Does Ontario deserve this? Here we have been basking in the proposition that Premier McGuinty would have to be replaced by a real liberal to solve Ontario’s leadership problems. The Kitchener-Waterloo by-election could turn that upside down. It could cause Mr. McGuinty to stay with a majority. It is not fair.
By offering long-time Tory MPP Elizabeth Witmer the top job with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the Liberals have opened up a seat in the Legislature that is a potential win for them. It was one of the few urban seats in Ontario that was held by Hudak’s Conservatives. Witmer held it in her own right and it is not one that Hudak is likely to hold with Witmer gone.
Kitchener-Waterloo voters are more knowledgeable than voters in the average Ontario riding. With two universities in the riding as well as many major high technology firms, the average voter is better educated, more affluent and more politically aware. The vote for Witmer in the last Ontario election was in part out of respect for her as a long-serving Member of the Legislature and a mild protest against McGuinty.
The voters’ problem in the upcoming by-election is that they have little choice. Unless there is a second coming and a new Bill Davis appears on the scene to rescue the Ontario Conservatives, these voters are not going to embrace Tiny Tim Hudak. Nor are they going to suddenly convert to the New Democrats. Andrea Horwath will do better than expected in the by-election but there is too much of a gap between the reality of the last NDP vote in the riding and what the party would need to win.
The party with the most serious candidate problem is the Liberals. They must have somebody sitting in the wings, capable of carrying the banner, or they would not have made the move on Witmer. Eric Davis, the previous candidate for the Liberals, might not be the choice for the party this time, if the Liberals want to guarantee the win. The Liberals need someone who can come across as their own person.
That is probably the solution for the Conservatives as well. Witmer’s son has already ruled himself out but there are always other possibilities. The Conservatives desperately need a candidate who does not come across as an ideologue.
They will also have to count on Tiny Tim staying away from the riding.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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