Debate report

Wednesday night’s debate was extremely well attended. The hall at Weston Park Baptist Church was full, and the audience was very engaged. Faisal Hassan (NDP), Tom Hipsz (New Blue), Nadia Guerrera (Liberal), and James Fields (Independent) attended.

The questions covered social supports, the environment, flooding, the Eglinton Crosstown, and housing, among other things. In general, the responses were unsurprising: both the Liberal and NDP candidates promised much and differed only in details, such as what the minimum wage would be and how rent control would work. Their promises were expensive, too: I’m not sure either of the leading candidates said they wouldn’t fund a program, whether it was tunnelling under the Eglinton Flats or a universal basic income.

I do wish someone had asked about debts, deficits, and how the candidates planned to pay for their promises. I also wish Michael Ford had attended—but he did not. Perhaps he would have had a more fiscally-conservative plan.

I was also hoping there would be a decisive moment or a victor, but Nadia Guerrera and Faisal Hassan sparred only infrequently and there was no mortal blow that settled the contest. In fact, the candidates were almost always very generous with one another. At one point, Guerrera even applauded Hipsz, her very conservative competitor, while Hassan was nodding in agreement.

Guerrera did fire on the NDP at a few points, saying that Hassan and his party have not been an effective opposition. In her concluding remarks, she said “This is our moment to decide what matters, to be visionary and aspirational… The NDP did not hold [the Ford] government to account and will not prevent them from forming another Conservative majority”. It was, perhaps, the most stirring moment of the night, but also, perhaps, a concession that the Liberals are trailing in the race and will not form the government.

Hassan criticized the record of past Liberal governments, especially regarding our riding. He said “we have seen the promises they made with respect to electrification and the UP Express” and “the record of the Liberals and the Conservatives when it comes to the environment is horrible”. In his closing comments he said “we cannot count on Michael Ford to stand up to his uncle, or on Steven Del Duca to fix the mess they made—or even to win his seat.”

Both Hassan and Guerrera were extremely well prepared, with an excellent command of the issues and their parties’ platforms.

Tom Hipsz and James Fields were, I think it’s safe to say, a little less polished. (I don’t blame them. I’m a pretty big YSW nerd, and I was lost much of the time.) Both of them were exceedingly good sports. Hipsz often tilted at green-power “windmills”, and COVID mandates (he was maskless the whole night). He also admitted when he didn’t know the answer to a question, which I thought was refreshing. Fields was harder to pin down: he seems to have an eclectic platform—but as he said, as an independent, he can steal the best ideas.

While Michael Ford is the highest-profile candidate to skip last night’s debate, he wasn’t the only one. Ignacio Mongrell, who is running for the Green Party, did not attend. Neither did Ana Gabriela Ortiz, of the Ontario Party. Neither seems to be campaigning very much, if at all.

The debate was organized by the Weston Village Residents’ Association, the Rockcliffe–Smythe Community Association, and the Mount Dennis Community Association, who did, as always, a super job.

Three other candidates for election

The big political parties get most of the attention, both on this site and in the downtown media, but three other gutsy people are running as candidates in the provincial election.

Ana Gabriela Ortiz is campaigning for the Ontario Party, a newish, socially-conservative party that opposes lockdowns, climate-change plans, and the public education system. According to her bio, she “is a wife and mother of three. Born in the Dominican Republic, she chose to come to Canada seeking a better life for herself and her family.”

Tom Hipsz is running for the New Blue Party, which is also new and conservative. They too are opposed to lockdowns, climate change mitigation, and “‘Woke’ Activism in our Schools”. It’s not very clear how different the New Blues are from the Ontario Party, but they seem to have a little less God and a lot more rhyme:

They aren’t blue.
And they aren’t for you.
It’s time for something NEW!
And it’s time for something BLUE!
Let us stand up for you …
… with the New Blue!

I can’t say I’ve spent much time reading political platforms (though it’s felt like an eternity), but I am pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen one in verse.

Hipsz “is the proud father of his amazing ten-year-old daughter, Zofia. Tom has over two decades of experience in education at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. Tom has a Masters’s Degree in Education”. He is also a former professional CFL player and has advocated for better treatment for athletes at risk of brain injury.

James Fields is running as an independent. It’s pretty hard to pin down from his tweets where he stands on the political spectrum, but I like his sense of humour.

Polling says PCs will win

Mainstreet Research says that Michael Ford will win the provincial election in York South–Weston.

From iPolitics

According to their model, Ford has a modest 6% lead on Nadia Guerrera, the Liberal candidate, and a substantial 11% lead on the incumbent NDP candidate, Faisal Hassan.

I’m generally skeptical about results like this because I’m not sure that polling companies are typically able to get good data at the riding level. But Mainstreet seems very confident: they wrote “PCs’ Mike Ford set to take York South-Weston from the NDP”

An earlier poll by Forum Research also projected that the PCs would take York South–Weston.

Campaigning begins

Nadia Guerrera, the Liberal candidate in the provincial election, and Ahmed Hussen, our MP, were knocking on doors in Weston this weekend. Despite my undercaffeination (late night), I was able to gather my thoughts enough to ask her for some details.

In short, she promised more responsible and less reactive policies than the Conservatives, and more accomplishment than the NDP.

In particular, she said that the Liberals would offer more investment in transit, and closer supervision of Metrolinx’s plans for the Eglinton Flats.

Guerrera also said that she supported the green belt around the GTA, and argued the Ford government’s plans could lead to more flooding in our riding. The incumbent, Faisal Hassan, has not brought flooding relief (or mitigation of the odours at the stockyards) in her view.

I think this will be an excellent and contested election: Michael Ford has name recognition and growing conservative support in the riding, and Faisal Hassan has a very good record representing the community.

Nadia Guerrera, though, debated me when I was puffy-eyed and cantankerous—moreover, she was generous with her time and willing to contest and defend. I think she’ll be an real contender in a close race.