Michael Ford skips debate

Surprising nobody and disappointing many, Michael Ford did not attend last night’s debate. I think this is inexcusable.

Perhaps Ford was afraid he’d embarrass himself in front of his constituents. If that’s the case, he shouldn’t go any further. If he can’t take the heat of two hours in a church basement, he’ll be incinerated over four years at Queen’s Park.

Maybe Ford was worried his ideas or experience won’t stand up to the scrutiny of the other candidates. If so, he should quit. There is no shame in that—a good person knows when they’ve been bested.

But I think these possibilities are very unlikely. Michael Ford has been city councillor— he’s not afraid of the spotlight, nor a little rough-and-tumble.

He is almost certainly following the instructions of his masters in the party. If so, he’s got his responsibilities backward: he works for us, not the PCs. He needs to take courage and make his pitch. If he catches hell for it, so be it. York South–Weston needs someone with guts to represent us, not a PC puppet taking orders from above.

Meeting with—and representing—his constituents is the job. If he won’t show up for the interview, we would be fools to hire him.

I take debates seriously because politicians are too sure, too often. Debates test their ideas in front of constituents and competitors. If politicians won’t bring their ideas into the light, they are afraid of what we’ll see—or that we’ll see nothing at all.

I won’t be voting for Michael Ford.

Greens field candidate

The Green Party has fielded Ignacio Mongrell for the provincial election, completing the roster of candidates from the major parties.

The Greens say “Mongrell is a husband, environmentalist, and entrepreneur who proudly identifies as queer. He has worked with entrepreneurs for over 12 years at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre…. He is currently the Assistant Director at ICUBE, a business accelerator program at the University of Toronto.”

Michael Ford will be running for the Progressive Conservatives. Ford is, of course, the nephew of Premier Doug Ford and currently the city councillor for Etobicoke North.

Nadia Guerrera is representing the Liberals. She is teaches at Chaminade, where she heads the Social Science Department. Guerrera ran in Parkdale–High Park for the Liberals in 2018.

Faisal Hassan, our incumbent MPP, will be running again for the New Democrats.

VIA Rail stop in Weston?

For years we’ve heard that VIA Rail would love to stop their four daily trains in Weston but that they’re being thwarted by Metrolinx who say that there wouldn’t be enough time for VIA trains to transfer passengers on and off without disrupting UP Express and GO Train schedules. The stop would be an incredible convenience for Weston Residents, would slow the train down as it roars through Weston and would allow eastbound VIA passengers destined for Pearson Airport a short cut instead of having to schlep all the way downtown.

If you go to the VIA Rail site however, they’re still posting Weston’s station address as 39 John Street so maybe an awareness of the new location would indicate a more sincere wish for a Weston stop. Either way, it’s beginning to look highly unlikely that a the devolved passenger arm of a corporate Father of Confederation™ and the mighty execs of Metrolinx will get together to make life easier for actual passengers.

Source: https://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/stations/weston Click to enlarge

Maybe this is a problem that an election promise could solve.

Candidates, what say you?

Mike Ford wants YSW MPP seat.

What’s in a name?

Mike Ford has had a wildly successful political career. He began as a Toronto school board trustee in 2014, became a Toronto city councillor two years later after the terminal illness of his uncle and former Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. Now at the ripe old age of 28, Mike Ford has announced he will be running as a candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial election on June 22. His other famous uncle, Premier Doug Ford holds Etobicoke North and family friend Kinga Surma has Etobicoke Centre – the next nearest local seat is York South Weston where incumbent Faisal Hassan is enjoying a successful first term.

Many naysayers claim that Ford has succeeded on the coat tails of his two famous uncles. That may well have been true at the start of his career but Mike Ford has shown himself to be a good listener and sincere advocate for his constituents while his council votes tend to be on the conservative and frugal side.

Councillor Mike Ford (L) talks to constituents at the official opening of the Raymore Park off-leash area in July 2017. (file).

No Progressive Conservative candidate has won the York South-Weston seat since the riding was created in 1999. Mark DeMontis came close in 2018 with 33% of the vote compared to 36% for the NDP’s Faisal Hassan. PCs must be confident that Ford has a good shot at the seat as he is a local boy having been raised across the river in Etobicoke; there’s that magic Ford name and no doubt there will have been some local polling to scope out possibilities.

A Mike Ford win depends on a good connection with voters and a reasonably sized Blue Wave hitting the province. That might just happen. According to 338Canada Projection, the PCs currently poll at 37% support to the Liberals’ 28% and the NDP trails at 25% – with the usual caveats that anything can happen between now and June. In recent months, Doug Ford seems to have moved his party to the centre, is now in favour of lefty things like a higher minimum wage – he’s even encouraging electric cars. His removal of the mask mandate from much of daily life has pleased his base and infuriated the provincial Liberal and NDP parties. At the same time, Ford is positioning himself as the best friend of the federal Liberals and the man who can work with them. The main strategy seems to be to attack the NDP while giving the Del Duca Liberals nowhere to go.

My prediction; a tough local fight that will push both Faisal Hassan and Mike Ford to their limits. Will the Ford name nudge the younger candidate over the top or will it be a liability? There is no doubt that the riding will be well served by whoever gets in. Hassan is accessible and has worked hard during his term, setting up a storefront office on Weston Road right in downtown Weston. Mike Ford will have enviable connections.

One thing for certain; this will be a devastating loss for one of these two candidates.

More Crosstown Delays

Influential Toronto transit blogger Steve Munro is reporting a significant development in construction of the Eglinton Crosstown Line. Metrolinx has consistently stated that the line will not open until all stations are ready. Now it seems that thanks to various factors, Eglinton Station (at Yonge) might not be ready until May 2022 and a direct connection to the subway will be delayed until fall of that year.

Why the change in plans? Steve points out that, “The expected June 2022 provincial election will bring considerable pressure to provide a ribbon cutting for Premier Ford at whatever cost is necessary.”.

Read his blog post here.

View an interesting take on the line from Reece Martin below:

Update: Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster has called talk of a partial opening as a ‘distraction’. Verster seems unhappy with builders of the line, Crosslink Transit Solutions.

Read more here.

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.

Heads roll after Doug Ford’s audio opinion polls.

Apparently Doug Ford doesn’t like being booed. His reception at several public events has shown that he’s strongly disliked – even by once loyal supporters. His approval rating is now lower than Kathleen Wynne’s – at her absolute lowest point – quite an achievement in such a short time.

Instead of reflecting on this, the Premier is blaming the people to whom he gave impossible tasks.

Today’s cabinet shuffle demotes some of his most ardent (and obedient) followers who made the mistake of taking Mr. Ford at his word. Having issued no platform before last year’s election, the Premier issued directives only in superlatives and what’s a rookie cabinet minister to do except adopt the tone that has no doubt pervaded caucus and cabinet meetings i.e. cut taxes, eliminate waste, decimate bleeding heart projects and keep people happy with more accessible booze.

A steamroller approach was encouraged based seemingly on, ’What would Don Cherry do?’. Less than a year later, Ford Nation is in tatters and the Premier gets an audio opinion poll anytime he appears in public. His federal counterpart, Andrew Scheer wants no help from toxic Doug in the upcoming election and Ford has agreed to lie low, obligingly shuttering Queens Park until the end of October – after the federal election. That must hurt.

Over the past few months, Ford’s cabinet has dutifully picked fights with autistic children and their parents, public servants, safe injection sites, minimum wage earners, municipalities, the Beer Store and many others. In the meantime, Ford ended the Carbon Tax and halted tax increases thinking that this would endear him to the people. What this did was lower revenues and make things harder for Fedeli whose budget spending went higher than Kathleen Wynne’s the previous year.

The Premier promised that not one job would be lost as a result of his ‘efficiencies’. Now he says he meant, ‘Not one front line job’ (whatever those are). He apparently didn’t mean cabinet jobs.

Big names demoted today were Lisa Thompson (Education), Lisa Macleod (Community and Social Services) and Vic Fedeli (Finance), Even Caroline Mulroney wasn’t spared, being moved from the prestigious silks of the Attorney General position to the greasy overalls of Transportation. No doubt Mulroney Senior along with other Conservatives is furious.

Nobody claimed that everything was good in the Kathleen Wynne government. Lord knows we needed a change. Few would have predicted that Ford would fall on his face this early.

There are three years left in the P.C. government’s mandate; they won’t be dull and if perceptions don’t improve, the Ontario Conservative movement will be set back for decades. The question is, can the P.C. Party dump Ford and install a new leader before 2022?

That’s probably their only hope.