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COLUMN: Voters need to bear down on election choice

'Let’s face it, you get one chance every four years to have your say on provincial politics and Thursday is it. So get out and vote,' implores columnist
2022-05-22 Elections Ontario RB
Elections Ontario location at Bayfield Mall in Barrie.

Ontario needs an election after four years of Doug Ford and the Tories, and we’re getting one Thursday, June 2.

Maybe we didn’t need this particular election, but we can’t be too picky when it comes to the democratic process.

Just be thankful we get to actually vote for our next government, even if the choices are somewhat dubious.

The question is who to vote for, or vote against, and how?

In 2018, Ford was a relative unknown, but one leading the right party. Ontarians just wanted Liberal premier Katheleen Wynne and her bunch out of Queen's Park, and the Grits took a political beating at the polls. Wynne even admitted defeat late in that campaign, before election day.

So Ford got his majority government, with the New Democrats  led by Andrea Horwath  as the Official Opposition.

Many viewed that election as Horwath’s chance to be something other than a political second banana, to govern rather than just criticize others. But it didn’t happen.

It’s uncertain, however, if Horwath or any other leader could have done better than Ford during the pandemic.

He didn’t always follow the science, listened too much to business interests and didn’t do enough to protect our seniors, but this was uncharted territory and hindsight is 20/20.

Ford was out there almost every day at least trying to explain how his government was helping Ontarians during the pandemic.

There have been few serious criticisms of how the Tories handled COVID-19 during this election campaign.

But voters should take issue with these giant highway projects Ford is promising. They go far beyond four years, which would be the longest mandate he can win June 2.

Or promising to cut gas taxes July 1, after and if Ford wins the election. Why not now?

Perhaps most troubling, however, are reports that Progressive Conservative candidates are skipping some all-candidates debates, and are being told to do so by the Tory election machine.

It’s no mystery why this is happening. The Tories are ahead in the polls and silence is golden to stay there.

In other words, don’t say or do anything stupid between now and June 2.

But it leaves voters with the impression that Tory candidates are missing these meetings because they’re incapable of answering tough questions, whether from the public or the media.

The Tories look stupid by trying not to look dumb, and it’s a bad look.

The Liberals will almost certainly make gains in this election. In 2018, they won just seven seats and also lost official party status.

Leader Steven Del Duca has seized on the importance of making life more affordable for Ontario residents, promising everything from $1 public transit to rent control to extending parental leave, among other measures.

But the Tories haven’t forgotten, nor stopped telling voters, that Del Duca was a big part of Wynne’s team, and some of that could stick to Liberal candidates on June 2.

So the question remains  who to vote for, or vote against, why and how. OK, four questions.

It’s never a bad idea to ask what your incumbent MPP has done for you during the last four years, and if his or her opponents could do any better in 2022-26. There’s still time to ask.

What about strategic voting, casting your ballot for the candidate you feel has the best chance to defeat the favourite, even if you must hold your nose while voting? 

Or, since every vote does count, just voting for the person you feel would best represent how Ontario should be governed during the next four years.

Yes, that’s a tough one, since party politics often dictates how MPPs vote  in or out of government.

Let’s face it, you get one chance every four years to have your say on provincial politics and Thursday is it.

So get out and vote.

I don’t want to hear any whining and complaining about how Ontario is run from those who didn’t vote when they had the chance.

Bob Bruton covers city council for BarrieToday. And Thursday he will be covering the Ontario election, no doubt asking local candidates to explain what happened, and why.