenger. He has a solid organization and strong connections to YSW, not just as a resident. He’s been politically active in the community for a while. Mr. Tewelde is well educated and immigrated to Canada from Eritrea. Style wise, he’s as charming and talkative as Ahmed Hussen is quiet and reserved.
Tory nominee Dr. Jasveen Rattan is a successful and well-educated candidate with a compelling story having come to Canada as an infant. Her PhD is in recreation and leisure studies and she has been active as an organizer in provincial and civic politics.
Mr. Tewelde will need to run an exceptional campaign and Jagmeet Singh will need to connect with voters Jack Layton style in order to return York South-Weston into the NDP fold. Without that, it looks as if Ahmed Hussen will win another four year mandate.
As for Dr. Rattan, based on past results and barring a miracle, York South-Weston’s seat will have to be be a long term goal for her. The Harper years failed to register in YSW. She will need to make herself known during this campaign and stick around if she hopes to capture the seat in 2023 0r 2027.
I’m an English teacher, and, yes, I care even about the littlest pixels that mark the end of sentences. It’s a sickness.
So when I came across Jasveen Rattan’s website, I felt a bit sick. It’s a disaster. I think someone as well educated as Dr. Rattan should be able to string together a few paragraphs without leaving out the spaces between words and capitalizing on a whim. And the bolding. Good god! Someone take away her <b> tag!
Rattan’s bio is a mess, but there are a few pixels of joy. She calls herself a “first-generation” immigrant. She used the hyphen correctly!
I get that this is weird, but there’s one punctuation mark I truly feel passionate about—the dash. Or, more accurately, the dashes, for there are three of them: the hyphen, the en dash, and the em-dash.
Dashes matter. Sure, they’re hard to use. They’re even hard to type. But they matter, because they’re the difference between your “first-hand job experience” and something entirely different.
It pleases me that our little riding, York South–Weston, has a wacky dash. We have a middle-length dash, an en, and it goes between “South” and “Weston” because “York South” is one area, and “Weston” is another. It’s not hard, but using it correctly makes me feel superior every single time.
Ahmed Hussen completely screws it up, and he has no excuse. He really should know the name of his own riding, and he has staff to write for him. Calling us “York–South Weston” is particularly egregious. It’s a hyphen (wrong) in the wrong place (double wrong). On the same page, though, he gets it half right. Argh!
(Hussen also writes “As Your Member of Parliament, we are your neighbors, clients, and business partners.” I have no idea what that means, but I’ll note he spells “neighbours” like an American would. Rattan got that right, at least.)
Yafet Tewelde’s site is the best of a bad bunch. He uses hyphens correctly (“gas-fired”), and holds the bolds. Nice.
But even Tewelde drops the dash in York South—Weston. He’s only getting a B+ from me.
Today, the first of what I fear will be many fact-findings on fibs, fabrications, and falsities.
First, Ahmed Hussen. Hussen made an outrageous and false accusation on July 1 that came to light this week. He accused the Conservatives of “dancing with racists” at a speech on Canada Day, which is also Somalian Independence Day. The Post Millennial picked up the story today.
Hussen told a crowd:
in an election year, one of the main responsibilities is what? To vote. And vote for the right leaders, the real leaders that bring people together, not divide you, not dance with white supremacists, but actually bring people together and confront hatred, confront Islamophobia, and prove once again that Canada is the best country in the world by making sure that everyone is represented.
Hussen has a history of baiting conservatives. He said that Lisa MacLeod’s criticism of his department was “irresponsible, it’s divisive, it’s fear-mongering and it’s not Canadian and it is very dangerous.” He’s also said that the Conservatives want to “militarize” the border. He’s long blamed the Conservatives for the problems in his department.
But implying last month that Conservatives would “dance with white supremacists” is an ugly slander. It is, in fact, irresponsible, divisive, and fear-mongering.
Yafet Tewelde said this week:
We are in a crisis. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. We need to stop talking and act now. #YSW#cdnpolipic.twitter.com/wEzyz0OGdJ
Not quite so. The lead author of this section of the IPCC report says this:
Please stop saying something globally bad is going to happen in 2030. Bad stuff is already happening and every half a degree of warming matters, but the IPCC does not draw a “planetary boundary” at 1.5°C beyond which lie climate dragons.
[If] we don’t halve emissions by 2030, will we have lost the battle and just have to hunker down and survive? Of course not.
No scientist I’ve read says that the next decades aren’t critical. None, though, says that there is a threshold in 2030. It’s more complicated than 240 characters allow.
Happily, I don’t have to wade through tax policy to figure the truth of this out. The Economist covered it last week. They said there’ve been tax cuts for the working and middle classes (and deficits for our children):
To stimulate growth [Trudeau] let a near-balanced budget move into deficit…. Most important, he has put money into the pockets of people on middle and low incomes. A means-tested child-benefit programme gives families on the lowest incomes C$5,600-6,600 a year per child.
More moolah came from cutting the tax rate on the bottom income bracket and raising it for the richest 1%. The government expanded a tax credit for workers on low incomes. Its critics claim that middle-class families are worse off because it took away some tax credits. In fact, says Mr Morneau, the finance minister, a family of four at the median-income level is C$2,000 better off
Technically, there have been small tax hikes: on the rich, and on carbon. But neither of these tax increases hurt the median Canadian. Rattan’s statement then isn’t entirely false, but it’s pretty close.