Let’s Look Local

Since in our Parliamentary Democracy we vote for candidates at the local level instead of voting for the party at large, I figured it would be a good idea to take a look at the candidates in my local riding of Whitby-Oshawa.  This is only based on publicly available information through party and candidate web sites.  I may update this after the local candidates debate if one of them seems to stand out ahead of the others.

Jim FlahertyConservative Party: Jim Flaherty is the current MP for Whitby-Oshawa, as well as the Minister of Finance.  He is also the only candidate for any party that is the same since the last election.  His web site lists quite a bit of funding for the riding during both his tenure as MPP in Queen’s Park, where he served from 1995 to 2005, and as MP form 2006 onwards.  As the Finance Minister, he is one of the main faces of the Conservative Party.  If you like the record of the Conservative Party from the last 4 years in government, Jim is your guy.  He tends not to rock the boat on Parliament Hill, and I am unaware of any times where he has spoken against his party.  However, if you dislike the Conservative policies, there is little there to make you want to vote for him.  Defining himself as a fiscal conservative, he promised to never run a deficit in the previous two campaigns.  Now he seems to have warmed to the idea of stimulus spending, and running deficits no longer bothers him.

Love him or hate him, I project that he wins his seat this election.  In 2008, he won with 50.99% of the popular vote.  That’s still a very large hill to climb for any candidate looking to unseat him.

Trevor BardensLiberal Party: Trevor Bardens seems to have been very involved in the community for a very long time, as referenced by the long list of committees that he has participated in and the volunteer awards that he has received.  Just the resume listed on the Liberal web page shows that he is passionate about serving the public, especially at the local level.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much other information about him.  He is currently the only candidate without his own web site.  He has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but neither give much insight into who he is, or why he is running for the Liberal Party.  People have been posting on his Facebook page asking how to get a lawn sign, and he direct them to call his campaign office.  Every other candidate page that I have seen has a gigantic link for ordering signs that can be  seen from just about anywhere on that candidate’s web page.

To me, this speaks of a very weak campaign.  Trevor Bardens may make a good MP, and he clearly cares quite a bit about local matters, but if he doesn’t take the time to get information out there for people to get to know him, why should voters take the time to vote for him?

Trish McAuliffeNDP: Trish McAuliffe is an obvious choice as an NDP candidate due to her prior experience as an executive board member for the CAW during her tenure at General Motors.  She has volunteered for the NDP in nearly every past election, both provincial and federal, for the last 25 years.  On her web site, she mentions that she participates “at Whitby Municipal Town Hall meetings, community events, educational programs and various sporting activities,” but unfortunately she does not give any specifics.  She suffers from the same problems as Trevor Bardens in that there really isn’t enough there to get to know her.  All of the posts on her personal campaign web site are just campaign press releases outlining promises from Jack Layton.  There isn’t a personal post at all, besides the one with a brief biography.

Overall, she seems like plain vanilla NDP candidate with heavy ties to organized labour, with nothing mentioned on her web page to make her stand out from the pack.

Rebecca HarrisonGreen Party: Rebecca Harrison is the Poverty Elimination Critic and the Status of Women Critic for the Greens.  She also has far more personal information on her web site than any other candidate.  Her focus is definitely on her two portfolios, so much that she has very lengthy pages describing plans for those issues, yet she doesn’t mention environmentalism on her web page at all.  She seems to be the candidate in this riding that most differentiates herself from the party mold.  I think that could be an asset for her since the Green Party mold doesn’t seem to be that appealing to the vast majority of Canadians, as evidenced by their very low poll numbers, and their lack of seats in Parliament.

While I doubt she has much of a chance of actually winning the seat, I think she may be able to do better than the Green candidate in the previous election.  Being the youngest candidate at 27 may be able to help her get the coveted ‘youth’ vote.  She seems to be the one to connect best with people on her Facebook page, rather than just using it to link to the leader’s campaign announcements.  I think if the Green Party is going to make any headway at all, it’s going to be through people such as Ms. Harrison.  I just don’t think Whitby-Oshawa is going to be the place for that first breakthrough.

So that’s my first look at the candidates running in Whitby-Oshawa.  The deadline for nominations is tomorrow (April 11) so it is still theoretically possible for an independent or fringe party candidate to join the race.  If there is a surprise new nomination, it will be listed at elections.ca by Wednesday April 13, and I’ll update this accordingly.

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