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Why you probably haven’t heard from your local candidate

Today is the day campaign advertising starts being allowed. If you start from the premise that an engaged electorate is an inherently good thing, the end of the blackout should probably be considered a welcome development – because it looks like a lot of us aren’t going to have much interaction with parties or candidates any other way.

As part of a generally fascinating survey of voters – seriously, if you’re interested in knowing more about the electorate, the whole thing merits a look – Abacus Data asked respondents to indicate all the parties or candidates that had contacted them since the election started.

Fully 71 per cent indicated there had been no contact whatsoever. The Liberals and Progressive Conservatives had managed to reach 15 per cent of voters each; the New Democrats only 10 per cent.

The survey, through an online panel of 2,000 eligible voters, was taken from May 14-16 – so 12-14 days after the campaign unofficially began. It’s fair to assume that most local campaigns took a few days to get off the ground, so candidates and their parties will probably be getting to voters at a better clip going forward.  But they’ll also probably be re-engaging with target voters rather than only speaking to new ones, so it’s entirely possible that no party will make direct contact – we’re talking not just in person, but by phone, e-mail, social media, or just a flyer left at the door – with even half the electorate.

There’s not a great deal of research, to my knowledge, on precisely how much of that sort of interaction was achieved in past campaigns in this province or country. But talk to people working on the ground in this one, and you’ll get the sense that voter outreach is a lot harder than it used to be.

A pair of phenomena help explain why that is. Fewer and fewer of us have home phones, and those who do tend to have call display, so one of the prime points of contact just isn’t very effective anymore. That makes door-to-door canvassing more important than it was a decade or two ago, but the second change is that volunteerism is down – which means most local campaigns can’t get to as many doors as they used to, either.

The parties are responding to new realities by slowly getting more sophisticated in their outreach efforts. That means trying to find new ways to reach us, including an overdue push to figure out how to better use online communication for that. It also means using previous voter-identification and demographic data to try to only go to the doors where they’ll get maximum bang for their buck – those where there are likely to be voters amenable to persuasion efforts, or (more often) where likely supporters can be identified and then encouraged to vote.

Of course, if they use that data unwisely or can’t even reach the relatively narrow audiences they’re targeting, those who might be open to vote for them might never even properly hear their case. And fewer and fewer voters are going to directly hear from all the parties at once.

Which is to say, don’t take too much offence to what you’ll see during commercial breaks of hockey games or prime-time dramas the next three weeks. With time, as parties continue to shift to online advertising or radio spots that  can more easily be customized, the TV ads will be in shorter supply. For now, they might be the only way many Ontarians will hear from all the parties vying for their votes.

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Filed under: Ontario Election

Everything you need to know to vote in the Toronto election

Voting day is Monday, Oct. 27. Still making up your mind? Allow us to help:

  • From child care to gridlock to taxes: How Tory, Chow and Ford compare on key campaign issues.
  • The Globe editorial board says John Tory is Toronto’s best bet. Read why.
  • It’s been a long 10 months from Rob Ford, Doug Ford, John Tory and Olivia Chow. Watch highlights from the campaign.
  • This campaign has largely been about transit. Compare maps of the candidates’ proposals with this handy tool.
  • Who has the best plan to manage Toronto’s growth? Chow, Ford and Tory make their arguments. (73% of Globe readers said Olivia Chow makes the best case – read the debate and vote yourself.)

Polls close at 8 p.m. For more information on where to vote and who is running in your ward, click here. 

Filed under: Toronto

Teachers get back to work in B.C. classrooms

Grade Six teacher David Murphy welcomes students on the first day of school, 2012, at Simon Fraser Elementary School in Vancouver. Similar scenes will play out across B.C. on Monday and Tuesday. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Grade Six teacher David Murphy welcomes students on the first day of school, 2012, at Simon Fraser Elementary School in Vancouver. Similar scenes will play out across B.C. on Monday and Tuesday. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

On a day when teachers returned to classrooms around the province with varying levels of enthusiasm (see pictures below from Twitter and Instagram), we say it’s a good time to end the B.C. teachers’ strike liveblog and leave Politics Live to upcoming municipal election campaigns. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Remember to pick up a copy of Saturday’s Globe and Mail newspaper for extended coverage of the end of the labour dispute.

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Back to school, back to dealing with school issues

With the drama of bargaining, picket lines and rallies finally in the past, teachers, parents and students can now turn their attention to returning to classes next week. That means all those back-to-school pointers and advice columns the rest of Canada read before Labour Day are suddenly relevant for readers in B.C. Here’s a sampling:

Resist the back-to-school overspending tyranny

A helpful personal finance column by Rob Carrick urges parents to mind their budgets by thinking twice before upgrading perfectly good technology, skipping a few extraneous items on school-supply lists and saying no to those buy-one-get-one-half-off-another sales.

Read the full article here.


 

How to help kids stay cool about back to school

Psychologist and author Sara Dimerman advises on preparing kids for expected anxieties at different school levels. For example:

Grade 1 is both exciting and anxiety-provoking. Your child is likely standing tall knowing that he has joined ranks of the older kids. However, he may also be apprehensive about taking on more responsibility and spending recess on a different playground. … Rest assured that these feelings and behaviours are normal and it’s a good idea to tell him so. Share that even teachers feel nervous before school begins again. Go for a walk around the exterior of the school and spend some time in the new playground.

Read the full article here.


 

The top three back-to-school stresses for teens

If you’re the parent of a teenager, here’s more advice to help you anticipate students’ stress, from columnist Anthony E. Wolf:

Talk to them. Let them know that you understand that the beginning of school can be stressful. It can seem a little strange, even overwhelming, getting back into a routine, but all kids feel this way. Reassure them that if they do feel apprehensive about it, they are not alone.

Read the full article here.


 

Kids’ snacks that make the grade

Growing kids need to refuel every two to three hours to keep their blood sugar (glucose) levels stable as sustained blood sugar means kids will have more energy to concentrate in class and participate in after school sports. The added calories from snacks provide an opportunity to boost your child’s intake of important nutrients like calcium, iron and zinc.

What kinds of snacks? Dietician and columnist Leslie Beck suggests things like edamame, trail mix and fresh fruit and yogurt.

Read the full article here.

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BCTF members ratify new six-year contract, ending B.C. teachers’ strike

BCTF President Jim Iker announcing ratification vote results on Thursday.

BCTF President Jim Iker announcing ratification vote results on Thursday.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation membership has voted 86 per cent in favour of a new contract, ending the teachers’ strike that has kept more than half-a-million students out of the classroom.

Of 31,741 ballots cast, 27,275 were in favour of the new six-year contract, BCTF president Jim Iker announced Thursday night. There are roughly 41,000 members in all.

“With the ratification of the new collective agreement, the strike and lockout are now over,” Mr. Iker said. “Teachers and students will be back in school on Monday.”

Mr. Iker said there was a “strong vote of support for the collective agreement” despite the fact the union did not get everything it needs.

“We all know that this deal isn’t perfect, but it does provide gains for teachers, it protects our charter rights, it increases support for our students,” he said.

“There will be more classroom and specialist teachers in schools to help our students; our teachers on call will get fair pay for a day’s work and all our members will get a salary increase.”

However, several teachers have said they are not happy with the new deal. (Read our story on that here.)

Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued the following statement after the BCTF’s announcement:

“We have one of the best public education systems in the world, and that’s in large part because we have such great teachers.

“We can now focus on the path forward. This long-term agreement is an historic opportunity to work together for students – to enhance their education experience and to support their achievements.”

Mr. Iker said no lost time will be made up, though former education minister George Abbott has suggested otherwise:

Meanwhile, Thursday’s turnout was higher than the past few ratification votes:

Find more in the story on our main site here.

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Scenes from teacher ratification votes across B.C.

From Andrea Woo:

Just spoke with five teachers outside the voting site in Vancouver and three of them voted against the tentative agreement. The two who voted for it did so grudgingly, saying they couldn’t afford to lose any more money on the picket lines — some have lost around $10,000 — and that they’re worried public perception will turn against them if they vote no. All of them are disappointed with the agreement, but feel it will pass. Several long-time teachers have told me that if they were just starting out today, they wouldn’t get into teaching.


 

Many local teachers’ associations set up information study sessions and voting meetings for teachers today, and tweets show throngs of teachers eager to participate in the process.

From Coquitlam:

From Saanich:

From Surrey:

From Vancouver:

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