Carnival and political bacchanal

By Pat Watson Wednesday July 31 2013 in Opinion
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If there is any preoccupation with voting today it may be specifically regarding the selections at tonight’s King and Queen competition taking place at Lamport Stadium as part of the annual Caribbean Carnival.


Perhaps that is the case in the riding of Scarborough Guildwood, where a sizable population of people with Caribbean heritage resides. They might not be very focused on casting a vote in the by-election to choose between Liberal Mitzi Hunter, Progressive Conservative Ken Kirupa, New Democratic Party candidate Adam Giambrone, or any of the other political hopefuls.


Low voter turnout would be the least of the concerns for the provincial parties vying to come out ahead in all five by-elections taking place in Ontario today.


Just about every other day now, we are informed of yet another exercise in poor judgment by the Liberals, the current party running things and clinging to power as a minority government.


We could marvel at the over half-billion dollars in penalty fees paid out to contractors following the cancellation of those two power plants in Mississauga and Oakville. We could shake our heads collectively at former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty’s minimalist contrition about having miscalculated in choosing the sites for the plants and ignoring the protests of residents near the construction sites who stated unequivocally that they did not want the plants to be built near their properties in the first place.


We could wonder who the Liberals really are as we learn of machinations to delete correspondence related to the entire gas-plants fiasco.


Then there is the latest revelation: Staffers in McGuinty’s office tried to pressure Speaker of the Legislature Dave Levac, himself a Liberal, to reverse his finding that then energy minister Chris Bentley was in contempt for not releasing all the documents related to the gas plants cancellation. The tactic failed, but again raises questions about the integrity of the people who were in McGuinty’s staff.


If you don’t want people to care about these matters too much, then holding five by-elections in the lazy days of summer heading into a long weekend when many people will be away at their cottages or are caught up in carnival celebrations might just work.


Furthermore, if a politician wanting to stay in power was trying to create an advantage, then announcing a $195-million youth employment program just days ahead of the August 1 voting day might have some effect. The current Kathleen Wynne government should be careful not to appear to be trying another approach in attempting to create the same ends as McGuinty’s gas-plant saga was trying to, which is to coerce the electorate into giving their votes to the Liberals.


Regardless of the outcome of these by-elections, the longer term decision that the electorate faces is between keeping the Liberals in power, whether as a minority or majority, or allowing the power balance to shift to one of the other parties in waiting. This is difficult because of antipathy even among some conservatives toward the PCs led by the uninspiring Tim Hudak and the residual mistrust that is a legacy of the Mike Harris years, and the unlikelihood that the NDPs’ Andrea Horwath will gather enough votes to return that party to power. Stay tuned.


A note on a chance encounter…


She is quite old and bent over and was having difficulty maneuvering her walker. So, I stopped to hold the door open for her as she tried to exit the library. But then I got caught. That walker not only aided her mobility, it was laden with all manner of things, among them, a bag stuffed with slips of paper. Then, just as I was about to get away with my ‘good deed”, her eyes held mine. She was saying something. I removed one earpiece and lowered the volume on Steel Pulse’s “Rally ‘round the Flag” to hear her more clearly. Was she thanking me? Not exactly.


“I’m writing a book,” she said. “I’m selling my poems to make the money to publish my book.” A writer. I had to give her the time, because respect was due. She started to talk about love.


“Love is what the world needs,” she said, as she handed me a long slip of heavy pink paper. On it a poem, “With You”. It was pretty sexy stuff. Not racy, just sexy. I hope to meet Myrrhiam by chance again.


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