Local Tory candidate reflects.

Conservative candidate Jasveen Rattan on the campaign trail. From Instagram.

York South-Weston is a tough nut to crack for Tory politicians. The riding, both federally and provincially, has consistently elected Liberals with the occasional NDP exception. MP Mike Sullivan, MPP Paul Ferreira and current MPP Faisal Hassan are the three exceptions.

Last year, Conservative candidate Mark DeMontis came within a whisker of winning in 2018’s Big Blue Wave courtesy of Doug Ford and Kathleen Wynne. Local man DeMontis, with a compelling back-story, courted the area politically and there was speculation that had he stuck around for another campaign (namely the recent federal one), he might have been able to pull off a victory. In June, DeMontis announced he had moved on to focus on his role with the Ontario Government thus making way for candidate Jasveen Rattan.

As an unknown parachute candidate from Mississauga and without a Big Blue Wave to propel her, she faced an uphill task eventually finishing a distant second to incumbent Liberal Ahmed Hussen. In the article, Rattan frames her result as the most successful for a federal Tory in over 40 years but in reality, her vote total and share of the popular vote were almost identical to those of 2015 Tory candidate James Robinson.

TVO’s Steve Paikin has written an article dealing with the Tories’ recent loss and focusses on Ms Rattan and York South Weston. In the article, Ms Rattan states that the people of York South Weston need help. I wonder if she will be providing that help between elections (along the lines of Chiara Padovani and Yafet Tewelde), or whether we can look forward to yet another new Tory face to contest the next election.

Read Steve Paikin’s article here.

Guest post: How do you measure a win? By Nicki Ward

How do you measure a “win”? – And why we won.

When I was invited to run in York South – Weston, I went in with my eyes wide open. No EDA (Riding Association), No infrastructure, No local representation, No volunteer base, No money.

As to the opposition, I would be running against an incumbent who is also a cabinet minister (which means they have extra electoral support) … in a riding that has been controlled by a single party for about 50 years.

As to the riding itself – While the riding is genuinely beautiful, it is also massively impoverished, has long-term serious environmental issues that are ignored, social issues such as crime and gun violence … and a steady loss in quality of life over the past 50 years. And yet there is no sense of outrage against the politicians who allowed (or caused) this to happen. This may explain why the riding has some of the lowest voter turnouts.

On my first day canvassing an elder long-term resident asked me, “Why bother?”

Sadly, that sense of hopelessness – the feeling that their voice didn’t matter was pervasive. It’s more than “voter-apathy”, it’s “voter-despair”, a profound disengagement.

How do you measure a “win” in such an environment?

Or, perhaps phrased more cynically, “Why would any rational person enter such an “unwinnable” race?”

As it turns out, we managed to increase some significant “measurables” almost double the votes, tripled the voter share, more party engagements, etc. – All of which are meaningful achievements.

The deeper win is raising the level of debate about pressing issues (like water quality, air quality and environmental poisons) and making sure that people “suit up and show up” for democracy.

Less tangible, perhaps, but actually the central point why I and many of my colleagues (in all parties) invested so deeply and so personally in this fight.

Anyone who thinks politics is an “ego-trip” has never been a candidate the day after the election. Each of these people has demonstrated personal courage that is difficult to imagine.

The deeper truth is revealed in the root of the word “encouragement”.

The most authentic way to encourage others is to demonstrate that courage in your own conduct.

To all my fellow candidates, who demonstrated that courage – To all the volunteers who helped those candidates… and to all the people who continue to engage in democracy by voting….

Thank you… We won!

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


WestonWeb welcomes submissions by all candidates.

Election post-mortem thoughts.

From: National Post.

Now the election is over, Doug Ford is about to be released back into the broad daylight of Ontario politics. Apparently if he sees his shadow it means another 6 months of cuts.

Ford’s enforced absence during the campaign proved that federal Conservatives are embarrassed by his brainless, dogma-driven actions along with slash and burn service cuts for lower and middle income earners. He and federal leader Andrew Scheer are no doubt blaming each other for the Liberals’ lucky escape. The political long knives are out for both of them. Patrick Brown will be chomping some popcorn from his Brampton mayor’s chair.

The Ford Name also failed to work the charm in nearby Etobicoke North where Rob Ford’s widow Renata was running as a first-time candidate. Despite her less than dynamic presence under the People’s Party banner, her Ford name was enough to give Maxime Bernier a seat at the English debate because she was considered a genuine contender. She finished in the also-ran category with 2.8% of the vote but has promised to return under the same banner.

The Conservatives in York South-Weston need to run local candidates who don’t disappear after each election.

It turned out that there was a Big Red Wave after all but only in Ontario. Ahmed Hussen has been given a fresh mandate to continue his aloof ways. The sight of Frances Nunziata campaigning alongside him was additional evidence that he’s far too good for York South-Weston and we definitely should be grateful to have him.

The NDP need to intensify their focus on working families struggling to make ends meet rather than by tangling themselves up in layers of dogma and political correctness. A lot more people care about minimum wage than how many genders there are. They also need to tackle the motivations of 43% of the York South-Weston electorate who declined the opportunity to vote.

All election signs must be removed by 9:30pm Thursday.

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.