Opening Statement



Friday, 14 February 2014

By Election Results: There's Got To Be A Mourning After!

Ongoing Teacher February News + views links are @ There!
My Teacher + Union blog acronym dictionary is @ Here!
Election news coverage up until the this blog are @ There! 
Regular Teacher February News + views links are @ Here!


NDP Wayne gates breaks OLP's 10 year hold on Niagara Falls!

RESULTS:

Niagara Falls: NDP=40% / PC=36% / OLP=18%
Thornhill: PC=49% / OLP=40% / NDP= 7%

We know the winners. These are approximate percentages. Elections Ontario is still tracking the final count. You can see and crunch the exact numbers @ The Elections Ontario Website

Here's one way of looking at the seat results in term of seat losses or gains at Queens Park [QP]: NDP +1/ PC 0/ OLP -1


NEWS ANALYSIS:

The by election losses are a double whammy for the Wynne OLP @ The Globe + Mail

Two crushing defeats do not bode well for the Wynne Liberals @ Canadian Press

TVO's Steve Paikin claims we've seen this movie before @ TVO

TVO Agenda's Story of the Week will include a by election discussion between Piya Chattopadhyay + the Toronto Star's Martin Regg Cohen. This blog is not in the business of selling online subscriptions for the Toronto Star. I've used up my 20 free links this month. However, Cohen can be quite insightful at times. If you'd like to watch, details on the upcoming show are @ TVO Agenda Week in Review

My by election coverage up to and including last nights leader victory/ concession speeches is @ HERE!

THE MOURNING AFTER:

Hudak Press Conference [10:30 am]: An angry, quite melodramatic Provincial Conservative [PC] Party leader Tim Hudak, wearing the best thin veneer of faux choirboy despair throws his hands in the air. He declares the PCs would've won in Niagara Falls if it weren't for the big unions. He announces a new Working Family Exposed website. It will expose "Working Families", a union elite conspiracy whom he claims are running the political show in Ontario. They only want the OLP +NDP in their back pockets so they can make more money for themselves and workers. As a result Niagara Falls, which is a PC riding [in his words] was not an equal playing field or else the PC's would have won.


How much does the PC party hate workers + their families?

An incredulous reporter jumps on Hudak's argument right away. He points out that Hudak is just using this post election media debriefing to promote a new website so he can launch another attack on labour. Didn't this backfire on him all ready during the by elections? He created an anti union "Right to Work" issue, or "whatever" he "wants to call it", as the reporter notes, and it backfired on him last night. Voters did not respond positively. It even badly alienated many of his own party supporters. Hudak adamantly rejects this argument; "No, no no ....."

Analysis: It would seem "political lobbys" and "special interest groups" are okay to Tim Hudak as long as they are big business + conservative. I have to laugh at Hudak's apparent dismay. His cartoon portrayal of working family issues as just an attempt to make more money for the big union bosses and greedy workers is ludicrous. It will appeal to his hardcore neo con supporters, but they support him all ready. Hudak's R2W4L [Right 2 Work 4 Less] has not proven to be a likely provincial election winner in gaining enough of the soft vote to break through the 38% glass ceiling he has all ready long reached within the polls. Hopefully his numbers will continue to bounce back and forth beneath that ceiling further exacerbating the frustrating divide within his party ranks. It seems unlikely he will make a breakthrough with his current anti union bogeyman path of attack in order to be able to form the government. That is an incredibly pigheaded, obstinate course of action to pursue in a possible spring election against a Liberal Party who's shelf life has long expired, and is facing a provincial election that could well be his for the taking.

I was glad to see the unions seize the agenda and set the tone for Hudak's "Right 2 Work 4 Less" [R2W4L] issue, rather than be in a position of reacting to such issues as has usually been the case in the past. It has obviously been very successful. If in doubt, just look at how royally p.o'ed Hudak is at being beat at his own game!

Bravo! However, one must be careful. If Hudak is smart he will find a way to rejig this debate for the next provincial election. If not it will continue to severely split and handicap his party from within. Moreover the R2W4L issue does not look like an election vote winner for the Hudak PC's. This wouldn't be the first time the Ontario PCs have shot themselves in the foot! Or snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, so to speak!  Remember though: the by elections were merely but a dry run for the big provincial one that will be sooner or later coming up! 

MY coverage of the Right 2 Work 4 Less issue as it unfolded during the by elections is @ HERE!


[11:25 am]. New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath's media debriefing: She provides an overview of the party emphasis on creating jobs for working people.  Andrea attacks the Liberal policies, and notes they reward Corporate CEO's by helping them to make profits while the average family suffers. The needs of working families should be at the centre of the province's focus. Niagara needs jobs. That is what the NDP will focus on in the riding, and across the province.

A reporter notes the NDP Niagara win was slim, despite the help of union canvassers. "Horwathmania" is evidently not sweeping Ontario. Will she prop up the Liberal government again in the spring budget? Is a provincial election the best bet for the NDP? Horwath argues she will not focus on election fever like the other parties but upon the needs of the people of the province. She wants to see what she can do for them with the spring budget rather than speculate on a non confidence vote.

Analysis: By elections are the NDP's forte and Niagara Falls has turned out to be no exception. It's extremely high unemployment rate, the highest in the province I believe, makes the riding choice NDP pickings. Hudak can think what he will, the riding was held by the OLP for the last 10 years. After all is said and done, neither the PC's nor the OLP could win the day here.

It is also interesting how Hudak's R2W4L policy galvanized union NDP support with the full blast of venom thrown at us here. The shift towards supporting the NDP in London + Waterloo last year also readily emphasizes how badly the OLP has alienated it's once loyal union support. Let's face it, we got screwed with the MOU, and there has been little change since, despite all the fine talk. The 2014 provincial contract offer is tucked away hidden until the provincial election prospects seem clear. The MOE has all but ignored the school boards when they refuse to implement the terms of the MOU, especially at the Catholic schools.

Obviously McGuinty took a gamble with the MOU in 2012. It behooves the teacher unions, IMHO, to realize that the OLP needs us as much as we need them, if re-elected to keep the neo con PC's at bay. If it's chicken they want to play, well that should go both ways. The teacher unions, OECTA in particular, need to show more spine and only endorse NDP candidates whenever an NDP win seems possible. At best we need to keep our fighter jets on deck, so to speak, by not attacking the OLP in a no win NDP situation.

For what its worth, on my blogsite I would support the Doug Little Report provincial election strategy proposal, along similar lines, with the possible exception being that I don't think the teacher unions should endorse the OLP at all, though I can see where that might not be wise in a very close OLP PC fight. I will still want to consider that some more. Any constructive Comments are much appreciated. In the meantime you can read the Doug Little Report over while carefully considering it yourself @ Doug Little Report

[11:35am] Premier Wynne's is questioned at a media scrum after an Ottawa aerospace plant funding announcement: Wynne claims the "dynamics" in each riding last night were different, each has "their own reality". She understands voters "appetite for change", the Ontario Liberal Party [OLP] has been in office for 10 years. She repeats her mantra from last night's concession speech in Thornhill; "I am the change." Voters will see the OLP's new plan and trajectory with businesses and communities across Ontario in the next general election.


Kathleen: No really, nobody was watching or cared!

Wynne is questioned about whether she is wearing rose coloured glasses. The OLP lost 2 by elections last night. She claims she is a realist. Last night she visited the losing candidates, and thanked them for their terrific team job in continuing to implement the new party plan. Not everybody was watching the by elections. Most people in Ontario are more concerned about her efforts to create jobs like she is doing this morning. Her job is to work to make their lives better by helping provide more jobs, as in today's case in the Ottawa aerospace industry.


 
Wynne is questioned about why she is referring to a general election. She replies that's what she is always being asked about by the media. By elections are not the same as a general provincial election, so she can't extrapolate about the results of last nights vote. The OLP is in a minority government  position. Many didn't think she'd still be around a year ago, but here she is. She will continue to focus on the needs of Ontarians.

Analysis: This truly is the by election "mourning after". When I first met Kathleen Wynne during her first successful 2003 OLP Don Valley West campaign it was my opinion that she could have pretty much as easily run for the OLP or the NDP. I do believe she is a pragmatist, and for a long time, as assistant to and as our Education Minister, a lot of good work was accomplished with our teachers. In relative terms, until 2012 it might even be considered a golden period, but no more.

Premier Wynne's mantra that "I am change" is a pretty tall order, not one that I would doubt in and of itself. However, the bottom line is that she is stuck with a train wreck of a party. It is most unfortunate that she is left holding the dreck, and I doubt she has much wiggle room, even within her own party ranks with it's various competing interests and their often quite contentious "advisors".  

Quite frankly I don't see any concrete OLP "new plan and trajectory". With the teacher unions it is still, a year after she won the OLP leadership race, all words. In today's comments Kathleen engaged in a lot of platitudes about voters seeing all the good work she wishes to do. Unless the PC's screw up, that will not win her the next election. Dirty fighting might well not win the PC's a majority government. Nor will being seen as a good person, however true that might well be, keep her in power.

A by election is not necessarily a good indicator of a parties strength, but in politics perceptions are reality as far as most voters are concerned. After three bruising rounds of by election losses, fought alone without her teacher union support, the writing should be clearly visible on the wall for the OLP to see.

The teacher unions have little option but to play hardball with Premier Wynne and the OLP. Although the risks are high, for both sides, its high time to suck it up and not accept any more fig leaves or future promises.  IMHO its always better to go down fighting and take an honour guard along rather than grovel and kiss boot. That time is now upon us. The ultimate question of success though will be whether all the teacher unions have the fortitude and spine to take on the Liberals at their own game and see it through. Do they?

Neither the PC's, the NDP or the OLP have very much chance of forming a government majority at this point in time, nor as the polls suggest has this been the case for quite some time. If its a minority government that Ontario is stuck with then so be it. That is not necessarily a bad thing, far from it. On the other hand any further support for the OLP, as things now stand for the conceivable future, most certainly is. Andrea Horwath seems to understand and use the OLP's desperate situation quite well. It's high time all the teacher unions do too!

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