Fuel Cell Technology Turn Around?

Readers may remember a couple of  WestonWeb articles here and here  skewering the fuel-cell technology proposal championed by former Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca. Mr. Del Duca for some reason had fallen in love with fuel cell technology and wanted to see if it could be used instead of catenary (overhead) power lines when diesel trains such a GO and UP Express are replaced. A trial budget to check feasibility was originally set at $200,000, now it’s expanded to $3 million.

Now that the Liberal government has been given its marching orders, (precisely for stupidity like this) it will be interesting to see the reaction of Doug Ford to  spending millions on this complete waste of money. Already, one Metrolinx Board member and CEO Phil Verster are publicly distancing themselves from the boondoggle. Look for more people at Metrolinx to claim they always thought it was a very bad idea.

Here’s a flow chart comparison of the two technologies. (Click to enlarge)

It would be far better for Metrolinx to investigate battery technology for powering trains as Bombardier is doing in the U.K.. The cost savings could be considerable in the long run. It would also eliminate the need to build an extensive catenary wiring network which is expensive to build and maintain.

Hassan wins in York South–Weston

The polls in York South–Weston closed late because our riding was a bit of a nail-biter. In the end, Faisal Hassan of the NDP won in a tight three-way race.

From The Star

Hassan took 36% of the vote, squeaking past an very strong showing from Mark DeMontis, who earned 33%. Long-time MPP Laura Albanese came in third with 28%.

 

Weston is part of the city wall surrounding Toronto, which voted almost entirely orange—in stark contrast to the rest of rural and suburban Southern Ontario.

From the CBC

That the NDP won is no great surprise. We’ve long been a centre-left riding. The big news is DeMontis’ support: he performed extremely well, riding a strong campaign and blue wave to near victory in a riding that gave the PCs only 11% of the vote in the last election.

The vote must sting Albanese, who served as a competent and reasonably-accomplished MPP. She lost through no great fault of her own, but because she was part of an inept and corrupt administration that tried to buy votes instead of staying true to its centrist principles.

Hassan will join an opposition party facing a bumbling PC leader for whom all politics is personal. Doug Ford has convictions but no principles—and we will all be sure to pay the price as he forms an evidence-free administration.

Now that the race is over, the marathon begins. Holding the PCs to account will be a test of endurance for the Hassan and the rest of the NDP.

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.

 

Some thoughts on skipping debates

Mark DeMontis did not attend tonight’s all-candidates debate; he spent it campaigning door-to-door instead.

It makes me very sad—and angry—that he wouldn’t attend, but it fits into into a broader pattern: PC candidates across the province are avoiding their electors. They’ve skipped debates in 25 ridings as of last weekend (and now 26).

Doug Ford denies muzzling candidates, saying “I’ve never told them not to go to a debate,” but a party spokesperson was more equivocal, and political scientists say that this is part of a plan to keep attention on the party leaders—and away from local politicians.

It’s the making of a monarchy: one person—Duke Doug—is to know all and fix all. His ‘ideas’ (they’re slogans) will not be tested in the public square. Objections won’t be heard, and experts (like other candidates) won’t be tolerated.  Doug Ford is so sure that he knows what you want that he won’t let you tell him. It’s omakase politics.

Mark DeMontis also denied us the chance to see Hassan and Albanese’s ideas lit up with a bright blue light. He missed his first chance for public service: showing us what is wrong with the Liberal, NDP, and Green platforms. We’re doubly worse off because he would have been an excellent debater (he has been a public speaker and broadcaster).

Mark DeMontis should have stood up for his party and presented his ideas to be debated. He also should have stood up to his party and attended in defiance, if he was told not to go.

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.

DeMontis will not debate tomorrow

An organizer for tomorrows’ all-candidates (invited) debate says that Mark DeMontis, the PC candidate, will not be attending.

I’ve reached out to DeMontis for a comment, but I haven’t yet heard back.