The following is a re-print of my weekly column at Our Burlington online newspaper.
The philosopher-lawyer Joseph de Maistres famously said, “Every country has the government it deserves.” And so, I might add, does every Canadian province. Maistre’s words were on my mind when I went to bed early this [Friday] morning while contemplating Jane McKenna’s and Ted Chudleigh’s victories for the Progressive Conservatives here in Burlington, which helped the opposition parties keep the Liberals from a three-peat majority.
I’m in Jane McKenna’s Burlington riding and that was the race I keyed on throughout the weeks leading up to Oct.6. McKenna won handily taking the riding with about 40% of the ballots cast. Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran got a respectable 36% and NDP Peggy Russell received almost 19% of the votes.
Given Burlington’s voting history over the past several decades, the election was McKenna’s to lose, and the Liberals certainly seemed to believe they had a candidate with the stuff to spoil the Tory record. Unfortunately for the Grits, their candidate ran a lackluster campaign. I still shudder as I recall the image of Karmel Sakran slavishly reading verbatim—head-down and droning on in a monotone—from his briefing notes as he answered questions at the recent Chambers of Commerce all-candidate session. If Sakran expressed an original thought the entire morning, I missed it. Peggy Russell, though, ran an excellent campaign, keying in on local issues and emphasizing her political experience. But Burling is not a riding to give an NDP candidate much of a look.
From where I stood, Jane McKenna spent a good deal of her time knocking on doors trying to meet as many voters as she could, even at the expense of attending group meetings where the media would see more of her. Her strategy worked: she didn’t play to the media, she played to the voters—and she won.
Progressives have asked this question in various forms: How has voting Tory helped Burlington? PCs like me respond with: How has a Liberal government at Queen’s Park helped Burlington—before the recent election goodies were tossed our way?
Progressives may also want to ask the residents of nearby Caledonia just how much Burlingtonians should depend on Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal party. And how about this quote from the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2008:
“At too many hospitals, infection control is given about as much attention as ‘a lump of sod on the front lawn,’ complains a frustrated infection control specialist.
“Dr. Michael Gardam has investigated Clostridium difficile outbreaks that led to deaths at 4 Ontario hospitals, including the recent highly publicized case of 62 patient deaths at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in Burlington, Ontario.”
That was on the Liberals’ watch, and during the term their candidate served on the hospital’s board.
If the current seat-count holds and the Liberals are denied a majority, they’ll have to put a bit of water in their wine and that will have to do for now. Burlington won last night, for the election campaign forced the Liberals to finally give our hospital much needed funding for its expansion—something no other Liberal government has ever done, and they’ve been in power for about 13 of the past 26 years and all of the last eight. It also forced the Liberals to abandon their plan to pave over a significant portion of our escarpment.
And I am pleased that, in Jane McKenna, we will have an energetic, quick-learner representing us at Queen’s Park—someone who has shrugged off a past failure at the polls and shown she can win when it really counts. She’ll be there to hold Grit toes to the fire.
I offer my thanks to all candidates for running, and wish Jane all the best as she embarks on her term in the legislature.