By-elections that matter to the news media.

It is all part of the game with the news media. It is their opportunity to interfere in events. When it comes to reporting on politics, the news media and their pals, the pollsters, are combatants, not spectators. And they relish the role. Consider their positions in the current provincial by-elections.

There is much pontificating to be done and polls to be run between now and by-election day, February 13. The media might even get around to doing shallow profiles on the various parties’ candidates but it is the photo opportunities with the leaders, they will report more thoroughly. And Premier Kathleen Wynne will definitely be there if the younger, more attractive federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will be there for the shot.

The problem for the news media is that they know, as well as anyone else politically knowledgeable, that these by-elections are a waste of time and money. They are nothing more than a stalling tactic. Without a provincial election, Premier Kathleen Wynne has no credibility. There will be nothing she can do in the few months until the opposition combines to defeat her government.

Oh sure, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa can get smart and bring in a budget that makes sense. It could even be a budget that appeals to Ontario voters. There could also be three moons in the sky to accompany that unusual event. The Toronto Star will sagely give approval to his budget while Sun Media and Post Media will damn it and the broadcast media will announce unrelated snippets. And not enough people will read the Globe and Mail to find out what the budget really means.

But it hardly matters. No Liberal budget is likely to receive any approval from Ontario’s opposition parties. They smell blood and they want an election. It is do or die time for both the Conservative and New Democrat leaders. To make matters worse, they will believe the pollsters. Andrea Horwath will be the most convoluted in her decision. She does not seem to enjoy the election trail and she knows that without a major breakthrough this time, her days are numbered as leader. It will be the news media calling for her scalp.

But Conservative Tim Hudak and Liberal Kathleen Wynne are in even worse positions. Tim would have to come in with a majority to save his scalp. And where can Wynne grow under present circumstance? She will have no choice but to resign.

And what are the penalties for the news media and their pollsters? They will just say, “We told you so!”

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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