Category Archives: Ontario

People get Ready

In a twist on the phrase “when one door closes another one opens”  I say “When one election finishes another one is around the corner”.  The Ontario Municipal elections are done, the Ontario election is way back in the rear-view mirror and in New Brunswick we finally have the party with the most seats in government.   So for those of us that are political, what’s next?  Where DO we focus our attentions?  

Checking the election calendar, in BC there’s a plebiscite on electoral reform.  Remember when Justin Trudeau said “2015 will be the last election using first past the post (FPTP)’?  Mail in voting on moving past FPTP to a proportional representation system in BC ends November 30thwith result anticipated shortly after that. The referendum was an election promise made in the 2017 election made the BC NDP and subsequently repeated in defeated throne speech by BC Liberal Premier Christie Clark in an effort to remain in power.

This is not the first referendum on the subject in BC and there have been other votes on the subject in other provinces.  The first vote on electoral change in BC in 2005 saw a majority of ballots cast for a change to a BC version of a Single Transferable Vote system (did you just say “huh” like me?) however the vote did not make the 60% threshold required, 57.7% vote in favour of change.  

Ontario had a ballot question on electoral reform in the 2007 election asking Ontarians to adopt a Mixed Member Proportional system. The vote for MMP failed dramatically as 63% of Ontarians voted to maintain FPTP.  The subject has not been brought up since in the province.

Two years ago, PEI held their referendum. Their vote was a five option ballot with Islanders voting on keeping FPTP, adopting a Dual Member Representation, moving to a MMP system, a FPTP plus Leaders system or going to Preferential Voting.  Too many options and having some of them being confusing caused a split in the results with FPTP finishing with 31% of the vote, second was MMP at 29%.  This vote demonstrates that too many options just muddy the water – a simple question of change, a yes or no vote makes for a simple and clear question.

Here we are today, with a referendum that asks a somewhat simple question – do you want FPTP or a Proportional Representation (PR) election system? If you vote for FPTP, that’s it you are done – seal the envelope and drop it in the mail and hope Canada Post rotating strikes don’t delay your ballot getting delivered.  If you say yes to PR you have to make a choice of what change you want.  Here it’s tricky; there’s Mixed Member Proportional representation, Dual-Member Proportional representation and the third option is Rural-Urban Proportional Representation.   To make this more complicated, the second question of the ballot will be ranked, a preferential ballot if you like.  The system that garners 50% plus one vote of the PR vote becomes the electoral reform in BC.  This entire exercise means nothing if a majority of voters say they want to keep FPTP.

All of this demonstrates that change is difficult; getting people to agree on change is another, it’s a greater challenge when what the change looks like needs to be chosen. 

At some point there will be a change in how we vote, and the change will start in a province before a change is made nationally. Whatever reason Trudeau gave to  “can” electoral reform, it was clear that the reform Canadians wanted was something other than what Justin Trudeau wanted.  

It may take several provinces to adopt electoral reform before this can be a national discussion.   In fact the push for electoral reform may have to start municipally. In Ontario, municipalities were given the right to decide what type of electoral reform to adopt; only one municipality really took a chance in 2018.  

London Ontario moved to a preferential ballot for all seats on their city council this fall.  In the end the only complaint about the preferential ballot was the length of time it took to decide the winners.  Candidates and voters waited almost 18 hours to have all the winners decided; and in the case of the Mayor’s race it was 13 rounds of counting before former Conservative MP Ed Holder was declared the winner and elected Mayor.  A faster computing system easily fixes the issue of time – something I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that London is looking into fixing for 2022. 

For the supporters of electoral reform, change rests on not only the outcome of the BC referendum but on which province(s) follow a successful challenge to FPTP on the west coast.  Nationally, can Justin Trudeau ever be trusted again to be sincere about electoral reform? Who will be the national catalyst for change nationally? 

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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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

Strategic voting – the Disruptor?

The next few posts mark a return of posting in #RedHeartBlueSign following a number of weeks as Campaign Manager for Colleen McCleery, the Ontario PC Candidate in Ottawa Centre.  The views presented here are my own and they come from my observations from the campaign trail.

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I have a view of an intersection, which is used by pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, motorcyclists, cars and trucks and the odd tour bus.  Normally it runs like clock work, rules are followed; everyone gets through the intersection without much delay.  It flows quite smoothly.  That is until there is one person – a disruptor, it doesn’t matter whom – decides that they will go against flow because they can. It puts the rhythm of the traffic in question and it may put people into harms way because adjustments have to be made on the fly.

I think the flow of traffic can be much like an election campaign, there is flow, and there are the basic movements within the campaign.  Movements like knocking on doors, identifying voters and getting your message out into the public domain and letting the voters see your name on signs.  One hopes that if this strategy stays that way that campaigns can be predictable in how they unfold.  It makes it easy for voters to identify themselves who they relate to the best – the left, the centre or the left.

But like that one person going though the intersection, one event upsets the flow and causes a rethink in the minds of the voters.  In the just completed Ontario voters there were was one major and one minor act of obstruction. One played right into the other and it cause casualties in Ottawa Centre.

The one major announcement that upset the electoral apple cart in the election that was just completed was Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne announcing, make that conceding, the election to one of the other parties six days before election day and encouraging Ontarians to vote for their local Liberal candidate to ensure that 1) The Liberals might maintain official party stats with 8 MPP’s and 2) act as the opposition to the Government and the Official Opposition in Queen’s Park.

The second act of electoral defiance to the normal flow was discovered in Ottawa Centre itself.  The NDP Candidate and eventual MPP Joel Harden had views that differed from the platform that was being put forward by the Ontario NDP.  He was critical that the carbon tax should rise to $150/tonne.  He also supported the Leap Manifesto that came out the National NDP convention that caused Thomas Mulcair’s fall from that party’s leadership. As well there were other critical issues that arose from the past of some other NDP candidates. These were enough that the vote for your Liberal candidate became the strategic vote in the last week of the campaign.

One Liberal MP that took advantage of this was in Ottawa South where John Fraser used signs that didn’t feature Liberal red or the party logo and simply stated “Only John Fraser can stop Doug Ford in Ottawa South” in black and yellow.  In Ottawa Centre, Yasir Naqvi stuck to his “re-elect a good MPP” hoping to keep his seat. In both cases the Liberal MPP was trailing heading to Election Day and out of Kathleen Wynne’s announcement came two different plans – but mainly strategic voting finally became an issue in the Ontario General election.

Strategic voting became the ‘thing’ that upset the rhythm of this campaign.

The strategy from Kathleen Wynne to vote for a Liberal MPP helped both these Liberals get a bump in the polls giving them each hope of keeping their seats. In the end though there were casualties. In Ottawa South, PC Karin Howard, one who expected to turn Ottawa South blue, lost to Fraser.  In Ottawa Centre, the bump Naqvi received was not enough to prevent him from losing to the NDP.  The strategic voting also cost the PC Candidate Colleen McCleery votes as PC Votes went to Naqvi in hopes of keeping ‘a good MPP” and avoiding the eventual NDP win in the riding. The loss of votes that might have gone to the PC Party will mean less in vote subsidy as part of the Liberal revamping of election financing laws.

Strategic voting came late in this campaign leaving a few to think that this might just be an election about the voters preferences, that was until someone decided to enter the intersection out of turn and disrupt the flow.

Post Script: I wonder if the combined PC and Conservative voters ever wondered about their strength in strategically voting for the conservative candidate.  In the 2011 Federal election, Damian Konstantinakos garnered over 14,000 votes.  In an election like we just experienced this week it’s not unfathomable to consider that if conservatives tossed the old adage that “we can never win in Ottawa Centre” out the window and voted with their political hearts that Ottawa Centre would be won by a conservative?  Strategically thinking, if so called “blue liberals” saw that the conservative was a true option, wouldn’t that constituency of votes help elect a conservative in the OC?

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

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

Ford, by the Headlines

Sometimes there is no need to read the complete story when the headline says it all. Minutes after Doug Ford’s victory in the Ontario PC Party leadership, the headlines starting appearing. Put the headlines together and you practically have the whole story.

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Ontario PC Leadership a toss up between Christine Elliot, Doug Ford poll suggests

cbc.ca, Friday March 9, 2018

Ontario PC Party members jeer as they’re kicked out of conference hall

Globalnews.ca, Saturday March 10, 2018

Doug Fords wins Ontario PC Leadership after chaotic party Race

Toronto Star, Saturday March 10, 2018

With Doug Ford’s victory, a populist wave sweeps into Ontario

The Globe and Mail, Sunday March 11, 2018

Surprise and Uncertainty in Ottawa after Doug Ford wins PC Leadership 

cbc.ca, Monday March 10, 2018

Ironically, Doug Ford wins PC Leadership – Will it be contested?

Cornwall Free News, Saturday March 10, 2018

 

 

Christine Elliot won’t concede PC Leadership Race

iPolitics, Saturday March 11, 2018

Kathleen Wynne says Doug Ford’s victory ‘changes little’ for Ontario Liberals

CBC News, Sunday March 11, 2018

IS ONTARIO ‘FORD NATION’?

Ottawa Citizen Monday March 12, 2018

Christine Elliot concedes Ontario PC Leadership to Doug Ford

The Chronicle Herald, Sunday March 12, 2018

FORD DRAGS PC’s EVEN DEEPER INTO THE ABYSS

Randall Denley, Ottawa Citizen, Monday March 12, 2018

PC Rank and File told their wise ones where to go

David Reevely, Post Media, Monday March 12, 2018

FORD RULES ONTARIO TORIES AFTER CHAOTIC LEADERSHIP VOTE

National Post Monday March 12, 2018

Embattled Liberals have never had more ammunition

Chris Selley, National Post, Monday March 12, 2018

Doug Ford takes majority of Southwestern Ontario Ridings

London Free Press, Monday March 12, 2018

Doug Ford can win Ontario election if he keeps things simple

Tasha Kheiridden, Global News, Monday March 12, 2018

Referendum on Doug Ford may lead to a Conservative victory

Toronto Star, Monday March 12, 2018

Ontario voters face ‘stark choice’ in June says Kathleen Wynne

Toronto Star, Monday March 12, 2018

PC Party would win next Ontario election despite dislike of Doug Ford

Toronto Star, Monday March 12, 2018

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