Gord Henderson Rebuttal Podcast


Hi everyone!

While reading the Windsor Star last night, Justin and I were deeply concerned by the flawed political narrative presented by Gord Henderson. So we sat down to give our thoughts on the upcoming election & the hotly contested riding of Windsor West. Please listen to the following podcast and let us know what you think in the comments!

Yours in solidarity,
Rachel and Justin

P.S. Rough transcript below.

Rachel: Hi, I’m Rachel Stadder. 

Justin: And I’m Justin Appler. And we’re here today to discuss some of the flaws in Gord Henderson’s recent piece in the Windsor Star, “It’s Time for a Change in Politics Locally.”

Rachel: Before we start, I’d like to note that we are both from the Windsor region and we both attended the University of Windsor.  

Justin: We are concerned by Henderson’s piece, which is full of bold accusations. Henderson believes voters in Windsor-Essex should abandon the NDP but he does not provide sound reasoning for his claim. Henderson paints Canadian politics as a game between the Liberals and Conservatives alone. He lavishes kind praise in support of the various Liberal and Conservative candidates for the region without truly discussing policy. He calls Sheryl Hardcastle (NDP) a neophyte yet congratulates former MP Jeff Watson (Conservative) on the role he played in the Gordie Howe bridge. But Watson is not even running in this election!

Rachel: Henderson’s piece is framed as a commentary on the region as a whole but the crux of it is his belief that a vote for Pupatello in Windsor West is a no-brainer. 

Justin: Henderson writes that Pupatello is “a no-lose proposition for Windsor. If the Liberals win, she’s a shoo-in for a cabinet post and a major say in how programs are delivered. If they lose, Windsor still benefits because opposition is her forte. She was a legendary tormenter of Ontario PC governments and would be a similar force of nature in the House of Commons.” So Henderson provides readers with a lovely bio of Pupatello’s political and professional career without reiterating her current Liberal platform. 

Rachel:  Henderson himself does not seem to admire the Liberals that much. On September 8, he called our prime minister “a narcissistic showman.” If Henderson’s opinion is that the NDP is “impotent” and Windsor is on the sidelines, then he should take some time to prove that. Since Henderson does not make an effort in his piece, we plan to do just that in our recording. We’d like to spark some more dialogue among Windsor West voters before they head to the polls... if they haven’t already. 

Justin: Henderson calls Windsor “a hermit kingdom of Canadian politics, an isolated pocket of union driven NDP irrelevance huddling on the American frontier.” 

Rachel: We disagree and we think this shows a disdain for the constituents. Why should voters consider voting for a party that is only interested in giving patronage to ridings who vote in a MP for their party? It is no secret in Canadian politics that if you elect an MP from the party that does not form government, you are bound to be left out of the decision-making process for big deals and may lose out on federal investments. This sort of corrupt partisan behaviour should not be pandered to.  Voters should not vote for the party that scares them into thinking there’s no alternative. 

Justin: The recurring issue in the election debates hosted by the Windsor Chamber of Commerce this month was about having a member of parliament who is a part of the ruling party. The Liberals are basically saying, “Vote for us because otherwise you won’t have a say in government.”Let’s take a look at some of their comments to this effect. 

Rachel: “People are tired of having no say in government.” -Audrey Festerga 
“It’s high time Windsor-Essex has a strong voice in government.” -Irek Kusmierczyk
“We brought in 3.5 billion in nine years in government.” -Sandra Pupatello 
The issue of having a voice at the table or “getting access” was brought up by the conservative candidates as well: Chris Lewis and Henry Lau. 

Justin: This argument would be far more relevant if we were heading for a majority, which we are not, according to the polls. Canadians should fight for a fairer democracy and not succumb to exclusivity and fear-mongering. Despite Masse not being part of the ruling government, he advocated for Windsor when he ensured the Windsor-built Chrysler Pacifica hybrid would be eligible for the electric vehicle incentive. The Liberals were willing to leave us out at the time. 

Rachel: As Anne Jarvis wrote on October 2nd, this election is about more than being on the winning team. Justin and I, like many young voters being ignored by the political elite and the media, are tired of insider politics and outsider politics. We want a politics of equality because we are in a time of great inequality. It’s not time to throw our votes behind elites. They should not get rewarded to just keep us in the process. Voters, be wary of candidates who tout their access instead of focusing on their beliefs and values. 

Justin: Jagmeet Singh has said that he would be ready to support a coalition government if necessary but Trudeau has not shown as much interest in having a progressive opposition.  When you have a coalition-style government, you get wider sweeping reforms for all Canadians. We say that the NDP is not “being dispatched to oblivion.” We do not need to elect a Liberal in Windsor West nor the Conservatives in Windsor Tecumseh and Essex. That’s a dangerous claim. 

Rachel: We would need another podcast entirely to explain why Andrew Scheer is not a nice man (like Henderson says) but for now we’re going to address some historic events. Justin, what have minority governments given Canadians?

Justin: A Public Forum for the Public Good article informs us that when the NDP holds the balance of power, parliament delivers progressive policies for Canadians. Here are two prime examples:

Supported by the NDP, Pearson’s Liberals put in place a bounty of progressive programs and initiatives during the 1960s, including universal coverage of hospitalization and medicare, the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, the Canada Assistance Plan, the Canada Student Loans program, official bilingualism, the Maple Leaf flag and groundbreaking labour legislation that pioneered the 40-hour workweek. 

Rachel:  Secondly, early in the Martin government, the Prime Minister reached a 10-year deal with the provinces and territories to increase federal health care funding by $41 billion, to lower their cost pressures and reduce wait times for essential services. While at the same time legalizing same-sex marriage!

Justin:  If Progressives of Windsor West want to continue to vote for the NDP, we can ensure that they will have enough seats to hold the balance of power. Although Henderson (and Trudeau himself) claim that isn't a worthwhile political goal for our region… despite the progressive role the NDP has played in numerous minority governments in modern Canadian history.  

Rachel: Whether or not the liberals get one more seat, it’s not going to change the fact that they’re not getting a majority

Justin: Wouldn’t we rather have a long-time rep like Brian Masse? When Pupatello reached the 16-year mark in her legislative career, she used her political clout to launch herself into the elite world of Toronto high finance … 17 years in for Masse, he is still running locally in Windsor for another term.  

Rachel: The NDP is doing well and I’m excited to see where they will go. 

Justin: Why would we now elect a Liberal who hasn’t been part of electoral politics in several years and who has never held a seat in the House of Commons? And supports a party who has actively ignored the needs of our community and denied our MPs a seat at the table (the seat at the table being the central focus of her campaign)…

Rachel:  Now we’d like to talk about union support. Many of us have a friend or family member who is part of a union in this city. We are a union town. Look at the situation workers were in a hundred years ago. Do we really want to turn our backs on unions and collective action? 

Justin: Sure, a lot of work needs to be done to make the union movement more inclusive but criticizing the role that unions play altogether is not the way. Henderson is suggesting that unions have a stranglehold on our community. But unions do not advocate for taking jobs out of Windsor... corporate interests do, like the Bay Street elites that Pupatello has been more than happy to work for during her time out of electoral politics. 

Rachel:  Henderson makes a jab about Masse’s pension kicking in and then he praises Pupatello for her work on Bay Street. What do Bay Street board rooms have to do with Windsor?. Henderson states, “If Pupatello, one of the most outspoken and self-assured women in Canada, were to lose to a male with a relatively modest track record, what message would that send to young women considering a career in politics?”

Justin: The message we will be sending to young women is that Pupatello could have chosen to align herself with a more progressive party, like the NDP, which is the most diverse party across Canada with the most female representatives. Masse is committed to not only our region but to the NDP. 

Rachel: Kathleen Wynne asked Sandra Pupatello to become minister of finance but she returned to the private sector. A self-professed centrist who served on the board of Hydro One, Pupatello even left her position as the CEO of the Windsor Economic Development Corporation. 

Justin: The selling off of Hydro One was highly unpopular and she was on the board of Hydro One during its transition to a publicly-traded company. Notice how Pupatello is not touting this information during the campaign. She uses her experience in the finance world to bolster her credibility, reminding us of her connection to Windsor but not what high finance has done to Windsor. 

Rachel:  In August 2019, Henderson told us that it took months of liberal wooing, here and in Ottawa, to persuade Pupatello to give up her comfortable life as a globetrotting businesswoman and trade consultant and return to the political arena.  

Justin:  To which I respond that Brian Masse has always been around working for Windsorites in his community. 

Rachel:  Sandra Pupatello has even been known to agree with Brian Masse. 

Justin: We found it interesting that she said the Liberals would pass single-game sports betting even though it is not in the Liberal platform and the bill put forward by Brian Masse in 2016 in support of single-game sports betting was defeated by the Liberals.

Rachel:  We also think Henderson forgets about millennials, the least polled demographic. Just because the NDP has struggled in the past does not mean they will not play an important role in this election and in the years to come.  He also neglects the fact that in the 2015 election, the federal Liberal party started off in third place and was elected largely in part due to young people, who, according to recent polling, are shifting their support to the NDP. 

Justin: Let’s talk about the new NAFTA deal. 

Rachel:  When it comes to the new NAFTA deal, the federal NDP is more willing to negotiate a better deal for Canadians and not just accept the US option as currently laid out. 

Justin: Which is what Liberals would do if elected. Here’s what we learned from an iPolitics article from October 3rd:
Jagmeet Singh has been concerned about the USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Agreement), also known as the new NAFTA deal, since last year. In May of this year, Tracey Ramsey issued a statement condemning the federal Liberals for trying to push forward USMCA’s ratification, urging the government to allow the U.S. Congress to continue their work “to improve the deal.” For example, Tracey Ramsey reminds us of the importance of avoiding higher prices being locked in for prescription drugs.
Rachel: Which would become a reality in all 3 countries under the current deal.
Justin: We don’t want a Liberal representative who is not concerned about the rising price of prescription drugs! In a report released in April, the Parliamentary Budget Office estimates that consumers could be forking over as much as 169 million per year for pharmaceuticals by 2029 when the measure’s full impacts will start to be felt.
Rachel: Environmental and labour regulation is also key. We haven’t even addressed that yet. Perhaps in another podcast we will dive into the new NAFTA, which will continue to be an important issue for the voters of Windsor-Essex after the election... no matter which party forms government.
Justin: Seeing as time is of the essence, we have decided to end our talk today right here. We hope that we highlighted some key issues and contradictions that exist in the often simplistic narrative presented in opinion columns such as the one we have critiqued today.
Rachel: This is just from cursory research. We read a variety of articles. In the same way that Henderson’s piece has flaws, so might ours. Feel free to challenge us on our perspective in the comments.
Justin: This is about us paying attention to the politics we are often disheartened by. We want to encourage the citizens of Windsor West to take some time before election day to do some research on the candidates running and ask themselves who has the riding’s best interests in mind.
Rachel: In an age of divisive politics, everyone should have a voice at the table. Happy voting!