I am really looking forward to the end of the 2011 Ontario election campaign. It seems like we have had elections all year, especially with the fixed election date and of course the federal election earlier this year. I lost my interest in politics a long time ago, this provincial election serving as another example of what turns me off. I think if I see another negative ad, it might drive me not to vote them.
That of course is a stretch as I always vote. It is a right of democracy that many of my friends in far-off lands do not have. In fact when I was in graduate school many of my friends from the Third World commented that I should take an active role in Canadian democracy. They saw a place for me as an elected politician. I chafed on that notion and still do. However, they were simply looking at the Canadian political space as being a wondrous place where ideas can be exchanged without prejudice. In their countries the political process was corrupt if there was such a process at all.
In other words they had their heart in the right place and I have a real respect for that. So every election I have a pretty good notion on how I am going to vote. This election is no different and on Thursday, I’ll get behind the ballot box and get that warm feeling. The Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and NDP have been fighting it out for almost a year now. I’ll be very glad when they pass the finish line.
I say that because politics has become such a cheap business. I have been inundated with unflattering pictures of both Premier McGuinty and Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. Both of these men cannot look so bad all the time. Needless to say it is done by political operatives who have measured how bad these pictures look and how they might frighten the electorate. There is a certain image people have in their mind of political leaders and it is a darn shame that political professionals try to portray people in unflattering ways to feed that constituency. The issues get lost in the balance.
In Ontario there is no shortage of issues that have one neighbor facing another. In my mind one of the most controversial issues in this provincial election is the Green Energy Act. I think the Green Energy Act is absolutely insane. I think the huge tariffs that are paid on the backs of Ontario taxpayers were far too high to get Ontario’s green economy going. At the end of the day I believe the proposed Ontario green economy will be a net negative to the citizens of Ontario. Is there a political party that has a different vision than that? I don’t see that space being filled by any of the 3 choices that are presented before me. Sure, the Liberals were the ones that started that, and I suppose they will get most of the blame. However I think there is a big dichotomy between rural and urban Ontario with regard to green energy. For the most part, urban Ontario does not see a huge wind turbine 550 feet from the front door.
Of course there are many other issues that may affect your vote on Thursday. There is always healthcare which I don’t believe any political party has the high ground. For instance in the rural community where I am from, healthcare is the same as it was 30 years ago. Or if it is not the same it is worse. If you have a health problem in the middle of the night, you drive 16 miles to a bigger center and hope for the best. I don’t see any political party that is going to change that. I just wish that they would be honest about the tangible realities that rural people face in Ontario with regard to their health care.
If you believe the polls and I do, we are in for a photo finish with regard to majority territory. The latest seat projections give a bare majority to the Liberals. The NDP under leader Andrea Horwath have been surging over the last week but that is mainly in urban areas, which may help the Progressive Conservative party. In my mind Premier McGuinty and Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak have large negatives. All NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has to do is smile and say nice things. So far she is following that strategy and benefiting.
So on Thursday, get out and vote. It is a privilege that many in the world do not have. My friends in much tougher places have told me so. However, I have always believed. Marking your ballot has tangible benefits.