Tag Archives: karen mock

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


Signs of having had enough

2 May

The normally easygoing Peter Kent is more than a little testy with Karen Mock, after she accused him of illegally placing election signs. He sent 23 images to Vaughan Today to remind her of a possible mote in her eye, Dan Hoddinott says.

Vaughan Today did not wish to be a player in this election. And in the end, I hope we will not have been one — or, worse, been seen as having desired to be one.

With the ruckus kicked up by our having come to the defense of Conservative incumbent Julian Fantino’s honour — and Vaughan’s reputation, and our profession’s integrity — having died down, I was really hoping we could have escaped the rest of this election cycle without doing anything that would see us become the story.

Not so fast! Quiet, sedate, how-do-you-do Thornhill has arisen. At the eleventh hour, no less, its cruise-controlled re-affirmation of the very congenial Peter Kent as its MP has combusted. Kent and his only conceivable rival, Liberal Dr. Karen Mock, have got into it about the legality of each other’s election sign placement. And wouldn’t you know it? The fire was lit by remarks Mock made in a story appearing on VaughanToday.ca on Friday.

Peter Kent was rather steamed to have Dr. Mock suggesting he was placing his signs illegally. In the age of digital photography, one really should consider one’s quips, I suppose, no matter how clever they seem at the time. Kent reminded us all in a letter to the editor of Vaughan Today — to which he attached 23 photos, complete with descriptions of the Mock team’s transgressions in each one.

I am including Kent’s letter here for your perusal, but not all the photos! Candidates have been taking barbs at each other all campaign long about sign placement issues. We’ve got in on the jabbing phenomenon ourselves, sometimes at the expense of Claudia Rodriguez-Larrain (Vaughan) and Norbert Koehl (Thornhill), two good people who happened to be running for a terribly disorganized party.

Here, then, is the Kent letter:

To The Editor:

So, Karen Mock claims to have “discovered” that I have been placing my election signs without getting people’s permission (Vaughan Today, online edition, April 29)?

Perhaps she can explain the huge pile of documents we have at our campaign office, detailing the permission from each of the more than 4,000 people who took our signs.

Perhaps she can also explain how so many of our signs have gone missing overnight, or how they often turn up planted in another lawn nearby.

Apparently, she has yet to “discover” that her own staff has seemingly been putting up illegal signs all over the riding.  I have attached nearly two dozen examples to get the ball rolling.

Election campaigns should be about serious issues, including trust and honesty, not about sophomoric game playing and libel.

Yours truly,
Peter Kent
Conservative candidate in Thornhill

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