Brand loy­alty, the push for change

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey,

Pol­i­tics, like so many other top­ics, can be in­ter­est­ing, even fas­ci­nat­ing, de­pend­ing on how you look at it. For ex­am­ple, change is al­ways a theme in ev­ery po­lit­i­cal cam­paign, and the run-up to the June 7 On­tario vote is no ex­cep­tion. The elec­torate is han­ker­ing for a chance to dump the Lib­er­als and re­place them with some­body else, ac­cord­ing to poll­sters, pun­dits and the “ex­perts” who claim to have the abil­ity to pre­dict the fu­ture. But not ev­ery­one can play the “change” card. Take Glen­garry. Ev­ery­one who is not a Lib­eral is push­ing for change in Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell, which in­cludes North Glen­garry, and which has been rep­re­sented by a Lib­eral since the rid­ing was formed in 1995.

How­ever, in Stor­mont-Dun­das-South Glen­garry, the Tories are es­pous­ing the sta­tus quo, be­cause the in­cum­bent there is Con­ser­va­tive MPP Jim McDonell.

To try to make the cam­paigns com­pelling, try to imag­ine the tan­ta­liz­ing sce­nario of the New Democrats mak­ing breakthrou­ghs into both Glen­garry rid­ings. Although the Celtic Heart­land has been a tra­di­tional waste­land for the NDP, the tra­di­tional third party is get­ting at­ten­tion from the many who loathe the Lib­er­als and fear the Con­ser­va­tives.

To ramp up in­ter­est even fur­ther, con­sider the cliché about a few weeks be­ing an eter­nity in pol­i­tics. Re­mem­ber that not long ago, Pa­trick Brown was des­tined to be our next premier.

Then it seemed that all Doug Ford had to do was re­main up­right and he would re­place Kath­leen Wynne.

Plat­form? Poli­cies? Doug Ford didn’t need any plat­form or poli­cies; he was go­ing to win sim­ply be­cause he was not Kath­leen Wynne. But, the left­ies have been surg­ing lately. As this is be­ing writ­ten, An­drea Hor­vath’s NDP has moved far ahead of the Lib­er­als in pub­lic opinion polls and are com­pet­ing with the Con­ser­va­tives for the hearts, minds and bal­lots of the vot­ers.

Both the Tories and the NDP present them­selves as vi­able al­ter­na­tives to the rul­ing Lib­er­als. Yet, there are so many other op­tions out there. Lo­cal rid­ings rarely at­tract can­di­dates from “fringe” par­ties, how­ever the On­tario Party’s pres­i­dent, Joël Char­bon­neau, is run­ning in GPR.

In other parts of the prov­ince, lit­tle known or­ga­ni­za­tions are prop­a­gat­ing their tenets.

Cer­tain groups present in­no­va­tive pitches. For in­stance, this is a line from the None Of the Above Party: “Vote for the None of the Above Party to elect in­de­pen­dent MPPs who are not bound by party con­trol and who truly can rep­re­sent their con­stituents first. We sup­port the 3Rs of Di­rect Democ­racy: Ref­er­en­dum, Re­call and Re­spon­si­ble Gov­ern­ment laws for true Leg­isla­tive and Elec­toral Re­forms.”

We have the Cana­dian Eco­nomic, Cana­di­ans’ Choice, Com­mu­nist, Con­sen­sus, Cultural Ac­tion, Freedom, Go Ve­gan, Mul­ti­cul­tural, North­ern On­tario par­ties, along with the On­tario Al­liance, the Pro­vin­cial Con­fed­er­a­tion of Re­gions, So­cial Re­form, the Party for Peo­ple With Spe­cial Needs. The Party of Ob­jec­tive Truth (POT) sounds like a lot of fun. The Pau­per Party (Pau­pers) does not sound like much fun at all. Stop Cli­mate Change and Stop The New Sex-Ed Agenda ob­vi­ously have no hid­den agen­das. The New Peo­ple’s Choice Party re­sem­bles an awards show ti­tle, while the Peoples Po­lit­i­cal Party (The Peo­ple) and the Tril­lium Party are in­trigu­ing.

The list of 28 reg­is­tered par­ties can be found at the Elec­tions On­tario web page, which, as one can imag­ine, is chock full of in­for­ma­tion that will amuse and in­form you for hours.

For ex­am­ple, no, you can­not take a selfie with your bal­lot. “Tak­ing a pic­ture of a com­pleted bal­lot -- yours or any­one else’s -- is a vi­o­la­tion of the Elec­tion Act be­cause it vi­o­lates the se­crecy of the vote. It is also a vi­o­la­tion of the Act to pub­lish a photo on your so­cial me­dia chan­nels or else­where of a com­pleted bal­lot.”

Gulp. This is se­ri­ous stuff. There is no goof­ing around when it comes to democ­racy and choos­ing our gov­ern­ments.

When pick­ing a can­di­date, vot­ers must be in­formed. Some home work must be done, much like con­sumers would do be­fore spend­ing their hard-earned money on, say, a new cell­phone that would take bet­ter self­ies.

Check out the com­pe­ti­tion, read the fine print, in­quire about longterm guar­an­tees, ask your­self what you are re­ally look­ing for in a can­di­date.

Are you fix­ated on cost? Are you de­ter­mined to scrap the cur­rent model? Do you want to send a mes­sage? Are you con­cerned about image, clar­ity? Are you ready to be locked in to a multi-year com­mit­ment? What about brand loy­alty? Peo­ple are crea­tures of habit, tend­ing to stick with the fa­mil­iar, rather than tak­ing a new prod­uct line for a test drive. Yet, old habits can change. Like most prod­ucts, politi­cians and par­ties have a shelf life. Re­mem­ber the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion, which was also all about change? Pierre Lemieux, the Con­ser­va­tive MP, ap­peared to be un­beat­able. After he had ended the Lib­er­als’ seem­ingly in­ter­minable hold on GPR in 2006, Mr. Lemieux had eas­ily won two re-elec­tion cam­paigns. As Lib­er­als pre­pared for an­other cam­paign, they were faced with a huge task. The Grits had lost the pre­vi­ous elec­tion by 10,649 votes.

Yet, the pop­u­lar­ity of Mr. Lemieux’s leader, Stephen Harper, was on the slide. As the Tories be­gan to drop, the lo­cal MP, could not pre­vent him­self from be­ing swept away by the Justin Trudeau ef­fect. Fran­cis Drouin, a rookie can­di­date, eas­ily ousted the Tory in­cum­bent. Mr. Lemieux did not exit the po­lit­i­cal scene, how­ever, mak­ing a fu­tile, yet re­spectable, run for the fed­eral party lead­er­ship in 2017. And he will no doubt at­tempt to win back his former job in 2019, when he might in­deed re­turn as MP. Pol­i­tics, go fig­ure. It is a mix of tim­ing, prin­ci­ples, emo­tions, luck, gaffes and strate­gies. That is why this spec­ta­tor sport is so com­pelling, and ex­actly why so many find that this game is hard to watch.

r[email protected]­gar­rynews.ca

Fear of the Tories, loathing for the Lib­er­als could pro­duce a new NDP gov­ern­ment!

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