Quite a statement

There were many lessons learned in last week’s election – the least of which is the importance of a vote.

Although we figured both incumbents would manage a return to Queen’s Park, area MPP John Wilkinson was not so fortunate, getting caught in a tidal wave of blue that swept most of rural Ontario.

Wilkinson’s loyalty to Premier Dalton McGuinty and his willingness to take on tough roles such as selling the HST and dealing with wind turbines proved too much in the end for the voters of Perth-Wellington. In a tight race, he was toppled by Randy Pettapiece from the Listowel area by a mere 630 votes. A quick calculation suggests the difference was less than 1% of the vote.

The obvious conclusion, since the counting for that race went on well after most ridings in Ontario had already been determined, is the voters of Perth-Wellington significantly affected the result of this year’s provincial election. Wilkinson himself was denied a third term, and McGuinty was denied a majority government. It is incredible how much a vote counts.

Voter turnout across the province was embarrassing in this election. There are many reasons for that, such as voter apathy, a poor day of the week, an abysmal marketing program from Elections Ontario and an increasing number of people who find the whole concept of voting farcical when the net result of elections is more of the same. It almost seems that politicians have worn the public out, having come off a municipal election last fall and a federal election this past spring. That, of course, is a slippery slope when voters choose to sit out an election. As witnessed in Perth-Wellington, a vote does count – in this case mightily.

Back to lessons learned, it seems to us that politicians need to get back to the basics. Rather than gimmicks and sounds bites, explainable approaches to problems that concern voters are needed.

Jobs, planning rule changes that allow for sensible growth, transit that actually makes it worthwhile for commuters to leave their car at home, caps on ever increasing government spending and a strong eye for cutting red tape are desperately needed.

The McGuinty Liberals, now in a minority government, will need to tread carefully with their “green” pursuits, since one or the other opposition parties will need go along for that ride.

And, as we suggested a week ago, the house of cards that McGuinty has assembled in his time as premier will be a very tough challenge to keep standing.

The brazen approach that a majority afforded him and his cabinet, will make this minority all the more challenging, since consultation will be the order of the day.

Perhaps Wilkinson is actually the lucky one.