Category Archives: Ontario Politics

From the Gallery: #BlameBrison

Brison ResignsOn February 6, 2019 in the House of Commons former President of the Treasury Scott Brison said “thank you and miss me, but don’t forget me”.  A few days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a media scrum “if Scott Brison had not  stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General.”   This is the beginning of what is being known as #BlameBrison.

#BlameBrison has caused the following moves; Minister Philpott from Indigenous Services  to fill the desk emptied by Brison at Treasury Board, Seamus O’Regan was moved to Indigenous Services and the now infamous move of Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs and the move out of left field from the back benches of David Lametti to Justice Minister and Attorney General.  Trudeau also added one more Minister to his cabinet, bringing another back bencher forward, Bernadette Jordan into the role of Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Watching all this from the gallery, the strangest move was not Wilson-Raybould, it was moving O’Regan; Veterans Affairs  Canada (VAC) is not a slouch file and needs a Minister that will stand up for our Veterans. Bold promises by Trudeau in 2015 have been followed by Ministers, until Wilson-Raybould was appointed last month that were weak and did not perform well. I wish someone could tell me just what it is that Minister O’Regan did in 18 months in VAC to warrant a move to Indigenous Services, a file in which Trudeau’s entire claim of reconciliation is dependent on.

If Trudeau is in fact correct and Wilson-Raybould could still be the AG and Minister of Justice, there would only have been one seat fill when Scott Brison resigned. Now the move of Minister Pilpott to Treasury takes a solid cabinet minister to a key portfolio. That leaves only one person to move to replace Philpott and maintain the work being done on reconciliation. One person was more than qualified for the position and more qualified than Seamus O’Regan, Dan Vandel the Parliamentary Secretary who served under Minister Philpott.  Vandel has the experience in the Indigenous Services portfolio and also has worked with First Nations communities in Winnipeg.  Trudeau makes that one move and quite possibly Trudeau and PMO only has to worry about the Mark Norman Case where it’s expected Brison will be called to testify.

The 400 words above make sense if the following doesn’t happen.  SNC Lavalin had not spent years lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal trial. A remediation clause for the criminal code wasn’t buried in a budget omnibus bill.  The allegations of PMO putting pressure of Wilson-Raybould were not published by the Globe and Mail. The Standing Committee on Justice was not a sideshow circus of a committee meeting, and as of today (February 18, 2019) Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister would not have resigned. Unfortunately all these events did take place, and the Prime Minister shuffled four Ministers to cover one resignation.  In the space of ten days, Minister Wilson-Raybould  resigned from Cabinet, Trudeau has told three versions of the reasons for the Wilson-Raybould move to VAC; The Ethic Commissioner announced an examination of the SNC Lavalin persuasion allegations and Liberals controlled the Special Justice Committee agenda.

Welcome to the Brison Effect. #BlameBrison

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

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Save the Dates

The New Year is a clean slate, nothing held over from the previous 365 days. It begs the question, what is coming our way that we should be bookmarking as key milestones this year?

February 2019: 4 Federal By-elections will be called for February 2019,   there should be 5 by-elections called this month, the Quebec riding of St. Leonard – St Michel has not been represented in the house for month. The only reason for it not being called is that it will be officially vacated January 22nd, nine months before the next general elections, by Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio. The Prime Minister is not obliged to call a by-election for a riding that is vacant 9 months or less before the next general election.  The by-election all of Canada will be watching is Burnaby South BC, it’s where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be tagging his hopes to win a seat in the House of Commons. Early prognications are not good for Singh.  If he loses what happens to the NDP under his leadership? Other ridings up for grabs are York Simcoe, formerly held by Conservative Peter Van Loan, Outremont which was the home of former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and a second in BC, Nanaimo Ladysmith vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson to run in the same riding in a provincial by-election. At the time of writing this, no date had been announced by the Prime Minister for byelections.

October 21, 2019: This will go one way or another, you either support the government or you don’t and plan to vote that way.  The subtext of this election is more interesting and diverse.  Is Trudeau doing well?  Is he not?  It has not been a smooth four years.  Two key promises have been broken; despite what Trudeau said, this election WILL be decided under ‘first past the post’ and rather than small meaningful deficits and a one balanced budget there will be huge deficits and no balanced budget for 40 years. Will Justin Trudeau remain a one-term Prime Minister because of these broken promises or will he hold on in spite of them?  As MP’s get set to return to Ottawa the polls are close between the Liberals and Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, this will be an important session for both as leaders will need to score “points” if they want to be Prime Minister. As the election gets close, has the anti-Harper vote been eclipsed but the “I voted Liberal, but didn’t vote for this” vote? 

March/April 2019: Ontario 2019 Budget will be the first budget from Doug Ford and will build on the November Fall economic statement delivered by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli.  The new Ontario government made may promises about reducing the debt and being responsble in spending.  This budget could be influenced by the promised line by line audit of government spending.  The Ford government has already announced cuts in programs that were brought in under Kathleen Wynne.  Notable were announcements include the end of the Gauarranteed income project, pausing the Francophone University spending and freezing the minimum wage at $14/hour. What Minister Fedeli will introduce will likely shock the NDP and Liberals, but it shouldn’t – the Ontario PC’s campaigned on reversing the out of control spending of the Wynne government.

Before or on May 31, 2019: The Alberta Provincial Election outcome seems to be pre-determined.  A NDP government elected four years ago was a blip on the Albertan polictical scene. It happened because the Alberta PC was too comfortable, an outcome that many governments have had to face.  Under a new leader and a new banner, Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party seem primed to wrestle the reigns of power back from the NDP.   The lone question may be, what capital has Premier Notley earned in her defense of building pipelines and moving Alberta crude to market?  What kind of election result will that give the Alberta NDP? June 1stor the day after the election will be a pivotal day for not only Alberta, but also Canada, Justin Trudeau’s Canada.  With a likely victory by the UCP, Alberta will become the 5thprovince to opt out of the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and eliminate the provincial carbon tax.

Mark the dates on your calendar and watch the events unfold.

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

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

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.