Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Get Ready, Get Set... Gone?

It’s a big season for politics. The federal election was now four months ago... which is shocking and deeply worrying that four months feels like three weeks. But now there are six (possibly seven) provincial and territorial elections about to get started in Canada. Today the writs were dropped in the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Manitoba signalling the official start of their elections. Political watchers say that the writ will be dropped in Ontario tomorrow, Wednesday the 7th of September triggering our next election. The election itself will be held on October 6, 2011.

However, anyone watching Ontario news broadcasts or reading local papers will probably have gotten a sense that this election has been on its way for a while, and it has been. Elections in a parliamentary system traditionally occur when the government is defeated – sometimes by its own making, or dissolved because it has reached the end of its mandate. Relatively recently in Canada’s political development fixed election dates have been added. In a previous blog post, I discussed in part some of the reasons I am opposed to fixed election dates.

John Pepall, political scientist and author of Against Reform, states in his book that the data that giving the power to call elections to the Premier or Prime Minister does not necessarily give him/her an advantage. The most clear cut example led to a defeat of the Peterson Liberals in Ontario. But I digress.

For the last few months, but really for the last year or so the political parties have been readying themselves. This means that much of the actions over the last year has been in effort to gain support for the coming election, this bothers me and hurts governance, but I wish to talk about the actual election and how I plan to cover it.

Because the parties have known the election is coming they all have released their platforms! A journalist with the Globe and Mail, Steve Ladurantaye, went through both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative platforms and laid out all of their expressed promises therein. Mr. Ladurantaye did not annotate the NDP platform, but they give the bullet points themselves. Links follow:

Some background on this election. Dalton McGuinty, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and current Premier is seeking a third term. The OLP has 70 seats within the Legislative Assembly. There is some evidence that the people of Ontario have grown tired of McGuinty after eight years in power. Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and of the Opposition, is leading in the polls and may become the next Premier. His party must shed the burden of his unpopular predecessors, namely Mike Harris. Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, must raise her profile to become known in the province. In addition she must win over Ontarians who have not embraced the NDP since the bad days of Bob Rae’s premiership. The PCs have 26 seats and the NDP have 10, 54 are needed to form a majority government.

For this election I plan to do it a little differently than how I covered the federal one. In the federal one I tracked polls and made projections, this time I’ll do that less. This time I’m going to pick a major issue in the campaign – even if it isn’t the topic of the week – and discuss it. I have six outlined already, but I don’t want to commit in case an issue arises in the campaign. If any readers have something in particular they like to see covered, please let me know.

Below are some links for websites that track elections and may provide projections and analysis that you may be interested in checking out.

Projections and Analysis:

DemocraticSpace (He may not be covering this election) 

That does it now, I look forward to the next month in an election that will shape Ontario’s future. 

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