Spurned NDP candidate jumps ship
Plus: Moore's back, Ford's gunning for the North, Schreiner rallies the troops in Kitchener
ABOVE THE FOLD
NEW DEMOCRAT NO MORE — After controversy swirled around his blacklisting, a would-be NDP candidate is ripping up his membership card.
SAM KAPLUN now says he’s running in PC-held Eglinton—Lawrence as an Independent.
To wit: The 19-year-old student and president of the local riding association had called out the party’s candidate vetting process as “arbitrary, unintelligible and inconsistent” after he was disqualified for “inappropriate conduct” — specifically, him liking a tweet that referred to the Premier as a murderer. Catch up on our scoop.
Kaplun says his experience is part of a pattern that’s “turning off” young folks from party politics.
“This certainly doesn’t help that,” he told me. “There needs to be more outreach to youth and less of an assumption that they are inherently not going to be interested in running for office.”
As the local riding prez, he’s also got insight into the nitty-gritty of candidate search processes — and says the NDP could do more to boost access for those interested in carrying the banner. For example, “riding associations aren’t authorized to provide vetting packages to prospective candidates. In fact,” he says, “I’m familiar with several instances of people who are interested in running not receiving any vetting package at all.” He and the rest of the riding exec previously chided the NDP for a lack of appeals process for DQed contestants.
Kaplun adds he’s figuring out the next steps for formally resigning his post as local NDP riding president — not least because he’s in a potential conflict of interest, as that role heads up the local hunt for a candidate.
As an Independent, Kaplun says he wants to hold other party-affiliated candidates “to account” — including on housing, climate and disability issues.
Word on the street is that the NDP is poised to nominate a high-profile contender in the riding — currently repped by the Tories ROBIN MARTIN — but they haven’t confirmed their candidacy.
DOUG FORD’S WEEKEND — GUNNING FOR THE NORTH: Less than two months out from the vote, the PCs are setting their sights on Northern Ontario — traditionally territory of their political rivals, namely the NDP.
— Cue the big-spendy announcements: On Friday, the Premier trekked to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie to announce an electricity subsidy program that will rise from $120 million annually to $176 million by 2025-26.
— Sunday saw Ford in Timmins — arriving on an Ontario Northland train — to unveil another $75 million to restore passenger rail service to northeastern parts of the province for the first time in over a decade.
— Over in North Bay, Transportation Minister CAROLINE MULRONEY dropped $109 million to refurbish 56 GO Transit rail coaches. Meanwhile in Shuniah, Northern Development Minister GREG RICKFORD made official the twinning of Highway 11/17, from two to four lanes.
STUMP SPEECH ALERT — The Greens, meanwhile, are rallying the troops in Kitchener — where they claimed their first Ontario MP ever elected in the last federal vote: MIKE MORRICE. “Everything is not OK,” Green captain MIKE SCHREINER told candidates in a campaign-bootcamp weekend speech that touched on everything from jobs to health care to housing. Other parties are “not up to the job” and their proposals would only “paper over the cracks in Ontario’s foundation.”
UPDATE — KIERAN MOORE’S BACK at 1 p.m.: After refusing media requests for about a month, the top doc returns to the Media Studio for an update on access to Covid antivirals.
— 11 a.m.: Northern Development Minister GREG RICKFORD makes an announcement in Wawa.
— 2 p.m.: Solicitor General SYLVIA JONES will make an announcement in Mississauga.
— 2 p.m.: SCHREINER will be in Ajax for “a major announcement regarding Carruthers Creek and Doug Ford’s expensive sprawl agenda.”
ON THE ORDER PAPER
It’s Opposition Motion Day Number 4: NDPer JOHN VANTHOF will lead the debate on a special motion calling on “the Ford government to deliver real relief for Northerners by immediately issuing a one-time rebate of $200 per household to offset the rising cost of living in Northern Ontario.”
After the morning’s Question Period, MPPs will vote on whether to send the NDP’s bill to end auto insurance postal-code discrimination to committee.
ON THE COMMITTEE CIRCUIT — Municipal Affairs Minister STEVE CLARK will kick off public hearings on Bill 109, the big housing bill. Speakers include Ontario’s Big City Mayors, Environmental Defence, the Ontario Real Estate Association, Residential Construction Council of Ontario, Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Canadians for Properly Built Homes and more. Full witness roster.
The government’s post-pandemic emergency preparedness Bill 106 is also up for a possible makeover during today’s clause-by-clause consideration.
— PRIVATE SCHOOL ROLLOUT: Big investigation from the Star: “While the province got rapid tests to some crowded workplaces and areas of high transmission at this crucial time when vaccines were only just rolling out, the internal data show that only a fraction of the tests went to communities the province designated internally as ‘high priority.’ Meanwhile, the government gave private schools almost 175,000 free rapid tests — more than went to paramedics, daycares, shelters and jails combined, a Star analysis of the data reveals. The pipeline to private schools was not being closely monitored by the Education Ministry, which was still advising that the tests were not necessary for public school students on the recommendation of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.”
— VOTE ON: “Elections Ontario is encouraging residents to request mail-in ballots or take advantage of extra days of advanced voting this year with the intention of thinning polling station crowds on the province’s first — and hopefully only — provincial election day amid COVID-19.” Story from the Canadian Press.
— LET’S GET DIGITAL (OR NOT): The Tories are keeping “tight-lipped about the progress and rollout of the proposed provincial digital ID program.” More from CTV News Toronto: “The program was intended to launch in 2021, but was delayed due to the development of the province’s proof-of-vaccination app. In November, the government said they would roll the program out in 2022. But since then, the government has removed reference to the 2022 timeline from the digital ID website.”
Ontario’s ex-privacy watchdog pulled no punches on the matter:
NEWSTALK1010 @NEWSTALK1010The Ontario government is remaining tight-lipped about the progress and rollout of the proposed provincial digital ID program https://t.co/dzwphLjXIc
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
NEW UNION BRASS — For the first time in 15 years, there’s a new president steering OPSEU, the province’s biggest public-sector union. JP HORNICK will replace longtime head WARREN “SMOKEY” THOMAS. Hornick is coordinator of George Brown College’s school of labour and an LGBTQ rights activist. Bio.
BEYOND THE BUBBLE — Former Toronto councillor and MP ADAM VAUGHAN is the newest principal at Navigator.
Here are the new, renewed and amended registrations since Friday:
— Adam Taylor, Compass Rose Group: Rogers Communications Inc.
— Jan O'Driscoll, Rubicon Strategy: Direx Solutions Ltd
— Jim Burnett and Jeffrey Bangs, Pathway Group: Dorsay Development Corporation
— Raj Rasalinga, Protocol Plus: Godspeed Group
— Cameron Holmstrom, Bluesky Strategy Group: Agnico Eagle Mines Limited
In-house organizations: Queen’s University — Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario — Incyte Biosciences Canada Corporation.
🍽️ ON THE MENU: Wondering whether to pack a lunch before heading to the Pink Palace? Here’s what’s on tap at the Quorum Cafe’s basement cafeteria — Beer Mac & Cheese: Baked macaroni and cheese prepared with Ontario beer and served with side garden salad. Weekly grill special — BBQ ranch chicken sandwich: Crispy chicken, BBQ ranch sauce with lettuce and tomato on a Brioche bun. Combo with fries/salad.
⏳ COUNTDOWN: T-minus 52 days until the Election…23 days until the official start of the campaign…19 days until the budget is legally due out.