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                                   Ontario Election – First Week Of October?


 By Peter Shurman

How many readers spotted that headline and thought ”whoa ... what’s this?” Well, the idea was to catch your attention and I did if you’ve gotten this far. The reason is that there’s a good case for Premier Wynne to be considering such an option.

If I were the Premier, I’d be asking myself whether I’d prefer to be subjected to another full season of Opposition questions in the Legislature. I’d be remembering that the weather in September is wonderful for campaigning. People are comfortable and still clinging to summer, as opposed to June, when people are planning for it and detached from politics. In September, school is back, so moms and dads have finished with vacation season. It means that Wynne can either go with a snap election call during Labor Day week or, basically, take it to the absolute legal deadline of June 2018.

If the Premier believes more time means more opportunity to sell herself and her Liberal Party, she’d also know that could backfire. There are trials scheduled linked to the so-called "gas plant scandal" and, regardless of who is on trial or what government may have been involved, Wynne will be the target of negatives emanating daily from the courts.

Patrick Brown, a virtual unknown to half the province, is all over television now spending some of his hard-won war chest (which is huge) specifically on defining himself. The result is Ontarians will know that the person who is NOT Kathleen Wynne is talking directly to them. Rumors are flying about people standing in line for PC nominations and there are not–so-quiet whispers about a potential star candidate in Caroline Mulroney, daughter of legendary Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney. But there is the November PC Policy Conference that could be derailed by an early vote.

Wynne has worked diligently to present Ontarians with a full-fledged platform and then some. When you’re in government, you are the early bird on policy because you hold office and need both accomplishments and ideas to take to the public. Governments “in waiting” have only to oppose, revealing their plans in accordance with their own timing and strategy.

However, not having completed their policy conference does not mean the PCs couldn’t roll out a 28-day election plan, replete with a direction for governance, if a snap election were called.

As for the NDP, they’ve talked policy continually and are close to where the Liberals stand on energy pricing, the environment, and minimum wage.

Ready, set, go.

The point is that Kathleen Wynne could make a legitimate case for an early vote and it might be a wise choice, given the $16-million cache the PCs are already spending. Her job would be to leverage an array of changes she spins as positive for voters. In a sooner-versus-later election, she could put her radical changes to the minimum wage structure, her cap-and-trade introduction, her electricity price reduction plan and labour law changes (including mandated personal time off work) to the population. She could and would tell voters that a vote for her "fairness doctrine" would be a vote to move Ontario forward as opposed to running in place with regressive ideas on these subjects by the other side.

It is well known that my view of the world is conservative. I use the word in lower case because I no longer play an active role in politics. But I remain a strong fiscal conservative with an open mind on the social issues of the day. I have always leaned that way and believe it has won me the respect of all parties in relationships developed during my time in the Legislature. I say this as qualification of my next belief - that Kathleen Wynne, love her or hate her, is sincere. That is to say she believes in what she says and in the ideology she offers to Ontarians. I believe that both Andrea Horwath and Patrick Brown also offer voters legitimacy in terms of what they put forward. The difference currently is that Wynne is “out there.” She has a slate of proposed changes that would appeal to a left-leaning audience, notably urban. The others have yet to roll out alternatives.

Wynne also has a different personal objective. She needs people to regain belief in her ability, versus the others, who have yet to capture it.

Saying Kathleen Wynne is sincere is one thing, but she is also politically adept. If you take that as a given, you might well agree with me that the "September for October" election idea could easily get legs between now and Labour Day week, if that decision has not already been made!

Stand by, keep your powder dry, and don’t take any bets. Politics has a way of finding curves in the straightest of roads.


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



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