YSW Provincial Election Debate 2018

Moderator Sean Hertel instructs candidates on the debate format.

Last night’s debate at the York Civic Centre was an exercise in civility as well as democracy. There’s a lot at stake in this election and all but one of the main party candidates showed up to answer questions from ordinary folks. Not all people present were regular voters. Many were party movers and shakers, aficionados and rabid hacks from all sides (you know who you are).

The ‘elephant’ not in the room was PC candidate Mark DeMontis. Whatever the reason, as Adam wrote yesterday, his absence was a loss to the debate. Mr. DeMontis allegedly spent the evening canvassing, tweeting profound thoughts while doing so. Here’s a sample:

Organizers could have left an empty seat and name tag out for the missing candidate but didn’t, reflecting the professionalism and civility mentioned earlier. While candidates who miss debates are generally Conservative, Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen skipped out on the main YSW debate back in September 2015 and it didn’t seem to hurt him in spite of predictions to the contrary.

A consortium of groups came together to organize the debate including  For Youth Initiative members GreenHills, Rockliffe Smythe and Mount Dennis community groups and the Weston Village and Stockyards residents’ associations.

Political debates can get nasty and raucous. This one was a positive love-fest thanks to superb organization with a team of volunteers performing a variety of tasks including ushering and gathering written audience questions. Questions were presented, usually by their authors. Candidates were able to deliver their answers without interruption. Moderator Sean Hertel outlined his expectations then kept things in line with effortless skill and injections of humour. Timekeeper Cherri Hurst kept candidates on the straight and narrow.

One thing pointed out during the debate was that all but one of the candidates present was an immigrant to Canada and how that reflected well on our country. Another thing that came across was the decency and sincerity of the candidates.

Faisal Hassan is the NDP hopeful in YSW and has been active in the party for a long  time. He began his life in Canada in Winnipeg and more recently worked for former YSW MP, Mike Sullivan and for the NDP in Etobicoke North during the last federal general election. He has lived in Weston for 20 years and believes in the importance of helping members of the community. Over the last fifteen years, he thinks that life has become harder for people in YSW, referring to inadequate transit links, hallway medicine and expensive childcare. He believes that we need to make life more affordable for everyone. More on Mr Hassan here.

Libertarian Party of Ontario candidate Bonnie Hu is a grocery store worker who has run for the party here and in a Vancouver by-election in 2016. Her party is big on self-sufficiency, lower taxes and minimal government involvement and Bonnie’s answers were mainly consistent with that philosophy – although she does feel we should spend money on ESL teachers. She would like more services for immigrants, decriminalization of all drugs and is opposed to the $14 minimum wage and says it was too large a hike.

Grad Murray is the Green Party of Ontario’s nominee. Articulate and knowledgeable, Mr. Murray has a degree in political science and it shows. He wants to put the community first and believes everyone has a right to live in dignity and that would include comprehensive health care and transportation systems. Mr. Murray believes in the need for ‘fearless public transportation’  and says that investing in people is a helpful hand up, not a humiliating hand-out.

Laura Albanese for the Liberal Party of Ontario stressed the importance for voters to be informed. She reminded the audience that she has represented YSW for the last 10 years and believes that the most important job of a legislator is to bring real improvements to a community. As evidence, she pointed to investments in the West Park Health Care Centre, the UP Express and Eglinton Crosstown Line, training and support for young people, full day kindergaten in schools, modernizing classrooms. She would like to continue to do more like provide free childcare and tuition programs.

To watch the full debate go here.

Debate Winners in each category:

Passion – Faisal Hassan

Sincerity: Bonnie Hu

Effective Messaging: Grad Murray

Gentility: Laura Albanese

York South-Weston is indeed fortunate to have such great community involvement and the opportunity to view the slate of candidates in a calm and rational atmosphere. Kudos to all involved.

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.

York South-Weston now a safe NDP seat?

US political site Counterpunch.org has an article commenting on the current provincial election campaign. Apparently the Ford name has piqued interest down there. The author, Canadian political commentator, Doug Johnson Hatlem claims that no Liberal seat in Ontario is safe and that York South-Weston has become a safe NDP seat. The author states that when families get together over a long weekend, they have a chance to mull over the political situation as a group and opinions become firmer.

Read his article here.

Mark DeMontis’s campaign launches this weekend

Mark DeMontis, the PC candidate for York South–Weston is launching his campaign this weekend at 2030 Weston Road.

Please join us for a BLOCK PARTY and open house as we celebrate the unveiling of both my new vision for York South-Weston and the official start of our campaign. I am looking forward to meeting with members of our community who share a passion for change.

The open house will begin at 9am and will run until 3pm with FREE food, coffee, music and some very special guests who love York South-Weston just as much as I do.

While the Conservatives have always had a candidate in YSW, DeMontis is the first PC candidate to have campaigned. Born and raised in Weston, and with a considerable profile and the benefit of a strong pro-PC shift, he is opening up a third front in the race.

Andrea Horwath outlines NDP platform.

Provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath speaking at the York Civic Centre on Monday night.

On Monday night at the annual general meeting of the York-South Weston NDP, special guest speaker, Party leader Andrea Horwath outlined the major planks of her platform for the upcoming June 7th provincial election.

In his introduction to Ms. Horwath, York South-Weston riding nominee Faisal Hassan described her as an incredibly strong, passionate woman and a champion for working families who is working hard to build a brighter future for all Ontarians.

Ms Horwath went on to outline what an NDP government will do if elected.

Specific promises:

  • Bring Hydro back into public ownership and lower bills.
  • Expand affordable not for profit quality child care (currently over $2000 monthly in Toronto).
  • Expand minimum wage to everyone (e.g. restaurant servers)
  • Make it easier to form unions
  • Make temporary  workers permanent after 3 months
  • Match funds with the Federal and City governments for social housing repairs and maintenance
  • Give all Ontarians access to free prescription drugs
  • End the layoffs of workers
  • Fund healthcare to cover inflation and take care of the unique needs in each community.
  • Make sure healthcare funding matches population growth
  • Stop school closings – schools will become vibrant, well-funded community hubs
  • Combat anti-black racism through re-innstituting the Anti-Black Racism Secretariat (an earlier version of today’s Anti-Racism Directorate) and fight all forms of discrimination and hate.
  • Reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions in a way that’s fair and not costly to the poor – make polluters pay.
  • Ensure that indigenous people are able to have a decent life.

Mr Hassan will be facing Liberal incumbent Laura Albanese and Conservative nominee Mark DeMontis.

Longtime York South—Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate

Faisal Hassan, a resident of Weston and a longtime community advocate, is set to become the NDP’s candidate in York South—Weston for the upcoming provincial election.

Hassan says that this community has given him a lot; he wants the same opportunities that he has received to be accessible to all residents of York South—Weston. He believes in job creation, addressing income inequality, public health care, affordable housing and child care, and environmental sustainability. He sees a bright future for all residents of York South—Weston.

Currently Hassan serves on the volunteer board of the Weston King Neighbourhood Centre (WKNC) in Weston, and has been an active union member. Earlier on his career, Hassan hosted a popular current affairs radio program and served on the volunteer boards of the Centre for Equality in Accommodation and Brampton’s Habitat for Humanity.

As a politically active community member, I have been able to witness Faisal’s commitment to his community. He has canvassed all the issues that we care about and that greatly impact residents of York South—Weston; universal pharmacare, labour law reform, and the privatization of hydro, among many other things.

If you would like to meet Faisal Hassan, join the York South—Weston NDP at their nomination meeting on Wednesday, November 8th, 6pm at Weston Collegiate (100 Pine Street).