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.

Hassan wins in York South–Weston

The polls in York South–Weston closed late because our riding was a bit of a nail-biter. In the end, Faisal Hassan of the NDP won in a tight three-way race.

From The Star

Hassan took 36% of the vote, squeaking past an very strong showing from Mark DeMontis, who earned 33%. Long-time MPP Laura Albanese came in third with 28%.

 

Weston is part of the city wall surrounding Toronto, which voted almost entirely orange—in stark contrast to the rest of rural and suburban Southern Ontario.

From the CBC

That the NDP won is no great surprise. We’ve long been a centre-left riding. The big news is DeMontis’ support: he performed extremely well, riding a strong campaign and blue wave to near victory in a riding that gave the PCs only 11% of the vote in the last election.

The vote must sting Albanese, who served as a competent and reasonably-accomplished MPP. She lost through no great fault of her own, but because she was part of an inept and corrupt administration that tried to buy votes instead of staying true to its centrist principles.

Hassan will join an opposition party facing a bumbling PC leader for whom all politics is personal. Doug Ford has convictions but no principles—and we will all be sure to pay the price as he forms an evidence-free administration.

Now that the race is over, the marathon begins. Holding the PCs to account will be a test of endurance for the Hassan and the rest of the NDP.

Why I’m voting.

Here we are, it’s another provincial election and despite the PCs and NDP being virtually tied in the opinion polls, a majority Ford government seems poised to take office. It’s clear that Kathleen Wynne has to go and she acknowledged as much in her shocking announcement on Saturday. Governments in power more than two terms are filled with corrupt elements along with opportunistic self-promoters. The names Steven Del Duca and Glen Murray come to mind regarding the latter category but there are too many Liberal villains, both in public and behind the scenes. Premier Wynne had a chance to distance herself from the worst aspects of the McGuinty years but instead became his accomplice. As my wife delicately puts it, it’s time to change the pigs at the trough.

In stark contrast, one name that is associated with honesty, integrity and dedication is York South-Weston MPP and cabinet minister, Laura Albanese. She has served York South-Weston well and while it seems unlikely that she will win another term, she can be proud of her accomplishments and hard work for the people of her riding. If, as anticipated, Faisal Hassan wins for the Ontario NDP, he will have a steep learning curve if he is to match Ms. Albanese’s current effectiveness. As for the debate-shy Mark DeMontis, better luck next time.

Laura Albanese at the recent candidates debate at York Civic Centre (file).

Ms. Wynne’s concession announcement was shocking because it’s rare for any form of truth to be uttered during an election campaign. The reasoning is unclear – obviously Liberal deep thinkers ‘persuaded’ Wynne to fall on her sword but diehard Liberal voters may feel encouraged to abandon the party and vote NDP. If I was a Liberal candidate, I would feel that the legs had been cut from under me. Watch for unseemly jockeying for the position of leader in the final days of the campaign. Incredibly, it’s possible that the Liberals will be shut out of the legislature entirely or at best, lose official party status (8 seats required).

In Etobicoke North, Doug Ford is having a tough race against the NDP’s Mahamud Amin which is understandable as those same electors have already seen what he is like as a politician. They endured his ineffectiveness and absenteeism as ward councillor from 2010 to 2014. Non-resident nephew Mike who took over the council seat from his uncle has a better attendance record but manages to be even less effective and more right-wing than the man who claims to have been co-mayor of Toronto and saved the city over a billion dollars.  If Mahamud Amin can upset Ford, it will be a genuine shocker.

In Etobicoke Centre, incumbent Liberal Yvan Baker believes he is best positioned to defeat the PC’s Kinga Surma.  Ms. Surma was hand picked by local resident and family friend Doug Ford to replace the 2014 nominee, Pina Martino. Talk of Ms. Martino’s intimidation and a rigged nomination with fake party memberships surfaced recently but has gained little traction. The Wynne concession announcement may split the vote and allow Ms. Surma to win.

Doug Ford at the opening of Kinga Surma’s campaign office. (Toronto Star)

Erin Kelly, President and CEO of Advanced Symbolics has used artificial intelligence to predict the results of Brexit and Trump’s election victory. Barring a major disruptive event, Ms Kelly predicts a Ford majority government. Whether or not Premier Wynne’s concession speech is that event remains to be seen.

People say that electing Ford as Premier will be like a return to the days of Mike Harris. Well, not really. Harris wasn’t a one-man band, had an actual manifesto and laid it out during the election campaign. Ford has put together some proposed actions but no coherent plan. Look at what he calls a plan – it’s a list of repetitive promises.  Evidently the Ford Team believes that Ford Nation hasn’t the sophistication to understand rational and logical arguments. According to the ‘Plan For The People’,  Ford will fire the board and CEO of Hydro One several times.

Ford’s proposal to freeze the minimum wage at $14 will mean more poverty in Toronto where housing is expensive. It will be felt most strongly in our neck of the woods.

So, what’s a voter to do? On one hand, change is needed. On the other, after being out of office for so long, chaos is a distinct possibility under Andrea Horwath or Doug Ford’s premiership.

My only recommendation: vote your conscience. It really does make a difference, even though your party or candidate may not win. Many people will feel demoralized and be disinclined to vote, so individual votes will carry more weight. As an added bonus, parties that pick up at least 2% of the popular vote will receive a $2.71 per vote subsidy. In the last Ontario General Election, a mere 46.1% of York South-Weston voters bothered to cast their ballot. That missing 53.9% could have decided the result easily, but didn’t.

Ominously, according to the pundits, Progressive Conservatives are more likely to vote than members of other parties.

If that’s not a motivation to vote, nothing is.

June 4, Update:

The soap opera that is the Fords has produced another plot twist in the form of a lawsuit from the late Rob’s wife, Renata Ford, alleging that Doug isn’t the careful business manager that he claims to be. She also alleges that she has been short changed millions by Doug and brother Randy over Rob’s will and his shares in the family enterprise, Deco Labels. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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.

Weston Farmers Market nearly didn’t happen this year.

The Weston Farmers Market was promised that its brand new location in the Weston Community Hub would be ready for the 2018 season. Unfortunately, owing to construction delays, the site is not ready.

As a result, Weston Village BIA Chair, Masum Hossain requested the use of the UP Express parking lot for one more year. Metrolinx gave a firm no, stating that lower fares, have boosted passenger numbers and greatly increased the demand for parking. Compounding the problem, the Weston Park Baptist Church which leases its parking lot to Metrolinx on weekdays, closes its own lot to the general public on weekends.

Until three weeks ago, there was a standoff. Masum then asked local MPP Laura Albanese to see what she could do. Ms Albanese was somehow able to appeal to the better nature of Metrolinx and as a result, the market will occupy the UP Express lot for one more year. Without this intervention, Masum assures me that the Weston Farmers Market could not have operated in 2018.

The BIA has hired a new market manager. She is experienced and dynamic corporate event manager, Jennifer Forde who also happens to perform the same duties for Nathan Phillips Square Farmers Market. Jennifer is hoping to expand the customer and vendor base of our market so keep coming back to check out the new stalls in the weeks to come.

Brand new market manager Jennifer Forde with BIA chair Masum Hossain at the first Weston Farmers Market of 2018.

One familiar face was missing this week, that of Joe Gaeta of Gaeta Farms. Joe comes up from Beamsville every week but mechanical issues caused him to miss opening day.

Market stalwart, Joe Gaeta stands beside his favourite bougainvillea. (file)

Correction: In the article, I spelled Masum Hossain’s name incorrectly. This has been corrected and apologies to Mr. Hossain for the error.

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.

Eglinton closed between Black Creek and Weston this weekend.

That’s pretty much it.

According to M.P.P. Laura Albanese,

  • This work is scheduled between Saturday March 24th and Sunday March 25th, 2018 
  • The work will occur from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
  • Eglinton Avenue West will be closed from Saturday March 24 at 6:00 a.m. to Sunday March 25 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Work may be rescheduled due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances.

For more details, read this.