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                                                                    IS A WYNNE WIN POSSIBLE?


 

By Peter Shurman

This isn’t about preference - it’s about experience, the system and the personalities.

My partisan preference, provincially and federally, has traditionally been conservative ... well known before I ran for office and obvious when I sat in the Ontario Legislature. It was the approach to governance I favored, never automatic, nor should it be so for the broad voting base. In Canada, it’s said, governments are not elected, but defeated. I agree.

That tendency is reflected by recent polls in response to the question “if an election were held in Ontario today, what party would you vote for?” The polls suggest Ontarians are tired of Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal Party, in power for 14 years, first elected in 2003 under her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty.

But there is no election being held today.

People ask me, as a former MPP who knows the players, whether there is any remote possibility of a “comeback”. My response is consistent - it’s not so remote and I’ve never doubted the Premier will be in the contest! Wynne is canny and intelligent. She is both driven and sincere in her political beliefs and she has great instincts.

Opposite her sits Patrick Brown, leader of my old party, the Progressive Conservatives. The polls indicate he’d breeze to victory in that imaginary “election today” scenario. A few feet from him is Andrea Horwath, heading into her third election as leader of the New Democrats.

If Wynne’s imminent political demise seems obvious, it isn’t. Like it or not, the Liberals have a perceptible plan for governing Ontario because that’s inherent in actually governing. Their roadmap and rationale are exposed and are constantly sold as beneficial. Meanwhile, the word “opposition” is clear ... the Opposition exists to oppose. That makes creating a discernible plan for governing difficult and hard to get people to notice.

In the case of the NDP, I’ve heard members (and some MPPs) admit they fought the 2014 election without a plan. In 2018, Horwath says she’ll cut hydro rates even more than the 25% promised by Wynne and bring in universal pharmacare but the “how-to” isn’t any more apparent than the rest of what an NDP government would bring to the table.

For Patrick Brown and the PCs, those of us who watch provincial politics acknowledge his verbal darts, thrown effectively and frequently from across the chamber. The question is how many voters notice; and how many PC faithful support concepts like a carbon tax (which Brown claims to favor); and, notably, who Patrick Brown is! Currently, he’s the person who appears to hold a 15-point lead. But that says nothing about where average voters will place an "X" in June 2018. I see those 15 points as a Wynne deficit more than a Brown advantage and it mirrors PC party history at roughly this stage of the electoral process.

If I were operating behind the scenes on behalf of either opposition party, I’d be getting out in front of things now. My friends who run campaigns say that’s the wrong move - I’d be squandering ideology and resources in a vain attempt to get voter attention that’s never been apparent until 8-10 weeks before election day. I contend that revisiting that logic may be appropriate this time around.

The perennial voter question is “what will you do for me?” and Kathleen Wynne is the only one answering it, by checking off a list she controls and that her party touts daily in media coverage largely available only to a sitting government. She’ll mention balancing the budget and leading Canada in economic growth; pushing Ottawa into creating a better CPP; introducing full day Kindergarten; developing measures to give wannabe new home buyers a chance; hearing and heeding hydro rate complaints; and “doing the right thing” with cap-and-trade carbon emission controls. And that’s a partial list based on plans either executed or announced.

If I can reel all that off because I’m politically aware (most aren’t), it seems the only issue for the Premier is seeking the best advice on is how to shine it all up and sell it. For those who would replace her, their lists are neither shiny nor obvious. That’s why revving up their engines now makes sense!

I respect all Members of Provincial Parliament, regardless of party. I know what courage it takes to put your name on a sign - red, blue, orange or green, and to go door knocking, sometimes seeing it slammed in your face! I also know that MPPs are easy targets. Yes, they all believe in a better Ontario. They just don’t share a common approach. I also respect all the leaders and underestimate no one. But, I am aware of both how short and how long 14 months is in politics.

Ontario needs strong leadership, and I urge all parties to turn up the volume. No one has won the 2018 election yet. And no one has lost it either. 

 

Peter Shurman is a former Conservative MPP & Opposition Finance Critic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted date : April 28, 2017
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