Posts Tagged ‘elmwood by-election’

The other day, a resident of Elmwood was saying that he was so disappointed in my candidacy that he chose to cancel his Liberal membership.  When I asked this resident about why he was so disappointed with me, he gave me several reasons.  I’d like to respond to his remarks, in case there are other people who are thinking the same things:

  1. You were bashing Elmwood while trying to save Kelvin Community Centre: I’m not sure what I said or did that could be classified as bashing, but I imagine it might be drawing attention to the issues in Elmwood that led me to believe that a local community centre is a necessity for the neighbourhood.  While I understand that some residents don’t want to talk about the negative things that are happening in Elmwood, it doesn’t change the fact that Elmwood has problems with crime, gangs, and at-risk youth.  When I talk about crime and gangs, and about children who do not have enough positive role modeling, I’m not criticizing the thousands of Elmwood residents who make a positive contribution to their community.  All I am doing is responding to problems that are very real, and saying that we require action on the part of residents and government to find positive solutions.
  2. Kelvin Community Centre should have been shut down years ago: I am well aware that there are significant numbers of Elmwood residents who believe that Kelvin was a lost cause and that our community is no worse off without it.  Some residents tell me that they have no problem driving to Bronx Park or Gateway for recreation, while others say that the people of Elmwood don’t deserve a club if they can’t be bothered to volunteer to run it.  The problem with both of these arguments is that they are leaving out the fact that the children who won’t make it out to Bronx Park or Gateway and whose parents are unable or uninterested in volunteering are the ones who are in danger of turning to crime and gangs.  Our personal feelings towards these children or their parents don’t change the fact that without alternatives to petty crime and bad influences, these children will take the wrong path in life.  And these are the children who live in our neighbourhood, so the decisions they make affect all of us.
  3. You had nothing good to say about Bronx Park before, and now you’re grabbing all the attention for it: there were a few occasions when reporters would ask me about the Bronx Park expansion, seeing if I had any criticisms for the project.  It certainly would have made a good story for there to be a dispute between Elmwood and East Kildonan about community centres, but it never did happen.  During the campaign to save Kelvin, we were in regular contact with representatives of Bronx Park and other community centres in Northeast Winnipeg.  The Bronx Park expansion project was not related to Kelvin Community Centre in any way when it was originally promised; it was only after the decision was made to close Kelvin CC that the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres (GCWCC) started to mention Kelvin square footage being “allocated” to Bronx Park.  So there never has been a conflict between Bronx Park and Kelvin, just as there was no conflict between Kelvin and Chalmers CC.  My current duties as Vice President of Bronx Park do involve some work with the Bronx Park campus, but most of my focus is still on the Kelvin site and on programming in general.  The volunteers at Bronx Park and Good Neighbours who worked for years on the expansion project are the ones who deserve our gratitude and applause, and I am pleased to see that there was positive coverage of those volunteers in the media rather than any preoccupation with myself and Kelvin.
  4. You didn’t have a chance against Bill Blaikie, who has done far more than you ever will: when we started our campaign, there were two or three names that had been floated for the NDP candidate, all of whom we felt would be strong challengers.  When the news came in late November that Bill Blaikie was considering the position, we were definitely surprised.  However, the reputation of Bill Blaikie is no reason for me to suspend what I feel are legitimate criticisms of both the NDP government and Mr. Blaikie himself.  I won’t repost those criticisms now (I have mentioned these criticisms on this blog before), but I stand by my belief that the NDP government of Manitoba is not serving the interests of its citizens, and Mr. Blaikie’s willingness to join a government that acts counter to what he espouses to be his ideals opens him up for criticism.  His acceptance of nomination as a MLA in the NDP government means that he is now accountable for the failings of this government.  As far as the argument that Mr. Blaikie has done far more than I ever will, obviously there is no way to prove or disprove this statement as I can’t say what I’ll accomplish in my lifetime as I’ve yet to read my obituary.
  5. Continually spamming our mailboxes: there were definitely some problems with our flyer campaign, and if I could do it again I’d certainly do it quite a bit differently.  The materials and process used in printing were less environmentally friendly than they should have been, and the content of the flyers was specific in its criticisms but not specific enough in communicating my personal ideas and goals.  However, I do stand by my criticisms of the NDP and Mr. Blaikie, and I believe that the record of the NDP is evidence on its own that they do not deserve re-election.
  6. Going on and on about the Disraeli Bridge: my platform was well-rounded in my opinion, but obviously the attention was placed on the upcoming closure of the Disraeli Bridge.  Unfortunately, most voters still aren’t aware of my position on Disraeli, as it was printed in the media and stated by other candidates that all candidates support keeping the bridge open during construction.  It is not feasible to keep the bridge open for the entire construction period as a single-span bridge, as there will need to be some periods of closure.  That is why I have recommended that construction of a temporary span to twin the Louise Bridge before Disraeli construction begins.   This, along with some traffic routing changes, would relieve congestion during the periods of closure which are necessary to do the job properly.
  7. Too many phone calls: to this day, I am still not sure how many phone calls went out.  I personally recommended against the recorded messages, but because a by-election campaign is not a one-person show, I deferred to other opinions.  We chose to have one initial phone blast informing voters that the by-election had been called and a phone blast for Election Day.  A Disraeli-themed phone blast allegedly occurred during the middle of the campaign which some voters attributed to me, but which did not come from my campaign.  We also employed a professional phone bank to poll voters and to remind voters on Election Day, but there were some technical issues that resulted in multiple calls to voters even after they had voted.  In my opinion, the phoning was excessive and the errors were unacceptable.  I do know that the NDP and PC parties also conducted extensive phone campaigns, but if I could do it all over again, I would consider not using the phone at all.
  8. You went to the NDP first for the nomination and they turned you down: this rumour is not only untrue, it’s actually a reversal of the truth.  I was approached by members of two other political parties, one of which was the NDP.  Several NDP members asked me to seek the nomination, but I was never approached by any official representatives of the Doer government or the NDP constituency association in Elmwood.  I chose the Manitoba Liberal Party because I felt that it was the party which best shared my beliefs, and because Dr. Gerrard is a respected and honourable person who has always worked for all Manitobans.  I did not choose the NDP, and that is because I feel that the NDP has been irresponsible and negligent in its governance, and that Premier Doer and his cabinet should be held accountable for many wrongs over the past decade.  In hindsight, I do not know if I could have won the NDP nomination, because I don’t know when Bill Blaikie decided to run.  He didn’t contact NDP members about the possibility until long after I was already the Liberal candidate, and while I don’t know if things would have gone differently had I been seeking the NDP nomination, to presume that it would have affected his decision would be foolhardy on my part.

There were definitely things I could have done better as a Liberal candidate, and there were things that I could have done better in my work with Kelvin and Bronx Park.  We all make mistakes, and what distinguishes success from failure is whether we learn from those mistakes.  Was I the best candidate for the Liberal party in the Elmwood By-Election?  Probably not.  I’m sure there’s someone out there who is more qualified, who has campaign experience, and who has a stronger record for results.  It’s important for Liberal members to work to find that better candidate, and if that person is not available, to work with the candidate you do have to compensate for the weaknesses and amplify their good qualities.

The only way to provide an alternative to the corruption of the NDP government is to win campaigns on the ground, and that can only happen if we all work together.

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The Elmwood by-election has come and gone now, and it was certainly an interesting occasion.  We ran a strong campaign in Elmwood, where we did some things well and some things not as well.  The end results were a little embarrassing for everyone, as turnout dropped and the number of registered voters took a dive.

I haven’t been keeping up with the chatter on the blogs or in the papers, but I can guess that there are a good number of people who are relishing that the Liberal vote share did not increase as much as some people, including myself, had hoped.  I know that there is one loud individual (“fanman”) who has always had a problem with me (even though I don’t think I’ve ever met him and he refuses to ever actually discuss how I’ve wronged him) who posts on several sites about how annoying and stupid I am, and then usually makes a mention of the horrible work I did trying to save the Kelvin Community Centre.  My best guess is that he’s one of the people who let Kelvin decline due to their own petty squabbles, and doesn’t appreciate that our group of volunteers brought the community together to improve the club.  It’s funny that so many people have an opinion about politics and especially politicians, but never seem to show up when it’s time to work on real issues.

Anyway… here are the conclusions I’ve reached based on the results:

1. Turnout was an all-time low and that means quite a bit. The poor turnout was partly due to weather but was also the result of undecideds who never came up with a final decision.  Our polling indicated that the vast majority of voters were still very undecided in the last days.  In addition, the majority of our supporters never made it to the polls at all.  One of the problems with an area that has been taken for granted by politicians for so long is that most residents haven’t felt for years that their vote mattered.  We had dozens of people on election day who said that they just weren’t going to come out, because “one vote doesn’t matter”.  We’ll need to work hard to change that perception.

2. The NDP and Tories took this by-election seriously. On the one hand, it’s disappointing to have been outnumbered on election day by NDP and Tory campaign workers, but it’s nice to see people paying attention to Elmwood, if only for just a week or so.  What was interesting was the sight of NDP and Tory cabinet ministers (and Hugh McFadyen himself) walking the streets knocking on the doors of their supporters, along with scores of their legislative staff.  Apparently Mr. Doer also lent his voice to the effort.  If only those two parties had put one percent of that effort into any of the issues affecting Elmwood before the last week of the by-election.  I guess we’ll see how many of them stick around to work with the community on the issues that matter to residents.

3. Voters need more time to get to know me. I was surprised to hear that some voters didn’t know that I am raising my family in Elmwood, and even the media are apparently unsure of what I do for a living.  There’s also some talk that my work to better the community seems to indicate that I don’t like the community, which doesn’t make any sense since my wife and I choose to live in this community.  It also seems that my name is recognized in some parts of the constituency, but I’m pretty new in much of the north.  It’s going to take some time for people to learn who I am and what I stand for.

4. The messages were confusing. Only one candidate had actual step-by-step plans to deal with the major issues affecting Elmwood, but the information was lost in a flurry of half-truths and flip-flops from other campaigns.  We tried to get the message out at the door and with flyers, but it wasn’t enough this time.  We have some ideas on how to improve our communication to Elmwood voters, so we should see some strong improvements there.

We had some great successes, and we certainly had our share of challenges.  We lost a campaign team member to a personal emergency, and my basement flooded the day before Election Day.  I was called more than my share of bad names: “fat s***” (from the NDP campaign team), “traitor” (from the Greens), “a**hole” (from the president of a nearby Liberal constituency), and of course, my personal favourite was “f***ing Liberal c***sucker” (an irate voter who apparently doesn’t like Liberals).  We called for a debate in week two of the campaign, but the news media didn’t take the story until the Tories called for one two weeks later.  Of course, Mr. Blaikie refused to attend.  We scheduled a press conference for 1pm, and the NDP had one at 11am on the same topic.  We scheduled another one for 11am, and the Tories decided on 10:45am for theirs.

It’s hard not to take some of the things that happened personally.  Egos are bruised when people shake your hand and say they’ll vote for you but then don’t end up voting at all.  But egos aren’t what matter here in Elmwood.  I’m not doing this for my ego, I’m doing this because Manitobans deserve better.  Manitobans deserve a government that doesn’t try to cover up the deaths of its own citizens due to failed policies.  They deserve a government that doesn’t hide its billion-dollar debt.  They deserve a government that doesn’t take its citizens for granted.

The Manitoba Liberal Party is gaining ground in Elmwood and in other parts of our province.  What the NDP don’t want you to know is that they lost 1500 votes from last time, even with a “star candidate”.  What the Tories don’t want you to know is that their supporters are starting to realize that the Liberals actually work to represent all Manitobans, including conservatives.

What I want you to know is that we have been building our Liberal machine over the past six months.  We have a strong team in Elmwood and in a growing number of other constituencies, and we’ll be working together over the next two and a half years to make sure that our message of working for all Manitobans is known to every voter.  We will take the lessons we’ve learned from Elmwood and we will put them to use in the rest of the province.  You will be seeing more Liberals on the streets, knocking on doors, working in our communities, and standing up for the rights of all Manitobans.  And yes, you’ll be seeing more of me (sorry, “fanman”).

The NDP and Tories pulled their votes in this by-election, and they did it well, emptying the Manitoba legislature in the process.  But in the next general election, they’ll be fighting dozens of strong Liberal campaigns.  And they’ll be fighting against a growing tide of Manitobans who realize that they haven’t been getting their money’s worth from those two parties.  It’s time for Manitoba to step out of this past life made up of bickering parties who only represent some of the people.  It’s time for all of us to demand better.

I’ll be taking the next few days off from politics.  I’ll still be working on some important issues, such as the new Kelvin facilities and the Disraeli plan, but I do hope to spend some time catching up on my personal life.  I’ve missed out on important time with my daughter, such as her first ride on her new tricycle, so I want to make sure I’m there for her first steps.

I’ve learned many things from this campaign, and I’ve received advice from hundreds of people.  So what I’ve done is cobbled together everyone’s advice from this campaign to determine my next step.  And the final message that I’m taking away from this is as follows: “There’s more work to do but there will be time to do it.  So for today, take a break and spend some time with your family, you f***ing Liberal c***sucker!”

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This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, when I’m not out campaigning or working on other specific issues.

For some reason, the NDP’s complete failure to fix healthcare has been a difficult issue to communicate.  I imagine it’s because healthcare is such a complex issue, affecting every Manitoban in a different way.  But no matter what your experiences have been, there are some universal problems with our healthcare under the NDP, and I’m going to list them now:

The Big Six Failures of NDP Health Care

1. Hallway Medicine: Patients are still left in the hallways of our hospitals with no privacy, and with no improvement in sight.

2. Exploding Bureaucracy: While doctors and nurses leave Manitoba for better work conditions, the WRHA bureaucracy has TRIPLED in size since 1999.  The WRHA is building two new office buildings to make sure they have room to hire even more managers.

3. No Accountability: The preventable death of Brian Sinclair led to a bungled internal investigation, a health minister who said she was too busy to comment, and a Premier who tried his best to hide from reporters.  No one is being held accountable.

4. Patient’s Rights: The NDP continually refuse to support Dr. Gerrard in his work to guarantee the rights of patients for timely treatment and access to their own health information.

5. Urgent Care: The NDP refuse to consider the creation of new Urgent Care clinics to reduce the strain on Winnipeg’s ERs.

6. Health Care Funding: The NDP way of funding healthcare funnels money to bureaucrats instead of supporting the work of nurses and doctors.  The NDP refuse to introduce a more efficient and accountable funding system based on the delivery of services.

Not Enough Talk About Health

A good number of people have been asking me why we haven’t been hitting harder on health care during this by-election.  The truth is, too many people I’ve met have given up on the idea of improvements in health care.  Having lived through decades of failed health policies, many voters have started to believe the NDP government’s idea that what we have is the best we can do.

But this notion that we can’t have something better is going to stop.  We are hitting hard on health care this week, making sure that every voter in Elmwood is aware of just how the NDP is failing in healthcare, and how the Liberal party and our leader, world-renowned physician Dr. Jon Gerrard, will continue our fight to reform healthcare for all Manitobans.

And how do we reform?

Fixing Health Care: Eight Steps to a Better System

Step 1: Change to funding per service instead of universal funding.  Every patient examination, every treatment and every surgery is billed to the province, reflecting a realistic cost.  Instead of capping funding for each hospital, funding is paid out as needed with no quotas or maximums.

Step 2: Legislate a Patient’s Bill of Rights, guaranteeing both timely access to treatment and timely access for a patient to personal health information.  A Medical Standards Quality Council would be created to establish provincial standards for wait times based on medical and scientific considerations rather than political ones.

Step 3: Revisit urgent care clinics as a way of reducing pressure on emergency wards.  These clinics can be run by the government or by other groups, as long as they are universal and all billing is paid by the province and not by the patients.

Step 4: Establishment of an independent enforcement office to send patients for immediate care when their right to timely access has been compromised, whether that care is within Manitoba or elsewhere in Canada.

Step 5: Build more long-term care spaces to move patients with chronic care needs out of hospital sooner.

Step 6: Implement an electronic health system to standardize health records in Manitoba.  This will allow both for proper reporting on wait times and for better access for a patient to their personal health records in accordance with the Patient’s Bill of Rights.

Step 7: Establish a blame-free reporting system and a Medical Procedure Improvement team to prevent medical errors from re-occurring.

Step 8: Bring improvements to both aboriginal health care (emphasizing prevention through better access to overlooked necessities) and mental health care with a community-based focus.

It’s time to take the first step.  With support of the people of Elmwood, I hope to work along with Dr. Gerrard and Mr. Lamoureux to bring these improvements forward in the legislature.  I also intend to bring these solutions forward to Manitobans as a whole, so that we can all expect and demand that this work begin immediately.

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March 24th will be Election Day for Elmwood.

I need your support!  Bill Blaikie and Gary Doer are more of the same for a province that needs new ideas.

We need donations of time and money to fight the NDP war chest.  Every bit counts, be it ten dollars or an hour of your time.

Donate here

Contact me to let me know if you can help out… we have many different types of volunteering available.

The people of Elmwood are ready for a change, and so is the province as a whole.  A NEW TYPE OF GOVERNMENT is coming, and it starts with a Liberal victory in Elmwood!

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This post originally included a quote posted elsewhere which I have now removed from this blog.  The quote was counter-productive and inappropriate, so I’ve decided to change this post to focus on the positives of the Manitoba Liberal Party.  The following (with some slight modifications) was part of my response to that original message:

The Manitoba Liberal Party has by far the best policy platform for this province, with better financial accountability than the PCs, better provisions for implementing social programming than the NDP, and a stronger environmental/rewealth plan than the Greens.  This policy is ever-evolving based on the feedback not only from our growing membership but from Manitobans as a whole.

The work that Dr. Gerrard has been doing has been noticed by the people of Manitoba.  I’ve met thousands of people over the past six months who have voiced a strong respect for the character and judgment of the “Good Doctor”.  When Dr. Gerrard takes a stand on an issue, Manitobans know that it’s because he believes in it, not because of political posturing or machiavellian strategy, but because he believes that it’s the RIGHT THING TO DO.

The time has come in this province for government that is truly accountable to all Manitobans; this means a government where opinions from all sides of the political spectrum are heard and respected, and where opposition parties are allowed to contribute to policy and debate.

I strongly believe that we are starting the journey towards a Liberal government in Manitoba.  I don’t know how long the journey will take, whether it will be in one election cycle or more, but I know that the positive response we’ve been receiving will continue to grow.

I am proud to stand with Dr. Gerrard and Mr. Lamoureux, with Paul Hesse, and with the many other Liberals who are contributing to a better Manitoba.  Together we will continue to engage the people of Manitoba and we will bring forward a better way of governing this province.

I think that strategically we wanted to keep our secret a little longer: we’ve been receiving a very positive response from the residents of Elmwood, and Dr. Gerrard, myself, and other good Liberals plan to continue our dialog with the voters up to, during, and after the Elmwood By-election.

Change is coming to Manitoba, and with the support of the people of Elmwood, I hope that change will be arriving in my neighbourhood sometime this spring.

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I’m sure I’m not the only person wondering why the Premier would bother parachuting Transcona’s Bill Blaikie into a constituency that already had two potential candidates.

“Blaikie said Doer approached him to run in Elmwood – not the first time the premier has tried to woo Blaikie into provincial politics.”  Winnipeg Free Press, Dec 5, 2008 – http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Blaikie_.html

Of course, there had been several other rumours about the Premier pushing for a transplant for Elmwood:

Past rumour that Scott Smith is moving to Elmwood: http://hacksandwonks.blogspot.com/2008/10/elmwood-gossip-that-wont-go-away.html

Phil Walding, Son of Pawley-government kaibosher Jim Walding, approached to run in Elmwood by-election to succeed Jim Maloway: http://tgcts.blogspot.com/2008/10/september-guest-and-story-review.html

What’s wrong with choosing a candidate from among the people who live in Elmwood?  Why is it that citizens like Darryl Livingstone, who has worked for years with Councillor Lillian Thomas, or Ed Innes, who has been fighting alongside former MLA (and current MP) Jim Maloway on the Disraeli bridge issue, are not considered worthy of the seat?  Why did the Premier decide that he needed to search high and low for a third choice from outside of the area?

I’m not sure why an esteemed Member of Parliament would retire from politics, only to run for a provincial seat in an area he doesn’t live in.  I’ve certainly heard the rumours that Mr Blaikie wants to be the next leader of the Manitoba NDP, and/or that Mr Doer decided that he needed a favour from a big name because the voters of Elmwood have been left feeling neglected after years of, well, neglect.   All I can say is that I do not believe that Premier Doer gave any consideration to the actual needs of Elmwood when he made his choice… he seems to be more focused on what HE needs.

In these days of uncertainty about the motives of some Federal politicians, I think it’s a bad idea for the Premier to be meddling politically in a constituency that already has its local talent.   There are far more important things that our Premier should be spending his time on.

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