By Emily Senger - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Ontario NDP will support the minority Liberal government to pass the budget, averting…
The Ontario NDP will support the minority Liberal government to pass the budget, averting a spring election in the province.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday morning.
Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne introduced the province’s budget — her first as premier — on May 2. Her minority government holds only 51 seats out of the 107 seats in the Ontario legislature and it needed support for the budget to pass.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak already said that his party would vote against the budget. “Today, the Liberal government chose to continue down a path that’s going to dig the hole deeper for all Ontarians,” he told reporters after Wynne introduced the provincial budget.
Horwath’s decision to support the budget comes after the Liberals agreed to the creation of a Financial Accountability Officer to monitor spending in the province.
By Maria Babbage - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 5:09 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne will face her first major test in the…
TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne will face her first major test in the top job when her government’s throne speech is unveiled Tuesday.
Read by Lt. Gov. David Onley, the speech outlines the government’s agenda at the start of the legislative session.
It’s also a confidence motion — which means it could trigger an election if both opposition parties vote against it.
But Wynne has promised that there will be something in the speech for the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, February 11, 2013 at 8:15 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – About 70 per cent of Canadians think Kathleen Wynne’s victory as Ontario’s…
TORONTO – About 70 per cent of Canadians think Kathleen Wynne’s victory as Ontario’s first female premier is a significant breakthrough for women in politics, a new poll suggests.
It includes 31 per cent who feel it’s a very significant breakthrough, according to a national Canadian Press-Harris/Decima survey.
That compares to 17 per cent who felt it isn’t that significant and 11 per cent who say it’s not at all significant.
Women under the age of 35 and those living in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are most likely to view Wynne’s victory as at least a significant breakthrough, the poll found.
Three-quarters of respondents felt women are well represented in politics, while 31 per cent feel they aren’t. Conservatives are more likely than other voting groups to feel they’re well represented.
Canada’s sixth female premier said she agrees it’s a breakthrough for women in politics.
While there’s gender parity among premiers, women are still under-represented in the country’s legislatures, Wynne said Monday.
The representation of women ranges from 10.5 per cent in the Northwest Territories to nearly 33 per cent in Quebec. Only 30 per cent of Ontario MPPs are women.
“There is a catchup that needs to happen,” Wynne said.
“I hope that as we see female leadership across the country, we will see more representation in those legislatures and in Parliament.”
While gender parity among the premiers is important symbolically, some political observers say it would be more significant if Wynne’s position is cemented with an electoral win.
Wynne also made history as Canada’s first openly gay premier, a milestone she acknowledged in her inaugural speech.
The poll indicates that Canadians are split on whether gays and lesbians are well represented in politics, with 44 per cent of respondents saying they are and 41 per cent saying they are not.
Of the 1,015 respondents surveyed, 58 per cent feel visible minorities are well represented, while 36 per cent say they aren’t.
Quebec residents are less likely than others to feel visible minorities are well represented in politics, the poll found.
Men are more likely than women to feel that women and visible minorities are well represented in politics, it found.
Thirty-seven per cent of respondents feel aboriginals are represented well in politics, compared to 57 per cent who feel they aren’t. Residents of Ontario and Quebec are much less likely than others to feel aboriginals are well represented in politics.
Conservatives and Liberals are more likely than other voting groups to feel aboriginals are well represented in politics.
Respondents were asked the question: “As you may know, Kathleen Wynne was recently elected the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario and will be sworn in as Ontario’s first female premier, and Canada’s first openly gay premier. How significant a breakthrough for women in Canadian politics do you believe this is?”
The telephone poll was conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. The survey has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, February 11, 2013 at 6:15 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Ontario’s new premier Kathleen Wynne says she is confident she will put…
TORONTO – Ontario’s new premier Kathleen Wynne says she is confident she will put together a budget that will get the approval of the opposition parties.
Wynne was sworn in today, becoming the province’s first female leader and Canada’s first openly gay premier.
The new leader of the Liberal minority government says there’s a huge opportunity to find common ground with the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives to avoid an early election.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
The problem with the notion that delegated conventions are less democratic
If the Ontario Liberal convention that just anointed Kathleen Wynne premier does end up being the last event of its kind to use delegates, we cannot say it failed to deliver drama. Most political parties have, in the name of democracy, switched to a one-member, one-vote (OMOV) system which gives no special standing to party insiders or elected legislators. The federal New Democrats used OMOV for the first time last March, abandoning their tradition of giving labour unions a specified minimum vote weight, and the federal Liberals have thrown their process so far open that voters in their current race do not even need to be full members.
This time the Ontario Liberals did things the old way, allowing for the possibility of last-minute appeals to the assembled voters, between-ballot deal-making, and suspense-filled physical migrations of defeated delegations. This process doesn’t always pay off, but the Ontario Liberal show delivered on all these promises. The first draft of history, as it now stands, says that Wynne decisively won a head-to-head oratorical showdown with rival Sandra Pupatello on the morning of the vote, convincing the party elite that Ontarians would prefer her warmer, less aggressive style.
There is an obvious problem with the idea that delegated conventions are less “democratic” than U.S.-style open primaries; namely, that we still use delegates to do the job of actually making laws for us. When it comes to choosing party leaders, we often talk of democracy as if it were an unalloyed positive good, more being better without limit or without even a diminishing of returns. But when it comes to the hard job of turning political principles into rules enforceable by violence, most of us recognize the desirability of moderating the popular will through a mediating body of expert (or at least dedicated) representatives. In making their leaderships more “democratic,” parties seem to be tacitly acknowledging that the task of deciding the leader’s identity is actually not important enough to reserve to an informed elite.
The fact is that democracy is not only a limited good, but adding more of it at one point in the political cycle can mean less of it somewhere else. This ought to be clear from Canadian history: when the authority of party leaders was given to conventions in the first place, it put the leader’s power on a footing independent of the consent of his elected caucus, and as a result our party leaders are much less accountable from week to week and month to month than their analogues in the U.K. This has led to the evolution, within our system, of presidential-style prime minister’s and premier’s offices full of very powerful unelected personnel. In effect, it has made our government more American in form without the checks and balances built into the American scheme at birth.
It is not hard to see how one-member, one-vote leadership races might lead to a decrease or an impairment of “democracy,” depending on how it is defined. Adopting OMOV is not so much an exercise in democratic-ness, per se, as it is a change in the standard to be met by the candidate; whereas in a delegated convention the job is to impress the permanent rank and file of the party, under OMOV it is simply to sell the most memberships. This, in turn, shifts power to operatives who are good at selling the most memberships. (And the issue of possible sabotage coordinated by opponents of the party’s interest is never really dealt with theoretically, except through hand-waving.)
In spite of frequent statements that the day of delegated conventions might now be past, there is nothing inevitable about it. The Nova Scotia Conservatives, for example, “turned back the clock” in 2006 after having held a one-member, one-vote telephone election in 1995. OMOV conventions are supposed to offer practical benefits beyond moral superiority by increasing the “involvement” of the public with the party. But the downside, as the Ontario Liberal party revealed by offering a counter-example, is that the convention itself becomes meaningless, providing no opportunity for an underdog candidate to seize the moment and transform the mood in the room. The mood in the room doesn’t much matter if the leader has already been picked.
There is probably no one optimum method of selecting a leader for a political party; it will depend in any case on a party’s traditions, its particular situation, and whether it has a non-negotiable ideological raison d’être. The Ontario Liberals may decide two years from now that it was a mistake to turn their decision into a highly emotional gladiator contest in an old arena. Or they may decide that such a contest actually made a better scale model for a provincial election than the equivalent of a radio call-in to win concert tickets. Either way, the notion of democracy as some holy quantum doesn’t have much to do with it.
By Adam Goldenberg - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 1:17 PM - 0 Comments
The meaning of Ontario’s next premier
In the summer of 2011, I was working for Glen Murray, then Ontario’s research and innovation minister, when I got a call from his constituency office manager. “Someone delivered an envelope this morning,” she said. “It was full of white powder.” A few staffers had begun to develop respiratory symptoms.
The substance turned out not to be toxic, and our colleagues were soon safe. But what was, for us, a frightening false alarm was, for my boss, an unexceptional episode in a public career defined by personal risk.
We knew he had been the first openly gay mayor of a major city in North America. We knew he had first sought a seat on Winnipeg City Council just a few years after Harvey Milk had been assassinated in San Francisco for doing the same. When the death threats became too credible to ignore, he wore a bulletproof vest during his public appearances.
His sexual orientation had made him a target. His identity was a liability. When he succeeded in politics, it was as an outlier, an exception, an “activist” by default. There was an implicit ceiling on his ambitions.
When I came out to my parents, eleven Christmases ago, they worried that, at some point, I would find myself limited by who I was. None of their closest friends or co-workers was gay and the only out lawyer who ever appeared in our house was Eric McCormack’s character on Will & Grace—a TV show that I endured in silent terror, dreading discovery, throughout my entire childhood. When my mom and dad thought about what my future as an out gay man might look like, they couldn’t find a comforting real-life precedent to cite. Neither could I.
All of this came galloping to mind in the lead-up to Saturday’s Ontario Liberal leadership convention. As one newspaper editorialized, “the knock against [Kathleen] Wynne is that she is not ‘electable’—code, as she puts it herself, for being ‘a lesbian from Toronto.’ No one knows how that would play out in 2013.”
On the weekend’s third ballot, Wynne’s party gave its answer. She will be the first openly gay person ever to take the helm of a government anywhere in the Americas, the Commonwealth, or the English-speaking world.
It was impossible to experience Wynne’s victory without feeling the quiet hum of history turn into a roar. As her erstwhile rivals—first Eric Hoskins, then Charles Sousa, then Gerard Kennedy—crossed to her side of Maple Leaf Gardens, it was my fourteen-year-old self who stood there, on the convention floor, watching wide-eyed as my own universe expanded.
The moment was rich with invisible intensity; the crowd around me, I knew, wasn’t experiencing it the way I was. It’s a feeling that every gay person knows too well: the quiet loneliness of imperceptible difference. However gregarious, outgoing, and popular they appear, gay kids spend their adolescence on the wrong side of a one-way mirror, on the inside looking out.
Saturday wasn’t so different, but stealth self-loathing gave way to private pride. Victory brought vindication. After spending the last decade feigning confidence in front of my parents, promising them that there was no way that my identity would ever dictate what I could achieve in life, I finally had proof—not just for them, but also for myself.
That’s why Wynne matters. Her success makes others’ conceivable. As she took the stage for her victory speech, I got a text message from my parents, who were watching from Vancouver. “A gay premier!” is all it said.
Milestones invite overstatement, and this one is no different. Still, something must have shifted to make Wynne’s ascent possible. She said as much in her speech on Saturday morning: “There was a time, not that long ago, when most of us in this leadership race would not have been deemed suitable,” she said. “A Portuguese-Canadian, an Indo-Canadian, an Italian-Canadian, female, gay, Catholic. Most of us could not have hoped to stand on this stage. But the province has changed. Our party has changed.”
Wynne’s words forced nearly every Liberal delegate to walk a few steps in her shoes. By voting for her, they weren’t celebrating her identity; they were affirming their own. It was a powerful move, and it worked.
When Ontario voters next go to the polls, voters will judge Wynne’s government, as she acknowledged on Saturday, “on our merits, on our abilities, on our expertise, on our ideas.” The Liberals may yet come up short, but history has already been made. For families that have yet to go through what mine did, that will make all the difference.
When I left Glen Murray’s office to start law school, he gave me a hug, with tears in his eyes. He told me that he was proud of me. I was out and proud and pursuing a childhood dream, and for his generation—a generation whose parents struggled to love them again after they learned who their sons and daughters really were, and who watched their friends die of a disease they didn’t understand when they were no older than I am now—none of that could ever be taken for granted. What seemed ordinary to me was extraordinary to him.
Anachronisms are the echoes of progress, and understanding history is the only way to shape it. Someday, when I watch the video of Kathleen Wynne’s victory speech with my kids, there will be tears in my eyes. I can’t wait to tell them why.
Adam Goldenberg is a Kirby Simon Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School, and a former Liberal staffer on Parliament Hill and at Queen’s Park. Follow him on Twitter.
By Mitchel Raphael - Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 10:38 PM - 0 Comments
The big Wynne! Kathleen Wynne wins the Ontario Liberal leadership race in Toronto. Teachers…
The big Wynne! Kathleen Wynne wins the Ontario Liberal leadership race in Toronto. Teachers and others protest outside (including an eagle).
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 8:29 PM - 0 Comments
Above is the speech that Kathleen Wynne gave in Toronto this morning on the way to becoming the next premier of Ontario—a rather remarkable political performance. Below are the words that will be remembered long after they were spoken.
I want to put something on the table: Is Ontario ready for a gay premier? You’ve heard that question. You’ve all heard that question, but let’s say what that actually means: Can a gay woman win? That’s what it means.
By Mika Rekai - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:11 PM - 0 Comments
What you need to know about the six candidates, and then some
After the surprise resignation of Dalton McGuinty in October, the Ontario Liberal Party is finally ready to elect a new leader. While there are currently six candidates vying to be Ontario’s next premier, the odds are it will come down to a two-way race between Toronto’s hyper-progressive Kathleen Wynne and Windsor spitfire Sandra Pupatello. The voting process, however, may render a few surprises. Instead of allowing all party members to vote, the next premier will be selected by 2, 200 chosen delegates and “ex-officios”—former and current Liberal MPPs and MPs. The same process was used in the federal Liberal leadership contest in 2006, which saw Stéphane Dion upset front-runners Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae after Dion received overwhelming support from delegates of defeated candidate Gerard Kennedy. While the process has been criticized for being both time-consuming and elitist, watch for it to inject a little drama into the weekend’s voting.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 10:40 PM - 0 Comments
It’s not clear what Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath expects from the province’s next Liberal premier, whom the party will select on Jan. 26. She’s “open to working to get results for the people of this province,” in contrast to Conservative opposition leader Tim Hudak, who likes his chances in an election and will likely withhold confidence as early as possible to try to get one.
Does that mean Horwath wants a Liberal-NDP coalition? Continue…
By Ivor Tossell - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:22 PM - 0 Comments
The case for the ranked ballot
There are 2.6 million people in Toronto, and most of them are running for mayor.
Thanks to Mayor Rob Ford’s possible removal from office, the floodgates have opened to rumoured contenders: Councillors like Shelley Caroll, Adam Vaughan, Karen Stintz and even Giorgio Mammoliti, to say nothing of outsiders like Olivia Chow, Kathleen Wynne and John Tory, who is very good at maybe-running for things. The mayor himself loudly declared his candidacy, before disappearing on a pre-Christmas-vacation vacation ten days ago.
“There’s a running joke: there’s so many of them, maybe we should cut to the chase and have a 44-member game of Survivor,” said Carroll, the former budget chief and suburban centre-leftist, who’s one of the few to have actually declared. Meanwhile, at an event last week, Vaughan was busy sardonically handing out buttons he’d made, so that half the room ended up badged “I’m Running For Mayor Too!”
For as long as Rob Ford has been in power, the conversation about the next election has been about how many people will run against him, instead of what they’ll be running on. The man is so polarizing that the question isn’t whether an opponent can draw support from his fervent base, but how his opposition will split their vote.
In this latest poll’s scenarios, for instance, Chow would beat Ford and a range of competitors. Without her in the race though, Ford would beat a range of three- or four-way splits against him. The poll’s results are exasperating in their attempts to puzzle through all the permutations: Chow, Ford, Vaughan, and Carroll; Chow, Ford, Tory, Vaughan and Carroll; Chow, Chow, Chow, eggs and Chow; Ford, Vaughan, eggs, sausage and Chow, and so on.
These are not the makings of a fruitful conversation. Canadians like to grouse about our first-past-the-post elections, but have been reluctant to abandon their simplicity. Four provincial referenda on full-scale reworkings of provincial governments have failed. In Toronto, though, a more manageable change might be in the works.
In Toronto, Dave Meslin, a kinetic, well-known public advocate, has spent the past year lining up support for ranked ballots, a system that could bring election results more in line with what the majority of voters would prefer. Meslin has assembled a roster of city councillors who’ve endorsed his drive, including some of Rob Ford’s staunch conservative allies, who’ve taken both Meslin and and his proposal to their town halls, where the idea seems to have been warmly received. The logistics of preparing for an election has ruled out 2014, but in order to prod the provincial government into rewriting election laws to open the door for 2018, Meslin and his allies hope to see a council vote that will get the ball rolling this coming spring.
It works like this: Instead of voting for one candidate, voters would instead rank the candidates in order of preference. When the votes are counted, if a single candidate has 50% of the first-choice vote, they win. If nobody reaches 50%, then the last-place finisher is dropped from the ballot, and their supporters’ second-choice votes are distributed. The votes are counted again, and the process repeats itself until someone has secured 50% of the vote.
In this way, a broader consensus is needed to get elected; strategic voting becomes a secondary consideration; and candidates have more incentive to be less polarizing. After all, a highly divisive figure makes a good first choice for their supporters, but is unlikely to be a popular second choice. While our current system favours those who can divide their enemies, ranked ballots tilt the playing field towards moderates and coalitions.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about ranked ballots is how unremarkable they are. They’re in widespread use in cities across the United States, including Minneapolis and San Francisco. Brian Tanguay, a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that ranked ballots were common in Manitoba until the mid-1950s. The upcoming federal Liberal leadership race will be decided by ranked ballots. Australia has used it nationally for almost a century, and has yet to dissolve.
For all that, the system is hardly a slam-dunk amongst students of electoral reform, who have been discussing the merits of various voting systems for decades. (Among other pontificators, Winston Churchill famously slammed it in 1931 for deciding elections on “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates” – namely, the last-place finishers. But then, Churchill also called the status quo a provider of “fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”) And today, some voting-reform advocates see it as an inadequate half-measure that will hold back progress towards truly proportional representation.
But if it’s a cautions step, then so be it. It’s acheivable. There’s little suggestion that, for all the ranked ballot’s quirks, it’d be a step backwards. It might even whet voters appetites for more ambitious schemes, such as moving to a system of at-large councillors, like in Vancouver. The ranked ballot’s draw to the centre may not appeal to radicals of any stripe, but Toronto—jolted by its ongoing experiment in gonzo mayoring—has acquired a taste for conciliation. Let’s not let the moment pass.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
Constitutional scholar Peter Russell condemns Dalton McGuinty’s prorogation.
To tell us, as Mr. McGuinty did Monday, that he asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature “to allow these discussions with our labour partners and the opposition parties to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature” is to show contempt for parliamentary democracy.
When parliamentary democracy is functioning, the great issues of the day are thrashed out in the legislature that the people have elected and to which the government is responsible. Debate in any parliamentary chamber can no doubt become raucous and full of rancour. But we didn’t fight two world wars for a democracy in which the governing party can shut down the elected legislature to escape the heat of parliamentary debate…
When parliamentary democracy is reduced to whatever is convenient for the governing party, we are coming very close to losing it.
Mr. Russell ventures that Mr. McGuinty’s prorogation is worse, in at least one respect, than Stephen Harper’s 2008 prorogation.
One of Mr. McGuinty’s cabinet ministers acknowledges “discomfort.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 2, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 36 Comments
Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne criticizes the federal government’s response to the Attawapiskat crisis. And in an interview with APTN, Ms. Wynne says she can’t get Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to answer her calls.
Minister Duncan ran into NDP MP Charlie Angus yesterday at the CBC offices in Ottawa.
The minister insisted his department did not have “an awareness of what was in the community until a few days after Oct. 28.” But he went on to tell van Dusen that the feds had “people in the community” since April. ”I don’t understand,” she interrupted. “You said you didn’t know until Oct 28.” Duncan shot back with: “They did not identify there was an issue — and neither did Charlie Angus, the representative of the area, who is not shy about talking about Attawapiskat.”
If the latter was a dig at Angus’ abundant media availability, then Duncan was repaid in more than equal measure when he attempted to make a break from the interview. Hustled off by handlers —’We gave you the time. We have to go’ — Duncan made it down one stairwell before bumping into the man himself. Angus greeted him with a hearty, “Mr. Duncan! We’ve got an emergency in Attawapiskat. You’ll know now. Just so you don’t get caught flat-footed.”
Full video here.