Hussen comments on victory

Ahmed Hussen has commented on his victory and on being the first Somali-Canadian to be elected. He told the CBC

“The Canadian-Somali community has challenges with youth jobs, youth violence and I have some experience in those fields to try and make a difference,” he said. “But I’ll be working hard for all the residents of York South-Weston, regardless of their heritage.”

“Sure, I’m proud to be the first Somali-Canadian to get into elected office but my history has indicated my ability to work with everybody and I intend to do that [here],”

He told InsideToronto

“Myself and my team are very happy and pleased with the results,” Hussen said by phone shortly after results came in. “We pounded the pavement learning about issues and concerns. I’m happy to say our campaign grew by leaps and bounds. I am humbled by the results…. I will work hard for (constituents), listen to them,” he said, adding a focus on infrastructure, jobs, representation, and a strong constituency office are at the forefront. “I commend Mike Sullivan and wish him the best of success.”

 

The Star wrote a very complimentary article:

After arriving alone as a 16-year-old refugee from Mogadishu, Hussen completed high school in Hamilton and then moved in with one of his brothers, who had secured a subsidized apartment in Regent Park.

A backlog in refugee applications for permanent residency meant that Hussen couldn’t qualify for a student loan. So instead of waiting for his papers, he got a job and spent more than a year commuting nearly two hours to pump gas at a station in Mississauga, where he was paid $6.85 an hour.

“The fact that I lived in public housing was crucial to being able to save for university,” he said in an interview with Star Touch.

Big Red Wave – Epilogue

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The official results from last night’s election are:

  • Apathetic non-voters: 26,743
  • Ahmed Hussen: 20,091
  • Mike Sullivan: 13,203
  • James Robinson: 8,394
  • Stephen Lepone: 1043
  • John Johnson: 887

Sixty two percent of the York South-Weston electorate voted which is an improvement on the 53% who voted in 2011. As can be seen, the largest group of people in the riding were the ones who couldn’t be bothered to vote. Whether it was ever possible to interest any of those thousands of non-voters in supporting Mike Sullivan is something that we can only speculate on. As Sullivan himself will attest, it’s hard to stand against a wave. Alan Tonks couldn’t do it in 2011 against Sullivan when Jack Layton powered an NDP surge that swept the country and now, with change being the operating word, the Liberals have roared back and astonishingly swept the NDP from all Toronto ridings.

Mike Sullivan was warned in WestonWeb over a year ago that the Liberals would be coming on strong for yesterday’s election. This was even before the selection of Ahmed Hussen as the Liberal Party nominee. Three Hundred Eight, the website that kept a running average of the polls consistently predicted a Sullivan loss throughout the campaign. No doubt, many in Weston will be saddened by Sullivan’s departure from Ottawa – after all, we had an MP living in the neighbourhood who knew local issues well and had earlier played a large part in promoting Weston’s causes when the UP Express was first proposed. Even though he wasn’t part of the government, he was a voice for Weston and York South-Weston as part of the Official Opposition. When floods struck the area in 2013, Sullivan organized events to support residents whose homes had been devastated. Mike has always been an approachable and friendly presence at local events and provided a welcome foil to the partisan activities of the other levels of government.

We wish Mike well as he packs his things and returns full-time to Weston. He will now be able to take a well earned rest and spend more time with his beloved grandchildren. We can only hope that our next MP will, as part of the new government make it his first priority to introduce himself to residents and be an effective and forceful representative of the people in his riding.

That is of course until the next wave comes along.

Ahmed Hussen our new MP

Ahmed Hussen will be our new MP. Hussen, a Liberal, soundly defeated Mike Sullivan, the incumbent.

Hussen was born in Somalia and is the president of the Canadian Somali Congress. He is a father to two children and is a criminal and immigration lawyer in the east end. Previously, he was a community organizer in Regent Park and an assistant to provincial Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. He has had, however, little profile in Weston and does not live here.

Mike Sullivan was soundly defeated—Hussen received nearly twice as many votes with about half of all ballots cast, while the NDP received only a quarter.¹ About 20% of residents are, it seems, die-hard Conservatives. The Green candidate, John Johnson, came in last, defeated even by the Libertarian.

The Liberals are the natural governing party here, and have been in charge since 1979, with only 9 years of interruption, five of which were under a defector from the Liberal Party.


 

¹ I wrote this before all the polls were in.

Vote – Canada depends on you.

Image: Wikipedia.
Image: Wikipedia.

Every four years or so voters get a chance to make their collective wishes known. It’s a privilege that the people of many other countries don’t share. Some citizens may think that their vote makes a difference but for example, in the United States and Cuba (to name but two), the choice is limited to a very narrow field and even a turnover of personnel often makes little difference to government policies and actions.

In York South-Weston we have two candidates from parties with a chance to unseat the current Conservative government – or the Harper Government as it likes to be known. Mike Sullivan is the NDP incumbent and Ahmed Hussen the Liberal challenger. Other parties are running but it is more than likely that one of these candidates will be elected.

Anyone with an impartial eye could probably see that over the past few years, the Conservatives have brought real change to the Canadian political process. It’s not just the nastier tone but a willingness to cheat and upset the democratic process far beyond anything that has happened in the past. Readers with the desire to read the gory details may read this long but excellent summation in The Guardian. Good luck staying calm after that article.

Along with the cheating goes a whole other raft of divisiveness and fear mongering but t’s the cheating that has allowed the Conservatives to be insensitive to voter reaction so it remains (in the minds of many) their most egregious behaviour.

There is, therefore only one possible action for citizens of this country and that is to get out and vote. You have a choice of two parties that, should they gain power, will not cheat you out of your future hard won votes. Whether the Liberals or New Democrats form a government after this election, we can be reasonably assured that politics will be conducted in a more equitable fashion. The same, unfortunately cannot be said if the Conservatives win.

It’s time for the citizens of York South-Weston (and indeed ridings all across this great country) to let the the Conservative Party, its members and even its volunteers know that cheating will not be tolerated by Canadians. The best way to do this is to deliver an overwhelming mandate to as many non-Conservative candidates as possible.

Get out and vote – it’s never been more important.

Hussen responds

One of Ahmed Hussen’s campaign officers has responded to my questions about why he did not attend the community-group-organized debate this week.

Ahmed didn’t attend the debate last night for a number of reasons, chief among them being canvassing, scheduling, and the fact that he has committed to two other debates – a Rogers TV debate being taped on Wednesday and the West Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Debate on October

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The organizers had asked him more than three weeks in advance if he would be able to make it, and the event lasted 3 hours. They say that they were “appalled” at his “cheery” decline 12 days before the debate.

Fanny Sunshine from InsideToronto was able to get some more answers from the candidate and his party (and the article is worth reading in full): he told her that he sees many people when he is out going door to door.

Sunshine was also able to get a response from the Conservatives, who never talk to me.

When reached by The Mirror the next day, Robinson’s campaign manager Ansford Pearson said he could not say why the political hopeful did not reply to the invitation or attend the debate.

“It’s the responsibility of the candidate to respond, not mine,” he said.

What an operation. On to other news.

 

Liberals do not show up to debate

The Liberal candidate, Ahmed Hussen, seems to think that we are not worth campaigning for. He did not show up to the all-candidates debate tonight, which was organized by five local groups.¹

About 100 people were at the York Civic Centre tonight to hear the candidates speak. Ahmed Hussen, the Liberal candidate, declined the invitation to attend. The Conservative candidate, James Robinson, who nobody expected to show up, fufilled those low expectations.

The debate was an exceedingly cordial affair; far from sparring, John Johnson and Mike Sullivan seemed to support each other. Johnson made no concerted effort to separate himself from the other left-leaning candidate, and once or twice Sullivan reached out, both figuratively and literally, to the man beside him. There was some laughing and no jabbing.

Sullivan was polished and stuck to the party platform: pro-transit, anti-war, pro-niqab, anti-Conservative and pro-environment (with the disappointing exception of pipelines). He was genuine though, and he was relaxed and charming. He seemed most passionate when speaking about Weston and his decision to run here.

Johnson may have been a bit less polished and a little less schooled in the doctrines of the Greens. He never had the inclination (or the occasion) to bang the table, and seemed content to answer questions with his own ideas and to improvise. I respect him very much for putting himself forward. I do regret, however, that he did not hold Sullivan more to account.

Of course, that is not really his job. He is a fringe candidate. The other parties–and especially the Liberals–should have been here, testing their own ideas and those of their opponents.

And in this, they have let us down. No. That doesn’t do this situation justice. Allow me to take off my thin veneer of objectivity and put it aside for a moment.

Ahmed Hussen and James Robinson want the fame, feeling, and fortune of political candidacy, but they do not deserve a vote, let alone a job. They refuse to stand before you and your neighbours and answer your questions. They refuse to explain. They will not say how their party’s platforms will affect you and your riding.

You wouldn’t hire a plumber who wouldn’t meet you, but this is much worse. Politics is war by other means. It makes winners and losers, and Hussen and Robinson owe it to you to explain their doctrines—after all, you might be one of the losers. They should have the guts.

Worse, much worse, they missed their chance to challenge the incumbent, Mike Sullivan. They would not face him, test him, and hold him and his record to account. Even if they think they will lose (and they are ensuring that) they owe us their expertise. Democracy, like capitalism, works only with competition. Gerrymandering and vote suppression are evil because they prevent that battle of ideas. Refusing to engage your opponent is no better: it makes a clash of ideas into a contest of advertising.

So shame on these gutless cowards who want much and give little. Shame on Ahmed Hussen, in particular, whose put himself forward in a competitive riding and refused to compete.

Ahmed Hussen did York South–Weston a terrible disservice. He asked to be elected but not accountable, and, worse, he abetted Mike Sullivan in being the same.

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¹ The 12 Community Alliance, the Rockcliffe-Smythe Community Association, The Weston Village Residents’ Association, the Mount Dennis Community Association, and the Greenhills Community Association deserve your thanks and support.