Reflections on the Ontario Election

Well another election has gone by in Ontario and we no longer live with the threat of an impending election hanging over our heads.

And we messed up the pollsters again too.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised, I really didn’t think that anyone would be able to pull off a majority in Ontario at this time. It’s nice when the voters surprise you, unless of course your one of those pollsters who are now scrambling to explain why their numbers were in fact, more or less, pretty accurate. (sort of)

My first thoughts are about Kathleen Wynne.

Walk softly Kathleen, you have a majority, but it is not a traditional majority. You were granted a licence by the people of Ontario to steer the ship, you were not handed a mandate. Rather, you were granted an opportunity to steer Ontario through the next four years by a grassroots coalition made up of all parties including unhappy NDP and PC supporters.

This election was marked by a concerted effort to prevent Tim Hudak from gaining the Premiership rather than an effort to return Kathleen Wynne to that position. Voters reached across party lines to support the candidates best able to stop Tim Hudak, not necessarily to support you.

That said, I believe that you are probably the best choice to show a willingness to listen to what the opposition has to offer and to engage in conversation with the Members across the aisle. Let’s hope that all parties are willing to speak out in the best interests of Ontario and willing to work together and not like what we see up Ottawa way where partisanship rules the day.

 

My second thoughts are for those who decided to protest the election by declining their votes.

While I’ll applaud your willingness to at least show up, which puts you head and shoulders above those who can’t be bothered to go to the polls, I still think many of you missed the boat.

If none of the candidates in your riding represent you, I can agree with declining your vote. That said, the offerings of the parties is generally pretty wide ranging and unless you are a diehard Libertarian or Communist, there should be a party or at least a candidate that meets the majority of your needs or wishes.

Maybe I should be thanking you instead. The people who didn’t bother to vote and those who declined their ballot amplified my vote and those of every other voter who actually cast a ballot in the election. Only about 50% of the voters in Chatham Kent bothered to vote, that’s up from the last election, and the incumbent won with only 38% of the votes that were cast.

Don’t like the PCs? Well by staying home or declining your vote you let someone like Rick Nicholls win with just over 19% of the support of eligible voters in Chatham Kent. Think about it, less than 1 in 5 people in my community have decided that Rick will represent us in Toronto. Your community is likely similar.

 

And finally…

In the run up to Election Day, I heard that nasty old canard “If voting could change anything, they’d make it illegal.”

In case you haven’t noticed, that’s what they’ve been working on. The party structure has warped the Legislatures to the point where unless you are a member of a major party, you don’t get to do much more than vote. Since then, they’ve aimed their guns at the voters…

The Election Laws that the Harper people brought in were based (in part) on the laws in use in Ontario, requiring you to provide ID to be able to vote. We never had this before, we never had complaints of voter fraud then either.

Since then we have seen (at the federal level) a move to make it more and more difficult to vote. For people in the mainstream, with Drivers Licences and other pieces of “good” ID, these changes aren’t too horrid, but for those outside of the mainstream, those on the fringes, they’re making it harder for them to be able to vote.

Voting is a right, and it is a right we need to defend.

When you look back at the bad places in history, where rights were denied, where evil took over the governments, they didn’t make a huge change all at once. They just make little snips, here and there in places that people really don’t seem to care about.

The homeless, the impoverished, we don’t really care about them so it’s OK that they don’t get to vote. The young? They never voted anyways.

I mentioned that we elected a man with less than 20% of the eligible vote. If that plays out across the board, then it is entirely possible that only 20% across the province selected the crew that will sit in Toronto, and if we keep going the way we are going, Ottawa will be the same.

Do you really expect that people who get in on 1/5th of the available vote actually care what you think? Our wonderful rep blames the unions for stopping Hudak from imposing his will on Ontario. I’m sure he’ll be very happy to help me, a trade unionist with any issues I might have.

If we really want them to pay attention, we have to make the first move. We need to take the reins and show up and vote. It only takes a few minutes to read a couple of newspapers in the real world or the Internet to see what the parties are standing for, enough that you can make a half way informed decision on who to vote for. If we start to show up on Election Day, maybe they’ll show up the rest of the time?

I don’t know how true it is, but I have been told more than once that if you go to your elected member’s office for help, they check the list to see if you voted. Keeping a voter happy may gain them a vote, a non-voter gets shuffled down the pile. Why should they care about a non-voter? If they didn’t vote last time, they probably won’t vote next time…

If there are a lot of dancers on the floor, the band plays what the people want. If no one dances, the band plays what they want instead. Politics is like that too.

That’s about it, for now…

BC

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