The results

October 7, 2011 at 10:44 am (Election 2011, News, Politics) (, , )

I survived another voting day, the third in a year. As much as I love E-day, it’s a relief to know we won’t have to go through that again for about four years.

So, my predictions were pretty close to actual results.

Jim McDonell and his wife Margie

Jim McDonell won a landslide victory in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry. I was a little surprised to see such overwhelming support for a Progressive Conservative in a riding that has been solidly Liberal for the last eight years, though I had no doubt he would be the next MPP.
Grit Mark MacDonald managed a second place finish over the NDP’s Elaine MacDonald. I’m not going to lie, I was taken aback to see the Green Party candidate and Libertarian take so many votes, especially since Green Justin Reist didn’t step foot in the riding at all during the campaign, and Neal Donnelly seemed to provoke laughter and disbelief with many of his anti-government comments.

I was exactly right with my seat projection for the Liberals: they won 53, just shy of a majority. The NDP picked up a few more seats for a total of 17, with the PCs taking 37.

I was also correct in my prediction that Grant Crack would keep Glengarry, Prescott, Russell for the Liberals.

The biggest disappointment for me was seeing voter turnout. It wasn’t horrible in this riding (52.1%), but across the province it dropped to a record low of 49.2%.

It was definitely a busy day, with a photo shoot and dance class sandwiched in between election coverage. I spent the evening watching results from the Ramada Inn, McDonell’s celebration headquarters, with half a dozen other reporters. The MPP-elect arrived with his wife and three children, cool and calm as usual. After being piped into the room in true Glengarry style, he gave a quick victory speech thanking supporters and promising to make a difference for the riding. MP Guy Lauzon, a couple of city councillors, family members, and several South Glengarry councillors and staff were there to show their support.

And now, it’s on to the business of governing.

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Election day

October 6, 2011 at 10:05 am (Election 2011, News, Politics) (, , , , )

I’m one of those crazy people that gets an adrenaline rush from election day.

I love standing in line, voter card in hand. Making my mark for my favourite candidate. Watching election results roll in, and the reactions that follow. Democracy is a beautiful thing. I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – we cannot take this privilege for granted. Voter turnout has declined since 1990, and it’s a depressing trend. Anyone who chooses not to vote, for whatever reason, should not feel they have a voice to complain about the government’s actions. If you don’t like what your elected official is doing, vote for someone else. Otherwise, shut up and deal with the consequences. Most of us are too busy to volunteer, protest, campaign, write letters or otherwise engage in social change, but we should never be too busy to vote. It’s a small action that could have a big difference.

Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t count. Casting your ballot means you’re a part of something bigger, a contributor to the future of Ontario.

Oh, election night is pretty stressful as well – we have an early deadline that provides only about half an hour to collect numbers and quotes before our paper is sent off to the press. It will still be a late night though, gathering information and writing stories for our website.

On to my predictions for today’s outcome.

Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry 

  • First: Jim McDonell, Progressive Conservatives
  • Second: Elaine MacDonald, NDP
  • Third: Mark MacDonald, Liberal
  • Fourth: Justin Reist, Green
  • Fifth: Neal Donnelly, Libertarian

Jim McDonell, Mark MacDonald, Elaine MacDonald

I think it will be a very close race for second place … to the point that I am reluctant to call it for either party. Elaine has run a great campaign; she is so articulate, open to new ideas and refrains from the mudslinging that many detest – but are there enough people who will support the NDP? Either way, I’m convinced Jim will be our next MPP. He’ll have no trouble taking Dundas, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see most of South Glengarry support their mayor as well.

Glengarry, Prescott, Russell

  • First: Grant Crack, Liberal
  • Second: Marilissa Gosselin, Progressive Conservative
  • Third: Bonnie Jean-Louis, NDP
  • Fourth: Taylor Howarth, Green

The riding also has candidates for the Libertarians and the Freedom Party, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be bringing up the rear. I think this race will be a tight one – it’s not one I’ve followed as closely as I probably should have though. Marilissa has been campaigning for nearly a year, is fluently bilingual, and has a husband who works for the federal Conservative Party. However, the riding has been held by the Grits since 1999, thanks to Jean-Marc Lalonde, and I’m not sure it will go blue too easily. So I’m giving this one to North Glengarry’s mayor.

Ontario

  • Liberals – 53 seats
  • Progressive Conservatives – 34 seats
  • NDP – 20 seats

I’m pretty sure the Liberals have this one, so the big question is if they’ll squeeze out a majority or be left with a minority government. I think the NDP will pick up support, in part because of voters disillusioned with McGuinty promises, in part from the federal party’s success in May.

But what do I know? It’s all up to you, Ontario.

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Election week

October 4, 2011 at 9:04 am (Election 2011, News, Politics) (, , , , )

It’s the week of elections in Canada, with three provinces and one territory hitting the polls to choose their next governments.

Alberta also had a significant political event on Saturday, when the Progressive Conservatives elected Alison Redford as their leader – and the next premier of the province.

In PEI, the Liberals and Premier Robert Ghiz were returned to majority power yesterday, while the PCs took five seats. The island province also saw the lowest voter turnout since the 1960s at 77%. Ghiz is, at 37, the youngest provincial leader in Canada.

Up north, most of the incumbents were sent back to Yellowknife on Monday, but only two women were elected out of 19 seats. One of them is from a Hay River riding, a lovely town where I spent some time a few years ago. The territory does not have a party system, but instead elects MLAs who then vote for a premier amongst themselves. It sort of sounds strange for those of us used to extremely partisan campaigns with candidates spewing party lines, but I think it’s a neat idea – one that requires consensus and cooperation from the moment they step into office. It’ll be an interesting term for the politicians, as they once again take up the fight against Ottawa for more control over their resources.

Today, Manitoba residents head to the polls. It sounds like it’s going to be a close one between the New Democrats, who are currently in government, and the Progressive Conservatives.

And then of course, those of us who call Ontario home will cast our ballots on Thursday. Polls are showing a tight race between Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives under Tim Hudak. Even New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath is looking good to a whole lot of voters, making a minority situation very likely. I’m not expecting any landslides in this region either, but the biggest question in my mind is who will come second in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.

Here’s a timeline of what’s happened so far in this riding.

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Campaign trail update

September 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm (Election 2011, News, Politics) (, , , )

Mark MacDonald is not having a good day … or week.

The Liberal candidate has been campaigning hard throughout the riding, but a couple of recent events imply he’s falling behind in the race.

A former firefighter, he is no doubt smarting from the Cornwall Professional Firefighters’ Association endorsement of New Democrat Elaine MacDonald. The Ottawa Citizen also threw their support behind Elaine, saying she is the best person for the job of MPP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, while also noting Progressive Conservative Jim McDonell would be a good choice.

Yesterday Mark released his plan to build a four-lane highway between Long Sault and Embrun, as a shortcut between Cornwall and Ottawa. Sounds like a good idea, but his opponents quickly noted that it would make more sense to simply expand Hwy. 138 instead of cutting a new path through the townships.

Then last night, all of the candidates except the Green’s Justin Reist participated in one of the final debates of the campaign. An exchange between Libertarian Neal Donnelly and Mark created quite a stir. Apparently, Neal insuated that old people shouldn’t be cared for because they’re going to die anyway – including Mark’s elderly mother in the statement.

Neal issued a formal apology soon after the debate.

I would like to issue a sincere public apology to Liberal Candidate Mark A. MacDonald for a comment made this evening regarding a family member of Mr. MacDonald’s. I wish to make it clear that this comment was made with no intentional disrespect. It was an slip of the tongue originating purely from political belief. I do admit, however, that this comment crossed the line of professional courtesy. Regardless of our differences, I commend Mr. MacDonald for his hard work, and wish him only the very best.

I noted the apology on Twitter. This was my exchange with Mark that followed:

VoteMMacDonald: He targeted all seniors and less fortunate–not just my Mom–an apology is not good enough! It goes beyond common decency
ReporterCheryl: So what do you want Neal to do to redeem himself?
VoteMMacDonald: This is more than a “banana on the ice moment”. This is human life! I will be issuing a formal statement later today.

I have a pretty good idea of what the results from this riding will look like on Oct. 6 … but I’ll keep my predictions to myself for now. The only big question in my mind is who will finish last: the Libertarian with his plan for no taxes and nearly no government, or the Green Party student who has yet to step foot in the riding.

If you need a refresher on what has been going on in the riding as of late, check out my timeline here.

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Debates

September 7, 2011 at 10:07 am (Election 2011, News, Politics)

The writ drops at noon today, and the provincial election campaign will heat up for the final month before the Oct. 6 vote. Ads will hit the airwaves, signs will go up all over the riding, and the candidates will face each other in front of their constituency.

Here’s a list of the debates for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry:

  • Tonight, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Cornwall Legion. Hosted by the Cornwall and District Labour Council, with pre-planned questions plus time for inquiries from the public. (I’ll be covering this one!)
  • Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. Hosted by Poverty Free Ontario, with a focus on poverty and homeless. At the Agape Centre.
  • Monday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. Hosted by the Martintown and District Goodtimers Association, with an open mic for residents to ask questions. At the Martintown Community Centre.
  • Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by the North Dundas Chamber of Commerce, with the public invited to question the candidates. Held at the Winchester Community Centre.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. Hosted by the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, with a yet-to-be-determined format. Held at the civic complex.

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Five in the race

September 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm (Election 2011, News, Politics)

First of all, I am well aware of how terrible I am at blogging on a consistent basis. I think it’s something I just have to come to terms with.

Secondly, here’s an update on the provincial election, since I’m sure you’re all as riveted to the ongoing developments as I am.

The leaders’ debate – that’s singular, they’re only having one – will be held on Sept. 27, just days before the vote on Oct. 2. It looks like the Green Party leader might get a seat at the table this time. The writ officially drops on Wednesday, though a majority of candidates have already begun their campaign.

We now have a slate of five in SD&SG. The Green Party is running a student from Ottawa, who says he hopes to come to the riding once or twice during the campaign. Also joining the MPPs hopefuls is Darcy Neal Donnelly, who is once again running as a Libertarian; he came in last in the federal election.

The Progressive Conservatives here have run into a little trouble, with someone hacking their phone lines and making prank calls to supporters. I’ve heard of sign vandalism, but nothing like this. They had Senator Bob Runciman down for Jim McDonell’s launch.
The Liberals invited infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli to their office ribbon cutting, while the local NDPers paid tribute to Jack Layton before saluting candidate Elaine MacDonald at their opening.

Locally, the first debate is on Sept. 7 at the Legion. I’m still trying to track down details on other events, but it looks like several of the counties will host the candidates as well. The Agape Centre, along with other groups, has also organized an hour-long discussion on poverty on Sept. 15.

I put together a timeline of events and stories here in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, which you can follow for updates and news from the Standard-Freeholder. I’m apparently unable to embed it on this page – or just way more computer illiterate than I’d like to think – so you’ll have to go here to check it out.

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What do you vote for?

May 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm (Election 2011, Politics, Rants)

Democracy. It’s a beautiful thing.

It allows a young woman who has never set foot in a riding to be elected by her constituents. It provides seats in the House of Commons for several students with little real-world political experience. It offers residents the choice to vote for a party or a leader rather than the person who will directly represent them to the government.

Democracy is great. I just think the electorate is strange sometimes.

Sure, residents in Berthierville wanted change. But they voted for an MP who never knocked on doors, debated, or put up signs. She spent half of the campaign vacationing in Vegas, and then was shocked when she received the most votes on Monday. I don’t blame her for being surprised. Apparently the voters cared so little about who their actual representative would be that they simply wrote an X next to the name that would boost Jack Layton’s showing on Parliament Hill. I’m not bashing the NDP – I’d have the same comments if Ruth Anne Brosseau was Liberal, Green, Conservative or from the Rhinoceros Party.

What’s hilarious to me is that now residents from her riding are clamoring for an appearance, an interview, something. They want her to show up, to explain herself. Fair enough. I just don’t understand why they didn’t demand that during the campaign.

I admit, I like the American voting system for one sole reason: they cast a ballot for the person at the top. They vote for the President. We, on the other hand, in the glorious land of Canada, vote for a Member of Parliament.

It’s an often difficult decision: you may like your local representative and what he/she has done for the riding, while disliking the leader of the party or some of the polities. Or, maybe you’re a big fan of the national platform but don’t get along with the local candidate. Across Quebec and other regions this time around, people seemed to rally around a party leader without paying much attention to who was on the ballot or what they stood for. There has to be a balance, a weighing of what is most important: the kind of government or the character of the representative.

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Election 41: recap

May 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm (Election 2011, Politics) (, , , , , , )

I promise that sometime soon, I will write about something other than the election. But it has taken over my life for the last couple of weeks, so it’s only fair that it takes over my blog as well.

What a night. Here’s a quick recap.

I watched Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s victory speech last night … he was handed a majority government and the chance to get things done for the next four years – no opposition parties to blame for inaction now. The NDP have vaulted into second place with more than a hundred seats. Though this is a huge success for them, they actually have less power than before since they’re now up against a solid Conservative majority. The Liberals were decimated, with several high-profile members losing their seats; Michael Ignatieff has resigned as leader. The Bloc Quebecois have lost their “official party” status (which requires 12 seats in the House, and provides Question Period talk time and funding), and Gilles Duceppe stepped down after losing his riding. Elizabeth May won against cabinet minister Gary Lunn, so she’ll be bringing her Green Party agenda to Parliament Hill.

This map of Canada shows the incredible gains of both the Conservative and NDP. It blows my mind a little.

My predictions were so ridiculously far off, it’s like I was talking about a different election. My already-terrible math got progressively worse as the night went on … I had a hard time figuring out voter turnout comparisons and the difference in votes between candidates. I was tired, okay?

Locally, Liberal Bernadette Clement managed to snag second place by less than 200 votes. I’m pretty sure the orange wave had quite a bit to do with Mario Leclerc’s finish – I saw next to nothing that impressed me about his campaign. We’re all working on follow up stories here in the Standard-Freeholder office, gathering reaction and looking ahead to the future of the riding associations in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.

The electorate is a very unpredictable group, even for the professional pundits and pollsters. I do wish that more than 61% of voters had participated in the process. But I still love it. Democracy is alive and well in Canada.

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Election 41: RESULTS

May 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm (Election 2011, Politics)

For a change, I am in the office on election day. Rather than heading out to a campaign headquarters, I’m staying in and making calls. I’ll be chatting with local NDP candidate Mario Leclerc, plus checking in with the folks in Glengarry, Prescott and Russell. My colleagues are out with Conservative incumbent Guy Lauzon – who is expected to win with little contest – Liberal Bernadette Clement and the Green’s Wyatt Walsh.

I love being out with the candidates, but I’m not complaining about reporting from the comfort of my office tonight. Results from Atlantic Canada are coming in, as well as some from Quebec and Ontario with 15 minutes since polls closed. Exciting stuff! I’m glad the waiting game didn’t last long; it helps that TV networks can dictate their broadcasts to avoid breaking election laws that don’t allow results to be shown where polls have not yet closed. Plenty of people have not followed the rules by posting results on Twitter, though I’m thankful to see most journalists are more concerned with the process than being first on this one.

The biggest story of the evening will definitely be how well the NDP does. So far it looks like they are picking up seats, but the night is still young.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the evening over at @ReporterCheryl, but I’ll also update this blog when I have moments in between, you know, actual work.

UPDATE (10:51 p.m.) – Wow. I’m actually surprised by how surprised I am. Conservatives win a majority, the Liberals have their worst showing in history, the Bloc Quebecois might have less than 10 seats, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May is currently leading in her riding. I’ve heard a rumour that Michael Ignatieff is currently losing in his own riding.

Locally, NDP candidate Mario Leclerc is in second place, which I am, frankly, shocked about. Bernadette Clement won her seat on city council by a long shot, but doesn’t even have 18% of the vote right now. Conservative Guy Lauzon won again without a contest – he currently has almost 60%, a gain from the 2008 election.

I never again want to hear that politics in Canada is boring.

UPDATE (12:10 a.m.) – Green Party leader Elizabeth May has won her seat – she’s giving her victory speech at the moment. Conservative cabinet ministers Gary Lunn and Lawrence Cannon lost theirs. Both Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe lost their seats as well, with Duceppe immediately stepping down as Bloc leader.

Locally, Clement and Leclerc are now in an extremely tight race for second place. They’re far behind Lauzon, but only 14 votes apart at the moment. I’m disappointed that none of the candidates in Glengarry, Prescott and Russell made themselves available to comment on my story on their results.

The Conservatives have won a solid majority with 165 seats. The NDP are the Official Opposition with 105, the Liberals only saved 34, and the Bloc have been decimated with only three seats.

I called my dad an hour and a half ago. I miss watching results roll in with him, staying up until all hours and asking him tons of questions about the electoral process. He was pumped to see a majority government and surprised by the NDP’s showing.

Whew. What a night. I’m glad I had a nap earlier – the adrenaline is still pumping.

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Election 41: day 37

May 2, 2011 at 8:31 am (Election 2011, Politics)

The campaign is over. It’s voting day.

There’s been the usual slew of complaints about voter apathy again this time around, but I think turnout is going to be higher than the last couple of elections. Especially if the advance polling was any indication.

Even those who don’t normally get out to their ballot station must have seen some footage of Egypt, or Libya, or Yemen, or one of the other countries fighting for democratic rights. So many people around the world are wiling to die for the chance to cast their vote, to have a voice, to be a part of change in their country.

I think that awareness is creating a new appreciation for the freedom we have in Canada, the ability to vote, the option of electing officials to represent us in government. I hope we’ll see a flood at the polls. I hope people won’t complain when they have to wait a few minutes before making their choice … it’s nothing compared to the hours or days some in Africa and the Middle East had to endure before casting a ballot.

So, get out there! Vote! Be a part of the process.

And if you have any predictions on the results, leave ’em in the comments below. Will it be another Conservative minority? Will the hype over Jack Layton vault the NDP to the status of Official Opposition?

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