Omar Ha-Redeye will be provided coverage of the 2013 Leadership Convention as an accredited blogger.
Omar Ha-Redeye will be provided coverage of the 2013 Leadership Convention as an accredited blogger.
It took them some time. In fact quite a bit of time. But eventually members of the Wynne camp addressed my concerns about the “ethnic” voting strategy. An apology was issued to those who received the messages, and I personally observed it being sent.
Although nearly every member of the Wynne camp was sympathetic, nobody was able to actually execute action. Mistakes happen. I get it. I like to have them fixed. I like to think emphasizing this issue will highlight to the party the importance of developing effective and accurate communication strategies.
The Premier’s Office has done an excellent job in the past 9 years in building close ties with visible minority communities to help address their unique needs and concerns and building a collaborative relationship with them. Let’s hope the next leader will maintain a vibrant and talented community relations staff to continue this good work.
After the conclusion of the first ballot Dr. Eric Hoskins joined the Wynne camp. Although I attended the convention as an independent media observer, I was selected and had the option to stand as an alternate for Hoskins in Beaches-East York. I know Hoskins from when I lived in St. Paul’s and was involved in the riding association, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him. When he joined Wynne I did not automatically join with him because I’m not formally part of the camp, but it did open up conversations with the Wynne team. To be fair, I spent quite a bit of time talking to Pupatello delegates as well.
Hoskins may have been last on the ballot, and the first out in this race. But he’s a Member that I deeply respect, given his background in clinical health and provision of services in developing countries. One of my pre-law backgrounds was in emergency management and disaster management, so I know how difficult relief work can be. I also know that people who enter this area and actually spend time in the field are not interested in power or padding their resume. They have a level of altruism that we probably need a lot more of in Ontario politics.
Wynne will recall the legislature by Feb. 19, which has been a sticking point for many members of the public. The party needs to preserve this relationship. We do not want to use prorogation for political purposes the way some claim the Federal government has done in recent years.
Wynne’s credentials have always been strong. Resolving this issue allows me to offer my support. But some of her credentials are especially important in resolving what is the most immediate and pressing issue facing the party. There are currently thousands of protesters (estimated 15,000 by the police, and growing) encircling Maple Leaf Gardens, and they are angry.
Wynne has experience as a public school trustee, fighting the cuts to education by Mike Harris. She has been a Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education (who was incidentally Gerrard Kennedy), and was Ontario’s Minister of Education from 2006-2010. During this time she created the Minister’s Student Advisory Council, which seeks input from 60 students from Grades 7-12 to improve our school’s system.
Certainly a Minister capable of developing creative solutions to foster student input can presumably do the same for fostering discussions with teachers.
Slush filled sidewalks are tough enough to traverse first thing in the morning. They’re even more difficult when protesters form a narrow gauntlet to the entrance of Maple Leaf Gardens.
Teachers are in full force today, despite the cold and the snow. They’re protesting Bill 115, which unilaterally cut pay and benefits for some Ontario teachers. Meaningful collective bargaining, the protesters claim, have not been achieved in this process.
But Bill 115 has been repealed. Leadership candidates have indicated they’re willing to sit at the negotiation table. So why are the protesters still here at the convention?
They’ve lost trust in the process, they say. They don’t trust the government to deal with them in a fair manner. Some are obviously partisan, and would only consider an NDP government. But others here are more principled and identify the issues, not the party as the problem.
The Liberal measures obviously come from financial pressures. Nobody wants to penalize teachers or hurt our education system. In fact Premier McGuinty prided himself on the support of teachers for him, and conversely his emphasis of the education system as a priority. But these are tough times.
The financial crisis though, it should be remembered, did not originate in Ontario. It was a product of subprime mortgages and deregulation of derivatives in the U.S. markets, creating global instability. Canada sheltered this storm better than most because we keep a closer eye on our markets.
What the financial crisis also resulted in was the decline of the Friedman / Chicago School of Economics. The markets do not necessarily correct themselves, and do require governmental intervention. Failure to do so results in greater income inequality, societal instability, and implications well outside state borders.
The alternative has been a return to Keynesian economic theory, requiring active public intervention to correct for variations caused by the private sector. This mixed economy approach actually requires more governmental spending during recessionary periods, and less during surpluses. The rationale is that the economy requires greater public support when it is failing. And one of the biggest investments we can make is in our education system, for the next generation.
Fiscal responsibility is a bedrock of good governance. We don’t want to burden our future generations with the debt of our government’s excesses. “Our generation must be a generation of givers, not takers,” said David Peterson today at the convention.
But we also don’t want to burden the next generation with implications of a substandard or inferior education. That is absolutely the worst economic decision we can make.
Whoever ends up winning the Ontario Liberal Party leadership let’s hope they make these very difficult decisions in conjunction and cooperation with our teachers, who work so hard to ensure our children receive one of the best educations in the world. A quality education is realistically priceless, but there must be ways we can find to efficiently manage the costs within education as well. This is not as simple as just slashing funding, and may require innovative ideas and management strategies to make our great education system even better.
If we’re able to do that we may just be able to bring these protesting teachers into the building as party members next time we have an Ontario Liberal Party convention.
I’ve always been a big fan of Kathleen Wynne. She’s a progressive and talented MPP who I’ve known for years. She’s a highly competent Minister, and a natural leader.
But she’s not ready to be Premier. At least not with her current campaign staff.
What I’m referring to is a minor gaffe during the week before the convention. Lisa Kirby of the Daisy Consulting Group provides the background:
This week, some Liberal party members received one letter in particular that has some people very upset. This letter was translated into different languages based on a kind of assumed ethnicity based on the member’s name. Yes, name.
Remember back when the Harper Cons sent Rosh Hashanah messages to Jewish Canadians? People were outraged. What the Wynne campaign has done this week is similar, and it has offended a number of Liberal party members.
Young Liberal, Tahiya Bakht received a letter in Punjabi. She is Bangledeshi but an assumption was made that she was Indian or Pakistani based on her name… Hani El Masry received a letter from the Wynne campaign identifying him as Muslim and was then added to an email list serv for “Muslim delegates for Wynne”. Hani is Arab, but not Muslim.
Never mind that up to 20% of Egypt’s population is Orthodox Christian, one of the oldest churches in the entire world. Hani is an extremely common Egyptian name, and “El Masry” literally means “the Egyptian” in Arabic. Or that there are more languages in India than I can count, and Punjabi is hardly the default for the majority (Bakht assumed the script was actually Hindi, that’s how little she related to the message sent to her).
What this minor gaffe demonstrates is a major flaw in strategy and competency by the Wynne team. “Politics is about people — it’s about relationships,” said Wynne. And she’s right, except you have to know people before you can have relationships with them.
Wynne’s home riding is Don Valley West, which has the highest percentage of Muslim population in Canada. So perhaps her mistake with El Masry was somewhat justified. Conversely, it could be argued that she has failed to make it a priority.
I know her riding well, having spent most of my childhood here. Except I grew up in the northern part of her riding, not the ethnically diverse immigrant communities in the south. The demographics in my part of her riding were primarily white and Ashkenazi Jewish. If I still lived there today I would be very curious to see how the Wynne campaign would profile me based on my Arabic-sounding (but actually Hebrew) name, in a predominantly white neighbourhood where our primary language was – shocker – English.
What is most upsetting is that Wynne was supposed to be one of the leadership candidates with the most support from diverse communities, based on her long history of working closely with them in her riding. Somehow that got blurred during leadership.
Why is this important? Because the Liberal Party of Canada in lost the 2011 Federal election in no small part because they have alienated visible minorities, largely due to tokenism and the broad use of cultural generalizations. It sounds like a grand claim, but simply look at the maps of the 2008 and 2011 elections in the GTA and consider the large percentage of minorities present:
For the record I will note that I believe the Conservative Party of Canada is even worse at treating visible minorities with tokenism. Yet the Conservatives have affirmed what Liberals still have difficulty believing – visible minorities make a difference in Canadian elections. They will have an even more important role in the years to come. Visible minorities can reduce majority governments to minorities, and even turn the tides entirely, just as the Idle No More movement currently demonstrates the potential of First Nations populations to have a dramatic impact on Canadian elections.
The even bigger problem than wooing for which party visible minorities should vote for is getting many to vote at all. Low voter turnout is endemic to all Canadians, including these populations. Treating them like an stereotypical ethnic playing card is certainly not going to help with voter turnout at all.
Diverse communities are themselves internally diverse. And visible minorities who are 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation (yes, they exist) very rarely speak a language other than English/French. The Ontario Liberal Party will have to wake up to this reality. This is a warning sign of the worst kind.
It’s a problem that is bigger than the specific tactic. It’s a problem of engagement, and a failure to incorporate our diverse populations into our leadership structures (The OLP president notwithstanding – but he’s a great start).
Big City Lib adds the following points:
I should say that I originally had my doubts about the provenance of these letters–whether they actually came from the Wynne campaign. So I emailed this morning and have as yet received no reply. Certainly the address on the first letter is one of the ones given out on her website.
Unless the Wynne campaign clarifies this immediately, or issues an apology to delegates demonstrating the need for greater cultural competency moving forward, I’ll have to express my formal reluctance in having her lead the Ontario Liberal Party. This is just not a winning strategy.
The Ontario Liberal Party platform was released today, with a press conference held at the Marriott hotel in Toronto.
Highlights of the platform include:
“A drive to completely implement North America’s first, full-day kindergarten program by 2014, followed by provincewide after-school programs for children aged 6-12;
A new tuition grant for full-time undergraduate students from lower- and middle-income families that will save $1600 per student in university and $730 per student in college, annually.
Increasing postsecondary attainment by adding 60,000 new spaces including three new undergraduate satellite campuses;
Helping seniors stay healthy at home, with a seniors’ healthy home renovation tax credit for things like ramps and walk-in baths;
Returning house calls for the frail and elderly and providing an additional three million hours of homecare from personal support workers;
Creating 50,000 new, clean-energy jobs through Ontario’s world-leading FIT program; and
Reducing electricity bills by 10% through the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.”
The Ontario Liberal Party held its Annual General Meeting this weekend in Toronto.
A major theme for the conference was social media initiatives, including the launch of fRed, a social media platform and aggregator dedicated to Liberals.
Chris Drew took photos of attendees throughout the conference and Tweeted the pictures.
Rahaf Harfoush, author of Yes We Did: An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand, spoke on how to effectively organize online engagement.
Warren Kinsella provided war-room strategy and opposition watch.
The 2007 Ontario provincial elections was a great success for the Liberal Party, winning 71 out of a possible 107.
Liberals were especially successful in the Toronto region, where they retained all of their ridings and gained an additional riding in York South—Weston.
Another new riding that Liberals nearly won was Trinity-Spadina. It’s one of Toronto’s most ethnically diverse ridings, including Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, and Little Portugal. It also has considerable economic diversity, with the prosperous Annex in the northern part.
And so it was in the Annex that the riding association was preparing well in advance for the 2011 election.
The NDP incumbent had defeated the Liberal candidate, Kathryn Holloway, by a narrow margin of less than 5% votes. In an election which had the lowest voter turnout in Ontario history, the opportunity to win this riding for the Liberals seemed imminent.
|Ontario general election, 2007|
|New Democrat||Rosario Marchese||18,432||41.0|