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Don’t whisper that too loudly, Tim.

Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris apparently is a big supporter of Ontario PC leadership hopeful Tim Hudak.

I’m sure the core Conservative right-wing base in Ontario will just love that, but Ontario voters have long memories ; particularly of Harris, and not in a good manner. I’m not sure Tim’s campaign should be thinking having Harris as a prominent supporter of your guy is a plus in the rest of Ontario who aren’t wingnuts.

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John Tory loses “safe seat” byelection: Ontario Conservatives will go hard right with new leader.

That’s my prediction after this rather surprising result yesterday.. heck, let’s call it a shocking result:

Unofficial results have Liberal candidate Rick Johnson defeating Tory 43.7 per cent to 41.2 per cent, with all 258 polls reporting. Johnson’s lead had widened since early results had Tory narrowly ahead. Johnson won by slightly more than 900 votes, 15,482 to 14,576.In 2007, as a general election candidate, Johnson only took 29.4 per cent of the vote against his Progressive Conservative opponent Laurie Scott, who gave up her seat so Tory could run.

A leader who can’t win in an urban riding in the 2007 election because he was too “conservative” for those […]

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Not to be redundant.. but Ontario and BC are the key tonight.

You’ve probably heard that a million times already, both from bloggers and election pundits and mainstream media types, but the ridings I will be watching in particular tonight are the 905 ridings – the suburban ridings outside of Metro Toronto – and the lower mainland and island ridings of BC. The key to who wins the election and/or by how much are in those belt of ridings.

Election Prediction Project , which had a 91% accuracy rate last federal election in predicting what ridings would go to which party, currently has predicted the 905 ridings as ending up with 16 Libs, 12 Cons, and 3 NDP.

Greg Morrow’s blog also is running an election projections site. It is so popular as a matter of fact that he’s currently having server issues to his blog, but his predictions are still accessible here. His predictions for the 905 are a bit more confusing, optics wise, as his “905” seats don’t include all the ridings that actually use the 905 area code (he’s put the Durham riding into “Eastern Ontario” as an example, and taken out the Hamilton 905 ridings and lumped them into a “Hamilton/Niagara” section, that includes some 519 ridings), but if you putter around and find all the ridings that use area code 905 at his page, his blog is predicting (with some “too close to call” caveats): Libs 17, Cons 11, NDP 3.

If the Liberals are going to have a good election night, they’ll be winning seats like Conservative held St. Catherines and Burlington.. and they need to hold their close seats like Oakville and Mississauga-South. If it’s the other way around though, a long night is in store – for Liberals anyhow. Some believe Ontario may have started to shift toward the Liberals in the past day, (and you see a hint of that in the last Nanos poll yesterday) but we’ll see if that really happened or not after the election results roll in tonight.

BC is the other battleground to watch. Initially, there were whispering that the Liberals might be reduced to a couple of seats, but polling there seems to have indicated they have recovered. I know some of my NDP blogging colleagues are predicting losses there for the Liberals (and rather gleefully too, I might add, which is a tad appalling to me, considering that if those losses were to occur, they’d all be going to the Conservatives, not the NDP, which gives you an inkling that some in the NDP camp and blogging community consider the Liberals worse enemies then the Conservatives).

Greg Morrow’s site has the Liberals only winning 5 seats in BC, while the Election Prediction Project has them winning 6. Some Liberals in BC I’ve talked with this past weekend dispute both prediction numbers, with some predicting their internal numbers showed they would hold their 9 seats from last time (though they may not be all the same ones) and were even close to picking up a seat or 2. The NDP is forecast to pick up 9 or 10 seats, but they have a chance in Kamloops in taking a seat against the Conservative incumbent, and if they can hold seats like in Surrey North or Vancouver Island North, they too have a chance to pick up a seat or 2 from their current totals.Again, we’ll find out election night who was right.

These 2 battlegrounds are the ones I’ll be focusing on – because I think they will be an indicator of how the night goes for all the political parties fortunes.

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Harper to Ontario auto workers: Let them eat cake (or move to Alberta)

Real nice compassionate fuzzy warm response Harper gives to Ontario auto workers, as Jeff mentions over at his blogpost:

“I think you have to be honest with people. The government can’t go in and say ‘we can guarantee your job.’ We can’t guarantee your job,” Harper said…”But in most areas, people have been able to get other jobs and in most areas, disposable incomes continue to increase. So it isn’t just that they’re getting new jobs. They’re often getting new jobs that pay just as well or better,” he said.

As both Jeff and Kevin over at Pogge have said at their sites, I don’t think auto workers in Ontario want job guarantees, but they do want a federal government who will assist them in finding that new job if they lose it, or else give some direction. However, Harper has given them the “let them eat cake” answer.. or maybe it’s the “Move to Alberta and work in the oilpatch” answer. Regardless, he comes across as very insensitive and indifferent to the Ontario manufacturing sector once again.

Ontario Premier Dalton Mcguinty came out with a statement basically giving the advice to Ontarions that they should vote for the party who they feel will best treat Ontario fairly and take their concerns seriously. If Ontarions need any further examples of how this Conservative party and their leader isn’t the party who will do that (remember Finance Minister Flaherty disparaging his own province and saying there was no reason for any companies to invest there) , then this statement by Harper would be further evidence of that disregard for Ontario.

UPDATE @ 4:52 pm: Wow. If this is true, Harper actually told this union leader of the struggling forest industry that not only would there would be no bailout and that they should let the market determine if they keep their jobs, he suggested that they could always move to Ft. McMurray and get jobs there:

..the National President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Dave Coles told Newfoundland and Labradors VOCM radio today that Prime Minister Harper personally told him that there would be no package to support the newsprint industry. The union leader said Prime Minister Harper told him in a private meeting that anyone who loses their jobs can move to Fort McMurray, Alberta. Forest industry workers should just let the market decide, and if you lose your job, and he (Harper) said this to me personally, you could always go to Fort McMurray. And I think thats insulting for forestry workers and pulp and paper workers.

I thought Harper was supposed to be the Prime Minister of Canada, not the Premier of Alberta.. or the Premier of Alberta’s official business and trade representative in Ottawa telling people to go to Alberta to look for work, because that’s what he sure sounds like right now. A Real sensitive and fuzzy-warmy guy that Harper. 🙄

UPDATE 2 @ 12:20 am: Some more reaction across the progressive blogosphere to Harper’s shrug-off to those who aren’t living in Alberta.

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Events in Ontario will lead to Conservatives losing seats.

What events, the readers may ask? Well, specific events such as this in Welland for example:

Plant closure costs Welland 800 jobs

Ontario’s reeling manufacturing sector took another big hit yesterday as farm equipment giant Deere & Co. revealed the closing of its major plant in Welland and the elimination of about 800 jobs.

Some more general events:

Ontario’s opposition parties claim the province has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs in the last four years. Union and company critics blasted the federal government again for ignoring the plight of the sector, which is a key engine of the Canadian economy.

I also think Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s words will […]

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Conservatives snub Stratford over funding for proposed university campus

It’s not a secret that the federal Conservative government doesn’t particularly like Ontario right now. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s statement a few months ago that he couldn’t think of any reason for businesses to invest in the province of Ontario is one famous example. You would think however, that in ridings where they hold seats, they might be inclined to help out specific projects in Ontario, if only to give their MP’s a boost, if not the region that might deservedly need it.

Unfortunately, even that doesn’t seem to be the case. A prime example of that would be the small city of Stratford – famously known for the Stratford Festival. It’s tourism industry has been hurt recently by the high Canadian dollar. It’s manufacturing industry – as elsewhere in Ontario – has seen job losses. The farming community around Stratford – a major pork producing area – is also feeling the pinch from lower prices on pigs, increases in operating costs, and the high exchange rate. In short, this is an area that is economically hurting.

So, when an idea came forth a couple of years ago about adding a Stratford campus from the University of Waterloo, which would deal with the study of advance technology, it was viewed as a way to help Stratford’s economy in the short term by the actual building of the facilities, and in the long term by attracting students interested in new media, and companies in the field of advance technology as well. A study by the respected Deloitte & Touch firm estimated that the economic Impact for the Stratford area would result in 415 jobs + $56.4-million of revenue during construction, and once built would have 180 jobs annually + bring in around $26.7-million.

That brings us to the funding of this campus. 10 million $ was committed by the provincial government. Another 10 million $ was committed by Open Text, a private company in Kitchener-Waterloo. The student residence – estimated to cost 20 million $ – would be privately funded. An application was sent to the Federal government for the remaining 10 million $ needed to get the project officially off and running. This was done about 18 months ago, and it was claimed by the federal Conservative government that it was very interested in the project and that it was performing due diligence regarding the request for funds.

Unfortunately for Stratford, back in April, the federal government decided not to supply the 10 million dollars missed the deadline for suppling the funding and then recently announced the money was not forthcoming. The excuse that was given by the local Conservative MP in this riding of Perth-Wellington, Gary Schellenberger, was that “Currently, there is no federal program which provides capital funding to universities and colleges because education is, and always has been, an area of provincial jurisdiction.

My first thought is if this was the case, why would the federal Conservatives sit at the table for 18 months and not say this right at the outset when the proposal for funds was first sent to them?

My second thought is that this supposed lack of program to do this type of funding certainly didnt seem to stop them from sending funding to some Universities out west. Consider this recent editorial in the Stratford Beacon-Herald pointing out this apparent hypocrisy and double standard:

As disappointing as it is, people in Stratford could probably accept that statement, if it were completely true. But its not…in January the University of Alberta announced a major renovation of its downtown Edmonton campus at a cost of $86.5 million. Of that total, $15 million came from the federal government. Explain how the red-hot economy of Alberta can get millions of dollars for the bricks and mortar of a university and the battered economy of Stratford and area gets zero. And while its not bricks and mortar, in April Ottawa handed over a $5-million cheque to the University of Calgary to help fund research in carbon capture and storage. And if that is not enough to make the constituents of Stratford feel rebuffed and ignored, consider this. Last October, Afghan Education Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar was in Montreal with federal International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda as Ottawa announced $60 million over four years to help schools in Afghanistan manage teaching and learning activities, to hire personnel and to build facilities.Your national centre for teacher training and your provincial colleges … will all be supported with significant (funds) that come from Canada, said Mr. Atmar proudly.

As you can see in that editorial and in this article, the local community is pretty steamed over the Stratford snub delivered to it by the federal Conservatives. The funding proposal for this is a drop in the bucket, and the benefits as shown by the study show enormous benefits for both Stratford and the region. Yet, the Conservatives take 18 months looking at it, only to come up with a lame excuse for not funding this project, while similar projects in Alberta and Afghanistan are funded with nary a thought. The office of MP Schellenberger tried to say that in the case of the one school, the University of Alberta situation was “different”, but it doesn’t appear many in the community are buying that. If you want to see how low Ontario is in the eyes of the federal Conservatives, this particular situation on Stratford is a prime example.

Liberal industry and science critic Scott Brison, who visited the Stratford area a few days ago, says that if elected to power, the Liberals will write the cheque for the Stratford campus. If the good citizens of Stratford and Perth-Wellington would like to send a double message to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives that they don’t appreciate the double standard shown their community by this government, and that they don’t like the direction the Harperites have taken this country, the Liberal candidate running in Perth-Wellington is Sandra Gardiner. 1 less Conservative MP means help in removing them from government, and back to the opposition benches where they belong.

UPDATE: I’ve included some briefing notes on this if you’d like to browse throug the main points. If you’d like the PDF file of the actual Delotte & Touche report, I have a copy of that, and would be happy to pass that along as well.

uofw-stratford-campus

UPDATE [email protected] 3:00pm: As I said last update, I’ve obtained a copy of the aforementioned Deloitte and Touche report on the proposed University of Waterloo Stratford campus. I’ve decided just to post it here, and folks can have a look if they want to read more details on this proposal.

economic-impact-study-final-report

UPDATE [email protected]:43pm: It was mentioned in comments how some of the Stratford business community are outraged at the lack of federal government support for this endeavour and how some hotel owners had resorted to placing their discontent on their hotel signs. Here is one such example of that:

Self explanatory.

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An idea for the province to encourage plastic bottle recycling

I don’t have an article in the news to cite this as it was a story broadcast on the local London Ontario news, but there is an interesting idea being pitched by some in the City of London as a way to increase the # of plastic bottles being recycled and returned by the public.

Currently, it is estimated by London that 1/3 of plastic bottles don’t get properly recycled by their city residents and instead get thrown into the garbage and end up in landfill sites. Some there are proposing the way to help increase the # of bottle being returned for recycling is for the province of Ontario to copy what the province of Alberta does (yes, they do have some green programs there) and offer a deposit for returning plastic bottles. The rate in Alberta is 5 cents for bottles 1 litre and under, and 20 cents a bottle for anything over a litre. The program has estimated to help bring 80% of plastic bottles back in for recycling.

This isn’t anything that novel; Ontario already does this for beer and wine and liquor bottles, so why not also for this? I don’t doubt the waste rate for plastic bottle is pretty high in other cities besides London, and if people have an incentive to return their bottles, I think this will help out the return rate immensely, and cut down on all the plastic bottles ending up in provincial landfills.

I think its a great idea that some in the city of London have come up with. They are going to try and convince the Dalton McGuinty government that this is the way to go, and I think they have a convert to their cause tonight. I’d urge the Premier and his government to take a serious look at this proposal.

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Baird feels attacking Ontario and now Quebec will win votes?

… on the Environment file? Seriously?

Environment Minister John Baird has been all over the place the past weekend claiming that the new Ontario/Quebec environmental pact to set up a cap and trade system is somehow evidence of a plot against his federal government on the environment file:

Environment Minister John Baird told a national news agency that the agreement could undermine Ottawa’s climate change plan.

Well John, you and the federal Conservatives don’t have much of a plan as it is, and the one you do have is worth undermining; everyone else in the country other then in the province of Alberta (and internationally too, for that matter) knows how little substance you have in that plan, and how you’re not very serious at tackling climate change and that your “plan” is all smoke and mirrors.

That said, I wouldn’t flatter yourself too much: the 2 provinces are simply of the realization as they both mentioned that Conservative Ottawa is foot dragging on this file, and they’re taking matters into their own hands – similar to what some US states are trying to do because of Bush’s refusal to do anything.

What I get a big kick out of is that John Baird is apparently expanding the Conservatives strategy of attacking provinces. Not content to just go after Ontario as Flaherty and Pierre Poilievere have done, he’s now castigating Quebec as well on this file – Quebec, which is probably the greenest of all provinces. As Jim Coyle points out, you have 2 provinces that “account for 75 per cent of Canada’s manufacturing, two-thirds of its population and 60 per cent of Commons seats.” And the Cons. feel attacking them is going to help them win the next election – particulary attacking them on the Environment?

Like others who have written about this, I’m a tad baffled by this strategy. However, I’m not going to criticize Baird or the Cons. for it - on the contrary, I’m going to encourage him and them to keep it up, and to do it as much as possible all over the media and the talk shows. I’m sure voters in those 2 provinces will appreciate such tactics immeasurably.

Far it from me to attack an internal Conservative strategy that basically helps contribute to the Conservatives own defeat in the next election. I’m quite content to let them carry on with their bluster and blather – and Baird is probably better at it then Flaherty or even Poilivere.

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A good start.

As a liberal with a social progressive bent, I get very happy when I see governments fight very important social issues that often have been overlooked – and Ontario appears about set to do that by announcing a new dental plan for the poor in our society:

McGuinty is giving his anti-poverty initiative teeth with a $45 million dental care plan for the working poor… The new dental program…will help about 500,000 low-income workers unable to afford private insurance coverage for their teeth. It will cover preventive care, including fluoride treatments and cleanings by dental hygienists, and fillings and extractions by dentists.

That’s not all there is though: the Liberal […]

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