Election 2018 Debrief

Last week we had a meeting to discuss the 2018 Ontario election results, and how to improve our campaigning for next year’s federal election. We had a decent turnout, and some great discussions that have me hopeful for more growth here in Northumberland – Peterborough South.

The Election Results

I joined the Green Party of Ontario because of our strong platform, which is rooted in principles that are well embodied by our leader, Mike Schreiner. Mike’s landslide victory in his own riding, as well as his popularity across the province, will help us in our next campaign; and our platform continues to be very strong, with evidence-based policies recommended by relevant experts. But if we’ve learned anything from the 2018 Ontario election, it is that effective campaigning has a bigger impact on election results than a party’s policy platform or their leader’s popularity, and that other factors (in this case, a deep a long-nurtured distrust of the Liberals) can play an even bigger role.

We can’t control for other factors, though we will gear our campaign toward them; but we can control the way that we campaign, and in that area we have a lot of room for growth. In this past campaign we made a strategic decision to focus on events and online presence, based on the resources we had. We used a minimal number of signs, mailed out postcards in just one area, and only ran ads on the radio in the last few weeks of the campaign; effective advertising campaigns can add 2-4 percentage points to our vote, and we did see some positive return on our advertising in the form of slightly higher votes in areas that had radio ads or mailout. Signs were moderately more effective, not only because they served as a form of steady presence on a street, but also because they themselves are a sign of support, and people are more likely to support a candidate or party that they see others supporting. But the greatest impact, worth 6-12 percentage points in a well-run campaign, come from canvassing.

We didn’t do much canvassing in the 2018 Ontario election for two reasons: first, the riding is huge and running a canvassing campaign in a big riding is very challenging; and second, because we had very few volunteers. Knocking on doors and speaking directly with citizens remains the most effective form of campaigning, and we even saw that in our results: the polls with the best vote count for Greens were those in the immediate areas of anywhere that we actually canvassed, specifically the polling station in my neighbourhood in Brighton and the one in David Brister’s neighbourhood in Cobourg. Considering the canvassing we did was unsystematic and sporadic, the fact that we can see real results from it speaks volumes.

The Importance of Membership

The way to build on our positive results this year is to make sure that we can run a good ground campaign next year in the 2019 federal election. In order to do that, we need more volunteers – and to get more volunteers, we need to grow our volunteer base, i.e., members.

David Piccini ran a very effective ground campaign, prioritizing canvassing over other forms of campaigning and utilizing up to 125 volunteers, with at least 25 involved in his Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign on election day reminding people to vote. This effectiveness is evident in the fact that our riding had a voter turnout 10 points higher than the provincial total. While some of his volunteers and funding came from the PC party, who were investing in NPS as a swing riding they wanted to win, most of it came from his membership base. But when he started campaigning, a year and a half before the campaign began, there were only 35 active PC members in the riding; by the time the election campaign started, he had over 2,000.

Membership is almost an old-fashioned concept: service clubs and churches and social clubs have all seen a decline (and greying) in their memberships, because younger generations aren’t as keen on being “joiners” even if they’re often more personally active in volunteering for various causes. We’d rather stand for a cause than with a group. I’ll leave it for sociologists to determine why that is, but I can’t stress enough how important party membership is for our cause, especially because we are a political party.

First, practically speaking, membership is a form of funding ($10/year per member) and helps us maintain contact with our supporters and develop a pool from which to draw volunteers and donations. And second, because as a political party our cause is only really served by us being a unified group. If the work of a charity or service club can be accomplished by the organized work of volunteers who are otherwise unaffiliated, membership isn’t very important; but in a political party we can only accomplish our goals by being a large group or movement that is committed to promoting the group itself. Our platform is our cause, but our goal is to get elected, and members drive election campaigns.

Preparing for 2019

The time to start preparing for the next election is right now. We’ve gained ground in the 2018 campaign, and we’ve learned a lot from it too. The next step is membership. 2,727 people voted Green here in 2018, but only about 40 of them are actually members. That’s more than David Piccini started out with, and if we can get even 1/4 of those 2,727 voters to join the party, we will have a much bigger base from which we can draw volunteers and donations, which gives us many more possibilities for campaigning in 2019. Some of the things we’d like to do include:

  • Canvassing in your neighbourhood, which not only increases voter turnout but also provides opportunities to gain even more members, further growing our support base!
  • Have a bigger lawn sign presence
  • Have more local events beyond all-candidate meetings, such as coffee parties and barbecues in smaller communities
  • Run issue campaigns before and during the election, dealing with important federal issues such as:
    • Climate Change: pricing carbon, meeting Paris targets, and mitigating the damage we’re already seeing
    • Trade: NAFTA, TPP, CETA, and the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions in those deals that undermine our sovereignty and ability to address climate change
    • Defense: NATO, Peacekeeping, and our place in the UN
    • Economic reform: Guaranteed Livable Income, addressing tax evasion, supporting a green economy
  • Have a paid campaign staff to organize all of these other things!

How to Get Involved

If we can grow our party membership to 650 by this time next year, so many more possibilities open up for us! Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Sign up for membership! It’s only $10/year ($20/year if you join both the federal and provincial parties). It’s a minimal commitment, but it’s the first step toward really making a difference! Join here.
  2. Give us feedback: what made you vote Green? What did we do really well in our campaign, and how can we improve it? What’s the most important issue in your community, and how can we address it?
  3. Volunteer! Are you willing to:
    1. Knock on every door on one street (about 1-2 hours commitment, training provided)?
    2. Hand out fliers for a few hours?
    3. Host a coffee meeting or barbecue and invite your friends and neighbours?
    4. Put up a lawn sign, or wave signs on a street corner for a few hours?
    5. Spend election day calling supporters to remind them to vote, or being a scrutineer at your polling station?
    6. Deliver signs to supporters and pick them up the day after election day?
    7. Become a member of the Electoral District Association executive council, meeting semi-regularly and helping to plan and organize our efforts?
  4. Donate: while we run very lean and efficient campaigns, the more money we raise the more we can do to support our volunteers, run advertising campaigns, and take all of our efforts to the next level!
  5. Talk to a friend about becoming a member. Politics is often portrayed as something nice people don’t talk about in public because it’s offensive and divisive. We want to do politics differently: tell your friends about your concerns, but mostly about solutions and reasons for hope. Having a better national political culture starts with the way that we think about politics and how we talk about it with others, so let’s be the change we want to see in Canadian politics. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also effective and attractive.

We have much to be proud of from this campaign, and I’m so grateful to all of you for your support. I want to make sure that we make the most of our growth, so I’m asking you now to please make that support pay dividends by purchasing a membership, and then send us an email to say that you’ve done it, along with any volunteer commitment (from the list above or otherwise) that you might see yourself doing in 2019. Together, we can turn this campaign into a movement that sees growing Green influence and presence in Northumberland – Peterborough South!

Sincerely,

Jeff Wheeldon

 

Jeff Wheeldon

It’s done, but it isn’t over.

What a campaign!

When we began this campaign, I didn’t know where we would end up. I’ve lived here for a few years now, and I knew that we have strong local cultures and community champions that make this a fantastic place to live, but you’ve blown me away! I’ve met so many people over the last few months whose behind-the-scenes work for their communities has a massive impact that few of us actually see. There are gaps in our social systems, but volunteers and organizers and nonprofits fill them with sweat, tears, and a whole lot of love. I feel like this campaign has shown me the true face of our riding, and I’m so full of gratitude! I want to give special thanks to my campaign committee: Patricia, whose connections and organization held everything together; Minnie, who meticulously handled our campaign finances; and Gigi, whose experience and support guided our decisions. A huge thank you also to everyone who so generously donated money or time, hosted a lawn sign, engaged and shared on social media, and voted for me! We quite literally can’t do this without you, and you are the reason our party slogan in this election has been #PeoplePoweredChange!

You wonderful people are going to be needed more than ever, which is why I say that although the election is done, it isn’t over. We’re just beginning a four-year era of what is sure to be significant cuts to services and instability in federal-provincial relations. Gains that have been made over decades, such as clean energy infrastructure and protection of our farmland, wetlands, and watershed, are directly threatened; racialized and sexual minorities are concerned for their rights, and in some cases, their safety; and by all accounts we’re looking at adding enormous debt to provincial budgets, to name just a few looming problems under a Doug Ford government. Today is a hard day for a lot of people: if it is for you, take some time to process it; if it isn’t, take some time to consider the perspectives of those who are feeling anxious or depressed or angry today. Then commit yourself to being engaged in your community, caring for your neighbours, and filling any gaps that may open up under the rubric of “efficiencies.”

At the same time, there is much to be celebrated! Mike Schreiner was elected in Guelph, making history as the first elected Green in Ontario. His track record before being elected is truly impressive, and while he faces a huge challenge of being a lone Green in the opposition to a majority PC government, I know he will find a way to work with them for the good of Guelph and all of Ontario. And his election opens the door wider for more Greens in the next provincial election – and in the federal election next year.

Here in our riding, we’ve seen Green growth! We’re up around 500 votes over our 2014 performance, and given that this election is more polarized than the last – and therefore we can expect that strategic voting played a bigger role in the results – our growth is even bigger than the numbers show. Yesterday alone I received two messages from supporters who wanted to tell me that their hearts are Green even if their votes are not, and I’ve been getting those messages at events and on doorsteps and in my inbox all month. We have a growing base to build on.

It’s not over. Take a break, slow down a bit, but let’s not wait four years to start building on these gains. Once I get the official election data from Elections Ontario about polling results, we will have a debrief meeting to go over the results and do some preliminary planning for how we can do better next year. The 2019 federal election is 15 months or so away, and the Green Party of Canada is already preparing. You can help right now: a) make sure you have a membership (federal; provincial), which not only gives us a bit of funds to work with ($10/year), but also ensures that we can keep in touch better and invite you to the debrief meeting; b) send me an email (jeff.wheeldon@greenparty.ca) telling me about your biggest concerns, provincially or federally; and c) send an email to congratulate David Piccini (david@davidpiccini.ca) on his win last night and let him know that you’re ready to engage with him to make our riding better, and greener, and cc me on it. And if you have a sign, please take it down but contact me to arrange for pickup – we want to reuse them, and keep them out of landfills!

As for me, even while I am preparing for a federal election in the fall of 2019, I picked up nomination papers for a municipal run this fall. Over the past month I’ve been approached by people from my local Chamber of Commerce, Municipal Council, churches, etc., asking me (unprompted) to run for Council. It’s an opportunity to continue to engage on provincial issues with David and provide some accountability there, address local issues such as resiliency in our infrastructure and sustainability in our planning, and implement some of the goals of the GPO on a local level; it’s also another opportunity to campaign, canvass, and build on the growth of this election before the next federal election. I won’t be using this website or our Green Party NPS Facebook page for my municipal campaigning, which is non-partisan, but I want you to know that I won’t be idle over the next year. We all have ways that we can be active in serving others, and this one is mine.

Municipal Nomination Papers

When you voted Green you made a declaration, if only to yourself, that you were invested in a brighter future. Our new provincial government isn’t headed in that direction, but I want to encourage you: I can still see that future, and I haven’t given up on it. I’m going to do everything I can to get us there, and I hope you will too, regardless of what our government says or does. The goal of an election campaign is to win, but the goal of the election itself is to take steps forward into our vision for the future, and we don’t need to wait for another election to take a lot of those steps. I hope you will come out to plan our next steps together: make sure you’re a member, and then watch for our invitation sometime in the next few weeks!

Thanks again everyone, your boldness and vision is already having an impact!

Sincerely,

Jeff

All-Candidates Meeting – Newcastle Chamber of Commerce

The Newcastle Chamber of Commerce is hosting an all-candidates meeting on Wednesday, May 23, at Clarke High School, 3425 Hwy 35/115. The event starts at 7:00, but come at 6:30 to meet the candidates and look over our information. See you there!

Nothing Exists Radio Hour

Tune in to 89.7 FM Cobourg on Friday, May 18 at 8pm to hear your Green candidate, Jeff Wheeldon, talk with host Lyss England about hope in crisis, democratic deficits, political psychology, legalized cannabis, the interconnection of everything, and whatever else crosses our minds!

All-Candidates Meeting – Retired Teachers of Ontario

The Retired Teachers of Ontario are hosting an all-candidates meeting on Thursday, May 17th, at 7:00pm. The event will be held at the Best Western Inn in Cobourg, 930 Burnham St., with doors opening at 6:30. Questions will be in the categories of: Economy and Employment, Healthcare, Seniors’ Concerns, Environment, and Open Questions. Be sure to come by early to meet the candidates, and bring a question and a friend!

All-Candidate Meeting: Your Health Matters

The Port Hope Northumberland Community Health Centre is hosting an all-candidate meeting to discuss healthcare, which is always a top budget issue in Ontario. The event will be at Ganaraska Trail Public School, 34 Percival St., Port Hope, and will be held on Thursday, May 10 at 6:45pm.

Healthcare is always a critical topic, not least because it is our biggest expense. But we are also in a healthcare crisis: many Ontarians don’t have a family doctor; wait times for ER visits, surgeries, and specialists are far too long; there is a shortage of long-term care facilities, a fact that becomes more crucial as baby boomers age; mental health issues are becoming increasingly recognized but still lack funding for proper treatment; opioid addiction and overdoses are at epidemic levels; and costs continue to rise.

You can see the Green Party’s vision for healthcare reform here, but be sure to come out and see how all of the candidates respond to the questions and present their party’s platform on this issue. Bring a friend, and bring a question!

Poster:

Your Health Matters

Upcoming Events!

The election campaign has not yet officially begun, but we’re ready. Community groups are already planning all-candidate events, and your Green candidate Jeff Wheeldon will be there. He would also love to be at YOUR event! Please invite us to your event, public or private. Bring your friends, and ask Jeff anything about the Green Vision, himself, his candidacy, or any particular issues of concern. You can reach Jeff at jeff.wheeldon@gpo.ca to book a meeting. He’d love to hear from you!

Here is a schedule of all-candidate meetings in the riding. Find a .pdf version below, with active links to maps or for printing and posting in your area! (Please recycle your posters once the campaign is done.)

UPDATE 5/20/2018: The events just keep on coming! Had to update the poster to add three new events!

Schedule

Events poster

PDF version:

All-Candidates Meetings schedule (.pdf link)

 

Affordable Housing

Everyone needs a place to live.

We hear about real estate markets all the time. While the possibility of a bubble in the housing market (such as the one that set off a chain reaction that tanked the global economy in 2008) is a real concern, that’s not the biggest concern of affordable housing advocates.

We often hear about how people who grew up in Toronto are not able to afford to continue to live there, either because they cannot afford to own or because they cannot find affordable or available rental units. This happens outside of Toronto too: it’s just as true here in Brighton, and towns and cities of every size in between. This is a sustainability issue, and speaks to the quality of life of our communities. If we want to have healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities, access to affordable housing is crucial. Communities with mixed-income, mixed-use developments (i.e., neighbourhoods that have rich and poor people, residential and commercial space) are healthier, more accessible, and more sustainable; the alternative is ghettos, gated communities, and inevitably, gentrification.

But affordable housing isn’t just about the quality and sustainability of our communities. For the poor, housing is a critical issue of personal safety and opportunity. A person cannot get a job, much less maintain a career, without a fixed address. A person cannot enjoy physical and mental health without the security of a clean and safe place to sleep. We know that housing is a critical ingredient in virtually every measure of human success, and that ensuring secure housing improves a person’s life in every way. That not only helps that individual, it also helps our entire society. Affordable housing creates healthier communities, but it also lowers the amount that society spends on emergency services. We are all better off in every way when everyone has a place to live.

The Green Approach

Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, was in Cobourg for my nomination meeting in February. While he was here he gave a great interview about affordable housing with housing advocate Kristina Nairn on Drive Time with Dave Glover on Northumberland 89.7 FM. Here’s what he had to say:

GPO Mike Schreiner

My View

As a REALTOR®, I spend a lot of time thinking about housing. I know that some people in my industry want to ride the wave of high real estate prices to successful careers for themselves. There has been opposition from many in the real estate market to any government programs that make it more difficult for people to buy and sell homes, even if those measures prevent a market bubble, improve the quality of our communities, or help ensure that everyone has a home.

I don’t believe that a healthy real estate market is one that leaves people behind, and I know that the choice between a healthy market and affordable housing is a false one. As your MPP I will advocate for programs that build community rather than just houses; regulations that promote sustainable markets rather than just trying to restrain bubbles; and municipal growth that is deliberate and thoroughly planned, so that everyone has a place in our communities. Where we live affects how we live, and having a home is one big difference between surviving and living.

Your Green Candidate,

Jeff Wheeldon

Your Green Party of Ontario Candidate: Jeff Wheeldon

Jeff Wheeldon

Green Party Northumberland – Peterborough South Chooses Jeff Wheeldon as 2018 Candidate

The Green Party of Ontario’s Northumberland – Peterborough South Constituency Association is pleased to present Jeff Wheeldon as their 2018 provincial election candidate. Wheeldon was acclaimed on Tuesday night at the Cobourg Community Centre by members of the Constituency Association, after an inspiring speech by Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. Wheeldon also gave a speech, followed by the unanimous vote in support of his candidacy, before Schreiner and Wheeldon closed the evening with a Q&A session with the audience. The event was covered by local media, including the Cobourg News Blog.

Jeff Wheeldon’s speech:

Thank you all! It is an honour to represent the Green Party of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election.

I don’t need to tell you that the Green Party has a thorough, comprehensive platform rooted in core values that speak to people from across the political spectrum; if you’re here tonight you’re either a member or you’ve probably come with one, and I know they’d be happy to talk out the platform over coffee. And I don’t need to tell you that we have a leader who is highly intelligent and the hardest-working person in Ontario politics; you’ve just heard him speak. But I do want to take a few minutes to tell you a bit more about myself and why I’ve put myself forward as a Green candidate.

I’m running to represent the people of Northumberland – Peterborough South for reasons so deep in my heart and soul that you might say I couldn’t not run.

I don’t claim to have the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, but I believe that my purpose in life boils down to serving others, and it was for that purpose that I was trained for ministry and leadership in my undergraduate degree. But the more I learned about serving others, the more I realized that there are systemic issues that we must face together, so I expanded my concept of ministry from personal issues and spiritual guidance to structural issues and social ethics in my graduate studies. The more I looked to heaven, the more I was directed back to earth, to my neighbours and the institutions that govern how we relate to each other.

Looking at our systems of government, I am struck by two powerful convictions: first, that government must always be an “us” and never a “them”, the result of us coming together to achieve things we could never achieve on our own rather than some outside force that we are beholden to; and second, that the way our political institutions behave now is NOT the way that they were designed to behave, and so they are no longer capable of fulfilling their purpose. Simply put, our government should be a tool to advance our civilization, but right now it is barely capable of being civil. A key reason I am Green is because we are willing to work across party lines, we pledge to uphold the dignity of our province and parliament, and we keep the good of our constituents ahead of party politics. There are two phrases that I love that I think sum up our approach to politics: the first is that “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if we don’t care who gets the credit”, and the second is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As a Green candidate, I want to be the best MPP in the house – not only for the sake of my constituents, but also for the sake of creating an island of nonpartisan politics at Queen’s Park. I’m here to serve you, to get the work done, and I’m happy to work together with others to get it done.

I love this riding. It is full of character, beauty, culture, innovation, community. I am not originally from here, but my family and I chose to settle down here. This is my home by choice, and I am committed to our communities. I am invested here: my wife and I have small businesses here, we are raising our two children here, and even my parents have moved here from across the country. I want to see this region, this province, and this country thrive, today and forever.

We face tremendous challenges right now: the world is changing, like it or not, and I strongly believe that how we prepare for change now will determine the quality of life our children will have. In many ways, “prepare” is the wrong word: we have already fallen behind the pace of change, and many of our social institutions are still based on ideas from the nineteenth century. Communism has collapsed or faded away, and while there are some powerful ideas and tools in socialist paradigms, so much of the NDP outlook is still rooted in concepts of class and labour and production that seem downright quaint in today’s increasingly automated and digital economy; raising the minimum wage and increasing social programs, without a new paradigm for our new world, will not solve our problems.

At the same time, neo-liberal capitalism cannot be smug: it is on the brink of collapsing under its own weight, with growing inequality, massive internet monopolies, unsustainable production of throw-away products, and virtual dependence on both private and public debt to achieve the illusion of wealth we enjoy today. The Liberals too often answer this crisis by repeating the word “innovation” and throwing money at startup companies, and creating more social programs to support the people left behind by our economy; the conservative approach is to cut taxes and regulations and pretend that nobody does get left behind. This is not the 1980’s; our conversation needs to get bigger than these tired ideological disputes of yesteryear, to take innovative policy ideas seriously and start to think about what Ontario will look like in an automated world that is two degrees warmer. We need to learn from the past, but plan for the future. The Green Party is doing that, and we’re taking those ideas to Queen’s Park to lay the foundation for that future.

We face economic and ecological crises, but these also present us with opportunities. I believe that we have everything we need to not only survive in an automated and warming world, but to thrive in it. We already have the technology, the resources, and the knowledge we need to prosper, to move beyond the endless crisis mentality we now live in toward a brighter and cleaner future. What we lack is the courage, the political will, to take concrete steps out of the status quo. The question that I pose to you tonight, and to the people of Northumberland – Peterborough South come June 7th, is: are you willing to commit to a better future?

To you tonight, I will ask more concretely: are you willing to commit to volunteering, donating, coming to events, talking to your friends and family, writing letters to the editor, putting a sign on your lawn, waving signs on street corners, engaging on social media (politely), collecting signatures, promoting our platform, driving people to the polls on election day, or anything else you can do to help us make that future? Nobody has to do everything, but we can’t do this alone. Please talk to Minnie afterward about any donations, and to Patricia about how to volunteer. Anything worth doing is worth doing together, so please join our team however you are able!

Thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me; I will work hard to earn that trust, and to serve the people of Northumberland – Peterborough South.

To hear Jeff speak, watch this website for upcoming events in your area. To invite Jeff to your event, contact us.