ONTARIO NDP LEADERSHIP RACE

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Bisson’s 30 minutes – “Experience Matters”

s-bisssonEach candidate has a 30 minute slot to put on a ‘show’ for the convention delegates.

Watch live: http://convention.ondp.ca/live

Bisson is first:

Northern rocker (and MP) Charlie Angus started things off with his guitar and vocals. His nominators (France Gellinas, Kevin Corboron & Salomé Cerqueira) introduced him focusing on his bilingualism, his experience and the incredible electoral success of Gilles and the other northern Ontario MPs.

Bisson is speaking now:

(He tends to be the loudest of the four)

“We need to move away from the politics of opposition and towards the politics of proposition”
“We’ve raised the most amount of money than any other campaign”
“I have the experience and I have the vision to get the job done.”
“We’ll start by taking hamilton and then we’ll take Queen’s park”

Hospitality Sweet

One of the more social elements of a Leadership Convention is the ‘Hospitality Suite’.   On the eve before the vote, candidates host parties to bring people together, entertain and persuade.  I visited all four parties last night and took careful notes.  I’m hoping to develop a scientific analysis of the events and prove that there is a correlation between party style and vote results.  I won’t know until later today, but here are a few possibilities:

1) If vote result is tied to altitude, than Peter Tabuns will win today’s vote.  While Michael Prue and Andrea Horwath hosted their parties in the basement of the Sheraton Hotel, and Gilles Bisson was on the 3rd floor, Peter Tabuns was ahead of the pack with a party on the 16th floor.  Prediction: Andrea and Michael drop off early, Peter beats Gilles on the final ballot.

dancing
2) If vote result is tied to music, then Andrea is the clear winner. Andrea’s party was the only one with live music (and dancing).  Michael Prue comes in second with a DJ, who I interviewed and was told that he tried to find music that would appeal to a diverse, inter-generational  crowd.  Gilles and Peter drop off the first ballot.  Andrea beats Michael on the second.

salt3) If the vote is related to variety and quantity of drinks, Michael Prue will be the next leader of our party.  With a large open bar, custom home-made wine and beer, and a lot of happy drinkers, the victory is clear.  Gilles comes in second, with a smaller open bar, but attention to detail (including celery salt for a Ceasars).  Peter comes in third.  Andrea drops off the first ballot, with the only cash bar.prue-bar1

4) If the vote is somehow linked to stamina, our next leader is Gilles Bisson.  Peter Tabuns was the first to call it a night (although his party kept going quite late).  Andrea was the second to retire.  Both Michael and Gilles outlasted the others by about two hours.  All parties were still going at midnight, when hotel staff began responding to noise complaints.  They shut down Tabuns’ party first (see photo) and then moved on to put a lid on the Bisson-fest.  Gilles’ party was now over but he still seemed full of energy.  I proposed to him that he could keep partying downstairs with Prue.  We headed off together and bumped into Prue, who had just left his party (see photo).  Gilles and I proceeded to the basement and he seemed to have a great time talking to both Andrea’s and Michael’s supporters.  noise1gilles-and-michael

In the end, Michael’s party went the latest.  But Gilles was the last candidate standing. Does this mean he’ll be the last candidate standing at the end of today’s vote?  Not necesarily.  Clearly it will depend on how much weight voters place on other important things such as floor altitude, beverages and dancing.

The big day

It’s been almost 9 months since Howard Hampton announced that he was stepping down as leader of the ONDP.  For the first time in 13 years, the party was thrown into a leadership race.  Four candidates came forward to run for the position, and they’ve been campaigning tirelessly for months.  A total of 44 debates across the province gave party members a chance to hear the candidates and ask questions.  Here’s how the final few hours will unfold:

watch LIVE from 1pm onwards…..

11:00am – A tribute to Howard Hampton
1:00pm – Candidate speeches  – They’ll get 30 minutes each, for their final pitch!
3:00pm – Election begins – polls open
4:30pm – First ballot results announced
6:00pm – Second ballot (if needed) results announced
7:30pm – Third ballot (if needed) results are announced

A resolute bunch

resolutions

Often overshadowed by leadership races or upcoming election campaigns, the policy componenent of any convention is an important part of a party’s growth and evolution, and is the backbone of a party’s political direction.  The process is driven by resolutions that are proposed by NDP members across the province through Riding Associations, committees, clubs, councils, etc.

This morning, the convention hall is full of hundreds of delegates who are debating policy resultions.  You probably won’t read about it in the paper, so I thought I’d mention it here!  The proposed resolutions cover a wide range of issues such as dental care, pension reform, making public buildings accessible, free post-secondary education and internal part reform.

Resolutions are presented to the delegates, and then people line up behind “Pro” and “Con” microphones and speak in front of the whole room, expressing their opinion.  In a modern political culture that is often scripted, teleprompted and carefully choreographed, it’s refreshing to be in a room with hundreds of engaged people listening to each other and voting on policy direction!

Closing Remarks- Gilles Bisson

bisson(loudly) I’m proud of what we’ve done in northern Ontario.  The largest gains the NDP made in the federal election were in northern Ontario.  What’s wrong with having a leader from a part of the province that has been succesful?  We need to fix our internal problems in the party, pay off out debt and run strong campaigns in every riding across Ontario.

Closing Remarks – Andrea Horwath

horwath

I was elected in a by-election that re-opened Hamilton to the NDP.  We went on to win a series of provincial and federal seats.  I believe we can do this across the province.  I’m a former City Councillor in this city.  Welcome to my riding by the way!  I’m a community organiser and I know that we have to reach out, broaden our base.  We can’t listen to sceptics who say it can’t be done.  It’s time for an economy that is socially and environmentally responsible.  It’s time to make environmentalist affordable.  It’s time to put New Democrats back in power in this province.

Closing remarks – Michael Prue

prueI have been a leader my whole life.  Student movement, union movement and a Mayor.  As Mayor, I turned things around in East York.  I have been elected in 8 elections, in places that New Democrats don’t usually win.  I have a plan that involves all 480 municipipalities in this province.  I would start by eliminating the OMB.  I would give every city the same powers that Toronto has recieved.  We need to change the property tax system.  We need to be bold.  We need to have a plan that convinces people outside this room to vote NDP.

Debate Question: Post-Secondary Education

debate1Bisson – Investing in post-secondary education is the key to building a strong economy.  Education is the great equalizer.  Student debt should be deducted from income tax.

Tabuns – It’s a question of what kind of society do we want.  We should roll back tuition to 2003 levels and freeze it.

Prue – I used to pay $560 a year to attend U of T.  If other countries can make university affordable, we can do it too.

Horwath – Students are finishing school with debts as large as mortgages.

Debate question: Public Auto Insurance

Question: Will you be brave and put auto insurance into public hands?

Horwath:  Yes. Now, more than ever we need to look at public auto insurance again.  I wasn’t here when that decision was made to back down on that.  And, by the way, that fellow (Bob Rae) is a Liberal now…

Bisson: The answer is yes. That is something we should have done when we were in government.  It was one of our biggest mistakes, not to implement it.

Tabuns: Yes. One of Bobs Rae’s biggest mistake was to back down from public auto insurance.  Public medicare, public hydro & public auto insurance:  Together, they can make Ontario far more attractive and far more affordable.

Prue: Yes.  Rae’s two mistakes were auto insurance and “Rae Days”

Watch LIVE: http://convention.ondp.ca/live.

Debate Question: Thoughts on Hydro / Electricity

crowd_at-debate2
Tabuns: “We need low cost, reliable, renewable power – put back in public hands.”  We need to invest in renewable power because that’s where future will be.

Prue: “We need to look at how Hydro was re-structured by Mike Harris.” It’s time that hydro came under one roof and was under public control in it’s entirety. ” …Nuclear is too expensive an option for Ontario.”

Horwath: “Hydro privatization was one of the biggest mistakes that Mike Harris made” and Dalton McGuinty has continued it…    Some industries need special rates on power to remain competitive.  Both generation and distribution should be in public hands.

Bisson:  “Every killowat of conservation is a kilowat we don’t have to generate.”  “Conservation is much better option than building new nuclear plants.”