Category Archives: Ontario Politics

A Municipal Writ Drop

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“Re-election for a winning candidate starts the day after the election”

“Incumbency is an advantage”

“You can’t stop the business of City Hall”

These statements all came out of one tweet.

It is time for municipal elections to have a 28 day writ period. Having the Mayor and Councillors conduct business while campaigning for re-election is a conflict. We have fixed election dates, why not a fixed “writ” period as well.

It’s the rule federally and provincially, there’s an official writ period – a time when MP’s and MPP’s/MLA’s/MNA’s are not “in office”.  But while there are technically no elected representatives, the ‘running’ of the government never stops – not even during an election.  During the writ period elected officials running for re-election do not perform ‘official’ activities. Typically a writ period is between 28 and 36 days. There have been some exceptions though; in the 2015 federal election then Prime Minister Harper invoked a 78-day writ period. The 2006 election that was required because of a non-confidence vote against the Paul Martin government in November 2005 required an 8 week election period to accommodate a two week Christmas and New Year break.  During the break no campaigning took place. Surprising all parties adhered to that!

While fixed election dates are relatively new in federal and provincial elections, municipal elections have had fixed dates for some time.  The fixed dates allow for planning of elections and the planning of keeping the wheels of government turning during the writ periods.  It makes sense that the idea of the writ period is extended to municipal elections.  What has become clear is that without a writ period, any Mayor or Councillor can and does campaign while working.  How does this seem NOT to be a conflict of interest?

The arguments given against a dedicated campaign period include the time development applications have to be addressed.  People also cite the need for representation at the most local level is available at all times and others believe that the city would stop working if there were a writ period.

The writ period would only be 28 days (or so) every four years; I think developers and others can work around that especially since the dates would be clearly noted by the city.  Like federal and provincial elections provisions are made to have at east one person working in the office of the representative. Here in Ottawa, or in any other municipality if you call a Councillors office tomorrow (during the election) someone will answer the phone.  Because the election is on it doesn’t stop the councillor’s or the mayor’s office from talking to residents. Business as usual.

Recent changes altered the registration period for candidates from January 1st to May 1st and subsequently increased the incumbent advantage.  There has to be a time where incumbents cannot use their position to smudge the line between campaign activities and elected official duties.

One only needs to look at the social media accounts of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, he tweets that he has meetings and will attend a gala event (as a Mayor) and have a campaign event (as the Candidate for Mayor) all in ONE tweet.   Jim Watson found in a conflict?

For him and others there is no distinguishing official duty from a campaign activity. In the current Ottawa elections, the mayor has been caught in a conflict where it was seen he was using his elected duties to publicize a campaign announcement and using his social media doing it.

A 28-day writ period will level the playing field for 4 weeks, there would be no openings for the Mayor or Councillor to attend and then share on Facebook.  No Community fairs that would be part of duties as the elected official – just as a candidate looking for votes.  The province short changed challengers with a shorter period for campaigning – reducing the time a Mayor acts as Mayor during the campaign is a tiny consolation.

We ask for transparency in our elected officials every day when they’re in office, for 28 days every four years transparency should be even greater when elected officials are campaigning for re-election. All I suggest is that a 28 day writ period is fair – it works for MP’s and MPP’s and I don’t hear those elected officials complaining.  It should work for Municpalities.

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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Democracy is not easy

Democracy is not easy 1Political nomination races and party leadership races are the most divisive events in the life of a political party activist and member. Many who take part in them, as a candidate or a supporter of a candidate live to tell their stories after, but a few drop off the political map and are never heard from again.  For me, that’s the strangest part, the ones that just drop. I get why they might leave, grudges that are not forgotten; unhappiness with the results; and everything in some races, it gets personal.  The ones that drop didn’t anticipate it getting personal – it was all supposed to be easy, just politics.  We have followed examples the last couple of weeks of difficult political decisions based on principle.

The split of Maxime Bernier from the Conservative Party of is well known and was demonstrated twice.  The first was on the opening day of the Conservative Party convention and a second time on the Friday before the return to Ottawa by Members of Parliament.  Bernier announced the founding of the People’s Party of Canada, his party that he will lead into the next federal election next October, or as early as Spring 2019.

Bernier’s fundamental differences with the current political parties are of being ‘voteDemocracy is not easy 2 whipped’ and worrying about politics over people.  He will stand for mainly libertarian values but will accept all into his party, except for people who do not believe on what he hopes to achieve. He has not ruled out those who are disappointed with the NDP joining his party.  To make it clear that it was one of the main reasons for the creation of the PPC, Bernier stood in the House of Commons and asked for unanimous consent that the government policy of supporting Supply Management end. The motion did not receive unanimous consent.

The second and loudest difficult decision came as MP’s returned to the House days after Bernier’s announcement.  A Liberal MP crossed the floor and no one saw it coming.

democrasy is not easy 4Rising on a Point of Privilege in the House during the first hours of house business, Leona Alleslev, the Liberal MP for the riding of Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill talked about the silence in which her questions and comments on government policy were answered.  Before she announced her crossing to the opposition Leona Alleslev stated that she serves her constituents, not a political party.  She went further to say that in order to be able to question the government about the issues she felt were important she could not do that from where she was sitting – she had to cross and join the Conservative opposition.  You can watch her speech here: Leona Alleslev crossing over speech

I don’t know Ms. Alleslev, but no one; I mean no one makes that decision without examining the risks and knowing the consequences of the act she was under taking. She leaves the Liberal Party where she had relationships that are likely broken and on the other hand Leona is moving to a party where she has to build new relationships.

The first positive is that she has established camaraderie with conservative leader Andrew Scheer the others will fall in.

This however leaves someone else to consider, another “democracy is not easy” casualty, democracy is not easy 5Costas Menegakis the Conservative Party candidate that lost to Alleslev in 2015 by fewer than 1100 votes. Menegakis had been re-nominated as the conservative candidate in the riding and was at the time of the Alleslev crossing campaigning against her.

My understanding is that Menegakis gladly stepped aside for Ms. Alleslev and will seek the nomination in the neighbouring riding of Richmond Hill, where, as I learned, he was the elected MP in Richmond Hill from 2011 to 2015.  Menegakis ran in the new Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill riding in 2015.  In the last election the Liberals took Richmond Hill with a 1757 vote win. The percent difference in Richmond Hill was 3.58% while in the neighbouring riding the Liberals led the CPC by 2.15%.  With Ms. Alleslev as the Conservative MP in Aurora –Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill and Menegakis moving to what conservatives must feel is a winnable seat the CPC could steal two ridings from the
government.

Menegakis must have been shaking his head at the speed at which this happened thinking politics is a game you can never predict. Democracy is certainly never easy.

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

Ford’s Honeymoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would You Rather?

Would you RatherEver played the game would you rather?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I rather?  Yes I would – to both!

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

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.

 

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