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.

 

VOTE: it’s important.

Every adult citizen is vested with certain powers. Voting is one of them and arguably the most important. When you fail to vote you lose the moral authority to complain when your candidate doesn’t win. In addition, when you vote ‘strategically’, you deny your preferred candidate political, financial and moral support.

I was not well enough to tackle the advanced polling thanks to recent surgery but my wife and I will be casting our ballots today. We’ll probably be voting for different candidates but that’s families (and democracy).

Please take the time to vote. It’s the best thing you’ll do all month. Parties get government grants for hitting certain voting thresholds nationwide and by riding. Show your support by voting for the person (and/or party) who matches your beliefs.

Courtesy of the Mount Dennis Community Association, the candidates debate can be watched here.

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.

 

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.

 

Goodbye Farmers Market. Time to act Ms Nunziata.

Weston Farmers Market at the old location in 2004.

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.

Joe Gaeta at the Weston Farmers Market in May 2019.

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.

From Facebook.

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.

Guest Post: Nicki Ward, Green Candidate

If Nothing Changes… Nothing Changes

By Nicki Ward

MP Candidate, York South–Weston, Green Party of Canada

As a “Blue-Green” I believe that our economic and political environment is directly connected to our natural environment. In other words we must address employment and economic development as part of our clean up.

I also have a background as a technical, scientific and medical writer – So I’m not a catastrophist. I’m a centrist who believes in evidence-based problem solving and that means tackling the things we can actually change. (One of which is who represents our interests in Ottawa)

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how York South–Weston has evolved from a beautiful collection of vibrant and self-sustaining communities to its current state.

Over the past 50 years, this area has been expropriated, annexed, absorbed and re-absorbed multiple times by neighbouring towns and cities. Some might argue that this is a normal part of growth and city living. However what is not normal is the speed and brutality with which this has occurred.

In addition to this, politicians have continuously and cynically manipulated our electoral boundaries. There are many examples, but one of the biggest Federal examples was in 1976 (and 1987, and 1996, and 2003) where they shoe-horned the distinct communities of York South, York West, Davenport, High Park–Humber Valley, and Etobicoke into a single voting block.

Gerrymandering is nothing new. But what is different is the speed and frequency with which this happens in York South–Weston. Each electoral shake up is disruptive and means that the newly created communities struggle to find their own voice and push back against political, financial and development pressure.

A cynic might suggest that since this so clearly favours incumbency that this is deliberate.

I’ve had several hundred conversations and met many wonderful individuals who continue to fight vigorously for the rights of their fellow constituents.

But this changes nothing if our pleas fall on deaf ears. If our elected politicians can only keep their job by obeying their boss in Ottawa, by being “whipped” to the party line, by being forced to vote against their conscience and their constituents…

…then York South–Weston loses…yet again.

It’s tempting to think of extinction events as singular dramatic moments like a meteorite hitting the earth. But most extinction events are slow, steady states of decay and are only visible when you look back over time.

Sadly, I think that there are signs that this is what is happening to Weston. Decades of mismanagement and misgovernment that have brought us to this point and that are pushing us further down the same dark path.

As to evidence? The long-term environmental symptoms are everywhere and the trend is all in the wrong direction.

Social issues like violence, mental health and addiction abound.
Institutional and multi-generational poverty continues to increase
Economic development (other than knocking down food stores to build condos) is absent.

Local water management allows massive quantities of sewage and other pathogens to enter our streets, basements and rivers.

Local air quality is dangerous, proven to be carcinogenic and potentially lethal. Air quality hotspots include: Weston Road, Jane Street, Keele Street, Black Creek Drive, Highway 401, Lawrence Avenue West, Eglinton Avenue West, St. Clair Avenue West and Rogers Road.

Overwhelming evidence that York South–Weston is in serious, serious trouble.

Can this tide be turned?

To be frank…If nothing changes… nothing changes.

However, you can vote for change.

With new representation and an active plan for political, economic, social and environmental solutions … then yes, we can turn this tide.

Nicki Ward

MP Candidate, York South–Weston
Green Party of Canada


We would be delighted to post a statement from other interested candidates. Send us an email!

Rattan’s bad economics

I don’t know much, but I know this: if you want to do something about climate change, the best and cheapest option is a carbon tax. You might not like it, but it’s true. There’s nothing better. A carbon tax  works.

So it made me sad to see Jasveen Rattan, our Conservative candidate, say  “Climate change is a real, global problem that will require decisive action at the federal level. It is time for Canada to act as a real leader and bring forward new, innovative solutions.” (My emphasis.)

The Conservatives’ platform is bizarrely Marxist. They propose “emissions standards for major emitters”. They want to manage industries and set standards and targets,  like Soviet commissars did. If they want this to work (which I doubt) it will be much more expensive than a tax.

It’s a far better idea to let the market figure out how to avoid pollution or pay for it. It’s sad that the free-market, fiscally-prudent Conservatives can’t figure that out.

The Liberals created a carbon tax, and there is no reason for a new solution. Taxes let the free market come up with efficient solutions to a negative externality. They cannot be improved upon—it’s a mathematical fact.