Tag Archives: Conservatives

So this is the way it would end

5 May

MP JULIAN FANTINO’s softer side was seldom portrayed in media coverage of his often-stoic, no-nonsense campaign. Vaughan Today photographer Agnes Ramos captured this moment as Fantino campaigned door to door in Woodbridge.

The federal election just past is one for the history books. What started out as an expensive exercise no political party seemed willing to take responsibility for spawning — not to mention having no readily apparent aim, drive or direction — ended up rewriting the electoral map in Canada.

It was not without its drama, either. Not insignificant were some garish examples of major media outlets (CBC with the bogus Conservatives-fleeing-Fantino-camp tale in Vaughan; the Toronto Sun with its tawdry story masquerading as a Jack Layton exposé in Toronto) that blurred the lines between reporting and activism.

As it turned out, neither of the stories had much beyond the accusatory headlines, and neither Julian Fantino nor Layton were any the worse for wear in the end. In fact, Fantino won the Vaughan riding with a whopping 56.3 percent of the vote, and became part of the story of the night on Monday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives rolled to their first majority. Layton survived to lead a breathtaking orange onslaught that vaulted the NDP into the position of official Opposition.

The adage that all politics is local didn’t hold true any better here than it did in most ridings across Canada. Incumbent Conservatives Fantino and, in Thornhill, Peter Kent were no doubt buoyed by the Blue Wave that swept 167 seats into the Harper fold. And their respective Liberal challengers, Mario Ferri and Dr. Karen Mock, surely lost ground on two fronts they could not possibly have fought: the national apathy toward the Liberal party and the impossible late-campaign NDP surge that impacted races everywhere.

The NDP phenomenon ballooned the perennially third-place party’s take to 102 seats, delivering a plethora of unlikely MPs in ridings across Canada. It was particularly felt in Quebec where it decimated the Bloc Quebecois, leaving that separatist party with a mere four seats.

In Vaughan, it manifested itself in no-show NDP candidate Mark Pratt collecting an astonishing 7,950 votes. Not bad for a media-shy candidate who provided no contact information, put in no appearances, posted no election signs and handed out no literature! In Thornhill, Simon Strelchik finished a distant third, as he did in 2008, but this time he almost doubled his vote count, getting 7,106.

So what lessons did we learn from the exercise? Beyond the obvious one that pistol-whipped Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe learned about being careful what you wish for, that is!

The once-proud Liberal party, complete with its understood divine right to rule, was reduced to a mere shadow of itself (34 seats). Its lock on the riding of Vaughan, which Fantino first broke in a narrow November byelection victory, is clearly a thing of the past. Perhaps Ignatieff did the right thing in stepping down after the drubbing his party took on Monday night (and losing his own seat in the process), but to blame him for the result is to give no credit to the parties that did win.

I did not sense, based on the couple of stops he made in Vaughan, that Ignatieff was doing such a terrible job connecting with the people. Ferri and Mock were both credible candidates, and the faithful who turned out to the rallies I dropped in on were as vibrant and enthusiastic as you’d expect from a Liberal crowd. I don’t see the result of this election, then, being a matter of the people saying no to one party and its message as much as it was saying yes to another.

The Conservatives succeeded in selling their message, plain and simple.

Harper showed nowhere near the social flair of an Ignatieff (or Layton) at campaign stops. Where other leaders blew into town pumped, in a party mood and ready to get down with the people, Harper made an entrance. And though he didn’t whip the faithful into a giddy frenzy, from his mouth flowed streams of flawless data that, even in the absence of resonance, seemed to compute.

Fantino very much reflected his party’s stoic image. While the media and the public alike looked to see more personality, what we saw for the most part was absolute focus on what he deemed to be priorities. Like his party in general, he soldiered on with his message and would not be sidetracked by grenades lobbed at him or barbs from a media that wasn’t always private in its discomfort with his rigid personality.

Nonetheless, I found the sheer efficiency of the Conservative campaign admirable, even if I was not a fan of its austerity. We won’t know now whether Ignatieff as prime minister would have created a kinder, gentler climate, but I wouldn’t argue very enthusiastically that Harper is not, of those available, the best CEO we could have chosen to run the business of the country.

The NDP didn’t exactly come from nowhere to supplant the Liberals as the official Opposition. Under Layton’s dynamic leadership they were going to be players anyway, even in third place. Where their fortunes turned, though, was in the French-language leaders debate. Quebec voters have traditionally gone after carrots en masse. Layton, who is no stranger to charm or to fantastic promises, was able to articulate it well enough in French to dazzle the electorate right out from under Duceppe, whose own promises were not going to be coming to pass any time soon.

And then the Greens won a seat, with party leader Elizabeth May finally finding a province, a riding and an occasion that was just enough this side of impossible to win.

Yes indeed, it’s been one for the history books. I can’t imagine what kind of story would have to develop to see the fall provincial election in Ontario top that!

— Dan Hoddinott

No surprise Vaughan wasn’t a landslide, Justin Trudeau says

21 Dec

MP Justin Trudeau says Vaughan’s byelection wasn’t a landslide like many pundits predicted because newly elected Conservative MP Julian Fantino shied away from talking about issues.

Speaking to an editorial board at the offices of Vaughan Today and its sister publications, Trudeau said Fantino nearly lost Vaughan because he spent no time talking to media, voters and the public about issues.

“If he’d done that more, maybe it would have been a landslide, or perhaps he actually wouldn’t have won,” Trudeau said. “Because we’ve seen the issues and concerns and debates he has with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms isn’t necessarily in keeping with a member of parliament who’s there to uphold the Canadian constitution.”

Fantino was accused of running a “peek-a-boo” campaign in the lead up to the by-election, in particular because he didn’t attend a candidate’s debate.

Fantino told Vaughan Today this week he worked hard for the win. He said, with the long-time Liberal rule in Vaughan, he never thought “it would be a cakewalk”.

“The numbers albeit that separated the win may not have been that great in the eyes of some people, but we overcame a huge, huge obstacle to win in the end,” Fantino said. “I didn’t expect the campaign itself to be such a drag, in the point of view of the attacks, and the misinformation and the posturing. That kind of amazed me a bit. But we didn’t dwell on it. I did what I had to do. I spent my time, from very early in the morning to very late and night, meeting widely with people – I didn’t create a fanfare over it, I didn’t challenge my opponents to do the same or to anything. Being portrayed as I was just challenged me to work harder.”

Trudeau seemed to offer some advice for Fantino:

“A member of parliament doesn’t just represent the people who voted for him,” Trudeau said. “They represent everyone in their riding. You are a voice now for the entire riding of Vaughan, Mr. Fantino.”

He said Fantino is in a “learning process as a politician”.

“And I know he’s going to learn to temper his words and be a better representative for everyone in Vaughan, at least I hope he does, as he advances in his short time as a representative for Vaughan until the next election.”

Election night: We’re live!

29 Nov

We’re live for election night! Check out www.vaughantoday.ca for breaking news and info. We’ll be be covering live from election night parties, as well as taking your tweets and comments. To join the conversation, just add #Vaughan or #byelxn40 to your tweets, or comment straight on our homepage.

Come join in the conversation!

Fantino rejects ‘controversial’ label

12 Nov

Julian FantinoJulian Fantino is his own man, but he’s not a renegade.

That’s the message he gives sitting at his impressive Woodbridge campaign office after a long day of campaigning that won’t end with the interview he’s giving to Vaughan Today.

“I’ve always had bosses,” Fantino says.  “I’ve always worked with community, I’ve always known to whom I’m accountable.”

It’s a message the former 42-year cop – now the Conservative candidate in Vaughan — seems annoyed at having to clarify amid recent suggestions in the media that he may be too used to “being the boss” to fall in line behind Prime Minister Stephen Harper in parliament.

But commentators could be excused for thinking the formidable Fantino, 67, might have trouble taking the back seat. His rise through the system has been described as ‘meteoric.’ Having immigrated to Canada with his family as a youngster, Fantino started off working security at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Since then, his resume includes stints as police chief of London, York Region and Toronto, as well as his most recent role as commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. Known for his take-no-prisoners attitude, he’s often been described as controversial, a label he rejects and attributes to ‘uninformed bloggers.’

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Liberals to Fantino: we’ll defend our turf

14 Oct

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff dropped no hints last night as to who the Liberals might run to replace longtime  MP Maurizio Bevilacqua in Vaughan.

 

Liberal Open Mike event

(left to right) MP Joe Volpe; MP Ken Dryden, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, and Thornhill Liberal candidate Karen Mock at a Liberal Open Mike event in Toronto Oct. 13.

 

“I won’t say very much about Vaughan except our party was proud to represent Vaughan for many years,” said Ignatieff after Vaughan Today posed the question at a Liberal town hall meeting at a Toronto synagogue last night.

At the end of August, Bevilacqua stepped down as MP  in order to run for mayor of Vaughan. Earlier this week, former OPP commissioner Julian Fantino announced he would seek the Conservative nomination in the riding.

At the Liberal gathering, Ignatieff passed the question to Lawrence-Eglinton MP Joe Volpe, who said “anyone” would be better than Fantino. Ignatieff himself added: “Mr. Fantino has entered the race and he will face a very vigorous defence of our representation in Vaughan.”

A date has not yet been set for a by-election.

Meanwhile just north of there in Vaughan, Bevilacqua attended a meet and greet in Thornhill hosted by MPP Peter Shurman for Bevilacqua and Ward 5 candidate Gila Martow. (Martow said in an email today: “It was open to the public but only advertised to our email and Facebook lists.)

Shurman, former MP and councillor Susan Kadis and MP Peter Kent  also attended.

Kent said he’s honoured to be associated with Bevilacqua, but stopped short of “using the E word” (for endorsement).

“It feels arrogant,” he said. “Who am I to say who you should vote for?”

Kent said he is not endorsing any candidates in the Vaughan election (despite some reports to the contrary).

“I stand by everything I said in my media release regarding Maurizio’s resignation from Parliament. He’s a terrific, mature, level-headed guy.”

Kent said the meet and greet was attended by “quite a spectrum of people… (with) shared values and shared vision for the city.”

Candidates Joel Hertz, Elliott Frankl, Deb Schulte, Michael Di Biase and Joyce Frustaglio also attended.

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