05.05.2014 10:20 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: elections are good, not bad

The great thing about living in a democracy is, well, living in a democracy.

Characteristics of a democracy include things like power exercised by citizens, or officials elected by citizens. Majority rule, but with human rights, equality, freedom of media, speech and religion. And – most significantly, for the purposes of this morning’s civics discussion – free and fair elections.

Elections are good. But, surveying the aforementioned media, some days, you’d never know that.

Take, for example (please), Ontario. In a couple days, an election is about to get officially underway in Ontario. And that is a good, good thing.

Many hacks and the flaks, however, don’t think so. Kathleen Wynne is one of them. Wynne was selected as Ontario Liberal leader by a few hundred Grit delegates more than a year ago, but she hasn’t been elected by millions of Ontarians in a general election. Despite that, she very much gave everyone the impression she wanted to continue in that role – Selected, not Elected – for the foreseeable future. The pesky Opposition, however, decided to vote against her 2014 budget. The arrogance!

Mortified, Wynne later appeared at a Toronto bar to sound mortified. “We would have loved to have had the opportunity to immediately implement that budget, but [NDP Leader] Andrea Horwath and [PC Leader] Tim Hudak decided they want an election,” she said, with a straight face. Behind her, Liberal staffers held up prepared signs reading “WHAT LEADERSHIP IS,” apparently unaware that, grammatically, you should never end a sentence sounding like Yoda. (Or, politically, raise a question you can’t answer.)

Wynne’s candidates were also in high dudgeon over the Opposition, you know, opposing. For example, the Liberal candidate for Algoma-Manitoulin, Craig Hughson, has been getting ready for an election for months. But there he was in the Manitoulin Expositor over the weekend, professing his shock and horror that democracy has unexpectedly broken out. “I am surprised but ready for this unnecessary election,” said Hughson, an authority in sucking and blowing at the same time.

So too some media. The Toronto Star’s biggest front-page story in Sunday’s paper huffed that the Opposition’s desire to have an election was “backfiring,” quote unquote. “Forcing” Wynne into the June 12 election, as the Star put it, was somehow a bad thing. Why?

Well, because a poll told them so. The Liberals were going to win again, decreed the pollsters, so why bother? Left out of the Star’s analysis was disclosure that the polling firm in question, Forum, had previously declared that the Wildrose Party would win a huge majority in Alberta in 2012 (wrong), the Parti Quebecois would win a huge majority in 2012 (wrong), and that the B.C. NDP would win a huge majority in 2013 (wrong).

But the message – from the selected Premier, the unelected candidates, and some feckless media – was the same: elections are unwanted. They’re “unnecessary,” even.

Sorry, but that’s a damnable lie. Every day, in every part of the world, millions of people pray that they could have what Canadians have. They risk life and limb to get here, in fact, to live in a democracy. And, at the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, they know that you cannot have democracy without elections.

The likes of Wynne and Hughson deserve to be condemned for implying that democracy is unwanted. It isn’t.

They, however, may well be after June 12.



  1. Matt says:

    Very nice column.

    As an aside, any idea why election campaigns must start on a Wednesday in Ontario?

  2. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Well said!

  3. Ron Waller says:

    Great column. I’m sick of partisan Liberals talking about an “unnecessary election” using the same line Harper used last federal election.

    The fact is it was Wynne’s job to get support for her budget from the opposition. She’s the one who failed to keep her government afloat.

    What’s worse is that her failure was intentional. She did everything to make her budget fail.

    She cut the NDP out of the budget process. She ran campaign attack ads against Horwath. She wrote a letter to Horwath telling her to put up or shut up. She reneged on all the NDP budget ideas legislated in the 2013 budget: home care for seniors, 15% discount on bloated auto insurance, and a financial accountability office.

    Wynne’s strategy is to campaign from the left, elbow out the NDP and win a majority (Liberals fell short by one seat in 2011.) Then without the need for the NDP, voters will find out Wynne is nowhere near as progressive as they imagined. So one can only hope her scheme will fail.

  4. catherine says:

    I don’t see Wynne’s statements different than what many politicians say when the public mood is mixed on whether to have an election right at that time. I’m more concerned about what the alternatives are. I don’t trust Hudak at all and Horwath won’t say if she would bring in a pension plan, what her plans are for tuition, wage increases, etc. So, at the moment, there is only one choice as far as I’m concerned. Presumably, Horwath will at some point during the election, start saying what her plan is, but for now she isn’t.

    I expect this election will likely give a Hudak minority and, although I won’t like that, it will be a sign that people wanted change and got it. If it returns another Liberal minority, then I’d say Horwath made a mistake as it’ll be the same government, but Horwath’s influence will be diminished. The chances of a Horwath government are slim as she is trying to position herself to the right of Wynne, saying she would not impose the tax increases on the top 2%, and I don’t think the majority of Ontario voters will trust the NDP to move that far right – and why would anyone want them to anyway?

    • Bobby says:

      I don’t agree. I think that Horwath’s chances of forming government don’t depend on whether or not she has a plan or not. Wynne and co. have been writing plans on the fly and even WITH that they can’t say how they’ll pay for plans they can’t afford.

      Horwath has momentum even without trying that hard and she resonates better than Hudak or Wynne with the average Ontarian, speaks in plain clear language and isn’t always as scripted.

  5. Etienne says:

    I completely agree: elections are good and we should have had one sooner.

    I’d say Jim and Jane Frontporch don’t like elections because it makes them feel inadequate about the rest of “democracy,” the more important parts: the policy development, the respectful debate of ideas, the building of consensus, the work that goes into creating and maintaining community. So when times comes to vote, which itself is not very complicated, they’re left with a bit of an empty feeling.

    • Swervin' Merv says:

      Interesting thesis, Etienne. Have not heard it expressed that way before. The usual explanations, for low interest and turnout, simply stop at cycnicism and don’t reach the deeper disappointments and inadequacies you list. Any party willing and able to “broaden” their base to address “the rest” of democracy, beyond voting?

  6. pc says:

    Did you catch Hudak’s presser at the music studio? It was painfully bad.

    • Bill Templeman says:

      pc, a local political pundit here in Peterborough observed that the PCs could win this election if only they could muzzle Hudak and lock him in a room until sundown on June 12.

      • EricC says:

        Interestingly and curiously, Hudak has BA and MA degrees in Economics.. sorta like Harper, but not that it will help him with the average Joe Shlub who only considers election promises and hopes they don’t become lies!

    • Matt says:

      All of the leaders have seemed unprepared over the first few days.

      That is somewhat shocking to me as everyone has know this election was coming sooner or later.

      I guess the good news for them is the campaign gets officially under way Wednesday and especially for the PC’s they need to hope Hudak gets all his f-ups out of the way early while there aren’t too many people paying attention.

      I mean who vetted the places he spoke at yesterday and today? Talking about getting rid of “corporate welfare” at businesses that recieve money from the Liberal government?

  7. pc says:

    Bill, that’s hilarious! I couldn’t believe it. He was visibly panicked. If he’s the best the PCs can do, the party is in trouble.

  8. Kathy Todd says:

    The Party Has Chosen

    Kathleen Wynne, as a good Trudeauite and Internationalist, by nature favors natural selection over bourgeois election. The true leader must be an outstanding physical specimen with charm and charisma. She must not be degraded with undue ingratiation rituals. Likewise, the rank and file made straight the way of Justin Trudeau during the Leadership Conference to proclaim him Leader.

    Detractors, like Martha Hall Findlay’s shrill barking, had to be silenced; chastened, she saw the error of her ways and began the healing process of self-criticism: “To Justin, his family and to those who were offended, I apologize. My comments were not meant to be personal, in the sense of being in any way a comment on Justin’s character – indeed, I have the greatest respect for Justin’s passion, enthusiasm and commitment.” Space cadet Marc Garneau eventually threw in the towel: “But it is my opinion now, based on internal analysis, the Party has chosen. Justin Trudeau is the person Liberals want to see as the new leader of our party and I recognize that and congratulate him,” he said adding that he will be a loyal soldier. Garneau was transformed from, “The leadership of the Liberal Party is too important a position to be handed to an untested candidate who is hiding behind a carefully crafted public relations campaign,” to vigorously endorsing the Dear Leader as a true leader with a “great public-relations campaign.” Internal analysis – thought reform – is the new sciene method of politics.

    As we move incrementally towards “basic dictatorship” to express the People’s Will through International Democracy, bourgeois nationalism and its debauched rituals will wither away. As China is 20% of world population, this should reflect in Canadian population. Greed of Canadian is clear in not sharing New World. Justin Trudeau, like Moses, will allow 20 million New Canada Chinese of 100 million New Canada population. Comrade Warren, let us appraise these days, in order to correct our faults. We must cleanse ourselves of the repeated sins that accumulate and slow down our beloved revolution. Do not be surprised at this!

    • EricC says:

      Interesting POV, but did you misspeak saying: “Internal analysis – thought reform – is the new sciene[sic] method of politics.”….. when you meant “scientology” ?

  9. Andrew says:

    Come on Warren, its just campaign rhetoric. As a Liberal, I much prefer Wynne over McGuinty. He ran the last campaign with barely any platform. The centerpiece was the 30% tuition grant. I think alot of Liberals and NDP are enthusiastic about the budget’s progressive taxation, transit policy and pension platform. At least the Liberals are offering something to vote for! Horvath is an empty vessel and Hudak would just cut taxes and hope for a recovery.

    • Warren says:

      The people running Wynne’s campaign ran Martin/Ignatieff’s. Good luck with that.

      • Matt says:

        Maybe that’s why she came out of the gate blaming Harper for everything.

        He backroom is still bitter about Harper taking out Martin and Iggy.

      • EricC says:

        Then can we expect to see Trudeau campaigning vigorously alongside Wynne since Justin is just another Martinite puppet?

        Will this Ontario election become a dry run for the federal election in October 2015? The Trudeau-Wynne ticket, so to speak?

        If Wynne does win a Liberal majority or even minority, that will be quite the feather in Justin’s chapeau… n’est-ce pas?

  10. e.a.f. says:

    Good article.
    this switching leaders mid term isn’t all that good for democracy.
    would much rather a leader continue for the full term and then the party can enter the next election with a new leader but the voters, given our system usually vote for the leader of the party, so it changes, time for an election.

  11. JH says:

    Good column Warren. I especially like the shots at the media and that is not a shot at you, but I actually think that the state of the media in Canada today is at an all time low. The days of the giants have long gone and we are left with the feeble posturing of of a Craig Oliver and those who would emulate him.
    I thought Jan Wong’s column about the Gulp and Fail’s purchase of the Rob Ford footage, pretty well summed up what the press is all about – http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1205458-wong-globe-goofed-by-paying-for-rob-ford-footage.
    No sympathy for Ford, but check book journalism just shows how low the media is prepared to go.
    With all of them, it is a race to the bottom And the folks get it.
    I’m no fan of his and criticize him if you will but Lord Black was not wrong when he said: “My experience with journalists authorizes me to record that a very large number of them are ignorant, lazy, opinionated, intellectually dishonest, and inadequately supervised. The ‘profession’ is heavily cluttered with abrasive youngsters who substitute ‘commitment’ for insight, and to a lesser extent, with aged hacks toiling through a miasma of mounting decrepitude. Alcoholism is endemic in both groups.”
    He could also have added Journalism School hacks to that equation as well.

  12. EricC says:

    After the election it will be: PC – 45%, NDP – 30%, Liberals – 25%…. because the electorate will punish the Wynne-McGuinty Liberals for blowing more than $3 Billion of taxpayer’s money on all their SNAFUs… gas plants, Ornge, eHealth, etc., and that the Horwath NDP propped up these corrupt Liberals.

    Ontarians will make a Common Sense Decision by voting for the PCs to apply an enema to Queen’s Park and flush out all the useless liberal-labour union detritus that is parasitically sucking the life out of Ontario, particularly voters outside of Toronto.

    Ontarian taxpayers can’t afford all those feelgood liberal-leftist promises requiring more taxes… and that’s why they will return to the Hudak-Harris PCs…. just watch.

    As for the Liberal Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), that will take a whack off the paychecks of younger Ontarians to pay for the older retirees… it’s just a money grab from the younger to older generations. Wynne would use the pension windfall to shore up the Ontario economy to reduce the deficits. Those Ontarians in the 18-38 y.o. voting cohort will punish Wynne and her ally Horwath over this tax grab.

    The election will become polarized between the Wynne-Horwath axis and the Hudak alternative. Just watch.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      That’s what should happen. Will it happen is another story.

      Guessing your splits are off. I’d suggest: PC – 43%, Libs – 30%, NDP – 22%. NDP will suffer from polarization of vote, and a perception (rightfully so) that they’ll just deliver more of the same tax and spend mentality, albeit more honestly.

      This is Hudak’s election to lose. If he can just stay on message, and avoid the usual suspects in the MSM’s baiting, he’ll pull it off.

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