Electioneering hotting up

It may be subzero outside, but the electioneering in York South–Weston is already hotting up a bit.

Yafet Tewelde released a campaign video this week. Tewelde is seeking the nomination for the NDP.

Stephen Lepone, who received a drubbing as the Libertarian candidate in 2015, has announced his candidacy for the Conservatives–and he’s started a Twitter account.

Sullivan blasts Hussen

On the one-year anniversary of the 2015 federal election, former York South Weston MP spared no mercy for his successor, Liberal MP  Ahmed Hussen. In a Facebook post Sullivan laments that Hussen has failed to send out ‘a single piece of email out to those who used to be my constituents’.

He also has some kind words for his supporters who may yet be called upon in the next election.

Read the full posting below.

A year ago today, I was in the process of being fired from my job. I was swept out in a wave of adulation for Dubya Trudeau.
I loved my job, but if you can’t afford to lose, you shouldn’t be in politics.

I want to thank, once again all of those who tried to convince people to let me keep my job, and the man who first convinced me to try, Paul Ferreira.

It was a great job, one where every day you can help individuals, and at the same time have an impact on where the whole country is going. And I couldn’t have done it without Ornella, Paul, Faisal, Deb, Alex and a host of volunteers and interns.

The new guy has yet to send a single piece of mail out to those who used to be my constituents. No one knows where he or the Liberals stand on their many promises, most of which they have yet to even consider doing: Aboriginal Education, C-51 (Privacy), C-38 (Environment), Subsidies to Big Oil, Regugee deportations and their health care.

And we have learned where they really stand on arms sales to human rights abusers (they did it), Climate change targets (same as Harper), Pipelines and Natural Gas projects (in favour), putting Bovine Growth Hormones in our children’s milk (TPP in favour), and Improving and protecting our health care system (same as Harper).

But the adulation continues. Elections shouldn’t be won on who is the cutest, but…

Parliamentary Reform Meeting with Ahmed Hussen.

MP Ahmed Hussen (centre) and MP Mark Holland (right) discuss electoral reform with constituents.
MP Ahmed Hussen (centre) and MP Mark Holland (right) discuss electoral reform with constituents August 10, 2016.

Almost 30 residents attended yesterday’s consultation meeting at the 99 Milvan Drive office of York South-Weston MP Ahmed Hussen. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Democratic Institutions, MP Mark Holland presented the various alternatives to ‘first past the post‘ elections and then the floor was thrown open to residents’ comments.

One thing is clear from the meeting; electoral reform is coming. Currently a non-stacked parliamentary committee is studying the matter. Input from ridings around the country will help determine the best alternative to the current system.

Ahmed Hussen on his new priorities

Ahmed Hussen, our new MP, took a some time to speak with me about his new job and his priorities in the upcoming parliament.
I asked him what the most pressing need is, and he was clear:

Jobs, jobs, jobs… Jobs, affordable housing, transit, and pensions. We have promised to increase the [Guaranteed Income Supplement] by 10%, to open up the cost of living index for seniors to make it fairer. But there’s no doubt that the top priority is jobs.

First is cutting taxes for the middle class. The second way is the child tax benefit—all the folks who have children who make under $200,000. That’s going to put more money in people’s pockets. The third way to create jobs is all of these investments in infrastructure. Finally there’s a commitment to create youth jobs. That’s money we can fight for to create jobs for youth in York South—Weston.

We are [also] part of the city of Toronto. The $20 billion that the Liberal Party has promised, part of it will go the the city. My job is to make sure is to make sure that York South—Weston gets its fair share. That means working with the other representatives.

Hussen has drawn criticism for not living in the riding, so I asked him about it, and his answer surprised me.

I had a law office [in Weston, and] I have been involved in the Weston neighbourhood for a really long time. I used to play soccer in the field across from the Hickory Tree apartments. The other thing is, I would love to live in the riding. I love the community. [But] I have two kids, and I’m a relatively new lawyer. I’m not someone who is living in a rich neighbourhood who is coming into York South—Weston. I picked the least lucrative field in law. (He is in immigration and criminal law.) When people say “you don’t live in the riding, you think you’re too good for us”, that’s not the case. If I could buy a home, I would. I’m not the typical rich guy who was parachuted into the riding.

I have to say, although I did not endorse Hussen for the candidacy, having spoken with him at some length, I feel much more enthusiastic about his election. He seems genuine and energetic. 

In addition to appearing on this illustrious website, Hussen also made it to the CBC.

Thanks to Suri for the tip.

Hussen comments on victory

Ahmed Hussen has commented on his victory and on being the first Somali-Canadian to be elected. He told the CBC

“The Canadian-Somali community has challenges with youth jobs, youth violence and I have some experience in those fields to try and make a difference,” he said. “But I’ll be working hard for all the residents of York South-Weston, regardless of their heritage.”

“Sure, I’m proud to be the first Somali-Canadian to get into elected office but my history has indicated my ability to work with everybody and I intend to do that [here],”

He told InsideToronto

“Myself and my team are very happy and pleased with the results,” Hussen said by phone shortly after results came in. “We pounded the pavement learning about issues and concerns. I’m happy to say our campaign grew by leaps and bounds. I am humbled by the results…. I will work hard for (constituents), listen to them,” he said, adding a focus on infrastructure, jobs, representation, and a strong constituency office are at the forefront. “I commend Mike Sullivan and wish him the best of success.”

 

The Star wrote a very complimentary article:

After arriving alone as a 16-year-old refugee from Mogadishu, Hussen completed high school in Hamilton and then moved in with one of his brothers, who had secured a subsidized apartment in Regent Park.

A backlog in refugee applications for permanent residency meant that Hussen couldn’t qualify for a student loan. So instead of waiting for his papers, he got a job and spent more than a year commuting nearly two hours to pump gas at a station in Mississauga, where he was paid $6.85 an hour.

“The fact that I lived in public housing was crucial to being able to save for university,” he said in an interview with Star Touch.

Big Red Wave – Epilogue

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The official results from last night’s election are:

  • Apathetic non-voters: 26,743
  • Ahmed Hussen: 20,091
  • Mike Sullivan: 13,203
  • James Robinson: 8,394
  • Stephen Lepone: 1043
  • John Johnson: 887

Sixty two percent of the York South-Weston electorate voted which is an improvement on the 53% who voted in 2011. As can be seen, the largest group of people in the riding were the ones who couldn’t be bothered to vote. Whether it was ever possible to interest any of those thousands of non-voters in supporting Mike Sullivan is something that we can only speculate on. As Sullivan himself will attest, it’s hard to stand against a wave. Alan Tonks couldn’t do it in 2011 against Sullivan when Jack Layton powered an NDP surge that swept the country and now, with change being the operating word, the Liberals have roared back and astonishingly swept the NDP from all Toronto ridings.

Mike Sullivan was warned in WestonWeb over a year ago that the Liberals would be coming on strong for yesterday’s election. This was even before the selection of Ahmed Hussen as the Liberal Party nominee. Three Hundred Eight, the website that kept a running average of the polls consistently predicted a Sullivan loss throughout the campaign. No doubt, many in Weston will be saddened by Sullivan’s departure from Ottawa – after all, we had an MP living in the neighbourhood who knew local issues well and had earlier played a large part in promoting Weston’s causes when the UP Express was first proposed. Even though he wasn’t part of the government, he was a voice for Weston and York South-Weston as part of the Official Opposition. When floods struck the area in 2013, Sullivan organized events to support residents whose homes had been devastated. Mike has always been an approachable and friendly presence at local events and provided a welcome foil to the partisan activities of the other levels of government.

We wish Mike well as he packs his things and returns full-time to Weston. He will now be able to take a well earned rest and spend more time with his beloved grandchildren. We can only hope that our next MP will, as part of the new government make it his first priority to introduce himself to residents and be an effective and forceful representative of the people in his riding.

That is of course until the next wave comes along.