Province is in pre-election turmoil

The province of Ontario is in turmoil with the coming election.
The Progressive Conservatives have lost their leader and today are being led by interim leader Vic Fedeli. But prior to the June 7 election date, the party intends to hold a leadership vote–pulling in 200,000 members of the party to elect the next leader.
There also is a movement to only have the caucus choose the next leader, with the understanding that they know the potential leaders better than the 200,000 party members.
This is bringing turmoil to the party.
David Livingston, the former right-hand man to former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, recently was convicted of two charges in the deliberate destruction of documents in the infamous gas plant case.
It appeared the documents were harmful to the then Liberal leader and party.
The decision to cancel the gas plants has cost Ontario taxpayers more than $1.1 billion. It has left the Ontario Liberal party and its current leader, Kathleen Wynne, working to distance themselves even more from the previous leader.
The winner of the change of leadership at the top could be Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP. Well-known and trusted, she could rise to lead the province following the June 7 election.
In the Thunder Bay-Atikokan riding, NDP candidate John Rafferty, who was challenging incumbent Liberal MPP Bill Mauro, last week withdrew from the race because of medical issues. That has left the New Democrats in that riding scrambling.
Meanwhile, the Kenora-Rainy River riding now has been divided into two. The Conservatives have nominated Greg Rickford, who served as natural resources minister in the cabinet of former prime minister Stephen Harper, to carry the party’s banner here.
The riding is up for grabs after incumbent NDP MPP Sarah Campbell announced last year that she would not seek re-election.
No candidates have been nominated yet by either the Liberals or the NDP to run in our riding. A rumour circulating is that former longtime local MPP Howard Hampton, and a former leader of the party, is seeking to return to again represent Kenora-Rainy River at Queen’s Park.
The election is four months away. What will the big issues be? Will it be the cost of hydro? Will it be health-care issues and access to medical care? Will it be public finances or the environment and resources?
The biggest issue facing all three parties is fundraising. Corporations and unions no longer can make donations to parties. Only individuals can give to candidates or parties, and that has been reduced to $3,600 per year down from $23,275.
It will make it more difficult to brand a new conservative leader or even fund local riding candidates. Parties can receive up to $2.71 for each vote that is cast for them.
The interest groups also are limited in their pre-election spending to $600,000 and only $100,000 during the election. That compares to the 2014 election, when Working Families spent $2.5 million, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association spent $2.2 million, and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario spent $1.3 million.
Biggest question mark will be whether voters believe that 15 years under Liberal leadership has been too long.
But compared to the over 40 years that Conservatives dominated Ontario politics previously, that is a relatively short period of time.

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