About Last Night…

Looking at the election results and questioning the media narratives. Was Hudak rejected that aggressively? Did Wynne appeal that much to voters?

The popular vote in 2011: Liberals 37.7%, Conservatives 35.5, NDP 22.7. This time around, Liberals 38.7, Conservatives 31.2, NDP 23.8. The Green Party went from 2.9 to 4.8.

The Liberals grabbed a few PC seats (Barrie, Newmarket-Aurora and Burlington) where they also appear to have gained votes from the NDP. In Cambridge, the Liberals gained a greater share of the vote than the Tories lost. So they must’ve skimmed off some NDP support as well. So you’re led to think strategic voting might be a thing.

Well, in the 416 suburbs, the Liberals held seats despite getting a smaller share of the vote: Etobicoke North, Etobicoke Centre, York West and Scarborough-Rouge River. In all except Etobicoke Centre, the NDP made some gains. And they got about the same support in that fourth riding. So it’s not everywhere that voters switched from orange to red.

In the old City of Toronto, you see the NDP losing 9 points in Toronto Centre, but Liberal incumbent Glen Murray only picked up 3.6. The Tories gained nearly 3 points. In St. Pauls, the NDP lost 6 points, but Eric Hoskins only gained 1.4. The Tories gained 3. (Some very well-heeled people live in those ridings, which hints at why I’ve always said Etobicoke and Scarborough shouldn’t be blamed completely for Rob Ford’s mayoralty.)

The Tories even picked up a couple of points in Trinity-Spadina, where you wonder why they even risk the deposit—the Liberals didn’t get all the votes that Rosario Marchese lost. And the Conservatives didn’t lose their share of the vote in ridings like Beaches-East York, York South Weston, Eglinton Lawrence or Don Valley west, and were about the same in Davenport and Don Valley East.

Doug Holyday lost his seat in Etobicoke Lakeshore, but it’s easier to see his byelection win last year as an anomaly (a safe protest vote) than to see Milczyn’s win as a repudiation of Hudak. Holyday’s share of the vote last night was 18% better than the Tories got in 2011.

Interesting that the two ridings where the NDP were able to unseat incumbents were Oshawa and Windsor West. At a point when the NDP seem less in tune with organized labour than ever.

Horwath’s New Labour Party also held on to Kitchener-Waterloo (where the PCs did even worse than in the 2012 byelection) and London West, and won with a larger share of the vote in London-Fanshawe. Places where job security is in doubt. Not only did they seem to see through Hudak’s half-baked jobs plan, but they also avoided the Liberals, whose platform was cast as more union- and labour-friendly.

Bottom line: there seem to have been lots of moving parts in the election. This isn’t one that fits into a neat package.

No Signs of Intelligent Life on Planet Beer

Hey Lloyd, whatcha saving that Hennepin for?

For a day like today, when I went to the Danforth LCBO and couldn’t find a goddamn thing worth drinking.

The lone aisle that used to be devoted to bottled stuff, where you might luck in on a gem once in a while (like the lovely Matilda by Goose Island — which, though now owned by the Budweiser people, seems to have been allowed to keep doing what they’re doing), is now devoted completely to cider.

The other side, which held the so-called “imported craft beers” (cough, cough, Heineken) is full of stuff like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Mott’s Caesars in a bottle, and those pre-mixed rum and Cokes (because apparently some people lack the skill, or the recipe, to make their own rum and Coke).

So I went into the cold room. Enough empty spaces in the shelves that I thought I was at the Broadview Loblaws. Lots of old reliables (like Muskoka, Neustadt, Black Creek, Flying Monkeys, King Brewery — even Steam Whistle, which is fucking ubiquitous) were nowhere to be found.

Funny, there’s no shortage of PBR, Budweiser or Molson Canadian. Or really shitty imports like DAB, Tuborg or Rolling Rock. Never out of stock on those.

So if you’re confronting the soul-crushing prospect of an afternoon on an exurban patio, with a relative you don’t much care for or a friend who was too nice not to invite the annoying neighbour who thinks Tim Hudak has some good ideas and that “the gays” really “stepped out of line” when they “went after” the Duck Dynasty guy (and which he seemingly only just heard about on Sun News Channel in a rare moment when they weren’t baiting the CBC), the world’s your oyster at the Danforth LCBO.

I guess they view themselves more as a “convenience” location for the locals. After all, look at the real estate around here. We can all just climb into our Volvo XC90s, BMW X5s and Toyota Highlanders (hybrid, of course) and motor on up to the urban big-box farm on Laird Drive (so handy to Longo’s) or to the Summerhill location. Can’t we?

Um, not all of us.

The irony is, we’ve got this big, shiny, suburban-looking liquor store that really ought to be surrounded by an acre or so of parking spaces. It promises a wider selection than the old 2,000-square-foot job we used to have. But it’s actually worse.

For me, the real “fuck you” moment came when I looked into a lonely corner of the cold room and saw a poster from an LCBO advertising campaign. As fate would have it, it was in French, perhaps for the benefit of the 5% of the Riverdale population who claim it as a mother tongue (certainly not for the children of the locals with the $800,000 mortgages and the Volvo XC90s, whose kids are almost certainly in French immersion; for their benefit, there are signs in both official languages warning that no one under 19 is even allowed to touch a bottle for fear that they become an alcoholic).

“Planète Bière,” it said.

Now, the LCBO’s branding renders that in English as “Beer World.” But I prefer the literal translation: Planet Beer.

Planet Beer? The Danforth LCBO isn’t even Beer Pluto.

(An exception should be made for the marketing machines known as Beau’s and Mill Street. Both make some excellent products, but they’re not all there is to beer in Ontario.)

With a provincial election campaign, I can’t imagine things changing. The NDP are beholden to the unions who represent the workers at the branch plants of the multinational megabrewers (InBev/Anheuser Busch, Sapporo and Coors) that control the sale of beer in this province. The Beer Store monopoly is also unionized. The Liberals’ attitude toward beer and liquor suggests their old name might’ve been the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. And the Conservatives won’t do anything to offend the multinationals who are their friends. Besides, it’s “not a priority.” Two hundred microbrewers in the province that can’t get their stuff to market, except through their on-site bottle shops and tap rooms. Some of them so small, they can’t afford proper brewing gear of their own, so they’re contracting out to slightly bigger operations. If something doesn’t change, though, they’ll never grow to the point that they’ll be able to really be their own bosses.

This is being sloughed off as a lifestyle or convenience issue, but it’s really an economic development issue. There are people out there who would love to create some jobs here in Ontario, pay some taxes, generate some spin-off economic activity, but they’re being shut out by government and big business, two constituencies that talk a big game about free markets, but in reality are deathly afraid of anything that’ll displace a single percentage point worth of market share.

Enough to drive a poor fellow to drink. Which is why I’m glad there were still a few Hennepins, from a recent trip to Buffalo, still kicking around.