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Ottawa south

Debate no-shows – they are slaps in the faces of those who organise them…

I was one of those “organisers” of an all-candidate debate / meeting that the news articles often refer to. Our debate last night in the riding of Ottawa South was quite well attended with around 500 members of the community showing up at a local high school auditorium to hear what the all the candidates had to say about some of the issues that have dominated this election.

Um, well not exactly all of the candidates…

It seems to have become a regular practice in this election for Conservative Party candidates to skip these meetings, citing reasons like “too busy door-knocking” or having “previous commitments”. Notice of their non-attendance is usually given at the last-minute or close to it, forcing organisers to scramble a bit as the plans and logistics were geared to a defined number of candidates showing up. But so what… we manage… that’s not really my point.

My point / bone to pick is that by nonchalantly choosing to skip an event like this is a major slap in the face to those who have spent many, many hours of volunteer time to set up such an event. I figure that I alone spent about 20 hours on this event. I work full-time and have kids with activities, etc., etc… so my time is precious.

There is also a real and significant financial aspect. Auditoriums have to be paid for, microphones rented, security guards paid for, tech support booked and paid for… in our case it amounted about a thousand bucks total… not a fortune but significant given that these costs are paid for and labour provided by volunteer-driven not-for-profit groups.

And most of these organisations don’t have bags of cash just lying around looking for somewhere to go.

Now, I’m not going to slam the local candidate. I know the CPC candidate. I worked with him volunteering for Parent Council activities at our kids’ school. Our politics may differ but the guy did step up more than most. My displeasure is squarely on the party that has apparently made it their policy to order – with few exceptions – all of their candidates to skip debates, meetings or any interaction in a crowd where media might be present. They want the to stick with the “door-to-door” where a misstep outside the approved party script would likely not do a lot of damage. I kind of feel sorry for these candidates as they signed on to engage their voters wherever and when possible and they are being told that they cannot.

To that party and those who made this disengagement decision I say that they have made a big mistake. You have played into the hands of the opposition that likes to portray Harper and the CPC as cold, heartless and out of touch. I say too that you have angered a great many community leaders who make up these community groups. You have spat in the faces of these folks that are, by and large, respected in their communities and their words carry some weight – not saying mine does… but there are some really influential men and women in these organisations.

And that, ladies and gentlemen will come back to bite the blue party in the end.

 

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Ottawa South 2014 – John Fraser deserves the MPP gig

Predicting election results is a mug’s game. Any prediction of a result outside one’s own riding relies on an analysis of someone else’s polling results. And these have been, um, a wee bit unreliable lately. Do YOU see a Wildrose government in Alberta?

Nope.

So I’m sticking to my riding for now – Ottawa South. I have lived there for the past 11 years and have a pretty good feel for the community and where it leans politically. At least I think I do.

So party by party*, here we go.

Greens:

Gotta love them. Especially on the single school system file. The candidate in the riding, Matt Lakatos-Hayward, seems like a nice guy. The fact that I likely have socks that are older than him shouldn’t matter, but it does. And of all of the parties, I have to admit that I’m attracted to their platform more than any of the others. It is innovative and has evolved into something credible.

Too bad about the not having a chance in hell stuff. Maybe one day…

NDP

Lots of angry NDP supporters out there, eh? Horwath brought down the Liberal government on the Budget – a budget that most Dippers supported. Now they have the distinct possibility of a worse-case scenario being realised: a Hudak government.

Result? Most but the hardline New Democrats will either stay at home or switch to the Liberals strategically to defeat the Hudak candidate, Steve Carrell Matt Young.

The candidate is Bronwyn Funciello, who wants (as she said at the all-candidates meeting) to provide the same type of community oriented service to voters in Ottawa South as she has to the area as a OCDSB Trustee.

Which translates as “sketchy” and “next to none”. Improving on this is what motivated me to run for Trustee opposite her in the least election and why I have not yet 100% ruled out running again.

And, oh – the NDP in the riding? They have just slightly less of chance in hell as the Greens of having a victory party on Thursday night.

PC

I deal with MPPs and MPs and their offices from time to time and I have tried imagining what it would be like dealing with Matt Young MPP. I take off my partisan hat, forget about Tim Hudak and picture what it would be like approaching Mr. Young for:

– some help with funding a day care facility for at-risk families

– assistance in helping my Parent Council to access monies for a new playstructure in our yard to replace one that was torn down by the Board

– ideas to better connect with the community through outreach events

– partnerships with the City to improve local facilities like parks and community centres

And you know what? I picture a smirk, a handshake and a see-ya-later.

Extreme conservatives like Matt Young and his boss are all about the bottom line. Nothing matters more. I’ve known and worked with guys like these in various capacities over my adult life and I have always found them with a single-minded purpose – $$$.

If Mr. Young is elected – and even worse, as part of a PC government – the next few years will be very difficult for we who call ourselves “community activists”.  And hard for those who rely on an MPP with a sympathetic ear.

Another, and important reason why I could not support Mr. Young is his lack of street creds. His lack of involvement in our communities. I had never seen him at a community function, before the by-election. Never on a Board of some community group. Never reaching out and offering help at a community event. Nada. Nothing.

He just appeared out of nowhere. No one I know had ever even HEARD of the guy.

Is someone like THAT worth supporting??

Liberals

I want to make a few points clear, here.

Yes, I am a Liberal – but not a card-carrying one as I am federally.

And yes, a main reason why I do not carry a card or donate to the party is thanks to their stance on school system reform – specifically, merging the Catholic and public boards. And yes, I resent them for this wrong and discriminatory position.

Yes, of course, the allegations about the gas plants bug the hell out of me. But they are still allegations, people! No matter what the PC and the Dippers would have you believe. Funny how Hudak’s conservative buds on the Hill can get away with being the most corrupt government in Canada’s history but colour them red and white and the Ontario Cons are all over them like a Doberman in a sausage factory!

Yes, I think the Budget that spelled the demise for the Wynne Government was just fine, thank-you. And their estimates with regard to when deficit spending would end were pretty realistic, in my quite-well-informed-and-educated opinion.

Yes, I think that Wynne is a fine Premier

But the main reason I support John Fraser in Ottawa South is because of the great work he has done here for his community.

If you are not involved in your community, as I am, you likely don’t see the work that your local MPP, MP or City Councillor does on a daily basis. Being a politician is the most thankless of thankless jobs around. But people like John carry on and do whatever they can to facilitate problem-solving, offer advice and connect the right people to the right people to arrive at solutions for the community.

John has done this as MPP and did this while his former boss was the Premier. When you’re the Premier, you have to hand the constituency work over to a trusted senior staff person. And John was that person.

I can deal with John and his office. I can’t imagine that with Matt Young.

And I certainly cannot imagine dealing with a Hudak government.

Vote Liberal in Ottawa South. Mr. Fraser has earned it.

*sorry to the Communists and the other smaller parties…

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DB8s… where decorum goes to die…

No, I’m not talking about the Ontario election leader’s debate that went down last night. The leaders – and more importantly, the audience – remained civil (if you count constantly interrupting each other “civil”) for the most part.

Though we in the TV audience might have been a little less so… I literally ROTFL when Timmie talked about his lifelong love of mathematics.

Oh, Timmie, you’re such a standard deviant, ya big lug…

The “where decorum goes to die” comment is directed at many of the OPC supporters that were in attendance at the all-candidates meeting last week in my riding of Ottawa South. I am truly glad that I didn’t take my 10-year-old along (exposing her to democracy and all that) because she would have been astounded and disappointed to hear adults behaving and using language that no parent of a ten-year-old wants them to hear.

Sure, there were some chuckles and groans directed at Steve Carrell Matt Young, the Hudak henchman in my riding. But no one but OPC supporters called one of the candidates on the stage an “asshole”, a “stooge” a “liar” or a “fucking bastard”.

Loudly and clearly.

The moderator for the evening did an admirable job in trying to keep the proceedings above the level of a sewage main, but many of the Conservative flag bearers kept dragging it back to that spot. And Mr. Fraser, the OLP candidate, held his own for the most part.

I’m not going to make a sweeping general statement about an absence of decorum and politeness and an overabundance of boorishness that seems to be characteristic of conservatives.

But it sure applied to that particular audience.

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E Day in Ottawa South!

Woot!

Come on everyone! Woot with me!

I just don’t “get” people who don’t get excited about elections. It is the one tangible time when we, as citizens, can choose what a part of our democracy will look like.

As we are CITIZENS, dammit! Not “taxpayers” as conservatives like to call us! CITIZENS!!

And as citizens, we have a responsibility to VOTE. It’s not simply a right.

Anyhoo… Congrats to all of the candidates in Ottawa South. It takes some guts to put your name in the ring.

I will be taking my daughter to the polling booth with me after I pick her up from camp this afternoon. We all need to turn our kids onto this whole democracy thing at a young age, right?

As for Ottawa South, the three front runners all ran strong campaigns. I didn’t like how Matt Young and the PC’s kept trying to draw a non-existent link between what John’s boss did and what John knew… but w.e. Conservatives are famous for spreading misinformation. In spite of this, Mr. Young shows promise; he’s just with the wrong party.

Bronwyn also ran a strong campaign in a riding that will never vote NDP. Good on her. She clearly has bigger goals in mind after her School Board Trustee gig ends.

Finally, John Fraser showed his mettle in the campaign trail. He was energetic, forthright and rose above the accusations made against him. He deserves the opportunity to show we citizens of Ottawa South what he can do at Queen’s Park.

And he will. But it will be very, very close.

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John Fraser has earned the opportunity to represent Ottawa South as the MPP

The Liberal Party nominee has come under some criticism during the Ottawa South by-election over some files that were the responsibilities of his predecessor, and the former Premier, Dalton McGuinty.

These have not been fair criticisms.

I, as a resident of the riding for 10 years and as an active member of the community, would like to instead point out that John has been a workhorse for the people of Ottawa South. It has been well-known that since the time that Mr. McGuinty became the Premier, that John was the go-to guy. If you had his attention, then things got done. I can particularly point to issues that have arisen in the field of child care whose resolution hit walls everywhere but at the Premier’s office, where John took on these files  and resolved some pretty significant problems.

I read in a recent blog post by a OPC supporter that the Premier was an “absentee” MPP. Yes, of course he was… by necessity. Our MPP had an entire province to look after and needed a strong individual to act as his proxy in the riding. This strong individual was John Fraser. I should also point out that this practice is the norm for all party leaders. When one’s MPP or MP is also a party leader, much of the constituency work must be done by a trusted and reliable member of the staff.

So, enough about John… what about the other candidates?

Matt Young is carrying the Tory torch and he seems like a nice guy and a smart and family-oriented individual.  The fact that I, a fairly well tuned-in community member, have never heard of him should not detract from the fact that he probably would work very hard for the community. However, his complete lack of political experience (according to his Facebook page) makes me scratch my head a bit and wonder how effective he would be at Queen’s Park in advancing the issues that are important to those of us in Ottawa South.

As the OPC’s federal cousins have asked of a certain chap: is he up to the job?

Finally, Tim Hudak is the OPC leader. And as long as this is the case, the OPC stands a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming the governing party. Hudak is one of the OLP’s best asset! Long may he rule!!

So what about Bronwyn Funiciello?

I really have to choose my words carefully here. She defeated me in the 2011 School Board elections, and any harsh criticisms might come across as sour grapes. I do hope what follows are nt seen as such because I respect Bronwyn for her dedication to the cause of education and she won the seat fair, square and honorably. She is a very amicable person who is obviously committed to quality education for the students in the OCDSB. What I question is her current campaign claim about serving her community.

I haven’t seen evidence of this.  Indeed, this was the main reason why I ran against her a couple years ago. While other Trustees on the OCDSB regularly attend Parent Council meetings, school BBQs and other events, Ms. Funiciello has been an absentee Trustee. She could learn something from Trustees Fisher, Blackburn and Shea… different political views, but they are thoroughly engaged in their respective communities.

I’m sure she has been effective as the Vice-Chair of the Board and has been dealing with most Board-wide matters effectively and wisely, but her lack of community engagement makes me seriously question how good she would be at engaging an even wider community than just her OCDSB Zone. An effective MPP (or MP or Trustee) must be able to manage both the broader issues as well as those at the constituency level.

Which brings me back to John Fraser. He will be able to manage both very well; certainly better than the well-intentioned though inexperienced OPC candidate or the experienced, yet somewhat disengaged ONDP nominee. He will serve the people of Ottawa South well.

He has earned a chance to prove me right.

Note: yes, I know there are six other candidates in the race, all of whom deserve our respect for seeking public office. But the three above are the only ones who have a realistic chance at winning the seat. And I’m writing this early on Thursday morning before my son wakes up, so I really don’t have the time to do a critical analysis of each and ever deserving candidate. Though politics as a vocation is a noble pursuit and all six are deserving of our respect.

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