Taking It To The Street


Over the next five weeks, ONW will be touring all regions of the province to give you a heads-up on the hot issues and the hot political fights to watch in the September election.

By Susanna Kelley

Susanna Kelley

ONW is embarking on a pre-election tour of its own, and we invite you along for your own Campaign 2011 briefing. 

Over the next five weeks, ONW will be travelling to the various regions of this far-flung province, investigating the political issues and big riding fights likely to play out in the upcoming campaign.

It was Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign strategist James Carville who posted the famous sign on the wall of the Democratic presidential election war room that stated, in part, "It's the Economy, Stupid."

This may not be America in 1992, but it does feel similar to another famous election: Ontario in 1995.

It was in that contest when the public, worried about their jobs after living through a long and deep recession, elected a third-place, relatively unknown party leader as premier. Ontario's never been the same since Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris let loose with his Common Sense Revolution.

The economic situation is the prism through which almost every issue is being refracted - tax cuts or tax increases, hydro bills, the cost of gas to fill the family car, library closings, cuts to day care spaces, spending cuts in local communities. 

And there's the most feared of all: layoffs. The thinking out there seems to be "I either can't find work or know people who can't; if I lose my job there may not be another.  So at this point, every dime of my household budget counts."  Hence, the focus on pocketbook issues by all three major parties. 

So it's already clear that the economy and this election are inseparably entwined.   

But Ontario's regions have very different and distinct economies.  We'll take a look at how those economies are faring, and how that's driving what area voters see as the important ballot box issues.

Each week we'll look at a different region.  ONW's "Taking It To The Streets" feature will unpack how the regional issues are affecting the average person.  We'll bring you clips with analysis from the major political players in the area.  And finally, a mini-documentary about the hard politics: which ridings the various parties are targeting and why, as well as what's driving the vote there.

Consider this your campaign 2011 primer. 

We begin this week, then, with Ontario's southwest: a vast region of 43 ridings stretching from Hamilton in the east to Windsor in the west.

The Liberals are running well behind the Conservatives in the southwest, according to recent polls.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, Liberal MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh, acknowledged his party has a tough fight on its hands:



The southwest has suffered greatly from the manufacturing collapse.

In Canada's motor city, Windsor, unemployment skyrocketed to more than 15 per cent in July of 2009.  St. Thomas' auto sector has also collapsed, with the Ford plant, a major employer, scheduled to shut down just as the election begins.

The Ambassador Bridge, spanning the Detroit River from Windsor to the U.S., is the busiest international border crossing for trade in North America.  More than a quarter of all North America's cross-border trade passes over it. But Canadian exports are suffering from a high dollar and a customer south of the border that just isn't buying as much.

Agriculture is another economic driver in the southwest.  But there again, farmers have been complaining for some years they feel ignored by the Liberals.

Its no wonder the average person is frightened.

And with volatile situations like this, anything can happen in an election campaign.

Come along with ONW for our pre-election tour.  But buckle your seatbelts.

About Susanna Kelley

Susanna Kelley is Editor-in-Chief and Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for Ontario News Watch. A veteran political and investigative reporter, documentary-maker, host and media commentator, Susanna oversees and has final editorial control over all news production at Ontario News Watch. Susanna has reported for the CBC, the Canadian Press and served as Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for TVOntario for 13 years. She has also hosted a number of documentaries for CBC’s The Current, CBC Radio News and TVOntario’s Studio 2. Passionately dedicated to excellence in political journalism, and having covered both Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, Susanna believes quality political reporting is essential to a healthy democracy. You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley
Posted date : August 02, 2011

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