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2014 Ontario General Election

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Edward Campbell

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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's hold on power is under attack and NDP leader Andrea Horwath is finding it, I think, harder and harder to keep Ms Wynne in office, especially given the fact that she is the most popular of the three leaders (Horwath: 32%, Wynne: 31%, and  Hudak: 28%). Now, in this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail we learn that the Liberals are going to try to sideline the NDP in the next election campaign because, in fact, they fear the NDP more than the Conservatives:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/liberals-hope-to-fixate-voters-on-an-ndp-free-dichotomy/article17820860/#dashboard/follows/
gam-masthead.png

Liberals' secret playbook targets NDP as greatest threat to re-election

ADRIAN MORROW
TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Apr. 04 2014

The Ontario Liberals see the NDP as the greatest threat to their re-election chances, and are crafting a campaign strategy designed to drive down the left-wing party’s vote and frame the ballot question as a choice between Premier Kathleen Wynne and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

This is the Grits’ secret playbook, discussed at a closed-door briefing of hundreds of party organizers two weekends ago, a blueprint for holding on to power in a crucial election that could come this spring. The Globe and Mail obtained a record of the briefing, which identifies NDP Leader Andrea Horwath as a formidable opponent and Mr. Hudak as a leader easily portrayed as a right-wing radical. The Liberals’ own vulnerability, the briefing says: their spending scandals.

“Our challenge in the campaign are the New Democrats,” campaign co-chair David Herle told the March 22 session at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto. “[They are] eroding our ability to beat Conservatives.”

The Liberal game plan is virtually the mirror image of the NDP’s – sources in that party say they hope to win by siphoning off soft Grit support – setting up a hard fight for left-leaning voters.

In the briefing, Mr. Herle told organizers that recent market research shows most Progressive Conservative supporters are solidly committed to their party, while there is far more fluidity among potential Liberal and NDP voters. Especially worrying to the Grits is the NDP’s popular Ms. Horwath, whom Mr. Herle dubbed “a force to be reckoned with.” Even in ridings where the NDP has no chance of winning, he said, Ms. Horwath’s party could peel away enough Liberal supporters to allow PC candidates to win.

The Liberals will fight back, Mr. Herle said, characterizing the NDP as incompetent on economic matters and hostile toward business.

The first two weeks of the writ, in particular, will be a fight to determine the ballot question, and he warned organizers to brace for opposition attacks over the government’s past scandals. In some cases, he said, the Liberals will simply have to concede they have made mistakes while in office and try to change the focus of the campaign.

The Grits’ best play, Mr. Herle said, is to frame the debate around the issue of leadership, where they believe Ms. Wynne has an edge. They will sell her as authentic and likeable, and someone with big ideas – the new Ontario pension system and a major infrastructure-building plan, for instance. The ultimate goal, he said, is to set up a ballot question that paints Ms. Wynne as a job creator with an ambitious agenda against Mr. Hudak as a radical who will cut health care and education.

Mr. Herle declined to be interviewed, writing in an e-mail: “I don’t believe in talking publicly about strategy, but I am looking forward to being part of a campaign that will highlight the strong, principled leadership of Kathleen Wynne and her plans for building a stronger future for Ontario.”

Campaign director Patricia Sorbara, who co-hosted the session with Mr. Herle, did not respond to a request for comment.

The NDP appears ready for the fight. Two insiders said the party believes it can replicate the pattern of its by-election victories over the past year on a broader scale. In those races, Grit support slid in the first two weeks and the NDP and Tories fought it out to the finish. In a general election campaign, said one source, the NDP believes much of the Liberals’ support will melt away early.

Much of the Tories’ plan, one insider said, involves motivating supporters to get to the polls. In the last election, many simply stayed home. The PCs are planning a mighty ground war with sophisticated computer software to target voters and key demographics.

The Liberals will fight them on that front with such new tools as “poll-by-poll ID reports,” Ms. Sorbara told the briefing. The ID reports are a database that ranks polls within each riding based on the number of previously identified Liberal supporters in them. When canvassing, local organizers must target each poll until they have identified as many supporters in it as the database shows. This will also allow campaign officials to centrally track the progress of individual organizers on the ground.

Also on the organizational side, Mr. Herle said the Grits are beating their fundraising targets every month. Ms. Sorbara, meanwhile, said much of the campaign infrastructure is already in place, and two organizers are already drawing up detailed plans for the first 10 days of the campaign. The party is still more than 40 candidates away from having a full slate nominated, she said.

And whether the election happens after this spring’s budget or the government survives another year, Ms. Sorbara had a blunt message for party faithful. “Brace yourself,” she said. “It’s coming.”


Given that Tim Hudak will - he'll have to - oppose the budget no matter what is in it, the fate of Premier Wynne's government rests with Ms. Horwath. There is, certainly, time to go to the polls in the Spring of 2014 without interfering with the municipal elections which will come in the fall.

My personal take, despite being a card carrying Conservative, is that I don't think Tim Hudak will make a good premier; I will be very happy to be proven wrong. But I also think that Premier Wynne and the Liberals have lost the confidence of the people, or deserve to have done so, in any event. But I doubt the NDP has the sorts of policies that Ontario needs ... not now, not, in my opinion ever.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Much as I would love to see Premier Wynne-McGuinty gone, there really is no one else.  Every time Mr. Hudak talks  I cringe, I've never really cared for Ms. Horvath, I just don't see palatable options right now.

Get rid of Mr. Hudak, and select a leader with a little something more up his sleeve than his arm, and I'd be very easy too convince to vote Conservative.
 

a_majoor

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Like everything else, it is the least worst choice that is on the table. The OPC has gambled on the idea that the Liberals and Liberal-NDP coalition would be discredited in the eyes of the voters and collapse on their own. They certainly did not bank on the fact they were actively fighting an election campaign against the Public Service Unions (through the "Working Families" front group) and the crony capitalist clients on the "Green" side who would fight to the last taxpayer to keep the Liberals in power.

Sadly, the OPC does not seem to have done much in the way of effective battlespace preparation, and despite the plethora of (actually quite good) policy platform "white papers", I doubt very many people would be able to actually say what the OPC plans to do if/when they are elected. Since Hudak does not have the media following of the Young Dauphin, the fact that he isn't able to effectively communicate the OPC message is a real killer (the media of course does not cover or even care that the Young Dauphin has no message either...)
 

Crispy Bacon

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There's no question we'll have a Conservative Premier very soon.  The Liberals long ago lost their moral authority to govern and their entire decade in office has been a complete mess.

The question isn't if, but when we'll have a Premier Hudak.  Hudak's leadership has been challenged twice and both times he came back with support from his party in the high 70s.  In a minority government and with the budget coming up, now is not the time for the PCs to dump their leader and to try to find someone else to take on the McGuinty-Wynne legacy.

I'm guessing we'll see the 2014-2015 budget opposed by the Conservatives and some new tax be implemented at the 11th hour to gain the support of the NDP.  Then they'll take a break until the municipal elections are done in September and get ready for the 2015-2016 budget.  At that time, in my opinion, is when the government will fall for a spring 2015 election.  (Either that, or if the Liberal government does go its full term, Ontario would see a provincial and a federal election in October 2015.)

Hudak's campaigns and ideas haven't been without issue, but they're a breath of fresh air over this corrupt mess...
 

ModlrMike

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God, or whomever/whatever save Ontario from Rae Days round 2.
 

mariomike

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ModlrMike said:
God, or whomever/whatever save Ontario from Rae Days round 2.

I remember Round 1. Every Paramedic on a "Rae Day" was replaced by another at time-and-a-half.



 

Bruce Monkhouse

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mariomike said:
I remember Round 1. Every Paramedic on a "Rae Day" was replaced by another at time-and-a-half.

Yup, we cleaned up in Corrections. We tried to explain it but they knew best.............
 

Retired AF Guy

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And things just got a little more complicated. Premier Wynne has served PC Leader Tim Hudak and one of his MPPs with a libel notice. Details here reproduced under the usual provisions of the Copyright Act.

Wynne serves libel notice to Hudak, MacLeod over gas plant accusations

Published Friday, April 4, 2014 8:17PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 4, 2014 8:46PM EDT

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has served Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and PC MPP Lisa MacLeod with a libel notice over accusations of gas plant wrongdoing. A spokesperson for the premier’s office confirmed the legal action in an email Friday evening.

“Premier Wynne gave the opportunity for Mr. Hudak to pull back from his unfounded statement,” the spokesperson wrote. “Unfortunately, he did not.”

The notice of libel comes days after new allegations from Ontario Provincial Police that former premier Dalton McGuinty’s chief of staff hired a staffer’s boyfriend to wipe out government hard drives that contained information about the $1.1 billion gas plant scandal.

Wynne said she did not order anyone to destroy the information.

Wynne’s press secretary told CTV Toronto’s Paul Bliss Friday that no public funding is being used for the legal action.

Article Link
 

a_majoor

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Constant repetition of the gas plant scandal should be the last thing the Ontario Liberals should want.

The fact that Wynne was a senior minister of the McGuinty government and head of the re-election committee when by odd coincidence the gas plants were cancelled should raise questions in people's minds, and the subsequent actions of the government and party are equaly...questionable.
 

SeaKingTacco

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I think that if I were a Ontario Conservative Party tactician, I might just roll the bones and go to court on this one. Discovery should be just fascinating, as the Liberals are forced to produce all sorts of documents. :pop:

And then then trial gets to drag on for months. Even if Wynne wins, her party gets clobbered in the process.
 

Fishbone Jones

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I don't think she has much of a case. All the CP has said is that she was Premier when this was still going on. In fact the master password was still active until just befoe the story broke.

While she was Premier.
 

pbi

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Thucydides said:
Constant repetition of the gas plant scandal should be the last thing the Ontario Liberals should want.

The fact that Wynne was a senior minister of the McGuinty government and head of the re-election committee when by odd coincidence the gas plants were cancelled should raise questions in people's minds, and the subsequent actions of the government and party are equaly...questionable.

I have to agree. I can't see how dragging this filthy mess out in public is going to help the Liberals in any way, not to mention the unwelcome distraction and diversion of effort it will cause Wynne at a critical time.

But, just for my own education: if Hudak made these allegations in Parliamentary procedure, isn't he protected from libel by the priveliges of the House? Just asking.
 

Crispy Bacon

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pbi said:
But, just for my own education: if Hudak made these allegations in Parliamentary procedure, isn't he protected from libel by the priveliges of the House? Just asking.

The first allegations were indeed made in the House, but he repeated them to the press outside the House, where parliamentary privilege does not apply:

“We now know that the coverup and criminal destruction of documents and emails took place in Kathleen Wynne’s office under her watch as premier,” adding that she “possibly ordered the destruction of documents.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/30/wynne-threatens-legal-action-against-hudak-over-claim-she-possibly-ordered-alleged-gas-plant-coverup/

Does that sound like libel to me? I don't think so.  Is it a huge strategic mistake to sue your opponent for talking about your government's largest scandal to date, meaning a lot more documents and testimony will come into the public light?  Absolutely.
 

pbi

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Crispy Bacon said:
... Is it a huge strategic mistake to sue your opponent for talking about your government's largest scandal to date, meaning a lot more documents and testimony will come into the public light?  Absolutely.

Agreed. I think she will be very sorry for this. It's ironic in a way, because I think that she was, to some degree at least, willing to admit that the gas plant thing was a ferocious screw up and that the culture which produced it was wrong. Probably too late now.
 

a_majoor

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And the fun begins:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/04/08/it-official-directed-by-cabinet-office-to-give-special-admin-rights-to-top-dalton-mcguinty-aide/

IT official ‘directed by cabinet office’ to give special admin rights to top Dalton McGuinty aide

Keith Leslie, Canadian Press | April 8, 2014 9:11 PM ET

TORONTO –  The Ontario government’s top IT official testified Tuesday that he had been directed by cabinet office to give special computer administrative rights to a top aide to former premier Dalton McGuinty.

Chief information officer David Nicholl told the legislature’s justice committee that he didn’t have the authority to give Mr. McGuinty’s chief of staff, David Livingston, the special access to computers in the premier’s office.

“I was directed by cabinet office to proceed with implementing the admin rights for premier’s office computers, and to expect a call from the premier’s chief of staff,” said Mr. Nicholl. “Typically, the control for all of the PCs in the premier’s office — that’s why I don’t have the authority to touch them — would always go through the CAO within cabinet office.”

Cabinet office supports the work of the premier and the cabinet and has government-wide responsibilities.


Related
Robyn Urback: What, exactly, was Kathleen Wynne hoping to accomplish with a libel notice to Tim Hudak?
Hudak ‘not backing down’ after Wynne slapped Ontario PC leader with libel notice over gas plant remarks
‘Gas plants committee’ fails to find smoking gun — but Wynne still ‘many months’ from being entirely in the clear
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The OPP is investigating possible breach of trust charges for the alleged deletion of correspondence on the Liberals’ decisions to cancel two gas plants prior to the 2011 election, at a cost of $1.1-billion.

In his third appearance at the committee hearings into cancelled gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, Mr. Nicholl said Mr. Livingston had told him he wanted the computer hard drives wiped before Kathleen Wynne took over as premier on Feb. 11, 2013.

“He first requested information about decommissioning email accounts for departing members of the premier’s staff,” said Mr. Nicholl. “He then asked for administration rights to PCs used by staff in the premier’s office to enable the cleanup of hard drives prior to the new team coming in.”

Mr. Livingston had been warned that it would be inappropriate to delete email accounts when they could contain gas plant documents requested by a legislative committee, he added.

“I received a couple of emails from cabinet office legal counsel with the legal memo that I [was] to both read out to the chief of staff [Mr. Livingston] and then to actually send to the chief of staff,” Mr. Nicholl testified.

Mr. Nicholl also said he did not know Laura Miller, Mr. Livingston’s deputy, or her boyfriend, Peter Faist, the outside IT expert that the OPP say was brought in by Mr. Livingston and given the all-access administrator’s rights to computers in the premier’s office.

Police seized 24 hard drives that had been removed from computers in the premier’s office but so far experts have only been able to retrieve data from four of them. All four were accessed with the special administrator’s password on Feb. 6 and 7, before Ms. Wynne was sworn in. The administrator’s password was valid until March 20, 2013, but the computer techs can’t say yet if it was used after Feb. 7.

Mr. Nicholl also denied having a long-standing friendship with Mr. Livingston, saying the two had attended some of the same meetings when they both worked for TD Bank 22 years ago but hadn’t remained in touch or ever been friends.

The New Democrats said Mr. Livingston wanted the hard drives in the premier’s office wiped clean and knew the unusual request would be considered because he was Mr. McGuinty’s top aide.

“Mr. Livingston took actions, political in nature, that were very outside of the normal actions that one should be taking,” said NDP critic Jagmeet Singh. “It was very clear that Mr. Livingston wanted that password and went to whatever steps necessary to get that, and he was very persistent.”

The Progressive Conservatives complained about inconsistencies in Mr. Nicholl’s testimony about the granting of the administrator’s access to computers and his statement to OPP investigators, and cautioned Mr. Nicholl against perjury in his testimony.

“He’s entitled to his own account, but it is inconsistent with what we’ve been told by the OPP,” said PC energy critic Lisa MacLeod.

The veteran civil servant insisted he was telling the truth, but admitted he was unprepared for his police interview and had made mistakes.

“Please do not assume. I am not perjuring myself here in any way, Ms. MacLeod, not at all,” said Mr. Nicholl.

It was a contempt of parliament motion based on the Liberals’ initial refusal to turn over all the gas plant documents that prompted Mr. McGuinty to resign in October 2012 and prorogue the legislature for four months until Ms. Wynne was picked as the new party leader and premier.

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner also lashed out at the governing Liberals for what she said was the illegal deletion of gas plant emails in a special report last summer.
 

pbi

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What is it with our politicians in this country?

It doesn't seem to matter which party or which Province. They're like dead fish: after they've been around for a while, they start to stink. Is it a sense of entitlement, or a lack of effective checks and balances, or just that rotten people like to get into politics? Their arrogant certainty that they will get away with it is almost breathtaking.

Maybe it's time to bring in recall legislation in Ontario similar to what BC and some US states have, so the public doesn't have to watch helplessly as these messes play out for years between elections.
 

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Stumbled upon this www.yourbillion.ca via a story on Sun News.  Very interesting and enlightening.  The gist, apparently last month, a concerned citizen (or group of them), did a little viral campaign in downtown Toronto, showing people what a physical representation of $1 Billion (in $100 bills) actually looks like.  The link goes straight to their 3rd youtube video showing people's shock and disgust at how it was wasted (gas plants), their second video, them getting their heads full of ideas of what they would do with that cash, setting them up for the reveal.

I like this.  I think by and large the apathy among potential voters, is they have no physical concept of such a large sum of money.  When politicians start talking about million/billion dollar spending or waste people's eyes glaze over, for them it's all abstract. Make it physical and people can begin to appreciate the waste, as now they have something to compare it with (their own paycheques).
 

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pbi said:
What is it with our politicians in this country?

It doesn't seem to matter which party or which Province. They're like dead fish: after they've been around for a while, they start to stink. Is it a sense of entitlement, or a lack of effective checks and balances, or just that rotten people like to get into politics? Their arrogant certainty that they will get away with it is almost breathtaking.

Maybe it's time to bring in recall legislation in Ontario similar to what BC and some US states have, so the public doesn't have to watch helplessly as these messes play out for years between elections.

Maybe we treat them like fruit and rotate the stock.  No consecutive terms in office?
 

a_majoor

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Infanteer said:
Maybe we treat them like fruit and rotate the stock.  No consecutive terms in office?

Sadly, solutions like that overlook the ingenuity of politicians. In California, there are term limits for the State legislature, which prompts politicians to move from the Statehouse to a seat in one of the 500+ government and quasi government agencies which blight the California landscape and economy. If they are "lucky", they may return to the Statehouse in a matter of years.

The ancient Greeks understood this, and tried to get around it by selecting juries by lottery (juries not only passed judgment on civil and criminal cases, but also on proposed laws), while membership in the Bolule (the executive body which set agendas for the juries) was limited to a single year long term during a person's lifetime. Of course there were structural weaknesses in this construct as well, the Strategos could be continually re elected by the Assembly, and the Assembly could be easily swayed by demagogues who knew how to hit emotional triggers (the Assembly voted to execute all the men in the aftermath of the Mytilenean revolt, but rescinded the vote the next day, after a night of reflection).

So we need not only a way of keeping the McGuintiy's, Wynnes and Rae's from overstaying their welcome, we also need to keep them from "slipping in the back door" as well; a much more difficult proposition.

edit to correct autocorrect....
 

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Infanteer said:
Maybe we treat them like fruit and rotate the stock.  No consecutive terms in office?

Then you wind up with the bureaucracy, as the only constant, running the show.


Imagine if every two years you removed all the officers from a unit and replaced them with new ones, with minimal handover.  That's what you're advocating.
 
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