Waterloo Votes 2008:
Part 2: Kitchener-Waterloo


In part two of my profile of the ridings of Waterloo Region, crossposted to Democratic Space, I move north from Kitchener Centre to talk about the urban riding of Kitchener-Waterloo. This riding takes in the north end of Kitchener and all of the City of Waterloo. The average income in this riding is higher, and it encompasses two universities and their associated students and faculty.

Whereas Kitchener Centre has been described as a safe Liberal seat, I believe Kitchener-Waterloo’s representation has favoured incumbency. Federally, Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi has served the area since 1993, but provincially, Progressive Conservative MP Elizabeth Witmer won the riding in 1990 during the Bob Rae landslide, and she’s continued to hold it through the rising and falling fortunes of her party. Both Telegdi and Witmer have a long history of serving their community at the municipal and school board level, and it seems likely that they’ll continue to represent the area for years to come.

That said, the diverse urban population of Waterloo makes for competitive elections. The Green Party and the New Democrats retain a presence, and Green candidate Cathy MacLellan has received excellent reviews of her performance at a recent all-candidates’ debate.

Here’s a brief list of the candidates that are running in this riding:

Andrew Telegdi, 62 (Liberals): Andrew Telegdi has represented Kitchener-Waterloo since the riding was created in 1997. He was first elected to parliament back in 1993 and has a political resume going back to the 1970s when he served on the University of Waterloo’s student council. His outspoken nature has made him a number of enemies. Warren Kinsella still hasn’t forgiven Telegdi for speaking out against Prime Minister Chretien in the drive to strip suspected war criminal Helmut Oberlander of his Canadian citizenship, and this prominent Liberal campaigner publicly endorsed Telegdi’s opponents during the 2004 election. Much was also made of his use, in 1975, of a racially charged term in a non-racist context while serving as part of University of Waterloo’s Federation of Students. For his part, Telegdi has called Kinsella “a cancer on the party”. Telegdi has weathered these controversies, however, and has been re-elected handily each time. At present, things appear to have been patched up, or at least quietly set aside.

Peter Braid, 44 (Conservatives): Peter Braid brings with him some experience in public service, especially as part of the Immigration and Refugee Board. His most recent job was as Director of Operations at Sun Life Financial in Waterloo. Braid lives in Waterloo and has a family with two teenage daughters.

Braid shares his problems with campaign-mate Stephen Woodworth in terms of his web presence. His website is anaemic, and the campaign news section doesn’t mention Stephen Harper’s visit to the region. It’s becoming clear to me that, in Waterloo Region at least, the Conservative candidates’ web presence is being tightly managed by the national party campaign. This is, I believe, to the candidates’ detriment, as it doesn’t allow prospective voters much of an opportunity to warm to the individuals who are running.

Cindy Jacobsen, 49 (New Democrats): Like her campaign-mate Oz Cole-Arnal, Cindy Jacobsen is a Lutheran minister committed to her cause of social justice. She became Reverend Jacobsen and earned her doctorate in 2007 at Wilfred Laurier University, which it would seem is fast becoming a hotbed of Lutheran radicalism (ha ha). Born in Wisconsin, she became a Canadian citizen in 1998 and has served her community through St. Mark’s Community Ministry Program, helping the working poor make ends meet.

Jacobsen has a decent web presence, detailing her life work and political interests. She is also on Facebook.

Cathy MacLellan, 47 (Green Party): Cathy MacLellan has strong humanitarian and environmental experience, working for the Mennonite Central Committee and a hospice volunteer. Her humanitarian work has taken her to India, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda. She and her husband run ARISE Technologies, a publicly traded company “committed to taking solar energy mainstream.” MacLellan also has an effective web presence, including her own blog.

Kyle Huntingdon (Canadian Action Party): Wilfred Laurier student Kyle Huntingdon is hoisting the banner for this left-leaning nationalist party. His web presence is slight, but reviews suggest he conducted himself well in the all candidates debate, effectively talking up CAP’s main plank: monetary reform. While he earned the respect of people in attendance, it seems unlikely to me that the CAP platform will resonate enough with local voters to translate into much success at the ballot box.

Ramon Portillo, (Communist): Born in El Salvador, Ramon Portillo is running for the Communists, which today appear to be primarily an anti-Free Trade party. He was no web presence to speak of, but participated in the recent all candidates’ debate.

Jason Cousineau, (Libertarian): Jason Cousineau carries the banner that believes in less government interference for everybody, everywhere, but he has no web presence, and skipped out on the recent all candidates’ debate. Perhaps his disdain for government includes a disdain for political campaigning? Understandable, but ultimately self destructive, don’t you think?

Mark Corbiere, (Independent): Rounding out the list is independent candidate Mark Corbiere, a youth organizer who ran independently in Kitchener Centre during the 2004 general election. Not much is known about him, as he doesn’t appear to have a web presence, but he was a loud voice in the audience at the 2006 Kitchener-Waterloo all candidates debate, as he heckled the other candidates and the moderator.

Braid took an early lead in the sign wars, but Telegdi’s support has shown itself too. One also does not have to look hard for New Democratic or Green Party supporters waving their colours. The riding should be competitive, although I fully expect incumbent Telegdi to win it, yet again.

Correction: Kitchener Centre

In my profile of Kitchener Centre and its candidates, I accidentally left one individual out. Martin Suter is running for the Communists once again. This truck driver ran for this party in the 2006 and 2000 elections. He has no web presence, and was able to find out more about him from this profile done for the 2000 election by the Globe and Mail.

Further Reading

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