See what happens

There are certain things in life where people want the best of class.

A good analogy is a doctor and your need for a surgery; would you want the one who aced courses or take a chance on one who just squeaked in? Ironically, we tend not to get a choice in the matter.

In a very real sense Ontarians will enter the next four years with similar trepidation. Yes, Ford won a second term as premier, but it hardly qualifies as the “mandate” he proclaimed election night. Instead, we enter the next era of provincial politics based on a majority of the minority. With 43% voter turnout across the province, claiming absolute victory is a bit rich.

Oddly, this is the first election we have covered where conservative voters we know were hard pressed to vote PC this time. Between environmental foibles, poor financial performance and the concept of #Fordnation, there is an unease around traditional conservatives. The follow up question was, what then? Crickets – was the response.

In a generally accepted view, and the results bore it out, voters were not presented with a palatable option that made any sense or compelled them to action. Voters were not readily inspired to vote for traditional parties like the NDP, Liberal or Green. Newcomers like True Blue were perhaps too new to resonate this time around.

On the local scene in Wellington-Halton Hills, Ted Arnott sailed to another win. Similarly, Matthew Rae took the riding of Perth-Wellington handily after long-serving MPP Randy Pettapiece retired. While the mythology continues that these ridings are always Conservative, supporters of our local MPPs are not always enamoured with the party leader. A blend of good constituency work and moderate points of view make it mighty difficult for voters to turn against incumbents, particularly when the options were not spectacular.

As is the custom here after an election, thanks are given to all the candidates who put their name on the ballot. A campaign is a grind, whether the candidate has a shot or is merely a presence. Ideas get floated, networks are established, and voters are offered choice – fundamentals of a healthy democracy.

Even though local candidates played their part, where were the other 57% of voters? Why did they choose not to hold up their end of the bargain?

A conversation with a young lad who chose not to vote provides a clue. He felt woefully uninformed, apart from headlines and memes that might show up on his phone. He had no handle on the issues, nor party platforms to address problems. So rather than throw a dart at the board, he stayed away.

Others yet, the eternal pessimists who don’t think their vote counts or dismiss the political class as a bunch of crooks, never seem to ink a ballot. Of alarm-scaled proportions, is an emerging element of non-voter that see it as a hopeless exercise. That is unfortunate and sometime voters will get caught. Politicians can do whatever they want once sworn in.

The departure of NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca will open up opportunities for the next generation. Murmurs suggest even Ford may bow out for the next election, opening up a chance for new ideas for the PCs. We see the next few years as a time of fluidity and a time for people to roll up their sleeves and participate. If you like a particular party or person – volunteer.

As the provincial election fades into history and Premier Ford takes his “mandate” mentality to whatever ends he does, readers will do well to turn their attention to municipal elections this fall. 

Between evolving provincial policy and the signs of a troubled economy become more clear, voters need to engage and participate. Those who get elected will ultimately decide the direction communities take. Do your best to make an informed vote. It is your community after all, and yes, every vote counts.

A point to consider

Deriding Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott for his role as Speaker of the House seems to be in vogue.

Apart from those suffering from green-eyed envy, the claim is this non-partisan role renders him ineffective on speaking out about issues for Wellington-Halton Hills. Rarely are those who complain known conservatives.

While Arnott is hard to pin down with a constituent’s queries, or for an interview (much to the chagrin of reporters), he is exercising what he swore to uphold and do when elected to the role of Speaker. He is not engaging in the politics of politics and that would seem a point to be admired rather than worthy of a berating from sympathizers from other parties.

Over the past term, the province witnessed a rocky start to the Ford days, worked through a pandemic and saw much in the way of political upheaval. Mr. Arnott presided over that timeframe with grace and the respect of his fellow politicians. This meant the voices of all members were heard and not drowned out. 

Complainants should remember, each term of the House, a Speaker is chosen. Some riding somewhere will lose their partisan voice for a period of time, in favour of serving the greater good of the Legislature. Are we that insecure in Wellington that we shouldn’t take our turn? It seems fair that we should.

But alas, the idea of contributing to something bigger than our individual needs and wants never gets the oxygen it deserves. That’s old school – too bad.