Longtime local political operative and former York South-Weston MPP, Paul Ferreira had an exchange of views on Twitter a couple of days ago. In a tweet, local Councillor Frances Nunziata claims that for years she has advocated direct TTC service along St Clair Avenue West from Gunns Loop to Scarlett Road.
Today seemed like a slow news day and I thought I had stumbled onto news about a boundary change for the Federal Riding of York South-Weston. Once published, a reader questioned my accuracy and as I was composing a clever reply, Paul Ferreira from MP Mike Sullivan’s office came to my rescue through a quick email pointing out my error. Red faces all round (well here anyway). To anyone who read the article (since assigned to the dustbin) please accept my apologies and know that I will try harder in the future.
Much to her own surprise, incumbent Liberal Laura Albanese handily defeated the N.D.P.’s Paul Ferreira and the P.C.’s Andrew Ffrench in what was expected to be a tight race. Across Ontario, the tumultuous events of election night will echo in York South-Weston for years to come. Across the province, voters rejected the P.C.’s confusing promises of harsh austerity, cuts to government jobs and corporate incentives while providing tax cuts for corporations. Andrea Horwath’s bizarre adoption of Tory style policies such as utility H.S.T. refunds, corporate incentives and a Ford-like respect for taxpayers confused voters and infuriated the base. These two odd approaches (which stirred memories of Mike Harris and Bob Rae) gave voters no other safe haven than the Liberals. In addition, only Kathleen Wynne was able to sound sincere when the camera lights were switched on. Wynne’s enthusiasm and confidence allowed voters to trust her messages of contrition for past Liberal wrongs, sound the alarm about the possibility of a P.C. victory and promises of better days to come under a Liberal government.
Across the province, it appeared that to many voters, the only acceptable platform (or the least unacceptable) belonged to the Liberals. In order to ensure the adoption of that platform (which the NDP had rejected), strategic voting was in the minds of many voters when they were marking their X.
One good thing to come of this is that having a clear majority will allow Kathleen Wynne to work on her agenda without needing permission from the opposition. Transportation issues that plague the GTA can get the attention they deserve. Hopefully a new Mayor and refreshed Toronto City Council can work with Wynne to straighten out years of neglect and idiotic council decisions.
Another good thing to come of this is that the P.C.s will choose a new and less extremist leader. Mr. Hudak ably demonstrated that ‘Tea Party Lite’ doesn’t work in Ontario. Ms Horwath, (if she survives as leader in the Fall convention) will no doubt be charged with returning the NDP to its core values.
Premier Wynne seems anxious to hit the ground running and wants to recall the legislature to sit through July. Ms Albanese has been given a large mandate to serve and we can only hope that she will use this to more forcefully represent the electorate in Toronto’s poorest riding. In the past she was able to extract concessions from the premier because of the swing nature of the riding. Now she has four years to demonstrate to electors that she will be a strong and responsive advocate and not simply another whipped government vote.
Adam’s recent piece on strategic voting rejects the idea that the only way to ensure the defeat of the Conservatives, and the demise of Tim Hudak’s political career, is to vote for the current incumbent Laura Albanese. His argument is based on the probability that Progressive Conservative candidate Andrew Ffrench cannot win the York South-Weston seat. Adam concludes it does not matter if the the NDP candidate is elected, because it is not contributing toward a P.C. win.
Allow me to present a contrarian view based on conversations I have had with my wife.
A look at the policies of the three main parties in this election reveals that two parties, the P.C.s and the NDP have drastically veered from their traditional political positions.
The P.C. leader has ventured so far to the right that his party is touching on “Tea Party” territory. Mr. Hudak’s plan to create a million jobs, with no details on what type of jobs will be created, and his vow to eliminate 100,000 government positions should worry all of us. Creating jobs is not difficult if one sacrifices worker protection, environmental laws and benefits. As Reverend Al Sharpton, once astutely observed,
“We had full employment in the black community during slavery. We just didn’t have wages. So we don’t want just a job, we want a job that pays, and pays so that we can take care of our families.”
Part of the reason for Mr. Hudak’s shift to the soft shoulder of the extreme right is that Andrea Horwath has steered the NDP bus across the median and over to the right of centre, hi-jacking traditional Conservative policies. When the so-called “Gang of 34” wrote their unprecedented letter, they simple pointed out the obvious fact that Ms Horwath has rejected traditional NDP values. The letter has been fiercely attacked by Ms Horwath’s supporters, questioning the reputation of people who have devoted long years to the NDP. But her shift to the right was blatantly demonstrated when she chose to defeat the NDP-friendly Liberal budget. Ms Horwath should at least have the candour to relabel her party, as Britain’s Tony Blair did when he swung Labour to the right. Perhaps her party should be called “the New NDP”.
This drastic change in party policies, leaves just Kathleen Wynne, solidly at the centre. And despite the gas plant scandal, there really is no choice but to vote Liberal.
The results of this election have the potential to take Ontario into the kind of right wing territory which might make Mr. Harris seem a moderate. Every seat will count in this contest. A minority government led by Hudak will allow him a bully pulpit from which to seduce people to turn against their own best interests, in favour of corporate profit and McJobs. Every seat the NDP wins will entrench Andrea’s hold as leader and encourage a further swing to the right, as happened in Great Britain after Tony Blair’s success.
Ontario voters must push the reset button in this election. The only way to do this is to give Ms Wynne a solid majority. A Liberal majority will collapse the political fortunes of both Mr. Hudak and Ms. Horwath allowing normalcy to return. The Progressive Conservatives will reassume their traditional place just to the right of centre. The NDP will rediscover the values of Tommy Douglas and Stephen and David Lewis. Ontario will avoid the very possible slide into the delusory thinking which maintains that the only way to cope with our problems is to cut taxes, decrease government spending and allow corporations free reign so the unemployment problem can be solved by the free market economy. Research shows that these policies have not helped the average worker in the US.
“According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, those in the top 1 percent of households doubled their share of pretax income from 1979 to 2007; the bottom 80 percent saw their share fall. Worse, while the average income for the top 1 percent more than tripled (after inflation), the bottom 80 percent saw only feeble income growth, on the order of just 20 percent over nearly 30 years. The rising tide was raising a few boats hugely and most other boats not very much.” Source: National Journal
While Paul Ferreira is a worthy candidate and one who, if elected would continue to work hard for the community, the need to vote strategically in this election is of greater importance.
Laura Albanese and Paul Ferreira were polished and careful at the debate last night. Andrew Ffrench, the PC candidate was, by far, the most fun to watch, though. He spoke without notes or polish, laid it all on the line, and said some funny things as a result, like when he said, seniors “take up a lot of space” in hospitals.
But in this race, Ffrench can afford to be the most fun: he has nothing to lose. Only Ferreira and Albanese are serious contenders.
Ferreira was sharp, sometimes aggressive, and fast. He hammered his opponents, and especially Albanese.
Albanese was very good too; she struck the right tone at the right occasion—with one, very notable, very disappointing exception.
But that one exception decides my vote.
On policy there was little to separate Ferreira and Albanese (and anyway, few people in the room were undecided. The different flactions clapped like they were on the set of Oprah.) Albanese and Ferreira agreed on auto-insurance, seniors’ issues, transit, pensions, electrification, small business, even sports.
They only really disagreed on history: the history of the Liberal party and of Metrolinx. Ferreira thinks, rightly, that Metrolinx is broken and needs to be fixed. Albanese thinks that it should be given a larger mandate.
The most interesting part—and the part that settled my vote—was about the gas plant scandal and the history of Liberal mismanagement. At first, Albanese answered to these issues well, and said contritely that her party could have done better.
But at the end of the debate she blew it. Ffrench mentioned, again, the wasted $1,300,000,000. Speaking over him, and out of turn, Albanese “It’s over 20 years. And you promised it too. Done, done, done!”
And a billion dollars is a billion dollars whether it is wasted slowly or quickly. Those gas plants cost my family $500 in wasted tax money. I expect more than “done, done, done”.
There’s also the implication.
I doubt that Laura Albanese had anything to do with the gas plant scandal— governments are big places—so she probably has little to apologize for. But, by the same token, its easier for her to distance herself from the scandalous waste by saying something along the lines of “Hey, my party did a stupid thing. I think it’s awful. But rest assured, I’m your representative first and a Liberal second.”
But that’s not what she said. Instead she implied that a billion wasted dollars (but hey, over 20 years) is not a big deal.
It is a big deal.
And, worse, she implied that wasting that kind of money is politics as usual. Maybe it is. It shouldn’t be. And I, for one, will tear up my ballot before I vote for someone who thinks it should.
So I won’t be voting for Laura Albanese.
With little to differentiate between the Liberals and the NDP in this election, I think it is perfectly reasonable to vote for the person you trust the most. I trust Paul Ferreira more than I trust Laura Albanese. He seems sharp, principled, and decent.
I only hope that he will acknowledge when his party is wrong. Ms. Albanese missed her chance.
I’ll be voting for Paul Ferreira.
PS: Jessica Higgins, the Green candidate, didn’t show up for the debate. I emailed to find out why. She hasn’t responded.
The other candidates (an independent and a libertarian) didn’t show up either. Seriously, what do people get out of registering but not campaigning. Is it a tax thing? Honest question.
Rogers will be airing a debate between most of the contenders for the provincial seat in York South—Weston. Laura Albanese will not be debating.
If true, this will be the second time that Laura Albanese has skipped the televised debates. Albanese also skipped two debates, including the televised one, in 2011.
Her office says “[the debate] is in the east end and with a limited amount of time during a writ period it is important for Laura to speak directly to as many voters as possible. We know that people want to speak to their candidate face to face, and we need to put aside a great deal of time to accomplish that.”
Ferreira’s office said, “open debate about important election issues is healthy for democracy and indeed serves the electorate well. We are disappointed Laura Albanese is avoiding these kind [sic] of public forums.”
Albanese’s office did say that she will be attending the all-candidates debate on June 4.