In recent days, I have responded to a number of questions from people who are still undecided as to who they will vote for on June 7. In most cases, they feel that they should vote, but are not happy with any of the parties. My advice was to decide which candidate would in their opinion do the best job as MPP, and to vote for that person regardless of party affiliation.
While I had previously argued elsewhere in these Considerations articles for strategic voting, I emphasized that it’s only effective if done locally based on reliable polling data from one’s own riding. Unfortunately, province-wide public polls reported on sites like the CBC’s Ontario Poll Tracker are useless for that purpose because their sample sizes range from 600 to 1600. That implies an average of 5 to 13 completed interviews per riding, which is far too few for statistical significance at the local level. The larger local campaigns commission private polls, but those numbers bounce around a lot and can’t be independently verified. A recent Kingston poll showed one candidate in the lead for the question as to which party the respondent was supporting and a different candidate in the lead for the question as to which named candidate the respondent favoured.
Now that the danger of having Doug Ford as our majority Premier for the next four years appears to have receded a bit, perhaps it’s time to revisit the more fundamental question of which local candidate is most likely to best perform the real job of an MPP.
To answer that question, I would suggest that you think like a member of a search committee which has been tasked with choosing who should be hired for a very important position in your organization. Good search committees focus on relevant experience, evidence of effective teamwork, excellent communications and interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic and, above all, a demonstrated track record of success.
In Kingston and the Islands, I have absolutely no doubt that an objective search committee would select Sophie Kiwala to serve for another four-year term as our MPP. Sophie’s demonstrated track record is one of caring about everyone in her community, really listening, acting on what she hears, building effective coalitions, working 80-hour weeks and delivering truly impressive results. Very few people have the mix of skills, experience and aptitudes to do that job well. Having worked closely for many years with MPs Peter Milliken and Ted Hsu, Sophie had a big head start over most first-term MPPs, but even she had a lot of rapid learning to do on the road to becoming the exceptionally effective MPP she is today. Why would we want to throw all that invaluable experience away and start over with someone who would have to re-learn it all from scratch?
There’s one other very important consideration which applies to this particular election. Our next Legislature is likely to be both fractured and fractious, with many of the most experienced MPPs gone. Kingston’s best contribution to good government in this province would be to return Sophie to the Legislature. She is the only one of the local candidates with the necessary experience and personal skills to make a positive difference and get things done in such a quagmire. She has a reputation for being unfailingly gracious and respectful to MPPs of all parties, as well as staff, while retaining her fierce determination to get things done. As just one piece of evidence, all of Sophie’s private member’s bills were passed unanimously, which is almost unprecedented.