We’ve made our bed–now let’s feather it

We have a new old government for our province. What does it mean for the Northwest?
First, Premier Mike Harris will take his victory as a mandate to stay the course he’s been on. Before the election, I heard any number of people say they think what he is doing is right but how he is doing it is somewhat heavy-handed and unnecessarily confrontational.
So let’s hope the methods become more diplomatic this term. On the whole, though, we know what to expect for the next four years.
In Northwestern Ontario, we still feel forgotten and neglected by our provincial government. We still believe policies and programs are set up primarily for the more populated and economically stronger south.
There is evidence that our beliefs continue to be well founded.
So why didn’t we elect more Conservatives, who would have political power and access to resources for representing our interests? Are we crazy?
I don’t think so.
We are in the age of pragmatism as opposed to ideology. All parties know that deficit and debt reduction is necessary. All parties know that providing more jobs is very hard, and nearly impossible if businesses are doing poorly.
All parties know that our education system needs quality improvement without great expense. All parties know that health care has to deal with issues vastly different than what they were just a decade ago.
According to many current commentators, the differences between what the parties will do–as opposed to what they say–are relatively slight.
All the more reason to vote the candidate rather than the party. I think that’s been happening. You be the judge.
If it’s true, I see two implications in particular.
One is for the political parties. Their most active members need to understand well what we, the people, are looking for in a candidate. And they need to find the people who have those qualities and are willing to serve.
The time to assess that is now while the message is fresh and there is time to groom incumbents or new candidates for the next election.
The other is for us citizens of Northwestern Ontario. Since we haven’t elected Conservative reps, we once again can expect to remain relatively forgotten by the government machinery and coffers.
Without whining, what are we going to do about that? What can we do to make the ministers of Northern Development, Natural Resources, etc. want to support the north?
Second, if we have indeed elected the candidates we believe best, let’s keep them working for us. That means asking them to carry our important messages to the legislature.
It also means welcoming them in our communities, and giving them good information and support.
Now that we have made our democratic decisions, it is once again time to make the process work–preferably better than ever.

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