I’m voting Green

I will be voting for Nicki Ward, the Green candidate. I think she would be a superb representative for York South–Weston.

I’ve seen Ward at three debates, and she’s always the same: extremely smart and very direct. She speaks her mind, and she does so with panache. She’s also quite funny. I get the impression that Ward is running a capable campaign on an $8 budget—and I’d love to see what she can do with an office staff.

I happen to agree with much of Green Party platform, but I don’t think it really matters. Ward is a pragmatist, not a dogmatist, and in the debates, she showed herself to be extremely focused on York South–Weston, and the issues that affect us here. She had good ideas for getting more federal money into the riding, and has been—correctly—shocked that we have seen so little.

She’s not the perfect candidate. I think more people would vote for Ward if they knew her, but she hasn’t had much of a presence in the community between elections. That’s a shame, and it’s to her detriment and ours. I also think that the Green Party likely has more dumb drama than The Bachelor.

Finally, I’m unwilling to reason circularly for long enough to vote strategically. I should vote for the person I think you think I will vote for, and you’ll vote for the person you think I think you’ll vote for? No.

What about Hawa Mire, NDP?

Mire seems to be a very good candidate, and I gave serious thought to voting for her. She knows the issues and the details, and has an excellent grasp of policy and her party’s platform. She seems to be energetic and smart, and she has been working locally for months before the election. She appears to be a good advocate for local issues.

And, there’s no getting around it: it would probably help to have a party machine to get stuff done. Nicki Ward may struggle because of this, but Mire would bring the NDP’s machinery with her to office.

That said, Mire did say Canada “could be called a terrorist state”, an idea I find offensive. She also said that Trudeau faced violence on the campaign trail because elected officials haven’t taken the rise of hate groups seriously; I don’t believe that, and I don’t think it’s fair. Mire also declined to attend the second debate.

What about Ahmed Hussen, Liberal?

Ahmed Hussen is smart, hardworking, and frequently charismatic. In my view, though, he is not a good representative for our riding, nor an exceptionally good federal minister.

Hussen does go door-to-door, but he doesn’t answer my messages and he doesn’t attend debates. I get that I’m just a blogger, so I’m not much bothered by the former. I am very irritated by the latter. Debates are a crucial part of democracy—the only chance most of us get to hear candidates defend their records and to be challenged on local issues.

As long as he refuses to attend debates, I will refuse to vote for him.

Also, as far as I know (I could be wrong), the only money he has brought to Weston recently was a $35 million loan to build low-cost housing. In an era of unprecedented public spending, a modest loan seems to me like very little pork from a federal minister.

And though all politics is local, I can’t forget that he was an intransigent and dogmatic Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship during the period refugees were seeking asylum through a literal and legal loophole.

More recently, Hussen has overseen the housing portfolio and an unfair and unsustainable rise in housing prices. And yes, though this is a global phenomenon, it is to some degree his responsibility. Canada’s housing prices rose the second most in the OECD. They are also the third-least affordable. He should have done more, faster, and farther in advance.

What about Sajanth Mohan?

Mohan, the Conservative candidate, may be an excellent person and a superb candidate, but we wouldn’t know it. I had never heard of him before the election, and he didn’t attend the debates. Also the Conservatives’ climate change “plan” is unworthy of the name.

The debate, a report

Tonight’s debate on the environment showed what debates could, and should, be in the future: accessible to all from home, with detailed questions and civil engagement by the candidates.

Nicki Ward (Green) and Hawa Mire (NDP) discussed about twenty environmental issues for 90 minutes. Both candidates were, frankly, very impressive. They had deep grasps of the issues, the history, the facts and the proposed solutions.

As you might expect in a debate between the NDP and the Greens, there was little difference on matters of policy. Both were against nuclear waste, climate change, and fossil-fuel subsidies. Both were for more consultation with Indigenous peoples, and for working with other levels of government.

They shared a similar style, too: each was refreshingly complimentary of the other, and there seemed to be kindness and mutual respect. I got the sense that they would happily work together to solve common problems if the chance arose. And, because the debate was online, there was no forced cheering and zealous applause by partisan supporters. What a relief.

While the candidates were both smart, fast, and in broad agreement, there was a difference in their relationships to their parties.

Hawa Mire knows her party’s platform in fantastic detail, and is able to quickly apply it to issues. She emphasized that there would be synergies working with Faisal Hassan, because he is an NDP member of provincial parliament. She also said twice that she would “push the NDP caucus” in directions that benefit York South–Weston.

Nicki Ward, on the other hand, emphasized that one of the best things about her party is that it doesn’t have a party whip. She is able to work independently, and for her constituents. “When you elect Nicki Ward, you elect Nicki Ward, not the Green Party”, she said.

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

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