Sunday, September 30, 2007

Keeping Promises Would not have been Leadership

Broken Promises Have Consequences???

So we’ve all been beaten over the head for the past while with this saying from John Tory “broken promises have consequences?” Has anyone stopped to wonder what this actually means?

Take Tory’s ad trying to blame asthma and deaths from pollution as resulting from a broken promise. So Dalton promised to close coal power plants and they’re not closed yet. Ok well at least Dalton will be closing them (with a realistic plan to get it done) while John Tory wants them to keep spewing for decades to come.

But apparently to John Tory, it’s all about promises, not good public policy. So as long as Tory doesn’t promise to close the coal plants, if they’re still open in 30 years, no one should blame him, as long as he kept all his ill-thought out “promises”. He wouldn’t have broken a promise and that’s apparently all that matters, not what’s the right decision to make.

But John, don’t keeping promises have consequences too?

Let’s say after Dalton found out just how bad things were with Ontario’s finances, his response was “you know what, I made some promises, and damned the consequences, I’m gonna keep them all!” So he could have closed more hospitals, fired more teachers and continued the Eves/Harris path so he could balance the budget or he could have made a tough choice as he did. I think it’s safe to say “the consequences” of his broken promise are better than the consequences of if he had kept it.

Same thing with coal power plants. Imagine where we’d be if Dalton had just plowed ahead and closed them by 2007 anyway regardless of reports he commissioned that told him it couldn’t be done. I think in 2003 Dalton really believed he could do it, but after learning the ropes of government and obtaining reports on the issue he found out he couldn’t. Again, he made the RIGHT choice and we’re better for it. Now if breaking a promise is the wrong call (like how federal Conservatives handled income trusts), then I’ve got a problem, but if we’re all better for it then that’s what matters. For those who think I’m just shilling for Liberals, if Harper breaks his promise on further cuts to the GST, I will applaud him for it because that would be the right call.

So this “broken promises have consequences” stuff is BS and is just trying to pull at the heart strings of Ontarians and Tory’s hoping they don’t think too hard about his ads. You make promises based on the info you have, but then you have to adjust to reality when you get new information.

The real question should be did Dalton do the rights things while in power? So far it seems all the opposition can talk about is broken promises. With the exception of the grants issue, there is hardly anything that the Liberals actually DID while in government that anyone is able to criticize. So they fall on this promises stuff.

It’s as if they want Dalton to be judged on the campaign he ran in 2003 rather than the government he ran these last 4 years.

A good politician has to be able to adapt to the reality on the ground. Dalton thought the province was in better shape than it was (and let’s be real here hardly anyone thought the deficit was as large as it was). He made promises on that basis. Dalton also had no experience in government. Once Dalton found out just how bad things were and had more governing experience, we should all be thanking our stars that he made the calls he did because keeping promises isn’t everything. Just where would we be if he had kept them all? People might want to think about that and what’s more important.

Dalton’s learned a lot over the past 4 years about the workings of government and all his promises this time are very reasonable and would likely all be met if the Liberals are returned to power. But I want a government that can adapt to reality not one that has to be straight jacketed to promises made under different circumstances.

If a huge recession hits Ontario (more likely these days, given news south of the border) would Mr. Tory still cut the health tax, damned the consequences, just to keep a promise? If so, he’s got his priorities all wrong and he’s not fit to be Premier. But his ads already tell us that don’t they?

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some Highlights from Focus Ontario with John Tory

I heard John Tory was on Focus Ontario tonight, so like a good student, I procrastinated and decided to focus on the TV rather than my thesis proposal.

It was a short interview, 20 minutes at best. Tory looked a little nervous, as if he had pre-determined what he was going to say and was just anxious to get it all out. From the get-go, he got on the defensive and was focusing his responses on McGuinty. So much so that the host, Sean Mallen, had to re-direct him at one point to get at the issue at hand – Tory’s own position and plan, instead of Tory spilling out all the negative McGuinty rhetoric that he’s memorized to say.

Tory said he wants the public’s involvement in how the public funding of religious schools will take place. Mallen pointed out that the public doesn’t want anything to do with this issue as polls have shown. Furthermore, Mallen pointed out that the standard Ontario curriculum doesn’t address seating arrangements, so in theory, males could be seated in one side of the class together and females on the other in private-religious schools if Tory’s plan is adopted. Tory believes there’s a better chance, a chance, that a more inclusive arrangement would occur if such schools are in a publicly funded system than outside of it. It’s a nice thought Mr. Tory, but you haven’t really spelled out how these schools would be checked up upon.

Tory also believes that he has much more experience than McGuinty when it comes to cutting inefficiencies. He’s half right, the PC party does have a very good record when it comes to cutting things. I just don’t think he realizes how much cutting would have to be done to find $1.5 Billion. Mallen wanted a direct answer to whether or not there would be any cuts to programs, which Tory answered by saying that “reallocations of people” may occur in government/civil service jobs. So yes I’m sure there would be cuts.

Mallen stated that as a former Toronto mayoral candidate, Tory could have created a better plan for Toronto. Tory said he’s got a plan, but obviously not good enough one for Mallen.

In regards to the environment, Tory said that promising to close coal plants was an irresponsible promise from McGuinty. But I personally believe that scrubbers are also irresponsible and are not the answer. Scrubbers will only keep coal plants operating in Ontario longer as the government waits decades for the scrubbers to pay for themselves before scrapping them. Tory also stated that as a province, we’re going to run out of power, but did not state how he would deliver more power. Instead he stated that McGuinty would have us using “dirty American power” and be at the mercy of another state to obtain it. We’ll what’s your plan Mr. Tory?

Tory stated that McGuinty has shown the crown attorneys a lack of direction when it comes to court releases. That’s not true, as Michael Bryant has instructed crown attorneys to oppose bail for gun crimes, while Tory still wants these people out on bail but just with ankle bracelets. It’s also interesting that he takes every opportunity to bring out the issue of safe communities, but doesn’t want to get tough on a gun ban.

Tory finished by stating that he will be back on Mallen’s show in four years, and that he will win his riding and the election. But he also stated he’ll be back to “defend” his tenure and platform. I am increasingly sure that won’t have to happen, but if so, he’d definitely right that he’d have some “defending” and explaining to do!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Jamie Carroll, etc…: Have Some Perspective & Tolerance people! Please!

Given the completely ridiculous stuff being written in the media around Caroll, and seeming that virtually every other Liberal blogger has also commented on it, I will lend my two or three cents as well. First of all, I think as Liberals we should give Stéphane the benefit of the doubt, in addition to Carroll and agree that Caroll proably didn’t say the things attributed to him. What was spread was probably done by people that obviously never liked Carroll (or probably even Dion) in the first place. Meanwhile, I’m sure Dion actually will hire more Francophones for his team, and welcome/consider any and all interested individuals.

Still, this matter needs to be closed soon. Any divides need to be mended. Any dissenters need to “get over it”, all of it, and publicly accept that they could have been mistaken in what they thought they heard. Both sides on this spat need to publicly come to terms on this, even though this issue NEVER should have been made public in the first place. It’s out now though so it needs to be get settled fast. My mother always taught me not to air the family’s dirty laundry in public. Where are the parenting skills in this party? And where is the respect among the “children” for their “parents”?

Second of all, for those talking already about the demise of the Liberal party, I remind people of what I said after Outremont. For pete’s sake people, have some perspective and remember the last time we were in opposition and how hard that was (and again it was hard in Quebec). Jean Chrétien was hated by certain circles in Quebec too and the media talked then as well about what an awful leader he was (Chrétien himself has said he hated the job of opposition leader) and he was in the SAME place in the polls vs. the Conservatives going into the 1993 election as the latest poll has the Liberals. There were quite a good number of people in the media who thought Kim Campbell would mop the floor with tired old “yesterday’s man” Chrétien and she ranked way ahead of him in personal likeability going into that election. Look how that turned out. Now everyone talks about how charismatic Chrétien is (not in those days) and Chrétien increased his seat count in Quebec in each subsequent election. Today, similar people in the media, who have no memory of that election or time apparently, are confidently predicting that Harper will dominate the Liberals because of their supposed poor leader.

On that note, I have no idea why Chantal Hébert has such a hate-on for Dion these days. After all it was her who originally suggested way back in January, 2006 that Dion would be a good fit for the Liberal leadership race and that he could help them in Quebec.

"If the Liberals are to move them past those episodes, they may have to look beyond Cauchon, perhaps to the brainy Stéphane Dion, to help them get there(bring back Quebec). If this is to be a Liberal year when talking heads matter more than political animals, a rare time when participating in the race could be as important as winning it, Dion would be a good fit for this campaign."

h/t to BC'er (good thing he kept it in his archives, the article has disappeared from the Star website)

Since Dion’s been elected (and even a bit before then) it’s been non-stop negativity from her. As far as I know Dion hasn’t changed in his perspectives on Quebec (which are what some nationalist Quebec Liberals seem to be angry about). Who knows, maybe Dion unintentionally snubbed her at some event and she never let it go? Either way, comparisons to Stockwell Day are completely ridiculous, the Alliance were in the teens in the polls at that time and it was because of constant dumb things Stockwell Day himself said, what gaffes has Dion committed? Ok he’s not your classic retail politician, but the Star commented yesterday what a real person, not politician he is. I think people will warm up to that. Also, like Chrétien he will have a solid Red Book to bring to the people and he will win them over on the campaign trail so long as he gets the party behind him. And then we will all win. Truth be told there’s a hell of a lot of work to be done still in Quebec (and elsewhere) from the organizational, fundraising and even the unity perspective. But this latest spat really this just boils down to people who just desperately don’t want Dion to succeed and will do everything in their power to ensure he doesn’t and they don’t seem to care if they bring down the whole party in doing so.

I would never for a second suggest this has anything to do with any politician, it does not. However, there definitely is a problem among some Quebec Liberals on the ground who clearly would like to see Dion turfed (though I can’t believe how moronic they are by not seeing that what they are doing could only in the long-run serve to kill the party in Quebec in a way a new leader could not bring back). And to the so-called Liberals who can’t help but constantly bash Dion on the side (in Quebec and outside of it and I’m not talking about people who give constructive criticism now and then, I’m referring to those for whom it’s a constant pattern), you should respect the leader we as a party elected or stop calling yourself a federal Liberal.

Personally though, I do think that former leadership candidates do need to be standing out in public (especially in Quebec) with Stéphane right now, not just at semi-private fundraising events. It’s not that Stéphane can’t make the case himself it’s that the party really needs strong shows of unity – not just words - and while Stéphane is still playing reasonably well in other parts of the country, he needs really to boost his numbers in Quebec. Ignatieff was/is popular in Quebec so he needs to go on a strong offensive to make the case for Dion there and he needs help quiet the buzz from Quebec. He should also come out publicly and condemn people who are undermining unity. Wouldn’t hurt to have Rae out there doing the same (once he is well enough), as he remains respected in Quebec as well.

Stéphane meanwhile has to remember the days of Chrétien and also not only publicly condemn those rogue MPs but he can’t tolerate this kind of public dissent. I personally don’t think that anyone should should sit on any Liberal party executive board or, if an elected member, remain in caucus, if you publicly question or undermine the leader in this severe of fashion (privately criticizing the leader face to face on matters like this is certainly tolerable, that’s what caucus meetings can be for, but when you take it public in this manner you damage the party as a whole, so why continue to call yourself a Liberal). Those Liberals who directly caused this media fracas need to learn that they can’t just do this with impunity. If someone leaves caucus to protest, they will likely lose their seat in the next election so that’s their call to make if they want to be that inflexible.

Ultimately, I return to my point that Chrétien was once thought to be doomed to fail under remarkably similar circumstances. He pulled way to three straight wins. Everyone loves him now. I’m confident Dion can do the same. He’s a great guy, there’s no denying that. I’m still undecided on whether a fall election makes sense, but I’m confident that if the entire party apparatus actually gets behind Dion (and his team) across the country, I know Dion will do his part on the campaign trail (with what I’m sure will be just as compelling of a Red Book as in 1993) to bring home the next election for the Liberals. But we all need to do this together. Everyone has their time to shine, and right now it’s Mr. Dion’s. Let’s let him do his job, and help him do it well.

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Who is “John Tory” Hiding?

Recently, I went to an all candidate’s debate in the Golden Horseshoe. The PC Candidate, who I will not name (because all you need to know is that the individual is YOUR John Tory Candidate), was distributing campaign materials: 4 to be precise. None of these pieces of literature gave me any information on the PC Candidate, who would be representing the people, if elected. The PC information was roughly divided up this way: 50% focusing how evil an influence Dalton McGuinty has been in Ontario, 25% introducing to me to John Tory, and the remainder 25% about a vague PC "plan" for Ontario. I imagine that this PC info and materials was the template-norm for all PC candidates that were distributed in Ontario.

The bottom line seems to be that the people, who vote for a representative, don't need to know who their representative is, only that they are a JOHN TORY candidate. Supposedly that representative will only be representing John Tory and his views, not their own or their constituents. But we all know that everyone has their own motivations, ambitions and ideas. More importantly, this is potentially the person who you'll be dealing with when it comes to issues, not John Tory. Additionally, I’ve noticed the party is not promoting the fact that it is a PC/Progressive Conservative party, but again, rather a “John Tory” party, as “John Tory” is more prominently and frequently displayed on PC materials than is “PC” or “Progressive Conservative” actually is. I can be led to assume that the party is almost ashamed of its own party and candidates. I can only wonder and imagine why…...

The fact that all the PC candidates are hiding behind John Tory is scary. It's scary because just who in fact are his candidates? We have a right to know. Why aren't we being told their story and their motivations and life history? Why aren’t these candidates themselves even telling us their own story? Because obviously more than one of the PC candidates has something to hide from Ontarians that would keep us from voting for them if we really knew who they were and their beliefs. Now granted a PC candidate's bio can be found on the PC website, but to actually find that takes interest and work on a voter's behalf.
The only information about this PC candidate that I got from attending this debate was from one of his own campaign workers: he was formally in the religious life, but is no longer as he now manages a multi-million dollar company. Ok: one priority of his is big business, got it, and what a surprise from a PC candidate.

The PC Candidate at the event I attended also had the opportunity to meet me, but he didn’t take the initiative. I say it like this because really, a candidate wants to meet as many people as possible to make a good impression, and if you don’t take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, then you deserve not to get that vote. Granted, I was wearing a t-shirt, but it would have been very nice for him to introduce himself to me when I was standing right in front of him in a non-busy situation. Let’s relate this to a very practical similar scenario: when canvassing, another party’s sign on one’s lawn is not a deterrent to any candidate of another party to still approach that house and inquire if they are really sold on their vote and if that sign truly does represent their views. Furthermore, any candidate is running because, we assume, that they want to win. If they do win, they will represent everyone, not just PCers. That's the reasoning behind the fact that no constituency office is allowed to have any party materials/logo in that office. I did expect an introduction, and I was let down by this "John Tory" candidate. He clearly doesn't want to represent me.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quenching Nestle’s Big Thirst in Guelph

Recently the Guelph Tribune’s front page story was “City-Wide water ban kicks in”. The title is self explanatory. It was reported that people have respected the ban and have done a “good job conserving water over the summer.” One reason for the ban is low river flows. However, just a few pages into the same newspaper edition, Doug Hallet reported that Nestle draws 3.6 billion litres of water a day from Wellington County (the same county as Guelph). Nestle has requested an extension to be allowed to continue pumping water in order to bottle it and sell it. Their current permit has been extended, indefinitely, until its decided to renew their permit. This time not for two years, but five. And when will this decision be made as to whether or not Nestle is still allowed to pump our water? No one knows. The reason for the delay in the decision is the election, so after election is the earliest guess for a decision timeline.

Another reason for the delay on the decision to renew Nestle’s permit is because its believed, but not proven, that Nestle is draining water from the nearby rivers and creeks. They want to find out for sure if Nestle is contributing to the drain before a decision on their permit is made, and until then, Nestle can pump away. This rationale is the exact same as ‘shoot first, ask questions later’. The report investigating this won’t likely be available until the winter, so that’s my guess as to when the decision on Nestle’s renewal will be made, at the earliest. Until then, keep on pumpin’ Nestle...

Very recently Nestle has cut its water capacity, but only by 20%. My concern is though, in light of resident’s ban on water, why is a corporation allowed to still pump water at those resident’s expense, and only for the corporation to sell it back to those people? And why is Nestle allowed to take the water for
free, when a resident would be charged for the same amount of the same water?

Canada has yet to sign the UN decloration that water is a human right, in light of the fact that Canada has one of the biggest fresh water reserves in the world. I guess the fear is that if it signs it, we might have to share the water with everyone worldwide if ever need be. So the reasoning is that Canada should look out Canadians first in such a crisis. So why are we selling out our water supplies if we value it so much?

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PC Ads: Despicable

Have you seen the new PC TV ads? One implicitly blaming McGuinty for thousands of Ontarian deaths due to smog and for not closing coal plants (which the PCs will not do), and the other blaming McGuinty for all murders committed by people out on bail? No real solutions proposed in those ads of course, just reckless negativity and totally unwarranted accusations.

These commercials have brought the PC party down to a brand new low. John Tory: Taking advantage of other’s misfortune for his own benefit.

I’m sure we’ll see much more of this (and worse) from “classy John” as the campaign wears on. He sure has kept his promise to bring things up to a new level hasn’t he?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Debate Thoughts

See below for my live thoughts on the debate as it was going on. I think everyone got their shots in, but overall McGuinty came out the winner. Even though he was attacked constantly, he answered everyone with a comment on his own record and called Tory and Hampton when they were twisting things.

McGuinty threw out some of new ideas that are in his platform and kept going back to his own record and getting great shots in on the NDP and Conservative records.

Tory and Hampton did seem to faze McGuinty a couple times but he always came back with a bigger jab at their parties records and ways his government have fixed the problems they created.

Hampton really needed to wow people to win and everything he proposed was something McGuinty had already been doing or was totally unaffordable (remember Hampton's platform costs $2 Billlion more than the other two parties). Hampton knows he can't be Premier and I think sometimes (like on nuclear power) it was just obvious he was coming off like an idealist.

Tory plainly came off as far too negative all the time. He get the feeling he just hates this province as it is. Just as Harper used to rant how awful Canada was, Tory is doing the same and I just don't think that wins people over. McGuinty responded with positivism and how Ontario was doing better than he was saying. Tory needed to one come off as positive nad really get off all his ideas, instead he was 90% negative, got off a few points here and there and scored no knock-punches like he needed to do.

It was a tough debate for McGuinty, but I think taking into account what everyone needed to do tonight, McGuinty wins.

UPDATE: Watched the press conferences afterward. Tory's french was awful! He ended up saying several words in English. I really think a Premier should still speak at least decent French as we do have a significant Francophone minority and obviously a French media that can't be communicated to if you can't speak French at all. He had to dodge the last French question without even letting the reporter finish his question with "je ne sais pas, I tried my best" and moved on to the next person, lol. Meanwhile Tory struggled to explain why he was so negative all the time. Finished by saying what sounded like he would fund all private schools (wants to bring all Ontarians in from the private system to the public). So is a funding scheme for all private schools in the cards? (I know I know, likely slip of the tongue, but Freudian slip perhaps?)

Hampton come out and was asked how he had such a love-in with John Tory (12 times he praised him apparently). Hampton had to spend 2 of his 5 minutes saying where he disagreed with Tory (of course none of these things were said in the debate). Basically Hampton didn't have much to say.

McGuinty came out and noted how he enjoyed the debate and expected all the negativity. He noted all the positive things he got out about his government and his new ideas and how obviously he knew he would have to spend most of the time on the defensive because Tory and Hampton's job was to gang up. McGuinty of course handled the French questions very well (being from Ottawa, he's fluently bilingual). Looks forward to talking to talking to Ontarians for the rest of the campaign. Good job.

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Blogging the Ontario Leaders' Debate

Tonight I will try live-blogging the debate. Check out Cherniak's as well.

6:29 PM.

Starting any minute now....

6:31 PM

Tinkering with the standard?? Videos instead. Liberals first...Oh tackling the broken promise on the health tax right away. Smart thinking for getting that out the door.

NDP: Ok video, at least it wasn't all full of attacks. But the "Get orange" slogan is incredibly lame.

Conservatives. Parent of autistic child to start. I don't think this was appropriate to use her to attack McGuinty. Otherwise the usual about "broken promises have consequences"

6:35 PM

First question on inclusiveness of different cultures in education to Tory.
Tory starts talking about fairness, you either fund all or none, of course he dodges all the serious issues surrounding his plan.
McGuinty talks about his own record on education, good job highlighting how much better things.
Hampton wants to fund neighbourhood schools and fix the funding formula, ok how are you going to do that?

6:40 PM

Now fuller discussion on issue...
McGuinty raises some of the serious about the religious schools plan, which religions will be funded and which not? How do you decide? Do we want to keep moving forward in the direction we are going with higher graduation rates, higher test scords, smaller class sizes or force Ontarians into a huge divisive debate.
Tory says other provinces have done it, not true though, no one funds it 100% like Tory proposes or brought all religions in with public shcools boards, etc....
Hampton talks about funding formula again. McGuinty talks about how much more he has invested in education. Lots of yelling now over the religious schools issue. No one is getting heard now.

6:45 PM

Question again about education. Moderator notes McGuinty accomplishments but also mentions the funding formula and bigger class sizes in some grades.

McGuinty notes his progress again. Hampton again talks about funding formula, infrastructure problems and apparently. Both Hampton and Tory say they will fix funding formula, except Tory is promosing much less for education over the next 4 years than McGuinty so I'm not quite sure how he will do that, while Hampton's platform is way over budget by $2 billlion.

McGuinty: More money in 4 years and that Tory's party did in 8. Good line.

Tory notes how he's met parents frustrated with schools and there being more portables now. Hampton talks about board cuts. I think a lot of these problems originated with Harris.
McGuinty notes we've come along way.

Tory notes how McGuinty said he would fix funding formula and real leaders do what they say they are going to do. I'm guessing that line will be repeated a lot tonight.

Talking about autism now...McGuinty says 3x as much funding for autism than under NDP gov't and $10 million for therapy in classrooms.

6:50 PM

Next question about transit. Hampton says he'll upload 50% of costs from municipalities. He'll get to work on it right away. Tory says he'll get on it right away and will use every cent of gas tax, says McGuinty's plan doesn't do anything until 2011.

McGuinty talks about his transit plan and the impact it will have in Toronto.

Hampton says the plan will take too long to implement. McGuinty talks about projects getting under way now that plans out decades to come.

Tory says McGuinty waited to election time to put out plan. McGuinty notes he gave out 2 cents of gas tax right at the starts and the Cons never offered that.

Hampton complains about downloading of services. McGuinty notes fights Harris govt picked with municipalaties and how they're the ones who did all the downloading, McGuinty is starting to upload.

Tory says he will upload some services after a report comes out. McGuinty says it hasn't been easy to fix the mess left behind by Harris/Eves. Notes the services they have uploaded and the progress they are making.

Hampton says cities are worse off than under Harris and McGuinty said he would reverse it (and he has started to reverse it). Notes property taxes going up.

Tory claims McGuinty doesn't care about rural communities. McGuinty notes the 100 schools lost in those communities under Harris and the plan he has put in place to keep the at risk schools in place.

Hampton claims schools are worse off in Northern Ontario, McGuinty says it's not true.

McGuinty summarizes: 2 cents of gas tax, uploading social services, investing in schools

7:05 PM

Next question a bit surprising: Does McGuinty support having recall elections?

Answer: No he doesn't. Goes into an explanation as how hard it was to raise taxes and the difficult choice he had to make given the hidden deficit.
Hampton says everyone knew there was a $5 billion deficit (bs, no one thought it was that high).

Tory essentially says it was ok for McGuinty to break his promise on the health tax (basically he accepted McGuinty's explanation - let's see how much he still uses that example down the line anyway), but he has other broken promises too.....

Hampton asks about clawback National Child Benefit, why didn't he eliminate it? McGuinty mentions Ontario Child Tax Benefit and how it gives them back more money but Hampton voted against it.

Tory says voters aren't fooled. And only McGuinty won't eliminate health tax. McGuinty notes how Tory is proposing the same slash and burn policies as Harris (raise spending, cut taxes, and balance budget somehow without cuts)

Finishes up with a clarification does anyone support recall? No no one does on the stage.

7:10 PM

Manufacturing question: Asks what Hampton thinks about NDP record on decimating manufacturing. Hampton says nothing about that. Talks about current troubles in Manufacturing sector.

McGuinty notes how unemployment in North and East is lowest in 17 years and unemployment is down since 2003. Tory complains some more, says Ontario is worst in the country. McGuinty says he refuses to be so negative about Ontario.

Hampton complains that McGuinty doesn't care about the North. McGuinty notes that under the NDP Ontario lost 1300 jobs a week, under him gained 1800 a week. No reply from Hampton of course.

McGuinty is good to mention that 340,000 jobs have been created and 95% earn $19.50 an hour or more.

7:15 PM

Next quesiton about poverty to Tory, what will Tory about affordable housing, low welfare rates and helping communities.

Tory says he spent time in impoverished communities and he has a plan to fix those communities.

McGuinty says Ontarians need to think of themselves as a family and can't leave others behind. Increased social assistance 3 times, disability payments 3 times, brought back student grants, Ontario child benefit, 120,000 young people getting grants, new dental plan for working families. Very good answer.

Hampton says the answer is to raise the minimum wage (leaving aside the job losses that would ensue).

McGuinty talks about his own record on health care and how they are getting better services and wait times are down. Tory says he's going to stand up the low income earner and McGuinty says that's pretty rich giving his party's background on bullying the poor (not those exact words of course). Tory praises McGuinty's Ontario Child Tax Benefit, says he'll keep it. Good for him.

Lots of yelling now.

7:25 PM

Question 8 now....

This one about crime. Moderator notes how crime is going down, but people think it's important.

McGuinty notes the 1000 new police officers and the plans he has put in place to help communities.

Hampton says he'll help communities.

Tory fear-mongering like crazy. Everyone is afraid to go outside now apparently and it's all McGuinty's fault. This is low. Tory says he'll fix justice system, just doesn't really say how.

McGuinty mentions how Ontario's crime rate is lowest in Canada essentially. Said he's asked Harper to have tougher sentencing and asks Tory if he'll support a handgun ban because crimes are committed with stolen handguns from legal owners. Tory parrots the Harper line that "handguns are already banned" which is not true, guns get stolen from legal owners and are out on the street the next day, it's choking the supply to ban them.

Tory says crime rate higher in Brantford that in Toronto he says. Wow crime must be pretty low in Toronto, cuz there's virtually none in Brantford (that is my home after all). Shame on Tory for trying to spin it this way.

7:30 PM

Next question.

A bit surprising, I know the next questioner. He asks Hampton about tuition and what his party will do.

Hampton says he will lower and freeze tuition. Tory says he still wants to regulate tuition and increase grants (which is what McGuinty is doing), meanwhile Tory wants to give less funding to universities.

McGuinty notes how he was first to freeze tuition for two years. They added $6.2 billion in funding. Helping students now with textbook grants and more student grants.

Hampton says McGuinty said tuition was too high in 2003. McGuinty notes how NDP once promised to eliminate tuition and it increased 51% on their watch. Later notes how it increased 81% on Tories and families were contributing more then Govt was putting in (same under NDP btw). McGuinty notes the govt puts in $3 for every $1 a student puts in.

7:40 PM

Next question about energy.

Tory asked is nuclear necessary. He says yes it is.

McGuinty agress with nuclear, but also stressing conservation and renewables.

Hampton says nuclear is dangerous and expensive.

Tory asks why McGuinty didn't close coal power plants (why won't Tory commit to ever closing them?).

McGuinty asks Hampton how Ontario can take out nuclear which is 50% of its power supply. Hampton says California and Manitoba were more efficient (do they use 50% nuclear?).

7:45 PM

Next question about health care. Woman asks McGuinty what has been done with health care money.

McGuinty notes investments in wait times and how half a million more Ontarians have a family doctor.

Hampton says invest in home care.

Tory says health care system is no better than 4 years ago. Fudges the number a little on who has a family doctor.

McGuinty reminds people of Tory's voodoo economics plan. Tory claims the money is there.

Tory says McGuinty is complacent for bringing down health care wait times apparently. Throws out the leadership matters line for no reason.

7:50 PM

Final question. Got distracted missed it.

Hampton talks about global warming.

McGuinty talks about moving Ontario forward.

Tory complains some more.

Hampton talks about the need for minimum wage.

McGuinty notes the consequences of that.

Tory downs all over Ontario saying we are the worst at everything and are going nowhere in Canada. Why do you want to be Premier?

McGuinty notes Tory always stands up for the private sector and McGuinty for the public.

Lots of yelling back and forth again.

7:55 PM

Closing statements....

Hampton goes over his "six priorities". Hampton says we can count them!

McGuinty notes how we are moving forward. Closing hospitals to opening hospitals, teachers fired to teachers hired. New environmental plans and health care plans noted.

Tory says he is something different. He is straight with you on everything (like on religious schools?? Somehow I don't think so). He can make a difference. Leadership matters.

That is the end.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Steady Does It...

At least things seem to be going well on the Provincial front.

Today, McGuinty, Tory and Hampton all attended the International Plowing Match, and they even showed up at an event there together! They had a tractor race with tractors matching their political colours. It seemed like a good spirited fun event, which is probably needed amongst the three of them before they hit the debate floor on Thursday night. Wining congrats go to Howard Hampton, who showed good effort. We can’t win everything, (that was shown yesterday), but we’ll “let” Hampton have this win (this may be the biggest and last one for him).

McGuinty had an excellent start, but decided to pace himself (he’s preparing for the big war, not the battle, and steady does it).

Unfortunately for Mr. Tory, who obviously came in third, this finish must have been a shock as he’s been taking a lot of tractor lessons from Randy Hillier. According to CBC News TV and the Globe, the reason for Tory’s dead last position: he headed into a stone patch and too many rocks in his tractor’s way. How fitting and appropriate, an allegory of his own campaign! Let’s count the rocks in Tory’s way: his terribly unpopular plan to fund private religious schools, his constant negativity, his lack of any real vision for the future, his poor French, and a party full of people who want to relive their youth circa 1995 and just can’t help saying so on the campaign trail (e.g., Hillier, Klees). And I’m sure much much more to come….

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A True Video Winner

Sometimes success takes a little bits of nuts....

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Outremont: Putting things in Perspective

So the Liberals lost in Outremont. Justin Tetrault has written at length about some of the possible reasons why. A badly run campaign and there’s lots of work to be done in Quebec for the party. First, however things are organized in Quebec are not representative of the organization of the whole party, let’s get that stated first. And Quebec is a province that has to be handled, dare I say, with kids gloves. But the people who sat on their hands need to go and real work has to be done to bring new people into the fold in Quebec who really want to see that province red.

Though others will hash about why the Liberals lost, I just wanted to give my thoughts on how unwarranted it is for people in the media and other parties to be pronouncing this result as the beginning of the end for Stephane Dion. Even worse and more unwarranted would be for any Liberals at all to be pulling out the knives and privately or publicly calling for Stephane’s head. All these people completely lack perspective and really really need to have a bit more patience.

Here’s why: There was once upon a time when another opposition leader from Quebec was mocked in the media, had very low personal approval ratings and was supposedly “reviled” in Quebec. Of course I’m speaking of Jean Chretien, who supposedly could never overcome the fact that he had a role in drafting the constitution and the “night of long knives” and he was called a sell-out over his opposition to Meech. In fact, before the the 1993 election the Liberals stood in exactly the same spot in the polls then (in fact the PCs lead the Liberals in the first two polls of that campaign). Many in the media thought Kim Campbell would beat tired old “yesterday’s man” Chretien (people now talk about all of Chretien’s charisma, well people didn’t see it much then).

Chretien proved all the naysayers wrong and I think a big part of it had to do with the well thought out red book and the campaign plan that went into that election. People had low expectations for Chretien and what the Liberals would put forth and he blew them away. He didn’t completely clean up in Quebec, but in each election he increased the Liberals seat count there. It took time but he won their respect even if they were still bitter at him.

Now I should say that I can’t pretend to have been following politics closely in 1993 (being only 10 years old), but I have read a lot about the coverage at the time and have spoken to many others who remember that time well. I would really like to hear from other Liberals who were there kickin it then.

As well, I really wish people could remember that time and how the Liberals brought themselves back to power, because I see a lot of parallels there to today. Chretien himself said he hated the role of opposition leader and I can’t imagine Dion enjoys it much either. But like Chretien I am confident that Dion will impress a lot of Canadians on the campaign trail with bold ideas and a level of integrity that easily trumps the other party leaders. Even Jack Layton said at the last NDP convention “(Stephane Dion is) a man who is, if I may say so across the partisan divide, distinct from his principal opponents in being a committed Canadian and a man of principle and conviction.” Jack thought he was throwing in such a zinger by following up with “and therefore almost certain not to be elected leader of the Liberal party!”, but you know what Jack we did elect him and I think Jack knows that he’ll kick the NDP’s butt across the country in a general election (you can already see it in the polls, notwithstanding tonight’s by-election).

People didn’t think Chretien would pull off a good campaign, but he did, the same will be true of Dion I’m sure.

So Liberals really need to remember the past and that things didn’t seem so easy the last time we were in opposition either. It’s easy to complain and main, especially in opposition, but if you really believe in the party then you need to believe in the leader and that he’ll work his ass off to win. But to win all Liberals need to get behind him. Backstabbing, even in private, will only lead to greater chance that we’ll have Harper for a long time as Prime Minister. The longer he’s there the more damage he’ll do to a country Liberals helped to make great. If people want to take that route then I think they’ve really put personal interest before their party and I question why they are Liberals. So the media need to be re-taught a history lesson and I hope all Liberals can just back Dion up, let him lead the party into the next election, have faith in his ability to lead us back to power and work together to make it happen.

There’s lots to be done, particularly in Quebec, but the Liberals have been down that road before and hard work and unity got them out. It will again.

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A day with GK

Re: Sunday September 16 2007

Today, I was privileged enough to spend the majority of the day with Mr. Gerard Kennedy. He started off bright and early in the day by heading to my hometown of Brantford to kick off the Terry Fox run with Dave Levac. He then wowed a crowd in my new home of Guelph. Then it was off to Hamilton mountain to do some foot work for Sophia Aggelonitis. This is one area where there seems to be a lot of swing/undecided voters between the NDP and Liberal, and a warning to the NDP: Kennedy kicked some butt! Hamilton is always a great political race, with the NDP hoping that they can claim it all for themselves. The Liberal party knows that this will be a tight race, especially as some very strong and well liked Hamilton female candidates have stepped down from political life. The Liberal party has found some great and deserving candidates (e.g., Noreen Virgin, aka Jody from Today’s Special – it’s for everyone, come & join the fun! - come on, who here didn't like Today's Special?!).

Anyways, when it comes to canvassing, Kennedy is a god! For someone who isn’t currently running in any election, and for someone who I would say has the next election in the bag, as well as someone who has established himself to earn himself a worthy Cabinent/Critic position, he sure does his fair share of work for all Liberals on his free time and dime. I think part of his drive is because he still feels very passionate about provincial issues, because those are the issues which affect Ontarians, and the most per capita Canadians, in the most direct way. We will definatley miss him in Ontario, but Canada has gotten a great candidate.

On one main street in Hamilton, we were able to get up about 12 Liberal/Sophia Aggelonitis signs in about one hour from home owners we had met. I was so impressed with how Mr. Kennedy is able to speak to any individual, even when there is a huge 5 x 4 feet NDP sign on their front lawn! So quickly he is able to establish a rapport with an individual who maybe was even hesitant to speak to him, and get into the meat of the election and how, matter of facts, the parties differ on those issues. In Hamilton, the issues were education, health and senior care, and there were definitely vast differences of opinions from the party supporters on those issues, and the Caledonia issue.

GK definitely impressed me today. It’s no wonder he won by such large margins in Parkdale High-Park! My friend Zac Spicer has informed me that he won a margin of 20 000 votes. wow.

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Re: Saturday September 15, 2007

Enthusiastic young Liberals from across Ontario came on their own initiative to Toronto on Saturday to celebrate and show their support for team red, and to kick off a great interactive website with the bare bone facts for youth on voting and the facts on what’s been going on in Ontario over the last 15 years. Check it out, it rocks: What do you speak to? If I had to pick one ‘category’, I would speak to opportunity.

The drive on the part of the youth from Ontario to get out to this event just goes to show how much the youth believe in this party and in Dalton. The amount of youth enthusiasm is second to none in any party, and that says a lot. These are smart young individuals with great ideals, methods and sincere interests for society. They are not in some club for the fun of it, for popularity or "connections", and nor are they easily misled.

McGuinty also unveiled some of his friendly-student platform:

12 months to start paying off student debt/OSAP, instead of 6 months
$300 for technology goods and/or text books grant
$500 grant at the start of the academic year instead of waiting for $500 back at tax time
$500 for transport if you travel more than 80km from mom and dad

If only I was still an undergrad student….

And there was of course a guy there who wants to be a distracter to the Liberal enthusiasm and success. He must want to be like Dalton, because he follows him everywhere and is always waving and trying to get in media photos. Awe, now that is true adoration. He seems to have nothing better to do than follow Dalton around. He must think he's making some sort of impact. Yet he’s so far away he’s on nobody’s mind who matters. This guy has no impact on any of the events. Who ever is giving him the premier's schedule and funding this guy (I’m guessing Taxpayers Federation, but could be 'others' too), should just send in a cardboard cut-out to sub in for him and save some money. 'Cuz that will really have the same effect.

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Kitchener-Waterloo Rally

Re: Thursday September 13, 2007

Who brings out a crowd of steamy firefighters with an antique fire truck, John Milloy, Kathryn McGarry, Liz Sandals, Leeanna Pendergast, Louise Ervin, a large amount of the Sikh population, 200 crazy fans and the token OPP officers? Well none other than Mr. Dalton McGuinty that’s who!

Dalton discussed how jobs and education are linked together. Good education and training gets students those top jobs that are competed for by the global market, such as those jobs in Stratford with the Toyota plant. These great jobs and products are what makes our economy so strong and attractive, and this was exemplified with Dalton’s visit to India and their desire for these cars.

I’ve heard quite the few stories about John Milloy. For example, apparently he gives pretty random gifts, such as raw cabbage. I’ll take this as part of sense of humour, as Dalton acknowledged the great contributions that he made to the Liberals election platform.

My only point of concern from the night would have been to tone down the presentation. I know Dalton gets excited and passionate when he speaks, and maybe it was because I was sitting at the front, but he sure was loud. Secondly, one of Dalton’s jokes, which he is famous for, caught me severely off guard for a moment. The joke tonight was “a little boy who is his hockey team’s goalie, let a goal in. The coach said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re the best.’ And the boy says “I know, its my team that sucks.” Dalton’s delivery had to be a little more clear – there seemed to be a long pause, and I was waiting for the punch line, because I didn’t know if he was saying what I thought he was implying. The punch line did come, eventually… "My team doesn’t suck!” No Dalton they don’t, but please don’t test my allegiance!

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Why I'm a Liberal

Becoming a Liberal was very natural for me. I was easily drawn to it from the young age of fourteen, where I was welcomed as a full and equal member. It’s the party where your voice has the opportunity to be heard, and also the party of consensus that does its best for all Ontarians, no matter your background. It’s a party which looks out for everyone’s best interests in an even manner.
It's the party of cooperation and inclusion - its the only party where members can agree to disagree when it comes to a variety of issues and still respect and work with each other and Canadians. Such issues as foreign ownership, the Ontario MMP referendum and and the status of Quebec are just some examples of issues where one's difference of opinions are tolerated and respected.
I know that under any other party, I would have never had the opportunity to be welcomed and involved in party politics as much as I have been under the Liberal government. From the inclusiveness of making policies, voting on potentail policy platforms, choosing candidates at various levels and stages, there are many opportunities for society to be involved in government as much as they would like.
Most importantly, the Liberals “get it”. They understand that politics isn’t just about satisfying the social-societal needs, and that its not just about the economy; rather, the two sides must come together in a cooperative, balanced manner which is the best alternative for all.

I had a natural drive to gain working experience in the political process. In 1997, the federal election and Liberal candidate Jane Stewart had peaked my interest. I contacted the Young Liberals president to find out how I could volunteer on the campaign in my riding, and I learned I was just old enough to join the Liberal Party as an active and equal member. The rest, as they say, is history. Since, then, I have been involved in many Liberal campaigns, events and cuases in various capacities.
I also think that the reason I was drawn to Jane was on a sort of a role-model basis. She was after all from my hometown and was strong, accomplished politician. I saw her around town and in the news all the time, speaking, meeting and listening to people, and being listened to. At the time, I did not fully realize it, but the fact that Jane was successful as a woman, was what really made it easy for me to identify with her. I think we definitely need more women in politics and this is why I support Dion’s and McGuinty’s targets to have more female candidates. (See my op-ed published here).

I have assisted on several campaigns in the federal and provincial level, from by-elections, nomination campaigns/meetings, and your regular elections, in addition to participating in AGMs, Provincial Councils and training sessions. I was the Woodsworth College Representative to the University of Toronto’s Young Liberals Executive. I currently sit on the Brant Federal Liberal Association Executive as the Youth Chair, and as a board member of the Brant Provincial Liberal Association. I re-established the Brant Young Liberals (BYL), and currently serve as it’s Vice-President.

I have also written policy (a BYL sponsored resolution) that has been adopted by the Ontario Young Liberals and I am currently lobbying the policy for it to be adopted by the Harper government and for the federal Liberal party to adopt it as official party policy (because we all know Harper rarely pursues a socially responsible foreign policy so it will likely have to wait until a Dion government comes to power). At a later date I will share this important policy with you.

In addition to my political science education, I have also been involved with the United Nations Association Canada, the Peace and Conflict Society as an elected executive member, Equal Voice, and many other causes and organizations as a member and organizer in several social justice and political awareness campaigns/events.


Women’s representation is very important to me – not just in politics, but in all walks of life and with all careers. The McGuinty Liberal government has put a lot of effort into bringing women’s issues to the forefront. His government’s policies such as the Ontario Child Benefit and his commitment to having more women candidates are all important steps to help advance women’s equal place in society. Women’s equality is still an issue in Canada, and what makes it so very important is that women help make up nearly half of every demographic in the country. Stephane Dion as well is succeeding in having 1/3 of his candidates being female, just as McGuinty did.
One other important issue to me is the environment. In Ontario, initiatives such as the bottle return program and Turn off the Lights campaign are programs which I find to be highly effective, easy to implement and make a positive difference. I truly appreciate the move to create an Ontario greenbelt for the benefit of Ontario’s ecosystem and for the enjoyment of future generations. Finally, I was pleased to see Mr. McGuinty make tough commitments on the reduction of greenhouse gases over the next decade.

As for the federal action on the environment, Dion of course had a plan to meet Kyoto when he was environment minister but we all know where that went. More recently though, Dion’s Carbon budget was very progressive and would serve to put us miles ahead of where the Harper government is taking us. It’s no wonder the Carbon budget was praised by environmentalists while Harper “green plan” (or sham) was scorned.

Dalton is your average guy, and a good guy. He has shown real leadership, making tough decisions about matters that he knew he would later be questioned on. However, I believe he makes decisions based on what he believes is the best option for Ontario. Those decisions have helped to completely turn this province around and I trust he knows where to take this province in the future. He is an individual I have no problems approaching, and as a youth, I am not intimidated by our age difference nor the spaces between him as Premier and myself as an average student. When speaking to Dalton, you really get the impression that what’s important to you is important to him.

As for Stephane, he is principled, experienced and his level of integrity is unmatched by other federal leaders. Like Dalton, he’s easy to approach and he cares what the youth have to say. He’s also been through some tough battles over the years (fighting off separatists in his academic days to the battles over the clarity act as unity minister) and never backed down and he stuck to what he believed in. I know the next Liberal red book will help take Canada to where it needs to be in the coming decade ahead. There’s lots of work to be done to bring the Liberals back to power of course, but I’m confident Stephane can get us there (I’ll have lots more to say about that AFTER the by-elections – unlike others I’ll wait for the results before providing my prognostications).

One of the benefits of being a youth in the Liberal party is being an automatic member of the Ontario Young Liberals. This has provided several diverse opportunities. One of these was naturally the 2006 National Leadership Convention which selected Stephane Dion as the party’s federal leader. The excitement and energy experienced that weekend is indescribable, and I feel very honoured to have been there to participate in that historic weekend and to have witnessed that type of event.
However, my personal favourite experience of mine was re-establishing the Brant Young Liberals club in my riding. For years, the riding had been without the very club that I valued and that ignited my initial involvement in the Liberal party. With the support of the senior members in my riding, I was able to successfully rebuild the Brant Young Liberals. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I witnessed almost twenty youth turn up with keen interest at our founding meeting. We are now an active and growing group with great plans for the future.

I believe that the Liberal Party and I have a strong and bright future together. I am continuing my education in the hopes that I can give back to my society in the best way I can. To be quite honest, I am content with paying my fair share of taxes which help to sustain and create the services I use for myself and for those less fortunate, especially since I believe the cost of services would be higher if they were to be provided by individual means. I joined this party to become politically active and contribute towards sound and progressive policies, and that is the exactly what the party has provided to me. I plan on continuing to contribute to the party, whether that be through regularly contributing to my local riding associations, volunteering on campaigns, proposing policy ideas or encouraging political discourse - they are all important. The Liberal party is very resilient and progressive, and it responds to the people and tries to reach out to everyone. I feel perfectly at home in this party.

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Welcome to my Blog

As my first blog entry, I want to briefly explain why I’m getting into the blog arena, and also give an intro my background. Later I plan on posting why, as you’ll no doubt discover, why I’m a Liberal and some of my political beliefs.

I was born and raised in Brantford. This is your average city, that has grown very well over the last few years, with much of the thanks going to Wilfred Laurier Brant campus coming about, the debatable presence (for a later date) of the growing Casino which occupies the nice building which was built originally for a communication-information centre, and also by the great companies which have (Massey Ferguson) and currently do call Brantford home, such as Ferrero Rocher and SC Johnson Wax.

For the last 5 years, I have been living in the “centre” of Canada – Toronto. One cannot deny that Toronto is influential and dare I say “distinct”, with the amount of multiculturalism and economic output that the city produces, as well as with the many fun things to see and do during any time of the year. I know some people hate it, but oh wel, it is what it is. I spent four years at the University of Toronto studying the field of Peace and Conflict, and then a year trying on a few different jobs. That year consisted of travelling in Asia & Alaska, and working in three diverse yet complimentary fields – Elections Ontario, a Non-governmental Organizational, and with the Liberal government of Ontario. I also helped resurrect from the dead a Brant Young Liberals club in my hometown that is now going strong.

Two weeks ago, I moved to Guelph to pursue my MA in Political Science. Already the work load is tremendous, and lending a hand to a few campaigns is definitely taking a toll on everything, so how often I will be posting on here is hard to say, but I hope to post 3-4 times a week. There are many things I already want to discuss with you and I hope that I get the chance to do so.

I enjoy politics and am looking forward to learning more about the politics of the region and sharing my thoughts about the political region with you, as well as reading and considering your own comments. I will especially comment on Golden Horseshoe events, and hope to interview regional politicians from any and all levels of government and parties. If you’d like to arrange an interview, please feel free to e-mail me at

As for the name of this blog, I describe the Golden Horseshoe as the Niagara-Hamilton escarpment, stretching to London and the region of Kitchener-Waterloo-Wellington. This is an area I am quite familiar and fond of – from Chicoppee Ski Club and Oktoberfest in KW, the drive-in movie theatre in Woodstock, to the International Village Festival in Brant, partying in Hamilton (as no one parties in Brantford), and enjoying the unique Niagara region.

So I started a blog because 1) I have actually wanted to do so for quite sometime and being wrapped up in school I never got around to it. But during my year away from school, I got tired of thinking about it and promised to actually do it. Secondly, the Ontario election provided a great reason to finally start my blog. There’s plenty to talk about and this is the time that most people, even those not usually interested in politics, are interested in what political junkies like us bloggers have to say.

So I look forward to covering this exciting time in Ontario with you and then once it’s all said and done, you’ll definitely be hearing my thoughts on all the aftermath. I also won’t forget about federal politics, but I’ll leave most of my posts on that till after Parliament gears up again after the Ontario election.

So I welcome people of all parties to come here, discuss, argue, whatever. The blog may be about my thoughts, but I’d like to hear from lots of others too. Talk to you soon.

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