Lessons from the Doug Ford School of Public Administration

I could not resist posting this pointed, and unfortunately all too accurate, rant by Les Whittington. Hopefully, year two will show a more measured and mature governing style (but not hopeful):

School is out at Queen’s Park, but here are the lessons for the next semester based on the first year of Premier Doug Ford’s government in Ontario:

Talk about helping “the people” while you slash programs that many need: Roll back promised funding increases for rape crisis centres, cut legal aid by 30 per cent, cancel a $1 increase in minimum wage, remove rent control for new units, get rid of the basic income pilot program, scrap legislation to help part-time workers, cancel free prescription medication for young Ontarians, kill off free university tuition for low-income students, and slice $84-million in funding for children and at-risk youth.

The public doesn’t pay attention so there’s no problem promising one thing and doing something else: Tell voters “not one single” public service job will be lost under a Ford government, then once elected change that to no “frontline” jobs. Then put thousands of teachers’ jobs at risk by raising school class sizes. Watch other jobs disappear at agencies that are being axed or downsized. Put thousands of beer store employees’ jobs in jeopardy.

Don’t worry about honouring your promise to continue with the planned increase in municipalities’ share of gas tax funding… they can do without that extra $300-million.

Treat the public like a bunch of dazzled rubes: Bread and circuses, supplemented with divisive anger, can be a winner, as U.S. President Trump has shown. Above all, in Ontario this means prioritizing beer and booze. Commenting on the Ford government’s budget, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner noted the emphasis: “If you look through this budget, it mentions booze and gambling 63 times, it mentions climate change 15 times, and it mentions poverty zero times.”

Avoid annoying demands for consultation and advance information:Better to release details of your unexpected decisions in phone calls to the officials involved rather than publicly, as was done with the planned amalgamation of regional health organizations. Another example: Without warning, the Ford government trashed years of urban planning designed to keep Toronto liveable when it took over the city’s planning in a move to allow developers to build higher buildings—and more of them—in the city’s downtown and midtown. After all, developers need a freer hand.

Personal grudges are as good a basis for public policy as anything else:Given the province’s power over Toronto’s affairs, why not unexpectedly cut the size of Toronto’s city council in half? Didn’t the council give brother Rob Ford a hard time when he was mayor? Rob Ford always favoured a subway line to Scarborough. By taking over subway planning, a Progressive Conservative government can make it happen. As for the provincial Liberals, only old-fashioned notions of fairness could have stopped the PC majority from changing the rules to keep the Ontario Liberals from having a chance to achieve official party status.

Provincial taxpayers are so apathetic they won’t mind if their tax dollars are spent on federal political ads: If your government opposes carbon pricing imposed by the Trudeau government, why not spend millions from the Ontario treasury advertising against it? Also, there’s no need in today’s post-truth environment to mention the fact that Ottawa will be rebating the carbon tax revenues to individual Ontario taxpayers.

Don’t bother the public with difficult issues like climate change or the need to prepare for the green economy: Voters will buy things like park clean-ups as a substitute for action on global warming. So, you can cancel Ontario’s cap and trade program and cut 700 green energy programs, undermine the province’s independent environmental watchdog, and earmark $30-million to challenge the carbon tax in court.

Policies based on illusions of past greatness are always more popular than forward-looking plans designed to try to address the complex issues of modern life: Reduce financial support of post-secondary institutions and kill off new satellite university campuses while cutting funding for innovative research and work on improving Canada’s economic prowess. The future will look after itself.

Don’t bother with nuisances like avoiding favouritism in major government appointments or not interfering in politics outside your sphere: Just because Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner was a Ford family friend didn’t mean he wouldn’t have been a good choice for OPP commissioner.

On the federal-provincial scene, a premier should stake out the most provocative position possible, as in this Ford quote from October 2018:“We’ve taken Kathleen Wynne’s hand out of your pocket … and we’re going to take Justin Trudeau’s hand out of your pocket.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer needs all the election help he can get, so pitch in. How could that not work out well for him?

Source: Lessons from the Doug Ford School of Public Administration

Kenney will campaign in Ontario during federal election as Tories look to win back immigrant voters

As noted, these ridings can flip back and forth (and Doug Ford’s PCs largely won the same 905 ridings that the Liberals had won back federally).

I have considerable discomfort with such a partisan role for provincial premiers in a federal election and vice-versa whatever the party.

It will nevertheless be interesting to see how effective this strategy works with one premier who knows the issues and related limits, and one who appears largely oblivious. And obviously, Kenney will be capitalizing on the close relations he developed with many of the communities he actively courted in the past.

And the obvious question is why premiers are campaigning when they should be governing:

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will campaign in Ontario during this fall’s general election in an effort to convince new Canadians living in suburban ridings that Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are a safe choice for their votes.

Mr. Kenney’s journey to the Ontario heartland is a remarkable intervention by a premier in a federal campaign, a move targeted at defeating Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

Premiers have involved themselves in federal elections in the past. Danny Williams, when he was Progressive Conservative premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, waged an Anything But Conservative campaign against Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives during the 2008 election in a dispute over equalization formulas.

Liberal Kathleen Wynne, then-premier of Ontario, worked actively in 2015 to defeat Mr. Harper and to make Mr. Trudeau prime minister, going so far as to throw her party’s provincial machine into local fights to defeat both Conservative and New Democrat candidates.

But Mr. Kenney is taking a very different approach, according to a source close to the United Conservative Party Premier; The Globe and Mail granted them anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the Premier’s behalf. Mr. Kenney will be inserting himself into what is known as the 905: the large swath of seats outside Toronto, named after its area code, whose millions of voters often determine the outcome of federal elections.

In many of those ridings, immigrant Canadians make up a majority or a large minority of voters. As immigration minister in the Harper government from 2008 to 2013, Mr. Kenney worked tirelessly and successfully to convince immigrant voters, many of whom are socially and economically conservative in outlook, that the federal Conservative Party best reflected their values.

A swing by 905 voters away from the Liberals delivered a strong minority government for the Conservatives in the 2008 election and a majority in 2011. But many of those same voters abandoned Mr. Harper for Mr. Trudeau in 2015, helping to deliver a majority government for the Liberals.

In a statement to The Globe on Wednesday, Mr. Kenney reiterated his hope that the Liberals would modify their positions on pipeline approvals and carbon taxes. However, if the Liberals do not reverse these policies, he said, “I will openly and vocally campaign here in Alberta and wherever I can make a difference across Canada to elect a Conservative government that will stand up for Alberta and for Canada.

“As I said many times during the recent [provincial] election campaign, if the Trudeau government continues with the destructive policies that undermine Alberta’s vital economic interests and put Albertans out of work, the impact on our province will be disastrous,” he said. “If Trudeau’s policies don’t change, then the federal government needs to.”

The new Alberta Premier has many bones to pick with Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals. In the Throne Speech delivered by Lieutenant-Governor Lois Mitchell Wednesday, the new government vowed to immediately scrap the carbon tax enacted by the previous NDP government of Rachel Notley. The Liberals have imposed a federal tax on any province that does not put a price on carbon. The tax is one reason Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford will also be campaigning to unseat Liberals in the next general election.

Mr. Kenney is also incensed by Bill C-69, which would impose stricter environmental conditions on proposed infrastructure-projects, including new pipelines, and Bill C-48, which would ban tanker traffic along British Columbia’s north coast. Both bills have been passed by the House of Commons and are currently before the Senate.

The federal Liberals have accused the federal Conservatives of catering to nativist voters, pointing to a pro-pipeline rally that Mr. Scheer attended at which far-right-wing activist Faith Goldy was also present, along with “yellow vest” protesters, many of whom oppose Canada’s open-door immigration policies.

The Conservatives have fought back against these accusations. “There is no home in the Conservative Party of Canada for anti-immigrant or racist sentiment,” Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said earlier this month. “Anyone who harbours those beliefs does not have a political home in our movement.”

But Mr. Kenney’s appeal to immigrant voters may carry special weight. As immigration minister, he was indefatigable in his efforts to woo visible-minority voters, earning the nickname “minister for curry in a hurry.”

The source close to Mr. Kenney said the Premier will only campaign in Ontario if his participation is welcomed by the federal Conservatives. Some observers might speculate that looking to Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney for help only illustrates the weakness of Mr. Scheer in the key battleground of Ontario.

But Mr. Kenney’s supporters will say that the more allies Mr. Scheer has during the campaign, the better.

At press time, Mr. Scheer’s office had not responded to a request for comment.

Liberal supporters will assert that having Mr. Kenney and Mr. Ford campaign in support of the federal Conservatives will strengthen Mr. Trudeau’s claim that only he can be counted on to fight global warming, which threatens the environment and human habitations.

But Conservatives at all levels believe that voters will join them in opposing carbon taxes as a tool to fight climate change. The outcome of the next election could hinge on which side suburban voters in Ontario choose.

Source: John Ibbitson writes

If you vote for a reckless politician, you can’t claim to be a good person: Domise

While  it is unhelpful to label people as good or bad, it is valid to highlight that people are accountable for their political affiliations and positions and are somewhat complicit in the overall nature of political decisions:

Earlier this year, while talking to a relative about Donald Trump’s comments regarding “s–thole countries,” I mentioned that Trump’s voters are every bit as responsible as Trump himself for converting the executive office into Coachella for white supremacists. My relative responded that free choices are part and parcel of democracy, and that we should respect people’s voting choices, even if we don’t agree with them. After all, she said, these are mostly good people who generally feel put off by politics.

At the time, I let the matter drop, but I think about that conversation when the Know-Nothing school of the authoritarian right defends its leaders against scandal and ignominy. And with the recent stream of news over the last couple of weeks, it should be safe to say that not only are voters of the populist right driven by their own politics—rather than an alienation from it—they cannot hide behind the assumption they are good people.

Many who throw in their lot with the populist right have serious hang-ups about immigration and multiculturalism, as shown in a study by Jackie Hogan of Bradley University, and Kristin Haltinner of the University of Idaho. Dehumanizing words such as “barbarians” and “parasites” are often used by political and nationalist organizations to describe out-groups, and to circle the wagons in defence of whiteness. These groups have, in recent years, co-opted the right wing and replaced principled conservatism with nationalist and religious theatrics.

Additionally, a recent study conducted by Steven V. Miller of Clemson University and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M University found that white people who would not want immigrant or non-white neighbours were more likely to oppose democracy. Moreover, they were “more open to rule of government by the army,” or by a “strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament and elections.” (The study, by the way, was conducted from 2011 to 2016, before Donald Trump was elected President.) In a follow-up article for NBC News, writer Noah Berlatsky summarized this effect as a tendency of white voters to pull away from democratic institutions, when marginalized people are perceived as benefiting from democracy. “When faced with a choice between bigotry and democracy,” wrote Berlatsky, “too many Americans are embracing the first while abandoning the second.”

The study dovetails with previous evidence to show that white people with racial hang-ups are more supportive of harsh punishments in the criminal justice system, and less supportive of social service programs, when they perceive racialized minorities as the targets of those programs. Prejudice isn’t simply a matter of personal preference, and it doesn’t park itself at the ballot box. Voters who elect populist right-wing politicians—and who know they’ve proposed or support policies that are likely to harm broad swaths of the population—aren’t good people forced into a bad decision by a disdain for politics. Harm against those groups are their politics.

In April, the New York Times reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have separated more than 700 migrant children from their asylum-seeking parents since October, and taken to shelters run by non-government agencies. Many of them wind up in the facilities indefinitely, and many of them are younger than four years old. And earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy for the crime of crossing the border illegally, which pledged to separate children from their parents if they are apprehended.

While the alleged abuses by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection date back to the Obama administration, the response from the Trump administration has been an encouragement for these agencies to escalate punishments in order to deter future migrants. In a recent interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly commented that the migrants in question are “not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society,” and that children separated from their parents “will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever.”

In short, it’s easy to let right-wing populism slide by a simple rejection of élitism—performing a civic duty that occasionally has unforeseen consequences. This is a complete cop-out, and assumes voters have no responsibility to engage with their own humanity. To mark the ballot with that motivation, under the belief that one is fundamentally a “good” person, is to fool oneself. Especially when candidates tout policies during the campaign that will punish and marginalize, and then receive an electoral mandate to act on them. Voters knew who Donald Trump was, before they elected him President. They knew this could happen to innocent migrant children.

Keep that in mind as Ontario’s election day nears. Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford has taken to the campaign trail with his everyman attitude and a bullish approach to sensitive issues. This brand of empty populism—rooted more deeply in his feelings than any demonstrable evidence or priced-out policy—has not deeply hurt his election chances among working-class and high-income voters.

In a community meeting in northern Etobicoke, Ford has pledged to bring back the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy. TAVIS was a police detachment whose tendencies towards racial profiling (or, if you will, “carding”) and strong-armed tactics were so destructive to community policing that even the Toronto Police Service itself recommended the organization be disbanded. And Ford has plainly stated that he is dead set against safe injection sites for opioid addicts, stating that society can’t “just keep feeding them and feeding them” drugs. This, despite repeated rafts of evidence that safe injections sites help save lives, and no evidence that shutting them down will accomplish the same.

Ford’s disregard for the well-being of some Ontario communities doesn’t end there. He has also thrown in with the Campaign Life Coalition’s opposition to Bill 163, which establishes protest-free zones outside abortion clinics. He has floated the idea of requiring parental consent for teenagers to seek abortions. And in his capacity as Toronto city councillor, he attacked a home for autistic youth as having “ruined the community.”

But according to polls, even with his musings on his record, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives remain a strong contender to form Ontario’s next government. Without a coherent and fully costed platform for voters to examine so they can arrive at an educated decision, the PC campaign has mostly surrendered itself to Ford’s own political and social revanchism. Even the Campaign Life Coalition says that his actions and words should speak for themselves: “There is much on the public record about Ford’s views on Toronto’s controversial gay pride parade…This public record can also be considered an indicator of where Doug stands with respect to the pro-family values that are important to many socially conservative members of the PC party.”

And now, voters appear poised to hand him a blank cheque.

Though I may disagree with many on the right, there are principled ways to practise conservative politics. At the very least, if a politician intends to cut back on social services, spur business by cutting red tape, and address the sticky matters of crime and drug policy, those proposals should have plenty of evidence and a fully costed budget attached. But what has passed for “evidence” lately are the gut feelings of people with low stakes. People whose lives and safety are not placed at risk by reckless policies that result in young men of colour being racially profiled, young women screamed at as they enter abortion clinics, and children ripped out of their mothers arms at the border. People who would generally refer to themselves as “good.”

It hardly matters what a voter’s intentions might have been when they cast a ballot for bullies and panderers who have no moral objections to making life more difficult for the marginalized. Regardless of the intent, if the pain of marginalized communities is less important than jamming a finger in the eye of the so-called elites, that voter has signalled to politicians that inflicting pain is a sound campaign strategy. Our pain, in other words, are their politics.

If this is how they choose to exercise their civic duty, then God save the rest of us from good people.

Source: If you vote for a reckless politician, you can’t claim to be a good person

ICYMI: Doug Ford, Jagmeet Singh and the myth of the ‘ethnic vote’

Good long read and analysis (good selection of interviewees):

During the second debate of the Ontario election in Parry Sound, Ont., Doug Ford shared some thoughts about immigration. “I’m taking care of our own first,” the leader of the Progressive Conservatives said, in response to a question about bringing newcomers to the province’s north.

Back in the Toronto area hours later, and facing criticism, he took a different tack. “We take care of new Canadians,” Ford said. “We take care of immigrants coming to this country. They call me personally on my phone.”

The PC leader’s insistence on his love for immigrants and on theirs for him fits closer to the story that’s commonly told about the Ford family’s electoral success in Toronto: Paragons of retail politics who picked up their phones and didn’t hesitate to use their municipal authority to fill in a pothole if a constituent requested it.

The support that reputation fuelled, particularly among visible minority voters, was supposed to help Doug Ford drive right into the premier’s office at Queen’s Park.

The ring of ridings around the city of Toronto—the suburban and exurban 905 where visible minorities are a plurality or majority of the population—has become the place where governments are formed or defeated. The Liberals swept the region in 2015, the Conservatives four years before, and the narrative was reinforced: The ethnic vote decides elections.

But “this assumption around the monolithic [block] only works if every racialized person voted the exact same way,” says Brittany Andrew-Amofah, a senior analyst at the Broadbent Institute, a left-leaning think tank. “And there’s no evidence pointing to that.”

Indeed, the evidence points to something different: Immigrants and visible minorities are politically diverse, their partisan leanings are unremarkable, and they often just vote the same way as everyone else. (Though “racialized” is a better way to describe these communities, “visible minority” is the more commonly used term in research).

And those findings have serious implications for Doug Ford as well as federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh—both of whom have been cast as potential beneficiaries of outsized support from those communities.


New Canadians have voted Liberal since the elder Trudeau opened the door to them in the 1970s, the conventional wisdom goes.

And those from outside Europe and the U.S. are “more likely than other Canadians to favour the Liberal Party of Canada at the federal level,” says Stephen White, an assistant professor in the department of political science at Carleton University. There have been exceptional elections, such as Stephen Harper’s Conservative majority in 2011 and Brian Mulroney’s 1984 win, in which the party has seen a significant drop in support among such new Canadians. The Liberals lost voters of all backgrounds in those campaigns, however, and immigrants were still more likely to back them than the domestically-born.

But there are reasons to downplay the importance of new Canadians’ partisan preferences. For one thing, Quebec accounts for “the entirety of the Liberal advantage among immigrants,” says Chris Cochrane, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Canadian-born voters tend to favour the Bloc Québécois and, in more recent elections, the NDP).

The voting gap between visible minority and white voters is similarly “incredibly small” according to Cochrane. The Liberals do “somewhat better’ among visible minority immigrants, while the Conservatives have an opposite but smaller advantage among non-visible minority immigrants.

Much was made during the Conservative term in government of the party’s efforts to reach immigrant and visible minority voters, spearheaded by Jason Kenney, who held the multiculturalism and immigration portfolios for many years. And pollster Darrell Bricker and journalist John Ibbitson’s 2013 book The Big Shift posited a long-lasting alignment between the Tories and new Canadians, increasingly coming from countries like India and China bearing more conservative views than the domestically-born population.

But just how successful the Tory strategy was, and the magnitude of any rightward shift, might bear a second look. “Is there evidence that the outreach was associated an increased gain in support among immigrants than among non-immigrants? The answer, on average, is no,” Cochrane says. In 2015 election, the Liberals won 29 “majority-minority” ridings; the Conservatives won two.

Among individual communities, the Conservatives do appear to have had some success. Jewish Canadians—not a visible minority, but a group Cochrane studies—did shift towards the Tories, and East Asian voters have also moved in their direction over the course of the last few elections.

But the party has done less well among South Asian Canadians than the Liberals, despite Kenney and prime minister Stephen Harper’s much-photographed visits to Sikh gurudwaras and Hindu temples. Zoom out, and the partisan leanings of particular communities appear small, and contradictory in aggregate.

Demographic voting trends within immigrant communities are also unremarkable. “The age and gender differences … don’t follow any different pattern than we would see in the Canadian-born population,” says White: Men and older voters are more likely to vote Conservative.

In terms of visible minorities, the numbers suggests that differences in values and voting behaviour are “at least as significant” within and between communities as they are in comparison to white Canadians, Cochrane suggests. And that’s supported by the anecdata.

“If you’re a Chinese Canadian, does that give you any real kind of connection with a Canadian who’s immigrated from North Africa?” he asks. Elsewhere, Andrew-Amofah points out that the Black community is extremely diverse, in terms of language, region of immigration and religion. “Being Black is not a monolith,” she says.

And while ethnicity likely factors into how visible minority people vote, “that’s not the only thing that matters,” notes Randy Besco, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Toronto Mississauga’s political science department. “Minorities care about the economy just like everybody else.”

In particular, new immigrants are less likely to be partisan, Besco says. So campaigns and candidates in a particular election may actually matter more than for those who have been in Canada longer or who were born here.

Immigrants: We vote just like you.


A narrative emerged in the early days of the ongoing Ontario election, before the NDP’s sudden rise in the polls: Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives would be swept to power with the support of immigrant and visible minority voters.

The line of reasoning starts with Toronto’s last two mayoral elections. Results from 2010 and to a lesser degree 2014 show an inverse “T” pattern: Downtown and the areas surrounding the subway line voted for the non-Ford candidate, while the inner suburbs went for Rob Ford and Doug in successive editions.

The populations of the neighbourhoods in the latter category include more immigrants and racialized people than those in the former.

The common conclusion: Racialized folks love the Fords. The impression has been bolstered by the crowds at the brothers’ events, which are often attended by large numbers of visible minorities. One community in particular has been singled out as a supposedly counter-intuitive stronghold for the family. “There is a huge amount of focus on Black people and their relationship to [Doug] Ford,” says Andrew-Amofah.

Ford himself has claimed to have “massive support” in the Black community, and that no one other than his brother has done more in their aid. (But the PC leader’s own positions have run counter to his stated concern. At a Somali community event in Toronto in April, his call to revive the  controversial Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy drew a rebuke from an activist in the crowd.)

Andrew-Amofah points out that in northern Etobicoke, the Ford family’s traditional bastion, the single largest racialized group is South Asian. She says that the analytical lens for Ford’s skewed support in Toronto should be geography, not race. “If you look at the inner suburbs, transit is poor [and] they’ve been left out of city planning,” she observes. “So there are characteristics of what’s happening there that you can connect to populist rhetoric.”

Those neighbourhoods have higher-then-elsewhere percentages of racialized residents, because rents are cheaper than in the gentrifying city core. But there’s still a substantial white population there, and their political leanings are excluded from a narrative that has racialized people delivering the inner suburbs to Ford.

Comparisons between Ford and Donald Trump, a line of attack the Liberals in particular have favoured, have clouded rather than clarified the picture. Pundits have emphasized the differences between the two candidates, noting that the PC leader’s brand of populism is anti-establishment without being anti-immigrant or anti-minority.

But Ford doesn’t have to be those things to win. Andrew-Amofah defines populism as “creating an enemy and amplifying people’s insecurities.” The Liberals long reign in power and the premier’s low approval ratings provide a ready target.

Immigration is primarily a federal issue, not a provincial one, meaning Ford need not take a particularly strident position on it. Unlike Quebec, Ontario has not seen an influx of asylum seekers from the U.S., a potential trigger for anti-immigrant sentiment.

There is some evidence that visible minorities respond electorally when they are specifically slighted. Take the example of Muslim Canadians in federal politics. The community has historically favoured the Liberals, Cochrane says, despite being more socially conservative than average.

But the magnitude of the preference was particularly pronounced in the last election. “Even the small number of Muslim Canadians who had voted Conservative in 2011 defected from the party in 2015,” Cochrane says. While there’s no data on exactly why that happened, it’s not hard to draw a link to Tory positions like banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies or setting up a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line. By comparison, the swing away from the party by non-Muslim visible minorities was not significantly greater than among other Canadians.

As long as Ford does not make racialized communities or new Canadians feel targeted in a similarly specific way, his populism could work in his favour. “Immigrants and minorities have lots of reasons to be anti-establishment too,” notes Besco. Or perhaps they’re just swinging the same way as everyone else. “The fact that Kathleen Wynne is very unpopular and has been in government for a very long time affects the choices of minorities just as it does white people.”

A voter survey conducted by Pollara in association with Maclean’s put support for Ford and the PCs among visible minorities respondents at 34 per cent—a large share, but slightly lower than among Ontarians overall. Though those findings are based on a small number of such respondents within the poll, they suggest racialized voters are largely following the broader provincial trend.

The specific reasons for the Fords’ popularity in suburban Toronto also matter, Besco notes. “They made a lot of phone calls,” he says, pointing to their interventions on hyperlocal issues like filling potholes and housing repairs. Those retail politics tactics won the favour of not only the people helped, but the communities around them that heard about them.

But the Fords “don’t have that reputation in other parts of the province,” Besco says. “They know vaguely who they are, but they don’t have all those years of developing a relationship.”

The provincial electoral districts in Brampton and Mississauga, just outside the Ford’s Etobicoke bastion, reflect Besco’s observation. Nine of the 11 ridings that overlay the neighbouring, rapidly-growing cities are majority-minority, based on 2016 census data. The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP), which produces seat projections using a weighted aggregation of polls, deemed seven of those too close to call as of May 24. One—Brampton East, where Singh’s brother Gurratan Singh is the NDP candidate—was solidly orange, two others was trending that way, while the last leaned Tory.

But a similar trend is visible even in areas with large racialized populations where the PC leader is well known. Take Scarborough, which went for the Fords in both mayoral elections, in no small part because of the brothers stances on local transit issues. All six of the ridings in the former city are majority-minority, and the LISPOP projection judged three of them too close to call, with one leaning PC and two NDP.

By contrast, the bedroom communities around Toronto and most of the rest of southern Ontario outside were painted PC blue on LISPOP’s map.

None of the 17 seats in Scarborough, Brampton and Mississauga were sure PC pickups, regardless of Ford’s personal popularity among the residents—federally, the Liberals won every single one in 2015, most by significant margins, as did the provincial party in these same areas in 2014. But the early indicators in these majority-minority ridings do call into question the narrative that a groundswell among racialized people is set to propel Ford to the premier’s office.


Jagmeet Singh is the first person of colour to lead a major federal party in Canada. That fact initially had many pundits talking up the NDP’s prospects among visible minority voters, particularly in the suburban ridings of the 905 and in ethnically diverse urban areas across the country.

 The party itself has not shied away from that narrative. “The NDP has to become, and with [Singh] now as leader, is going to become the party for a lot of racialized folks,” said Nader Mohamed, the party’s digital director and a transplant from the new leader’s campaign and Queen’s Park team, in a December interview. “I think [the NDP] represent all the equity-seeking groups far more genuinely than the Liberal Party does.”

But there’s no guarantee that racialized voters will feel the same way come election time. Take Brampton and Mississauga. During the 2015 election, Singh, then an Ontario MPP, campaigned heavily in the Peel region for the federal party, and predicted that the “same communities that went en masse to the Conservatives” would pick another party this time around. They did, only it was the Liberals, who took the full set of seats. The best the NDP managed was a close third place in one riding.

Racialized voters are more likely to support racialized candidates, according to experimental research conducted by Besco. “The strongest effects are for your own ethnic group … but you also find cross-ethnic effects,” he says. For example, “Chinese voters are more likely to support South Asian candidates than white [ones], and vice-versa.”

Candidate recruitment is a priority for Singh, Mohamed said. The party wants to reflect “the real mosaic of Canada,” he said, highlighting young and racialized people in particular.

But parties already implicitly acknowledge the need to run racialized representatives in such seats. Twenty of the 33 candidates put forward by the three major parties in Brampton and Mississauga in 2015 were South Asian, including nine winning Liberals; the community is the largest minority in every one of those ridings. The two Mississauga ridings that elected white MPs were the only ones that are not majority-minority.

Across the country, just under half the visible minority candidates that the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP fielded were in what at the time of the election were 33 majority-minority ridings according to an analysis by former bureaucrat and immigration commentator Andrew Griffith. (There are now 41, based on the 2016 census). That kind of packing—there are 338 seats in the House of Commons—suggests that parties recognize the electoral importance of community associations, even if there’s clearly progress to be made on running racialized nominees elsewhere.

The change in Singh’s title between then and now could help sway electors in these and similar ridings the NDP’s way, however. Generally, “party leader effects are bigger than local candidate effects,” Besco says.

Parallels between Singh and Barack Obama are imperfect at best, but made necessary by the shortage of racialized people in high offices in comparable countries. Historically high turnout rates among Black, Hispanic and Asian voters were key to the U.S. president’s 2008 victory, and voting among the former rose even further four years later.

But in Canada, immigrants—an overlapping but not identical comparison group, of course—are actually engaged in politics at higher levels than those born in the country, White notes. “I don’t see any evidence that there’s a large untapped voting bloc of immigrants who don’t vote right now … who will suddenly be mobilized,” he says.

And while the NDP could see some uptick in support within racialized communities as a result of making Singh the country’s first party leader of colour, the magnitude and sustainability of that backing depends on how he chooses to use that fact. “If he can connect policies to the experience of racialized voters he has an easier sell, by virtue of lived experience” and the credibility provided by his prior social justice work, Andrew-Amofah says.

The Liberals won a swathe of ridings with large racialized populations in 2015. But they also won big in electoral districts with overwhelmingly white populations. It’s understandable that people have focused on the first fact, and on the Conservatives ethnic outreach efforts before that.

But the evidence suggests what’s going on is more complicated than a monolithic block swinging from one party to another, and that the prospects of politicians like Singh and Ford among racialized people will be determined by a variety of factors, including but certainly not limited to ethnicity.

via Doug Ford, Jagmeet Singh and the myth of the ‘ethnic vote’ – Macleans.ca

Whether antisemitism or ignorance — it has no place in mayoralty debate | Toronto Star

Good commentary by Bernie Farber on Doug Ford’s response to accusations of antisemitism (his brother’s drunken rant) and resorting to the usual “some of my best friends” line rather than a direct apology.

Lovely story about his father:

Sitting there beside the Mayor and listening to Doug Ford open Doug Fords policard I began to wonder if I had somehow managed to crawl into a time-warp. I recalled a conversation my late father had with a customer in his Ottawa grocery store when I was a child back in the 1960s. “You Jews” the customer said to my father without a hint of disdain “you Jews are smart, hell you’re all doctors and lawyers, how did you get so smart?” My Father looked the customer right in the eye replying in his lovely Yiddish accent “can’t tell you, I’m just a simple grocer.”

I never really believed the customer hated Jews. More so he was ignorant of the slur he had uttered. And like that customer, I don’t believe Doug Ford is an antisemite. I simply believe that he holds views which are ignorant and antiquated belonging in a Toronto of the past. Those are not the qualities we are looking for in a Mayor.

Whether antisemitism or ignorance — it has no place in mayoralty debate | Toronto Star.

Blatchford: Kim-like takeover bid a terrifying twist in the Rob Ford drama

Best piece on the Ford family reality show I have read:

Rob Ford, hospitalized with a tumour this week and facing what he admits “could be a battle of my lifetime,” was withdrawing from the mayor’s race. He’s sick and scared, you see; he didn’t say that directly, but that’s what his decision to drop out meant, and fair enough.

But as it turns out, neither he nor anyone else in the family is so sick or so scared that they didn’t didn’t also set in motion the old bait-and-switch, with Rob simultaneously announcing his candidacy for councillor in Ward 2, his home ward, and that he’d asked brother Doug to “finish what we started together,” and that Doug would now carry on in the mayoral race.

Oh, and as well, even as Doug was being registered at the clerk’s office downtown, so was their nephew, Michael Ford, withdrawing as a candidate for the Ward 2 seat to make room for the mayor, and instead throwing his hat into the ring for school trustee in neighbouring Ward 1.

It was as though it was inconceivable that Toronto, like Pyongyang, should manage without a Ford for every citizen. As Kim Jong-un took over as Supreme Leader upon the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, the Eternal General, in 2011, who himself took over the reins of power from his old man, Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader, when he died in 1994, so were the Fords digging deep into their gene pool.

On the tube, no kidding, reporters were soon referring to the press conference Doug Ford would be holding that evening at “Mamma Ford’s house.” They might as well have called Diane Ford “Dear Mother,” you know?

To use a PM Harper word, it would be good for Toronto and the country if this “trifecta” of Fords would be given a time-out by the electorate, although Rob will likely win back his counsellor seat.

Blatchford: Kim-like takeover bid a terrifying twist in the Rob Ford drama.