Thoughts on the November 21 #TorCen Rosedale United Church some candidates debate

Toronto Centre Debates Reports

Report 1Rogers TV – Some Candidates Debate – Nov. 13/13

Report 2St. Michael’s College Attempted Debate – Nov. 16/13

Report 3Toronto Centre “FATCA Centric” ALL Candidates – Nov. 18/13

Report 4Steve Paikan Discussion with Some Candidates – Nov. 20/13

Report 5Jarvis Collegiate – Some Candidates – November 20/13

Report 6Rosedale United Church – November 21, 2013

1. Exclusion of Candidates – The parties arent’ everything, they are the only thing

Once again the majority of the candidates were excluded from the debate. Once again an independent candidate – in this case Kevin Clarke – arrived (somehow getting by the police) and protested his exclusion. He clearly was not welcome and eventually was “escorted out” of the Church by the Toronto police. The exclusion of candidates is troubling.

The organizers did allow the “excluded candidates” the opportunity to introduce themselves. Progressive Canadian and anti- FATCA candidate Reverend Dorian Baxter and Online Party candidate Michael Nicula introduced themselves. (An improvement over the November 20 debate at Jarvis Collegiate.)

Should the main political party candidates be able to shut other candidates out of the political process? Should the main party candidates be able to silence discussion of topics that are not important to them?

Is the right to participate in the electoral process guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If so, what should that right be?

2. The results of this by-election don’t matter

John Deverell reminds us that the results of the Toronto Centre by-election will not affect the balance of power in the House of Commons.

Shouldn’t this mean that:

A. The candidates should NOT be shackled to the positions of their parties; and

B. The argument for including all candidates in the debates is strengthened.

3. Content and evaluation of the candidates performances

Yes, a good portion of the evening focused on income inequality (a topic of little interest in this tony Rosedale Neighbourhood).

For the most part the debate was  a regurgitation of the same questions and answers as in previous meetings. The content was boring and frankly the candidates were boring. Nevertheless, some thoughts on each candidate:

John Deverell – I thought he had his best night. Although he continued his message of electoral reform (he apparently founded Fair Vote Canada) he did (for the first time) venture into other areas. He would be a much better candidate if he believed that he could make a difference. He suggests that he can make a difference only if he were to win. This is NOT so.

Geoff Pollock – Always a good job of delivering the message of pride in the Harper Government and belief in its virtues. He participated in most of the debates – something unheard of for a Conservative candidate. As I have said before: he always exceeds expectations.

Chrystia Freeland – Of the four candidates who have appeared in the debates, she has the most trouble delivering a consistent message. Difficult to know what her position is anything. After watching four debates, I believe that she has a weaker public presence than the other three candidates (this is NOT relevant to her possible performance as an MP). It does mean that if she wins, her victory can be attributed to the fact that Toronto Centre is a Liberal Riding and that she is the Liberal Candidate.

Also, she really needs to learn to ignore Linda McQuaig. Linda McQuaig is forever “digging” at Chrystia Freeland. Chrystia needs to just ignore her. Bad luck for Chrystia that she always seemed to be seated beside Linda.

Linda McQuaig – Delivered the overall best performance for a second debate in as many nights. Ms. McQuaig is successful NOT because of her message, but because she has a message!

Although all four candidates understand the issues presented, only Geoff Pollock and Linda McQuaig are able to connect one issue to the next.

4. What the polls suggest

If the poll referenced in the above tweet is to be believed, Chrystia Freeland should be headed to victory.

5. What if the candidates had no party affiliation

If the candidates had NO party affiliation either Linda McQuaig or Geoff Pollock would be the winner. Interesting how the political parties become more important the candidates. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the role of political parties – YES.

6. Toronto Centre Campaign demonstrates need for electoral reform

A. How we elect candidates

It’s obvious that the first past the post system must end. This is the only way to make all candidates relevant and to make all voters relevant.

B. The role of political parties

The best performer on the campaign trail will NOT win (I don’t think)! This means that the political parties are keeping the best candidates out of the House.

C. The right to participate

To NOT allow all candidates to participate in the electoral process is immoral, an affront to out Westminster style democracy, and a way to cheat the voters. Again, the main political parties are at fault!

Conclusion:

The Toronto Centre by-election has been a “live argument” for rethinking the role of the political parties in Canada!

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