Author Archives: redheartbluesign

About redheartbluesign

I think about things and occasionally write about what I think about. I am expanding my horizons beyond politics - though as a former Ontario PC Candidate, the politics will always be there.

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 truck 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 us 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

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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.

 

Sometimes the view from the front row is…meh

Empty Seats

You can give me front row seats for an Elton John show, a performance at the Stratford Festival and a seat in the first rows along the 1stor 3rdbaselines at a Toronto Blue Jays game.

I have a front row seat, not to be confused with a front bench seat, every day for Parliament in Ottawa.  For most of my two years on Parliament Hill the words, the shouting and innuendos from the benches have meant nothing to me, but just part of the theatrics of question period.  Recently something changed, and not in a good way – the tone has changed from the government side.

Up until MPs returned from a two week break in April what happened in the house was pretty predictable.  For the last two weeks the government has been particularly spiteful when answering a question from the Opposition Conservatives. It reached a new low on Wednesday (the 25th) on the occasion of Prime Minister’s day in Question period.  I don’t know what got into the Prime Minister; maybe he was still fired up from the Liberal convention the previous weekend.  You might have seen this video produced by the Conservative Party and posted on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cpcpcc/videos/10156311860774204/, it has a few clips from the Liberal where Justin Trudeau thinks he is still campaigning against Stephen Harper.

TrudeauIt is more than that, on that particular day, the TV in my office almost flew out the window (with a little bit of help) because of Trudeau’s angry and spiteful answers during question period.  Most of the controversy revolved around the discovery that the Canada Summer Jobs was funding jobs to protest and disrupt the Trans mountain pipeline.  This is controversial because the Liberals prevented many good organizations from receiving jobs funding because they don’t agree with the Liberal values attestation.

Back to question period, of the 22 questions asked to the Prime Minister, Trudeau responded 11 times using the phrase “Harper Conservatives” or named Stephen Harper.  If I think back to that recent Liberal convention I would have to imagine that Trudeau thought he was still talking to his Liberal base only this time in the House of Commons.  He probably was, why else would be invoked the name of Harper if Trudeau had to use the trump card he thinks has with Canadians.  It worked in the 2015 election when Canadians were looking for someone else that Stephen Harper.

In 2018, he could only be naming Harper as much as he had in the House because he needs a distraction from pipelines, the cost of a carbon tax on Canadians and the fallout of the Canada Summer Jobs program. He is daring everyone to remember Harper and have them forget his shortcomings. Watching Trudeau that day, it wasn’t what Trudeau said, but the how he said it.  I cannot put into words the anger and spite in how the Prime Minister’s the words came out.  It was not like anything I have heard before, even worse than I heard Kathleen Wynne resurrect the history of Mike Harris in Queens Park.  I cannot put into words that do justice to describe the smugness of the Trudeau grin, the extreme spite of his words and daggers in Trudeau’s eyes in his efforts to deflect from his government’s problems to a Prime Minister he hopes Canadians still like less than him. I will not forget it.

It was during Question Period on that day that Trudeau showed his true self, most Canadians won’t see it, most Canadians will not even know it happened because it is just 50 minutes out of a day of 24 hours. As Trudeau and his team are forced to defend their inactions, lack of success and poor judgement expect to hear more of Stephen Harper after all the 2019 election is only 541 days away.  Trudeau has learned well that it’s easier to campaign using the name of a person who is not running (Harper) than it is to face your true opponent (Scheer).

So call this a promise kept, doing politics differently, because I do not remember any other Prime Minister acting out like a spoiled little boy as Trudeau did this week and blaming it on someone else. For that, this is one front row I prefer to watch from afar, or on mute.

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

Ancient Wisdom and Knowledge, is it forever lost?

The Wayfinders

 

There is a saying, ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’, it is derived from English poet Alexander Pope’s poem “A Little Learning”.  The earliest known printing of the poem is 1709. For the full poem click here: https://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Pope/a_little_learning.htm.  I think of this after reading the CBC Massey Lectures, a collection of five lectures entitled “The Wayfinders” by Canadian Anthropologist and explorer-in-residence of National Geographic Wade Davis.

I am reminded of this while reading the Wayfinder lectures because Davis seems to acknowledge that the knowledge of the “new world” is at the heart of the demise of many of the earths longest known peoples. The Africans – where the migration of people started and spread across the earth, Australian Aboriginals, the tribes of the rain forests, the Polynesian sea navigators and the First Nations of the Sacred Headwaters of BC and others have been walking this earth ten’s of thousands of years before the Europeans of the new world spread their ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ across lands and waters.

Does, as Davis alludes to, learned knowledge undermine intuitive knowledge?  The knowledge of our souls is like a family history, it can only be learned through the telling of stories and family experiences.  The terms of an oral history and generational transmission of knowledge is used to describe how generations of the earth’s first inhabitants shared knowledge.  Davis provides a great example of learned through intuitive knowledge describing the different experiences of Spanish sailors compared to the navigation of the Polynesians. The Polynesians, told through the life training of a modern day sea navigator, learned about tides, the sea movements under the boats, winds and using the stars without the tools that the new world explorers had at their disposal.  It is a fascinating experience of learning of an old world craft in a modern time.

As much we marvel at the tools and innovation that new knowledge bring, we must acknowledge that there is prejudice that learned knowledge is greater than that which is transmitted generationally.  In the fourth lecture “Sacred Geography” Davis not only talks about the lands of British Columbia, but also how 50,000 years of living by Australian Aboriginals is almost wiped out within a generation because of their only way of living a ‘savage lifestyle’ was noticed by the civil people that arrived in Australia hundreds of generations after some of the Africans walked to Australia.  The newbies in the land considered themselves better.  Through laws and actions of the newcomers, about only 500 Australian Aboriginals now speak in 18 languages; Before the invasion, there were over 270 languages and more than 500 dialects spoken.  Today one language is lost each year.  It is a theme that is visited in greater detail in the book – the newcomers impose new world values over generations of native inhabitants.

There are peoples and ways of life that have existed since the beginning of time that never reach our consciousness unless we purposely put it there.   I’ll end with something from the initial lecture that really left an impression on me that demonstrates the loss of the richness of our world; today there are 7000 languages spoken today around the world.  Half of them are not being taught to children, the effect is that every two weeks a tribal elder dies and takes with them an ancient language.  Since the expansion of the new world over a recent few hundred years, the English language has become the major language spoken. The science and tools of a new world has erased the practice of intuition and a connectedness the earth for movement and sustainable living.

Have we reached an impasse? Is there a hope we can regain some of that connection to the earth? Can we utilize modern innovation and technology to record, save and revive lost and soon to be lost languages? Can we better marry the use of technology and intuition to live on this earth and live more sustainably both personally and commercially?

For tens of thousands of years people migrated, navigated and lived in a natural harmony with each other, animals, vegetation on the earth and its spirits. While we have learned many things and been able to innovate at a speed that in a hundred years can erase what took thousands of years to understand why can’t we look back and connect to each other and the past and become a modern Wayfinder?

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

3 Books 3 Reviews

I recently took a week to relax and catch up on some books that had been awaiting my attention.  In this edition of #RedHeartBlueSign I present three short reviews of those books.  The books reviewed are Saving Capitalism by Robert B. Reich; The Darkest Hour written by Anthony McCarten and The Wayfinders by Wade Davis.

Saving Capitalism (for the many, not the few) by Robert B. Reich

Saving Capitalism is a follow up to several books that Reich has written about the economy and how government deals with it, most notably Aftershock.  Reich has divided the book into three sections, The Free Market, Money and Worth and The Countervailing Power.  This book took a while to read, economics and the economy is something I can get a gripe in at the surface – but diving deep into the topic is what I would leave to others. But being relentless I delved into this book on the advice of a friend.  I am glad I did because there are several topics that struck me as being prevalent to economic success of the country and individual economic security.

Reich brings to the discussion ideas we talk about to today including a basic minimum income, but reveals 18thcentury publications that support 21stcentury ideas.  In the Countervailing Power Reich brings a 1797 essay by Thomas Paine that introduces the idea of a basic minimum income at 15 pounds a month to American men and women at the age of 21.

To read Reich is to understand world economic cycles and government responses both good and bad.  The three segments could be subjected as how our economy works, why we’re in the state we’re in and lastly how to share economic wealth of the top 10% with the 90% who don’t hold it.  While directed straight at America, there are lessons for Canadians.

The Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten

McCarten not only wrote this book but also wrote the screenplay for the movie of the same name.  If you loved the movie, read the book as it provides the political background to the actions shown in the movie.  To film the background the book provides would’ve meant that the movie would have been much longer.

The Darkest Hour revolves around the ascension of Winston Churchill to the seat of Prime Minister and his actions during May 1940, the period known as England’s darkest moment of WW2 when Europe was falling to the Germans and everyone thought it would only be a matter of time before the UK would be next.

If you have not seen the movie yet, read the book first then see the movie.  If you’ve seen the movie, read the book and then see the move again, that’s what I’m going to do.

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis

I was reluctant to write about this book in this post as the ideas the Wade Davis presents deserve a full individual post. Here I will present a bit of what this book represents.  The Wayfinders is not so much a book, but five essays presented in 2009 in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio series entitled the Massey Lectures. It’s a format I have read before, more specifically the Massey Lectures by Stephen Lewis (humanitarian and AIDS activist) and Margaret MacMillan (Canadian Historian, Author of the excellent WW1 books ‘Paris 1919’ and ‘The War that ended Peace’)

I have written previously about Davis in my post “The Best of 2017:Books”, I wrote that his book “Into the Silence” was one of the best I read last year.  That book chronicled the race to climb to the top of Everest after WW1.

In The Wayfinders lecture series, Davis, an anthropologist, the examines how worlds of the past navigated the seas, land, newcomers and language before the Europeans brought their tools and knowledge. The series describes how knowledge of the skies and knowledge on the movement of the sun and how the tides of the water predict sea travel.

The book, as mentioned earlier, are the five lectures presented in a five-day span.  You might be tempted to read the 200 pages in a one or two sittings – but take in the lectures as they were presented over a five-day period on the radio, let the message of each lecture sink in before moving onto the next day and the next lecture.

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

How to win (not lose) an election

 

In essence the plan to win an election is easy, it can be described in four easy steps.

  1. Brand your leader in a positive light
  2. Have a platform that is friendly and believable
  3. Frame the other parties, and their leaders as less than undesirable
  4. Do not make any errors or missteps

Since the loss to the Liberals in 2003 the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party have tried three times to get back to government. Looking at the four easy step lets revisit the elections of 2007, 2011, 2014 and look ahead to the 2018 election.

2007 Election Result: Liberal Majority

The story of the 2007 election was that the Liberals were able to frame Leader John Tory on the promise to publically fund faith-based schools. Tory was branded as out of touch with Ontarians on this issue and the majority of the voters disagreed with the idea of extending funding past the Public and Catholic school boards. While all parties were able to manage the first two steps, the PC’s lost the war in step three and with a flip flop to hold a free vote on the funding issue – John Tory was the leader with the largest misstep.

2011 Election Result: Liberal Minority

Both the PC’s and NDP had new leaders. The Liberals stuck with Dalton McGuinty who was not experiencing the same popularity as he did four years earlier. The trouble was that Ontario voters did not know who Tim Hudak was. The PC’s failed to capitalize on a new leader facing a tired Premier who really should have lost as the City of Toronto had voted in populist Rob Ford as Mayor and the Liberals federally were taking a pounding. The problem was not branding Hudak as the guy Ontario needs; rather going with a leader Ontario knew was the better option for the voters. As for the four steps, the PC’s lost number 1, and didn’t do well enough in the other three to recover from a lackluster branding of their leader.

2014 Election Result: Liberal Majority

This was an election Tim Hudak had in the bag, and lost it with not bad policy – but bad branding. The Liberals had a new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, who took over after McGuinty rolled up his sleeves for a press conference and threw in the towel. Polls were tight between the Liberals and PC, but Conservatives thought they had a winner of a platform. The double double of creating 1 million jobs in 10 years along with reducing the civil service through attrition by 100,000 was labelled as bad math and Hudak would fire 100,000 government workers. The PC’s were not able to define their message ahead of the Liberals doing it for them. The PC’s lost all four steps of how to win an election.

2018 Election Result: TBD

Up until the end of January this was Patrick Brown’s election to win with a leader that was doing well and the People’s Guarantee platform, then stuff happened and the PC’s held a lickety split leadership and elected Doug Ford to lead the party to the June 7th election. Wynne was sinking in the polls, and the PC’s had high polling results, without a leader. Ford is the new guy, but he’s not inexperienced and so far neither Wynne nor the NDP have been able to put a label on him. The liberals will have to hang all their hopes on their election budget, however Ontarians seem to be seeing through the “buy your vote” spend to win platform. Andrea Horwath is in this for the third time running leader for the NDP.

Looking at our four steps, Doug Ford is a brand in itself, so far it’s a brand that people are not running away from, the polls still indicate a huge loss for Wynne and big win for Ford. With Ford dumping most of the People’s Guarantee, he has to present a platform that voters will see as sensible and achievable and he is clearly making his point that the Liberals are done. All that is left is for Doug Ford is to avoid the misstep history that claimed John Tory and Tim Hudak and finally bring the PC’s back to government.

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

Political Smoke & Fire

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In one day the Ontario NDP revealed major planks of their platform, the Ontario Liberals used prorogation and had the Lt.-Governor to read a list of election promises, I mean a speech from the throne, and in the same evening the Ontario PC Party held a Unity Rally. Tanya Granic Allen, Caroline Mulroney, Christine Elliot joined leader Doug Ford and 2000 Party members came together against one person – Kathleen Wynne.

In the events of that day, it turns out it was all a smoke screen, because after the smoke cleared we saw that the fire of an energetic campaign was just catching. In the 74 days (at the time this was posted) leading up to the June 7th Ontario election, expect to see more smoke behind a lot of fire. All parties have enough to battle that each of the three main parties will put up a smoke screen while fanning flames to get their own supporters out to vote.

Typically we think of smoke and mirrors, but in politics it is smoke and fire.

Let’s start with the NDP. To understand the dilemma Andrea Horwath has, Kathleen Wynne has moved the Liberals so far left that they are claiming some of the NDP’s ideas as theirs. Wynne introduced OHIP+, free prescriptions for everyone under 25, and now with the throne speech, they are going full blown Pharmacare. These are classic NDP platform ideas. They’ve never had to really cost them out because the Liberals have taken them and implemented them. So what’s Ms. Horwath to do? With the Liberals camping their election plans the NDP backyard, they need to hide that they are not relevant anymore. They need to come out with fire that Liberals are just “Leftist Lightweights” that the socially conscience need to come home to the Orange.

NDP Smoke: Don’t believe the rhetoric that the NDP will break the province, the Liberals have already done that

NDP Fire: We thought of it first, Wynne implemented it. Vote for the original.

You just know that the Liberals, and I mean every liberal in North American is going to throw everything they have at Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party. It’s already started with American media outlets wondering how a ‘mini-trump’ could be elected in Canada these days? Liberals have nothing else, their accomplishments are tarred by spending, scandal and guilty verdicts.  Coming out of the PC Leadership Ford was the best hope and their worst fear that Kathleen Wynne could have. So what is Ford and the PC team to do? Let Ford be Ford he is his best PR machine.  He is not his brother, he not #45, he is Doug and Doug won over the PC Party Membership and the last two weeks has seen him tour  the province and unite Ontario PC voters.

PC Smoke: You don’t know the real Doug Ford, when you do, you’ll be better for it.

PC Fire: We can’t afford Liberals, they can’t find saving because their friends are taking your money, I will find the savings.

What is there to say about the Ontario Liberals and Kathleen Wynne that polls, commentators and 8 out of 10 Ontarians haven’t already said; ‘there is no way she can win this election’, ‘why is she even running, why not step down’. Never underestimate just how hard an Ontario Liberal Leader will work in a campaign. First though Wynne has to get past just how much Ontarians have had enough of her and her government. Having Ford as her main opponent just might be her best weapon, if Ontarians are willing to…

Liberal Smoke: Never mind what we’ve spent, look what we got you!

Liberal Fire: You don’t know the real Doug Ford, when you do, you won’t like him.

Take cover, the writ drops soon!

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