Visiting the offices of two Ottawa South Candidates: McGuinty and Salibi

I live in the electoral district of Ottawa South. While people have asked me during the election which party to vote for that would best protect their rights in relation to technology law, I don't offer them the answer they want. I say to get involved in the local district, and find out which person or person(s) will best represent them. Having sat down with many MPs over the years, I truly believe it comes down to the individuals and not the parties.

Today I dropped in on the campaign offices of and Conservative Elie Salibi (@VoteElieSalibi) and Liberal David McGuinty (@DavidMcGuinty).

I dropped into Mr. Salibi's office first, as I had not met him yet and his Facebook site suggested he would be there around 11:00. Since he had already launched his office earlier, it was quieter and I was able to have a chat.

He has a technical background, including working at Corel in the past. He has been a Policy Advisor to Tony Clement, and mentioned he was in the room when they were debating what policies would be included in C-32. He suggested our simplified version of Prime Minister Harper being the deciding vote between Minister's Clement and Moore being based on giving what the Americans wanted was incorrect.

I suggested that I agreed that C-32 was fairly balanced between a wide variety of interests, and there were both good and bad in it, except when it came to technical measures which was the deal breaker for many technically sophisticated people. I asked him whether he thought the TPM provisions were balanced, and who they protected. He directed the question back to me, at which point I gave a short version of my "I have 4 things in my hand" property rights presentation.

While I have already made my own choice for this election, from the short conversation I had with Mr. Salibi I suspect he would also be a good representative. I hope to have the opportunity to have more conversations with him between elections. There were so many conversations with the 2008 campaign manager, but we didn't manage to get the time. After the election we all seemed to get distracted by non-election issues. Hopefully if I say this publicly that I will pursue meeting with him after the election (regardless of the outcome), that I will push harder this time.

In the case of Mr. McGuinty, this was the launch of his campaign office. There was a flood of people, and no time to have a conversation wtih Mr. McGuinty. I did go up to shake his hand, and he dove right into asking about C-32 and what I thought of the Liberals that were on the committee. I deflected that question (my hums and haws kinda gave it away) by saying there was a diversity of people, and that I was thankful for his work to help me set up meetings with MPs.

While Mr. McGuinty was involved in cell phone fees as an issue, technology law isn't one of the files he closely follows. I have liked Mr. McGuinty because I think he makes a good local MP, and even when it is an issue he doesn't follow he is willing to help constituents get in touch with the right people within or outside his party. His office door has always been open to me, and I have always received replies to the questions I have asked him in email. The Ottawa-South section of this website has a history of some of the interactions over the years.

The electoral district of Ottawa South has been a race between the Liberal and various conservative (Conservative, Reform, Progressive Conservative) candidates for a long time, and doesn't show signs of change. As much as I will enjoy (and look forward to) talking with other candidates in the district, it is pretty close to 100% certain that one of the two people I met today will represent this district after the election.

This is different in other districts where it is between the Liberals and NDP (with the Conservatives not factoring in much), or where it is between NDP and Conservative (with the Liberals not factoring in much), or other district where the Greens are a major influence (and might even win a seat this election). And of course different Quebec districts have a very different dynamic with the Bloc. Please don't take my comments about my district as suggesting anything about any other district, other than suggesting that people should get to know their local candidates.

When I look at these two individuals, I feel comfortable with the idea of either of them being my MP. I obviously have years of experience and many conversations with Mr. McGuinty, and only a few minutes with Mr. Salibi, which will explain my stronger comfort with Mr. McGuinty. As suggested above, I hope to have more conversations with Mr. Salibi between elections.

The campaign material that comes from party headquarters gives me an entirely different feeling.

The material from Mr. Salibi's office has information on two sides. In about 1/4 of the front there is what looks like a business-card layout saying "In Ottawa South, elect Elie Salibi" that mentions the phone number, his website (unfortunately currently down) and has his picture.

The rest of the brochure is what I would consider to be junk from the national party.

Featured across from the slight mention of Mr. Salibi is "the Ignatief-led Risky Coalition".

I'm sorry, but seeking to vilify coalitions will hurt local candidates. Canadians know what country they live in, and what system of democracy we use here. We know we don't elect a President of Canada, and realise we don't directly elect a government either. We elect local representatives in a Westminster Parliamentary system where it is those elected representatives (currently 308) that decide what subset of MPs have the confidence of the house to form government. The suggestion that the government must always be formed by the party with the most number of seats, regardless of any other factors, insults the intelligence of Canadians.

Then there is the standard election (yawn) statements about Conservatives being for "Lower Taxes" and everyone else being for "Higher taxes". Wake me up when that part is over, given I actually pay attention to federal politics and the spending habits and promises from the parties.

It isn't how much a government taxes that is ever a relevant question. It matters what is taxed (IE: income, services vs goods, resources), and how much and on what things governments spend our tax money. What is spent has to be paid for in taxes, either by current taxpayers or by our children when governments rack up massive debts.

I've said to Mr. McGuinty that I have voted for him despite -- not because of -- his party affiliations. The same would apply if in a future election I decided to vote for Mr. Salibi.