Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ontario Election: Guelph Update

I unfortunately missed the all-candidates debate on social policy last week in Guelph, as a nasty cold took hold of me. I had been looking forward to checking out the candidates in person. From what a good friend and colleague told me though, the NDP candidate, James Gordon, acquitted himself very well and was solid on the issues. I'll admit that my initial impression of him was not a great one (receiving emails about summers of listening and sending messages through song irritated my pragmatic and sober self). She wasn't terribly impressed by any of the other candidates, including Liberal incumbent Liz Sandals, who struck her as bored. I can't say that I was terribly surprised by this, as Sandals spent most of the 2007 debate that I attended seemingly working on other paperwork. She has always struck me as somewhat bureaucratic in nature - competent, but not all that inspiring in person.

In any case, with the election a mere week away, I have no real idea how the riding is likely to go. Last time out, it was mainly a Liberal-Conservative fight, with the Green candidate sneaking into third place above the NDP. I get the sense that the NDP are fighting harder this time, at least in my left-of-centre downtown neighbourhood. Indeed, to look at signs on lawns near my home, you'd be hard-pressed to consider the Conservative candidate a threat. This is reflected in the literature as well - so far we've had 2 NDP drops and 5 Liberal ones, with nothing in print from the other two major parties (although Green signs abound, since we live so close to their campaign office). I rather suspect that there is some rather specific neighbourhood targetting going on, with the Conservatives focussing their energies on suburban Guelph, especially the south end, with the Greens and NDP hitting hard downtown, and the Liberals spread more widely across the city. I suspect that this will once again be a close race, and I'm not feeling all that confident, a week out, to predict the outcome, especially with things seeming so fluid overall in the province.

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At 12:54 pm, Blogger Jae/Jennie said...

I didn't comment about your reaction to the song thing at the time (I just privately rolled my eyes), but now that you're referring to the way you reacted as 'pragmatic', I have to take issue. There is absolutely nothing pragmatic about hearing about a particular tactic for getting a message out and knee-jerking into a position of not voting for the candidate who used that tactic. Pragmatism is not knee-jerky, it is contemplative, thoughtful, unemotional, and empirical.

At 1:11 pm, Blogger Matt said...

Jennie, I didn't say that the way that I reacted was pragmatic, but more that it's how I consider myself. And more to the point, how I'd like organizations like political parties to sometimes act. So when a political party like the NDP tries to figure out how to win a rather fragmented riding, with a pretty sizeable conservative and centrist population, and opt to run a folksinger as their candidate - and then that candidate proceeds to use tactics and send messages that suggest that they are not a serious candidate - /that/ rubs against my conceptions of what a pragmatic course of action might be. Maybe I'll be proven wrong on election day, and I'll grant that what my colleague told me about how he handled himself in the debate suggests greater depth. But the initial series of messages from the candidate, which included the "sending a message through song" email that prompted my earlier post, gave me little reason to take him seriously. And in a riding where the NDP ran fourth last time around, switching my vote to someone who appeared to be doing little to counter the "fringe candidate" impression didn't seem like an awfully pragmatic decision to be making, with the Conservatives nipping at the Liberal heels.

At 7:18 pm, Blogger Jae/Jennie said...

Oh, I'm sure your other reasons for voting or not voting for particular candidates are sound (and pragmatic). I just thought it was silly to get your back up so much over one particular campaign tactic that you would write a blog post about it that went on and on about how the NDP had lost your vote as a result.

I mean, candidates use tactics to try to win votes all the time that I don't particularly care for, but I still maintain that any good pragmatist isn't going to base their decision on just one tactic. So no matter who you end up voting for, I'm glad you're reconsidering that knee-jerk rejection.

At 10:39 am, Anonymous Andrea said...

I also find that the candidate's approach of reaching out to voters through song drives me nuts. That one tactic is not enough to sway my vote, of course, but I have to agree to with Matt that an impression builds after watching several tactics in action. I also watched the NDP candidate's jokey and vague presentation at the Guelph-Wellington Food Roundtable discussion on September 27th. An impression is forming, and it isn't good.

At 10:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry all I know nothing about Gordon's music
What I do know is that he is sorely misinformed on the York Lands both the history of the project and the Men's Club proposal. The fact he announced it publicly as as an (environmental) Disney World North was shamefully misleading.
You have to question Gordon's credibility on this issue. What others? Do the research.


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