Who Are You And What Am I Voting For

Although I obviously care very much about what happens in Kitchener seeing as I live here and whatnot, I’ll freely admit to not always being as up on local politics as I’d like to be. That said, I still intend on voting in the municipal election this month, because not voting in elections is one of those things I don’t really care for.

Also on the list of things I don’t really care for is voting in elections while not knowing shit from shinola, so in that spirit, I shall offer up a few handy pages to hopefully help all of us along when it comes to making informed decisions.

First up, the Kitchener Post asked everyone running for Mayor and city Council a single question: Why should the public vote for you? Though it’s only one question, it’s helpful. It’s helped me make one decision and has me questioning the other. The page is broken down by ward, so you won’t have to waste a bunch of time sifting through a pile of responses that don’t apply to you if that’s not your thing. And don’t worry. If you’re sitting there right now all like “What’s a ward?”, there’s a map for that.

Moving on from the city to the region, the CBC sent a five question survey to the four candidates running for Regional Chair. Their responses are here. They too are helpful.

I haven’t yet been able to find things similar to these for Regional Council or school board representatives, but if I do I’ll add them here. In the meantime, you can also check out WRVotes.com for all sorts of election info for Kitchener and beyond.

See you on October 22nd, if not sooner.

Quarter In The Courts

This is nice. One-Quarter of Ontario PC Candidates Currently Face Lawsuits, Probes and Police Investigations

Obviously not all of these people won, but Doug Ford and his band of miscreants were easily handed a majority government on Thursday, so obviously some of them did.

All of this is important, but there are four things of particular note.

  1. It’s actually more than a quarter of them. The real number, according to Press Progress, is 27.6%. Or to put it another way, 34 out of 123 people who sincerely expected you to trust them to run literally everything important around here might be criminals.
  2. The list I linked to isn’t even a complete one.

    That number does not include several revelations in the lead up to the election,  including allegations ex-PC leader Patrick Brown misappropriated party funds, allegations the PC party president sexually assaulted a young staffer, an investigation launched by Hamilton police looking into claims party officials rigged a nomination meeting or over a dozen other accusations of election fraud at Tory nomination meetings across Ontario.

    It goes on to note that what’s compiled here only covers a single month, which is more than enough, really.

  3. Doug Ford, A.K.A. the guy in charge, personally appears on the list more than once. There’s the lawsuit filed against him by brother Rob Ford’s widow accusing him of ripping her and her kids off to the tune of 16 and a half million dollars to prop up failing businesses and his own lifestyle, the time’s he’s accused of committing election fraud and breaking campaign financing rules, and of course he appears over and over again to defend everyone else’s misdeeds.
  4. All of this was public knowledge well before election season, yet a bunch of you still endorsed it at the ballot box. The hell?

It’s going to be a long four years. For those of you holding out hope that it won’t last that long, I’m sorry. It will. Trump is about to hit a year and a half and he shouldn’t have lasted a week. By that standard, Ford has nothing to worry about no matter what he does. Even throwing out the Trump factor, the voters of Ontario have already made that crystal clear.

Go Home Ontario, You’re Drunk. Possibly ON Buck-A-Beer Meant To Distract You From The Fact That You Just Voted In A Total Asshat

So. Premier Doug Ford is a thing now.

I’m not going to say I’m surprised. I can’t. The existence of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States makes being surprised by an election result pretty well impossible. But what I can say is that I’m incredibly disappointed. More than anything I’m disappointed in the nearly 43 percent of people who didn’t bother voting, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t also disappointed by what the people who did chose to do. Yes, I’m glad you made your voice heard, as is your right. I’d rather you do that than not do it. But since we’re talking about rights, it’s my right to think that your voice is kind of dumb and awful. How people who looked at their options and the state of the province could decide who needs better public transit or higher pay for people who are struggling or expanded health coverage or any of a thousand other things that would benefit everyone, I’m voting for the guy who doesn’t seem to like gay people or minorities or the disabled all that much but might give us reasonably priced beer is baffling. It’s baffling because this is Canada, where we’ve spent so much of the last two years talking about how aware we are compared to Americans and how there’s no way a Trump could ever happen here. I don’t know that Doug Ford is Trump in his purest form, but he’s a bit too close for comfort in some ways. It’s a damn shame that people couldn’t get past their blind hatred for the Liberals or fear of the NDP and see that.

Of course I want Doug Ford to do well. I hope he assembles a competent team to guide him. A team that will help him govern fairly and reasonably and has the courage to talk him out of doing a lot of the really stupid stuff. I hope that he has objectively good ideas and that they work as intended. If those things happen, we’ll all be better for it. But I’ll be honest, it can get hard to have hope for things like those on days like this.

But hey, there was some good news last night. The streak lives!

The party with the least number of votes?
That’s the Pauper Party of Ontario, which is currently sitting with 111 votes … or 0.00 per cent of the popular vote. The party is run by John Turmel, the man who holds the Guinness record for the most elections run in and the most elections lost.
But don’t feel bad for Turmel. He’s already announced he’s running for mayor in the municipal election this fall in Brantford.

The record now stands at 93, I believe. Well done, Jiu-Jitsu John!

Hi! It’s Adam From the Ontario NDP. Do You Have Some Random Numbers I Can Dial?

I don’t know how widespread it is, but the NDP is causing a bit of annoyance in some places thanks to texts from someone or something calling itself Adam.

A lot of locals aren’t happy about receiving random texts on their cell phones from the New Democratic Party.
The texts started popping up on phones earlier this week.

“Hi! It’s Adam from the Ontario NDP. Do you know about the election happening on June 7?” it reads.
It then advises to reply “stop” if you want to “opt out” and that SMS rates may apply.
People responding would find themselves in a political discussion with “Adam” who would also provide links to the NDP platform on issues.

I haven’t gotten any of these myself, and I’m not sure how much of a problem I’d have with it if I did. On the surface it’s basically a modern version of a party calling you, and it’s even less irritating because you don’t have to get up from dinner to answer it because it might be something important. Man do I ever not miss those days at all. Whoever invented caller ID should win every award that exists and a few I can make up if those aren’t enough.

But while the text itself may not bug me, I’m not so sure about the NDP’s response to the controversy.

“We use texting as part of our program to get voters out on election day to cast their ballots,” Party spokesman Jared Walker told GuelphToday. “We use texting, but we do NOT use lists.”

Ok, so then where do the numbers come from?

“If you receive a text from us, you’ve either signed up OR you’ve received a random text that comes with an opt-out option. Our texting method is sort of like our door-knocking method, we visit everyone!”

First of all, if people have signed up, that’s a list. But the bigger issue is the random part. Sending hundreds or thousands of texts at a time helplessly into the wind and hoping that maybe a few will land? That sounds inefficient. It also sounds an awful lot like spam.

If you guys are using lists, just admit it. And if you aren’t, maybe now might be a good time to start. It seems like a much better strategy than what you’re doing now, bothering people with cell phones and confusing old folks with landlines.

Info About Accessible Voting For This Provincial Election

It’s time for another election. Where the heck did those four years go? It doesn’t feel like nearly four years ago that I wrote this post about the trials and tribulations of accessible voting, but the calendar doesn’t lie.

I have to say that this year, they seem to have made an accessible voting one-stop shop to read about all things accessible voting, which is a definite improvement from last election. I know exactly when and where I can vote with assistive voting technology. The options are still limited, but there’s no way I will show up at an advance polling location thinking the assistive voting tech will be there.

But I have a question. Under the section called “accessible services for voters at voting locations, one of the listed options is written as follows:

Voters may use their mobile phones as an accessibility device.

What does that even mean? Does that mean “If you have magnification software on that phone, you can feel free to use it? I don’t think there’s anything you can interface with and send your ballot via text message or anything like that. If that’s what it means, how is that an accessible service they’re providing? I was not aware that you couldn’t enter the booth with your phone, and only now, out of their generosity, could you do such a thing. You’re basically bringing your own accessibility. How is that a service provided by Elections Ontario? Or, does it mean something else and they need to be clearer? If so, please, someone, set me straight.

I’m sure we will have a story or two about our voting experience. We always do. But I thought I would get this up nice and early, unlike last time.

Strategic Voting Is Still Not Worth Your Time

Though I personally think it’s stupid, nonsensical and based on little more than hope and magical fairy dust, I do understand the urge some people have to participate in strategic voting campaigns. Our election system is a bit screwy, sometimes allowing candidates to claim seats with some rather low percentages. So yes, the temptation to try to use that to your advantage makes sense. But the problem, and this happens in pretty much every election ever, is that it simply doesn’t work. Why? Because polls, much like vote strategically efforts, are kind of garbage. A poll can say whatever it wants leading into an election, but none of it matters. The only poll that counts is the one where you have to go down to a school or a church or whatever and actually vote, and since there are often many undecided voters and because sometimes people change their minds when they get there among other factors, things tend to turn out differently than expected. So when you use iffy science to plan your methodical takedown of the villain you don’t want elected, it’s kind of like throwing blindfolded at a dart board. Maybe you’ll hit what you’re aiming at or maybe you’ll put a nice hole in the wall, who really knows? Not the strategic voting planners, it turns out.

The polls from the 2013 B.C. election are perhaps the most pertinent here. For a solid month, the Liberals trailed the NDP in every poll. On Election Day, Angus Reid—an established polling company—had the NDP at 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners, with the governing Liberals in second place with 36 per cent.  ThreeHundredEight.com projected 49 seats for the NDP, compared to just 35 for the Liberals. If ever anyone was a lock for the B.C. premiership, surely it was NDP leader Adrian Dix. “IF THIS MAN KICKED A DOG, HE’D STILL WIN THE ELECTION!” blared the front page of The Province. But the only poll that mattered told a different story: voters delivered 44.4 per cent of the popular vote and 50 of the province’s 85 seats to the Liberals; the NDP’s 39.5 per cent vote share and 34 seats were a poor consolation prize. (No word on how many dogs Adrian Dix kicked during the final hours of his campaign.)
Not exactly confidence-inspiring. I asked Vote Strategic BC (@votestrategicbc), which encourages anti-Liberal voters to engage in poll-based decision-making, “Could you tell me what makes these polls more reliable than the ones that predicted an NDP government at this time four years ago?” Their response was frank, if nothing else: “Nope. Just something to think about. Some of my data is past election results. Current % projections from @2closetocall.” I then posed the same question to Bryan Breguet at @2closetocall; he replied, “I wish I had a good answer but I don’t… at the end of the day, we can only hope.” He mentioned that the 2017 polls used different methodologies; whether those methodologies address the 2013 polls’ shortcomings (including failing to account for the 11 per cent of voters who made their decision on voting day) is a different matter.

I’ll say it again. Don’t waste your time on this stuff, you guys. It’s time better spent learning the candidates and the issues and making the choice that’s right for you. You’re probably not changing the world either way, but your odds are slightly better.

How Teachers Have Been Dealing With The Trump Thing

This is a long read, but it’s something else. ‘What Do I Say?’: Stories From the Classroom After Election Day

If the title didn’t give it away, it’s a collection of stories from American school teachers at all levels about the reactions of their students and themselves to the reality of President Trump and how they dealt with them. The overarching theme here is that while Trump obviously has his supporters (he wouldn’t have won if he didn’t), that those people let down, confused and scared the living shit out of a generation but that in spite of that, there’s still a sense of hope and good out there and that someday soon the Trump set is going to have a lot to answer for. For me, nothing illustrates that better than this one, which just decks you right in the feelings.

7th-9th grade teacher, Denver, Colorado:
I teach 7th, 8th, and 9th graders and start the day with my homeroom students (heavily Latinx, with several white and two Asian, one Native American). We opened with a check-in circle; some students were already crying, and several more started to cry while talking about how they were feeling. Several spoke of fear around deportation for friends and family. Two normally verbose kids didn’t want to speak at all. One broke down detailing how she worried that her young brother with leukemia would lose access to healthcare. One just shook his head and said “He’s just…such an asshole. Sorry.”
A few said they didn’t care either way, but one of those got out the tissues for the others. Through my own tears I said something probably hamfisted about how much I cared about them and would fight to protect them no matter the situation, but then we decided to go outside for a walk together. Before we left, one of my Latino students, Carlos, was almost incapacitated with sobbing in the bathroom talking about how “…it could all be taken away for no reason.” A quiet older white boy named Luke was there consoling him, giving him a hug. As we all walked out into a beautiful day, many of them had their arms around each other. I looked behind me and saw Luke with his arm around another crying Latino boy, Jacob, who hated the idea of what his young cousins would hear from Trump in the way he talks about women.
Ahead of me, several students found a patch of perfectly ripe raspberries (a small miracle in November in Colorado). On our way back, I told Luke I was proud of him for taking care of the younger boys and he absolutely collapsed in sobs. Carlos came up and put his arm around Luke. My own doubt and fear evaporated as I realized that what I was seeing was all we can ever hope for as people—to hold each other up when times get hard. I suppose the big takeaways from my morning are that 1) my students ended up supporting and inspiring me a lot more than I did them, and 2) no matter the president, fresh raspberries will always be delicious.

Go Home America, You’re Drunk

To everyone I’ve talked to about this election over the last year, all the ones I’ve tried to reassure that though there are people in this world who think like he does and though his run may be amusing to a segment of the population for a while that there was no way Donald Trump could actually win…I’m sorry. I honestly believed that even though it might be closer than people were figuring, when push came to shove most American voters would be smart enough to cut through the personality and the big talk and see Donald Trump for the racist, sexist, dishonest, hateful, insecure maniac that he is. I was wrong. I don’t know what else to say.

To America, I respect your decision. Not because the thought of Donald fucking Trump as the leader of the free world backed by a Republican Senate and Congress doesn’t kinda scare me half to death even from a distance, but because you went out and voted, and no matter how impossibly reckless what you did may be, you got what you wanted. Good luck with that. I sincerely hope that it works out for you and that nobody gets hurt.

To Hillary Clinton, hang in there. Being known by all until the end of time as the person who lost a federal election to Donald J. Trump in the year of our lord 2016 won’t be easy, but you’ll make it through. You seem far too smart and resilient not to.

To Donald Trump, I don’t like you and I don’t trust you, but dammit, I’m stuck with you. Yes I’m Canadian, but as a real estate guy I’m sure you understand how much a crazy neighbour can mess with your property values. For the love of god, please don’t be that crazy neighbour. That stuff you said this morning about bridging divides and wanting to be a President for everyone, do that.

And to the world, stay strong. Respect each other. Take care of each other. And don’t lose sight of the fact that as awful as things may feel right now, this isn’t the first time they’ve felt this way. We survived those, we’ll survive this. Like the song says…

Remember, I’m pullin’ for ya. We’re all in this together.

Happy Election Day, America. Soon It’ll All Be Over

Well…here we are. After what feels like no less than 12 years of insults and ridiculousness with a little bit of campaigning thrown in once in a while, it’s finally election day in America. That means a lot of things, including that it’s time for us to say that if you’re eligible to vote in this thing, we hope you will. I know a lot of people don’t see the value in voting and that a good number of you probably see even less value in some Canadian guy telling you what to do, but there’s meaning in both.

The value in voting should be obvious. It may not feel like it sometimes, but your vote is your voice. If you don’t use it and things don’t go your way, that’s on you. You won’t always get what you want even if things do, but at least you’ll have done your part to ensure that you live in a place that more or less represents you.

As for me A.K.A. one of those nosy damn foreigners, this election means a lot to us. I’m not sure if you realize this, but your country, more than any other in the entire world, has its hands in literally everything. From trade deals to peace deals to fast food meal deals, if it’s happening, for better or worse you guys are in on it. So this election, while it absolutely is about you, is about so much more. The world as a whole is counting on you to get this right.

So whether getting it right means you’re voting for the rapey orange bigot, the shady lady or some fifth party dude on the fringes that the rest of us have never heard of, please get out and do it. Even if the choice you’re making feels like this,

you won’t be wasting your time.

I’m Donald Trump…Or Am I

I’m giving this one a soundtrack because we need to get it in before it’s too late to be topical.

Tempting as it may be, there are more productive ways of voicing your displeasure with Donald Trump and his supporters than showing up at one of his rallies and vandalizing the cars there with peanut butter. This is especially true when the Trump rally in question isn’t even a Trump rally.

According to the complaint, Ferguson entered the meeting, which was being held on the 3900 block of Second St. in Amherst Junction, at about 9:30 PM on Monday, holding a jar of peanut butter and yelling at the club members about how much she hated the presidential candidate.
Ferguson left the meeting after being asked to do so, but after a few minutes one of the members suggested they check the parking lot to “make sure she wasn’t doing anything to their vehicles after leaving.”
As they went outside, one man saw Ferguson spreading peanut butter on a vehicle. He yelled at her, according to the complaint, and watched her walk into a nearby apartment complex. The man then called the Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office.
When deputies attempted to question Ferguson, a man at the apartment claimed she had been home all night and couldn’t have been involved in the incident. Ferguson also claimed she hadn’t left the apartment that night, and was repeatedly licking her fingers — indicating the presence of an edible substance on her fingers, according to the complaint — while talking to the deputy.

Once she was identified by a witness, Christina Ferguson confessed to everything, explaining that she did it because she loved Hillary Clinton, hated Donald Trump and had been terrorized by Trump Supporters. She went on to tell police that “Peanut buttering is better than firebombing, and Trump plans on firebombing everybody in other countries.”

All of that sounds remarkably logical coming from a woman who also admitted to having consumed beer and blackberry brandy beforehand and then proceeded to blow a .218 on a breath test, it should be pointed out.

When informed that her Trump rally was actually a meeting of the Tomorrow River Conservation Club, Ferguson was apologetic, telling police that she was “just fed up about the entire election.”

The apology wasn’t enough to prevent an arrest and a charge of disorderly conduct for the peanut buttering, which effected approximately 30 vehicles.