Opening Statement



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Some Notes On The Ontario Election Snoozefest

Getting bored with election news? Alas, having survived the Harris-Hudak years I would be remiss if I did not post a few blogs to warn my OECTA readers about this years Ontario Provincial election on Oct 6. I realize election talk can grow tedious, especially half way through an election. There hasn't been a real lot of reader interest even here. Still let me toss you some tasty inside tidbits from the teacher election grapevine, as well as a few of my own personal projections to maybe help spice things up a bit.

The fear inside Tim Hudak's Conservative "tax fighter" election war room is that he is currently dead in the water at the half way mark to election day. He'd planned to copy Rob Ford's Toronto Mayorial campaign. Now the wheels are falling off that election vehicle as the service cut implications of Ford's tax cuts have suddenly become so readily apparent here in Toronto. Figure out the math. Without big Toronto gains Hudak's unlikely to get enough seats to win.

Ford always was and still is a political wild card, especially now for Tim Hudak's provincial Conservatives. Still who'd have guessed he'd decide on his own to be so gung-ho in trying to implement his big service cuts at the worst possible time for his buddy Tim? Not the Conservatives. You know the saying, "You can fool some of the people some of the time..."  Well the infamous Ford Nation Uprising during this fall's provincial election is suddenly nowhere to be seen as Rob tanks at the polls. The reality factor has settled in as voters face huge service cuts across the city to pay for Ford's promised tax cuts in last fall's municipal election.

So what's next for Tim??? My bet? He'll fall back on the tired old "Broken Promises" chant from yesteryear. Atta boy Timmy, can you light our wicks with that one again?!?! Or will you just keep beating away with the same losing "tax fighter" swagger using Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty as your own personal punching bag? Will you find out that the negative attack ad swing has finally run out of steam in election weary Ontario as a sure vote winner? Gone the way of the Dodo bird and the naivity of the Ford Nation? Zzzzz. Yawn.

One can only hope! Of course a lot can still happen. There's two weeks between now and election day October 6th. That can be a few life times in politics. So if you are getting involved in our OECTA "Who Speaks For Children?" election effort, now is the time to step up the effort. Please don't figure it's game over, that we've spoken out for our students, saved our profession and schools and then head back home! The battle isn't over!

True Hudak's large lead in the polls has been reduced to a dead heat. Unless he can come up with a strong rescue "Plan B" this late in the election game, the punsters pretty well agree that if you translate the current  polls into a seat count, we will be looking at a minority Liberal win.

Andrea Horwath's NDP has no doubt taken a bounce in the polls amongst voters who don't know the difference between the Federal and the Provincial NDP but Jack Layton she isn't. Not yet anyway. I've met her on a few occasions and would bet in the long term she could be a real firecracker. For now Andrea is still a rookie and hasn't really caught fire. That's pretty much to be expected. As with Hudak, she hasn't had to take her party campaign out on the election road trail as party leader until now. She's more of a political party leader rookie in finding her feet than Tim who at least sat in Premier Harris' cabinet.

But let's say she creates a few Liberal and NDP vote splits. Or maybe she even wins a few more NDP seats from the Liberals. Either way the NDP could still allow the Conservatives to come down the middle either flipping more Liberal ridings in their favour, or reducing the overall Liberal seat counts in their favour at Queen's Park when the legislature resumes. It is for this reason that OECTA is not recommending it's members vote against any sitting Liberal or NDP incumbents, even if their Liberal or NDP opponents are also education friendly candidates.

Unfortunately for the NDP their election platform is not on the front political burner yet beyond their own hardcore party ranks. At best, in a minority Liberal scenario with a Conservative opposition, the NDP could still see themselves yielding a lot more influence, and getting a lot more much needed media attention. It could be fun to see Andrea hold Dalton's feet to the fire when he leans a little too right of centre for their tastes. Then again don't expect him to be around past two more years anyway.

It's no secret Dalton McGuinty has promised wife Terry that ten years as premier will be it. She's been pretty good about all this, living and teaching in Toronto for the past eight years, but enough is enough and it's about time for the loving twosome to move on. Another election win let's him wrap up business, resign on top, and allow for a leadership race, party renewal and a new face for the party. Possibly a win win win situation for everyone but the Conservatives and the NDP if you will. Could give the tired old Libs a lot more sizzle!

McGuinty's personal talk ads about health and education have helped offset his tendency to seem kind of distant and forced. I remember working with a Liberal focus group some time ago when Dalton had to enter an informal setting for a meet and greet, to make small talk, drink beer and connect. He was like the proverbial deer in front of your car headlights, frozen stiff. Back before his 2003 election win he was really wobbly, like a tin soldier wound up but tight and sent marching into a room. He's come a long way in the public relations department. Though still low key as an election road warrior he can project a competent if not spectacular managerial image and the province is doing well in the current economic crisis. Unless he is thrown off his game between now and election day Dalton might even be able to just keep it bland and score a majority, albeit a reduced one, by just staying the course. Like Bill Davis', or maybe more so like with Steven Harper 's cakewalk as of late.

So far this election has been a real snoozefest. Few would argue that. Conservative voters are known to invariably vote conservative or not vote at all. Hudak's tax fighter stance will appeal to his core supporters but not otherwise pick up much momentum or a whole lot more votes with Ford run amok. Now he's very vulnerable to being exposed on the ominous service cuts downside of tax cuts by both the Liberals and the NDP. Unless the provincial NDP can keep rekindling and move beyond Jack Layton's Federal NDP glow, they look like a possible spoiler at best by stripping away a few more Liberal seats.

Depending on their success at that I'd guess at a minority or majority Liberal government depending how many voters either party can actually get out to vote on election day. Truth be told that's what usually wins or loses an election. Without much voter interest both parties have a big job to do. I'd be cautious and bet my money on a Liberal minority but unless Andrea or Tim can come up with a quick game changer Dalton could now possibly pull a majority win hat trick come Oct 6th through sheer default. The next two weeks will certainly either have to suddenly become real exciting or a total sleep walk to provincial election day. Let's try to stay politically awake and active to see what happens next!

More election blogs below, and a lot of other stuff, especially in the July and August archives...

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