Ontario Provincial Election: Let the Chair Throwing Begin

Ontario ElectionWhen it comes to politics, I am an observer.  There may have been a time in my life when I thought I might enjoy getting involved in politics.  However, that was the inexperience of my youth.  I think everybody who thinks about Parliament Hill might often muse about taking your place in the House of Commons.  That may have crossed my mind way back as a teenager but I certainly lost it a long time ago.  So as I look ahead to the October provincial election, I almost prefer to watch paint dry.

I say that about the provincial election because this time around there is going to be lots of chairs thrown across the room and tables upset.  We have had some pretty sleepy provincial elections over the last decade, but this is not going to be one of them.  Higher taxes which came about in the harmonized sales tax as well as all those wind turbines and the corresponding higher Hydro bills have got the populace stirred up.  There is a tremendous movement in this province to rush the polls in October.  Will Premier McGuinty survived?  I dunno.  Most politicians overstay their welcome and this time around it might be Mr. McGuinty’s turn.

The last provincial election turned on an abysmal mistake.  Former progressive conservative leader John Tory for whatever reason decided to make faith-based schools an issue in Ontario.  That polarized the electorate, many of whom did not want to see public funding to schools of all faiths.  In fact an argument could be made that most Ontarians do not want to see public funding of Catholic schools.  So with that John Tory and his conservatives made a grave mistake and Mr. McGuinty won by default.  Local progressive conservative candidates, despite running admirable campaigns didn’t have a chance because of that.

This time around the conservatives have a new leader, former Mike Harris cabinet minister Tim Hudak.  In my mind, he is a very uninspiring person, but probably a very good politician.  He is playing it right in focusing on Premier McGuinty as the evil one and downgrading his own resume.  Premier McGuinty is fighting back by labeling him the evil one with some severe attack ads.  This is getting serious folks and it is a precursor for more dirty tricks to come.

The big difference this time is that the Progressive Conservatives are intent on not making any big mistakes and not defining the issue on them.  They are trying to define the issue in all the bad things they perceive Premier McGuinty to have done.  With higher taxes, higher Hydro bills and solar panels and wind turbines ensconced all across the province, people can see the issues.  By the time the dust settles in October there will certainly be a lot of chairs thrown across the room.  This provincial election is going to be a real war.

The sleeper in the campaign may be Andrea Horwath of the NDP.  She certainly has the lowest profile of the 3 provincial leaders, this being her 1st campaign.  I felt that she was set up for success to ride the coattails of Jack Layton.  However, with Jack Layton’s recent retreat to fight his cancer, it looks like that is not going to happen. I felt that she would have Jack Layton beside her at each campaign stop.  So now the NDP and Horwath will have to carve their own niche to try to separate themselves from the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals.  With those 2 slinging mud at each other so violently, maybe Andrea Horwath can find her space.  Ontario voters are certainly looking for a fresh alternative.

Here in southwestern Ontario Maria Van Bommell and Monte McNaughton are fighting it out again in Lambton Kent Middlesex.  It surely will be a better battle this time with no faith-based schools on the agenda.  In Chatham Kent Essex there are 3 new candidates fighting for the seat that Pat Hoy held for many years.  That certainly will make the race wide open.  With all the wind turbines along the Lake Erie shore, there will surely be people passionate about the Green Energy Act.  It certainly cuts the nerves in rural Ontario.

It should be Tim Hudak’s election to win if he had the juice of Jack Layton.  That is his problem.  There was an article out today in the Globe and Mail about how women did not trust him.  He may in fact be a very nice person but sometimes perception is reality and that is reality for this election.  I’m sure the Conservative war room is trying to soften his image at every juncture.  At the end of the day, he might be Premier.  I dunno.  However, I do know, this election will be one heck of a fight.