• Get materials on key issues from trusted non-profits
  • Find coordinators in target ridings
  • Provide online training for coordinators and volunteers
  • Knock all the doors and tell people where all the parties stand on key issues

Why will this work? Because — under Doug Ford — the Conservative party is bad on almost every issue!

This post has three parts, if you already know Doug has to go, skip to part two.

#VOTEFORDOUT2022: The next Three Months are our Best Chance for High Impact Climate Activism in Years

When Doug Ford came into office in 2018, everyone knew we needed to ramp up our climate ambition, but Doug did exactly the opposite. Doug Ford claims his climate plan will reduce emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 — but he picked 2005 because that is just before Ontario started closing its coal plants. With 2018 as a baseline, Doug’s Made-in-Ontario Climate Plan is actually only aiming for 12% reductions by 2030, while the UN says we need 50% emissions reductions by that time. Worse still, the plan is extremely unlikely to meet even those weak targets. Don’t believe us? The Auditor General of Ontario says “Ministry staff internally estimated that implementing initiatives in the Plan could likely achieve only 10.9 Mt in emissions reductions, 6.7 Mt less than the 17.6 Mt presented in the Plan.” The civil servants who designed the plan told Doug “this plan won’t work” and he said “I don’t care.” Why won’t it work? Because many of the proposed reductions are completely made-up. For example, the plan expects to get major reductions from ‘innovation’ but there is no funding or legislation which will produce this ‘innovation.’

Since releasing this atrocious climate plan, Doug has also:

  • cut plans to plant 50 million trees
  • paid out $231 million dollars to cancel renewable energy contracts
  • increased our reliance on natural gas in our electrical grid
  • changed the planning laws to increase urban sprawl
  • made plans to pay millions to extend fossil gas infrastructure to Northern Ontario when it would be cheaper to install air-source heat pumps in every single home
  • made plans to spend 8-12 BILLION on new highways

Luckily, all three of the other major political parties in Ontario are very strong on climate change. While we’ve been pretty hard on the federal Liberals, the Ontario Liberals decision to close Ontario’s coal plants and clean up our electrical grid is far and away the most substantive emissions reductions ever achieved in Canada.

Below is a chart of Canadian GHG emissions by sector and year. As you can see Oil and Gas (think tar sands) and Transportation (think SUVs) just keep going up and up. Ontario’s coal plant closure started in 2007 and was completed by 2014 — and it was basically the only good thing Canada has ever done for climate change.

  • The party with majority power is absolutely horrendous on climate change.
  • The other three parties are all relatively strong on climate.
  • The conservatives are slightly weaker than in their majority showing, but still likely to win the most seats.

The PCs won 76 seats in the last election and it takes 63 to form a majority government — by flipping 14 swing ridings we can ensure they only have a minority. This will allow the other three parties to work together to pass better climate legislation.

In the last election, 12 ridings were determined by less than 1000 votes and 2 of those were determined by less than 100.

CONCLUSION: In terms of climate policy, the difference between a Conservative majority and minority is huge and the number of votes we need to make that shift is relatively low. For that reason, we can’t think of any voluntary activity that has a better chance of substantially reducing Ontario’s emissions than knocking doors in key ridings. If you want to do something to fight for a more stable climate — this is the single best opportunity to have an impact in years!

Our Door-Knocking Strategy: Listen to Voters

We’ve been thinking about this election for years. At first we thought, ‘let’s knock doors on climate.’ But as we thought about it more deeply, and considered our target audience, we realized a different strategy would be more effective. Anyone who already cares deeply about climate change is already unlikely to vote for Ford – so talking about climate at the door may not be that effective. However, most ridings had between 50-60% turnout in the last election, so there are millions of people who didn’t vote. Why? Likely because they thought it didn’t really matter who won. Our strategy is to knock doors and ask people what matters to them and then show them the different policies presented by the major parties on the issues that matter to them. This type of guided conversation with plenty of listening is called deep-canvassing and it is proven to change minds. We think expanding the conversation beyond just climate will work well because, under Doug Ford, the Conservatives have made bad policy choices on issue after issue whether it’s health, education, long-term care homes, housing affordability — you name it.

Because we wanted our canvassers to be able to start a conversation by asking voters what matters to them, we wanted a relatively neutral brand in order to allow an open-ended conversation. While some people might be suspicious if you come to the door for a specific party and others might tune you out if you knock doors on a specific issue, a conversation that starts “Hi, I’m here volunteering with the Ontario Voters Coalition …” opens up a space for the kind of meaningful conversation that might actually change minds.

By working with other trusted non-profit organizations, we’re compiling materials and information on most of the key issues in the upcoming election. If you volunteer with our campaign, we’ll provide you with training and materials that will allow you to help voters better understand their options on all the key issues.

Let’s remind the people of Ontario that democracy matters and governments can actually make things better if we elect the right people!

The Structure of Our Campaign

Like all our campaigns — this one is scalable. If we only get a few volunteers, you will still have an impact in your riding. But if it goes viral, we can easily scale things up. The plan is to provide online door-knocking training and produce materials that people can bring with them – so that people can go out in groups anywhere in the province and feel prepared. We’ve already got an online deep-canvassing training scheduled for April 12 with Tim Ellis — an all around good guy who has run large door-knocking campaigns in the US.

We’re also making connections with non-profits working in areas outside climate — like the National Farmer’s Union, TTC Riders, Fair Wages Now (formerly 15 and Fairness) the ETFO and others — so that our materials will include solid and trustworthy policy analysis on different issues. With a short training and those materials in your clipboard — you’ll be ready for any conversation!

The Ontario Voter Coalition has registered as a third-party and we’re not a charity, so you don’t have to shy away from talking about the different parties while you’re knocking doors — if someone asks who they should vote for, you are free to share your opinions. The average person might not understand all the ins and outs of public policy, but they can recognize authenticity and hearing an honest assessment of the pros and cons of different parties from an ordinary person will be more useful to them then all the ‘rah-rah’ messaging that all the parties put out.

Which ridings will we be working in?

Because the plan is scalable and our resources are online we’re prepared to support canvassers in any and all ridings. However, we do have target ridings where we are making a special effort to recruit coordinators and volunteers.

We’re prepared to schedule, map and coordinate door-knockers in our own riding — Eglinton-Lawrence — and we’re currently looking for volunteer coordinators for other ridings. Don’t worry, we’ll provide coaching through a one-on-one meeting and we’ll match you up with other people in your riding so you can share the workload. We’ll also make sure you have all the materials you need and answer questions by email as they come up.

Here are our top 10 target ridings:

Margin #
Margin %Turnout
Brampton WestPC4901.30%49.90%
Scarborough—Rouge ParkPC9632.30%55.50%
Kitchener South—HespelerPC7701.80%55.80%
Ottawa West—NepeanPC1750.30%57.00%
Sault Ste. MariePC4141.30%54.50%
Brampton CentreNDP890.30%50.30%
Don Valley WestLIB1810.40%61.30%
Scarborough CentrePC2,0195.10%53.20%
Etobicoke CentrePC4,7248.30%61.90%
Brampton NorthNDP4971.30%51.70%
Brampton SouthPC2,7337.20%51.60%
Mississauga East—CooksvillePC4,73910.90%51.50%
York South—WestonNDP1,1653.10%49.20%
Don Valley EastLIB1,0282.80%55.20%
Data from this wikipedia article on the 2018 election.

How did we get this list? We took the data from the 2018 elections and then – based on current polling – we assumed the PCs would do slightly worse, the Liberals substantially better and the NDP slightly worse. Any ridings which seemed close after those vote adjustments went on the list. We also added a slight bump for ridings where we think it will be easier for us to find volunteers based on our networks.

If you live in or near any of these ridings, we urge you to volunteer!

How can you help?

We’ll be hosting a webinar to discuss our plan in more detail soon and we have door-knocking training scheduled for April 12. For now, you can sign up for updates, follow the OVC Twitter account and encourage other people to sign up as well. The most helpful thing you can do at this point is to volunteer to be a coordinator for one of our key ridings. If you’re not sure but you want to learn more — send us an email.

FINAL THOUGHT: Knocking Doors isn’t as Scary as it Seems!

We’ve knocked doors on climate before. It feels intimidating at first, but in all honesty it feels okay after the first two or three doors and overall the experience was quite rewarding. With so much toxicity in our political environment these days, it’s nice to be reminded with a a face-to-face interaction that the average person is decent and caring and wants to do the right thing for their community.

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