Thursday, May 17, 2018

Worth Reading - May 17, 2018

Brampton and its five seats is a key battleground in this election for all three parties

Martin Regg Cohn calls out leaders for dismissing the possibility of a minority government. 

Doug Ford was caught violating Ontario fundraising rules

I have often suggested that education needs a radical reform in Ontario. This writer talks about how improvement may be the enemy of greater change. 

Christie Blatchford, shockingly, writes a piece praising Kathleen Wynne in the race to become premier. 

Multigenerational living and small secondary units may be the simplest solution to housing affordability

More than half of the Ontario NDP's candidates in this election are women

Chris Selley writes that Doug Ford the fact-free huckster has begun to emerge on the campaign. 

John Ibbitson writes that Ford is a different kind of conservative

In this video CollegeHumor uses a daycare on fire to not at all make a commentary on other social issues. Nope.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Shifting Projections in Ontario

With just over three weeks until Ontarians vote we have started to see some dramatic shifts in the numbers for Ontario. Polling needs to be taken with a grain of salt, especially this far out from the actual voting day. Since the start of the campaign the numbers have been relatively stable until the last few days. This week poll aggregators have seen both the Liberals and Progressive Conservative numbers fall and the NDP numbers go up.

I cannot be overstate this: projections are merely educated guesses based on previous elections and current polling - they are vulnerable to failures. That said, some of the projections have come up with some shocking outcomes.

One thing remains consistent so far and that is that the PCs are projected to win the most seats and a majority government. One of the most notable poll trackers in the province is CBC's. In the latest calculations CBC says the Liberals may win as few as two seats! The latest numbers from CBC suggest that the PCs would win 85 seats with 40.8% of the vote, the NDP would win 37 seats with 30.7% of the vote and the Liberals would win 2 seats with 23.5% of the vote. 

But looking at these graphs the orange heart that beats in my chest cannot help but hope for the word momentum. As I've outlined on previous posts on this blog Kathleen Wynne and Doug Ford's unpopularity with the public offers a tremendous opportunity for the New Democrats. If Andrea Horwath has begun to succeed in convincing voters she and her party is the left-wing alternative then things could swing dramatically.

While digging online for information about seat projections I came across an interesting image on Twitter. Someone ranked the ridings that the NDP could win. It's normal after an election for parties to rank their ridings from strongest to weakest performance. It helps to identify ones to target. This is especially true in countries with clearer two-party systems where a swing between parties will indicate seats changing hands. Regardless the list of seats the ONDP may win to form a minority or majority government. Some of the seats on the list seem like challenges but not outside the realm of believability, like the Downtown Toronto ridings. Many of the others are from the 905 in Peel, Durham and York and Scarborough. These are the places the road to an NDP government must pass.

Lawn signs are mushrooming around my area. Every day I notice a new set have gone into the ground. Looking at the numbers the projections produce and what I feel on the ground can be difficult to square.

If you're interested in projections I would recommend the follow people's websites. They can also be valuable to follow on Twitter.

Eric Grenier - CBC 
@ElectionatlasCA on Twitter
@EarlWashburn on Twitter

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Worth Reading - May 10, 2018

Tanya Granic Allen, former Ontario PC leadership candidate, and recently booted from the provincial election as a candidate blames the media and the Liberals for, you know, finding words she said/wrote. 

In part one Kea Wilson writes about her experience trying to rehab an old building and turn it into a successful rental property, and why she failed

Doug Ford is promising to save the province a billion dollars. He appears to have no plan to actually do that.

Andrew Coyne wrote a piece arguing Doug Ford was a man without principles. John Michael McGrath argues that Ford is clearly a conservative, but that might not matter. 

Also from TVO, McGrath writes that this is Andrea Horwath's last chance to win an election

A Peel Region teacher wrote anonymously about the concerns in the education system in our area. 

In a major endorsement the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario put its support behind the Ontario NDP

In British Columbia the plan for electoral reform proceeds with mixed public sentiments. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

And We're Off, Ontario

Tomorrow it's official. The writ will be drawn up, the Ontario Legislative Assembly will be dissolved and elections will be held on June 7th to form a new legislature and perhaps choose a new government. Good people who read this blog should brace themselves for awkward and uncomfortable conversations with friends, family members and coworkers. We should also be ready for a deeply ugly and divisive campaign.

As we enter the election I wanted to call out a few things that Ontarians should be mindful of as we prepare to collectively vote.

1. The Basics

Kathleen Wynne is leading a Liberal Party that has been in power since 2003. While she certainly offered some changes from her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, voters rarely let political parties govern for more than ten years at a time. If Wynne receives a second mandate that will creep close to twenty. The Tories have been dogged by scandal that left them leaderless as Patrick Brown was forced to resign in disgrace. Wisely (sarcasm) the Tories selected Doug Ford to lead them into the election. This leaves a real opportunity for Andrea Horwath. More than a few Ontarians cannot stand Wynne or Ford. With a smooth campaign it could be an opportunity for the NDP to return to power for the first time since 1990. In addition, the chaos may prove valuable in getting Mike Schreiner and the Green Party their first seat.

2. One Hundred and Twenty-Four, Plus One, Elections

There will be one campaign where Wynne, Ford and Horwath battle it out for Ontarians to pick who would be best suited to be the next premier. However, in Ontario we do not vote for the premier, we vote for our Members of Provincial Parliament. One hundred twenty-four election will be fought across the province shaped by local issues and personalities. While the grand narrative will be important and shape the outcome it will all have to be filtered through a local reality.

3. A Province of Regions

Ontario is a big, big province with 13.6 million residents. The interests of the various components of this province are diverse and no every party will speak to them equally. Unless we see a massive blowout for one party distinct regional interests will assert themselves. Do not expect Southwestern Ontario to behave like Toronto, or Northern Ontario to conform to the Western 905. The various sections of the province will respond to the campaign(s) differently.

4. Anything Can Happen

The Progressive Conservatives are presently in the lead, but Ontarians are not paying attention yet. When they engage with the campaign it is possible numbers will shift. If the climate between the parties becomes toxic voters could turn to unexpected alternatives. While the Liberals are in a bad spot not, they have been in the past too. Any three of the major parties could foreseeably form government this summer. Don't count out any possibility until the ballots are cast.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Worth Reading - May 3, 2018

Kurzgesagt put out a very strange video about some concepts and theories about blackholes

Doug Ford is being accused of abusing his power as leader of the Progressive Conservatives. 

Chuck Marohn takes a look at how we fund and build transit infrastructure

Also from Strong Towns, the real reason your mall is failing

Sean Marshall writes about the good and the bad in the university campuses proposed in Ontario.  

Can Ontario's Green Belt survive the housing affordability crisis, and the Tories? 

From the Atlantic, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't understand journalism

Jen Gerson writes how the Alberta NDP could survive the coming provincial election. 

Andrea Horwath must fight to become the left alternative in the coming election. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Social Safety Net: Should the Government Step in More?

For many years workers could often, though not always, rely upon an employer to provide some basic benefit package if they worked full-time. It goes without saying that that model is going away. Now, to be fair, there were always a significant portion of the population who never had access to benefits, but my working-class family was among them, so I assume they were widespread.

Aside from my job in the Northwest Territories I have never had benefits in my own name. No dental. No prescription. Nothing. When I left work and was no longer covered by my parents to suddenly dawned on me how expensive maintaining my routine level of care was. Especially when I developed a dental condition that required frequent check-ups. Sigh.

It is hardly surprising that some governments and left-wing parties have suggested that if employers won't provide benefits or pensions that the state is going to have to pick up the slack. Part of me absolutely hates this, and accepts this as a reality. The trend lines all suggest more insecurity not less. I don't love the idea of the state filling in so many more aspects of our life, but seeking an alternative - none leaps to mind.

One issue is how the Ontario government currently intends to go about it. Instead of having a meaningful conversation about costs and benefits of these programs we have created them with the expectation that we will slip deeper into debt. While money is cheap and we can afford to borrow now, that may not always be the case.

If we want the government to be responsible for providing a greater social safety net we should discuss it. I think we also need to examine why employment is failing to meet these former obligations. On so many questions it feels like we're sleepwalking. We just accept high underemployment, unemployment, skills mismatches, contract work, part-time work, etc. Ultimately I think we need to examine work in the twenty-first century, but in the interim collectively supporting one another may be for the best.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Tragedy in Toronto

It is way too easy to fall into clich├ęs when talking about a tragedy like the one that befell our region and country yesterday.  I am going to do my best to speak clearly about this and avoid platitudes and rote responses as best I can.

A driver, currently suspected to be Alek Minassian, drove a white van into a crowd of people along Yonge Street in Toronto on April 23 killing ten and injuring fourteen. The identity of the victims is being slowly revealed publicly. An old classmate of mine knew one of the victims directly, which has been a strange experience for one of these incidents.

Like many, I assume, I initially assumed that the crime was perpetrated by someone radicalized and taking up the mantle of a violent ideology. I may have been right, but I at first assumed this was an ISIS-inspired action. We have no information about the suspects motives. However, Minassian seemed to be connected to radical misogynistic communities and beliefs. As Vicky Mochama writes, the pattern seems to be radicalization of young men rather than a particular ideology. 

As the victims are revealed and laid to rest there will be important questions to address. Why this happened is chief among them. How we as a culture immediately assumed that this violence came from a certain kind of perpetrator. Worse still, how so many seemed to hope it was.

I hope those injured make full recoveries, that those left behind by those killed will find peace in time.