Working together the best idea

On Aug. 1, byelections were held in five ridings in southern Ontario as a result of the resignation of four former Liberal cabinet ministers and former premier Dalton McGuinty.
When byelections are held, they generally are considered a gauge of the government’s performance, and an opportunity for communities and regions to weigh in on the direction the current government is taking.
These byelections, however, came under unique circumstances. With Kathleen Wynne having taking over as premier in January, these elections were her first chance to test her performance at the polls.
With two of the byelections taking place in Toronto, where the Liberals are strong and Wynne is popular, and two more occurring in ridings that were held by high-profile members of the government (McGuinty and former Finance minister Dwight Duncan), it was not unreasonable to assume the Liberals could pull off a strong showing.
At the same time, the byelections were considered a crucial test for the Progressive Conservatives and the leadership of Tim Hudak. Many political pundits suggested the PCs could win more than their fair share of ridings as a result of a public backlash against the government.
What ended up happening, however, was not expected by many: the Liberals won two ridings, the NDP two, and the Conservatives one—largely on the strength of the candidate’s affiliation with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who, despite his apparent shortcomings, remains popular in many areas of Toronto.
So what does this mean? Seat-wise, despite losing three members, the Liberals are not any weaker when it comes to confidence motions. So from that perspective, the political landscape does not change.
That said, despite publicly downplaying their expectations, I believe it’s fair to say the Liberals cannot be happy with the results, nor can PC leader Tim Hudak.
In calling the byelections during the summer, and two of them on short notice, Premier Wynne made a political calculation that she could win most of the ridings—something she failed to do.
The loss of three seats could mean she becomes more open to opposition ideas or, on the other hand, it could mean she decides to shut out the opposition altogether in hopes of positioning herself for a general election.
At the same time, with many caucus members already being unhappy with Mr. Hudak’s performance as PC leader before these byelections, it could mean a shift in direction for his party, as well.
Rather than opposing every piece of legislation, disrupting debate, and refusing to be a contributor to the minority parliament, the PC leader could become conciliatory and try to work with other MPPs to make the minority legislature work.
Considering the fact that the NDP has taken this approach, and now has won half of the six byelections to date, it might not be a bad idea for him to look at.
I, for one, believe that when we all participate, share our ideas, and work together, positive changes happen—and then we all become winners.

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