Voter turnout 45% in October 7 election.

As analysts begin poring over the chicken entrails disgorged in Thursday’s elections, a sad announcement was made here on Weston Web. Paul Ferreira will likely quit politics as a result of this election. His shock announcement came in response to Weston Web readers yesterday.

What are we to make of this election? No doubt the full story will be told over the next few days. A quick rundown of the numbers from Elections Ontario using April’s eligible voter numbers gives an approximate (and unofficial) view of the voter turnout and percentage of the total number of voters in the riding (68,978 in April).

  • Laura Albanese..(L)…20.1%
  • Paul Ferreira..(NDP).18.9%
  • Lan Daniel..(PC)……..5.02%
  • Keith Jarrett..(G)……..0.6%

Total votes cast: 31,043

Approximate voter turnout: 45%. This is even lower than the dismal 51% in April in which Mike Sullivan defeated incumbent Alan Tonks. With so much at stake for Ontario’s second poorest riding, one must ask why voters couldn’t be bothered to move themselves to vote. Lord knows we have enough compelling issues – lack of jobs, poverty, atrocious rental housing, lack of decent transportation, large numbers of diesel trains about to pollute the area – the list goes on and on. The winning candidate only seemed to come to life and muster up some fighting spirit for the election and will no doubt slip back into obscurity once the dust settles.

So the bottom line is, a winning political candidate in York South Weston only needs to convince about 1 in 5 eligible voters to get out and mark an x.

That is truly pathetic.

Albanese wins

Laura Albanese, our MPP, has won another term in office. She defeated her rival, Paul Ferreira, in a very close race. 842 votes separated the candidates.

There were, in your humble correspondent’s eyes, three major events in the election. The first was the acrimonious first debate. It was ugly, and set an ugly tone for much of the campaigning that followed.

The second major event was the ill-advised pamphleting by Mike Sullivan, our federal MP. Sullivan borrowed words liberally from provincial NDP campaign materials and opened himself up to allegations that he was boosting for his friend and colleague with federal tax dollars.

Finally, there was Albanese’s decision to skip the televised all-candidates debate. It struck your humble correspondent as a bad idea, but your humble correspondent is no political machinist.

York South—Weston has been a very competitive riding for years. Ferreira and Albanese have each had turns at the helm in the past.

Lan Daniel, the Conservative candidate who hardly campaigned, got 11% of the vote. Keith Jarrett, from the Greens, got 1.5%. Eric Compton, a libertarian from the ‘Freedom Party’, 177 votes and a tax deduction, one assumes. Mark Micheal Radejewsky, an independent candidate who, I think, lives near me with his mom, captured the hearts of 46 Westonites.

Televised debates tomorrow night

Those of you with Roger’s cable will be able to watch the candidates for York South–Weston in their only televised debate (apart, of course, from the one on WestonWeb’s own YouTube channel!)

The debate will be tomorrow night, October 4, at 8 pm on channels 10 and 63.

Your humble reporter doesn’t have cable; would someone let me know whether Lan Daniel bothered to show up?

NDP may have the lead in tight race

A poll commissioned by the Ontario Federation of Labour has found that Paul Ferreira is in the lead in York South–Weston. A prior and smaller poll by the Toronto Star had put Albanese in the lead.

The newer poll, while done by a group that would favour the NDP, was meant to replicate the poll done last weekend by the Star, but do so with more detail. The Star sampled only about 400 people per riding, giving a wide margin of error. The OFL wanted more detail in ridings that were likely to be close races. They commissioned the same polling company and asked roughly twice as many people in each of the contended ridings.

According the OFL, the NDP has an 8 point lead on the Liberals; 44% of respondents said they would vote for Paul Ferreira. In the Star’s poll, the results were reversed: 43% said they would vote for Albanese.

Inexplicably, 15% of people still reported that they would vote for Lan Daniel, the missing Conservative candidate. Daniel has not attended any debates, does not return phone calls or emails, and does not actually seem to be campaigning.

The loser of the debate is…

It is idiotic but customary to declare a winner after a political debate. This time, WestonWeb declares a loser.

The loser: You.

The debates last week were more colosseum than agora. Shouting and strife trumped discussion and reason. This would be a shame in any riding, in any contest. It is a terrible shame in Weston.

Supporters of Laura Albanese and Paul Ferreira shouted and jeered when their opponent tried to speak. They applauded when their own candidate made a jab, and they reduced the already short time for answers into an unusable space too short for anything but insults or defense.

Frankly, the card-carriers made me angry. I’m sure I was not the only one; I saw many scowling, silent faces around me, faces of people who were there to listen, not shout. I certainly don’t ever want to see another ‘debate’, and I’m sure the  other attendees felt the same. Perhaps that’s what the members want: a room full of only themselves, screaming at each other across an unbridgeable divide of their own making. That is what they will certainly soon get.

But if I never did return, I wouldn’t miss much. I did not see a debate. I saw two candidates unable or unwilling to actually discuss, explain, and reason. They were often only able to say what they would do, not why they would do it, before they were shouted over or at.

A cynic would say that this was all part of the plan, that the supporters were agents, not citizens. That seems likely given the buttons and shirts they were wearing. They seemed like loyalists—and loyalists are deplorable. Loyalists allow their ideas to be shaped by party ideology instead of testing the ideology by their ideas. But your humble correspondent has no evidence that this was a plan. Your humble correspondent cannot prove that the shouting mob was told to shout and to overwhelm debate. Your humble correspondent hopes that this was an accident.

It could be.

When one party overwhelms the voice of a debater, it must be difficult for supporters to remain silent. In time, of course, the shouters will embarrass themselves and show themselves to be an intolerant mob, but that time must seem interminable. It is easier to shout in turn and ensure, if one’s own representative cannot be heard, that no representative shall be heard.

Because they were democrats, not Caesars, the organizers of the debate could not restore order. They tried, but it ran against their nature. They would have had to force people to be silent—a repellent idea at a debate. When the moderator and organizer tried to restore order, the ideologues showed no shame at all.

The organizers could not, so the representatives needed to silence their own supporters. And they did not, to their disgrace. Ferreira and Albanese needed to step in and say, “Hey, lay off my friend here. Shut up and let our opponent speak.”

But, of course, they could not. If they had, they would have been admitting what we all knew already: That they could control this mob, and that this mob was not a spontaneous uprising of concerned citizens appalled by the ideas of their opponent. They would have had to take responsibility for their supporters, in other words, and nobody would have wanted to admit allegiance to that ugly group.

There is, though, another way. It is a way I have tried many times in my classes, and it works. It is judo and turns your opponent’s strength against him. But it can be done only once.

Paul, Laura, here’s my advice:

When your ugly mob starts getting ugly, say to them, “Hey. Shut up for a second. You know, I hate this yelling. It upsets me when you yell over me, but I can live with it. But I cannot live with you yelling over my opponent. So sure, go ahead, silence me if that’s what you want. But let my opponent speak.”

Laura, Paul, this can be transformative. If you deploy this technique first, you will show that you, not the other, is capable of discourse. You can do this while maintaining the fiction that they were not brought there to yell. And you will show that while you are tough enough to take being yelled at, you don’t want your opponent to have to endure it.

And you will have been a leader. That is what you say you want. Your followers will not disobey you, and your opponent’s followers, if they continue, will show themselves to be an unruly mob of malfeasants shouting down a reasonable person.

Which is, after all, what they are.

And Paul, Laura, you need to do this. You know that Weston needs to be united, not divided. We are divided enough already. Weston needs reason, not shouting. We have enough strife already. Weston needs peace, harmony, and a united effort to better our community.

And you: you need to lead, not win. Winning is easy. You can win through all sorts of wicked tricks. Leading, however, is hard.

A final word: Ferreira and Albanese saw fit to come and face the people in the colosseum. The Conservative and Greens did not. There is something worse than a leader who you can see but not hear. That’s a leader you can neither see nor hear.

Lan Daniel, Conservative candidate, skips debate

Lan Daniel, the Conservative candidate for York South–Weston, did not attend tonight’s debate. Both Laura Albanese and Paul Ferreira did.

The Conservative calculus is quite clear: Daniel doesn’t stand a chance in this riding. She could, however, completely screw up the provincial campaign by saying something dumb. The Conservatives have nothing to win and everything to lose.

The effects on the riding and democracy are not salutary however. Democracy suffers because we don’t get to hear alternative views—the NDP and the Liberals get to set out the only options. When Paul Ferreira, for instance, says that we need to do something about out-of-control public-sector CEO salaries [see note below] (which he did tonight), nobody comes to the defense of the market. That is a shame.

Skipping the debates also gives the other candidates, and the incumbent in particular, an easy ride. In a field of three candidates, two can pressure and criticize the remaining. Candidates will be more cautious and careful with facts and their records when they know they may face criticism from two sides.

This is the second time a Conservative candidate has skipped debates in York South–Weston. In the recent federal election, Jilian Saweczko skipped all untelevised debates.

Update: I have corrected the wording of the post. Paul Ferreira would like me to be clear about what he said. He writes, “I was explicitly referring to public sector CEOs and senior executives”, and, in fact, he was. I have changed the wording and regret the ambiguity of the initial post.