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Some Liberal bits and bites – provincial and federal

– Re-elected Premier Kathleen Wynne will be swearing in her new provincial Cabinet today. One of the chief shuffles I’m pleased to see is Dr. Eric Hoskins moving into the Health Ministry portfolio. I’ve been a long time supporter of his from his running as a federal LPC candidate in Haldimand Norfolk and before that heading up War Child Canada (now headed by his wife, Dr.Samantha Nutt). I’m also pleased to see Mitzie Hunter, who brought forth the private-members bill last session to allow ranked ballots to be used in Toronto’s civic elections, has been given a promotion to associate finance minister responsible for the new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. […]


Eric Hoskins – next to respond to my 5 questions for the OLP leadership candidates

I received these answers from Eric and his campaign staff this afternoon to the questions I submittted to him and the other candidates (you can see Kathleen Wynne’s and Sandra Pupatello’s for comparing answers). As with the others, I’ve reposted these answers verbatim as I received them, and will be withholding comment on these and the others till all answers are received (or when I decide I’m not getting any from the other candidates)

I thank Eric and his campaign for taking the time to answer these questions

——- (1) There are many candidates running to be the Ontario Liberal Party leader. What do you feel makes you best qualified […]


Scorecard Update on Ontario Liberal Party candidates answering questions.

So I’ve had four people from four different campaigns ask me to send out the little questionnaire I’ve prepared to their candidate who is running in the Ontario Liberal Party race: that would be Sandra Pupatello’s campaign, Gerard Kennedy’s, Charles Sousa, and Kathleen Wynne. I’ve not yet heard back from Eric Hoskin’s campaign, or Glen Murray’s (some of that due to the fact I’m not yet aware who is running the latter two’s social media/P.R campaign, else I’d have fired off an email myself).

They’re all at various stages of planning and such, so I was told in some cases it may be a week or 2 or perhaps a […]


Congrats to Dr Eric Hoskins for winning St. Paul’s riding.

A very impressive win for Dr. Eric Hoskins in the provincial riding by-election of St. Paul’s, despite the efforts of the PC’s and NDP to claim there was a race here:

Despite efforts by the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats to stoke public anger over what they called a “tax grab” from the 13 per cent HST that takes effect next July, voters sent Dr. Eric Hoskins, 48, to represent them in the Legislature. Hoskins, who works as a family physician treating immigrants and has cared for children in combat zones around the world as a co-founder of the charity War Child Canada. He easily defeated Conservative challenger Sue-Ann Levy, […]


The anger in tobacco country is palpable towards the Conservatives

I’ve been seeing that anger in a lot of the local newspapers around here in the past month or 2, but it’s drawn enough attention to make it into today’s Toronto Star in an article entitled “Despair and anger in tobacco country”. This isn’t just about the tobacco farmers either being angry at the Cons. and Diane Finley – many in Caledonia, the site of the native protests – blame her and the Cons. for failing to resolve the issue:

For tobacco growers in southwestern Ontario, hope has turned to despair. Banks are foreclosing, marriages are dissolving and some growers have even taken their lives..What the tobacco farmers and the Caledonia residents have in common is anger, much of it directed toward their Haldimand-Norfolk MP Conservative Diane Finley, immigration minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet. Caledonia residents feel Finley has abandoned them, while tobacco growers accuse her of failing to live up to her many promises to bring in an aid package that would allow them to turn to other crops or another way of life.

That anger is potentially deadly to Finley’s chances for re-election here:

“When she runs again, I am going to have a sign on my lawn that says `Never ever vote for this woman again.’ She’s useless. She’s done. She will never get back in here,” said Reid, 65, who blames having to take medication for elevated blood pressure on the two-year-old dispute.. His wife, Marg, 47, guessed that Finley’s chances of being re-elected are “nil.” About 150 farmers made a very public statement in March when they gathered outside Finley’s Simcoe office to express outrage over the absence of a buyout program. After ripping up their Conservative membership cards and a Finley lawn sign, they marched to the office of Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Liberal candidate, to fill out memberships for the federal Liberal party.”I have voted Conservative my whole (adult) life … but I feel very much that I have been led down the garden path,” Brian Baswick, 53, a tobacco farmer from the Delhi area… Dave Brown and his wife Dana live on the west side of the (Caledonia) development…”There are so many times when I sat here waiting for (Finley) to call me and the calls just never came. She does not deserve the position she’s in. She will absolutely not win the (next election). I will make sure of that,” said Brown..

And what has Finley offered in her defense? Nothing but excuses and threats:

The Toronto Star requested an interview with Finley but a spokesperson on her behalf said issues involving agriculture and native affairs were not her responsibility. “The minister is only the local MP and not the lead on either file,” wrote spokesperson Timothy Veil…Fearing for her own safety, she refused to attend a meeting in Delhi late last month with more than 1,000 tobacco farmers. But she did send a letter warning the farmers that if they launched a lawsuit against the federal government that “everything we are working on stops. Plain and simple.” She also chastised the farmers for their “negative messaging,” which she said was only jeopardizing a final exit plan, one which could entail Ottawa buying their tobacco quota

She chickened out of talking to her own constituents, not because she feared for her life, but because she knew she’d get booed off the stage if she showed up, and she didn’t want any more bad publicity. To top it off, she then tried to intimidate the farmers into silence. These are farmers that have seen their farms foreclosed, themselves forced into bankruptcy, and they’re supposed to take this lying down?

Between this and Caledonia, I think this line in the paper is the most apt to describe Finley’s plight:

When Finley first entered politics she defeated former agriculture minister Bob Speller in the June 2004 election that returned Paul Martin’s Liberals with a minority she often accused the government of over-promising and under-delivering. Those words are coming back to haunt her.

I believe that Norfolk is one rural riding you will see switch back to the Liberals when the election is finally called. I don’t think even if by some chance a buyout is finally agreed to, that the farmers will forgive Finley for her perceived inaction and lack of empathy for the farming community. Caledonia and area residents certainly won’t over her perceived inaction on the native standoff. I think this is one riding where local issues will far overshadow national ones.

That could also be the case in Oxford, if it were brought up more. I also think that this is a wedge issue that the Liberal Candidate in Oxford, Martha Dennis, could and should be using more against Conservative MP Dave Mackenzie, as there are a fair number of tobacco farmers in this riding as well. She may very well be doing so in her campaigning, but I’ve seen nothing in the local papers around here from her attacking Mackenzie’s failure to help get a buyout package for the tobacco farmers in his riding. I believe she needs to get more press exposure for herself on this issue and pressure Mr Mackenzie on this issue.

You should understand that Oxford County is a very blue riding and only seems to vote Liberal when the Liberals do Chretien-style landslides in the province. I’m not sure this issue would tip this riding to the Liberals, but it sure would make Mackenzie feel a tad uncomfortable having to defend to farmers why he’s been no better then Finley at securing a buyout compensation package for tobacco farmers to help them turn to alternate crops and preserve their way of life and income.


Keep it up, Diane. You’re doing the work for us.

Rural areas in the SW part of Ontario tend to traditionally vote Conservative. The riding of Haldimand-Norfolk is one of those mostly rural areas that tends to follow that pattern, though it was held for a while by Liberal Bob Speller.

Turning your back on this part of the county’s voters is however a no-no, traditional Conservative area or not. The local issue of tobacco farming buyouts – or the lack therof and the disinterest local MP and Immigration Minister Diane FInley and the Cons. are showing over this – will play a much larger role in this riding then any national issue. At the rate she’s going at offending and angering her rural constituents here, particularly her tobacco farmer constituents by refusing to meet with them and then citing conflicting reasons for not showing up (her office said “security reasons”, FInley herself said it was “an inappropriate forum” to meet them).

Mrs. Finley is making things a lot easier to return Haldimand-Norfolk to the Liberals next election, under the candidacy of Dr. Eric Hoskins. In fact, I’ll be so bold now for the first time in believing that county is a real opportunity for a Liberal gain in an area that hasn’t been friendly to them the past 2 elections.

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