By Rupert Johnson
People should not read too much into one or two by-elections, but the by-elections in Ontario on August 01, 2013 were fundamentally different. The five by-elections that were held in former Liberal strongholds signalled a significant warning for Premier, Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal party.
It is not surprising that the results in these by-elections have definitely sent a strong message of voter dissatisfaction to the Premier. The fact that the Liberals lost three of the five seats that were held by cabinet ministers should give Kathleen Wynne cause for deep concern. The Premier should not take solace in the fact that her party was able to hold on to two seats since these wins were not decisive.
As much as Kathleen Wynne would like to distance herself from the litany of her party’s scandals, she is very much a party to this widespread public outrage and built-up indignation.
As a prominent minister in the Dalton McQuinty cabinet we did not hear an unequivocal dissenting voice from Kathleen Wynne on such issues as: the imposition of the infamous HST, and the government’s handling of the gas-fired power plants. It should be noted that the cancellation of these electrical devices has left Ontarians with a great deal of unnecessary expense.
And she did not voice her deep concern about the wanton waste of tax-payers’ dollars on the infamous electronic health records. In addition, I did not hear her dissenting voice when McQuinty and his cabinet decided to take away 4 billion dollars from the 10 billion previously earmarked for transit development in Toronto.
It should be understood that Kathleen Wynne was at the cabinet table when these scandalous decisions were made. Did she voice her disapproval? Not to my knowledge.
However, in spite of the many Liberal blunders, the Conservatives under Tim Hudak’s leadership should not feel snug, waiting in the political wings to capitalize on the shortcomings of the Liberals. At this point in time Tim Hudak and his party have not demonstrated that they are a credible alternative to the Liberals. As an opposition party, they firmly believe that their sole purpose is to oppose. They fail to realize that their role is not just to oppose, but also to put forward concrete, rational policies to improve the lives of Ontarians.
It may be said that Tim Hudak is a power hungry political leader whose only purpose is to force a general election at all cost. In the last provincial budget debates he did not put forth any positive proposals to make the budget work for the people of Ontario.
The victory of Doug Holyday in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding should not be viewed as a victory for Tim Hudak and his party. Holyday would probably have won the seat as an independent candidate anyway.
In contrast to Tim Hudak and his Conservative party, the NDP leader, Andrea Horwath has demonstrated that she is a credible leader and a force to be reckoned with. Her party’s victory in the ridings of Windsor-Tecumseh, and London West was a crushing blow to the Liberals.
There is no doubt that the NDP under Horwath’s leadership is poised to form the government in the next general election in Ontario.
In the last provincial budget debates Horwath and her caucus did not only oppose the government responsibly, but they put forth credible, common sense proposals that forced the Liberal minority government to incorporate many of the proposals into its policies.
There is no doubt that the voters in Ontario have sent a strong and clear message to the Liberal government at Queen’s Park. The message is: clean up your act, behave responsibly and govern in the best interest of all Ontarians, or you will be thrown out by the voters in the next general election.
Rupert Johnson can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.