Tomorrow evening, after Canada votes, we bow the knee before the will of the people.
Who knows how the election will turn out?
But if Tony Van Bynen is re-elected tomorrow as the Liberal MP for Newmarket-Aurora it will be proof positive that bland works.
I’ve been following Van Bynen for years. I started my blogs about Newmarket as a way of getting to know the Town that was to be my home. And I've learned a lot about how the Town works.
But as I put pen to paper, I often ask myself if I am going after the man rather than critique the policy. Ad hominem attacks are bad politics but what do you do if a politician will not engage in the argument?
Tony Van Bynen blocks people he disagrees with from his Twitter account. He refuses to reply to letters and emails. He refuses to articulate a clear position on many of the major issues of the day. He is content to read scripts written by others.
But he is not the only candidate running for election.
The Conservatives’ Harold Kim remains a complete unknown, at least to me. He refused to participate in the two “debates” called by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Public Library. I emailed him to ask why and this is what he said:
“Unfortunately, the demands of the election campaign force me to make difficult choices on what events I am able to attend. Both the Aurora Chamber of Commerce debate and the Aurora Public Library conflicted with other activities. My long involvement in the Aurora community means many people – including the business community -- in Aurora are familiar with me, as an individual and a Councillor, and my commitment to the issues and concerns of this Riding. It’s always disappointing when another candidate stoops to making unkind comments without basis or merit rather than focusing on the issues of the campaign. It degrades an important exercise in our Country. I’m sure you are also aware, I planned to attend the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce virtual debate, scheduled for September 16, and it was cancelled.”
That won’t wash. He should have cleared his diary to participate in these events – especially after the Newmarket one was cancelled. I would never vote for a candidate (regardless of Party) who refused to engage in public debate.
And what about the Green’s Tim Flemming. He told us that over the years he has supported all Parties but, four years ago, he finally decided to become a Green. He put his case effectively enough but he isn’t Walter Bauer, the impressive Green candidate in 2019.
The star candidate in this election was Yvonne Kelly whose authenticy and enthusiasm shone through at every turn.
When Van Bynen is hesitant and guarded, she is bold and forthright, telling it as she sees it.
Her politics are rooted in her lived experience as a social worker, helping those struggling to get by, guiding people through the system. She would be a powerful advocate for Newmarket-Aurora.
At the Aurora Public Library meeting she did not equivocate on electoral reform; she is in favour, lambasting the Prime Minster’s broken promise of 2015 when he pledged that would be the last election under First Past the Post.
Van Bynen was asked:
“What is your party's position on electoral reform in particular proportional representation so that everybody's vote counts?”
This is his tortured and strangulated non-answer:
“I for one believe that we should also always take a look at improvements in any system or any process and I do think that is something we should look at. I'm not sure that proportional representation is the only solution.
I don't know what got in the way of looking at that since I wasn't in the House at the time. I think we should be looking at reviewing it but we should be doing it in consultation, consulting with our communities and broadly looking at the options that are available so, yes, every organization, every society, should take a look and see if there are better ways to accomplish the representation that we need so that their government looks like the people it represents.
I think that's an important commitment on behalf of our Party and I think that will be done. As to when that can be accomplished I think we have a number of very critical priorities ahead of us immediately. We need to get on top of the pandemic and we need to make sure that we get back into an economic environment where people feel safe; have a place to call home…I think we should look at it.”
He said he was not in the House in 2015. He might have added he was not then a member of the Liberal Party.
The truth is you cannot be a 71 year old politician and not have a view on PR – for or against. He simply chose not to tell us, sheltering instead in vacuous promises of consultations, as is so often his approach.
On firearms Yvonne Kelly is clear and concise. On banning handguns Van Bynen says the Liberal Government has provided “our communities with options”. No. That’s incorrect. The Liberal Platform transfers responsibility for banning handguns (or not) to the Provinces and Territories.
If Toronto wants to ban handguns within the City boundaries and the Province says No then there is no ban. (Below: From the Liberal Platform)
The Two Michaels
And then this one from the virtual audience:
“Would you support a boycott of imports from China in an effort to free the two Michaels? If not what would you do to free the men?”
Yvonne Kelly addresses the issue directly:
“I would support that. I think we have to talk very openly about standing up to China and to the human rights abuses… it's also drawing that line in the sand. We have to live our truth. We have to stand up to the powerful.”
And this is Van Bynen, confiding in the small virtual crowd in Aurora. He is not addressing the United Nations with the world watching:
“We need to stand up. But I would suggest to you that this is a very complex situation and needs to be managed carefully in the context of our global relationships. Thank you.”
So where does this leave us at the end of this unnecessary pandemic election?
Vote for your first preference.
My advice is to vote the way you would have voted if Justin Trudeau had changed the electoral system as he promised to do in 2015 - but didn’t.
Vote for your first preference and let’s see where the cards fall.
For my part, I will be voting for Yvonne Kelly.
Not just for her views, put forward with refreshing clarity. But for her authenticity.