Countdown to Christmas Movie Wars

There is a battle brewing in the world of Christmas movies, it is happening mainly in the US but Canadian Christmas movie watchers will get caught up in it.  When I say Christmas movies, most people will think of Hallmark, the greeting card people that churn out dozens of movies for each Christmas season. Between October 21st and December 18th of this year, Hallmark will premiere 31 Christmas/Holiday themed movies, many are filmed in Canada and a handful of those are filmed in Ottawa/Eastern Ontario.  

Many will poke fun at the movies, but really, they are 2 hours of simple fun all meant to be light and family oriented.  Most will involve a romance that pits two people that are at odds with each other for one reason or another.  They are thrown together because of a circumstance that usually brings one the two back home for the holidays.  Within the timeline of the movie, it can be 24-48 hours, or a week or two they eventually discover a common bond and by the end of the movie the only that follows the kiss between the two are the film credits.

In Canada these movies can be found mainly on the W Network and CTV Life Channel. I haven’t found others that broadcast the movies.  The W Network , known as Hallmark of the North goes wall to wall Christmas from mid-October to Christmas.  Yes, don’t worry, there is a library of enough of these movies to be able to go 24/7 for 60+ days. 

In the US there are multiple channels for these movies to land on, many like Lifetime are available in Canada by subscription.  The Christmas/Romance movie business is big!

These movies are big business and create big stars out of the actors, and these movies are hyped up big time! A recent movie “Three Wise Men and a Baby” featured three ‘Hallmark Hunks’ as estranged brothers that were forced to look after a baby left at the fire station.  In this film the men all found personal happiness, and love and the real Christmas spirit by the time the mother came back for the baby (why the baby was left is only talked about in the last 15 mins, no one was charged for abandoning their baby).

In my office at work, I have the view of two TV’s and during the Countdown to Christmas one TV is locked on the W Network and the other is the House of Commons ParlVu. This photo gives you the view I have.

This year however a new TV channel in the US, the Great American Family Channel (GAF) has been scooping stars away from Hallmark.  This won’t be so much an issue in the US, but in Canada, GAF is nowhere to be found and I’ve only discovered one of their films scheduled to air in Canada this Christmas. 

To understand how this might impact Hallmark, it would be like the Yankees signing away the best of the Toronto Blue Jays. It would take years for the Blue Jays to recover and field a similar strength team through the draft, player development, and trades.

Who are these top names you say that jumped from Hallmark to GAF? I found a story that profiles the Hallmark stars that are no longer there, https://parade.com/1340261/klconniewang/hallmark-stars-on-gac-family/.  

Those that watch these films will recognize the faces, not so much the names.  The top names are Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure, Jill Wagner and Jen Lilley on the ladies side and for the leading men it’s Trevor Donovan, Chad Michael Murray, Christopher Russell and Sam Page.  

The good news for Hallmark is that this now creates opportunity for some younger actors to be given leading roles, if you watch the movies, you’ll now that they are many that could take the place of those that left.  

As mentioned earlier, Canadian fans of these films may miss out on seeing some favourites until the GAF can figure out how to make their movies more widely available in Canada.  The good news though is that Hallmark has such a library of films with these actors we still have the older movies to watch.

Now, on with the Countdown to Christmas!

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ring in the New Council

There is a lot that’s new in the Ottawa City Council that was sworn in this week.

There is a new Mayor, there are 10 new councillors, 1 councillor returning after leaving council in 2014, 13 councillors were re-elected, there is a new Ward (Barrhaven East, with Jan Harder retiring it looks like they needed two wards and two councillors to replace her).  (Photo from @_marksutcliffe Instagram)

Due to the boundary review there are a whole slew of name changes to wards.  For this reason alone I hope that the city decides to drop the ward numbers completely and adopt the ward names as their identifier, continuing to use both is very confusing and causes headaches when you stop to try and figure it all out (don’t get me going on School Trustee Zones!).

There hasn’t been this amount of turnaround and change at the city council table since amalgamation in 2001.

By the end of the last term of council it was clear that the club atmosphere around the table had to end.  There was much noise made of how decisions would be made based on which club and what appointments were made.  The new council can break the mould and start anew with consensus building and collaboration as a means to serve the City of Ottawa.

I will be looking for how the returning half of council interacts with the new half of council and how the councillors line up on the issues.  I’m also interested to see if Mayor Sutcliffe’s open-door policy to all councillors will work.  This will depend on how he staffs up his office, will he find the person who can be welcoming and open to the councillors while being true to the Mayor’s vision as his Council Liaison?  Where will the Mayor bend to have that consensus agenda at City Hall?

I have great hope that council will get together under common themes of working for the citizens, delivering core services, improving the social umbrella, and increasing the inventory of affordable housing to get families out of shelters and city run motels into rental properties that take the burden off the city for maintaining properties.  The campaign brought many issues to the forefront.  These include “Rural vs. Suburban vs. Urban”, a climate policy that works for everyone and where to put and how to build housing.  

The three big issues for the Mayor and Council to address immediately are the 2023 budget; Catherine MacKenney was right when she campaigned on retooling a tired and outdate budget process.  Making sure Phase Two LRT isn’t launched in the same manner of Phase One and how to approach a Phase Three are key to making the city move and grow economically.  

Last, but just as important is the relationship between the Mayor, the Ottawa Police Services Board and the new Chief, Eric Stubbs who began his term as the Chief of the OPS on November 17th.  Whoever Sutcliffe names as the Chair of the Police Services Board will be a key instrument in Stubbs having a successful run as Chief.  Sutcliffe needs to decide if he puts a re-elected councillor in that role or a newby.  My suggestion would be to place Steve Desroches in that position.  He is back at council after a few years away; he has council experience but has had a view of the OPS as a resident.  Having a OPSB Chair looking at the OPS from both sides would be beneficial to Sutcliffe and the City.  

With that, let’s ring in the new council and let the fun begin!

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

New music flying under the radar

There’s a flurry of new music from big artists that will grab the headlines and the top of the charts.  Taylor Swift has started this with “Midnights” which last week made chart history by grabbing the entire top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 songs and the #1 album in the Hot 200 Album chart.   This happens in the era of music streaming and should be regarded as a huge feat when you consider the amount of new music being streamed weekly.  It should also have the same awe as was received when the Beatles scored numbers one through five of the Billboard Hot 100 on April 4 1964 (https://cw35.com/entertainment/the-day-the-beatles-held-the-top-5-spots-on-billboards-hot-100).

New music is coming from Bruce Springsteen, Drake, The 1975, and Neil Young.  Already out this fall is music from Carly Rae Jepson, Tegan and Sara, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the previously mentioned Taylor Swift.  This list doesn’t include notable releases like a remastered Revolver by the Beatles, BlackPink’s Born Pink, John Mellencamp’s Scarecrow, the 25th Anniversary Spice Girls Spiceworld, and the 25th Anniversary of Neil Young’s Harvest.

With that being said, I want to share a few releases that I have been listening to that should not be ignored this fall. I have three albums and three artists with notable singles. 

In the album world I was floored by Julian Lennon and his first new music in 11 years.  “Jude” is a refreshing and mature sounding Lp.  Many will call “Jude” a comeback – and it certainly is that; but I might even call this a proper follow up to his 1984 debut “Valotte”.  If you were to ask I would say he still sounds like his father, but now has a Tears for Fears vibe happening.  Strongest songs are ‘Save Me’, ‘Love Never Dies’ and ‘Every Little Moment’. (Image from Instagram @julespicturepalace)

Second of my three ‘do not miss’ Lp’s goes to Steven Page and “Excelsior”.  Page has been performing solo since 2009, this, his 5th since leaving Barenaked Ladies is his best.  Page writes crafty and catchy pop songs, he previous two albums were good, but he has raised the bar with “Excelsior”.  The songwriting has a McCartney-esque sound and feel, though he goes all “Lennon” on us with ‘Safe”.  I think Page is the artist first to sum up how we all feel about virtual meetings with ‘ZOOM’.  Other standouts are ‘Feels’ and ‘The Golden Age of Doubling Down’. (Image from linktr.ee/stevenpage)

The third album I recommend is First Aid Kit a Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg with their new release “Palomino”.  First Aid Kit will make you forget about Abba with their bows to the sounds of Shania Twain, The Cranberries and Bob Dylan.  Standout tracks are ‘Angel’, ‘Turning on to You’ and the title track ‘Palomino’.  First Aid Kit was formed in 2007 and with only moderate success in Canada or the US, this album should be a breakout, and the Top 10 Album album First Aid Kit has been waiting for in North America. (Image from Instagram @firstaidkitband)

All I need sometimes is an open door to hear a new artist – a song can be the key you need.  Here I want to give you three songs to open a door to three young Canadian artists.  (Images from Instagram @itsjaydemusic, @olivialunny @emilykate_music)

I first came across Jayde and Olivia Lunney on The Launch in 2019. Olivia and Jayde competed to the final stage of the episode and went head to head with their version of the song “I Got You”, Olivia Lunny came out on top and had her version released as a result of her win that week.  “I Got You” ended my song of 2019, I had the song on repeat for weeks. (NOTE: video of both versions can be found on YouTube)

Olivia followed up her success on The Launch with a couple of singles and an album.  In 2022 Lunny has released three singles, with “Vibe Check” catching a grove that found me.  I was pleased to hear Lunny back with new music that has found its way on to my ‘on repeat’ playlist.  “Vibe Check” is a collab with Bhad Bhabie.  The Lunny of 2022 is refreshed with a confidence that comes through not only in “Vibe Check” but also her two releases this year.

Jayde has a very unique voice and since 2018 has released a dozen songs; in the last two years her songwriting has improved and she’s turning out crafty indie-pop. Her latest is “was it worth it” and with it she steers herself in a new direction.  It really is a great song.  Jayde doesn’t perform live regularly, so if you have the change catch her – she recently performed on the same bill as Blu Detiger in Toronto.  The clips I viewed on Instagram after the show were very good.

Emily Kate is a Toronto area singer songwriter that leans to the country lane.  She released a few singles since 2020, her 7th is a tune called “Make Me Get Over You”.  That song along with the previous single “Café Corner Booth” have choruses that hook you into the song. I’ve noticed that in a short time when collaborating with other songwriters, Emily Kate has earned confidence and a belief in herself as an artist

These three singers have left an impression on me and it has been really enjoyable hearing their songwriting and performing evolve. I hope you’ll take the time to search them out and stream these ladies, you will hear some great talent!

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The last Elton John concert I’ll attend

Elton John performed his last show in Canada in Vancouver the 20th and 21st of October and he is set to close the North American leg of the Farewell Yellow  Brick Road Tour in Dodger Stadium with three shows November 17-20.  The Dodger Stadium shows will be recorded for a documentary that will air sometime in the near future.  The whole tour winds up July 8th 2023 in Sweden and then it is on to retirement with hopefully some new recordings.

Photo from Los Angeles Times

This is no means a regular farewell tour, it started in September 18, 2018.  It took 21 months off because of the pandemic and have rescheduled cancelled shows thus extending the tour longer than anticipated.  To date the tour has played before 3.5 million people.

I’ve seen Elton John a few times, and have my favourite songs I like to hear live. His current set list runs about 40 songs, but for the purposes of this blog here are the songs I’d want to hear from Elton if it was only going to be a 20 song concert (I tried to make this a 10 songs set list but just couldn’t) and the order I’d like to hear them.

Farewell to a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Your Sister Can’t Twist (but she can Rock ‘n Roll)/Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Burn Down the Mission

Honky Cat

Levon

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Bitter Fingers/Better off Dead

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

I’m Still Standing

Take me to the Pilot

Stolen Car (with Stevie Nicks)

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (with Kiki Dee)

Tiny Dancer

I Guess that’s Why they Call it the Blues

Sad Songs (Say So Much)

Teacher I Need You/Elderberry Wine

Border Song

Rocket Man

Bennie and the Jets

Your Song

Running this list past Liz, she added a few songs that I agreed to add as the encore. Her suggestions were Candle in the Wind, Sacrifice, Can you Feel the Love Tonight, Cold Cold Heart.

This list does two things, it probably leaves your favourite song out and I take a couple of liberties by putting a couple songs together.  If you like this set list you can go here and listen to it, https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0P4IQ0dYiXXuSjRvheTZXw?si=5985f21265a74e97.

Please drop me a line and let me know what songs you would want to hear in the last Elton John concert you would attend.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Summer Songs of 2022

There is an excitement when summer comes, temperatures rise, and we shed the sweaters and coats and we wait for music.  Ah yes, the music, the music of the summer starts flowing in May and it’s nonstop until September.   The hunt for the the song of the summer is exciting and is not unlike the annual Christmas song in the UK.  The wait for the proclamation has me on the edge of my musical stool.  

Photo by Anton Belitskiy on Pexels.com

As the summer of ’22 approached and the music that would define the summer was released. I tweeted out three songs that had just been released that I felt might be THE song of the summer of 2022. 

In no particular order the three songs I had queued as hits were  #AsitWas Harry Styles, #WesternWind by Carly Rae Jepsen and #I’mAMan from Michelle Branch.  These were the first songs I heard that I considered to have potential to be summer hits.

Of course, of those three Harry Stiles was the one that lasted the summer and was the number one song for multiple weeks in the UK and the US.  It was undoubtedly the song of the summer of 2022.  It ruled the world.

Sadly, Western Wind and I’m A Man, my other two predicted songs could not keep up with Harry Stiles. Western Wind, while being well received it barely made a dent on the charts, anywhere. I’m A Man had the same fate, except to excite the fans of Michelle Branch.

Good news though, there were some other great songs that we listened to in the summer. Before I look at what actually hit us and the charts, I did have a few other songs that came out I was really excited about and put them all in Summer Song playlist, here it isfor you, https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3S2niiPK72PJd89KTW6E0B?si=bc954a421ea54625.

On this playlist are songs I had on repeat through the summer months;  Cate’s Brother by Maisie Peters, Right on Time from Lindsay Ell, Cold Heart, the Pnau remix with Elton John and Dua Lipa. Sunroof by Nicky Your and dazy, and there was a latecomer to the summer –  Beach House, the second single from Carly Rae Jepsen.  I am convinced that had Beach House been released in the summer it would have been a huge hit.

Now, on to the real hits of this past summer and my go to is Billboard, here is their summer of 2022 chart https://www.billboard.com/charts/summer-songs/,  Billboard crowned  Harry Styles and As it Was and the Song of the Summer of 2022.  The song’s claim to fame was being on top of the charts for 14 weeks, almost as long as summer lasts.  As hot as Harry Styles was, Lizzo was only a few degrees cooler with “About Damn Time”! There were others that made the summer interesting with Beyonce and a surprise blast from the past from Kate Bush.

The crop of summer songs in 2022 was pretty damn good with many songs that could have vied for the title of the Song of Summer 2022, only one thing held them back, as it was, was Harry Styles.

Let’s bring on the new Christmas music and the UK Christmas song of 2022!

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

BlackPink in your area

At 12 noon Seoul Korea Time and 11pm and 12 midnight Eastern Time in the middle of August, 150 million people logged in to watch a livestream of a comeback that was 2 years in the making and the world premiere of a video for the song kicking off the comeback.

Millions from around the world watched as Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa; collectively known as BlackPink, kidded around, play words games, who was the best dancer, who worked the hardest in the video, guessed the prop (from the video) and thank their fanbase, Blinks, for staying with them while they waited two years for their second album.  

This was not just a comeback, but an assault on the music world generated by BlackPink and their management.    Since mid-August BlackPink have dominated global music charts with their single “Pink Venom”, Album “Born Pink” and second single “Shutdown”.  This past week marked the start of their Born Pink World Tour in Seoul Korea.  The tour comes to North America next month with one tour stop in Canada in Hamilton Ontario (I am still shaking my head over that) and no plans to add additional tour sites.

I admit I am NOT the target audience for K-Pop and BlackPink, but the music is catchy, simple and the repetitive nature of the songs especially the musical hook takes a hold of you.  

YG Entertainment, the braintrust behind BlackPink and other K-Pop artists have built a powerful brand with these four young women and turned a two year break between albums into a “comeback”.  The comeback was a series of video teasers, sound clips and anyone of the ladies ‘leaking’ a spoiler to the “Blinks”.  Blinks by the way are the fans BlackPink, ”Blinks” got it?  

When Lisa accepted a VMA Award this fall she first thanked the Blinks and then her girls, Jisoo, Rosé and Jennie.  These four are a team and have been for years when YG put the four together back in 2016.  They lived together, they trained together and they became a family, those are their words.  Through the experience of becoming the most famous of girl K-Pop groups they share the spotlight with the ‘brothers’ of BTS.  

The music is generational, it’s catchy, there are numerous hooks and for most of the hits, the hook is use of English to deliver the verbal hook; it could be “How You Like That”, “Kill this Love”, “Lovesick Girls” and now with their second album it contimues with “Pink Venom” and “Shutdown”.  The music is a mix of English and Korean and BlankPink has created fans in other Asian nations with Thai, Filipino and Japanese versions of their hits.  

Exposure of BlackPink through video (each of their music videos have 100’s of millions of views) and K-Pop fanzines takes me back to the early 60’s and the media takeover of four lads that had spent years together before becoming a hit.  On social media Lisa leads the way with 83M Instagram followers, Jennie has 71M followers, Jisoo has 65M and Rosé has 64M. The massive media exposure takes me back to the Beatles.  Like YG, Brian Epstein moulded the Beatles into the media darlings they were in the early years of their success.  

Kim, Jisoo, Jennie and Rosé

I can’t forsee how far BlankPink will go, I saw one video in Instagram were they girls joked about being forty and making a Spice Girls type reunion.  That may by far off as the four are aged between 25 and 27. Jisoo is ‘Unnie’ the oldest or elder and she has the respect of the others.  Lisa is the youngest and referred to as Maknae by the others. 

The other day I undertook to watch a two hour video of a BlackPink “Fansign” that took place in Seoul in what looked like a shopping mall in the lead up to the start of their world tour.  Four two hours the fours signed copies of the CD package for “Born Pink”.  Each Blink that came through was given personal attention and plenty of time with each of the group.  No one was rushed; Rosé, Lisa, Jisoo and Jennie laughed, listened and made each person feel like they were the only one in the room.  

No one can say how long BlackPink will be on top of the K-Pop world, for now I am just going to sit back and enjoy the music and watch as BlackPink performs on their world tour, with a keen interest as they come to Canada November 6th and 7th in Hamilton.  

I suggest you do the same.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Return of Michelle Branch

The return of Michelle Branch started back in 2021 with the 20th anniversary of her debut album The Spirit Room.  First released in 2001 when Branch was 17 years old the 20th anniversary release included a complete re-recording of the album.  For the most part the album sounds similar, but with the re-recording, with Black Keys drummer husband Pat Carney handling co-production there are some tracks that suffer in the 2021 version from the production.  I would just chalk that up to Branch being 20 years older wanting to get a sound she didn’t get in 2001.  The anniversary edition was released October 2021 and for the first time on vinyl (to my joy!)

Like much of the new music we’ve heard in the last year and will hear in the coming year(s), “The Trouble with Fever” is a pandemic project born out of some session work to complete some songs.  “Fever” is the follow up to “Hopeless Romantic”, released in 2017 and was the first full length album in 14 years.

Nine months after the The Spirit Room 20, the first song from The Trouble of Normal was released, I’m the Man was written in 2020 and was released, planned or not in the height of the distress of of Roe vs Wade being overturned.  Hearing this track for the first time I was excited by what I heard looked with great expectations for the release of the album that came in mid-September.   This one track led me to pre-order my (autographed) vinyl of the album in August.  Upon release while I waited for the delivery, I spent many days listening online, putting the album on repeat so often that a few songs made it to my midyear Spotify stats.

Since release of The Trouble of Fever I’ve been listening a few times a week to the Lp and I’ve clearly developed a favourites.  Along with the leadoff single “I’m a Man” the apparent follow up “Not my Lover”, “Closest Thing to Heaven”, “When that Someone is You” and “You Got Me Where You Want Me”. 

Listening to The Trouble with Fever there is a familiarity to it that all Michelle Branch fans will recognize, but this Lp is a step further her last album Hopeless Romantic where she examined what love could be to now where she looks at love and her relationship during pandemic times. 

Supporting new Lp, a brief tour was arranged with 9 dates in 8 cities ending with a livestream of the second and final show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.  Reviews of the shows indicate that her fans have been waiting for the opportunity to hear the new material and classic songs from her previous records.

While Branch’s major label debut was in 2001 at the age of 18, in 2022, at 39 she has the chance to take the reins from Sheryl Crow and become a leading female singer songwriter.  It was a crown I thought she would take years ago and with the support of a new label it is within her grasp.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Rocktober returns!

Welcome back to Rocktober, in fact I should be welcoming you back to #RedHeartBlueSign, as I haven’t written or posted since June and even then, in 2022 #RedHeartBlueSign has been extremely light on contact.  

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

I’ve been listening to some great music this year and October, ahem, Rocktober seemed the perfect time to get back to some semblance of regular posts.  

This month I’m planning to post 5-6 times.  I’ve already started composing the first of Rocktober’s posts; on the return of Michelle Branch with the release this fall of her new album and first on a major label in years, “The Trouble with Fever”.  

Here is the lineup for posts in this year’s #Rocktober

  1. The return of Michelle Branch
  2. My new musical obsession: Blackpink
  3. The summer songs of 2022
  4. My Top Ten Elton John Tracks (or maybe it will need to be 20)
  5. TBD
  6. TBD

The first of the posts will be up this week!  

So, welcome back to the blog with my apologies for my absenteeism, I hope you’ll like what you’ll read this month.  

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

#ONVote43: Where have the volunteers gone?

In my previous post on the Ontario election, lower voter turnout was lamented.  In this post I want to express concern over a trend I see of fewer volunteers coming forward.  I have been working on campaigns since 2004.  I’ve worked on federal, provincial and municipal campaigns and the frightening reality to me is that fewer people are coming out to volunteer and help on a campaign.  I hear that Election Canada and Elections Ontario also have the same issue, not having enough people to work on elections – and these two organizations PAY for the work.

Today, as I did last week, I want to look at three Ontario PC Campaigns, Thunder Bay-Atikoken, Toronto-Danforth and Ottawa Centre.  I’ll start in Thunder Bay and work south.

The Thunder Bay-Atikoken Ontario PC candidate was managed by a friend of mine, Derek Parks.  I called Derek on election night after his PC Candidate, Kevin Holland won and defeated the NDP incumbent.  It was the first win for the PC Party in that riding since 1985.  Speaking to Derek he described a falling out of the regular PC volunteers who had rallied behind another candidate for the nomination.  

Sometimes the nomination battles are fiercer and more divisive than the election. Despite winning the nomination, supporters of the failed nomination candidate did not rally behind the blue flag, it was a huge deficit for the Holland campaign to have to overcome.  They did, and Derek explained how he, the Candidate and 7 others carried the campaign to election day and the victory.  He said their campaign showed the power of social media.  I am so proud of how Derek and Kevin won the election; I am going to enjoy reviewing how they used social media to overcome a party volunteer revolt and have Thunder Bay-Atikoken turn blue after almost 40 years.

Heading down to the GTA, our next stop is Toronto-Danforth where former Ottawa Centre candidate Colleen McCleery was carrying the flag.  Colleen moved to Toronto shortly after the 2018 election and early in 2022 sought a riding to run in.  She had her sights in someplace other that Toronto-Danforth (TD), but settled on TD after talking to a few people, including me.  The riding President even pushed to have Colleen and I as a package deal; Colleen the candidate and me her campaign manager, as I had been 4 years earlier.  Knowing how the campaign went, I feel I should have gone to be there with her.  Two things kept me from that, I had committed to working in the Ottawa Centre campaign and as well my work would have frowned on the idea if I asked permission.

In TD, the NDP were the incumbent and won with a majority of the vote in 2018, the push from the PC association to Colleen and I was that the PC Candidate had the best showing the party has had for years.  The thing to remember here is that in 2018 it was a vote was against Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals.  

Heading into the campaign and assisting Colleen in the months leading up to the start of the election, we both knew were in trouble and that it wasn’t such a great idea to run in Toronto-Danforth.  We saw multiple occasions of the Riding board not stepping up.  An important fundraising event was cancelled because emails didn’t go out and tickets weren’t sold.  The sign co-ordinator never put up a single sign, the social media person posted perhaps five times on twitter and multiple attempts for volunteers to canvass and for board members to donate were met with the sound of crickets.  

Colleen canvassed from February to June, most days on her own and covered 18,000 homes in the riding.  Her team?  The campaign manager that did all he could while committed to working on a campaign for a PC MPP seeking re-election; the CFO and 2-3 other people that would come out when they could.

The riding association board let Colleen down, she was buoyed by a part-time campaign manager and 3 people that put up signs and went door to door with her.  These Riding Association Boards should be ashamed of themselves.  It was never a case of Colleen not doing her part, we knew the volunteers were there, even if it was only a few more – they just never cared to show up or acknowledge the request.

Heading east on the 401 and north on the 416 we get to Ottawa Centre, a riding I have run twice in and managed twice.  In those four elections the 2011 election was a struggle for help, I was unknown, and it was my first campaign as a candidate.  In the ’14 and ’18 elections there was a good number of volunteers so heading into ’22 I thought we would be OK and have the people to have a good campaign for our path to victory.  

Somehow in this election the volunteer base dried up.  All previous volunteers were contacted, some replied but most didn’t.  There was now a smaller pool of volunteers to draw and the Riding Board of Directors was smaller.  To follow our path to victory, we hired 7 youth to canvass evenings.  They would augment the plan we had for Scott and a few other volunteers that went door to door with candidate Scott Healey.  

In Ottawa though it wasn’t just Ottawa Centre, the volunteer base WAS smaller than in 2018.  One of the reasons for the smaller pool of volunteers was the Conservative Leadership race.  Volunteers were drawn to leadership campaigns, especially the one candidate from Ottawa. 

We also noticed the drop of volunteers with the Liberal Candidate, we didn’t see their volunteers out knocking on doors, which in the past has always happened and we never ran into volunteers from the NDP and Green campaigns.  When we door knocked, we didn’t see brochures from the other candidates.  It was bad.  In past years we always could count on 3-5 high school students on the campaign to collect hours of volunteer work, these hours were needed to graduate from High School.  This election, there were none.

The core team for Scott Healey was 7 people, and from there we added 5-6 people who did some lit dropping and of course we had contracted 7 others to work for Scott.

Unlike elections in other years, our campaign and others in Ottawa were asked to send all available volunteers to one of two campaigns that were in tight battles. These two ridings typically have a good volunteer base, it seems that even in tight battle areas, volunteers no longer want to engage and help their candidate, these campaigns had t0 recruit by seconding other campaign volunteers.

As someone that works on campaigns and volunteers on others, it is concerning to me that volunteer engagement is falling.  If you’re concerned about a dropping voter turnout, consider the campaign volunteers who actually help with voter engagement by delivering flyers, driving voters to the polling station, making phone calls and more.  Without volunteers there will be no campaign office.   Consider the impact fewer volunteers has on voter turnout.

Elections are more than just voters taking part, it’s also about campaign teams and the supporters of the candidates that give of their free time. Without volunteers our democracy suffers, the political campaign as we know it now will forever be changed if candidates can’t find volunteers and supporters.  

Where now there are campaigns with no volunteers, it isn’t too far before we can’t find candidates to run.  See you next week with that conversation.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

#ONVotes43: Voter Turnout Turmoil

I am in the days after the Ontario Election in Ottawa Centre after working with Scott Healey and a tight knit team.  As the team cleans up signs, pays the bills, and dots the I’s and crosses the t’s on campaign paperwork it is time to look back at the 32 day campaign.  I feel the need to address a few topics that either frustrated or amazed me in this provincial election.  

First thing I need to address is the voter turnout of the 2022 Ontario Election. In doing this I am going to look at three ridings that had different circumstances and outcomes. Interestingly all these three ridings they had an NDP incumbent heading into the 2022 election.  I am focused on these three ridings as I had a personal interest in them.  The ridings are, Ottawa Centre where I was the Campaign Manager, Toronto Danforth where I consulted and Thunder Bay Atikoken as I watched a good friend battle not only the NDP, but local PC supporters.  

The voter turnout in Ottawa Centre was once again a leader in the province as it was shy of hitting 50%, coming in at 49.43%.  While Ottawa Centre voters again showed their dedication to the democratic process, it was immune to lower turinout as the 49.43% was nowhere close to the 2018 result of 61.2%.  The Ontario PC voter turnout mirrored that of the riding with a turnout of under 50% of the voters that told our campaign they would vote for Scott coming out to do so. 

This type of result doesn’t do much to the idea that Ottawa Centre could never be a Tory seat.  I believe it can, and I believed 2022 would the year it would happen.  It didn’t happen for a few reasons, some which were in our control and some that were not.  With enough motivation, Ontario PC voters can make Ottawa Centre an Ontario PC seat. 

Where credit needs to be given in this election goes to the re-elected Joel Harden, his Campaign Manager Samiha Rayeda and their team that increased the NDP vote to 30,022, an increase of 367 from the previous election.  I believe he won with the greatest plurality of any candidate in the election and makes Harden a front runner of unannounced NDP Leadership candidates.  By my calculation Harden won with the 3rd largest vote margin in the province (though the CBC didn’t mention him in this report https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/tightest-races-biggest-wins-ontario-election-2022-1.6478935 ) and perhaps by the greatest number of votes received by any one candidate.

Briefly in two other ridings.  Toronto-Danforth saw former Ottawa Centre PC Candidate and friend Colleen McCLeery hold the PC flag.  Toronto-Danforth saw a drop in voters and the NDP MPP Peter Tabuns saw his support fall more than 10,000 votes from 2018 as voter turnout dropped 11.85%.  Knowing Colleen as I do, and the work she put into the campaign since her nominatin in February ’22, all I can say is that there is only so much one person can do, and Colleen’s situation 3 or 4 can do for an entire election writ period.

Thunder Bay Atikoken provided a change of seat holder in a reduced voter turnout.  A drop of 12% from 2018 to 2022 gave the Ontario PC’s the seat to Kevin Holland and his team lead by Derel Parks.  This result comes from an effective election day plan that had momentum for change and a determined Onatrio PC supporters making their voice and vote count.  Congratulations to Kevin, Derek and their team as they also battled some internal forces but had a different result from Ottawa Centre and Toronto Danforth.

In the general discussion of voter turnout, I saw many posts that displayed dismay over the results.  I replied to the posts and asked if they voted?  One couldn’t because they live on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, others did and didn’t vote – my message to all were, don’t blame the outcome on our ‘first past the post’ system.  The blame lies with the leaders and candidates that lost (those that complained) and lament low voter turnout.  

Elections are fought on issues, and ideas.  If a leader or party doesn’t present the platform in a manner that attracts voters to it, it is not the voters’ fault.  Just as a burntout out lightbulb won’t draw the interest of a moth, an uninspired election platform and/or candidate won’t bring voters to to their campaign or the ballot box.

There are four years for all the parties and party leaders to redraw their plans and strategies.  Four years to reflect and regoup.  I will do the same for Ottawa Centre, the Ontario PC Party in Ottawa Centre can learn from the Joel Harden campaign, but to do that the local association, as will local association across Ontario if they want a change in outcome can’t wait for 6 to 12 months before June 4, 2026 to prepare, the work starts now.  I have ideas on how that can be done and will share them in a follow up to this post of #RedHeartBlue Sign

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up, please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net