Election Results: The 20% Solution.

With no word from Alan Tonks about his stunning defeat, regular folks and political insiders are buzzing about Mike Sullivan’s upset victory in York South-Weston.  Sometimes statistics can provide an insight into what happened.

The voter turnout this time was 51% which is well below the average of around 61% for the country. In 2008 it was 50.4%. Why is our voter turnout so low? Who knows; maybe non-voters feel disconnected from the process or perhaps they feel that it doesn’t matter who wins. Either way, democracy is not well served when half of eligible voters decide that it is a waste of time to vote. The winning candidate won by a comfortable margin yet received 14,119 votes –  that’s only 20.4% of the riding’s 68,978 eligible voters. Think about it; 20% of voters decided the result.

Here are the vote counts and electorate percentages:

  • Mike Sullivan 14,119 …..20.4%
  • Alan Tonks 11,481 ……..16.7%
  • Jilian Saweczko 8530 …..12.4%
  • Sonny Day 1045 ………….1.5%

In municipal elections, voter turnout is even lower – only 40% bothered to vote in Ward 11 last time.

A determined candidate needed to marshal less than 20% of the vote this time—Mike Sullivan was that candidate. Without taking away from Mike Sullivan’s message and excellent campaign, this should be a warning to all politicians who feel that they own a safe seat. The fact is that where voter turnout is traditionally low, a candidate with credibility and determination can overcome even the most comfortable of incumbents.

Our Election Pick

On Monday, May 2, democracy is calling. Voters have a realistic choice between incumbent Alan Tonks (Liberal) and longtime resident Mike Sullivan (NDP).

Conservative candidate Jilian Saweczko has played a peek-a-boo campaign – if anyone has seen her please would you let us know?

The Green’s Sonny Day struck us as a true gentleman but is very inexperienced and will need some time to learn the ways of politics.

Let’s look at the two front runners:

Career politician Alan Tonks, has been the Liberal member for York South-Weston since 2000: half of that time as a government MP and half in opposition. In all that time, there has been no great achievement on which he can stake a claim. In fact, since 2000, York South-Weston has continued its steady decline. While his style is congenial and he is by all accounts well-liked in Ottawa, as has been pointed out in WestonWeb, Mr Tonks is the Liberal who voted with the Tories more than all but one of his colleagues. Tellingly, Mr Tonks no longer resides in his own riding.

Mike Sullivan has worked hard to bring improvements to Weston and was the NDP candidate in the 2008 election. For the past seven years he has worked to bring some transparency and accountability to the Air Rail Link project and has battled to make it an asset to Weston rather than a source of noise and disruption. As head of the grassroots Clean Train Coalition, he applied pressure (with some success) to electrify and/or cover the line so that Weston residents would not be subjected to the noise and pollution of diesel locomotives. It was through such activism that the Air Rail Link was pressured into stopping in Weston rather than barreling straight through. We need continued advocacy to ensure electrification now, not at some future date as well as minimizing disruption to residents. He is also working to bring jobs to the empty Kodak site.

Sullivan is intelligent, articulate and well-informed. As a Weston resident of two decades’ standing, he knows the issues.

We need a strong, knowledgeable, well-spoken advocate for Weston with a proven record of getting things done. Alan Tonks’ would be a great MP for Rosedale where everything is going swimmingly, but Weston is in dire straits and we need someone who can advocate with knowledge, passion, intelligence and forcefulness. The fact that Mike Sullivan is a long-time resident is another plus.

WestonWeb’s endorsement therefore goes to Mike Sullivan.

Fool me once…

Google the phrase ‘Conservative candidates missing from debates 2011’ and you will find a veritable treasure trove of Tory candidates skipping out on debates. Here in York South Weston, Conservative candidate Jilian Saweczko, running against Sonny Day, Mike Sullivan and Alan Tonks has missed the two held so far. Either this is a brazen contempt for voters or an attempt to hide an embarrassing ineptitude at public speaking – neither of which is the hallmark of a suitable candidate.

Perhaps Conservative candidates are taking a page from the playbook of Julian Fantino who, despite a similar absence from all debates, managed to squeak into first place in a by-election held in Vaughan last year. This year, he continues to absent himself hoping to repeat his good fortune.

These two are not alone. All over the country, a disturbing number of Conservative candidates are unwilling to face the people and answer questions. In the end, it is up to voters to judge the meaning of all this but as the old saying goes; Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.


Mike Sullivan Responds.

As readers will remember, just prior to the federal election candidate’s debate at Mount Dennis Legion, WestonWeb emailed each candidate a set of questions including those submitted by readers. NDP candidate Mike Sullivan is the first to respond; here are his unedited answers.

1. What has been your biggest contribution to the York South Weston community?

Mike Sullivan: I have been instrumental in getting changes to the Air Rail Link proposal, the most recent of which was the decision to go electric.

2. If your party forms the next government, what will you do to help your constituency?

Mike Sullivan: I will seek infrastructure funding to create jobs, and to build community assets such as a community centre. I will create better and more transparent immigration rules.  I will create more child care spaces. I will make it easier for kids to attend university.  I will make home heating and electricity more affordable.  I will lobby for changes to pension indexing which take real seniors costs into account. The list of what the riding needs is endless.

3. If your party does not form the next government, what will you do to help your constituency?

Mike Sullivan: I will lobby for infrastructure funding to create jobs.  If it is a minority government, we will seek the above changes as well.

4. What are the three biggest obstacles facing York South Weston in 2011?

Mike Sullivan: The lack of jobs.  The lack of DayCare.  The costs of taxes to seniors and low income groups. The sorry state of our social housing stock.

5. What can you and your party do to overcome these obstacles?

Mike Sullivan: See above

6. Does York South Weston receive a fair share of Federal money in your opinion?

Mike Sullivan: Absolutely not.  The only money we have received is $385 Million from the former Liberal government to build a train that will destroy neighbourhoods and that nobody here can use.

7. Do you live in York South Weston? If not, why not?

Mike Sullivan: Yes

8. In what ways has Alan Tonks performed well as our MP?

Mike Sullivan: He’s made lots of friends.

9. In what ways could Alan Tonks have performed better as our MP?

Mike Sullivan: He could have secured some of the billions of infrastructure money for a community centre in Weston, for our roads, etc.  He could be advocating for the poor and our seniors.  He could have tried to create real jobs in the riding.  He could have supported our community housing needs.  The list of things he could have done, but has not, is almost endless.

10. What has the current federal government done for York South Weston?

Mike Sullivan: Nothing

11. What has the current government failed to do for York South Weston?

Mike Sullivan: It has failed to provide the infrastructure funding, and the social supports we need.  It has made immigration and family reunification a minefield for applicants.  It has failed to create jobs.

12. What makes you the best person for the job of our MP?

Mike Sullivan: I live here, I care about what happens. I have the negotiating skills necessary to get us what we need.

Reader questions:

13. I would like to add why Alan Tonks votes against his party most of the time such as same-sex marriage does he believe in the Charter? Is really a Libs or Cons!?

14. What will our elected MP do to help increase the federal transfer payments to the province which fund our health care? What has our current MP done with regards to this issue?

Mike Sullivan: I will ensure that our health care system is not bled dry as the previous Liberal government tried to do in the 90’s.  It still hasn’t recovered properly and it needs sustained increased funding.

15. What will our elected MP do to ensure that health care services & delivery to the citizens of weston will increase in quality & speed? both now at the understaffed church site and when the super hospital at keele & the 401 is built and the church site closes its emergency department as a result?

Mike Sullivan: Most of these issues are controlled by the present Liberal Provincial government. I will ensure that the Canada Health Act is maintained and strenghtened.  I will ensure that proper funding flows from the Federal government to the provinces.  I will lobby for new services, such as pharmacare and dental care for children be added to the Canada Health care mix.

16. Which candidates live within Weston? and therefore are affected by current policies & will be affected by future policies which they may influence as a member of parliament? In short, which candidates have a direct personal stake in the welfare of Weston because they primarily reside in Weston?

Mike Sullivan: I live here.

17. I just wanted to ask to question candidates do think the riding boundaries should change? Like move the eastern boundary to Jane Street?

Mike Sullivan: The riding is very large, and the boundaries will change when new seats are added to Ontario.  Moving the eastern boundary to Jane street sounds like a good idea.