United ward spells trouble for Nunziata and DiGiorgio

From CTV News.

Under the proposed new municipal setup, councillors will represent federal ridings and as a result, Wards 11 and 12 will become one. In York South-Weston, two incumbents, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio will be battling for the same job and will likely split the vote since they are both right-leaning, developer friendly and often vote in unison with Mayor Tory. Left-leaning Chiara Padovani has been mounting a solid campaign, canvassing extensively in old Ward 11 and from today will no doubt begin to make an impression on voters in old Ward 12.

If Ward 11 largely votes for Nunziata and Ward 12 for DiGiorgio, depending on the strength of the votes and the turnout, Padovani could scoop the progressive Ward 11 and 12 votes and come through the middle – even with a relatively small percentage of York South-Weston’s overall vote.

No doubt Ms. Padovani will join the chorus of protests at Doug Ford’s move to shrink council but it should work in her favour. Look for strategists on both incumbent teams to set their sights on Ms Padovani once campaigning gets under way in earnest. It won’t be pretty.

Ford disrupts Toronto Council

So it’s official; Doug Ford, disrupting in the style of Donald Trump, will soon present legislation to axe the number of Toronto wards from what would have been 47 to 25. Ford, looking confident and as if he is hitting his stride, made the announcement at a press conference this morning. Calling Toronto Council, ‘The most dysfunctional arena in the country’, he  revealed that city wards will be gone; instead, councillors will represent areas that are identical to federal / provincial ridings. After the next election, Wards 11 and 12 will be known as York South-Weston and represented by just one councillor.

Locally, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio represent York South-Weston at Council and one of those two will not be returning after October if they both choose to fight for the YSW seat.  Many other familiar faces will not be back after October. The bad news is that it might be harder to get in touch with a councillor who will now have twice as many constituents. On the plus side, a smaller number at council meetings will find the process of passing legislation quicker and easier. A smaller number will mean greater name recognition, scrutiny and accountability for individual councillors.

There will be a lot of people very disappointed with the decision. There will be worries about a loss of democracy and representation. There may be a legal challenge. The bottom line is that in Ontario, city councils are ‘creatures of  the province’ and the higher level of government holds sway.

I don’t think anyone will miss a larger council’s decisions despite the recent flurry of common sense legislation coming from the rotunda this week (apart from ShotSpotter). Frankly, the record of Toronto Council is lousy. These are the people who have brought us neglect and mismanagement of public housing and transit, a subservience to developers, a proposed one-stop subway, threadbare infrastructure and dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists. On that basis alone, at least half deserve to be turfed. Will fewer councillors produce a less democratic council? With many wards failing to achieve a 50% election turnout, probably no less democratic than it is today.

Nominations for council have been extended until Sept 14 but the election date will still be Oct 22.

Some election thoughts

The official York South-Weston election results are here. There were 37,296 votes cast or 50.56% of eligible voters who took the trouble to cast a ballot compared to 46.1% in 2014. Faisal Hassan 36.1% Mark DeMontis: 33% Laura Albanese: 28% Grad Murray: 2.5% Bonnie Hu: 0.6%

President Ford™ will be grasping the levers of power in a few short weeks. Every cloud has a silver lining and there will no doubt be initiatives from Mr. Ford’s team that will be good for the province. Even Mike Harris wasn’t all bad.

What lessons can we learn from this election and its result?

    1. Our electoral system needs reform. The popular vote was PC: 40.6%, NDP: 33.7%, LIB: 19.3%. The total progressive vote was 53% and yet because it was split, a government representing 40.5% of the electorate has absolute power for the next four years.
    2. Faisal Hassan fought well to win the seat for the NDP. He ran an effective campaign with a strong team that could be useful during October’s civic election. Let’s hope he can get up to speed quickly and be an effective voice for York South-Weston.
    3. Here in York South-Weston, local PC boy Mark DeMontis surfed the blue wave and almost eked out a victory. WestonWeb articles about him were insanely popular in terms of reader numbers so it was clear he would do well. I wonder if he regrets obeying orders from PCHQ to skip the debate.
    4. Local candidate Grad Murray bumped the riding’s share of Green Party votes by a mere tenth of a percentage point over the 2014 result. Let’s hope the well-spoken and knowledgeable Mr. Murray can stick around and build on his vote share. Ontario’s Green’s now have an actual MPP, meaning that they will have a seat at debates next time. Their share of the popular vote dropped from 4.84% to 4.64% so it’s not an unqualified success.
    5. Kathleen Wynne may be a decent person but she failed to support her candidates by rooting out and exposing the corruption and bad decision-making in her party. She had five years to distance herself from the scandals and boot from cabinet flagrant opportunists like Steven Del Duca and Glen Murray but failed to do so. Her cynical, last minute concession speech was designed to hobble the NDP, indicating that her true passion was power, not progressive policies. Her claim that strikes would be never ending under the NDP was straight from the Tory Party handbook.
    6. Doug Ford’s victory speech began at the same time as Kathleen Wynne’s resignation speech. Ford’s team has vast political experience so this was no accident. It may be an insight into Mr. Ford’s style of governing.
    7. On the subject of speeches, Andrea Horwath’s last night seemed irrationally exuberant. Admittedly, she has done well, becoming the Leader of the Opposition by moving to the left of her 2014 stance.  Even so, some of her election promises seemed on the fly and not well thought out. For example, doing away with ‘Time Of Use’ hydro billing would have compromised conservation attempts and battery technology applications. Excessive subsidy of hydro bills goes against energy conservation. Far better to put the money into getting people off heating homes with electricity.
    8. York South-Weston’s fragile economy will be done no favours by Mr Ford freezing the minimum wage at $14. The promised ending of provincial income tax for these workers will do little to soften a potential $1800 annual loss.
    9. The end of Carbon Tax money may mean problems for the Mount Dennis Net Zero initiative.
    10. The Eglinton Crosstown line was scheduled to run above ground along Eglinton past Scarlett on its way (eventually) to the Airport. Defeated Etobicoke Centre MPP, Yvan Baker was a proponent of burying the line. Look for Doug Ford to endorse that (very expensive) concept.
    11. Lastly, while every cloud has a silver lining, the need for Mr. Ford to find billions of dollars out of thin air will target the most vulnerable in York South-Weston and elsewhere in Toronto. New MPP Hassan should make it a priority to anticipate and publicize the ‘efficiencies’ that will have an adverse effect on his most vulnerable constituents.

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.

PC Vote result for York South-Weston

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has published results of its recent leadership vote, broken down by riding and there are some interesting details. The vote was done through a process known as ranked balloting. Voters ranked each candidate in order of preference. Once all the first choices were counted, the last place candidate was eliminated. Voters whose candidate was eliminated in the first round had their second choice vote added to the remaining candidates’ tallies.

The online ballot used in the PC leadership vote.

Incidentally, although the PCs, Liberals and NDP use ranked balloting when choosing a leader, most of the right-leaning members of council (including our own) voted against studying ranked balloting for the 2022 civic election. The federal Liberals have backed off also.

First Round: York South-Weston

  • NAME                                         VOTES     %
  • ALLEN, Tanya Granic                23     11%
  • ELLIOTT, Christine                    46    22%
  • FORD, Doug                                  133    63.6%
  • MULRONEY, Caroline                   7      3.3%
  • 209 total votes

Second Round

  • NAME                                         VOTES     %
  • ELLIOTT, Christine                    49    23.7%
  • FORD, Doug                                  151    63.6%
  • MULRONEY, Caroline                   7      3.3%
  • 207 total votes

4th place (in Ontario) Tanya Granic Allen, was eliminated and as expected, most of her votes provincially and in YSW went to Ford.

Third Round

  • NAME                                         VOTES     %
  • ELLIOTT, Christine                    55    26.7%
  • FORD, Doug                                  151    73.3%
  • 206 total votes

All vote percentages have been rounded to the nearest tenth for clarity.

The riding with the most eligible votes cast (from those who joined the PC Party and paid $10) was Don Valley West with 1334; the least: Kiiwetinoong (a huge new northern Ontario riding that comes into play this year) with only 34. York South-Weston had 209 people voting.

The fact that only 209 people voted does not bode well for the PCs in York South Weston. On the other hand, the local strength of Doug Ford should give PC nominee Mark DeMontis some comfort in a riding that has been solidly Liberal with a brief exception (Paul Ferreira for the NDP between February and October of 2007) since its formation in 1999.

Mark De Montis announcement video.

Progressive Conservative nominee for York South-Weston in the upcoming Provincial election, Mark DeMontis posted a video today lamenting the lack of adequate government support for persons with disabilities. No doubt when the new Progressive Conservative government cuts taxes there will be lots more money for the disabled.

In the video, DeMontis also goes on to state that he will not be publicly endorsing any of the PC leadership candidates. He has in the recent past endorsed Doug Ford and more recently, former leader Patrick Brown when he made a brief return to the fray.

One might say it’s a case of twice bitten, once shy but that will allow DeMontis to instantly get behind the new leader when his or her name is announced on Saturday. Who says politics is hard?

Five things that need to change in Weston / Mount Dennis. Part 4.

As we approach the year end, here are some things that seem to be holding us back locally. This is the fourth of a five part series.

As always, your comments are welcome.

4. The Democratic Process.

From aguafund.org

Next October will see city council elections for councillors and and mayor. Barring a cataclysmic upheaval, few seats will change hands in 2018. One positive note comes from the recent redrawing of ward boundaries to better reflect the changing population densities. The boundaries, in place since 1999 needed updating since ward populations had become uneven during that time. For example, downtown has many more residents thanks to the ongoing condo boom. This change was fought by the likes of Justin Di Ciano and Giorgio Mammoliti who presumably felt threatened by a more democratic redistribution. The OMB, (needing to act quickly and not known as a fan of democracy) in a surprising decision, rightly smacked down the appeal.

Ward 11 (along with only 6 others) will be unaffected as the population in our area has remained relatively static but four additional wards will be created in time for the elections; three of them in the downtown core. Downtown wards are often quite left leaning so the good news is that this may signal a more progressive council in the next term

We have a ‘first past the post’ system for all Canadian Elections including local council seats and mayor. A simple majority determines the winner. Unfortunately, the first past the post voting system favours incumbents and many people stay home, knowing that their candidate is disadvantaged. This is why we have so many career-politicians in Toronto. Some are elected term after term, often with the votes of a tiny fraction of constituents.

There is a better way. Ranked balloting allows voters to choose their first, second and third choices and gives more voting power to electors whose first choice doesn’t win. It also prevents fringe candidates from winning through a split vote. In the last mayoral election for example, Doug Ford could well have been elected if Olivia Chow had run a stronger campaign and split the centre-left vote between herself and John Tory. As an aside, other than bluster and the occasional ferris wheel popping up, one can be forgiven for wondering if anything would be different had Mr. Ford won in 2014.

From rcvmaine.com

It would seem obvious that anyone interested in a better democratic process in Toronto would support ranked balloting. The province is in charge of such legislation and would need a request from City Council to make the change. Sadly, our own councillor voted against studying the use of ranked ballots and effectively (with a group of other councillors) killed the possibility for the near future.

At council meetings, our councillor along with a cadre of nodding deputy mayors is obliged to vote the Mayor Tory line on most matters since she is Council Speaker and wants to keep her prestigious job. Sadly, this means that she and the rest of the Tory bloc often vote against the interests of Ward 11. The councillor cannot serve two masters effectively and it would probably be better for Ward 11 to have a councillor with no such conflicts.

Voter participation:

As the saying goes, all politics is local. We are lucky enough to have local politicians who consult with the people on a regular basis on matters of importance. If we do or don’t like what’s going on, we need to attend the meetings and express our views. Shy folk can send emails or write letters but it’s vital that people express their opinions because no matter what the issue, you can be sure that corporate interests have already made their cases strongly and often.

Lastly one final thought: we need a better turnout for elections. In 2014, fewer than 51% of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot.

From garyvarvel.com

Part 5 of this series (The Planning Process) may be a couple of days what with Christmas festivities and all.