Friday, December 24, 2010

More and Better New Democrats: Daniel Beals for Kingston and the Islands

It's been a few months since I've added to the list of New Democrats deserving of particular attention and support in their local races. But with the year-end donation cutoff fast approaching and a huge opportunity having just opened up in Kingston and the Islands, now seems like the perfect time to highlight Daniel Beals.

The Candidate

One of the perennial questions facing the NDP is how to attract small business owners and operators as supporters and candidates. But it's worth noting that there are already plenty within the party's midst, with Beals serving as a prime example - having worked in the local tourist industry for over a decade, in addition to launching his own game publishing company in 2004.

That said, his background in small businesses doesn't stop Beals from sharing the strong social values which motivate the NDP's base. Indeed, Beals has taken a prominent role within the Campaign to Save Prison Farms, and has proven his interest and skill in pitching a left-wing populist message:

The Riding

Of course, the obvious opening in Kingston and the Islands came when longtime Lib MP and Speaker of the House Peter Milliken announced his intention to step down at the next federal election. While the riding was becoming less and less secure for the Libs even with Milliken as their candidate (as he won by only 7% of the vote in 2008 after posting past wins by as much as 38%), his departure obviously creates an opening for another party to make a strong push for the seat.

And while the Cons would figure to have been next in line as the second-place party in the most recent election, they're facing the prospect of starting from scratch due to the resignation of Brian Abrams, the candidate who brought them to the brink of victory in 2008.

That means that Beals will actually go into the next federal election with a greater head start than his Lib and Con competitors. And there's no reason to think that the riding is unwinnable for an NDP candidate: the provincial NDP won it in 1990, nearly held onto it in 1995, and finished just behind the PCs for second place in 2007, while most recent federal elections have seen the NDP as part of a pack of non-Lib parties fighting for the 2nd through 4th positions. So a drop in the Lib vote should vault the NDP into contention.

The Competitors

Naturally, the Libs don't figure to give up one of their Ontario strongholds without a fight. Ted Hsu won their candidacy after a hotly contested nomination battle which reportedly saw the riding turn at least temporarily into the Libs' top membership base in the country. But it remains to be seen whether his success in the nomination race will translate into general election support.

Meanwhile, the Cons still need to nominate a candidate to replace Abrams, while Green candidate Eric Benoit Walton will also apparently be running for a third consecutive election.

The Plan

With the Cons in flux in the area, now makes for an ideal time to build up Beals' resources so he can assume the mantle of the leading alternative to the Libs heading into an anticipated federal election. The local riding association has all the links you'll need to contact it to volunteer, or you can donate directly - so take a moment to pitch in before the end of 2010.

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