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An Election Hangover – The Morning After

CBC News  Politics

Wasaga Beach: An election hangover

May 4, 2011 9:10 AM

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/myelection/yourtake/2011/05/wasaga-beach-an-election-hangover.html

Region: Ontario Topics:

By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)Amy-MacPherson-52.jpg  Simcoe-Grey has handily elected Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch, a pediatric surgeon, with 49 per cent of the vote. Results came in quickly, placing the NDP’s Katy Austin in a distant second and independent Helena Guergis and Liberal Alex Smardenka roughly tied for third. Green Party candidate Jace Metheral was dealt a blow, losing 2,000-plus supporters compared with the election before. The Liberals lost nearly 4,000 votes while the NDP made gains of around 5,000. It was a historic moment for the Orange Crush movement in our riding, as it nearly doubled support and cracked a glass ceiling in Conservative territory.

Although voter turnout was 66 per cent for the riding, it seems Wasaga Beach still has a few bumps to work out itself. Nearly half our polling stations present challenges for people with disabilities, an issue that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Elections Canada volunteers. Central poll supervisor David Trafford says, “Anyone in a wheelchair wouldn’t be able to open the steel doors. And first they have to make it across a gravel parking lot to reach the doors. I intend to include this in my accessibility report.”

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Around noon, there weren’t any lineups and plenty of parking was still available. By dinnertime, the flow had increased, but voters continued to be in and out within five minutes. Accessibility may have been an issue, but so too was voter response to attack ads. Resident Billy Burch confessed, “That’s why I didn’t vote!” But he continued to praise Leitch’s medical qualifications and hopes: “She encourages kids’ fitness with ideas like tax incentives to get involved in sports.”

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Perhaps adding to voter frustration were the locations of and lack of signage identifying polling stations. One of our polling centres was situated deep within a private, adult gated community that is normally off limits to the public and requires a security code to enter by vehicle. It was meant to serve surrounding neighbourhoods on election day, but there was no indication the public could attend for this special occasion.

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So the mood seems mixed following the ballot-box tally. Personal support worker Melanie Lopes was a bit more cynical in her assessment, lamenting, “Hopefully, I get my surgery before health care is taken away!” Small-business owner and stonemason Darren Ellis was disappointed after voting NDP because “everyone else seems to have ego in the way but [Jack Layton’s] transparent.” It will be his first official summer as an entrepreneur, and he’s at odds with how a Conservative agenda will impact his pursuits.

Speaking with those who are happy with developments, we see a boatload of hopes pinned on Leitch’s ability to translate social and health care into politics. Private foster care operator Leslie Listro gave her nod to the local Conservative because “the lack of resources and supports for this community is significant,” and she was impressed with the doctor’s verbal response to her concerns. Candice Labuick adds, “I want to see us reduce more debt and regain stability in our government.” Only time will tell which group hedged their social investment well.

Before I go I’d just like to thank everyone at CBC for this wonderful opportunity to get the grassroots more engaged in the electoral process.  If you’d like to stay up to date with all things Simcoe-Grey and social issues in Ontario, please follow me on Twitter via MsAmyMacPherson.  Cheers to my fellow bloggers and the CBC community for a job well done!

Photo credit: Amy MacPherson.

Federal Election 2011: Sparks Fly At Simcoe-Grey Debate

CBC News Politics

Wasaga Beach: Sparks Fly At Simcoe-Grey Debate

April 23, 2011 3:21 PM

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/myelection/yourtake/2011/04/wasaga-beach-sparks-fly-at-simcoe-grey-debate.html

Region: Ontario Topics:

Amy-MacPherson-52.jpg  By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)

It was standing room only – as far back as the foyer, where the late crowd could only listen by loudspeaker.  Electricity could be felt amongst the candidates, so tangible even a light exploded!  The audience was a tad unruly, although entertaining with their hoots, hollers and odd heckle for good measure.  Simcoe-Grey [voters] are vocal participants in their politics.

Instead of characterizing and paraphrasing, I’d like to share some of the more pointed moments with video.  It helps that we have a supply of political Hollywood in our riding, but I think the mood and personalities all do a wonderful job of speaking for themselves.

Conservative (CPC) candidate Kellie Leitch tested constituents with the party line on coalition governments and took a dig at her opponent, Helena Guergis (Independent Conservative) about who was the real deal.  The audience offers its opinion on negative attacks in our debates, though.

Helena Guergis, embattled by bitter and false attacks on her reputation, was admirably poised in her response about mistakes and forgiveness.

The night included a hotbed of issues, including abortion and women’s rights.  Jace Metheral of the Green Party was charming and witty, surely winning best quote of the night.  When questioned on age and experience he offered the he was “only 22 and had the least time to be corrupted”!  Everyone laughed heartily, but when confronted on the topic of pro choice his answer seemed to waiver.

The recession impacted the Georgian Bay area so severely that we lost a vast majority of all factory work, never to be replaced. This led to questions regarding the different party strategies to help struggling families.  Responses were wide ranging and in some cases went beyond the party line.

Liberal Alex Smardenka believes the Competition Bureau should play a great role in alleviating the family burden:

NDP candidate Katy Austin believes the solution involves caps on credit card interest and chastises Smardenka for comparing family struggle to the cost of golf magazines:

Conservative Kellie Leitch wasn’t shy on using the family to invoke the coalition argument again.  Still the audience remained unmoved.

I was perplexed there were no questions asked about poverty or affordable housing.  Instead there seemed to be much ado regarding illegal immigrants for some reason.  Independent Conservative Helena Guergis melded immigration with bringing seniors back into the workforce.

Jace Metheral of the Green Party, used the issue as a segue into affordable housing by contrast.  He was the only candidate to broach the idea of a national housing strategy.

The NDP’s Katy Austin was also alone in mentioning the word poverty, sadly.  She bravely addressed the gap between rich and poor, challenging the strategy of corporate tax cuts.  With emphatic quotes from both Jesus and Robin Hood, Ms. Austin managed to solicit a joyous round of applause.

The event started out with a big bang and as you can see there was a regular exchange of mortar for the duration.  You’re welcome to visit thisYouTube channel to view the full menu of Simcoe-Grey debate clips, but please be forewarned the audience felt like this by the finale: