Hussen wins

Ahmed Hussen, the Liberal incumbent, cruised to an easy victory last night in the federal election. He received more votes than the rest of the candidates combined.

As always, voters were swayed by party leadership and national trends. The Conservative candidate, Sajanth Mohan, received more votes than the NDP candidate, Hawa Mire. I hadn’t heard of Mohan before the election (and didn’t see him during it), while Mire had built a campaign for months before the writ.

The PPC candidate received 5% of the vote, in line with national numbers. Nicki Ward, the Green candidate, came in last, with 2%.

I’m voting Green

I will be voting for Nicki Ward, the Green candidate. I think she would be a superb representative for York South–Weston.

I’ve seen Ward at three debates, and she’s always the same: extremely smart and very direct. She speaks her mind, and she does so with panache. She’s also quite funny. I get the impression that Ward is running a capable campaign on an $8 budget—and I’d love to see what she can do with an office staff.

I happen to agree with much of Green Party platform, but I don’t think it really matters. Ward is a pragmatist, not a dogmatist, and in the debates, she showed herself to be extremely focused on York South–Weston, and the issues that affect us here. She had good ideas for getting more federal money into the riding, and has been—correctly—shocked that we have seen so little.

She’s not the perfect candidate. I think more people would vote for Ward if they knew her, but she hasn’t had much of a presence in the community between elections. That’s a shame, and it’s to her detriment and ours. I also think that the Green Party likely has more dumb drama than The Bachelor.

Finally, I’m unwilling to reason circularly for long enough to vote strategically. I should vote for the person I think you think I will vote for, and you’ll vote for the person you think I think you’ll vote for? No.

What about Hawa Mire, NDP?

Mire seems to be a very good candidate, and I gave serious thought to voting for her. She knows the issues and the details, and has an excellent grasp of policy and her party’s platform. She seems to be energetic and smart, and she has been working locally for months before the election. She appears to be a good advocate for local issues.

And, there’s no getting around it: it would probably help to have a party machine to get stuff done. Nicki Ward may struggle because of this, but Mire would bring the NDP’s machinery with her to office.

That said, Mire did say Canada “could be called a terrorist state”, an idea I find offensive. She also said that Trudeau faced violence on the campaign trail because elected officials haven’t taken the rise of hate groups seriously; I don’t believe that, and I don’t think it’s fair. Mire also declined to attend the second debate.

What about Ahmed Hussen, Liberal?

Ahmed Hussen is smart, hardworking, and frequently charismatic. In my view, though, he is not a good representative for our riding, nor an exceptionally good federal minister.

Hussen does go door-to-door, but he doesn’t answer my messages and he doesn’t attend debates. I get that I’m just a blogger, so I’m not much bothered by the former. I am very irritated by the latter. Debates are a crucial part of democracy—the only chance most of us get to hear candidates defend their records and to be challenged on local issues.

As long as he refuses to attend debates, I will refuse to vote for him.

Also, as far as I know (I could be wrong), the only money he has brought to Weston recently was a $35 million loan to build low-cost housing. In an era of unprecedented public spending, a modest loan seems to me like very little pork from a federal minister.

And though all politics is local, I can’t forget that he was an intransigent and dogmatic Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship during the period refugees were seeking asylum through a literal and legal loophole.

More recently, Hussen has overseen the housing portfolio and an unfair and unsustainable rise in housing prices. And yes, though this is a global phenomenon, it is to some degree his responsibility. Canada’s housing prices rose the second most in the OECD. They are also the third-least affordable. He should have done more, faster, and farther in advance.

What about Sajanth Mohan?

Mohan, the Conservative candidate, may be an excellent person and a superb candidate, but we wouldn’t know it. I had never heard of him before the election, and he didn’t attend the debates. Also the Conservatives’ climate change “plan” is unworthy of the name.

Hussen skips second debate, others follow

Incumbent Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen declined to attend the debate hosted by the Mount Dennis Community Association. Last week, he skipped the debate hosted by Friends of Smythe Park—meaning he has not attended any debates this election.

According to the MDCA, after Hussen decided to not attend, the other invited candidates cancelled. The MDCA said, the NDP and Conservatives “both felt that their candidates time was better spent at other activities.” (The PPC candidate was not invited to attend.)

Nicki Ward, the Green candidate, did attend, and answered questions as part of a town hall. Though I had to miss the first hour (kids had homework), it was quite a nice meeting. Ward was irreverent, knowledgeable and frequently funny. She also showed some of the research she did on hyperlocal inflation in the riding she’d like to represent, which I thought was quite interesting (though I am an economics nerd).

NDP candidate Hawa Mire said

… Less than 24 hours before the debate we had not been provided with any of the usual information – format, questions, or attendees. We were also informed the Liberal and Conservative candidates had dropped out of the event.

We went back and forth with the organizers to determine a format. Nothing was confirmed.

As a result of these discussions with organizers we withdrew from the event. Some hours later, we were informed it was to become a townhall and candidates were to get further information.

Unfortunately this did not happen.

I recognize that a 35 day election makes debates challenging to schedule, and understand the toll it takes on organizers of such events.

What I must be clear about was my intention to attend from the very beginning.

Our democracy relies on the opportunity to engage with and hold those seeking public office to account. This is a value I hold close to my heart…

(Capitalization corrected, otherwise as written)

I haven’t heard back from Ahmed Hussen, nor from Sajanth Mohan, the Conservative candidate.

Debate September 8

The Friends of Smythe Park have scheduled a debate for the federal candidates in York South–Weston for September 8 at 6:30. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the only debate announced so far in the campaign.

The debate will be online, and you can register here.

A new idea: platform by the people

Hawa Yahia Mire was nominated the the federal NDP candidate a couple of months ago, and she’s proposing something new: a “People-Powered Platform“. She says

Some politicians present their platforms to the communities they serve.  Hawa wants to do things a bit differently and build a platform with you, so that it includes your needs, wants and dreams for your community from the beginning.  

I have my doubts that you’ll get very far proposing housing deregulation and unsubsidized public transit, but I do think it’s an interesting start to her campaign.

Guest Post: Nicki Ward, Green Candidate

If Nothing Changes… Nothing Changes

By Nicki Ward

MP Candidate, York South–Weston, Green Party of Canada

As a “Blue-Green” I believe that our economic and political environment is directly connected to our natural environment. In other words we must address employment and economic development as part of our clean up.

I also have a background as a technical, scientific and medical writer – So I’m not a catastrophist. I’m a centrist who believes in evidence-based problem solving and that means tackling the things we can actually change. (One of which is who represents our interests in Ottawa)

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how York South–Weston has evolved from a beautiful collection of vibrant and self-sustaining communities to its current state.

Over the past 50 years, this area has been expropriated, annexed, absorbed and re-absorbed multiple times by neighbouring towns and cities. Some might argue that this is a normal part of growth and city living. However what is not normal is the speed and brutality with which this has occurred.

In addition to this, politicians have continuously and cynically manipulated our electoral boundaries. There are many examples, but one of the biggest Federal examples was in 1976 (and 1987, and 1996, and 2003) where they shoe-horned the distinct communities of York South, York West, Davenport, High Park–Humber Valley, and Etobicoke into a single voting block.

Gerrymandering is nothing new. But what is different is the speed and frequency with which this happens in York South–Weston. Each electoral shake up is disruptive and means that the newly created communities struggle to find their own voice and push back against political, financial and development pressure.

A cynic might suggest that since this so clearly favours incumbency that this is deliberate.

I’ve had several hundred conversations and met many wonderful individuals who continue to fight vigorously for the rights of their fellow constituents.

But this changes nothing if our pleas fall on deaf ears. If our elected politicians can only keep their job by obeying their boss in Ottawa, by being “whipped” to the party line, by being forced to vote against their conscience and their constituents…

…then York South–Weston loses…yet again.

It’s tempting to think of extinction events as singular dramatic moments like a meteorite hitting the earth. But most extinction events are slow, steady states of decay and are only visible when you look back over time.

Sadly, I think that there are signs that this is what is happening to Weston. Decades of mismanagement and misgovernment that have brought us to this point and that are pushing us further down the same dark path.

As to evidence? The long-term environmental symptoms are everywhere and the trend is all in the wrong direction.

Social issues like violence, mental health and addiction abound.
Institutional and multi-generational poverty continues to increase
Economic development (other than knocking down food stores to build condos) is absent.

Local water management allows massive quantities of sewage and other pathogens to enter our streets, basements and rivers.

Local air quality is dangerous, proven to be carcinogenic and potentially lethal. Air quality hotspots include: Weston Road, Jane Street, Keele Street, Black Creek Drive, Highway 401, Lawrence Avenue West, Eglinton Avenue West, St. Clair Avenue West and Rogers Road.

Overwhelming evidence that York South–Weston is in serious, serious trouble.

Can this tide be turned?

To be frank…If nothing changes… nothing changes.

However, you can vote for change.

With new representation and an active plan for political, economic, social and environmental solutions … then yes, we can turn this tide.

Nicki Ward

MP Candidate, York South–Weston
Green Party of Canada

We would be delighted to post a statement from other interested candidates. Send us an email!