Why is Ontario buying into by-elections?

By-elections are sometimes fun but the five coming up in Ontario will be a serious waste of time and money. Why are we doing it? What will we prove? All five electoral districts were formerly held by Liberals. They are Liberal seats to lose. If the Liberals lose just one, does that mean that the voters are just a bit annoyed? If the Liberals lose all five, does that mean the voters are really pissed? Are we really paying for these by-elections to provide the Wynne government with a barometer?

But the vote will not change the legislature. It will still be a Liberal minority government. So what is to be won here?

If the strategy is to have all five by-elections at once, it means that the Liberal strategy mavens at Queen’s park do not expect they will win them all. So they might as well get it over with. It is like pulling off a band-aid all at once.

That is a bad strategy. It does not work well with band-aids either. If the mavens are right, the opposition will unite sooner rather than later to pull Wynne’s government down. The Liberals can beat them to the punch by going for the general election now.

The media think by-elections are a test of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s leadership. They are not. Nobody seriously expects that the Liberals will be so badly trounced that Wynne would resign. Neither will the New Democrat’s Andrea Horwath nor the Conservative’s Timmy Hudak, should their parties get blanked out.

And how long will the five new Members of the Provincial Parliament get to sit in the legislature before Horwath and Hudak pull the plug? Not even Horwath would be silly enough to keep supporting bad budgets to keep the Liberals in power. All she is doing is giving Wynne time to get comfortable in the role of Premier and get the gas plant scandal out of the way.

In turn, all Liberals want from Kathleen Wynne is to learn where she wants to lead the Liberal Party in Ontario. And it would certainly be nice if she would make an effort to restore democracy in the party. Surely she has had enough time to settle in and find out where her new office is located.

But time is up. She has a summer ahead of her without that pesky legislature making noises. She has time to think. Obviously, she has to call at least two of the by-elections. She can also call a general election. That is a far better option.

And the good news for Kathleen Wynne and her party is that the same old team of Andrea Horwath and Timmy Hudak are the opposition. The voters already know those two are losers.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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