Who to Vote for?

With the election coming this Wednesday in Ontario (October 10th) I’m a little confused as to who to vote for. In past elections, both federal and provincial, I usually had my mind made up the week before the election on whose name I would put my “X” next to. As of this morning I’m left in doubt.

The last two federal elections in my riding the factor of Belinda Stronach was there. The first time she ran as a Conservative I supported her and the second time I didn’t vote for her. The second election I felt stabbed in the back that as a constituent she never consulted us about the switch from the Conservatives to the Liberals.

Provincially I thought the province was going downhill by running up deficits and the provincial debt. So I voted according to my beliefs economically that the province needed to right the financial ship in order to avoid bankruptcy.

So this election what have I thought about when deciding on possibilities of where to place my vote?

The possiblities of electing a local candidate in Aurora to a Cabinet seat to seem to be slim to none. In my hometown of Aurora for the past couple of elections seems to have lucked out with electing two cabinet ministers under two different administrations, Al Paladini (Conservative’s Transportation Minister) and Greg Sorbara (Liberal’s Finance Minister). This time will most likely be different as the Conservatives are not likely to win the election due to their faith based school platform fiasco, thus Frank Klees is unlikely to attain Cabinet. The Liberals? Christina Bisanz is not likely to make cabinet as she would be a rookie politician if elected. The NDP? Mike Seaward doesn’t have a hope in winning this riding even on his third attempt especially since in the last election he only garnered little more than 7% of the vote. So there is little hope in electing a cabinet minister in my riding with the way things stand so I cannot stratigically place my vote that way.

Perhaps I should investigate the party platforms in Ontario. Should I vote Liberal to elect Christina Bisanz in order to at least have an MPP on the government side of the benches? Not likely since Dalton McGuinty has lost a lot of my trust with such issues as raising taxes after he promised not to in the last election; handing out taxpayers money to groups that have some links to the Liberal party and without very little paperwork to explain why the money was handed out; the problems with Bob Edmonds and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the fact the provincial Minister responsible for this organization refused to ask any questions of what was going on; Liberal Cabininet Minister Harinder Takhar being the first politician admonished by the provincial Integrity Commissioner; and on and on it goes. So this election I definately won’t vote Liberal.

The Conservatives I had potentially thought of voting because I didn’t like the Liberals recent political history in Ontario. However, the whole flip-flop on faith based schools by Conservative Leader John Tory. Tory calls it real leadership by allowing a free vote in the Ontario Legislature. I beg to differ as he came out originally that all faith based schools should receive funding. I believe only true public schools should receive funding. The Catholic school system? A Constitutional Amendment for Ontario should be undertaken to remove the right to fund the Catholic school system. The main basis for my argument is that the Catholic school system in Ontario discriminates. One example is even I’m a certified teacher in Ontario, under the Ontario College of Teachers, I’m not allowed to teach in a Catholic school because I’m not a follower of the Catholic faith. As a publicly funded system receiving provincial tax dollars via the educational funding formula does that seem right to you? And John Tory makes no mention that if, under his faith based schools plan, whether or not these old private schools/new publicly funded schools will be able to exclude people based on gender, race, religion, etc. This would seem to contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the Canadian Constitution. This is only just one issue that I totally dissagree with.

The NDP are way to left leaning for my vote. The NDP in the early 1990s almost bankrupted this province under Premier Bob Rae’s leadership. Howard Hampton, the current Ontario NDP leader was Bob Rae’s Finance Minister. So would Howie bankrupt the province again with all his funding promises? Probably. Howard has also wanted to bring in more taxes against the rich and corporations that provide jobs in this province which would probably further drive job creating corporations out of the province. With large corporations like General Motors already starting close down and leave the province, whill a union backed NDP government help anything? Probably not, just look at the mess the city of Toronto is in financially with NDP card carrier Mayor David Miller at the helm. Toronto refuses to contract out work and insists, when it does contract out, that union level wages be paid by the contractors. This causes problems because these wages are ten to twenty percent more than what it would be for wages to be done right next door in the city of Mississauga. So under a provincial government lead by Howard Hampton and the NDP, provincial wages are more likely to up meaning more taxes would have to be paid by taxpayers or more debt in order to fund these wage hikes. My vote will definately not go to the NDP.

The Green Party? I only know of the Green Party by the name of “Frank De Jong”. I have barely heard of their platform even though I read the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun on a daily basis. My local candidate for the Green Party? I have no clue who he or she is. If your not going to make yourself known when trying to get elected with either pamphlets, signs or media appearances then why would I bother voting for you. I know there will be some who say the media seem to shut out the Greens, but really in this day and age, where are the Greens with their pamphlets and signs made of recycled paper or plastic then to make their platform known?

So I cannot base my vote on the party platforms as I have severe disagreements with most of them.

Who to vote for in Ontario? I’m not really sure, I may have to go down to Wal-Mart to pick-up a dart board in order to figure out who to vote for. Or even better why not try at least one of these methods in Aurora that the Toronto Star did in Toronto: visit here, here, here and here. Ah that’s the ticket on who to vote for! Problem solved!

NDP leader blows a gasket

The provincial election campaign started badly for NDP leader Howard Hampton, but now it’s degenerating into a debacle. Yesterday he raged at the media:  “Don’t any of you people care?”

Adam Radwanski came close to predicting this development yesterday morning, on his daily “report card”:

After three futile campaigns, you kind of have the sense that the NDP Leader is at the end of his rope.

Today Radwanski adds,

At the end of what has to be [Hampton’s] final campaign, he’s run out of patience. I have some sympathy for him — you’d have to be pretty cold not to — but it’s an unfortunate way to go out.

Ouch. No one wants to be an object of pity.

The polls swing in favour of the Liberals

According to Friday’s polls, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals are on the cusp of forming a second majority government.

Liberals are now the only partisans enjoying this election.

Despite some uncomfortable moments, they now seem inexorably moving toward victory. The Progressive Conservative attacks on Mr. McGuinty personally, augmented by the NDP, for a time seemed to have capped Liberal support at a lower level than satisfaction with the direction of the province would suggest.

Over time, it seems that the combined weight of the government’s largely popular record, the unhappy memories many Ontarians have of the Harris government, and the cataclysmic faith-based schools proposal have overwhelmed Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory’s personal popularity and the promise-breaker theme.

Support for the Liberals is just over 40%. Often, that is enough support to deliver a majority government in our multi-party, first past the post system.

You can only shake your head at the magnitude of Progressive Conservative leader John Tory’s strategy gaff. He managed to derail his campaign with an issue (public funding for religious schools) that has displaced Premier McGuinty’s unpopular health tax to become THE campaign issue. (Bill’s post, here, is representative of public opinion.)

Tory is finally expected to make a concession on the issue later this morning. But he was foolish to resist public opinion for so many weeks. Once the momentum begins to fill the other guy’s sails, it is very hard to catch up.

The case for a new voting system

Voters in Ontario will be deciding two issues on October 10:  who will be our next Premier, and whether we will switch to a Mixed-Member Proportional voting system.

Huh? Nearly half of Ontario residents don’t even know that the second issue exists, let alone what “Mixed-Member Proportional” means.

If Ontarians vote for MMP, in subsequent elections we would have two ballots to mark. On the first ballot, we would vote for a local candidate (same as ever). On the second ballot, we would vote for a political party, not for a specific candidate.

But here’s Linda McQuaig‘s explanation. She makes the case in support of MMP:

Ontarians would vote as usual for a local MPP in a first-past-the-post system, but would also get a second vote for the party of their choice. In the end, the number of seats held by each party would reflect its [percentage of the] popular vote. …

We can see the potential impact by looking at the results of the 2003 Ontario election, which gave Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals a comfortable 72-seat majority (in a 103-seat legislature), and reduced the Conservatives to 24 seats and the NDP to a lonely 7 seats.

Under an MMP system, reflecting the popular vote, the Liberals would have won 62 seats, the Conservatives 47 and the NDP 20 (in a 129-seat legislature). Instead of a hefty majority, the Liberals would have had a minority, and been forced to rely on the NDP to stay in power.

This would have enabled the NDP to push the Liberals toward more social reinvestment and environmental protection—policies that are, incidentally, favoured by most Ontarians.

McQuaig points out that the last election would have resulted in a minority government instead of the majority that the Liberals actually received. Some voters may regard this as an undesirable change:  we would see very few majority governments in a system where votes are consistently shared among three or more parties.

Majority governments can act boldly, carrying out their policies whether the opposition likes it or not. Minority governments must put a little water in their wine, adapting their policies as necessary to obtain support from one of the other parties.

You should consider voting for MMP if, like McQuaig, you would like to see the NDP — and potentially the Green Party — have greater influence in the Provincial legislature.

You should consider voting against MMP if you prefer majority governments formed (usually) by one of the two dominant parties:  the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives.

Tory’s Tories surge into the lead in the Youtube campaign

Top marks to the Conservative Party of Ontario for a clever Youtube spot. It’s an attack ad (surprise!), but at least it’s relatively clever.


Workingfamilies.ca reminds voters of the Harris years, and presents the Liberal record in a more positive light:

Howard Hampton is keeping his options open. If he can’t get elected Premier, maybe he can make the cut in the Ontario Hockey League:

An environmental organization encourages you to find out whether your local MP promises to protect Ontario’s boreal forests.

And of course, Premier McGuinty will never live this down:

Just to be clear, I’m not encouraging people to vote for the Conservatives. I’m just offering a survey of the Youtube campaign. So far, the Tories seem to have the strongest presence.

NDP caught off guard

Ontarians should keep an eye on Adam Radwanski’s blog during the provincial election campaign. Yesterday, he delivered a wry observation about the New Democratic Party’s election preparedness:

Can anyone explain why the Ontario NDP didn’t have a platform ready to release – or at least cite a few numbers from – at the start of the provincial election campaign?

Howard Hampton has never been an especially strong leader, but being caught off guard by a fixed election is quite an accomplishment.

Airing out the Laundry

This is a cross posted from my own blog:

The clothesline, a simple line of either rope, wire or something similar that is string like. The clotheslines can either be the traditional wire and pulley or in the ‘tree format.’

When I was younger, I always loved seeing our families sheets being hung from the back yard’s tree clothesline. I used to run through the sheets feeling the cotton run past my skin. I was careful, after the first few mishaps, to avoid the middle supporting pole (‘the trunk’) of the tree clothesline. But running into that pole was the least of my worries, my mother’s wrath of after I messed up the clean sheets she had worked so hard to launder, was much worse.

Seeing the neighbours string their laundry out on the pulley stile of clothesline was fascinating. The screech of the pulley would signify the laundry was about to be strung out. I used to watch for the clothes and sheets to move out into view. First there was the screech, then a pause, then another screech, then a pause, then screech and there it was the first sheets came into view! For some reason watching the neighbour’s laundry moving across their backyard on the line was mesmerizing.

But apparently not everyone finds clotheslines to be that exciting. In today’s Toronto Star Ideas section, a story on the debate raging over clotheslines today in the town of Aurora and the province of Ontario brings this response from one lady:

“I don’t want to see people’s dirty laundry,” says the woman, who didn’t want to be identified. “We can’t be told what to do.”

The article further mentions that this lady believes clothe lines look junky and thus bring down property values.

However, others point that stringing your clothes out to dry in your backyard helps to reduce power consumption by not having to run your clothes dryer as much. Reducing power consumption is considered to be good for the environment because it means coal fired power plants and other fossil fueled electrical generating stations do not to need to run as much. The government of Ontario seems to support reducing consumption of power considering their funding to the “Flick Off” campaign aimed at reducing power consumed by lighting. In most neighbourhoods, like my parent’s neighbourhood, putting your clothes out to dry in the backyard breezes is not a problem.

This is not always the case. Aurora Mayor, Phyllis Morris, has taken on the task of advocating for those in subdivisions who are not allowed to string their clothes out to dry. Apparently there are subdivision agreements that the developer has the new homeowner signs. Part of the subdivision agreement between the developer and the new homeowner in some subdivisions prevents the erection and use of clotheslines.

Seventy year old Robert Cook of Aurora brought this problem to the attention of Aurora council recently figuring only a local bylaw would solve the problem of not being able to use clotheslines in some subdivisions. Apparently it is not up to the municipality, but up to the province. So Aurora Mayor Morris took up the fight with the provincial government of Ontario which included a petition being submitted to the Ontario legislature. As well the Town of Aurora’s Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the right for people to use clotheslines. The Mayor of Aurora wants the province to make the use of clotheslines legal no matter what subdivision agreements say.

The Aurora Mayor’s fight with the province of this issue has brought national attention. Ms. Morris pointed out, in last week’s Toronto Star article, that she has been hearing from across the country:

“I’m hearing from New Brunswick, from Calgary, from Vancouver. People feel that if you need legislation in order to hang a string and two hooks in your backyard, something is wrong.”

A national interest in this issue over clotheslines, added with an impending Ontario provincial election in October of this year, would make one think this issue would be quickly dealt with a convenient photo op by the current Liberal Premier and Environment Minister. That is not the case.

To make matters worse for the Ontario Liberal government, the biggest current international environmental crusader of today has taken interest in this issue. Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore was in Toronto recently at a dinner. Gore spotted a T-Shirt Ms. Morris was holding up and inquired with the Aurora Mayor about it according to a recent Era-Banner story. Mr. Gore was shocked and requested his own t-shirt. So if you see Mr. Gore wearing a t-shirt with the words “Right-to-Dry” on it, blame us Canadians for it.

So what is the response of the Liberal government in Ontario? The Toronto Star reports that:

For now, Queen’s Park is hoping the cities will make the first move.

“The government’s preferred approach is to work co-operatively with municipalities on this issue,” Energy Ministry spokesperson Sylvia Kovesfalvi says.

Typical government inaction seems to be at its best. On one hand the government is encouraging residents to reduce power consumption by turning off lights whenever possible and is now encouraging municipalities to reduce their energy consumption through a new infrastructure program. On the other hand, a simple law change seems to have been buried in other feel good environmental announcements.

Some might scoff and say the provincial government has to study the issue. But Aurora Mayor Phyllis Morris would point out that nearly a year ago her pettition on this issue was submitted to the Ontario government. Since last August the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has had time to study the issue. What has resulted from this simple request to look into the issue by a single municipality with a good idea? Nothing so far. Has the Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty come up with anything concrete on this issue in terms of announcing new legislation? Not so far. Has Greg Sorbara, the Liberal’s own head election organizer and Aurora’s current MPP, formulated this issue into a plank of the party’s election platform? Not so far. The Ontario Liberals seem to be dragging their feet on this issue by being absolutely silent despite this being a provincial responsibility.

The upcoming provincial election is the time for Aurora and other municipalities to press this issue. Local candidates and party leaders should be questioned on their views on this subject. The Ontario Liberals already have a poor record on this issue by doing nothing. But what do the Ontario Conservatives and NDP view this issue? The Ontario election campaign is the best time to find this out.

Residents should be encouraged to uses their clothes dryers less and their clotheslines more. Clotheslines reduce the amount of electricity consumed and, thus, greenhouse gases and other pollutants emanating from fossil fueled generating stations. Besides the most obvious positives for the environment, will the governments think of the children? All children should enjoy being a little mischievous by being able to run threw the drying laundry on the line. About the only downside of this issue is the mother’s blood pressure when they see some muddy hand prints in the freshly laundered bed sheets. But a little high blood pressure is so little a sacrifice in comparison to saving the environment.