Brand loyalty, the push for change
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.
Fear of the Tories, loathing for the Liberals could produce a new NDP government!