All we can see are problems

June 4, 2014   ·   0 Comments

WE DON’T ENVY those Ontarians (likely only about half of those eligible) who turn out to vote in next Thursday’s provincial election.

As we see it, all three major political parties are posing valid reasons for the electors to give them a pass.

Normally, this would be an election that the Progressive Conservatives under leader Tim Hudak would win handily, if only because the Liberals have spent more than a decade in office in a province that was traditionally PC property. (They held office under no fewer than five premiers between 1943 and 1985 and since then won have won two terms with Mike Harris as leader, adding up to about 50 of the last 70 years.)

But never have we had an election campaign in which the “Progressive” part of PC has been so absent through the adoption, holus-bolus, of Tea Party ideology, with a promise to see a million jobs created by shrinking government, lowering corporate taxes and abandoning regulation – all this while somehow balancing the provincial budget and lopping 10 per cent off personal income taxes!

Perhaps it’s just because he’s involved in the tightly fought Toronto mayoralty race, but it’s interesting to note that John Tory, Mr. Hudak’s predecessor, has avoided comment on the provincial campaign. Is it that he’s just too intelligent?

The fact of the matter is that the Tories kept winning Ontario elections mainly because they occupied enough of the “middle road” to squeeze out the Liberals, who in turn were often losing support to the New Democrats, so often labelled “Liberals in a hurry.”

But another reason for the PC successes between the mid-’40s and mid-’80s was that the Liberals were as dominating at the federal level, losing to the Tories only under John Diefenbaker in 1957-63 and later by Joe Clark in 1979-89.

One of the many unknowns in the current election campaign is the role possibly  played by the fact the federal Conser-vatives and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in particular aren’t noticeably popular in Ontario these days.

But so much for the Tories’ problems, imagined or otherwise. The governing Liberals and opposition New Democrats have problems of their own, for different reasons.

The main one for Premier Kathleen Wynne is obviously the scandal surrounding the $1-billion cost of cancelling privatized power plant projects that for reasons never explained were going to be built where no one wanted them.

Ms. Wynne has clearly tried, with some success, to distance herself and her government from the era of former premier Dalton McGuinty. And her claim that Ontario still needs stimulus in the form of more spending on infrastructure and aid to small business involves a lot more credibility that the simultaneous promise to balance the books during the next four-year term. (As we see it, the only way that could happen would be through new or higher taxes.)

As for the New Democrats under leader Andrea Horwath, has distanced itself from its socialist/labour roots, in the apparent belief that they can do as well as their federal cousins did in Quebec by portraying themselves as little more than Liberals minus “corruption.”

Granted the Liberals wound up wasting a lot of money, but it was through incompetence and failure to monitor agencies and government-funded projects, something that could happen to regimes of any political colour. Scandalous? Yes! Corruption? Not really.

All things considered, it seems the only party that’s true to its colours this time around is Green. And they’ll still fail to win a seat in the Legislature!

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