Organizer Susan Fletcher and moderator Neil Sinclair did a fantastic job – well organized and well run. You can meet the candidates at this account of the March 1, 2012 Toronto Danforth debate. A similar account is here. Will mix some of my own thoughts/observations with the “Tweets of the evening”.
Ten of the eleven candidates were present and participated. The Libertarian Party candidate did not appear. His absence was a disappointment for those who believe that there may be too much government in Canada. In any case, we were left with ten candidates who (to varying degrees) seem to believe that government is the solution to many of the world’s problems.
So, some impressions – nothing but opinions. I invite your comments.
1. The Most Memorable Candidate – When it comes to products, it is possible for consumers to have too much choice. People are only able to concentrate on two or three options. My guess is that, although all candidates had equal time, only a small number will be remembered by any given person. If a candidate is remembered, he (or she) moves on to the next round in the mind of the voter. The clear – and I mean very clear – winner in this category was Reverend Dorian Baxter – President of the Progressive Canadian Party. The man was not just good – but exceptionally good. I actually felt sorry for Craig Scott and Andrew Keyes having to speak before and after him. Dorian Baxter reiterated his pledge to return 50% of his MP’s salary to the riding. (No other candidate offered to do the same.) Reverend Baxter will live on to the next debate. There are of course others who will be remembered. Who they will be is less clear. There is no correlation between “most memorable” and getting the most votes.
2. The Most Honest Candidate – I expect most people will not agree with me on this, but: I would give this award to Andrew Keyes. He was a good foot solider for the Conservative Government and did NOT pretend to be anything else. He handled himself with “grace and dignity” in a very hostile environment. Why honest? He did not for a moment pretend to be anything but the mechanism to vote for the Harper Conservatives. In addition, I was left with the impression of a man who believed in Toronto Danforth and the Conservative Party of Canada. It is true that the Conservative Party is probably not the party of choice in Toronto Danforth. That said, (as David Peterson learned in the 1980s), people would rather vote for somebody who stands for something than for somebody who stands for nothing.
3. The Biggest Disappointments: The Candidates of the three “major” parties (NDP, Liberal and Conservative) were the least effective candidates on the stage. It was almost as though they believe that their status as “major” party candidates is what they have to offer.
As opined above, I would give Andrew Keyes the award for most honest. On this level, he may have connected with the voters who were Independents. But, he was also the least relevant as a candidate – sometimes reading from a script.
To his credit, Grant Gordon was working hard to connect with the audience and followed through on his commitment to post an answer to a question at a later time. I found him a bit “easier on the ears” than his main party rivals.
The NDP’s Craig Scott (at least last night) demonstrated limited ability to connect with the audience. At one point he was asked to “stand up” and he refused. It wasn’t the fact that he refused to stand that was the problem. It was the arrogant, condescending manner in which he expressed his refusal.
4. The Most Interesting Comment: I would give this to Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu of the Green Party. In support of electric cars, she noted that gasoline powered cars actually use more electricity than cars powered with electricity. This was in the context of a general discussion of pollution in the Toronto Danforth Riding.
5. Strongest Commitment to the Toronto Danforth Riding: This election is about the riding of Toronto Danforth. We are voting for a candidate to represent Toronto Danforth. We are not voting for a party. In fact the results of this election will not impact the balance of power in he House of Commons. Therefore, we have a perfect opportunity to elect a candidate who will really represent the riding. Most of the candidates made it clear that they either did or had lived in the riding. But, that is not enough. The Toronto Danforth Mp needs to:
– feel the riding
– understand the riding
– care about the riding
– be part of the riding
We need someone is clearly running to represent Toronto Danforth.
Passion for the riding is a must. I would make this one a tie between: Grant Gordon and Adrian Mugnatto-Hamu, In the case of Grant Gordon, the question is whether his allegiance to the Liberal Party (one of the “major” parties) would allow him to prioritize the interests of Toronto Danforth.
6. Candidates With The Most Canada Centric Perspective:
Each of the candidates was very good and would serve Toronto Danforth well. That said, the following candidates seemed to demonstrate a lower level of “Toronto Danforth” perspective. Not surprisingly, the candidates who are the leaders of some of the smaller parties, some of who have a minimal connection to the Toronto Danforth Riding. These would include: Leslie Bory (Maple Party), Christopher Porter (Canadian Action Party) and Brian Jedan (United Party of Canada – who does live in Toronto Danforth). They had little to say about Toronto Danforth specifically. They did however make a large number of comments that are extremely relevant and important for Canada in general.
7. The Pure Independents:
Independent Candidates play an important role in any democracy. This election features two Independent Candidates. They are John Turmel and Bahman Yazdanfar. Both are veterans of the political process and articulate their ideas independently of any party. Both were well received. Bahman Yazdanfar resides in Toronto Danforth. Neither arrived with the number of “cheerleaders” that the party candidates had. Mr. Yazandar has and continues to challenge the voters of Toronto Danforth to take charge of their political destiny.
8. Best Line Of The Evening:
9. The Biggest Surprise: The Toronto Danforth by-election is a festival of democracy. There are a total of eleven candidates. We have the three “major” party candidates, the Green Party Candidate, and seven candidates that either Independent or Fringe party candidates. The fringe and independent candidates outperformed the “major” party candidates on almost every level. Yes, it was a true “Festival of Democracy”.
10. The MVPs of Toronto Danforth Democracy (and this post) – Not The Candidates At All:
The following “tweets” sum it up: