Category Archives: Elections

Elections should be easy for voters: Part One

RHBS 160In one year we will be in the middle of a writ period in Ontario. Leaders of all of Ontario’s main parties will tell you “this is the most important election Ontario has ever had”. Let’s be clear, every election is always more important than the last one – the future is at stake, the four year ‘near’ future.

Instead of talking about how this coming election was more important that the 2014 election, wouldn’t it be better if the next election was presented in such a way that voters would know what to expect and understand what will take place based on a “real” election promise, not something vague. Somethings about the needs of Ontarians that is real to them and will make a difference.

Election promises are made, some are kept and others, well…aren’t. But to be honest sometimes the promises don’t make sense and just provide an agenda (if you don’t like the platform) or plan (if you support the leader and the party) for a four year mandate. Here is a simple idea – a simple four year plan to the voters of what will take place until the next election on four major themes. If you think about what happens now, each year of spending is a pot pouri of promises without a specific theme. Budgets are like Mambo #5; a little bit for you, a little bit for that group and little bit here and there. Lets talk about changing that with thematic budgets that address specific areas of the lives of Ontarians.

Simply put there are four areas that matter to voters: Health Care; Education; the Environment and Energy. Yes, yes…there are other important areas, but they can exist in one or  more of the four sectors mentioned. Each year of the mandate would feature a budget that focuses on one sector and its sub-sectors. It could look something like this:

Year One: Health Care

Year Two: The Environment

Year Three: Energy

Year Four: Education

Here is my theory, you do health first because changing health care is like steering a oil tanker on the seas, turning around takes a long time – it can’t make that turn on dime.  It will take four years for changes made to be seen and felt  for Ontarians.  If it works then Ontarians will see improvement in how health care is delivered by the time the next election comes around. In the second year the Environment is the theme and ties into year three with Energy. In year four Education is addressed for action after studies and consultations are done in the first 2-3 years of the mandate. If successful the four year platform rolls out smoothly, is successful and sees positive results that will ensure a second mandate.

Now, it will be problematic if there is no plan to follow up four years of success. Think back to Mike Harris and his five priorities, he completed his five priorities successfully however without a plan that could follow them up and because of that, under Ernie Eves, the Ontario PC’s fizzled. The lack of additional priorities was death bell of the Ontario PC’s in 2003 and brought us McGuinty and Wynne – we know how that has worked for Ontario.

The needs of Ontario do not stand still, neither should election plans, but governments get tired and try to stay relevant based on yesterday’s success. In this series of posts, I will look at the possibilities of having a structured election plan. It may even be considered as free advice heading to the June 2018 Ontario election.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at


O’Leary was Late

RHBS 156

For months Conservatives have been waiting for consolidation among the ranks of the 14 candidates vying for the Conservative Party leadership.   Most were expecting (and secretly hoping) that one, two – oh heck 4 or 5 candidates on the lower end of polls would exit the race, I wonder if they were wary of having their own David Orchard moment and getting promises that would never be realized? Whatever the reason, the time to leave the race came and went with no movement from the bottom.

The moment in question I mention is the date before ballots were printed. Whatever date it was – that day came and went with 14 candidates going to the printer for 259,010 Conservative Party members to mark the 1 through 10 preferences. Presumably the date to withdraw from the race would fall between February 24, 2017 – the day nominations closed and March 28th when membership sales ended. There might have been another week in there as the cut off, but without the party publishing the key milestone dates we’ll never know.

All we know is that 259,010 party members will receive a ballot with an O’Leary-less leadership ballot with O’Leary on the ballot.

RHBS 156

Why was O’Leary late is leaving the race? His name on the ballot leaves a lot of questions. These questions would have disappeared if Kevin O’Leary had left the race before the ballot sent to the printers. Kevin O’Leary is still going to be part of the leadership conversation, I am sure he would want it any other way.

Now that he is out, will his memberships move to Bernier? How many of O’Leary’s memberships will still mark Kevin as #1? How many ballots will never make it to a mailbox?

With an upper tier of the leadership that has been thinned out, what is there for the lower tiered candidates to gain from the ballot? Are there expectations of a victory or the opportunity to make a statement? In the final debate, candidates Trost and Obhrai both appealed to those watching by stating that they each had common ground with other candidates on the stage. Of the lower tier how does coming number two help? Who do they become number two to? Of Bernier, O’Toole, Scheer or maybe Raitt or Chong who do Leitch, Trost, Obhrai or Lemieux aim to be 2nd on the ballot to?

Will we see deals made between Bernier and Raitt? O’Toole and Scheer? Does Chong even rate a number based on his Carbon Tax stand? The only other candidate that has outlined an environmental plan is O’Toole, does Erin court Michael and visa versa?

Ballots came in the mail to our home today, while we might be 90-100% of who our #1 is, it’s the 2 through 10, or maybe only a 2, 3 and 4 that are the source of discussion. It is too early to tell which way our ballots will go. If you have a ballot, good luck and have fun figuring out how your ballot will look…I hope to see you in Toronto on May 27th.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at

The first shot has been fired

Ottawa Votes

I had noticed while reviewing the activity of this blog that yesterday my post about the 2014 Ottawa elections was viewed. In that post I gave predictions on 9 councillor races in that year’s municipal elections. I wrote that 8 of the nine wards I looked at were in a strong position to change. I was wrong in all predictions as the incumbent won all the 8 seats I thought would see a turn over.  But it didn’t stop me from thinking about what might happen in 2018.

Mayor Jim Watson announced that he was seeking another term as Mayor in the 2018 Ottawa Municipal elections.  It was the first shot fired, meant to warn off challengers?  When he made the announcement he wrote:

“Our city is in the midst of its most significant transformation in a generation, and with the support of the people of Ottawa, I hope to continue to play a small part in our beautiful city’s bright future.”

It makes sense that he run again, the LRT is his baby, by the time a potential next term ends in 2022 Phase 1 will be up and running, Phase 2 of the LRT will be close to completion and he will likely have passed Phase 3 at council. It just makes sense that in order to have the LRT as his legacy he try for a third consecutive term (and 4th term overall) as Mayor to guide it through construction and implementation. Whether he can remove the idea that his tax increase limitations are creating more debt and deficit for the City is yet to be seen as there is a contingent of voters that don’t believe that Ottawa can afford to carry an increased debt.

His re-election is not a slam dunk even with one of the highest approval ratings of all big city Mayors in Canada, his approval sits in the high 70’s percentage. There have been less optimistic and less publicized polls show that he faces some real challenges including increased water fees, sewer rates (all because he limits property taxes to 2% or less), better snow removal budgeting and to loosen the handcuffs of Councillors at budget time.

When he announced his intention to run on March 9th, it may have made a few intentions of other potential candidates sag.

So, who could be in and who could be out of the Mayor’s race with this announcement?

Possible candidates to jump in include, Paul Dewar former Ottawa Centre MP. We have a Father-Son as Prime Minister so why not a Mother-Son Mayor of Ottawa? The only thing holding him back is whether he anticipates that the shine is off the Trudeau Liberals and he can win his seat back. You have to remember, he did not lose any votes in 2015, the Liberals gains were from ‘new’ voters, which was the margin of victory for Catherine McKenna. Voters disenchanted with broken Liberal promises will help Dewar in 2019 and he very likely could win the seat back as he will be able to out canvass Catherine McKenna for 2019 as she did against him for the win in 2015.

Diane Deans, who will have 23 years on City council, has Mayoral aspirations, you can sense it. But the timing has never been great. With Watson in for another run is the timing still off? She has been building on having a different view of Ottawa than Watson envisions in her debates in Council, 2018 could be the year that she is also all in.

Likely NOT seeking to run against Jim Watson are Councillors Mark Taylor and Tim Tierney; both are loyal to the Mayor. Taylor may not be around in 2018 if he seeks to run in the 2018 Provincial election in Ottawa West Nepean replacing Bob Chiarelli as the Liberal Candidate. This seems the most likely plan for Taylor as he plans to keep his promise to be a two term Councillor. Tierney also made the two term pledge, but suggested in 2014 that the voters should determine if a councillor is elected for more than two terms, however I do not see him running against his friend.

Senior councillors, Rick Chiarelli (18 years), Marianne Wilkinson (40+ years with Kanata and Ottawa) and Jan Harder (21 Years with Nepean and Ottawa) may be challenged by supporters to make the jump to run for mayor. Even though the Mayor has declared he’s “in”, I do not expect to see anyone else put their name forward until early 2018.

I do not doubt Watson’s sincerity about running again, but he really had no choice BUT to say he was seeking re-election. He was being asked ( I think unfairly as he is only half way through his term), to say he would not run might have labelled him a lame duck Mayor and then noting would be accomplished and council might seem like a Mayoral debate every time they sat. But then again, something better could come along before he has to file his papers.- just sayin’.

Something else to watch leading up to the 2018 election is if Council will adopt ranked ballots for the vote. A City staff report on the changes that are now allowed due to a change in Provincial legislation suggests that moving to a ranked ballot would cost $3.5M more and would have challenges with ‘respect to awareness, technology and election administration.’ Time is also a concern to implement changes for 2018, but staff does not discount making changes in future elections.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

127: Only Four Years, No More


The US election cycle lasts up to 18 months. For many it starts too soon lasts too long. Because of the election cycles and lengths of terms we will be back at the US election watch for the mid-term elections in just over one year. The midterm elections are a good barometer of the performance of a sitting President. In 2014, the mid-terms were not kind to Obama, the economic recovery was just beginning but had not yet reached the level where the American public would see the results of the actions that the President had ordered. The mid-terms in 2018 will tell how the the American voter feels about the Trump presidency.

The results of the mid-terms will set the tone for the 2020 election where Trump will be seeking a second term. It will be the election where the chants of “drain the swamp” and “lock her up” are replaced with “four more years”.

Here it is, there will be no more than four years of the Trump presidency.  There I said it.

The coalition of Americans that voted for Donald Trump included the anti-Clinton, anti-Obama and anti-establishment. The anti-votes Trump received put him over the top in key states that in a ‘normal’ election cycle would have voted Democrat and put Hillary Clinton in the White House. What happened instead was that Donald trump tapped into the base of the Republican Tea Party, more correctly the angry American voter.

  Voter Turnout    
2016 58.1%* Trump 60,911,924
Clinton 61,913,199
2012 54.9% Obama 65,455,010
Romney 60,771,703
2008 57.1% Obama 66,882,230
McCain 58,343,671
2004 55.7% Bush 62,040,606
Kerry 59,028,109

The use of the popular vote in the American elections is secondary to State results and Electoral College votes. One number that should be watched and will be key to who takes the White House in 2021 is voter turnout. I expect voter turnout for what will be a re-election year for Trump will drop. Without a significant world event voter turnout will drop in Trump’s re-election plans. In 2004, George W Bush saw his vote number increase by 12 Million votes and voter turnout increase from 50.4% in 2000 to 55.7% in his 2004 re-election. Without 9/11 happening it is possible that Bush would not have seen the inside of the White House for another 4 years and we may have seen John Kerry become President.

There are a lot things going against Trump in a bid for any possible re-election, I have not even started to consider who the Democrats will have on the ballot AND if the Republicans will put someone up to challenge Trump in the primaries.

Oh, have I even mentioned thet Trump may not want a second four year term?


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125: My US Election Prediction: If Trump Wins

trump-penceIn a few days the US Election cycle that started 18-24 months ago will be over. There will be a new President in the White House and when the election victor sits in the chair behind the desk, there will be a letter from President Obama to the 45th President of the United States.

I do not know who will be the next President. But I do know this. The Republicans and the Democrats both rolled the dice on who their candidate would be and now one will have to walk away from the table after playing cards they could not win with.

The impact of Wikileaks, or as Trump pronounces it Wee-kee-leaks, will have been yuge if Trump gets the win on the 8th. If Trump wins he better watch out for Wikileaks to start releasing emails of his – or even his tax returns, if he cannot deliver on his fast and big changes.

If Trump wins:

The first thing that will be needed is a hiring blitz by Immigration Canada to process the refugee applications from the USA. The second thing to watch out for will be Trumps first press conference. Third thing to get set for will be the first State of the Union address that will be completely adlibbed and will last for two hours. The special guests will be all the Trump kids and other long lost relatives.

I don’t think a Hillary Clinton loss would be the same as a Trump loss for the GOP. Yes, with a Clinton loss, the Democratic Party will also have to start repositioning itself, but in the opposite direction of a Trump loss for the Republican Party. Clinton was the establishment of the party. In fact, the Clinton – Gore – Clinton establishment of the Democrats will lose its power base. It lost it temporarily for 8 years when Obama won back-to-back terms.

With an Obama Presidency, the Clinton establishment wing of the party was still in place. Some Democrats have been waiting for a day when the party would return to the good old days Clinton White House days, this time with Hillary behind the desk. Some will have been waiting for a day when they can truly move on from the Clinton/Gore era of the party.

With a Clinton loss, the party will have a period of refocus; the DNC will start looking inward at its potential candidates for 2020. There is no way that Bernie Sanders will be back – throughout the Democratic primaries there were no other candidates that were even sniffing around the race. Of course based on the history of the party, there is nothing to rule out a presidential run by Michelle Obama after she serves a term or two as the Senator from Illinois.

If Hillary loses it could be because the Democrats did not have a plan C after Bernie Sanders – no one to pick up the baton to chase Hillary in the primaries. This election was Hillary’s, if she won great. If she lost even better, the Democratic Party would move on and Bill Clinton would become the great Democratic Party poster boy for the best recent years of the party just like Ronald Reagan is for the Republicans.

And one last thing, all of what happens to the Democrats will also unfold on Trump TV.

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124: My US Election Prediction: If Clinton Wins


In a few days the US Election cycle that started 18-24 months ago will be over. There will be a new President in the White House and when the election victor sits in the chair behind the desk, there will be a letter from President Obama to the 45th President of the United States.

I do not know who will be the next President. I have no idea if Hillary will have one of the biggest presidential campaign collapses since Dukakis wore a helmet. I don’t know if Trump will get in the White because he won, or if it was because Clinton lost.

What we have seen in this election is that there is a divided electorate in the US. Whoever wins, the losing party will see a rebellion. Here is how I foresee things panning out.

If Clinton wins:

If Hillary Clinton wins not only does she become #45, but she will be the First woman President and the 1st Spouse of a former President to win the White House. She will also become the reason for the biggest shakeup within the Republican Party.

If you thought the revolution the Trump started is something just wait. Trump was supposed to be the anti-establishment candidate or that is how he called himself. He was the outsider. He was the candidate that was working against a rigged system. If he loses, he will claim that the whole election, even the primaries were rigged against him. He may even go so far as to say it was the Republican Party that rigged it so he would win the nomination and then lose the general election.

You see, the Republican Party establishment HAD to give the nomination to Trump; he was just not going away! He bullied his way through the primaries, and when bullying Clinton didn’t win him the White House, this will be all the Republican Party will need to say, we did it your way – we let you have your candidate that would let you have your chants, your “Make America Great Again” hats. In order to be able to have the party shift back to a qualified, widely respected and winnable candidate they needed to implode with the smallest amount of collateral damage to the party itself.

And the best part of Donald Trump losing is that America will be able to see all this unfold on Trump TV.

Up Next: If Trump Wins

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122: Ottawa Centre Election Reform


Julien Lamarche is the President of the NCR Chapter of Fair Vote Canada. I met Julian via Twitter through several online discussions. Julien attended the Ottawa West-Nepean election reform meeting as I did (you can read my post on that meeting here: ). Julien works as a software developer in the private sector. He is also an advocate for safe cycling. You can follow Julien on Twitter at @cyclingzealot.

I was unable to attend the Ottawa Centre Election Reform meeting this month so I have asked Julien to be a (the first) guest contributor to #RedHeartBlueSign and present his observations of the meeting. I have not edited or changed his words some changes were made for formating purposes only.


The town hall for Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa-Centre, followed the recommended format set out by the Ministry of Democratic Institutions. That is, invite the crowd to break down into groups of 5 to 10 people, discuss the following questions and have someone report back. The questions were:

  1. What is your opinion of our current electoral system? What do you think are its flaws? What do you think are its strengths? Do you feel though your vote is fairly translated through our current First-Past-The-Post system?
  1. What specific features are important to you in our electoral system? Local representation, proportionality, simplicity, legitimacy, inclusiveness, effectiveness?
  1. Many Canadians choose not to participate in our democratic process. What do you think can be done to encourage greater participation?
  1. Should it be mandatory to cast a ballot (choosing “none of the above” or spoiling the ballot would be allowed under mandatory voting)?
  1. Should online voting be an option? If so, do you have any specific concerns and do you think there are ways those concerns could be addressed?

There were 10 tables of about 9-10 people for an approximate count of 150 people, though there are some reports of 200 people. The breakdown into subgroups has many advantages over the town hall format where people line up at an open mic:

  1. It allows for many conversations to happen, sharing knowledge & opinions
  1. It encourages more civility in conversation

The only advantage the open mic format has: it permits clarification to be brought to the entire assembly. But that advantage is quickly lost by the vitriol it also brings. I love giving a passionate speech for voter equality, but any format which diminishes the advantage of the loudest person and encourage knowledge sharing gets my vote.

Question 4 & 5 were the quickest to deal with. Along with question 1, they also make for easy straw polls (who wants change? who doesn’t?). Question 3 and 2 were harder to summarize as the reporter of my group. I discuss how question 2 could be further broken down into subquestions here:

Opponents of reform or of the Liberal party have reported that Catherine McKenna ended the evening “promoting” ranked ballots. This is a gross misrepresentation. She simply asked the crowd if there was a preference for “ranked ballots” to which I and others quickly requested clarification if she meant Alternative Vote (majoritarian, single member ridings) or Single Transferable Vote (proportional, multi member ridings). The difference *really* matters and it’s one that gets lost with the term “ranked ballot”.

If it matters to you though, she did mean Alternative Vote. This voting system also gets called “Preferential Voting”, “Instant Runoff” and unfortunately, “ranked ballots”.

Most importantly, the question was preceded by questions about voting reform and proportionality. In the context of various straw polls on the crowds preference, to call it “promotion” is an exaggeration.

For more information on proportional voting systems, see

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