Ramsey Hart, of Perth, is running to be the candidate for the New Democratic Party in the June 7th provincial election. On February 15, the NDP officially accepted his application as a candidate for nomination. The riding association has yet to set a date for a nomination meeting, which will likely take place in March. Because of new fixed election date legislation, the provincial election date is known to be June 7 and the election campaign period will take up the month of May.

Hart is is the Executive Director at The Table Community Food Centre in Perth and an active volunteer in a number of community initiatives, including the Tay Valley Ski Club, Lanark County Neighbours for Truth and Reconciliation, the Perth Men’s Shed and the Mayor’s Task Force on Local Climate Change.

He came to Perth four years ago to take the leadership role at the Table from Ottawa, where he worked for Mining Watch Canada. The Table operates a food bank, serves community meals, and operates food and social programs as well.

Not surprisingly, concern about the social safety net in Ontario is one of the main reason that Hart is putting his name forward to try and represent the NDP in the coming election.

“From my work at the Table, I have developed a sense of the importance of policy decisions as they relate to the services available to, and opportunities for advancement, for many people in our communities. Because of the gaps in our social safety net, a lot of people struggle to get by. While the increase to the minimum wage is a help, a person can’t live in dignity under Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program without depending on Food Banks and other services. Housing is also a major issue that Ontario needs to address,” he said, in a telephone interview on Tuesday (February 20)

Hart recognizes that NDP candidates are viewed as underdogs in a riding with a long history ofsening Conservatives to Queen’s Park, but said he is not deterred.

“We’ve had 14 years of Liberal government in Toronto and decades of Conservative representation in this riding. Now is a good time to look at viable alternatives to the status quo. If people want a change, I want to be that change. The NDP has a solid track record representing rural areas of northern Ontario and I can do the same in eastern Ontario if given the chance” he said, in a press release.

The need to combat poverty is a theme he intends to return to on the campaign trail.

“We are losing the potential of too many people and spending too much money to treat the symptoms of poverty. We can do a much better job taking care of each other. For example, the NDP’s program for a provincial pharma-care program will make an important difference in many people’s lives.

Diversification in the agricultural sector, small business growth, and keeping rural schools open are also issues he intends to address.

“While he has not spent a lot of time in Frontenac County since moviong to the region, Hart has taken advantage of the wilderness opportunities the county offers, including winter camping and skiing at Frontenac Park, and an annual canoe trip in North Frontenac Parklands.

“I am looking forward to learning more about Frontenac County as the election nears,” he said, “from what I have seen there is a lot of untapped potential to attract more visitors.”

He will be taking a leave of absence from his job at the Table in May, but intends to begin talking to people about the election throughout the late winter and spring.

Ramsey Hart can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 613-298-4745

 

Published in General Interest
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 12:36

Election Year

The last time we all went to the polls was for the Federal election way back in the fall of 2015, when the 10 year old Steven Harper led Conservative government was tossed out in favour of the Liberals under Justin Trudeau. This year the 14.5 year run of the Ontario Liberals, during which time Dalton McGuinty was elected 3 times and current Premier Kathleen Wynne one time, will be on the line on June 7th. Riding redistribution, which came into effect federally in that 2015 election, will be mirrored at Queen’s Park after this coming election. Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington Conservative MPP Randy Hillier will be contesting the new Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding against Amanda Pulker-Mok of the Liberals, Anita Payne of the Green Party, a still un-named NDP candidate, and perhaps other independent or small party candidates who may come out of the woodwork in the run up to the election.

Our readers in Addington Highlands will be part of the new provincial riding of Hastings, Lennox and Addington (HL&A). Former Conservative Federal Member of Parliament Daryl Kramp, who lost the Federal election in the HL&A riding to Mike Bossio in 2015, was chosen last August as the Conservative candidate in the new provincial riding, and has been campaigning ever since. The other parties have not selected candidates as of yet.

While the local election will not heat up until the writ period, which starts in early May, on a provincial level the contest has been under way for at least a year, perhaps longer.

The thinking as recently as 3 months ago was that the Liberals were headed to certain defeat to the Conservatives, but the polls have tightened since then. We will be watching the provincial election over the next few months, reporting as the candidates surface for the various parties, and trying to get a sense of how riding redistribution will affect the local race.

In the 2015 Federal election, The Lanark Frontenac Kingston riding went to Scott Reid, the long serving Conservative Party incumbent from the former Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington riding. While Reid’s margin of victory decreased from earlier elections, that could have been more a reflection of dipping Conservative Party fortunes nationally than the impact of riding redistribution. In Frontenac-Hastings, the riding swung from the Conservative to the Liberals, leading to a surprise victory for Mike Bossio over Daryl Kramp.

We will look at the candidates as they are announced and will provide coverage of the local election in May and early June, when we will publish profiles of the candidates and will hold all candidates meetings at two locations.

The municipal election will be the subject of our attention at the Frontenac News over the summer and into the early fall. There will certainly be a good number of current council members who will be running again, and a smaller number who will be stepping away from municipal politics at the end of the year. The first thing to watch for after May 1st, when the nomination period opens, is whether any current members of council decide to take a run at the incumbent mayors in Frontenac County. If any do it will open up the council vote and create a more competitive race overall. And if the previous election is any indication, running for council as an incumbent can be anything but a sure thing. In Central Frontenac the last time around, only two of the 7 incumbents who sought re-election kept their place. An incumbent lost in each ward, as did the sitting Mayor, Janet Gutowski. The other townships were not as volatile, but there were hard fought races in many wards, and in the mayoralty races. We will also be closely watching Addington Highlands. If Reeve Henry Hogg does indeed step down, the race for Reeve will be pretty wide open, and it will be interesting to see if any of the current members of council decide to step up to the plate.

We began our early coverage of the election this week by polling incumbent heads of council (reeves and mayors) as to their intentions. We will continue to report on the intentions of current members of council and others who are ready to declare their candidacy as they come forward over the winter and early spring. After May first we will report on nominations as they are submitted in the townships, and our coverage will swing into higher gear after nominations close on July 27th. In the run up to the election we are planning to hold all candidates meetings in each ward where our paper is delivered, as we have done in the past, and we will profile the candidates in September and early October. We will also look at the issues that will be contested in the election, from development pressures in South Frontenac, to the septic inspection issue in Central Frontenac, to the fallout from the rebuild of the township office and the onset of the One Small Town initiative in North Frontenac. The underlying issue of taxation and service levels in all townships is another concern will will address in our coverage.

Published in Editorials
Thursday, 14 May 2015 07:40

Perth mayor seeks NDP nomination

John Fenik, who has been the mayor of the Town of Perth since 2006, and was acclaimed to the position during the last two elections, will be a familiar face in Frontenac County this summer and into the fall as the expected federal election date nears. On Monday, he announced that he will be seeking the nomination to be the NDP candidate in the new federal riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.

Until recently, Fenick was a member of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I believe our nation is at a critical crossroad,” Fenik said. “I have long been aligned with the Liberal Party, but I’ve decided to put my name forward to become the NDP candidate,” he said in announcing his candidacy. “I had considered running for the Liberals in the past,” he said in a telephone interview with the News. “but over time I've been increasingly concerned with Mr. Trudeau's poor judgement. I have been speaking with some members of the NDP in recent months, and I have been following Thomas Mulcair for a few years. He has the abililty and the vision to lead the country.”

The new federal riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston includes about two-thirds of the soon to be former riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, which has been represented by Scott Reid of the Conservative Party since it was formed just prior to the 2004 election. The new sections of the riding, the Township of Mississippi Mills at the northeast corner and rural Kingston north of Hwy. 401 may be better territory for Liberals, but Scott Reid is the acknowledged favourite to bring home the new riding for the Conservative Party.

The Liberal candidate is Phillippe Archambault, who lives near Inverary.

Over the four elections since 2004, Reid has increased his vote each time, reaching 57% in 2011.

At the same time, Liberal Party fortunes in the riding have been sliding. In 2004, Larry McCormick, who at that time was a sitting MP from a former riding that had been swallowed by the LFL&A riding, received 30% of the vote. By 2011, Dave Remington polled only 16% for the Liberals. The NDP finished in second place in the riding in 2011 for the first time with 20% of the vote, riding the Jack Layton orange wave.

John Fenik said he considers Scott Reid a friend, whom he has been working with in his role as mayor of Perth and a Lanark County Council member for ten years. He also said he knows and respects Phillipe Archambault, and realises that he has a tough hill to climb in the new riding.

He said his decision to run for the NDP has to do with his view of the needs of the country at this time.

“If the Conservatives under Stephen Harper form a government for five more years, at the end of that term our country will be unrecognisable. I have decided to pursue the path to Parliament Hill because I sincerely believe that as a New Democrat I can make a positive difference.

My political and work experience has exposed me to the issues faced by the people of this riding, and I want to do something to address these problems on a larger scale. I think the NDP is in the best position to be able to do this.” he said.

John Fenik began his working career with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa and worked in children's protective services in Smiths Falls and Lanark County before taking a job with the Upper Canada District School Board in 2007 as a special services counsellor. He is planning to take a leave of absence from his postion as mayor of Perth if he secures the nomination, and will be retiring from the Upper Canada District School Board this June.

The NDP nomination meeting is set for Saturday, May 30 at the Crystal Palace in Perth. At this time, John Fenik is the only declared candidate.

Published in FRONTENAC COUNTY
Thursday, 10 November 2005 09:21

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Feature Article - November 10, 2005

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November 10, 2005

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Helen Forsey to represent NDP in upcoming federal election

by Jeff Green

Ompah resident Helen Forsey was selected as the nominee for the New Democratic Party for the next federal election at a meeting in Sharbot Lake last Sunday.

The nomination was contested by Forsey and Galad Elfandsson from Camden East in front of a spare crowd of party faithful.

Helen Forsey made reference to several issues in her nomination statement, including; rural revitalization, environmentally sound economics, universal health, social and cultural programs, independence from the United Sates and good government.

She has a background as a writer and a researcher, and recently worked for the National Farmers’ Union for several years. During the meeting she said that she would have work to do developing her familiarity with some issues, but she has a good understanding of both Agricultural and Environmental issues.

Politics is also in her blood, as her father Eugene was a controversial and well respected Senator for many years.

Helen Forsey has lived near Ompah for over 10 years, at the Lothlorien Rural Co-operative. She is a member of the local fire Department’s Emergency Frist Response team, a member of the Ompah Community choir, and sits on various boards and committees. She is the Woman’s representative on the local NDP riding Association executive.

The Green Party of Canada has also conducted a nomination meeting, and has chosen Mike Nickerson of the Smiths Falls area as its candidate. Incumbent MP Scott Reid will represent the Conservative Party whenever an election is called, Former municipal Councillor and Catholic School board Trustee, Irene Backholm from Amherstview, has declared the intention to contest the nomination for the Liberals, as has Robert Godkin of Odessa. The local riding Association is awaiting approval from the Liberal Party for a nomination meeting date.

With the volatile situation in Ottawa, an election could come as early as the darkest day of the year on December 21st, 2005 or as late as April Fool’s Day, 2006.

Published in 2005 Archives
Thursday, 26 January 2006 04:37

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Feature Article - January 26, 2006

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January 26, 2006

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No surprises in LFL&A

by Jeff Green

In a riding that was never in doubt, the only real questions in LFL&A were mathematical.

Would Scott Reid move up from the 48.8% of the vote he received in 2004 to top 50%? Would a young Geoff Turner receive less support than incumbent Larry McCormick received for the Liberals last time? Would Helen Forsey of the NDP add to the total of Ross Sutherland last time out?

In the end, all of the above took place. Reid gained about 2% from last time, and Forsey about 3%, all at the expense of the Liberals, who received 5% fewer votes.

click to view large imageThe results did not surprise Scott Reid. “I received a big increase the last time out, winning by 10,000 votes as compared to only 800 votes when I was first elected, and this time I gained a bit of ground. From what I’ve seen, this is not unusual, and it fits with the way I felt the campaign was going,” said a tired Scott Reid when contacted on Tuesday afternoon.

There will be a decidedly rural tone to the new government, and Scott Reid said this could be very good for people in his riding.

“We will have a critical mass of rural representatives and that can only be good for our ridings.”

Geoff Turner took his electoral results in stride, saying he was “pleased with what we were able to achieve with our campaign, with how much hope we brought to people, and with the youthful energy we brought to the election. I was hoping for as many votes as possible, but I don’t judge my campaign based on votes.”

Turner said he spent five months working on seeking the Liberal nomination and then on the election campaign. He is now going to look for work, but said he might be interested in running again in the future.

As far as the Liberal Party’s immediate future, Turner said “I’m happy to see the party get a little bit of introspection, a chance to focus on what we really want to achieve as a party.”

Helen Forsey, of the NDP, said she was pleased that she was able to maintain the NDP vote in the riding, and see it increase by over 2 percentage points. She added that she is “proud of the people who live in this riding as participants in a democracy. The turnout of 68% was well above the national average. It is very much to our credit.”

Mike Nickerson, of the Green Party, was disappointed with the amount of support his party received nationally. “Canadians don’t seem to be catching on to what the Green Party is saying. At 4.5% we were only up .3% nationally.”

In Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington the Green party was up .4%, to about 5.23%.

As far as his own campaign was concerned Nickerson said “It was great. I’m traumatized through and through, mind you, from all the talking and listening. But I’ve talked to a lot of people, and I’ve learned things I would never have known. Three thousand one hundred and fifteen votes - that’s a lot of people.”

All of the defeated candidates will return to their regular lives, and Scott Reid will now await word on what role he will be playing in the next Parliament.

He is a senior member of the Ontario Conservative Caucus, but several high-profile former Provincial Cabinet members from the Harris government were elected under the Conservative Banner in Ontario this time around, so a cabinet posting for Scott Reid is not assured.

Published in 2006 Archives
Thursday, 26 January 2006 04:37

Editorial

Feature Article - January 26, 2006

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January 26, 2006

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It went as predicted -- sort of

Editorial by Jeff Green

In some ways the Federal Election went about as you might have expected. The Liberals were thrown out, but not obliterated, and the Conservatives were elected, but not given enough power to implement their own agenda. And the NDP gained ground, but not too much ground. Locally, Scott Reid won re-election easily, receiving 51% of the vote this time, compared to 48.8% in 2004. The Liberal vote slid quite a bit in Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, from 30% to 25%, and this led to an increase in the popular vote for Helen Forsey of the NDP, who received 16% of the vote (in 2004 Ross Sutherland polled about 13% of the vote for the NDP).

The fact that the Liberals held their own nationally has to be seen as a bit of a surprise, but the one big surprise nationally was how well the Conservatives did in Quebec relative to the Bloc Quebecois. With the Bloc dropping to 42.5% of the vote, the cause of Quebec Independence was dealt a severe blow, just as it was beginning to look as if an independent Quebec was on the horizon.

Some of the peculiarities of the Parliament that will result from this Election are worth paying attention to from the perspective of our own riding. First, there will be a distinctly rural feel to the government side of the house. Of the 124 Conservative MP’s, none represent Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, although many come from suburban ridings and from smaller cities. For farming communities, however, and for rural concerns generally, a government that owes its existence to small town and rural voters should pay more attention to rural concerns.

As a rural politician, Scott Reid has talked about how programs like the Canada Ontario Municipal Infrastructure Program (COMRIF) were set up with a bias against small rural municipalities. For one thing, cities with a population of 250,000 were defined as rural, and the application process for the program is quite onerous, making it expensive for small municipalities to file successful applications. Hopefully, this kind of perspective on rural infrastructure will translate into federally supported programs that are more aware of the reality in this riding and others.

The way this election turned out, with no obvious means for any one party to control the agenda, may indeed be a breeding ground for a serious consideration of Proportional Representation. It has always been difficult to see how a majority government would see its way clear to changing a system that gives them absolute power. If, as it seems is the case now, obtaining a majority is becoming a long shot, it might be in the interest of the governing party to look at a more democratic voting system.

At one of the All-Candidates meetings in Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington, all of the candidates said they support Proportional Representation. It was the only question asked that night that provoked universal agreement.

Unfortunately, the NDP failed once again to obtain the balance of power in this new Parliament. As the only other party with seats in the house that has a strong position in favour of Proportional Representation, it would have been one of a few issues that Conservatives and the NDP could easily agree on.

As the author of a position paper on the issue advocating setting up Citizens’ Forum on Proportional Representation, and as someone who has studied all aspects of Proportional Representation in the past, Scott Reid would be an ideal individual to bring this issue to the fore now that he will be sitting on the government side of the house.

The 49% of voters in Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington who did not vote for Scott Reid would surely appreciate his efforts. - JG

Published in 2006 Archives
Thursday, 19 January 2006 04:39

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Feature Article - January 19, 2006

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January 19, 2006

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Helen Forsey:Another form of Activism

by Jeff Green

Helen Forsey has never aspired to be a politician, even though she has been a political activist all her life.

In a sense she was drawn into the current election because Ross Sutherland decided not to seek the NDP nomination this time around. Sutherland carried the banner for the NDP in the Ontario election in the fall of 2003 and in the Federal election in June of 2004.

“Ross was an excellent candidate, and without him running this time I thought I should,” Forsey said.

There is also a parallel to the political career of her father, and political mentor, Eugene Forsey. “It’s kind of neat. My dad ran for the CCF, also against a popular Conservative, George Drew, in Carleton County.”

Eugene Forsey was a founding member of the CCF party, and he left the Party when the NDP was formed. He was named to the Senate in 1970 by Pierre Trudeau, and for nine years did a tremendous amount of work in Senate committees.

For her own part, Helen studied Agriculture and then worked for CUSO and OXFAM in Ottawa, South America and West Africa. She later lived in Enterprise, where she was part of a craft co-op and farmed as well. In 1991 she moved to her present home near Ompah to become a full time writer and translator. She worked for the National Farmers’ Union between 1999 and 2003, where one of her duties was to edit their quarterly publication.

Although Helen Forsey writes mostly about agricultural and environmental issues, her background as a feminist remains a force in her thinking.

“My feminism informs my entire world view,” she says.

Helen Forsey has a history as an activist, most recently in the anti-globalization movement, but her involvement with the New Democratic Party, and with electoral politics is quite new. “I’ve got things to say, and talking to the media or speaking at all-candidates meetings provides a good opportunity to be heard.”

She is not impressed with the way the leaders of the other parties have conducted the campaign. “The campaign has been full of pablum,” she said, “but the local campaign has been much better. In fact, if the seven people running in this riding had a chance to get together and work on local problems, I think we could do a good job at finding solutions.”

As a resident of one of the smallest, most vulnerable communities in the riding, Helen Forsey has a different attitude to some issues than some of the other candidates.

At an all candidates meeting in Verona, she responded to a question about high gas taxes, by saying “The owner of the former store in Ompah once told me that the store could survive if gas went up to $2.00 a litre. Then people would see the value of shopping locally.”

Although she is an outspoken advocate for farming families, she does not take the view that it is access to foreign markets, and subsidies for agri-business that are needed. Rather, she argues that a re-ordering of priorities around production and consumption of food are needed. She concluded a recent article called “Farm Crisis, Food Crisis, or both,” in this way:

“Farm families and their allies across the country and around the world are finding more and more ways to resist this destructive corporate model and kick the multiple dependencies that have entangled us in its net. Resistance is not an easy road to take, but it is creative and exciting, and we are not alone.

“And it really is our only choice. Literally and figuratively, farm families carry with them on that road the seeds of the future - a future where, if we can stay the course, the farm crisis and the food crisis will both be vanquished.”

Published in 2006 Archives
Thursday, 26 January 2006 04:37

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Feature Article - January 26, 2006

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January 26, 2006

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Who got it right?

by Jeff Green

Polling companies were busier than ever during the latest election, and with the World Wide Web it is easier than ever to keep track of the polls. There are also at least two websites that are devoted to analysing polling data, and information from past elections to make riding by riding predictions. Last week, we profiled one of them, DemocraticSpace.com, in the News. Well, how did they do?

The final prediction, in terms of seat count, from DemocraticSpace.com was: Conservative 128 (actual tally 124), Liberal 94 (actual tally 103), Bloc Quebecois 56 (actual tally 51), NDP 29 (actual tally 29), and Independent 1 (actual tally 1).

Although these totals are not that far off, the breakdown shows that the predictions were actually less accurate that meets the eye. It’s a case of two wrongs making everything seem right.

For instance, democraticspace.com, predicted that the Conservative candidate in Newmarket-Aurora would defeat Liberal candidate Belinda Stronach. On the other hand, there were ridings where democraticspace.com predicted a Liberal victory, but the Conservatives won. The seat total looks accurate but both predictions were wrong.

Gregory Morrow, who developed the mathematical model to make the predictions, need not be too chagrined about the results. He based his calculations on a basket of five different polling companies, and some of those proved very inaccurate. For example, on the day of the election, the Globe and Mail published a poll they had commissioned from a company called the Strategic Counsel, which is partly owned by Alan Gregg, who is as well known a pollster as we have in Canada. Gregg himself predicted that the Conservatives would win 140 + seats. It also said the Conservatives would win the popular vote by ten percentage points.

On the other hand, a company called SES, which polled 400 people each day of the campaign, and put together three-day rolling polls, produced startlingly reliable results. In terms of popular vote, SES predicted that the Conservatives would receive 36.4%; the Liberals 30.1%; the NDP 17.4%; the Bloc 10.6%; and the Green Party 5.6%.

The actual voting numbers were: Conservatives 36.25%; Liberals 30.22%; NDP 17.49%; Bloc 10.48%; and the Green Party just under 5%.

Published in 2006 Archives
Thursday, 05 January 2006 04:40

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Feature Article - January 5, 2006

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Liberal candidate defies oppponents, posts signs on public property

by Jeff Green

Geoff Turner, the Liberal hopeful in Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, has been posting election signs wherever they are likely to be seen, just like candidates have done in all previous elections.

But this time many of Geoff Turner’s signs are a bit more visible because candidates from three other parties, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Green Party, have all agreed to restrict their election signs to private property.

The NDP candidate, Helen Forsey, initiated the “no sign” rule for public property, and sought agreement from the other parties to keep public spaces free of election clutter. She got the idea from candidates in other jurisdictions, including Liberal incumbent Peter Milliken in Kingston.

“It gets to be an expensive game when all the parties try to outdo each other with more and bigger signs along the highways,” Forsey said. “It becomes all show and no content. There are better ways to use people’s time and money.”

Conservative incumbent Scott Reid and Green Party candidate Mike Nickerson decided to accept Forsey’s proposal, with Scott Reid’s campaign office announcing a three party agreement in a press release on December 12.

“The three parties hope that the Liberal campaign will make a decision to join them in this initiative,” the Press release concluded.

When asked by the News in early December if they were going to follow the lead of the other three parties, Andrew Ford, Geoff Turner’s campaign manager, was cautious.

“We’re busy setting up our campaign office, and we will consider signs later on,” he said.

When Turner signs began appearing on public property this past week, Ford said that, “Elections are about getting the public to know you are there and election signs are part of the election process, so we are posting signs on public property. Remember, it was the NDP and the Conservatives who brought about this election in the first place, which neither the public nor the Liberals wanted.”

(The Frontenac News is sponsoring two All-Candidates’ meetings during this election. The first will take place on Friday, January 13 at the Kaladar Community Centre, and the second will take place on Monday, January 16 at the Verona Lions Hall. Both meetings will start at 7 pm. The public is invited to come and ask questions of the candidates.)

Published in 2006 Archives
Thursday, 18 January 2007 07:12

Election_year_again

Feature Article - January 18, 2007

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Januay 11, 2007

Election year again (editorial)

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If it feels like it’s been election year every year, that’s because it has been. At least once a year there is a flurry of speculation, followed by the sprouting of election signs by the roadside. Then comes a vote, and it’s over for a time.

Four years ago in the fall there was a provincial election. A year later there was a municipal election. The next year there was a federal election. A year later the federal government fell and we had an election over Christmas, and then there was another municipal election this past fall. If the activity among riding associations is any indication, we could be having another federal election within months, and there will be a provincial election in the fall.

Federal elections have become so common that a Scott Reid supporter has left an election sign up on Highway 7 for the past three years.

But there is good news for those among us who wish the politicians would stop knocking on our doors and asking for our support. There will be no election for at least three years after this year. At least that’s how it looks right now.

Federally, the Conservatives are poised to either win an outright majority or come pretty close to doing so, close enough that a stable regime will be established.

Recent events have made this even more likely. When the Liberals lost one seat to the Conservatives earlier this month, it gave the NDP the balance of power. The NDP has nothing to gain in an election, but in order to demonstrate their relevance they need to show they can move the government on an important issue, either a budgetary or an environmental issue. The NDP will have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and the Conservatives will then have an opportunity to say no, bringing on an election when they are most likely to win one.

And they will win, unless some outside event changes a dynamic that has been at play in federal politics ever since the sponsorship scandal broke several years ago. The electorate lost faith with the Liberals years ago, but have been slow to accept the Harper Conservatives. The Liberals were reduced to a minority; then the Conservatives got a minority, and with each election the Liberals have had less to campaign on.

Although Stephen Harper has shown himself to be anti-democratic in some ways, by shutting down his ministers and caucus members and refusing to follow the established protocol with the national media, he has shown himself to be competent, and highly political.

His handling of the contentious same-sex marriage debate, a potential problem, was masterful. He allowed a free vote, satisfying an election promise, lost the vote and then said the matter is settled. When asked if he would revisit it if he won a majority, he re-iterated that the matter is settled. This will not be popular with same sex marriage opponents, but they have nowhere else to go with their vote. All the other parties support same-sex marriage. What Harper has done is taken away an issue from the opposition. He has harmed the one line of attack the Liberals have had: the fear of a hidden Conservative right wing agenda.

The only real vulnerability the Conservatives have is on the environment, but there is quite a crowd of parties fighting for the status of champion of the environment. The Conservatives can allow themselves to be pushed quite a long way on this, probably far enough to satisfy the 40% of the population whose votes they seek, and still say with conviction that theirs is the only policy that won’t diminish the economic prospects that Canadians remain most interested in.

The environment might be the “number one issue” for Canadians, but that is because the economy keeps humming along and employment is at historic lows. Fear of an economic collapse is still stronger in most people’s minds than fear of environmental collapse. The Conservatives know this, and can play it to their advantage as long as their environmental policy moves towards the mainstream of Canadian thinking over the next couple of months.

There will be no tidal wave of support coming to the Conservatives when they orchestrate an election this spring. They don’t need one. They only need the waters to keep moving steadily in their direction, and there is nothing to indicate this won’t happen. Nothing has happened since the last election to alter the basic voting trends. Most ridings will see no change. Our own riding, which has become a Conservative stronghold, belongs to Scott Reid for as long as he wants it. He is popular, especially in Lanark, where he has been the MP for about 7 years, and he is devoted to providing federal services to his constituents.

The only scenario under which Reid could lose would be one where the local electorate turns on the Conservative Party as a whole. That only happens when people tire of a government, such as they did in Ontario with the Harris Tories. The federal Conservatives have never really been in power yet. It is way too early for a “throw the bums out” movement to kick in. We need to elect the bums first.

Provincially, the Liberals should be able to hang onto their majority, because even if they aren’t particularly popular as a government, they have demonstrated political competence. People say nasty things about them, but most of those people are affiliated with other parties. Ontario isn’t quite ready to throw them out. They spent at least half of this past term dealing with the fiscal and policy hangover from the previous government. They should have four years to make their own mark.

So, if my predictions come true, the two elections we will be subjected to this year will lead to governments that will remain in power for their full mandates.

Remember, you heard it here first. - JG

Articles from this week

Third time lucky for South, North Frontenac:The 3rd and final intake of submissions to the Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF) resulted in funding support for relatively small initiatives in South and North Frontenac.

Flinton Habitat build: Executive members from the Prince Edward Hastings Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity met with the newly formed Flinton Build committee and the public at the Flinton Rec. Hall on Jan. 16Biosphere, Committees, and the bridge: South Frontenac Council meetingThree strikes at Comrif for Addington Highlands: Addington Highlands Council meeting of January 15.Frontenac Heritage Festival It's Election Year, again: EditorialLetters

Published in 2007 Archives
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