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On the Campaign Trail: Our Newmarket-Aurora pundits weigh in on election day

It's Election Day, so NewmarketToday talked with a few local residents who enjoy the game of politics as a hobby as the race nears its end
Finally, it's time to cast our votes in the 2019 federal election. NewmarketToday asked several Newmarket-Aurora residents of various political affilations who are actively engaged in the local political scene to share their thoughts and observations about the campaign, the issues and the candidates. We'll talk to them one more time to get their feedback after the results are in and the dust has settled.

Longtime labour activist, Ed Chudak, NDP

On voter turnout:

With 4.7 million Canadians casting their ballots during advance polling over the Thanksgiving weekend, which represents a 29 per cent increase over the same time in the 2015 federal election, Chudak said this points to a “good deal of interest in the election this time”.

“I think voter turnout will be heavier than usual,” he said. “And, millennials also are the largest part of the electorate this time, for the first time, and I think they’re getting politically more active on things like climate change.”

Chudak believes there are issues that impact millennials directly that they hold dear, such as the environment and affordability.  

“So, you’re going to see a higher turnout of young voters which will, in turn, raise the voter turnout,” he said.

On the polls, and what they’re telling us:

Since a majority of polling appears to be done on landline phones, rather than cellphones, Chudak said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a “big hole in the polling”.

“It’s interesting, because I’ve been phoned by pollsters maybe six times and all of it has been on my landline. You never get a polling calls on your cellphone,” he said, adding millennials mainly use cellphones. “But you really don’t know, so we’ll see when all the votes are counted up.

On who will form the next government:

“I think it will be a Liberal minority,” Chudak said. “If Mr. (Andrew) Scheer gets the plurality of seats, who can he rely on in the Parliament to not get defeated within two days?”

Chudak said the NDP has already made it clear that they will not prop up a Conservative plurality. And he’s sure the Liberals won’t. While the Greens said they might, they won’t have enough seats, likely under 10, he predicts. 

“That leaves Mr. Scheer with the great option of relying on the Bloc Quebecois to prop up his government. And, who knows if there’s going to be enough seats there to get them over 170,” he said. “But if that’s their plan, I think it’s absolutely incredible. The only group with a large number of seats that he could depend on would be the Bloc, and certainly he’s not going to say that. If it happens and somehow he governs, it’s going to be a very short Parliament. It’ll make Joe Clark look like he had longevity.”

“My speculation is that the Liberals will draw more seats out of Atlantic Canada, a few in Quebec, and out of Ontario than the Conservatives will, so it depends on what happens, largely, in the Prairies and British Columbia,” Chudak said. 

On the tenor of the campaign:

“I’m a little bit shocked that Mr. Scheer reportedly hired a company to find dirt on the (People’s Party of Canada) leader,” he said. “I really think that’s beyond the pale.”

Chudak said that in general, the tenor of the whole campaign hasn’t been great, especially between the Liberals and Conservatives, who spent a lot of time calling each other names, rather than concentrating on issues.

“It’s legitimate to say your policies are going to lead to this and this, it’s not legitimate to say if the Liberals and the NDP are forming government, then they’re going to institute a GST, because there’s no reality to that. It’s an out-and-out lie. Those types of things are illegitimate,” he said.

“I sometimes wish that the next Parliament would pass a truth in campaigning law,” Chudak said, “because we’re really starting to emulate the American system, where you can make outrageous claims about anything and because of social media it gets traction.”

That’s not good for democracy, he said, because it misleads people into voting for things they otherwise wouldn’t vote for. 

“I think Mr. (Jagmeet) Singh has stayed above the fray and that’s reflected in his popularity,” Chudak said. “He has said he won’t back the Conservatives, that’s a statement of fact. But he hasn’t gone out on a regular basis calling people names. I believe that’s one of the reasons he has been well-received.”

Who's Ed Chudak?:

Ed Chudak is retired, but serves as a part-time member of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. He spent his career as a teacher activist with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, of which he was bestowed an honorary lifetime membership. He also served as a liaison with the Canadian Labour Congress and labour community. His work has been acknowledged with an Ontario Teachers’ Federation fellowship and he was named to the Ontario Federation of Labour honour roll.


'Political junkie' Darryl Wolk, Conservative

On voter turnout:

Based on the advance polls, voter turnout seems to be high this election, Wolk agrees.

“I don’t know if that was just people who were especially motivated, who were taking advantage of the convenience of Elections Canada,” he said. 

In some ways, many of Wolk’s non-political friends haven’t raised questions about the election, he said.

“But today, I heard a lot of conversations on the GO train, people at work are talking to me about it, so it seems like there’s a lot of excitement because of the close race, so maybe turnout will be high. I do think we’re going to get a fairly high turnout, it won’t set record lows or anything.”

On the polls, and what they’re telling us:

Wolk said he pays more attention to the seat projections than polls, but he said what the polls appear to be showing is a close race, along with major regional divisions. 

“There seems to be different races happening in Quebec and Alberta, for example, and it seems that Ontario is going to be the province that decides who will lead this minority government,” he said.

“I think the millennial turnout will decline this election from last time. A lot of them were motivated by the legalization of marijuana, and this time it’s not a factor,” said Wolk. “There’s been a lot of talk about climate change and if that’s an issue that’s going to drive youth turnout, that’s been on the agenda for 10 to 15 years now. And I don’t see huge support for the Green Party that traditionally would be seen as most serious about dealing with the climate crisis.” 

On who will form the next government:

Here are Wolk’s seat projections: Liberals 130, Conservatives 125, Bloc Quebecois 45, NDP 34, Greens 3, PPC 1, and no independents.

“Under this scenario, Trudeau will lead a minority government but he would require both the NDP and the Bloc to pass any legislation,” he said. “Unless something really shocking happens, it’s a minority government for sure.”

“How stable it’s going to be is going to depend on if the Liberal and NDP have enough seats together to form a majority. And they’ll be secondary issues, one of those being Trudeau or Scheer won’t be leader much longer,” he said. “And that may force the other party to abstain until a leadership review takes place.”

“The only way Scheer would be able to govern is if they led the seat count by about 10 seats,” said Wolk. “And Trudeau resigned, and Scheer was able to govern with the Liberals abstaining until they picked a new leader.”

On the tenor of the campaign leading up to election days:

Wolks agreed that while there’s been attacks back and forth, he believes that, generally, this federal election has not been as nasty as some people are saying. 

“Of course, you’re going to have exaggerations and in some cases misleading partisan documents, but I didn’t find this election to be more nasty than previous provincial elections or even local elections or the 2015 federal election for that matter,” he said.

Who's Darryl Wolk?:

A resident of Newmarket since 1985, Darryl Wolk has an MBA and undergraduate degrees in commerce and political science. He has worked in government relations, policy development and as a legislative assistant to former Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees. Wolk also ran for Ward 5 councillor and deputy mayor in Newmarket municipal elections. He has participated in international, national, provincial and local campaigns, is a political commentator and is active online. He has been engaged politically in the local riding since he was 14 and followed local politics for the past 25 years.


Community volunteer, Peter Cozzi, Liberal

Lawyer Peter Cozzi, who has been knocking on doors as part of Tony Van Bynen's campaign team, continues to be impressed by how "civil" Newmarket-Aurora residents are, whatever their political stripes.

On last week’s campaigning:

Two things stand out in Cozzi’s mind, first was Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s resolve to stick to the message — to the displeasure of some national journalists — in a campaign stop in Hamilton early in the week.

“He wouldn’t let the journalists distract him from the message. As a Liberal supporter, that’s what we needed to hear,” Cozzi said.

Second was the news that the Conservatives had hired Warren Kinsella’s firm, the Daisy Group, to wage a social media campaign that would make the Conservative Party look more attractive to voters by highlighting xenophobic statements made by People’s Party of Canada candidates and supporters. 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer refused to answer questions on the accusation.

“It’s very easy to put out paradoxes in politics,” Cozzi said, adding it’s disingenuous for Scheer to condemn Trudeau’s behaviour as being inconsistent with his messaging. 

On a local turning point:

The news that the Conservative Party was delivering postcards to local residents attacking the Liberals’ for a ‘secret tax’ on the sale of houses that doesn’t actually exist was “deeply disappointing” to Cozzi “as a human being and as a Canadian”, partisan politics aside.

“It could be a sign of desperation,” he added, or that “people” feel justified to use any means to an end.

On who will form the next government:

While Cozzi would only affirm the Newmarket-Aurora race will be a tight one, he shared the predictions of his brother, an avowed “political junkie” who lives in Richmond Hill: The Liberals 145 seats, the Conservatives 120, the NDP 34+, the Bloc 36+, the Green 2+ and “Mad Max” 1.

Who's Peter Cozzi?:

Peter Cozzi, a resident of Newmarket since 1987, is the father of five children. He was secretary of the Newmarket High School Parent Council, treasurer of the East Gwillimbury Soccer Club and coached soccer, baseball and basketball. He has played and coached in the Newmarket Men’s Baseball League for 25 years.

— With files from Debora Kelly


Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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