Why I’m voting.

Here we are, it’s another provincial election and despite the PCs and NDP being virtually tied in the opinion polls, a majority Ford government seems poised to take office. It’s clear that Kathleen Wynne has to go and she acknowledged as much in her shocking announcement on Saturday. Governments in power more than two terms are filled with corrupt elements along with opportunistic self-promoters. The names Steven Del Duca and Glen Murray come to mind regarding the latter category but there are too many Liberal villains, both in public and behind the scenes. Premier Wynne had a chance to distance herself from the worst aspects of the McGuinty years but instead became his accomplice. As my wife delicately puts it, it’s time to change the pigs at the trough.

In stark contrast, one name that is associated with honesty, integrity and dedication is York South-Weston MPP and cabinet minister, Laura Albanese. She has served York South-Weston well and while it seems unlikely that she will win another term, she can be proud of her accomplishments and hard work for the people of her riding. If, as anticipated, Faisal Hassan wins for the Ontario NDP, he will have a steep learning curve if he is to match Ms. Albanese’s current effectiveness. As for the debate-shy Mark DeMontis, better luck next time.

Laura Albanese at the recent candidates debate at York Civic Centre (file).

Ms. Wynne’s concession announcement was shocking because it’s rare for any form of truth to be uttered during an election campaign. The reasoning is unclear – obviously Liberal deep thinkers ‘persuaded’ Wynne to fall on her sword but diehard Liberal voters may feel encouraged to abandon the party and vote NDP. If I was a Liberal candidate, I would feel that the legs had been cut from under me. Watch for unseemly jockeying for the position of leader in the final days of the campaign. Incredibly, it’s possible that the Liberals will be shut out of the legislature entirely or at best, lose official party status (8 seats required).

In Etobicoke North, Doug Ford is having a tough race against the NDP’s Mahamud Amin which is understandable as those same electors have already seen what he is like as a politician. They endured his ineffectiveness and absenteeism as ward councillor from 2010 to 2014. Non-resident nephew Mike who took over the council seat from his uncle has a better attendance record but manages to be even less effective and more right-wing than the man who claims to have been co-mayor of Toronto and saved the city over a billion dollars.  If Mahamud Amin can upset Ford, it will be a genuine shocker.

In Etobicoke Centre, incumbent Liberal Yvan Baker believes he is best positioned to defeat the PC’s Kinga Surma.  Ms. Surma was hand picked by local resident and family friend Doug Ford to replace the 2014 nominee, Pina Martino. Talk of Ms. Martino’s intimidation and a rigged nomination with fake party memberships surfaced recently but has gained little traction. The Wynne concession announcement may split the vote and allow Ms. Surma to win.

Doug Ford at the opening of Kinga Surma’s campaign office. (Toronto Star)

Erin Kelly, President and CEO of Advanced Symbolics has used artificial intelligence to predict the results of Brexit and Trump’s election victory. Barring a major disruptive event, Ms Kelly predicts a Ford majority government. Whether or not Premier Wynne’s concession speech is that event remains to be seen.

People say that electing Ford as Premier will be like a return to the days of Mike Harris. Well, not really. Harris wasn’t a one-man band, had an actual manifesto and laid it out during the election campaign. Ford has put together some proposed actions but no coherent plan. Look at what he calls a plan – it’s a list of repetitive promises.  Evidently the Ford Team believes that Ford Nation hasn’t the sophistication to understand rational and logical arguments. According to the ‘Plan For The People’,  Ford will fire the board and CEO of Hydro One several times.

Ford’s proposal to freeze the minimum wage at $14 will mean more poverty in Toronto where housing is expensive. It will be felt most strongly in our neck of the woods.

So, what’s a voter to do? On one hand, change is needed. On the other, after being out of office for so long, chaos is a distinct possibility under Andrea Horwath or Doug Ford’s premiership.

My only recommendation: vote your conscience. It really does make a difference, even though your party or candidate may not win. Many people will feel demoralized and be disinclined to vote, so individual votes will carry more weight. As an added bonus, parties that pick up at least 2% of the popular vote will receive a $2.71 per vote subsidy. In the last Ontario General Election, a mere 46.1% of York South-Weston voters bothered to cast their ballot. That missing 53.9% could have decided the result easily, but didn’t.

Ominously, according to the pundits, Progressive Conservatives are more likely to vote than members of other parties.

If that’s not a motivation to vote, nothing is.

June 4, Update:

The soap opera that is the Fords has produced another plot twist in the form of a lawsuit from the late Rob’s wife, Renata Ford, alleging that Doug isn’t the careful business manager that he claims to be. She also alleges that she has been short changed millions by Doug and brother Randy over Rob’s will and his shares in the family enterprise, Deco Labels. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Results are in

The results of WestonWeb’s completely unscientific polling are in, and Faisal Hassan, the NDP candidate, has a commanding lead.

Over the past week, 71 people responded–not including the rogues who tried to stuff the ballots in our first attempt that his experiment.Straw pollThe NDP got 43% of the vote, and the Liberals received 31%. Mark DeMontis, with the PCs, received 19%, and the Greens polled surprisingly well with 8%. (Your correspondent neglected to include the Libertarian candidate, which was an oversight.)

Our poll agrees with the broader trends in Ontario; the NDP is now in the lead according to most polls. The PCs have never done well in York South–Weston, but they are performing better now than in the past, especially since WestonWeb’s readership likely skews left.

If this poll were accurate, it would be a remarkable upset for Laura Albanese, who is the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and who has held the seat for more than 10 years.

 

YSW Provincial Election Debate 2018

Moderator Sean Hertel instructs candidates on the debate format.

Last night’s debate at the York Civic Centre was an exercise in civility as well as democracy. There’s a lot at stake in this election and all but one of the main party candidates showed up to answer questions from ordinary folks. Not all people present were regular voters. Many were party movers and shakers, aficionados and rabid hacks from all sides (you know who you are).

The ‘elephant’ not in the room was PC candidate Mark DeMontis. Whatever the reason, as Adam wrote yesterday, his absence was a loss to the debate. Mr. DeMontis allegedly spent the evening canvassing, tweeting profound thoughts while doing so. Here’s a sample:

Organizers could have left an empty seat and name tag out for the missing candidate but didn’t, reflecting the professionalism and civility mentioned earlier. While candidates who miss debates are generally Conservative, Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen skipped out on the main YSW debate back in September 2015 and it didn’t seem to hurt him in spite of predictions to the contrary.

A consortium of groups came together to organize the debate including  For Youth Initiative members GreenHills, Rockliffe Smythe and Mount Dennis community groups and the Weston Village and Stockyards residents’ associations.

Political debates can get nasty and raucous. This one was a positive love-fest thanks to superb organization with a team of volunteers performing a variety of tasks including ushering and gathering written audience questions. Questions were presented, usually by their authors. Candidates were able to deliver their answers without interruption. Moderator Sean Hertel outlined his expectations then kept things in line with effortless skill and injections of humour. Timekeeper Cherri Hurst kept candidates on the straight and narrow.

One thing pointed out during the debate was that all but one of the candidates present was an immigrant to Canada and how that reflected well on our country. Another thing that came across was the decency and sincerity of the candidates.

Faisal Hassan is the NDP hopeful in YSW and has been active in the party for a long  time. He began his life in Canada in Winnipeg and more recently worked for former YSW MP, Mike Sullivan and for the NDP in Etobicoke North during the last federal general election. He has lived in Weston for 20 years and believes in the importance of helping members of the community. Over the last fifteen years, he thinks that life has become harder for people in YSW, referring to inadequate transit links, hallway medicine and expensive childcare. He believes that we need to make life more affordable for everyone. More on Mr Hassan here.

Libertarian Party of Ontario candidate Bonnie Hu is a grocery store worker who has run for the party here and in a Vancouver by-election in 2016. Her party is big on self-sufficiency, lower taxes and minimal government involvement and Bonnie’s answers were mainly consistent with that philosophy – although she does feel we should spend money on ESL teachers. She would like more services for immigrants, decriminalization of all drugs and is opposed to the $14 minimum wage and says it was too large a hike.

Grad Murray is the Green Party of Ontario’s nominee. Articulate and knowledgeable, Mr. Murray has a degree in political science and it shows. He wants to put the community first and believes everyone has a right to live in dignity and that would include comprehensive health care and transportation systems. Mr. Murray believes in the need for ‘fearless public transportation’  and says that investing in people is a helpful hand up, not a humiliating hand-out.

Laura Albanese for the Liberal Party of Ontario stressed the importance for voters to be informed. She reminded the audience that she has represented YSW for the last 10 years and believes that the most important job of a legislator is to bring real improvements to a community. As evidence, she pointed to investments in the West Park Health Care Centre, the UP Express and Eglinton Crosstown Line, training and support for young people, full day kindergaten in schools, modernizing classrooms. She would like to continue to do more like provide free childcare and tuition programs.

To watch the full debate go here.

Debate Winners in each category:

Passion – Faisal Hassan

Sincerity: Bonnie Hu

Effective Messaging: Grad Murray

Gentility: Laura Albanese

York South-Weston is indeed fortunate to have such great community involvement and the opportunity to view the slate of candidates in a calm and rational atmosphere. Kudos to all involved.

Ballot-stuffers award goes to the Liberals

Yesterday I posted a survey asking for your voting inclinations. I asked, quite nicely, for people to vote only once.

May I never cease to be dismayed. Of course people voted more than once, and of course they thought I wouldn’t notice.

So, given data lemons, I shall make lemonade, and expose the party of the crooked ballot stuffers.

Here, then, are the dishonest votes broken down. I say a dishonest vote is more than one vote for the same candidate within a minute.

Voter fraud by party affiliation
Voter fraud by party affiliation

 

Liberal supporters committed almost all the fraud. One person voted for Laura Albanese 14 times within 98 seconds. There was no detectable fraud for the PCs or Greens, and only one case of two votes for the NDP within 60 seconds—likely a mere coincidence, but a happy one, because nobody wants to look at an all-red circle.

Of course, it’s possible that there are a few false positives here, but it’s  unlikely: we get one website visit every three minutes, and, of course, not all visitors vote. So, to get two votes for the same candidate within one minute would be unusual. To get 14 votes for the same candidate within two minutes is impossible.

Shall we try that again and start afresh? Do try not to cheat this time.

York South-Weston now a safe NDP seat?

US political site Counterpunch.org has an article commenting on the current provincial election campaign. Apparently the Ford name has piqued interest down there. The author, Canadian political commentator, Doug Johnson Hatlem claims that no Liberal seat in Ontario is safe and that York South-Weston has become a safe NDP seat. The author states that when families get together over a long weekend, they have a chance to mull over the political situation as a group and opinions become firmer.

Read his article here.

Mark DeMontis’s campaign launches this weekend

Mark DeMontis, the PC candidate for York South–Weston is launching his campaign this weekend at 2030 Weston Road.

Please join us for a BLOCK PARTY and open house as we celebrate the unveiling of both my new vision for York South-Weston and the official start of our campaign. I am looking forward to meeting with members of our community who share a passion for change.

The open house will begin at 9am and will run until 3pm with FREE food, coffee, music and some very special guests who love York South-Weston just as much as I do.

While the Conservatives have always had a candidate in YSW, DeMontis is the first PC candidate to have campaigned. Born and raised in Weston, and with a considerable profile and the benefit of a strong pro-PC shift, he is opening up a third front in the race.

Albanese and Hassan kick off campaigns

The Leafs are out, the Raptors stink, and I couldn’t care less, because the playoffs that really matter start this weekend. Laura Albanese and Faisal Hassan’s campaign kick-offs were held today, 40 days from the election to be held June 7.

poster for Faisal HassanThere are few seat-by-seat polls, but the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy says that our riding is too close to call in a race between the NDP and the Liberals (the PCs have had very little support here, though they have also barely campaigned).

Mark DeMontis, the PC candidate, will be launching his campaign next Saturday, May 11.

 

LISPOP map