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Runesmith's Canadian Content: The CFUW Debate

Four of Halton’s provincial candidates came together at Milton District High School last Thursday to debate the issues and make another pitch for your vote.

Unlike some previous debates, this one had a sizable crowd attending, possibly because this would be the last candidates meeting with no admittance fee and the last one held . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: The CFUW Debate

Runesmith's Canadian Content: The CFUW Debate

Four of Halton’s provincial candidates came together at Milton District High School last Thursday to debate the issues and make another pitch for your vote.Unlike some previous debates, this one had a sizable crowd attending, possibly because this woul… . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: The CFUW Debate

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Taking Attendance

An interesting pattern began emerging during the Federal Election this past spring. At forums, debates, and all-candidates meetings across the country, Conservative Party candidates were simply not showing up.

There was always some excuse, of course – although the over-use of the “prior commitment” was making some wonder if there was perhaps a new . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Taking Attendance

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Taking Attendance

An interesting pattern began emerging during the Federal Election this past spring. At forums, debates, and all-candidates meetings across the country, Conservative Party candidates were simply not showing up.

There was always some excuse, of course – although the over-use of the “prior commitment” was making some wonder if there was perhaps a new species of virus called “Prior Commitment” that had everyone sick in bed. And to be sure, some candidates may well have had a legitimate reason for not being able to attend.

It was the high percentage of Conservative candidates who were finding somewhere they would rather be that began to raise eyebrows, to the point where campaign spokesman Ryan Sparrow had to step in and quash rumours that Head Office was ordering them not to attend. He even issued a statement:


We provide support for candidates to participate in candidates debates, but we don’t instruct them not to attend debates. Most candidates would prefer to meet with voters one on one though instead of debating their opponents in crowds of committed supporters of the different parties.

Fast forward five months, and the same pattern is beginning to emerge among Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates.

The trend became particularly apparent last week when ridings across the province marked Education Day by conducting education-themed debates. Word got out that the PCs were going to give the whole thing a pass, but nobody quite believed it until reports started coming in of empty chairs behind PC placecards.

There was even an eerily familiar statement from a party spokesperson:


Alan Sakach, director of communications for the Ontario PC party, said “Our candidates make their own decisions on debate attendance based on time availability and other commitments. Candidates get a tremendous number of invitations for debates, meetings and town halls, and balance those requests with the need to door knock and canvass in their riding. Obviously they can’t make it to every event — there’s just not enough time.”

In the end it was confirmed: of the 20 education debates held in Toronto, not a single Progressive Conservative candidate turned up. Outside of Toronto, attendance was also abysmal. After a half hour search I could only find one – in Whitby-Oshawa – where the PC candidate took part.

Halton was no exception. As documented by reporter Stuart Service, PC incumbent Ted Chudleigh was absent from the education debate on the 22nd. He also failed to show at the four-riding debate sponsored by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association on the 27th. So did the PC candidates from Oakville and Burlington (nobody from Wellington-Halton Hills turned up). Apparently they all had a “prior commitment”.

Chudleigh hasn’t only been avoiding education-themed debates. He also took a pass on the Halton/Oakville ‘Policy Not Polls’ debate, along with his Oakville counterpart, claiming that he did not attend “because it was taking place outside of Halton riding. I had a number of other things on my schedule that evening and I believe my attendance at those events was more important than this particular event, which was located in a different riding.”

Admittedly, yes – the venue was about two blocks into Oakville territory. It’s not like they have moat, though, and it is a pretty handy spot for a shared Oakville and Halton event. Besides which, he didn’t seem to have any trouble making it to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce debate which took place much further south of the Oakville/Halton boundary.

(Liberal candidate Indira Naidoo-Harris also did not attend the ‘Policy Not Polls’ event. As far as I am aware, it’s the only debate she has skipped.)

Tonight, the Canadian Federation of University Women is hosting a debate at Milton District High School. Mr. Chudleigh initially said that he would be unable to attend due to (you guessed it) a “prior commitment”. However, the day before the event his campaign office let it be known that he would be able to attend after all – but only after 8:30, when the debate will be half over.*

A lot of people volunteer a lot of hours organizing these events, and even though they are sometimes sparsely attended, they do get widely reported in the local media and many voters use those reports to help them make their decision. So if the Ontario Progressive Conservatives have decided as a party strategy that debates and candidates meetings are not worth their time, then they should say so publicly and save everyone the time and trouble.

But this nonsense of every single PC candidate having a “prior commitment” on Education Day, or claiming that it’s too far to travel two blocks south of the riding boundary for a debate? Sorry, but I’m calling bullshit.

Show a little respect.

*UPDATE: A few hours before the CFUW debate, Mr. Chudleigh’s office sent out a memo stating that he would arrive at 8:00 and not 8:30. In the end, he split the difference and walked in the door at 8:13 during the midway break.

_____________________________________________________________

The Wall of Shame
(feel free to send me corrections or additions)

Ottawa Centre: PC candidate did not attend Education debate
Brampton-Springdale: PC candidate did not attend Education debate
Brampton-Gore-Malton: PC and Liberal candidates did not attend Education debate
Elgin-Middlesex-London: PC candidate did not attend Student Issues debate or Health Care debate
Toronto Centre: PC candidate has stated they will only attend one debate
Parkdale-High Park: PC candidate did not attend Sept. 13 debate
London West: PC candidate did not attend Health Care debate or Engineering debate
London West: NDP candidate did not attend Sept. 24th debate
London-Fanshawe: PC candidate did not attend Health Care debate or Engineering debate
York-South Weston: PC candidate did not attend Sept. 14th debate
Nickel Belt: PC candidate did not attend Social Planning Council debate
London-North Centre: NDP candidate did not attend debate at the University of Western Ontario (did not want to cross picket line)
London-North Centre: PC candidate did not attend Health Care debate or Engineering debate

Perth-Wellington: Liberal candidate did not attend Wind Concerns Ontario sponsored debate

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex: PC candidate did not attend Education or Agriculture debates
Peterborough: PC candidate did not attend three debates
Pickering-Scarborough East: PC candidate did not attend Education debate
Flamborough: PC candidate did not attend ‘Free Flamborough’ debate
Cambridge: PC candidate did not attend Cambridge Federation of University Women’s debate
Etobicoke: PC candidate did not attend Education debate
Scarborough-Rouge River: PC candidate did not attend Sept. 22nd debate
Scarborough-Agincourt: PC candidate did not attend Sept. 19th debate
Willowdale: PC candidate will not be attending any debates

. . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Taking Attendance

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Dalton McGuinty at Burlington Rally (with video)

About 300 local Liberals was on hand to greet a special surprise guest at the offices of Burlington candidate Karmel Sakran on Thursday. The group included just about every candidate in the western GTA, as well as the now ubiquitous “Fire Fighters for McGuinty” in their yellow shirts and their big yellow bus.

. . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Dalton McGuinty at Burlington Rally (with video)

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Dalton McGuinty at Burlington Rally (with video)

About 300 local Liberals was on hand to greet a special surprise guest at the offices of Burlington candidate Karmel Sakran on Thursday. The group included just about every candidate in the western GTA, as well as the now ubiquitous “Fire Fighters for … . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Dalton McGuinty at Burlington Rally (with video)

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Halton Liberals Off to the Races

Indira Naidoo-Harris and the Halton Liberals kicked off their campaign today with a good old fashioned open house and barbeque at their new campaign office on Main Street in Milton. They timed it nicely to coincide with both the end of the Farmers’ Market and the beginning of the Steam Era Parade, so there . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Halton Liberals Off to the Races

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Halton Liberals Off to the Races

Indira Naidoo-Harris and the Halton Liberals kicked off their campaign today with a good old fashioned open house and barbeque at their new campaign office on Main Street in Milton. They timed it nicely to coincide with both the end of the Farmers’ Mar… . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Halton Liberals Off to the Races

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Uproar over Uploading

The recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference presented a golden opportunity for Provincial candidates to make their pitch to just about every municipal government leader in the province. This hugely influential alliance of mayors, councillors and regional chairs was anxious to hear exactly what the party leaders had to offer Ontario’s cities . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Uproar over Uploading

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Uproar over Uploading

The recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference presented a golden opportunity for Provincial candidates to make their pitch to just about every municipal government leader in the province. This hugely influential alliance of mayors, councillors and regional chairs was anxious to hear exactly what the party leaders had to offer Ontario’s cities and towns, and they certainly got an earful.

Unfortunately, some candidates weren’t telling them what they wanted to hear.

The biggest shock came when PC leader Tim Hudak was asked if his government would continue the ‘uploading’ of services from municipal and regional jurisdiction to the provincial level. This is a process that was started by the McGuinty Liberals almost as soon as they took office, designed to reverse the ‘downloading’ of costs for everything from transit to social services to court security onto municipalities by the previous Progressive Conservative government – a government that Mr. Hudak played a significant role in.

Downloading was essentially a shell game designed to make the new Provincial government look like economic wizards, when all it really accomplished was to transfer those costs from the income tax base onto the considerably less flexible property tax base. Municipal budgets have been buckling ever since.

The current Provincial government has been slowly (some say too slowly) reassuming those costs, as well as gradually eliminating the GTA pooling that saw Halton property tax dollars funding services in downtown Toronto. In Halton’s case, those savings have been parlayed into much needed infrastructure investments, as well as easing the tax burden on homeowners.

The process is only about two-thirds of the way complete, which is why AMO delegates were shocked to hear that a Tim Hudak government would put the brakes on it until they can see exactly what the province’s financial situation is. That has been taken as a nice way of saying that the uploading will stop, and may even be reversed again.

For Halton, and especially for Milton, this is of particular concern since one of the current items being ‘uploaded’ is court security – a very big deal in this prison town. Now Regional staff are estimating that halting the uploading of that and other remaining services will cost Halton an estimated $15.9 million per year in projected savings.

Reaction from AMO delegates and editorialists alike has been universally negative. One particular mayor was seriously pissed, especially when it was suggested that Hudak’s comments were at all ambiguous:

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said she wasn’t confused at all by Hudak’s position on uploading.

“He was very clear. He is going to stop it,” she said. “He supports it where it is at.”

Social costs must be taken completely off property taxes, she said. “Health is next then education,” she said. “The uploading has to continue in a major way and this is only the beginning. Property taxes were designed to take care of property, not humans.”

Note to candidates: irritating Hazel McCallion is NOT how you get elected in Ontario.

For the record, both the NDP and Green party leaders have firmly committed to honouring and even improving on the current government’s uploading commitments. As for Hudak, it remains to be seen whether his handlers’ attempts to downplay his remarks will appease voters.

They certainly haven’t fooled anyone who was at the AMO Conference. . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Uproar over Uploading

Runesmith's Canadian Content: Forget Montreal – come to Canada 150 in Halton!

Reading the various blog posts and op-eds about this weekend’s ‘Canada at 150’ think-fest in Montreal, one might be forgiven for thinking that the whole thing is just some expensive, elitist wank designed to give the appearance of policy input without … . . . → Read More: Runesmith’s Canadian Content: Forget Montreal – come to Canada 150 in Halton!