Those of us living in Ontario get a chance to exercise our franchise in the provincial general election on Thursday, Oct. 6. By all accounts, the race is between Dalton McGuinty’s ruling Liberals and Progressive Conservatives led by Tim Hudak, assuming no late “orange crush” from the rejuvenated New Democrats and their popular leader, Andrea Horwath.
My local riding, Burlington, has an interesting race underway. After the retirement of incumbent PC Joyce Savoline, the seat has opened up and could be lost to the PCs for the first time since 1943. The race here is mainly between local businesswoman Jane McKenna running as the PC candidate and Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran a lawyer, though, with vote-splitting, the New Democrat Peggy Russell could be a dark horse set for a run up the middle.
One local pundit asks, “Will you vote for the party or the person?” And suggests, “If you decide at this point that you will vote for the party no matter what—well then you’re some kind of an idiot or at best an irresponsible citizen.”
I agree with him, but only to a point. For my money, when there is no clear-cut “best person” running in a riding, and the other party has made a cock up of the economy over its eight-year term, wouldn’t one have to be our pundit’s “idiot or at best an irresponsible citizen” if one voted for a particular candidate just because she/he was not running for the Progressive Conservative Party? Well, perhaps not an idiot, but I think you get my point.
For many in Ontario, this election is an anybody-but-the-PCs campaign. This is clearly the case with the teachers’ unions and with the various powerful, rich public sector unions and other diehard leftists. And, with due respect, I believe it’s the point of view of the pundit I quoted above.
So I ask myself, why not vote PC in Burlington?
The PC party’s candidates have held the Burlington riding in its various configurations since the 1943, and during that time the town, later the city, has grown and prospered. Since the mid-eighties (a 26-year span), the PCs have only been in government for about eight years, so local candidates were handicapped in obtaining funding and other benefits for the city.
There are two main election issues in Burlington: a new highway the Liberal government was considering that would have cut across the city’s section of the Niagara Escarpment; and provincial funding for the expansion of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH).
As to the highway: all parties agree it will not be built across Burlington’s escarpment. The anybody-but-the-PCs crowd would have us believe otherwise, but both the local PC candidate and PC leader Tim Hudak have made their position clear on this file.
So we can safely vote PC on this one.
As to funding for the hospital. The hospital desperately needs to expand, but lacks the funds. Apparently, one floor is closed because it also lacks funds to keep it open. So who do we blame?
Do we blame the incumbent MPP who is in opposition? Or is the fault with the Liberal government that has been in office for about half of the last 26 years, and all of the past eight years? It is the Grit politicians who hold the purse strings, not the bureaucrats. No number of telephone calls and badgering of bureaucrats by an opposition MPP will get you anything unless their Liberal political masters give their OK. And apparently Burlington and our hospital wasn’t one of their priorities.
By the way, JBMH opened in 1961 (under a PC government) and doubled in size in 1971 (under a PC government). It made internal renovations in 1993 (under an NDP government) and a minor expansion occurred and 2001 (under a PC government). Where were the Liberals? For Burlington’s hospital, they’ve always been missing in action.
And, by the way, where were the Liberals when a 20-month-long outbreak of C. difficile led to 62 deaths at JBMH in 2006–07. Our pundit says, “The hospital got so run down and so difficult to keep clean that it had a serious C.difficile outbreak that resulted in the loss of more than 90 lives. That kind of funding failure in any community is criminal.”
Let’s be absolutely clear: cleaning standards, or lack thereof, led to the C.difficile crisis at JBMH. A responsible CEO and board would have closed the facility if the governing Liberals were not giving them enough funds to keep the place clean. What sort of people would have risked our lives like that? People died under a Liberal government watch, and, with respect, trying to blame an opposition party MPP for not “deliver[ing] for the community” just doesn’t cut it on this file.
But I do agree, “That kind of funding failure in any community is criminal.” So why hasn’t someone from the Liberal government gone to jail?
So on this file too, I’ll vote PC and not the do-nothing-for-our-hospital Liberals.
In summary, PC candidate, Jane McKenna has given clear, unambiguous support for Burlington’s two major issues in this election, convincing me that (a) while the mid-peninsula highway is important to Ontario’s future economy, it will not be crossing Burlington’s section of the fragile Niagara Escarpment; and (b) Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital will receive provincial funding for its expansion project, should the PCs gain power.
By the way, for the Liberal candidate to keep insisting the PCs may not carry through with funding is morally reprehensible—after all, it’s a bit rich coming from the Liberals whose record for breaking election promises is second to none.
So I voted PC and hope you readers who live in the Burlington riding will do the same.