Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Candidates: Sandals and Gordon

James Gordon Sings a New Tune

In politics, like show business, name cache matters. Just look at Julian Fantino, the former OPP Chief, who has run twice for MP of Vaughn and has won twice despite the fact that he gave no press access, and participated in no public forums. But Gordon’s not that complacent. As a singer, song-writer, playwright, and radio man, Gordon knows how important the public forum is.

Now, after being an active member of the NDP for years, and after years of having party members try and entice him to run for office, Gordon is now putting his name on a ballot, and aiming to get himself elected as Guelph’s MPP. “I think it’s because they presumed that I had a profile in the community already that would work well,” says Gordon on his appeal as a candidate. “But in the arts sector we have a natural outlet for trying to communicate messages and issues, so I’ve always said no to them because I’m already doing that work, and enjoying what I do and having fun while doing it, so why would I want to change it up?

“This is the first time when they’ve asked when, you know what, I’m ready for a change up,” he adds. “I think this is an exciting opportunity and that there’s a unique window of opportunity with this particular election.”

Gordon’s campaign has been as much about hearing what the people have to say as it is about promoting the NDP platform. Gordon’s says his summer listening tour, going to constituents’ homes and hearing what they have to say, was a smash success. “It was a great experience,” he says. “They’ve almost disappeared because every evening now is filled with debates and events. But it was such a great learning process for me, and everybody was actually surprised by the process that ‘Hey, people want to know what I have to say,’ and you realize how seldom it is that people gather for the purpose of sharing ideas and visioning.”

Liz Sandals Has More Work to Do (And Wants Your Vote to Do It)

Liz Sandals has represented Guelph for the past eight years in Queen’s Park. That’s a large amount of time to hold any political seat, so it’s no wonder that a lot of her colleagues took the opportunity this fall to retire from provincial politics to explore new ventures and new challenges. But Sandals felt that her current job still had some challenges left to conquer.

“I think we’ve made really exciting progress so far in turning the province around,” says Sandals. “It’s been tough work the last few years because we’ve had worldwide recession, but all things considered Ontario has pulled through that pretty well. We’ve recovered the jobs, but there’s still a lot of work we have to do rebuilding the economy here in Guelph, making sure we’ve diversified the economy so that we don’t take such a deep hit when there’s a recession. And I’m really excited by some of the things we’re doing with education because that’s my background.”

In the campaign, Sandals has been hitting back against the impression that she doesn’t represent the people of Guelph as much as she represents the Liberal Party in Guelph, but Sandals says this depiction is wrong. “I think if you look at some of the projects that I’ve personally been involved with advocating for here, they actually are a result of listening to people in the community,” says Sandals. She points to the development of an emergency mental health ward, working with Guelph General Hospital and Homewood, to better serve the community, particularly people in mental health crisis.

“It took a lot of work, working with all the different players of Guelph, it took a lot of bugging the Minister of Health of the day because this was a uniquely Guelph problem,” she adds. “This wasn’t something for which there was a provincial funding line, but we were eventually able to get Trellis, Homewood and Guelph General to all come together, and now there’s an emergency mental health ward at Guelph General Hospital that has the proper secure facilities.”

To hear the complete interviews, check out the Guelph Politicast, available at

The Horse Race As It Is

With one week to go until Election Day, the polls are coming fast and furiously, and with every announcement it one thing is perfectly clear: it’s a toss up as to what the political landscape in Ontario is going to look like next Thursday. Province-wide, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives are in a statistical dead heat, with the NDP in a respectable, but distant 23 per cent. With these numbers and others,’s seat projection model shows that the Liberals are likely to win 55 seats, which is one more than they need for a majority. It’s a loss of 15 seats for the Grits, but just barely enough to win their third majority.

Locally, the results seem much clearer. A Forum Research poll released last Saturday showed that Liberal Liz Sandals will walk to re-election with 37.6 per cent of the vote. PC Greg Schirk comes in second with 30.3 per cent followed by NDP James Gordon and Green Steve Dyck with 21.9 per cent and 8.8 per cent respectively. Next Thursday should be very interesting indeed.

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