Category Archives: Ontario

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 truck 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 us 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

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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

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

31/365

metooI can say that I had visions of 2018 being a challenging year; 2017 dictated that the 12 months that would follow could be “mind blowing”. Consider my mind blown!

The world is only one month into 2018 and could have anyone predicted that all the events that have unfolded (so far) would take place in just under 31 days?

Hollywood united with “amazing women and phenomenal men” at the Golden Globe awards saying that it was #TimesUp. The #MeToo movement rallied against misconduct and treatment against women with marched around the world.   Political upheaval is being witnessed in all levels of government on both sides of the 49th parallel as (rightly or wrongly) we’re seeing leaders resign.

Pushback by, Canada’s Indigenous Peoples to the government’s reconciliation efforts because it is not indigenous enough.

The Olympics are uniting the Koreas. New trade deals are uniting many countries while isolating some others. There is a war of words between two larger than life leaders. The doomsday clock is pushed forward by 30 seconds to 11:58:00pm.

Rhetoric about trade with the US and Mexico continues to be ramped up by the Americans with NAFTA threatening to be torn up.

Algorithms are changing how we see news and what news we see; Social Media is making sure we only see what we will “like” and keeping what angers us further down on our timelines. All the new news is to be found in newspapers and on the radio. This is the freedom that Facebook once proposed?

The court of public opinion is having dramatic effects; the voices of the dismissed and forgotten are being heard. But at what cost? Are journalists taking risks with their stories, or is the media finding its voice against those that find it fake?

What grabbed my attention in everything above is that in my year of living politically I am surprised by all of it? Should I be? Should I expect the unexpected? Should I think about how the events of the first 31 of 365 days will shape what I can see?

So, what will the remaining 11 months be like? What shape will they take and can/should we expect more revelations that disappoint us? When will we see improvements? Will news see positive results and positive changes?

There will be some outcomes that are more immediate than others. Voters in Canada’s two most populous provinces will vote this year, Ontario in June and Quebec in October.

An earlier barometer will be the leadership contest for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party following allegations that had the Party Leader, Party Executive Director and Party President all removed from their positions. The membership of the party will have the first say in the direction the party will flow. Will the events of the previous week have an effect on halting possible leadership bids from within the caucus? At the time of posting this, the Interim Leader, Vic Fedeli had decided not to seek the position permanently. Would that be an effect of a new political environment?

Following the selection of the new leader the party almost jumps into election mode, as of March 10th – the date the Leadership is decided there are only 89 days before Ontario votes. Will party choices speed up or kill momentum for the new leader?

As we also approached day 31 of 2018, Donald Trump will have given his “State of the Union” address to the nation. Will events of the previous month and events before that change Trump?   Can there be an expectation that hard lines will be drawn in cement by the President?

On Day 32, February 1st, what are your expectations? More of the same or do you see positive progress from the events that took place January? Let me know, please a comment.

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. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

836,484

836,484 – that is the estimate of newspaper readers who lost a newspaper when The Toronto Star and Postmedia ‘swapped’ 41 newspapers this week. It was like a NHL blockbuster and right after the trade, one of the teams involved would fold and no longer field a team on the ice.

StopThePresses

Like a hockey fan that would mourn the loss of their team, these readers mourn the loss of their newspaper.

I came to the number of 836,484 by using numbers from News Media Canada (https://nmc-mic.ca/about-newspapers/circulation/daily-newspapers/) from Metroland Newspapers and searching websites of affected newspapers that would give distribution and circulation numbers. Of the 836,484 readers affected, approximately 500,000 belong to Ontario communities that will see a daily or weekly paper shutdown.

836,484 is an estimate, it may be more and it may be less, but still it is a large number. Put this into another context, the City of Ottawa has 900,000 residents. One day the residents of Ottawa have a printed source of news and then the next day they don’t. Where would residents go to get local news? Not only would there be no paper delivered to their door, but for the most part there would be no news available online.

This is what will happen, and has happened as a result of the trade made between Postmedia and Torstar November 27th, almost 300 people will lose their jobs because of this trade.

Lost are free daily newspapers in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver. Weekly Community newspapers across Ontario will also close. Smaller cities will lose daily newspapers. The largest of the small papers to close is The Barrie Examiner, founded in 1864, it pre-dates confederation. Almost 45,000 residents will no longer have the Examiner at their doorstep. It ceased publication the day of the announcement. In a year when we are celebrating Canada150, a 153 year old newspaper closes.

For the City of Ottawa, the concern faced by the City itself is the distribution of information to residents. Scott Moffat, Councillor for the ward of Rideau-Goulbourn in the south end of the city put into words how the closure of the local paper The Stittsville News will affect his ability to communicate import City and Ward (http://www.rideaugoulbourn.ca/news/sadnewsforthestittsvillenews). Moffat talks about changes he needs to make on how he’ll tell his residents about City and Ward services.

Overnight the City of Ottawa lost a way to inform about 100,000 residents through the distribution of local weekly papers about meetings, development and planning notices and budgets. The City of Ottawa will have to address this. How can this information be widely available without relying exclusively on emails, web notices and the use of social media? For many, there is nothing easier than flipping through a paper to the page that has city notifications. I regularly use the City of Ottawa website for information, but that in itself is more often than not a frustrating experience if the right keywords are not used.

A larger effect will be seen in communities where Councillors, MPs and MPPs used the local papers to write about important issues on a weekly or monthly basis. I doubt that larger newspapers like Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star or the Ottawa Citizen will give space to local elected representatives.

The news of the closures does not mean local community newspapers are dead. There are still several in my community I will receive; The Centretown Buzz and the Centretown News are two I read. Others in the Ottawa area are still operating, successfully. While the larger owners close local papers, will locally owned papers be the future, as it has been in the past? Who will be the next entrepreneur that will see a need as Alex Munter did at the age14 who created the Kanata Kourier from his basement? The Kanata Kourier-Standard will close in January; with it about 25,000 people will not have that paper delivered to their front door anymore.

836,484 readers, that’s the number this week, sadly millions before this week saw their papers close and more will close in 2018 and beyond.

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