30 August 2011

Why Should I Care? Trinity Spadina All Candidates' Debate

More than 80 local residents joined the Why Should I Care team last night in welcoming the candidates seeking to represent Trinity-Spadina in the upcoming Provincial election to an all candidates' debate at the Duke of York. Incumbent NDP MPP Rosario Marchese, Liberal candidate Sarah Thompson, and Green Party candidate Tim Grant all attended to speak to and hear from voters. The Conservative Candidate declined our invitation... and missed quite a show.

The Candidates were permitted to begin with a short speech introducing themselves and their positions. After declining a poorly timed cell phone call, Tim Grant pulled no punches in calling for transit reform. He noted that the current debate is mostly about how transit is funded, and not about how transit is planned to be successful and sustainable in the long term. Noting that we spend six times as much on roads as transit, Grant said that transport funding should be more reflective of the province's 80% urban nature.

Liberal Sarah Thompson took a more personal approach, describing her background both in and outside of the riding and in particular her recent tilt at the Mayoral chair, hinting that if elected as MPP Ford might remain in her sights. She also emphasized her entrepreneurial background, first in transportation and presently as publisher of the Women's Post, saying that she supported the liberal approach of supporting entrepreneurialism over big government.

Incumbent Rosario Marchese seemed, perhaps not surprisingly, most comfortable with the room, promoting a 'people focus' for his politics before applying it to condo owners (vs. developers), rules for junk food advertising, tuition fee reduction, and an electric rail link to the airport. He stated that he promotes a return to the 50/50 funding formula for transit, and an end to corporate tax cuts to provide the tax base for these programs.

Following the candidates' comments, the floor was opened to questions. Speakers were invited to read their question to the candidates but, because of the limited time with all candidates, the audience was then polled to determine whether a majority present wished to hear the candidates' responses to, and audience commentary on, the question. Questions concerning treatment for MS, OMB zoning, and the HST failed to make the cut, among others, but questions on child care, nuclear power, affordable housing, underemployment, and transit made for a very active debate and discussion relevant to the overwhelming majority of residents.

Perhaps the most heated discussion arose from the question about the maintenance of the separate Catholic school system. One commenter wisely added that, with French language education, there are in fact four separate systems. While the crowd present seemed to agree with the United Nations, which has in fact censured Ontario for maintaining this system, only Grant was prepared to state that Ontario should break with this constitutional legacy.

Ultimately, all three candidates engaged with the discussion in a meaningful and unscripted way, which was much appreciated by those in attendance and contributed greatly to the success of the event.

Marchese returned frequently to the theme of Provincial funding cuts (mostly attributed to Mike Harris) having had a detrimental impact on the city and reflecting a now-chronic unfair funding formula, and the ability of the corporate sector to sustain small tax increases where required to return to a more equitable ratio.

Thompson was the most combative of the three, taking several opportunities to challenge the incumbent on having realistic plans to back his politics or - to the audience's delight - the power in opposition to effect them, and asked for the voters to make a change after 21 years.

Grant preferred to focus on how best practices could be adopted in a variety of areas, from building code to job training, and asked voters to make history by electing him as the first Green member of Ontario's Legislature.

The WSIC team extends their thanks to all the candidates and attendees, and invites you all to join and continue the discussion on-line at www.whyshouldicare.ca/, on Facebook, and on Twitter #WSIC_Canada.

[republished with permission]


Blogger Nurglitch said...

Good to see you're back in the saddle! May I ask whose work you're re-posting with permission? It's rather good reporting.

September 01, 2011  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

My own, actually: I had forgotten that I changed the name on this account and (mistakenly) didn't want to blow my cover by posting identical text here as elsewhere.

September 01, 2011  
Blogger Justin Chatwin said...

Hey, great article, I also attended and did a quick blog post on it- http://www.messageall.ca/wordpress/?p=3272

September 01, 2011  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Thanks Justin, I was away for the long weekend and only saw this now.

September 05, 2011  

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