Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joe Horneck would be strong addition to Mississauga City Council

It was a great personal experience to serve as Alvin Tedjo's campaign manager in Mississauga Ward 2 this fall, one that really made me think about the future of my hometown as it builds an independent identity for itself.

With that in mind, some interesting things have happened since the municipal election. Long-time City Councillor Frank Dale was elected as Peel Regional Chair, and as such, a by-election is happening in his former Ward 4.

While a number of candidates have put their name forward, I believe Joe Horneck is by far the best candidate for the future of Mississauga.

Joe has a strong, progressive and urban vision for Mississauga:

As co-chair of the western summit’s report, Unlocking Our Gridlock Together, A Citizens' Report on Transit, Horneck has been an effective advocate for action on an issue that needs all the action it can get. He’s quite comfortable being dubbed “the transit candidate.”...

He’s an unabashed supporter of the Hurontario LRT and says an integrated hub at the Cooksville GO Station could be a catalyst that’s required for the economic stimulation of that corner of the ward.
“If we can get a mix of private and public sector investments coming together around the transit hubs, it spills into the neighbourhoods around it,” he says.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Good read on Liberal MPP Milczyn's private members bill to promote affordable housing

As Toronto and other Canadian major cities continue to grow, more and more density and population growth is certain to happen. With that in mind, policy makers need to consider how to ensure affordable housing in urban cores remains available.

This PMB by Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milczyn is something worth taking a look at as part of that conversation.

"Last week, Peter Milczyn, the newly elected MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, introduced his first private member’s bill: the Planning Statute Amendment Act. If it passes — and that’s a big if — it would give municipalities across Ontario the authority to direct developers to set aside a number of units in every residential project as affordable housing." 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why I'm supporting Alvin Tedjo for Mississauga Ward 2

I haven't had too much opportunity to blog lately, but it certainly hasn't been as a result of not being politically active - indeed, I've been working every day for the past month or so helping run the campaign of Alvin Tedjo, who is running for City Council in Mississauga's Ward 2.

I haven't written too much about municipal political on this blog since I started writing it all the way back in 2007, but I am making an exception, because Alvin is an exceptional candidate.

This municipal election is the most important Mississauga has faced in a generation. Mayor Hazel is retiring, and so is Pat Mullin, who served as city councillor in Ward 2 for decades. It will mean a lot of change for the city, but it is also an opportunity for a new generation of leadership to emerge, and Alvin wants to be a part of that change.

He's committed to community. He's raising his family with his wife Rebecca in Sheridan Homelands, 2 kids with a 3rd on the way soon, and he's running because he wants his family, and all families in Mississauga and in the community to have the opportunity to grow, learn, work and play in a strong Mississauga. A Mississauga that expands its transit network to help commuting families spend more time at home and less time in traffic. A Mississauga that protects the valuable green space and waterfront it has, to preserve and protect Jack Darling Park and the Rattray Marsh for today and tomorrow. A Mississauga with great community infrastructure like parks, playgrounds and paths, so all families can enjoy community space and come together as a community.

And he's got the experience to get the job done, having worked with the City for several years as a training and development consultant and most recently, serving as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities in Ontario's Liberal government.

With election day just a few weeks away, if you live in Ward 2 (Clarkson, Sheridan Homelands, and Lorne Park), I hope you will support Alvin!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Donna Tiqui-Shebib for OWLC President

Now, I will preface this by saying that obviously I won't be able to vote for Donna, but I encourage all Liberal women attending the LPCO convention to support Donna Tiqui-Shebib for OWLC President. Donna has been a very strong supporter of local Young Liberals, and has the political experience and community background to be an excellent President for the Commission and keep it moving forward. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Brunswick Conservative's pull out of leaders debate - don't want to talk about the David Alward record?

I'm in New Brunswick for a couple weeks, so might as well take a shot at the Tories while I'm here. With the writ formally dropping tomorrow, and signs going up across the province (I've seen probably about a dozen already driving around Saint John) Conservative leader David Alward is running away from the CBC leaders debate. The Conservatives claim they don't want to participate in the debate because they are inviting the leaders of the Green Party and the People's Alliance, but Alward was happy to participate alongside them in 2010. Maybe he just doesn't want to talk about the the facts? The above graphic comes from Telegrah-Journal, showing the result of four years of Conservative rule in New Brunswick. David Alward might not want to be accountable for his failures of leadership, but these are facts he can't run from.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Limiting information" on oilsands probe demonstrates Harper government problems with both openness and the environment

This story out of The Star hits at two major problems of the Harper government - an inability to take environmental concerns seriously, and a desire to limit access to critical information by the media and citizens.

"Environment Canada’s enforcement branch asked a spokesman to “limit information” given to reporters about how long it took to launch a federal investigation into a serious Alberta oilsands leak last summer.
The comments were included in more than 100 pages of emails obtained by the Star that were generated in response to questions from journalists last summer about the mysterious leak in Cold Lake, Alta., that now totals about 1.2 million litres of bitumen emulsion, a mixture of heavy oil and water.
The incident itself was not publicly disclosed until a report by the Star in July 2013. More than 100 animals died near the site of the spill, which continues to release heavy oil above the surface, one year later....
Liberal environment critic John McKay said the case seems to be another example ofHarper’s government favouring one industrial sector over others, while attempting to keep news about spills and environmental damage “secret” for as long as possible.
“It is upsetting that the Harper government’s lack of transparency and disregard for our wildlife, water and environment is something we have come to expect,” said McKay, who represents Scarborough-Guildwood in Parliament."
It is absolutely critical to develop Canada's and Alberta's natural resources in a responsible way to help grow the economy. But stories such as these do nothing to help the Harper government's reputation as uncaring towards the environment, which has had a significantly negative impact on Canada's trade relations with the United States and the ability to market Canada as a responsible energy power. Canada will not see it's full economic potential from natural resources until we have a government that doesn't see the economy and the need for strong environmental regulations and social licences as enemies, but as complimentary to ensure prosperity for all Canadians. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

CBC article on Ontario budget mentions my youth voter registration policy

Yes, this is shameless self-promotion on my part, but hey, my Mom thought it was cool:

"The Liberals also plan to revamp the Grade 10 Civics curriculum to get students more involved in their communities and introduce voter registration in high schools."

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What can the results of the last Ontario PC leadership race tell us about the current one? That Elliott could be hard to beat

Long-time readers will remember when I did some fairly in-depth coverage of the 2009 Ontario PC leadership race. I was reading over some blog posts from that era, bit of a trip down memory lane. I kind of forgot Hudak's big selling point to grassroots conservatives was pledging to eliminate Human Rights TribunalsChristine Elliott running on a flat tax to increase her appeal beyond just red Tories, and of course Hudak Bingo!

The map at the top of this post shows the first round results from the 2009 leadership results, coloured in by which candidate won plurality support in each riding. As a reminder, the PC's used a weighted one member one vote system, so every riding had equal support, from Conservative strongholds in rural Ontario to weak seats in downtown Toronto that even during a leadership race might only have a few dozen members. Hudak is in dark blue, Klees is in light blue, Elliott in green, Hillier in red. You can expand the map by clicking on it.

So, looking at these results, (and my analysis from 2009) what can we learn from the 2009 race that might be applicable to the current Ontario PC race?

  • Elliott, the presumptive front-runner has an advantage in the 905/416, since no other serious candidate from the area seems likely to enter the race. Looking at the results from 2009, Frank Klees was very successful in signing up new members from cultural communities in the 905, as he dominated Peel region, his home York region, and the suburbs of Toronto. Elliott did well in most of the downtown core and her home base of Durham region, but was unable to make gains in a lot of the inner 905 belt. With no other serious candidate likely to emerge from Toronto/905, Elliott could dominate much of the GTA, which would go a long way to help establish her front-runner credentials
  • Breaking into the GTA will be the challenge for any of the other potential candidates, who would all have somewhat of a regional base, but would likely have to dominate their home bases. Lisa Macleod, Vic Fedeli and Monte McNaughton would have home bases in the East, North and Southwest respectively. Now, in 2009 Tim Hudak was able to win the leadership without doing particularly well in the GTA (he won a few scattered seats and split Halton region with Elliot) because in large part he dominated his home base of Niagara/Southern Ontario, but he also had strong results in Northern Ontario and in more rural ridings across the other parts of the province as well. Having favourite sons/daughters from each of the North, Southwest and East could make it difficult for any of them to establish province-wide movements, although I could see Lisa Macleod, who has toured the province pretty extensively and has been fairly high profile as opposition MPPs go being perhaps best suited to pull it off. 
  • If Macleod might be the strongest candidate against Elliott, she'll have to take some caution from looking at these maps. Presumably she would be the Eastern Ontario favourite daughter, and that means she would need to build a coalition of PC supporters ranging from downtown Ottawa moderates to Randy Hillier supporters from the rural areas. Macleod might have to tack to the right both to rally the non insignificant numbers of very conservative conservatives in Eastern Ontario, but also to try and establish a solid Blue Tory vs. Red Tory match-up against Elliott to establish her credentials as the main right-of-Elliott candidate. 
  • Monte McNaughton, who could be a Southern/Southwestern Ontario favourite son was also a champion of right-to-work legislation that caused Hudak some headaches but also could endear him to the more conservative minded activists who are important in leadership races. With Monte needing to dominate Southwestern Ontario to establish himself as a legitimate contender, and Macleod needing to target rural Southwestern conservatives to establish herself as the main right-wing contender against Elliott, the membership sign up and organizational battles that could happen between Macleod and McNaughton in that part of the province could be interesting
  • With that in mind, Elliott has the clearest path to victory: Dominate the GTA, and hold her own in other parts of the province. MPP endorsements don't mean everything  (MPP endorsements can have a pretty big range of importance on the local membership base, sometimes big, sometimes not so much) but that she has endorsements already from MPPs from her home competitors bases (Norm Miller from Northern Ontario, Todd Smith from Eastern Ontario, Jeff Yurek and Michael Harris from the Southwest amongst others) bodes well.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Joe Cressy: "[the next election] is going to won or lost based on seats where you’re taking on Tories." I agree, so let's check the numbers

This graph has been making the rounds on social media to show growing support for the federal Liberals in by-elections across Canada, including Trinity-Spadina, where I was happy to do a bit of volunteering for Adam Vaughan.

Speaking of Trinity-Spadina, I've quoted NDP candidate Joe Cressy above from this article where the NDP tries to spin the rather negative by-election results it's had under Mulcair.

Cressy's full quote is:

“The next federal election will not be won or lost on the basis of a couple of seats in Canada where it’s the Liberals and the NDP squaring off. Rather, it’s going to won or lost based on seats where you’re taking on Tories,” Cressy said.

“The focus has to be and should be on taking out Harper, not focusing on the Liberals.” 

So, with that in mind, why don't we actually look at the vote changes from the 2011 elections in by-elections in Conservative held seats since the last election?

Calgary Centre
NDP: -11%
Lib: +15

Con: -21%

Liberal vote shoots up 15%, to make the Calgary Centre by-election the best Liberal result in Calgary since 1997, as the Tory vote goes way down and the NDP vote declines by 11%, as they get less than 4% of the vote.

NDP: +5%
Lib: -1%
Con: -4%

Congrats NDP, you managed to increase your vote by 5% (still finishing 24% behind) during a by-election held when the federal Liberals were leaderless and the provincial Liberals were in the middle of a leadership race leaving the local campaign short of volunteers. Worth noting the provincial Liberals would go on to win the seat in the Ontario election, with the NDP back in third. 

So those two by-elections were held when Mulcair was leader, but the Liberals were still without a permanent leader. Let's see what happens when Trudeau becomes leader:

NDP: -1
Lib: +9%
Con: -7%

The NDP vote dips slightly, but the Trudeau Liberals shoot up almost 10% and actually take a seat back from the Harper Conservatives.

NDP: -10
Lib: +23%
Con: -12%

In the ultra safe Conservative Provencher seat, the Liberal vote goes up by 23%, as the NDP vote crashes 10%, finishing with a deposit-losing 8.2% of the vote.

NDP: -18%
Lib: +37%
Con: -20%

Grit vote sky-rockets as a Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party goes from 4th place and 5% to coming within a few hundred votes of winning the riding. NDP vote absolutely craters to 7% for another lost deposit - despite the NDP holding one of the Brandon seats provincially for decades.

NDP: -6%
Lib: 13+%
Con: -9%

Another ultra-safe Conservative seat to be sure, but the Liberal vote share goes from less than 4% to 17%, while the NDP barely finishes ahead of the Christian Heritage Party for 4th place -  Mulcair's NDP candidate only 3 votes ahead of the CHP with 4.2% of the vote.

NDP: -2
Lib: 25%
Con : -25%

Not quite the nail-biter as Brandon-Souris, but Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha pulls in a solid 35% of the vote on a 25% increase, the best Liberal result in the riding since 1968. NDP at least manages to hang onto it's deposit this time (a rarity with Mulcair as leader in Tory held ridings as we've seen) but the NDP does decline.

So what does that leave us then, when looking at the seats where the Liberals and NDP are going up against the Tories?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Assorted thoughts from the ground from a Liberal majority

Well, having had a few days to think about it, I had some scattered thoughts about the Ontario political scene in the aftermath of a Wynne majority government. I am so happy to have played a small part in it in York South-Weston. In no particular order, here are some things that have I've been thinking about since the election, with one point largely about each party.

  • People judge governments economic credentials and reliability based on job creation, not being deficit hawks for the sake of deficit hawking

"Jobs Not Cuts" was a simple but effective slogan the Liberal campaign was quick to start using to hammer Hudak once he announced he would be cutting 100,000 public service jobs as part of his platform. Balancing the deficit and bringing down the debt is important, as Kathleen Wynne and Charles Sousa have stated many times, but Ontario can't afford to put people out of work and slash public services just to bring the budget to balance a year earlier, as Hudak promised. Liberals were able to tell a good message: vote Liberal, and you'll have a government that protects health care and education as well as protecting good paying jobs that help the economy. This will benefit you and your family. Vote Hudak, and you'll have a government that slashes services that impact your family, with no immediate benefit in your everyday life. Hudak's math errors in the "Million Jobs Plan" didn't help his economic credibility, neither did his attacks on "corporate welfare" while praising companies that had in fact partnered with governments (including Harper's Conservatives) to create jobs. And speaking of Harper...

  • Hudak ran on a hard-right platform that was designed to fire up his base...it ended up firing up moderate voters to vote against him en masse

Paul Wells, while explaining why he supported the PC's in this election explores some of the difference between Hudak's conservative pitch this election which failed pretty spectacularly, and Stephen Harper's conservative pitch, which won him a majority largely based on the kind of seats Hudak either failed to win from the Liberals or actually lost to the Liberals:

"Hudak, on the other hand, had to keep impressing the Ayn Rand League, thanks largely to his ever-shaky command of the party’s leadership. That’s why he put a big number on his public sector job-cut target, because he decided his target audience was people who think eliminating public sector jobs is always excellent. Compare and contrast: During the 2011 federal election, I worked hard to get a succession of federal Conservatives — Jim Flaherty, John Baird — to give me any indication of the scale of public sector job cuts the Harper government had in mind...

Nobody seriously doubts Stephen Harper is a conservative, so he can tell conservatives they have to wait. That’s why I saw Alison Redford’s Alberta Conservative victory over Danielle Smith’s Wildrose party as a vindication of the Harper style, even though a lot of Harper Conservatives supported Wildrose: because politics isn’t about scratching your swollen id. Harper’s conservatism is a broad and not always internally coherent coalition, and it spends a lot of time wondering when something exciting will happen. "

Stuff like this is also at the core of Wells' The Longer I'm Prime Minister, basically arguing that Harper can afford politically to not govern as a Reform Party conservative because as long as it keeps delivering electoral results, the base will more or less be happy. Harper's relative moderation and embrace of economic interventionism allowed him to campaign to a majority in 2011 with a message to Ontario voters that he could be trusted on the economy because he wasn't radical, had created jobs, etc. Hudak instead campaigned on an unabashed vision of shrinking government that Harper has largely abandoned in the successful pursuit of electoral gain. Quite simply, the coalition of voters that would support Hudak's hard-right, fiscal hawkishness simply isn't big enough to form government, and Hudak's assumptions that his own base would turn out were swamped by moderates who were turned off enough by his platform to get out to vote against him.

  • Horwath tried to expand her voter coalition a step too far, and while she made gains in some parts of the province, lost others
Looking at how much NDP results in Toronto fell, the letter that some NDP stalwarts send to Horwath mid-campaign can't be judged as something trivial - plenty of traditional NDP supporters in Toronto 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My policy on improving civic education makes the Ontario Liberal Party platform!

Readers of this space will remember my policy on youth voter registration that was passed as a priority policy at the Ontario Young Liberals Summer Fling last year. The policy was also debated on Common Ground platform building discussion site where it became one of the top ranked policies in the education section. 

Today, I am very proud to say my policy has been adopted as a part of the Ontario Liberal Party platform!


We will introduce voter registration in high schools to help students prepare for the responsibilities of citizenship and replace the Grade 10 Civics curriculum with a more hands-on course that includes a community improvement project." 

Thanks to everyone who supported my policy at every step of way!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Is Andrea Horwath for real?

That's what the new Kathleen Wynne ad asks Ontarians after Horwath said NO to an increased child benefit, an Ontario Pension Plan, better transit, and a new job creation strategy for Ontario. I'm really digging the "I'm Kathleen Wynne and I stand behind this message" tag the Premier has been using.

I'm sure NDP'ers will complain about "going negative", to which I have to ask, isn't joining with Tim Hudak and Stephen Harper and saying NO to a strong plan for Ontario a tad more negative?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

While Horwath is silent, labour and progressive speak: The Ontario Budget deserves support

While Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was silent on Ontario's Budget today, continuing her approach that saw her take no position on the minimum wage and pensions, labour and other progressive are speaking loud and clear that Ontario's 2014 Budget deserves support for the people of Ontario.

“Things like pensions, things like infrastructure spending, taking care of child care, seniors, those are all things that have been, you know, the backbone of the NDP’s policies for years. I would expect that [the NDP] would support [the budget].

"Today's budget will make a positive difference in the lives of working families in Ontario - and should be supported by the NDP…We hope the NDP will work with the Liberals to pass the budget."

“The time is long past for debating whether we need a supplementary pension plan…CARP members have been calling for just such a plan…The proposed pension plan will benefit their children and grandchildren, not themselves directly, but it is a ballot question for them.”

“With the improvements in the personal support workers, and supporting health care workers in the community…and with a real focus on ensuring that Ontarians feel like they are better living here in Ontario, we should stay the party line.”

“There are a tremendous number of things in this budget that can do a lot of good for people for child care staff for personal support workers and for those with developmental disabilities.  I remain hopeful that the budget will pass and that we'll be able to make the gains for child care workers and personal support workers.”

"There are important investments in the Budget...There's lots of good measures here, paying PSWs…that's incredibly important."

"Keeping poverty reduction on the table is always the right thing to do…Daily Bread has always been a strong proponent of the Ontario Child Benefit. Indexing it will allow low-income families with children to keep up with the rising costs of living such as food."

"The good news: An Ontario pension plan that will provide an enhanced public pension for those with no private pensions."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Anita Vandenbeld on the "Fair" Elections Act

Anita Vandenbeld
, past federal candidate in Ottawa West-Nepean and green lit candidate for the 2015 nomination has written a fantastic post for iPolitics about the "Fair" Elections Act and how regressive it truly is.

"The last time I worked in a country where a government used its majority in Parliament to ram through changes to an election law without public input was in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011. I never would have expected this in Canada."

"I can honestly say that in all my years of working on democratic development with the United Nations, OSCE, NDI and other international organizations on five continents, I have not found another electoral commission that was prohibited by law from speaking to the public about elections or doing public awareness campaigns to encourage people to vote."

This is one of the best commentaries on the Harper-Poilievre scheme to make it harder for you to vote, I encourage you to share it widely.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mapping out past Quebec election results - vote splits and vote efficiency make the different in Quebec provincial elections

In preparation for the Quebec provincial election on Monday, I mapped out some past Quebec election results, comparing the vote and seat share received by each party. Click the graph to embiggen, the vote share is on the left, seat share on the right.

In Quebec elections, the Parti Quebecois is often said to have a built in advantage, in that they have a more "efficient" vote. The Liberals win super-majorities in Montreal, while the PQ is able to squeak out more victories by a smaller margin in the regions by winning francophone voters, meaning that in theory, the PLQ need a significant vote share advantage, as the PLQ have more wasted votes in ultra safe seats in Montreal.

You can see that is is what played out in the 1994 and 1998 elections. The vote share for the PQ and PLQ was within 1-2 percentage points of each other, but the PQ won solid majorities. Indeed, the PLQ actually won the popular vote in the 1998 election. However, in 2012, the PQ and PLQ again had a tight race for the popular vote, finishing a single point apart, but the PQ barely squeezed ahead of the PLQ in the seat count.

The rise of other parties in Quebec is one factor in this - in 2003, the PLQ popular vote barely moved from 1998, but the ADQ jumping from 12% to 18%, particularly rising in the regions and amongst francophone voters, sapped a lot of support directly from the PQ, and allowed the PLQ to win a solid majority. The ADQ, however did not have a particularly efficient vote prior to its 2007 breakthrough, as 18% of the vote was only able to deliver 4 seats.

2007 was one of the most unpredictable elections in Quebec up until that point, with the ADQ surging and almost doubling its popular vote from the last election, stealing from both the PQ and PLQ. This election, oddly, the showed the flip side of having an "efficient" vote - when another party is surging and taking votes from you, your 5% victories in a lot of ridings are going to be in danger. Large parts of the PQ and PLQ voter base abandoned the parties, and because the PQ base was spread more evenly, it was pushed into third place by the ADQ. Looking at the actual seat results from 2007, it can be argued that the PLQ actually had the most "efficient" vote, as while it suffered significant damage in the regions, it was able to retain enough bedrock support in it's core federalist areas (Montreal, the Eastern Townships, the Outaouais) to win the most seats.

After an ADQ collapse returned Quebec election results "normal" in 2008, the 2012 election and the rise of the CAQ and to a lesser extend Quebec solidaire marked another wide open election, with only 5% separating first from third in the popular vote. The CAQ took enough francophone vote from both the Liberals and the PQ to be competitive, but not enough to reach the height of the ADQ.

30% seems to be a flipping point for parties in Quebec, particularly for the non Liberal parties. Only 4% separated the ADQ in 2007 from the CAQ in 2012, but the difference between 31% and 27% in vote share was 32% and 15% of the seat share. The PQ has a pretty big range for seat share depending on how the votes of the ADQ/CAQ/QS go, demonstrated by the PQ winning more seats and a narrow majority in 2012 with only 32% of the vote, when 33% of the vote delivered them opposition and fewer seats.

Right now ThreeHundredEight has the PQ pegged at 28%, the same as in 2007 election that placed them in 3rd, but in total seat count he has them significantly higher than in 2007.

Where the CAQ ends up is the big wildcard, the last couple of polls have shown them recovering support lost to the PLQ in the first part of the campaign, but still below where they ended up in 2012. If the CAQ surges over the last weekend, what result could that have?

The other wildcard is Quebec solidaire. While at absolutely maximum they can win 4-5 seats (they will certainly hold onto the two they have, and a third seat isn't out of the question) if they are polling in the double digits, that is a lot of vote they could take from the PQ. QS tends to underperform compared to the polls, however, so solidaire being at 8% vs 12% could be the difference (particularly for the PQ) in a lot of seats.

43 27 15 6 2

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Button collection!

In lieu of posting actual content, check out my button collection!

Been actively collecting them since the 2006 federal leadership, my oldest button is a Harry Jackman for Rosedale button, dating back to the 40's. Not as impressive a collection as some political types, but I've been meaning to share my collection for awhile, so here we are.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What happened to Tom "Captain Canada" Mulcair now that the writ has dropped in Quebec?

Looks like Captain Canada is staying "neutral" in the face of a PQ government which would almost certainly call a referendum and which of course, will be running on the regressive so-called "Charter of Values" that would ban observant Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians from being a part of the civil service.

If Mulcair is "neutral" against this, what will he take a stand for?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Where does Hudak Niagara Falls candidate Bart Maves stand on right to work?

We know Hudak has no tolerance for his own candidates standing up for local jobs in the face of his reckless right-to-work-for-less scheming and Bart Maves himself used to be opposed to the policy?

So what does Bart Maves stand for now?

It's a question worth asking. In a debate this evening, Maves repeatedly talked about the need for "worker choice", but hesitated to actually endorse Hudak's position, which Hudak has insisted he stands by and expects his candidates to support.

With the Hudak and Bart Maves standing behind a reckless right to work for less scheme, and the NDP murky on important issues like the minimum wage, only Ontario Liberals are clearly supporting Ontario workers.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thornhill PC candidate Gila Martow supports subway taxes, undercuts Hudak's policy

After trying and failing to land a star candidate, Tim Hudak has settled for former Conservative riding association president Gila Martow as his candidate in Thornhill to replace his Finance spokesperson Peter Shurman, who resigned after billing you $20 grand to pay for a second home while living 150 kilometers outside a his riding, which is only a half-hour drive from Queen's Park.

As a GTA seat, transit will almost certainly be a hot issue, and while it isn't surprising to see Hudak and his backroom boys pushing a dubious "we'll build massive infrastructure projects for free" line, Hudak's candidate doesn't seem to buy it, suggesting not just one, but two different subway taxes.

Ontario needs dedicated revenue tools to help make transit upgrades to create jobs and reduce gridlock a reality. Hudak's candidate Gila Martow seems to realize that, even if Hudak doesn't. This by-election campaign, will Ms. Martow stand behind her support for revenue tools, or will she flip-flop and support Tim Hudak's unrealistic schemes?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Riding profile: Cumberland-Prescott from The Best Laid Plans (and some lamenting on an opportunity for breaking down the two solitudes

Note: I've never read the book and am judging all this on one episode of the show and some conversations with friends who have read the book, but considering this is a (mostly) tongue and cheek post, it isn't going to matter much, although as a sneak preview, the portrayal of the riding seems to ignore the actual linguistic background of the people hypothetically living in it.

Like many political junkies across the land, I tuned in last night to The Best Laid Plans, CBC's new comedic political mini-series. I found it...lacking. I like to think we as a nation can do better as political satire than pratfalls on poop (although I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh at the sexual political euphemisms).

One thing that caught my eye, having spend some time in the eastern parts of Ottawa and beyond, was the portrayal of the fictional riding of "Cumberland-Prescott", represented in the book by super popular Tory Finance Minister Eric Cameron. In the book, the riding is portrayed as a safe Conservative seat, while the parties are unnamed in the mini-series.

First off, the riding itself is actually relatively easy to define, even if fictional. Based on the name, it can be assumed to be a slightly modified version of the existing riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

To make the boundaries for a riding that would match the name and fit the "nice place by the river" description, I've drawn up the following boundaries for the riding. They all match existing municipal administrative boundaries, so we don't really have to do anything too radical:

From the city of Ottawa, the single largest population centre would be the existing Cumberland Ward

Situated in the far east end of the city, it includes portions of the Orleans communities of Queenswood Heights, Mer Bleue, Avalon, Chaperal, Notting Hill, Fallingbrook as well as the rural areas of the former city of Cumberland and the village as well as the former villages of Sarsfield, Navan, Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Carlsbad Springs, Vars and Bearbrook.

The more eastern and rural areas would take from the northern parts of the existing GPR, largely focused on the former boundaries of the historic Prescott country, while keeping municipalities intact.

With this map of GPR as a guide, it would take all but Russell and North Glengarry.

Cumberland Ward in Ottawa (which is already mostly in GPR, with a smaller piece in Ottawa-Orleans and a sliver in Nepean-Carleton I believe) plus these municipalities gives us a realistically populated riding with a community of interest, the definition of any good riding. The population breakdown is as such:

Cumberland Ward- 33,405

Clarence-Rockland - 23,185
Alfred and Plantagenet- 9,196
Champlain- 8,573
Hawkesbury- 10,551
East Hawkesbury- 3,335
The Nation-11,668

This gives a population of 103,188, making it 198th in population of existing ridings making it slightly on the underpopulated size but is certainly in the ballpark of other eastern Ontario ridings such as Ottawa-Vanier (103,687), Renfrew-Nippising-Pembroke, (102,537), Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry (100,913 and which the riding would border) and Leeds-Grenville (99,306).

So the riding itself would certainly be realistic in terms of population and geography, but what about political and linguistic representation?

The riding being a Conservative stronghold is somewhat out of line with the political history of GPR and to a lesser extent Ottawa-Orleans. (Nepean-Carleton is a stronger Tory seat but the amount Cumberland in Nepean-Carleton isn't huge).While the Conservatives have held both GPR and Ottawa-Orleans federally since 2006, it hasn't been by huge margins (the 2011 election result in GPR gave the Conservatives an 18 point victory, it was a 10% victory in 2008 and a 0.4% nail-bitter in 2006), so the riding in "reality" wouldn't be a lock for the Tories as much as it is in the book/show. Worth noting that the Liberals hold both GPR and Ottawa-Orleans provincially. Also worth noting is losing parts of the southern half of GPR would hurt the Conservatives more, as they have done well in Russell and North Glengarry, as you can see here in this map of the 2008 election. The area historically has been strongly Liberal as opposed to Conservative (Liberals held GPR from 1953-57 and from 1962-2006 and Orleans from 1988-2006) 

That being said, one thing the book and the show attribute to the riding is a very popular local incumbent, which historically can be seen as more accurate. While no one has reached the 96% approval rating of Eric Cameron, former Liberal MP Don Boudria did win an impressive 80% of the vote in the 1993 election. Hypothetically, with the area having taking a stronger Conservative turn of late, a star Conservative candidate could realistically rack up big numbers, particularly against lack luster Liberal opposition, with the Liberals running a perennial candidate in the prior to the events of the novel.

The one thing, however that the book seemed to miss (and I can confirm this speaking with some friends who have actually read it) is that Cumberland-Prescott, like the existing GPR and Ottawa-Orleans, would have a very heavy (if not majority) francophone population.

According to the invaluable Pundits' Guide, the existing GPR is the 5th most bilingual riding in the entire country, with 64% of the population knowing both English and French. 13% of the riding responds as knowing French only (higher than a number of Quebec ridings!) and perhaps most importantly, 56% of the riding speaks French at home (making it more francophone than almost a dozen Quebec ridings). Only a couple of ridings in Acadian New Brunswick are more francophone outside of Quebec, making Cumberland-Prescott easily the most francophone riding west of Quebec. Using GPR as a baseline and subtracting Russell and North Glengarry (both majority anglophone) would boost these numbers even higher.

Knowing these stats, and having spent a little bit of time out in GPR and Orleans during the 2008 federal election, it is somewhat disheartening to see an area of linguistic diversity seemingly portrayed as overwhelmingly anglophone. I understand the book at least has a reported named Andre Fontaine, who I am assuming is Franco-Ontarien but aside from that, the show and the book as far as I have been able to tell ignore linguistic geography. During the show last night, we saw a brief shot of protagonist Daniel Addision looking at Eric Cameron's campaign office, as far as I could tell the signage was English-only, something that would never fly in the "real" Cumberland-Prescott.

I now realize I'm a 1000+ words into a breakdown of a fake riding, and you probably have asked, so what?

I think the makers of the TV show missed an opportunity to break down the two solitudes a little bit. In a nation sorely lacking cross-linguistic political discussion, let alone satire, I think The Best Laid Plans could have been an opportunity for a cross-production in both English and French, along the lines of Bon Cop, Bad Cop. (I'm the hugest fan of the movie as a movie for what it's worth, but I admired at least the attempt to make a major Canadian film appealing to both official languages).

Despite being pretty much a unilingual anglophone myself, I have always had an interest in French-Canadian political culture and history, and my time spent in Ottawa and volunteering on campaigns where I had to at least be ready to ID a vote in French on the door steps gave me an appreciation for the uniqueness and diversity of franco-Ontario, this production of The Best Laid Plans was perhaps a missed opportunity to make a national political show.

Because if it is going to be a crappy show, it might as well be crappy in both official languages.