Friday, 7 October 2011

Unofficial/Official Election Results

Official/unofficial election results for Mississauga-Brampton South are here:

The most interesting results in Peel were probably just to the east in Bramalea-Gore-Malton where the NDP won by about 2,000 votes. The NDP candidate, Jagmeet Singh, also ran for the NDP in the federal election and lost by a whisker. The NDP are looking at him as a future star, and a model for winning other ridings in Peel, especially in ridings with large amounts of new Canadians.

The rest of Brampton was marked by controversies surrounding local PC nominees, all of whom failed to win despite strong showings by the Conservatives in May.

Tories Missing in Action

What happened to the Conservative/PC voters in Mississauga-Brampton South? 

New Tory MP Eve Adams won 23,632 votes in May. Liberal candidate Navdeep Bains received 18,579 votes in defeat. 

A few months later, Liberal MPP Amrit Mangat won only 15,579 to win re-election. PC Candidate Amarjeet Gill won only 10,285 votes, less than 45% of Adams' total! 

That is a really poor showing even if we give Adams (a veteran politician) credit for attracting voters to the Conservatives who might not otherwise do so, even in a year where Prime Minister Harper enjoyed a strong tailwind. But she still might not have won without the strong showing by the NDP in Mississauga-Brampton South. 

I thought that the riding might still be in play if the PCs could only identify Adams' supporters and turn many of them out again. Gill (and Hudak) clearly failed. He was not alone: NDP candidate Karanjit Pandher only won 57% of the votes that the Federal NDP candidate won.Sure, Gill won 1000 more votes than his PC predecessor, but Mangat won almost 20,000 votes in 2007. About 4,000 voters who had cast their ballot for Mangat and McGuinty in 2007 did not in 2011! That is a missed opportunity in a district that has seen its population increase.

It often takes another election to write the analysis of the previous one. Now it is clear that the dynamics of Harper/Layton/Ignatieff, and a preference for a majority government clearly hurt Bains. A stronger Liberal (or NDP?) federal campaign could cost Adams her seat after one term. 

Gill emphasized taxes, taxes and more taxes that all of us must hate paying (or we'd live in Toronto). I thought the PCs could have done more damage reminding voters of the many missteps of the McGuinty administration (eHealth, eco-fees, HST). They tried to emulate Rob Ford, but in the end, they emulated the Libertarians (Christin Milloy won 691 votes) by calling for low taxes without creating a sense of anger that the Grits were wasting money at Queen's Park. Ford called for lower taxes, but also jumped on some relatively small-change symbols of waste at Toronto City Hall. Without this sense of anger, Gill failed to mobilize voters who would be most inclined to vote PC based on their recent voting habits, and could not attract many of the disillusioned supporters of his main opponent. They just stayed home, which is their prerogative in a democracy where they will be led again by McGuinty and represented by Mangat.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Mississauga Judicial Inquiry

Not many surprises in the report released this morning by Justice Cunningham. Mayor McCallion did not break any laws, which raises real concerns about the existing laws and the current governance structures to protect the citizens of Mississauga against corruption.

The mayor is unapologetic, but forgets that unethical is not the same as illegal. As a society, we try to make our laws consistent with our sense of what is right and wrong, but the circumstances surrounding OMERS and the City's dealings over Enersource and a proposed hotel near Square One show that incidents arise that are legal but not ethical.

Ex-City Manager David O'Brien clearly had a personal pecuniary interest that conflicted with his role as city manager when negotiating the veto by OMERS over Enersource.

Even if Peter McCallion was not the mayor's son, and even if he never actually made any real money on the deal, it is clear that two Friends of Hazel got a sweetheart deal to double their money to serve as the lead developers until a real, qualified developer could be found. Lucky for the McCallion family, they did not personally benefit, but this is cronyism and the only value these developers brought to negotiations with OMERS was that they were backed by the mayor.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Dianne Douglas gets the Mississauga News' endorsement

I promised I would link to Dianne Douglas' website if she had one. She does now! Its a good thing, because she got the Mississauga News endorsement. Kudos to any candidate without name recognition to come out of nowhere, get an endorsement and be considered a "contender" without seemingly spending a lot of money on the campaign. If she does not win today, I hope she's encouraged to seek office again. Vote Dianne Douglas - Ward 5: Voting Day – Monday, September 19, 2011

Mississauga Blog: Who's up for a spelling lesson?

I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned about typos in this town.
Mississauga Blog: Who's up for a spelling lesson?
Who is responsible for Ms. Crombie's copy-editing and why aren't they using a spell-checker?

Friday, 2 September 2011

Bad Ideas for Ward 5

I complained in a previous post that there were few good ideas proposed in the candidate speeches during the Rogers 10 candidates forum.
There were a few bad ideas floated. The three stars of the game:
Steve Bator wants to put more cops on bikes in Malton. I like community policing, but I'm not sure bikes make a lot of sense in Malton in February.

**Jamie Dookin promises to fund five university scholarships instead of spending money on campaign signs. IMHO, not a great campaign strategy and also not a very effective or efficient public policy (if the recipients qualify for financial aid anyway from the province, will this simply replace that aid?).

* Sandeep Patara will work for free, donating his salary back into the community. A noble gimmick, but I would be worried if working for free will cause him to work at one of his restaurants (or as a software developer?) more often than at City Hall. How do you fire someone who works for free?

Honourable Omission + Mention
I do give Cecil Young credit for not bringing up some of the ideas he advances on his website, like replacing taxes with a "government services fee" that looks like taxes, sounds like taxes, but is somehow different... However, he did promise to limit himself to three terms in office, which sounds noble, except that he's 55 years old and really, all he is doing is promising to work until he reaches retirement age and can draw his pension.

As an aside: I wonder why so few candidates do not have websites! How can one vote for a candidate who does not have a website? Jamie Dookin can still give away scholarships with a free site from!

Thursday, 1 September 2011 PCs reduced to slimmest of majority in Ontario PCs reduced to slimmest of majority in Ontario: Two new polls this week released by Forum Research and Angus-Reid show the Progressive Conservatives on the decline... still projects a substantial win for the Liberals in Mississauga-Brampton South.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bonnie Crombie's Capitalization Issues

I don't understand how professional politicians and their teams make spelling and grammatical errors in their campaign literature. I think nothing broadcasts, "I don't pay close attention to details, nor does my staff" like a grammatical mistake.

Spelling errors in the era of spell-checkers just signals incompetence. But maybe only teachers like me care?
Warren Kinsella flagged some flubs by Tim Hudak's campaign here.
(Note: I deny responsibility if any of my former students were responsible for Hudak's errors).

Now, I'll admit I'm not the most detailed-oriented guy, and my wife reminds me almost daily that my grammar is far from perfect, but if candidates are not going to pay close attention to how they communicate here in Mississauga, then this blog will!

Now, I'll admit that failing to capitalize words is less egregious than misspelling "bureaucracy" or "education".  But, who fails to capitalize street names? Bonnie Crombie! 
Twice in the same "10 Point Plan for Ward 5" (see screenshot below).

Mysteriously, a capital H also disappeared from "Malton Community Health Centre," and I'm befuddled by multiple mistakes in her description of Britannia Farm (capital B, capital F, not "Brittania farms").

Finally, look at item #8. Either that line contains two items (hey, its an eleven point plan!), or there is a grammatical mistake.

I'm not sure because I'm too distracted by #4. Number 4 is kosher, but would really read much better if Ms. Crombie would "prioritize affordable housing." I wonder if she was concerned that she should really "prioritise affordable housing," but was unsure which spelling of the verb was correct in Canada. I'm an American, so I wasn't sure, but the internet (Luke Mastin) says it should be a zed in Canada.

Ward 5 Candidates Speak - 1

The southern end of Mississauga-Brampton South get to vote for a City Council by-election in September.

MIRANET, Mississauga News & Rogers Cable 10 brought over 20 of the 27 candidates together for a televised forum earlier this week. The forum will be rebroadcast repeatedly in the coming days (see schedule here).

I just finished watching the candidates' opening speeches. Each candidate was allocated 3 minutes to talk directly to the camera. For me, this was exciting. Throughout most of Europe, parties are allocated free time to broadcast advertisements one after the other. So, these speeches were like a little taste of Europe in my Mississauga basement. All that was missing was some brie and chablis.

The event drew little press coverage (see here, here, and here). Most of the coverage focused on three big names in the race, Peter Adams, Bonnie Crombie and Carolyn Parrish, and none of the reporters said anything about the taped speeches. So, I thought I would watch and comment...

Its not going to be an easy choice for many in the Ward 5. Many candidates echoed the same issues, the same concerns and made similar promises. What I was looking for was whether any candidates could come up with a clear reason why people should vote for him/her. Canadian Political Strategist Geoff Norquay calls this a "ballot question". In a crowded race like this one, I think its a critical one. There has to be something distinctive that sets a candidate apart from his/her competition. Something that will allow voters to succinctly explain to their peers who they are voting for and why.

Academic digression:
This tendency to construct or desire a set of reasons to facillitate a difficult choice was identified by academics studying decision-making in a range of different contexts. Shafir, Simonson and Tversky call "Reason based choice" in a seminal paper.

I sat through every single three minute speech and was dutifully unimpressed. There were few good new ideas or policy proposals floated. Candidates promised to be accessible, reliable and trustworthy. I'm not suggesting these are not valuable traits. After all, eight years ago, the Ward 5 councilor went to jail for bribery. So, three big cheers that no candidate publicly signaled that their vote could be bought. <snore>

Every candidate stressed uncontroversial valence issues that no one would argue against (We need more efficient government! We need more health and social services in Malton! We need to get tough on gangs!). Most talked about their qualifications and personal backgrounds. Thats a great, low-risk strategy, but with more than 20 opponents, I'm not sure its a very smart strategy except for those candidates with the highest profile in the Ward.

Ok... So voters can choose from candidates who emphasize cutting taxes or those who emphasize increasing services. Most of these candidates called for more services and less taxes which may be impossible unless they find gold while widening Eglinton Ave. Voters can choose between fresh faces or experienced politicians, independent voices or buddies of the mayor. And lets not forget that some candidates live in the Ward 5, some candidates are visible minorities, some are women and a few speak foreign language(s).

It would have been a better evening if my wife had agreed to join me in a drinking game whenever a candidate mentioned the Goreway Bridge or the new community health centre in Malton. She didn't. Pity, but I'm not sure we have enough wine or beer in the house to accomodate all of the drinking we would have had to do.

I was impressed with Dianne Douglas, Eve Adams' executive assistant while she was councilor. I was not alone- Gerry Timbers called her the winner of the race.
Douglas' speech was well-practiced, smoothly delivered and did a great job recognizing that the needs of Malton were quite different than the needs of the Heartland area. She clearly came off as someone who understands the area. That leaves me with two questions:

  1. Why doesn't Douglas have a website? I would link to it. Promise.
  2. What does it say about a candidate if your former boss' husband runs against you? Or, perhaps the appropriate question is: what does it say about your former boss' husband if you decide to take a leave of absence from your job to run against him?

Some quick judgments and questions (again, just based on the candidate speeches):

  • It took Peter Adams less than 15 seconds to mention his wife's name and remind everyone that they live in the Ward.
  • Bonnie Crombie was surprisingly negative towards her opponents considering she says she has a positive vision and promises to refrain from the infighting that supposedly has plagued Mississauga City Council in recent years. She says she "plays on the mayor's team," which tells me that the only infighting she disapproves of is the criticism that occasionally gets directed at Mayor Hazel McCallion. 
  • How angry and bitter is Kulvinder Bobbie Daid? Do the voters in Ward 5 share her angst?
  • Jake Dheer's cheerful on-camera presence was a sharp contrast to Daid's anger, but who originated the line about traffic taking away from family time? Because Mark Cashin said the exact same line.
  • There are jobs and there are the jobs that Jamie Dookin promises to bring to the community. Funny how the number of jobs always ends in a multiple of ten.
  • Why does Grant Isaac need to secure his glasses with a string while he sits in front of  TV camera? Isaac was surprisingly unprepared and unscripted for his three-minute talk. What kind of law does he practice?
  • I'm not sure I want any elected official to promise that I'll know in advance how they will vote on major issues, Olive Rose Steele! After all, those votes take place after debates, after amendments to a bill are proposed, and after votes are traded and negotiated over. Declaring in advance what you'll do could render you both close-minded and ineffective.
  • Did Barbara Hazel Tabuno get tips on delivery from Elle Woods?
  • I expected the novice candidates to have trouble speaking to the cameras. But Rick Williams is an experienced, elected politician. Could you look up once in awhile?
  • Cecil Young was the last to speak, and surprisingly, brought up issues and proposals that no one else did. That is not easy to do after more than 20 other speeches. Snaps for Mr. Young!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mississauga-Brampton South: A populous, growing and diverse riding

Mississauga-Brampton South is a populous, growing and diverse riding
According to the 2006 Census, the riding grew by nearly 20% between 2001 and 2006. With new developments built the last few years east of McLaughlin Road in Mississauga, the riding has continued to grow, but at a slower pace. New warehouse and office developments towards Pearson Airport to the east of the riding, in the far north-west corner of the riding and in nearby Mississauga-Streetsville have helped fuel the growth.

The riding is relatively wealthy, with a median family income of more than $70,000. There are only a few large apartment buildings in the riding. More than 75% of the population live in owner-occupied single-family, semi-detached or row homes although some homes include multiple families or multi-generational family units. Just a couple of farms remind residents that only 20-25 years ago, this area was largely agricultural.

While there are local bus services, especially along Hurontario St., and the area is served by two GO Transit lines, cars dominate life in this part of the 905 suburbs. Residents drive to the supermarket, to the Heartland Mall, to libraries, community centres, hockey rinks and soccer fields.

There is no real centre to the riding. Traffic flows almost every direction at rush hour. The heart of the riding is entirely commercial. Virtually all of the riding in Mississauga south of the 407, east of Hurontario and north of Matheson Blvd is commercial, as is the eastern arm of the riding north of Eastgate Parkway and Eglinton Ave. So, there are really five distinct residential areas in the riding:
Levi Creek and Old Meadowvale in the northwest corner of the riding in Mississauga and the new developments along McLaughlin Rd.
Neighborhoods along Fletcher’s Creek in Brampton north of the 407 and their neighbors east of Hurontario living beside Peel Village and Brampton Golf Courses.
Neighborhoods south of the Heartland Mall on both sides of McLaughlin Rd.
A mix of townhouses and large single-family houses around the Grand Highland Golf Course and Frank McKechnie Community Centre between Hurontario and Highway 403.
Relatively older neighborhoods east of Square One, north of Burnhamthorpe Rd.
A few of the high rise buildings that surround the Square One mall at the centre of Mississauga are in the riding.
These neighborhoods do not shop, eat, play or send their children to school in the same places. Neighborhoods in the east enjoy close connections and share community services with the neighborhoods immediately south of them. Residents in the west of the riding will often shop, play and go to school in Mississauga-Streetsville. A large Sikh community north of the 407 in Brampton is split between this riding and Brampton-West.

In 2006, 60% of the riding were categorized as visible minorites, many of whom are South Asian. But that is only part of the picture. During the World Cup, many different flags are displayed. There is a substantial Portugese community, Italians and East Europeans, and immigrants from the Caribbean. The large percentage of (relatively affluent) immigrants in the community could lead to some electoral volatility.

The large commercial areas in and around the riding might suggest that jobs may not be as big of an issue here than elsewhere in the GTA. Many of the immigrants in the riding enjoy a measure of financial stability that enabled them to move their families into these single-family homes.

The environment may be a more salient concern to some. The Credit River and its tributaries snake through the riding, and residents enjoy many walking paths and parklands. Like other residents of Peel Region, there is curbside collection of recycling and compost. But few would cut back on their driving habits that rely heavily on large minivans and SUVs.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Mississauga-Brampton South / Introduction

Hi. I teach Political Science at University of Toronto - Scarborough in the Department of Social Sciences. I have taught at U of T since 2003, when I completed my Ph.D. in Political Science at Duke University. Although I normally focus on the U.S., Israel and other countries outside of Canada, my family and I live in the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South. I just volunteered to be a "Community Blogger" for the Toronto Star for my riding. Provincial election day is October 6, 2011. Here in Mississauga-Brampton South, incumbent Liberal Amrit Mangat (Liberal Party) will face off against realtor Amarjeet Gill (PC). The NDP has not yet named a candidate (but will).

The campaign in Mississauga-Brampton South could be interesting. Last spring, there was a federal election and the Liberal incumbent, Navdeep Bains, lost to Mississauga City Councilor Eve Adams (Conservative Party). Compared to the previous federal election (in 2008), Adams won 60% more votes than her Conservative predecessor, Salma Ataullahjan (now a Senator). Echoing nationwide gains, the NDP share of the vote also increased by more than 50%, but ran a distant third, with less than 18% of the vote.

Before 2010, the riding was quite safe for the Liberals. Bains won with 54% of the vote in 2006 and 57% of the vote in 2004. In the provincial election of 2007, Mangat won almost the exact same share of the vote as Bains did in 2006, with 53.6% of the vote. The Conservative nominee, Ravi Singh, only won 25% of the vote, while the Greens and the NDP each won 10%.

Adams' win in the spring suggests that Mississauga-Brampton South suggests that the Ontario Provincial Conservatives might have a chance to unseat Mangat. However, even though similar numbers of voters in the riding have voted Liberal for both federal and provincial representation in the past, there are some key differences between the federal campaign dynamics and the provincial campaign dynamics.

In the spring, the federal election was fought by the incumbent Conservatives with an appeal to be given a majority in Ottawa. During the campaign, the leader of the NDP, Jack Layton, attracted many voters to the NDP, while the Liberal Party leader's popularity suffered in the face of relentless attack ads placed by the Conservatives. The Conservatives did win a majority in Ottawa, and the NDP surpassed the Liberals to become the official opposition. Layton passed away last week, raising questions about the NDP's ability to attract voters without his place at the head of the party.

In contrast to the Conservative minority, Liberals under Dalton McGuinty have governed with a majority in Queen's Park since 2003. They won reelection four years ago after the PC campaign lost steam after making some controversial pledges to increase funding for non-Catholic religious schools. Since then, the economy has not been great in Ontario, but Mississauga has enjoyed both economic growth and rising real estate prices. The Liberals may be able to run on their record to win re-election. However, the PCs lead in most provincial polls, as many voters seem to think that McGuinty has been in power long enough, especially considering debacles like an unpopular effort to raise environmental impact fees and an expensive embarrassment over high-paid consultants at  eHealth Ontario.