| Oct 18, 2007

Editorial - October 18, 2007 Editorial - October 18, 2007

Thoughts on the Provincial Election: We get What We Deserve in Ontarioby Jeff Green

On the day after last week's provincial election, Dalton McGuinty was in a giving mood. He rewarded all of the citizens of Ontario for the fact that about 21% of the eligible voters chose Liberal party candidates by telling us all to take a day off in February. (Although the Liberals received 42% of the votes cast, only 51% of eligible voters actually voted)

He was so happy that he gave us a day off in February, every year from now on. Family day is here and it will likely be here for the rest of our lives.

I have nothing against an extra day off, and even though I'll probably work that day I'll get extra pay, so it's great for me, although not so good for my boss. But hey, there are winners and losers no matter what you do.


I note that McGuinty did not announce he was going to introduce legislation aimed at establishing a holiday in Feburary, he did not say he would bring it to the attention of the Minister of Finance, or Industry, or the caucus of 71 Liberal members that had just been elected. He didn't have to. In our electoral system, he has extraordinary powers.

I don't think there are many of us who will lose sleep over the February holiday being approved in this manner. It has been talked about for years and the majority of people favour it.

However when it comes to energy policy, taxation and other important issues, it is a problem that so much power is vested in an individual and his or her hand-picked advisors.

In addition to the February Family Day holiday, Mcguinty announced something else in his post-election press conference. Since the referendum on electoral reform had been defeated almost as decisively as John Tory and his Conservative Party, McGuinty said the electoral system would be left as it is. Electoral reform will not be on the table.

This, after an election that demonstrated clearly how undemocratic our current system is.

Three parties received substantially less seats than the popular vote would suggest they should have. The Conservatives, with 32.7% of the vote, have 26 seats (24%). The NDP, with 16.8% of the vote, have 10 seats (9%), and the Greens, with 8% of the vote, have 0 seats (0%). The Liberals, on the other hand, with 42.2% of the vote, have 71 seats (68%).

Liberals may have given Hillier a break

Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington was one of the few interesting races in an election night that brought results that were almost identical to the results four years earlier. The riding was created by boundary changes, and had no incumbent, and Randy Hillier has attracted the attention of the Toronto and Ottawa media for his activities with the Lanark Landowners Association. Even though he was expected to take the riding, it went down to the wire, with Hillier winning by less that 2% over Ian Wilson of the Liberals.

Ian Wilson ran an active campaign, and he stuck for the most part to his theme of “positive change”. He said the Liberals had made mistakes over the past four years, but were on the right track. In essence, he ran a campaign that suited his personality, the same kind of front-runner campaign that was successful for the party province-wide.

But Ian Wilson was not the front runner in LFL&A.

In analyzing the results, it becomes clear that the Liberals could have taken the riding if they had been able to convince some of the 8,000 voters in the riding who voted Green or NDP to vote Liberal instead. In retrospect, the candidate that the local Liberal association did not choose, former Central Frontenac Mayor Bill MacDonald, may have been a better match for Randy Hillier.

MacDonald is a more partisan politician than Wilson is. He would have trumpeted all the expenditures made by the Liberals in the riding: new schools in Smiths Falls and Perth; highway construction in Central Frontenac and Addington Highlands; a grant for the Sydenham Water system, etc. and would likely have pushed Green and NDP supporters to vote Liberal by vilifying Randy Hillier.

There is no way of knowing what would have happened if the Liberals had run a different campaign in this riding, but the results show that 60% of the voters didn’t support Randy Hillier.

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