Posts Tagged ‘by-election’
Currently two Ontario electoral ridings are in the grip of By-Elections. In the riding of Vaughan everyone seems to assume the Liberal candidate will be a shoe-in. Although predictions are made in every election, we wouldn’t need to bother with the expense of elections if any poll or prediction’s outcome was guaranteed.
No such assumption has been made in Elizabeth Witmer’s Kitchener-Waterloo riding, where Witmer has reigned under Progressive-Conservative colours for decades. The only reason her staunch conservative seat is up for grabs is because she’s resigned to accept a plum job offered by Premier McGuinty. Nice to see such consensus in government, eh?
Because the Liberal Party of Ontario is one seat short of a majority, this is quite an important election for the Liberals, who have discovered it was much easier to govern when they had a majority.
Governments can do whatever they want when they hold a majority of seats. Which is why it is important to the rest of us as well. After all, minority government is the closest we get to democracy in these parts.
My favorite, multipartisan, grass roots, electoral reform group, Fair Vote Canada, is hoping to change all that. Fair Vote WRC hosts events and seminars throughout the year so citizens can learn and discuss the issue of how to re-inject democracy into our political system.
Politics On The Patio Goes Underground
Last year during Democracy Week they held a “Politics on The Patio” event which happened to occur in the midst of the Ontario election. It was a relaxing change from the tightly managed election events, instead providing a forums so candidates could mix informally with the public and actually get an opportunity to meet one another.
Since this By-Election will be over by Democracy week, Fair Vote Waterloo Region held a “Meet The Candidate” event in the Huether Hotel’s basement Malt Room Museum. Almost all the candidates managed to attend, so it was an excellent opportunity to meet candidates in a relaxed setting — in this case, the Lion Brewery Museum and Dining Lounge, located in the depths of Waterloo’s Huether Hotel.
There was an excellent turn out of candidates. Here they are in alphabetical order (by first name):
In these days of copyright maximalism, it is important to have accessible photographs of people in public life available to citizen journalists and bloggers. I’ve been taking every opportunity to photograph local politicians; all these blog photos are by laurelrusswurm and licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Although Conservative Candidate Tracy Weiller did not attend the Fair Vote “meet the Candidate” event, I can share this photograph of the candidate for tomorrow’s election.
The byelections are being held tomorrow, Thursday September 6th, 2012. I can’t vote in either riding, but I can hope the Ontarians who can don’t lock Ontario into an unfortunate majority. Fingers crossed!
Either way, get out there and vote!
Oh yeah, this *is* Canada, after all … if any stranger ~ human or robot ~ should happen to call you up to tell you you need to go somehere different to cast your vote, please check it with the official information available at Elections Ontario.
If memory serves, the well respected Elizabeth Witmer, was one of only two or three Conservative MPs who actually retained their seats after the Mike Harris Government was voted out. Ms Witmer has been Minister of something more often than not during the course of her career, so her Kitchener-Waterloo riding was the very definition of a Conservative “safe seat.” So long as she occupied it.
During the election, Ms Witmer insisted more than once she would serve out her term if elected. Now, less than a year in, Dalton McGuinty has generously appointed her Chair of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. .
So there will be a by-election in her vacant Kitchener-Waterloo riding. Strategically this election is very important, since a single seat is all that stands between the McGuinty Liberals and a majority. Dalton McGuinty has got to want that seat very badly.
I received a robo-call inviting me to Wednesday’s Kitchener-Waterloo Progressive-Conservative “Town Hall” to meet Tim Hudak and Tracey Weiler, the new Progressive-Conservative Candidate who will be running in the by-election caused by Elizabeth Witmer’s resignation.
But I don’t live in that riding.
Not even close, and my phone number is clearly tied to a street address in my riding. So why did I get the call?
Probably because I listened to a robo-call “Town Hall” over the very same phone line during the last election. It turned out to be what sounded like a tightly scripted conversation between Tim Hudak and my riding candidate, and felt kind of like a personalized election commercial. My guess is that the party would assume anyone willing to listen to such a thing would be a supporter.
Thing is, I’m not. I don’t support any political party. I don’t even like the party system, particularly as practised here. I don’t vote by rote. Every election campaign is a new adventure, and I learn who the candidates are and try to find out what they stand for before casting my vote.
As long as we continue with this antiquated electoral system, the absolute last thing we need is a majority government. Still, even if I went to the meeting and decided Tracey Weiler was the perfect candidate, I can’t vote for her unless I move there. Not gonna happen.
So why would the PC party want me there? Perhaps to pack the hall with party faithful, more than can be drummed up from the actual riding. Having a full house would make for better photos. These days the appearance of strength has the power to tip an election. When you have an adversarial system like ours, backing the winner can be its own reward. In the same way polls can help manipulate an electoral outcome, this is a clear case of messing with the electorate’s perceptions. It’s exactly the type of thing that makes me dislike party politics.
Even so, if you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, you might want to check out this Town Hall.
I can well understand why Mr. McGuinty would want to regain a majority: it’s much more difficult to govern a province democratically. Except for the term limit, any majority won under our inequitable electoral system is indistinguishable from a dictatorship, so a government majority is never good for citizens.
I agree with the Fair Vote Canada contention: “Your vote should count,” which is why strategic voting is not something I ever endorse. Even if it brings the short term result I’d like, but it is really an attempt to game the system that only helps entrench it. We’ll never change it if we think we can fool it into working. My thinking is simply that we will never elect the candidates we want if we don’t vote for them.
But this isn’t a general election. This is a by-election which could turn the McGuinty Liberal Minority into a Majority. Which is, of course, the only explanation why a Liberal Premier would give such a plumb to such a powerful enemy. It’s why all the parties are campaigning so hard for this crucial seat.
And it’s another reason I dislike our system. Although the politicians we elect to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario are supposed to govern Ontario on our behalf, the winner-take-all nature of our adversarial political system discourages anything like co-operation, instead polarizing the parties into enemy camps. Political parties look out for the party first, and constituents second. I’d prefer to live in a place where the Premier would make such an appointment because it was the right thing to do, not because it gives him a second chance at a majority. Instead live in a province where patronage is the norm.
So although I don’t actually live in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, I would be seriously considering voting strategically in this by-election if I did. Because no majority government is ever good for the citizens. And I wonder,
Can Ontario really afford another majority government?