Ottawa Election Primer Part 2

July 31st I posted a look at 6 of the 24 election races that will be decided on October 22nd.   I looked at races in Orleans, College, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Goulbourn and Gloucester-South Nepean Wards and the race for Mayor.  In part 2 of the Ottawa Election Primer series I look at Innes, Barrhaven, West Carleton-March and Stittsville wards.

Ottawa Vote October 22

Innes

I am including Innes Ward today as I was fortunate to be able to listen to CFRA’s Rob Snow have the four candidates vying to replace Jody Mitic on the air for my drive to Barrie.  The biggest surprise to me in this race is that there are not more people running, especially if I look at the race in Orleans with 17 candidates running for a vacant seat.

Innes has two candidates that have City Hall experience.  Tammy Lynch worked with Councillor Mitic since 2014 and Donna Leith-Gudbranson worked for the former Councillor Rainer Bloess, who has endorsed Leith-Gudbranson as has other area former representatives.  Laura Dudas and Francois Lepranier round out the race. Listening to the candidates speak, all seem to be supporting the same ideals; a 2% property tax ceiling, better roads, access to transit and maintaining services as they are.

The issue of the 2% tax ceiling for me is a non-issue, I would have liked to hear about capping rate increases for water and sewer taxes, this is the expense of taxpayers that is never addressed – it was a missed opportunity for one of the four to include a cap on these city taxes with the 2% property tax.

All except Trepanier have City Hall experience; Trepanier however does count the experience of his years of service in the Canadian Forces as his reason for asking for the support of the voters.

However each seems to have different views of what is needed for Innes, voters will need to really look in to each candidate and ask important questions to set them apart not only at the doors but in the debates.

All four would serve the community well, but it comes down to the machine behind the candidates and with that the edge goes to Lynch and Leith-Gudbranson.  Mitic was a loved councillor and sentimental vote may be what helps Lynch.

Barrhaven

The Mayor of Barrhaven is not going to be dethroned anytime soon.  Jan Harder won four years ago with 75% of the vote, that’s not going to change this year. A victory for her opponents would be that Jan Harder picks up on some good ideas from their campaigns and takes then back to City Hall with her in November.

West Carleton-March

The battle in Ward five just might be fought on the ward losing its rural voice and services that once were there, but are now gone.  Eli El-Chantiry has held this ward since 2003 where he won by 29 votes.  But now in his 4thre-election bid his will have to defend his representation of this rural ward against two would be councillors, James Parsons and Judy Varga-Toth.  Parsons has not launched his website, but Varga-Toth is aiming straight at El-Chantiry on letting down the rural voters with reduced services in the ward and not doing a good enough job of grassroots representation.  Reading between the lines, her assumption might be that his duties as the Chair of the Police Services board have taken him away from the ward far too often.  El-Chantiry has won by defeating some high profile campaigns in the past; will Varga-Toth work under the radar and win?

Stittsville

Four years ago, Shad Qadri won with 60% of the vote, he faced only one challenger.

In 2018, it is the same scenario, but in this election I believe there is a chance that voters may look for something new. The challenger this year is Glen Gower, he is heavily involved in the community and as a member of Heritage Ottawa he will have had to work with the City on heritage files.  Qadri is respected in city hall, is that enough to fight off another challenge? The outcome on this comes down to the work that Gower does reaching out and getting Stittsville voters to see him as he is advertising, that a fresh voice is needed.  Going against Gower is history, this year is the 4thelection in a row no more that one other resident in Stittsville has felt the need to challenge Qadri who won the seat in 2003 in another one vs. one vote off.  Does this underlay Qadri’s silent support in the ward? If there is a weakness to Qadri, I hope Gower has done his research and perhaps he has found it. Qadri seems unbeatable one on one.

I’ve now looked at 10/24 races, the next Ottawa Election Primer will put the spotlight on Kanata North, Bay, Knoxdale-Merivale and Rideau-Vanier wards.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Death of the Paper Ballot?

Internet voting.

Remember how well it went when the Ontario PC’s used it to select Doug Ford as their leader?  Remember how Canada Post admitted that thousands of PINS and Ballots were not delivered so party members couldn’t vote? Consider that in the 2018 municipal elections across Ontario, as more municipalities will be conducting their elections by Internet and phone only – NO PAPER BALLOTS.

Internet VotingIn 2014 sixty-one municipalities in Ontario went to paperless balloting.  Another 36 used a combination of electronic and paper ballots.  Almost 25% of Ontario municipalities embraced the future of voting. There are several reasons for dumping the paper ballot, one was that it would increase voter turnout.  Did it? The Internet Voting Project hopes to be able to answer some questions on eVoting.  The project tracked the results of the 97 municipalities that took part in the eVoting in the 2014 elections.  In 2018 there will be more municipalities joining in on the age of Internet voting.

The Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) has been monitoring the voter turnout in municipal elections.  The 2014 voter turnout average  (AMO 2014 Voter Turnout) was 43.12%. The winner with the highest turnout of 86.63% was Latchford ON and Pembroke ON scored lowest at 15.81%.  In 2006 turnout was 44.35%, looking back to 1982* had 48% voter turnout – its been going down hill since then.  1997 and 2003 own a low 40% voter turning average AMO Voter turnout .

In 2014 the Town of Leamington went Internet voting only, it was the first municipality in Ontario to do so, effectively dumping mail in ballots used in the previous election.  That election in Leamington there was no phone voting and not a ballot box to be found.  In 2014 election voter turnout saw a 42% of eligible voters casting a ballot through their keyboards, down from the 50% voter turnout in previous elections – not what was expected.  A larger concern though was a delay in the results being announced.  Candidates had to wait 2.5 hours for their results, 2 hours longer than expected or promised by the vendor.  The City of Leamington expects to have that issue resolved for October 22nd.  Perhaps, in response to the unexpected lower turnout, the city is offering phone voting along with Internet voting to its residents in 2018.

Even with the issues of the 2014 election in Leamington, a 2015 survey (Online Voting Survey) reported that 98% of municipal voters would vote online again.  The survey also indicated that as many as 95% of voters wanted other elections to offer online voting.  Looking back at what happened with the Ontario PC Leadership voting is that going to happen? If Canada Post couldn’t get the needed PINS and other information to every PC Party member how realistic to suggest that Canada Post would be able to meet the demands of a larger number of voters relying on the delivery of their PINS by snail mail?  As much as Canadians want they want Internet voting, Canadians want to know there voting system is secure.  If it isn’t secure, they won’t vote.

Is the solution that if you’re going vote using your computer, it should be natural to receive a ballot PIN by email? Would voters feel secure enough to receive this important information via the Internet?  Will suggested meddling in elections by countries outside of Canada be enough to pull the Ethernet cord on that idea?

Can governments gain the enough trust of the voters to consider dumping the paper ballot?

While municipally, the fate of the paper ballot is pretty well sealed, it will be a slow fade for the “marking of an X” in larger elections until governments can give the 100% guarantee that no meddling will occur.  Based on what we’ve heard recently from Facebook about foreign influence affecting the US 2018 mid-term elections it appears voting screens and ballot boxes are still going to be around for some time.

It’s important to keep in mind that the reason for the in use of eVoting was to increase voter turnout, make it easier to vote. Does making it easier to vote meangreater voter engagement?  All eVoting will do and was meant to do was make it easier to vote. It doesn’t facilitate engagement; people need to facilitate political engagement.

You want to have an increase of voter turnout? Increase true political engagement.  That doesn’t mean catchy slogans about the weather and it doesn’t mean throwing mud at political opponents.  Making it easy to vote is one thing making it easy to give Canadians a reason to vote is something completely different.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ottawa’s 2018 Election – 6/24

Nominations have closed across Ontario for Municipal Elections on October 22nd.

In Ottawa there were a few more names added to the list of candidates vying to fill one of the 24 seats around the Council Table before the deadline came and passed. I’ll take a look at a few of the 24 races now and as the weeks approach voting day I’ll have the opportunity to take a look at all 24 races and perhaps make a few predictions. Today, I’ll take a look at 5 ward races and the race for the Mayor’s chain.

Ottawa Votes 2018

Mayor

There are 12 people running to be Ottawa’s Mayor, but I’ll make it easy for you –  there are only three names you need to pay attention to. He was as close to being acclaimed as a person can be with 9 unrecognizable names running against him. With nominations closing former Councillor and ex-mayor candidate Clive Doucet signed up to challenge Watson and is hoping for better result than in 2014.

The final challenger is Bruce McConville a former challenger in Rideau-Rockcliffe against the former Councillor Georges Bedard. McConville.  He came within 200 votes of winning in 2006, a mere .72% difference in votes and against a ‘legend’ of Vanier politics.

McConville is a Vanier business owner, but more importantly he was part of SOS Vanier’s  (read my post about SOS Vanier here Battle for Vanier) fight to prevent the Salvation Army from relocating to Montreal Rd., he is now going to take his fight to the voters of Ottawa and City Hall. He has come out swinging and has stated he will make affordable housing and homelessness an issue all voters in Ottawa should hear about.

Watson is the front-runner, but the election for the next Mayor of Ottawa just got interesting. Progressives in Ottawa now have their wishes filled,  there is a mayoral candidate to make housing and homelessness a major policy issue; will they embrace Bruce McConville in this election?

Orleans

The retirement of Bob Monette has created a stampede to the Elections Ottawa registration desk with 17 candidates lining up. 11 men and 6 women want to be the Councillor of Ward 1. The good news is that the winner will likely need only 20% of the vote to win. The bad news is with 17 people in the running getting to 20% will be a challenge. This ward is literally a toss up.

College

For whatever reason Rick Chiarelli waited until the last week to register to seek re-election. I know that Chiarelli is extremely popular, but has he over stayed his welcome? There are two credible opponents this time; Emilie Coyle a lawyer and Director of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program; and Ryan Kennery a former advisor to Mayor Watson. Chiarelli and his delayed registration may have cast doubts in the minds of the voters of College Ward of his desire to continue in his position.

I am never one to consider that a Chiarelli is ever out of an election race, but in 2018, the voters may have taken Chiarelli’s delay in registering as a sign and College Ward residents might be looking for a change.

 Beacon Hill-Cyrville

Tim Tierney was hours from being acclaimed for his third term on Council. The last minute addition of a second candidate will not change the outcome of the voting in Beacon Hill-Cyrville.

Rideau-Goulbourn

Will this be a case of the staffer becomes the Councillor or will the Councillor take the Staffer to the woodshed? Councillor Scott Moffatt has held this seat since 2010. The interesting aspect of this race is that David Brown worked with Moffatt. Both candidates have the experience of working the Ward issues. This race will come down to whether Rideau-Goulbourn voters feel that Moffatt has served them well and deserves another term. I give the advantage to Scott Moffatt.

Gloucester-South Nepean

Like Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Gloucester-South Nepean was almost an acclamation for sitting Councillor Michael Qaqish. Something happened on the way to the 2pm nomination day deadline, four challengers appeared, including a high profile candidate – former Ottawa CTV News Anchor Carol Anne Meehan. Since she was let go by CTV Ottawa she has kept her profile high through a blog and a short stint on 1310 News with her own radio show. If Meehan can translate her popularity to votes she could have a new job October 23rd; if not, Qaqish wins. This will be a race to watch.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ford’s Honeymoon

217 1Premier Doug Ford’s friendliest newspaper headlines may have come and gone and he was only just sworn in. June 29th was the peak that Premier Ford can expect to reach from most of the print media when it comes to ‘nice’ and even ‘complimentary’ headlines. It will be even worse on Twitter where people’s opinions are thrown around without a care in the world.

The Ontario General Election is not the first to see how social media treats the victors of an election.  Justin Trudeau on his election win in October 2015 was immediately attached to the hashtag #NotmyPrimeMinister by many on the right.  I haven’t used that hashtag and won’t, because Trudeau is my Prime Minister, he just was not MY choice for Prime Minister.  So it will be for Premier Doug Ford as the #NotmyPremier tag (from those on the left) has been spotted on social media. Of course Premier Ford is the Premier for ALL Ontarians and if those who didn’t vote for the Ontario PC Party want to express their displeasure they should actually use #NotmychoiceforPremier – that would be an accurate statement.

I recall the days following the election of Larry O’Brien as Mayor of Ottawa in 2010 where the newspaper headlines were positive and complimentary.  That didn’t last long and within weeks the headlines were slowly turning against him. His honeymoon did not last long.  Justin Trudeau had one of the longest post election Honeymoon periods I have ever witnessed – it finally ended when the promise of election reform died.  With the legalization of Marijuana, he can only hope to be as high in the polls as he was 12 months ago.

217 2As for Premier Ford, as long as he keeps his campaign promises, his honeymoon with Ford Nation will continue, and that’ll be how he’ll gauge how well he is doing. Worrying about what others have thought has never been too much of a concern, as long as he had Ford Nation behind him was happy.  Ford now has 20 new Cabinet Ministers working with him for the people of Ontario.  The work of his new government starts now, and beginning on July 11thhe have the opportunity to face the NDP opposition as Queen’s Park will sit for a rare summer session to bring in legislation to act on key campaign commitments.

For now, the honeymoon goes until July 11th and after that we’ll see if the media give Ford the same pass they gave Trudeau for the first year and allow him (Ford) to govern with the style and substance he campaigned on.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Would You Rather?

Would you RatherEver played the game would you rather?

Have you had to pick between two choices knowing the either choice could leave you with battle scars?  If you were to ask me “would you rather be a Candidate or a Campaign Manager” I can at least be thankful that I have done both and can make and informed decision.

So you go ahead ask me, ‘what would it be Rob, Candidate or Campaign Manager?’

As either the campaign manager or the candidate, the results on Election Day matter and they can be devastating if you take into consideration the work that has gone into the campaign.  As a candidate the results are more personal – the candidate puts their heart and soul into the campaign.  The campaign manager sees the wider scope of the election and has a sense of what the results might end up being.  As the campaign manager you are bound to give the most positive take on the internal numbers to the candidate motivating the candidate to continue working doors, the phone calls and encouraging volunteers. In the end, both the candidate and campaign manager take pride in the campaign and the results that come with the results generated.

As a candidate it’s easy to block out other aspects of the campaign – the focus is purely on results and continuing to gun for the win, but don’t ever forget about the volunteers! It makes no sense for either the candidate or campaign manager change their motivation for the campaign from winning to the ‘best result possible’ as the entire team relies on them both for motivation.  Volunteers can smell defeat, I have seen it before where either the candidate or the campaign manager feels that winning is no longer an option.  The volunteers scattered to the wind.  For the most part the volunteers will always defer to the campaign manager to report problems (though volunteers will always want to go to the candidate), provide advice and generally tell the campaign manager how to get a better result.  BUT it should always go to the campaign manager to work with volunteers, welcome them, appreciate them and always show them love.  The candidate should ensure that the one thing they do is THANK the volunteers if they do nothing else.  As a campaign manager I’ve had to douse a few possible fires between volunteers – and all it takes is to listen and let the volunteer tell yousomething they feel is important – those volunteers will always come back.

As a candidate I rarely knew the state of the campaign financials, as a campaign manager that idea flipped over, I knew every aspect of campaign financials.  What was spent, what was needed to be spent, will the campaign spend every dollar in the effort to win, and does the campaign leave the riding association money after Election Day?  Working with the CFO (the money person), the campaign manager knows where every penny is.  As the candidate I was given an overview, especially if money was needed.  In 2018 election fundraising was given a U-Turn when the Wynne Liberals changed the laws so that candidates could notattend a fundraising event for their own campaign.  I hope that the new PC Government will repeal this part of elections financing laws before 2022.

I would’ve liked to talk to more voters as a campaign manager in 2018; I was out for one day.  The door is where you connect with the voter. I found that in 2018 I was in the office more than ever.  The reasons? Meetings with campaign team members, training volunteers, answering phones and replying to emails.  There was no end to the work that often found its way to my home after the campaign office closed, it seemed that for the campaign manager there was no time to canvass.  In hindsight – I needed to make the time, schedule it in –make it work. Definitely, talking to voters was the best part of being a candidate.  For all the ‘bad’ doors, one ‘good’ door made them all go away.

Debates; This one is tough, as the candidate you want to make a good show, get the message out and not have any ‘moments’ that will cause a wrinkle in the campaign.  As the campaign manager I have to say I was right there with the candidate when questions were directed at her.  Did we prep enough?  Why didn’t we prep for this topic?  Will the candidate remember what we talked about?  Have we given enough context to the issue for the answer to be creditable? I think as a candidate you want to do all the debates, but realistically you can’t.  For the 4 hours a debate takes out of a candidate’s schedule, many doors and meaning individual conversations can take place.   In 2014, as a candidate there were two, yep, only two debates and in 2018 there were 10+ debates.  10 debates means more than 40 hours away from doors counting debate prep and the debate themselves, a full work week away from the doors.  When the candidate is in a position of needing to be known, 40 hours away from doors is not practical.  As a campaign manager I took the heat for not attending 6 debates, but as a candidate the debates where opportunities to shine.

Would I rather?  Yes I would – to both!

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker,@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Strategic voting – the Disruptor?

The next few posts mark a return of posting in #RedHeartBlueSign following a number of weeks as Campaign Manager for Colleen McCleery, the Ontario PC Candidate in Ottawa Centre.  The views presented here are my own and they come from my observations from the campaign trail.

RHBS 215

I have a view of an intersection, which is used by pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, motorcyclists, cars and trucks and the odd tour bus.  Normally it runs like clock work, rules are followed; everyone gets through the intersection without much delay.  It flows quite smoothly.  That is until there is one person – a disruptor, it doesn’t matter whom – decides that they will go against flow because they can. It puts the rhythm of the traffic in question and it may put people into harms way because adjustments have to be made on the fly.

I think the flow of traffic can be much like an election campaign, there is flow, and there are the basic movements within the campaign.  Movements like knocking on doors, identifying voters and getting your message out into the public domain and letting the voters see your name on signs.  One hopes that if this strategy stays that way that campaigns can be predictable in how they unfold.  It makes it easy for voters to identify themselves who they relate to the best – the left, the centre or the left.

But like that one person going though the intersection, one event upsets the flow and causes a rethink in the minds of the voters.  In the just completed Ontario voters there were was one major and one minor act of obstruction. One played right into the other and it cause casualties in Ottawa Centre.

The one major announcement that upset the electoral apple cart in the election that was just completed was Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne announcing, make that conceding, the election to one of the other parties six days before election day and encouraging Ontarians to vote for their local Liberal candidate to ensure that 1) The Liberals might maintain official party stats with 8 MPP’s and 2) act as the opposition to the Government and the Official Opposition in Queen’s Park.

The second act of electoral defiance to the normal flow was discovered in Ottawa Centre itself.  The NDP Candidate and eventual MPP Joel Harden had views that differed from the platform that was being put forward by the Ontario NDP.  He was critical that the carbon tax should rise to $150/tonne.  He also supported the Leap Manifesto that came out the National NDP convention that caused Thomas Mulcair’s fall from that party’s leadership. As well there were other critical issues that arose from the past of some other NDP candidates. These were enough that the vote for your Liberal candidate became the strategic vote in the last week of the campaign.

One Liberal MP that took advantage of this was in Ottawa South where John Fraser used signs that didn’t feature Liberal red or the party logo and simply stated “Only John Fraser can stop Doug Ford in Ottawa South” in black and yellow.  In Ottawa Centre, Yasir Naqvi stuck to his “re-elect a good MPP” hoping to keep his seat. In both cases the Liberal MPP was trailing heading to Election Day and out of Kathleen Wynne’s announcement came two different plans – but mainly strategic voting finally became an issue in the Ontario General election.

Strategic voting became the ‘thing’ that upset the rhythm of this campaign.

The strategy from Kathleen Wynne to vote for a Liberal MPP helped both these Liberals get a bump in the polls giving them each hope of keeping their seats. In the end though there were casualties. In Ottawa South, PC Karin Howard, one who expected to turn Ottawa South blue, lost to Fraser.  In Ottawa Centre, the bump Naqvi received was not enough to prevent him from losing to the NDP.  The strategic voting also cost the PC Candidate Colleen McCleery votes as PC Votes went to Naqvi in hopes of keeping ‘a good MPP” and avoiding the eventual NDP win in the riding. The loss of votes that might have gone to the PC Party will mean less in vote subsidy as part of the Liberal revamping of election financing laws.

Strategic voting came late in this campaign leaving a few to think that this might just be an election about the voters preferences, that was until someone decided to enter the intersection out of turn and disrupt the flow.

Post Script: I wonder if the combined PC and Conservative voters ever wondered about their strength in strategically voting for the conservative candidate.  In the 2011 Federal election, Damian Konstantinakos garnered over 14,000 votes.  In an election like we just experienced this week it’s not unfathomable to consider that if conservatives tossed the old adage that “we can never win in Ottawa Centre” out the window and voted with their political hearts that Ottawa Centre would be won by a conservative?  Strategically thinking, if so called “blue liberals” saw that the conservative was a true option, wouldn’t that constituency of votes help elect a conservative in the OC?

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Temporary Disappearing Act

poofIt’s unsettling to me that I have not posted for a while, but I have a good reason – a REALLY good reason.  I have given up the title of Candidate of Record for the Ontario PC’s in Ottawa Centre with the selection of Colleen McCleery to carry the PC banner in the Ontario election.

I’ll be occupied for another 4 weeks on the campaign for Colleen McCleery.  This is not where I thought I would be, but I am very happy to be there with a great team of people working to elect Ms. McCleery, who is a great candidate, as the MPP for Ottawa Centre.

In my temporary disappearing act I have other posts that are related to the Ontario election you can click and read.  Here are suggestions:

I wrote this piece about the Green Party of Ontario, is this election the break though the party is hoping for as they are Looking for their first seat?  Ontario Greens: Out looking for number 1

Last month I wrote about the election and what each party should be doing for a favourable outcome, I called it How (not) to Lose an Election. How to win (not lose) an election 

Something a little different for me, this was a non-political book, but was a fascinating read.  I hope the post gets you interested in reading the book. Ancient Wisdom and Knowledge, is it forever lost?

And one more for good luck, a quick three book review post,  3 Books 3 Reviews

I hope you enjoy the posts, I’ll be back in June with thoughts on the Ontario election and what the future of Ontario could be after the votes are counted.