Hussen blows it.

The Federal election campaign has been running for, well, a whole campaign now and some strange things have been happening on the road to Ottawa.

Ahmed Hussen was the surprise nomination of the York South-Weston Liberals back in December last year. Many had expected YSW Liberal Riding executive Jules Kerlinger to be a nominee but he inexplicably withdrew from the race quite early and wouldn’t talk about it. Rumours were that he’d been invited to step aside by the Liberal Party but confirming those rumours proved elusive. Riding Association President, Ryan Ward was unable or unwilling to open up on the subject, referring me to Ottawa functionaries. Jules himself declined to respond.

Former Toronto councillor Bill Saundercook was then expected to get the nod but during the voting process, a strange turn of events took place. Large numbers of people came by the busload to vote and somehow, a bottleneck occurred at the membership and credential checking process. Late in the afternoon, with time pressing, organizers decided to close the polls before everyone was able to reach the voting booths. Outsiders shrugged and thought that this was simply business as usual for the Liberals.

Bill Saundercook.
Bill Saundercook confidently awaits the result at the nomination meeting.

The result of the vote that fateful day was a shock, not merely because a seeming long-shot had won but also because of the surprisingly small number of votes cast when compared to the huge numbers lined up – no doubt a result of the glacial pace of the voting line. The winner was a relative unknown, Ahmed Hussen but he had a well known local backer, George Smitherman.

As 2015 progressed, Mr. Hussen was seen at various events in York South-Weston and it was thought that his campaign was shaping up nicely. With a good tail wind from Justin Trudeau, he had a reasonable chance of winning the seat.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.
John Johnson (Green) and Mike Sullivan (NDP) tackle the issues.

There is usually one major debate in York South-Weston before an election. This is meticulously organized by an army of hard-working volunteers from one or more organizations in the riding who do what is necessary to hold a fair debate. Many of these people are politically active but not exclusively for any one party. On September 16, Mr. Hussen announced to organizers that he would not attend the debate. More recently, the candidate allegedly let it be known that he considered the debate to be partisan; skewed in favour of the NDP.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.
Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

Knowing the scrupulous lengths to which organizers of these events go makes it clear that no party owns or controls these debates. To make the allegation even more fatuous, Liberal riding executive Jules Kerlinger was part of the proceedings and read audience questions to the candidates. Witnessing the event were former YSW Liberal MP, Alan Tonks and Liberal MPP Laura Albanese who would have quite correctly blown the whistle had anything underhanded been transpiring.

Jules Berlinger reads audience questions at last night's debate.
Jules Kerlinger reads audience questions at last night’s debate.

At this stage it should be mentioned that the Conservative Party candidate also failed to show up at the debate. This was neither a surprise nor much of a disappointment as it seems to be Party policy, especially in York South-Weston where the right-wing vote along with Tory candidates’ speaking skills are generally on the marginal side.

York South-Weston's democratic deficit.
York South-Weston’s democratic deficit.

One can only surmise that Mr Hussen’s sudden attack of shyness was not from a fear of entering some sort of NDP stronghold where he would be ambushed by frothing hordes of rabid lefties. The only conclusion that the public can come to is that he was woefully unprepared to respond to audience questions and decided to bolt. That alone is telling.

So much for the Big Red Wave. Thanks to Mr. Hussen, its now likely to be a trickle in this riding and YSW federal Liberals are facing four more years in the political wilderness. Perhaps the geniuses at Party HQ should have gone with Mr. Kerlinger after all.

5 thoughts on “Hussen blows it.”

  1. Don’t kid yourself Roy. The fact that someone does not attend a local debate does not result in that person being deemed unelectable. Laura Albanese is proof of that. The reality is that the majority of people vote for the leader in an election rather than the local candidate. In a close race between two parties, name recognition can matter, but is unlikely to matter here. Why the Liberals nominated Hussen and excluded Kerlinger, can only be answered by the party, but Kerlinger would have no greater name recognition or chance of success than Hussen. If the Liberals wanted a local candidate with profile, they could have hit up Frances Nunziata, Gerard Kennedy, or Chris Tonks, But I guess the party elders for whatever reason, wanted a Hussen candidacy. And its likely he will be elected, not because of a great campaign by him, but because Trudeau overtakes Mulcair as the anti Harper choice among left of centre voters. .

  2. I wish Nunziata would run at the provincial or federal level. We need better representation at City level. A 30 storey building with more storage space and very little community benefit would never happen in another ward.

  3. Hussen is a scared lightweight. Doesn’t want to bother doing his homework or the work necessary to be a good local-focused Federal leader. He couldn’t be anyhow. Like a typical drop-in opportunist, he doesn’t even live here and probably wouldn’t ever step foot in the community after the election (if he loses, he wont care to, if he wins, he’ll spend all his time in Ottawa). Vote Liberal and you might as well vote for the tooth fairy, because that’s about how much we would see of this clown.

  4. What a ridiculous comment. Hussen has been working in the riding and doing community work within it long before he even considered a run for office. When talking about a “good local-focused Federal leader”, the question I ask is this: what has Sullivan accomplished in his four years in office? Absolutely nothing. Hussen is a “scared lightweight”? We will see the reality of this absurd comment when the confirmed debates take place. If anything, Sullivan is the lightweight given his track record of zero accomplishments in Ottawa for the riding. The riding deserves proper representation and a good advocate in Ottawa. In this regard, Hussen is the clear choice over the ineffective and unaccomplished Sullivan.

  5. AJ – No one is falling for your comment – you’re clearly part of Hussen’s campaign. Maybe give us some examples of his “work in the riding” or “community work in the riding” because none of us have ever heard of it, probably not even Hussen himself.

    And sign off as Hussen’s campaign team to be transparent – you’re not fooling anyone here.

    He was definitely scared of the debate and if so – I can’t imagine how he’ll be able to debate in Ottawa. Maybe next time tell your Liberal overlords to let the community decide and not parachute someone from Woodbridge in – then maybe they could actually win.

Comments are closed.