Category Archives: Elections

Apologies to Chris de Burgh

Liberals in Red

Trudeau and Wynne are fading away, on Election Day

81% here, want Wynne to go awayDon’t touch the hard drives

Everyone knows Hydro rates are way too high

All Ontario wants is for Wynne to say bye-bye

The past seven days have been monumental for Liberals, or rather against them. Two8600113
polls have come out that indicated the Liberals are in trouble. The first poll, a national poll indicated that only 33% of Canadians would vote for Justin Trudeau, putting him back in the seats of the opposition. The poll had 38% of Canadians voting the Conservatives back into government. Even more striking is that in Ontario that same Ipsos – Global News Poll had the Conservatives grabbing 43% of the voter preference. Ontario is the key for any party to sit on the government side in Ontario.

Still in Ontario, a  Toronto Sun Poll says that 81% of Ontario voters do not want Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals in government. The poll showed that 44% of Ontarians would vote for the Ontario PC Party, 24% support the Ontario NDP. Only 19% support Kathleen Wynne. These are astounding numbers and may have a dramatic effect on ridings that normally are never considered in play for either of the current opposition parties. These are numbers that turn the red seats blue in South Western Ontario and Eastern Ontario. These numbers turn Liberals seats in Toronto to a toss up. For purposes here, I’d like to look at two ridings in Ottawa; Ottawa Centre and Ottawa Vanier.

For the Liberals, the two ridings are tales of two candidates. One that is strong and possibly the next leader of the Ontario Liberals, the other won in by election little more than 2 years ago by a less than strong candidate.

In Ottawa Vanier, in 2014, the Liberals had a 33% cushion on PC Martin Forget and in the 2016 by election that cushion dropped 19%. By election results showed erosion by the Liberals to the Ontario PC’s. NDP support remained steady between 2014 and 2016. The Sun poll, if it holds, is a sign that even a virtual stronghold like Ottawa Vanier is now a possible gain for the Tories. Under Madeleine Meilleur the riding would stay Liberal. With MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers campaigning for Wynne, Ottawa Vanier is no longer a liberal guarantee.

Onto Ottawa Centre, where I ran twice for the Ontario PC Party. Reading these poll results makes a two-time candidate like me almost giddy with the possibilities. In 2014 my team and I increased the PC vote to within striking distance of the NDP for second place in the riding.

Yasir Naqvi’s plurality in the riding is at risk based in these new polling results and in a best-case scenario, even puts his leadership bid at risk – if he cannot keep the riding. Why? In analysing poll results from 2014, the Liberals made gains on the left taking votes from the NDP. With the Liberals constantly moving left in policy, it’s going to be difficult for the Andrea Horwath to move to the right to capture back some of the vote they lost between 2011 and 2014.

With numbers like 81% and 44%, the Ontario PC Party has the chance to claim not only two ridings previously out of reach for generations, but also seats in Orleans, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and Ottawa South.

Who gains? The PC vote? There’s a lot a room to have the Tories move left with a progressive platform while not forgetting our conservative values. A platform like the People’s Guarantee with a new leader will do just that.


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

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Patrick, Michael and Me

After a weekend at my first Manning Networking Conference I feel that I might be alone in the hundreds that attended the conference in believing that Ontario should have a Carbon Tax. Let’s just make this clear; I am not supportive of any plans by my local MP Catherine McKenna to implement a national carbon tax in lieu of any provinces NOT implementing some sort of carbon pricing.

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Former Leader of the PC Party of Ontario, Patrick Brown announced in Ottawa during the March 2016 convention that he would, if elected, move Ontario from the Liberal Cap and Trade carbon pricing to a price on carbon. His reasoning was that based on the BC carbon model he would be able to give back to Ontario residents. The current Cap and Trade plan does nothing to reward Ontarians. Cap and Trade benefits businesses and is merely a trading system of carbon credits between California, Ontario and Quebec. Businesses that have lowered emissions can sell credits to other businesses that need the credits to meet emission standards. The only thing seen by Ontarians is higher prices as the price of carbon is built into goods and services.

Many Conservatives will not agree with me, but there is no reason why a price on carbon cannot drive innovation in reducing emissions.  But as Ontarians and Canadians we also must recognize that what Canada, its provinces and territories do for reduce emissions WILL NOT solve the problem globally.  Unlike what Minister McKenna may feel, Canada cannot be responsible for what other countries can do.  To that end,   I feel a carbon price can be reduced as Canada meets emission goals.  Canada’s energy sector has a positive record of innovation that seems to be ignored by the federal government.  Success should be rewarded, not punished.

Thankfully I am not alone in the belief that a price on carbon can benefit Canada, Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong ran for the leadership of the party in 2017 with a Carbon Tax at the centre of his platform. He was dropped off the ballot in the 10th round. BUT, with a carbon price, he found support from enough Conservatives to finish fifth in a 13-person leadership race. Michael Chong made my top three on my ballot for the Conservative leadership.

Heading into the last week, Ontario PC Leadership Candidates Christine Elliott and Doug Ford had announced that they would scrap any plans for a price of carbon if elected Premier in the June election. By the time Manning started, the third candidate, Caroline Mulroney had also tossed a carbon tax to the side of the road.

I was trying figure out why all three potential leaders quickly dismissed the campaign promise to change the current Cap and Trade to a Carbon price. I know the reason they will give, “they only bad tax is a new tax”. However I wonder if any of the three have considered how a PC government could pay for the promises in the People’s Guarantee? Or as Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth, put it, “without the carbon tax, there is a $16 Billion hole in the PC Platform”. At Manning both Elliott and Ford talked about finding money via a program by program and Ministry by Ministry through value for money audits.   Even Mulroney stated that she would find “billions” in savings from the waste of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Here is my dilemma, I loved the platform, I loved what it would do for Ontarians. Where does the party go now? It is too late develop a new platform. Is our only play now to say “we’ll be better than Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals?” Really, that’s it?

Unlike in 2015, I do not have a clear choice for leader of the Ontario PC Party. I have no one my gut tells me is the one. What can I do? Time is short as voting is in two and half weeks. I do not like having to choose a leader by a process of elimination, but that looks like what is going to have to happen.

The Manning Networking Conference brought each of the candidates in for a spotlight session, a little Q and A. I missed Caroline Mulroney but heard both Doug Ford (he impressed me) and Christine Elliott. I know she (Elliott) talks about all her experience and her supporter’s talk about her experience – but I would’ve rather heard her talk about her leadership.

For now, it seems like Patrick, Michael and me will have to search for someone who will see the value and the opportunity that a carbon price can bring to Ontario.

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

“On the House” by Rob Walsh

In a year of living politically, it challenges me to read more so I know and understand more. The first challenge was to learn about what my political reality really is. As a ‘staffer’ on Parliament Hill I had knowledge of the happening of the activities of how Parliament Hill “works. What I needed was an understanding of why it works the way it does and the historical and constitutional contexts that Canada is governed by.

It could be a book for dreamers, those that dream of becoming an elected Member ofOn the House Parliament. At least by reading the book before making the decision to run, it could weed out a few who might be considering a ‘run’ when the weight of the position is understood.

On the House is written by Rob Walsh, who had a 20-year career as a Law Clerk working with Members of Parliament and their staff on Parliamentary procedure and regulations. On the House introduces the players that support MP’s and staff and also reveals a few secrets that take the mystery out of the daily procedures that rule all that are allowed to be in the House of Commons.

The book arrived at a time when there were ethical questions raised by members on the activities of the government. On the House covers the everyday activities of from the moment a newly elected MP arrives in Ottawa to set up an office, attending Member “school” and to be sworn in, all this to be done before setting one foot into the House of Commons.

Beyond the first steps following an election, On the House, takes the reader (and the new MP) through an exercise of understanding how our constitution was developed going back to before the Magna Carta and the development of the separation of the Crown and Parliament in the United Kingdom.   What follows through in the pages is an evolution of ‘privilege’, ‘ethics’, tradition where much of the work of governing take place. Walsh takes us into committee rooms, into the law clerks office and of course into the House of Commons as he explains how the procedures, with even the smallest alteration would have an large impact.

In light of what has been making recent headlines, the sections on ethics and parliamentary privilege are of particular interest. I should note here that skipping ahead to read these chapters should not be encouraged; having the constitutional context of privilege is needed to know that Canada is governed by history as much as it is by a changing political and social landscape.

The idea of Parliamentary privilege might seem unlawful to Canadians, protecting our elected officials from what is said in ‘the House’ and on Committee? Walsh does a good job to explain why the privilege exists and where it comes from. While privilege exists in the House and in Committee, it does not outside of these, hence the reason you’ll hear requests to have something said in privilege repeated outside the doors of the house (which are used as the cover of On the House).

Through case histories, parliamentary debates and parliamentary procedures outside of the House of Commons Walsh give the reader the experience that even though there are flaws, our form of government that was first set out in the British North America Act of 1867 works. Walsh also uses cases of law that defend the privilege that MP’s enjoy. While Walsh worked to defend many of Parliaments privileges – he does disagree with a few and puts his case forward – but history more than often not wins out and unwritten laws or traditions of privilege remain in place.

It might seem that On the House is a book for the Ottawa bubble, but the reality is that Walsh has provided Canadians with a “how to book” for comprehending how our government and the opposition how each play their roles.  There is legalese to navigate, but would you expect anything else considering the topic? Walsh’s view as Parliamentary Council on our Parliament is unique and one that should be read and shared.

On the House is available through McGill Queens University Press.

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 Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Is it too soon to talk Municipal Elections in Ottawa?

Ottawa VotesHere it is November, we are almost at the end of Ottawa’s run where all things #Canada150 overshadowed what was being talked at in City Hall. With the end of 2018 we’ll see the dismantling of the #Canada150 Flame at City Hall and business of the City come more into focus.

There are serious items that will linger through to the Municipal elections in Ottawa in 11 months.

Mayor Jim Watson has campaigned on 2% or less for property tax increases. The problem with 2% property tax increases is that everything else has increased almost triple the rate of property taxes. Water fees, sewage fees all increased and are budgeted for large increases through the next five years as the City looks for revenues it can’t raise with a 2% property tax rise.

Watson’s rationale is not that different from Provincial and Federal Liberals that are “lowering” income taxes, but increases other necessary costs, like Hydro negate any reduction in taxes because any gain in disposable incomes is lost on higher hydro rates and carbon taxes put on the cost of gas at the pumps.   But Jim Watson will campaign on low property taxes and avoid any talk of higher water, sewage and user fees.

What will dog Watson are his views on safe injection sites and funding illegal pop up site. The safe injection site in Sandy Hill was given the federal go ahead, but that did not stop an unauthorized pop up site from appearing in a Lowertown park. This prompted the Ottawa Health Officer to opening a ‘legal’ temporary site on Clarence Street.   The illegal pop up site continues to operate even though its original mandate was to have a permanent site available to prevent deaths by overdose.

The irony here is that ‘conservative’ Mayor John Tory in Toronto is looking more progressive that ‘liberal’ Mayor Jim Watson in Ottawa. There will be calls for the City and the Mayor to accept money from the Province the same money Kathleen Wynne gave Toronto for its pop up site to be able to operate in the cold.

I also expect to see Jim Watson try to ride the shiny sparkly new LRT to another 4 years at City Hall. He better hope that it goes as planned, that sinkholes don’t create any unseen drops in his popularity. He is no doubt still very popular, but with urban councillors like Catherine MacKenney (Somerset Ward) and Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward) pushing a more progressive agenda, those councillors and perhaps others that want to see the City spend more on social services will look past Jim Watson for support. Sadly we may not see just who will challenge Watson for a few more months.

There were changes to municipal election for 2018. In previous election cycles candidates could register to run in the early weeks of the year. New rules now put any registering for the election at May 1st, four full months before in previous elections. This rule puts incumbents in the fundraising driver seat, as there can be no fundraising for a campaign before the candidate in registered. With the delayed registration date, incumbents no longer have to stress about announcing early.

The change in registration date will have a serious impact on challengers hoping to put up a strong effort against an incumbent. Losing four months of fundraising will drive some away from the challenge. The biggest financial impact may be on those that want to run for the Mayor’s chair.

In play for what could be tight race for Mayor are Bay Ward Councillors Mark Taylor, Diane Deans and former Ottawa Centre MP, and son of former Mayor Marion Dewar, Pal Dewar. Mark Taylor campaigned in 2010 to being a two-term councillor will he keep that promise. He is currently one of two deputy Mayors. If his good friend Watson decides not to run, he’d expect to pick up all of the current Mayor’s support. If Watson seeks re-election, Taylor could be in a jam as he campaigned in 2010 to only be a councillor for two terms.

Diane Deans, a Councillor for the Southern ward of Gloucester Southgate is also conserved a sure thing to run for the Mayor’s chains. She has the needed experience, as she has been a sitting Councillor since 1994. She has had verbal jousts with the Mayor in the past, especially this current term. Deans may see 2018 as her last chance to run for the top job, it could be the run for the Mayor’s chair or retirement for her.

Mayor Jim Watson’s biggest challenge may come from outside council. If Justin Trudeau can fill the position his father did, why can’t Paul Dewar follow his mother? Marion Dewar was Ottawa Mayor from 1978 to 1985 and a councillor from 72 before becoming Mayor. Where Watson would in previous elections be seen as the ‘progressive’ candidate – he’d look like a Larry O’Brien Conservative, if he has to run against Paul Dewar. A successful NDP MP in Ottawa Centre, he would be a dream candidate for progressives seeking greater funding for housing, opioid life saving programs and reducing homelessness in Ottawa.

As the New Year comes we’ll have to wait longer than normal to see who will challenge, who will retire and who will seek another four years. While Mayor Watson has announced he will run again ( https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-first-shot-has-been-fired/) all eyes will be on him as the May 1st registration deadline approaches to see if he really meant it or not.

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 Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

They’ll be back soon, what to look for in Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill this fall Pt. 2

 

Last week, part one of this two part blog, focused on the return to Queen’s Park by Ontario’s MPP in the session that will be crazy busy as all parties start to position themselves for the June 2018 provincial election. In part two, a look at the return to Ottawa of MP’s as the Trudeau Liberals hit the halfway point in their mandate.

While a federal election won’t come before October 2019, there is positioning taking place. All three parties will start to think about that election as dynamics have changed. Gone is Rona Ambrose and in comes Andrew Scheer and the NDP start the midway session of the Liberal mandate without a permanent leader.

LPCLet’s begin with the government and what we might expect from the Liberals. First, we’ve been told there will be no proroguing this fall. Main reason is that recently announced new Governor General, Julie Payette, will not have been sworn in. We will have to wait until the New Year for a new speech from the throne. The Liberals will want to get the old speech and promises made in that speech, like electoral reform off the legislative books.   In the meantime, they have big legislation that needs to get through the house, the most important of which, will be the legalization of marijuana. Everyone will be watching to see what that Bill looks like and to what lengths the Bill will protect Canadians, especially young Canadians.

Trudeau and his team will have to continue to navigate through the Presidency of Donald Trump, especially now since NAFTA renegotiations have begun. How will Canada respond while Trump tweets about what he doesn’t like and what he expects to be in NAFTA2? The Liberals have given themselves some breathing space with the opposition by bringing onboard for advice and counsel, former PM Brian Mulroney and most recently with the NAFTA Advisory Council appointments of Conservatives Rona Ambrose, James Moore and former NDP Chief of Staff to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Brian Topp  – an all-star Team Canada approach to the negotiations. How this works out for the government is yet to be seen. It is going to be one of the biggest challenges the government will face leading to the 2019 election.

NDPStill to be determined is who will be leading the third party.  A new leader should be selected by the time the house comes back from its Thanksgiving break. Will it be the familiar face of either Nikki Ashton, Guy Caron or Charlie Angus? Will newcomer to the federal scene Jagmeet Singh be leading the NDP from the balcony of the House of Commons? The deadline for new memberships is August 17th, when those numbers are announced; just who might lead the NDP could be clearer. Until that happens, Tom Mulcair will remain in the front benches leading the NDP. What direction the NDP takes when Mulcair is gone will depend on who becomes leader. Until then, expect to see the NDP fight the fight as the third party and trying to remain part of the headlines until after the leadership is decided.

CPCAndrew Scheer had a few weeks as leader in June following his rise to the leadership in May at the federal leadership convention in Toronto before the House rose for the summer.  Last month Scheer took the first steps in defining what his leadership will look like with the forming of his leadership team, which includes Candice Bergen staying on as House Leader and Lisa Raitt, former leadership candidate, now taking her place beside him as Deputy Opposition Leader. Still to be come is the shuffling of his shadow cabinet and where he plans to place his leadership supporters, leadership opponents and the current members that have critic roles; this will help define an Scheer era of conservatives. With the Conservative caucus set to meet in Winnipeg the first week of September, hopefully the shuffle will take place before the end of August.

Will the Conservatives be an opposition party, or will they be a government in waiting. There is a difference in how strategy will be formed. As a government in waiting what will Scheer Conservatism look and sound like? It cannot be about using ‘elbow gate’ as a reason to show JT is still not ready, nor can they use foreign policy blunders as a means to expecting the world and Canada’s part in it to fall apart. Scheer will have to define what a Conservative government would do, what action would be taken? Will the Conservatives start to work the themes that Andrew Scheer brought up during the leadership? Will we see ideas from other leadership candidates creep into policy? How will the return of the Parliament shape how Canadians and the government see Andrew Scheer? These are going to be the biggest questions for the party to decide. I expect this upcoming session will be all about Scheer showing his teeth without showing his hand.

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 www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Back in Session, what to expect at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill this fall

As we wave bye-bye to the August long weekend, thoughts turn to cooler weather coming, back to school and for some the return of politics. In Toronto, the Ontario legislature, Queen’s Park returns on September 11th and federally Parliament Hill will be buzzing again on September 19th. This week I’ll look at what we might expect to see and hear in both Toronto and Ottawa. I’ll begin with Ontario politics and Queen’s Park, as MPP’s will be back in their chamber first.

Make no mistake about it; the 90th day of the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament in Toronto is important, very important. The June 2018 election will be front and centre in everything the will take place in Queen’s Park. All questions, every debate and each piece of legislation is all about the next election and who will be able to reach voters and journalists with their messages. What is at stake for each party and Leader?

ONDPThe Ontario New Democratic Party will be watching, possibly distracted by the Federal NDP Leadership. Ontario Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh could be headed for Ottawa, if he wins the leadership. This will leave a hole for Andrea Horwath.  Singh was the future of the ONDP. If Horwath does not deliver at worst, Opposition status in Queen’s Park she will be out as leader. The NDP has been quiet this summer, maybe even on vacation. They have also lost the thunder of a $15 per hour minimum wage and calls for universal pharmacare to Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. As the Liberals turn further left in their efforts to make Ontario more and more a social services driven province where do the NDP go? After an end of summer retreat, where will Leader Andrea Horvath take the NDP as she mines for greater support leading to June 2018?

PC logo 2This should have been a summer of love for Patrick Brown , in part it was. Instead, the Ontario PC Party is fighting off concerns about interference in nominations when he campaigned for leader on open nominations and no party meddling. Oddly enough though, while party members and the party executive are battling it, Brown has been on the road across and all over Ontario. I attended a rally in Thunder Bay in July, he filled the room with party supporters and those that didn’t belong to the party. One person, who is not a party member, told me after hearing Brown in Thunder Bay, ‘he has my vote.’ So while some in the party are not happy with Brown, more Ontarians are unhappy with Kathleen Wynne and are starting to listen to what Patrick Brown has to say.

Heading back to Queen’s Park, Brown and the Ontario PC Party will need to start from where they left off in June going after the Liberals jugular vein on hydro rates and selling Hydro off. The bribery scandal will be in the courts this fall and the government is pursuing economic policies that will kill small business in Ontario and drive others out of the province. The message from Brown and his caucus must be aimed at Wynne and how she is adding to the provincial debt, increasing the cost of business and costing Ontario jobs as businesses leave Ontario. Where his advisors send him will be the key to the lead up to Ontario’s 42nd General Election.

LiberalsNever ever ever count the Ontario Liberals ‘out’ in an election. Other political parties strive to be as polished and ahead of issues before anyone else, but the Liberals do it best. A key example of this goes to the 2014 election when then leader Tim Hudak announced a reduction in the Ontario public service of 100,000 civil servants. Before the press conference was over the Liberals had sent out a press release “Hudak to fire 100,000 government workers”. Whatever gains Hudak had, evaporated after that.

This does not mean it’s in the bank for the Liberals; they have a long road ahead to win back support. You can count on Wynne to fire at Brown everyday in Question Period. Her Ministers will aim at Brown in every press conference and Liberal MPPs at local events will hammer away at Brown. BUT, there is something else, there is Wynne, who is going to overhaul work places, put in place basic incomes and increase the minimum wage. The trouble that Wynne will have is that she cannot be trusted. Hydro rates were supposed to come down. While she reduced rates by 25% this summer, the government  not only going to pass on the cost to the reductions to consumers years down the road but hydro producers  have already  applied for increases when the period of reduced rates ends. While Wynne has the impression of making things better, in the background is the question, “who is going to pay for this?” The Wynne Liberals also will need to deal with an energized opposition as the Sudbury bribery court case will be heard this fall and it could affect Wynne in an election that way the Duffy Case did for Harper while he campaigned in 2015.

The Liberals could not escape Queen’s Park fast enough in June, they won’t be moving so quickly to go back.  There is a lot of promise for each party as MPP’s head back to work in 5 weeks. The three factors to watch are: Can Andrea Horwath blaze a trail for the NDP that the Liberals won’t take from them? Will Patrick Brown be able to stop in the infighting and keep the spotlight on Wynne and the Liberals bad decisions? Will Kathleen Wynne be able to avoid not only the opposition, but also the press, as the PCs and ONDP aim to take her out of the Premier’s office?

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 www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.