By PATRICK HUNTER
Hopefully, it will be for the better, but looking ahead at 2013, the only thing that we can reasonably predict with some degree of accuracy, is change. There will be changes that we expect and there will be changes that we could not, nor would not, have anticipated.
On the national scene, the Liberal Party of Canada will make another effort at renewal and relevance as they elect a new leader. That person is expected to be the impetus for the party’s resurgence in not only challenging and turning back Tom Mulcair and the New Democratic Party, but to supplant Stephen Harper and the Conservatives as the governing party of Canada.
That is a tall order. The Liberals’ two most recent choices have proved to be less than successful and they have essentially blocked the one person, Bob Rae, who as interim leader has given the party some credibility and respectability.
Sometime during this month, Ontario will get a new premier. We can be reasonably sure that he or she will be one of about seven people currently seeking that position. We can also be sure that it will be a Liberal government, at least for a little while longer. Without getting too deep into probabilities, because of its minority government status, it is very likely that we will be going to the polls to elect a new government in Ontario before the year is out.
Somehow, the new leader will have to remove the stain that outgoing premier, Dalton McGuinty, is leaving behind. On the surface, we have seen wild expenditures of taxpayers’ money, inspired by misguided political advantage – the cancelling of the power station; the mess that is Ornge – the air ambulance system and the mess that is eHealth, just to name a few.
Politically, the self-serving prorogation of the Legislature and the on-going battle with the teachers also adds to that stain in a way that will hurt the incoming leader.
The stage is also set for Progressive Conservative leader, Tim Hudak. He has one more chance to prove that he is the right leader for his party during the inevitable upcoming election. Over the past few months, Hudak has been launching little trial balloons – the latest being the sell-off of the LCBO and the availability of liquor at your local grocery store. Yes, we have been down this path before. But you get the feeling that the Ontario Tories are looking for an issue that they hope will galvanize the Ontario electorate so that they can go in to re-establish the unholy mess that was created by the Mike Harris-led Conservatives – a mess from which our community, in particular, has still not recovered.
Pause and think for moment. From the perspective of the Greater Toronto Area, would the transit problem be as bad as it is now if the subway developments undertaken by the Bob Rae government were allowed to materialize? Instead, millions were spent to cancel the Eglinton subway, for one. Then there was the confusion caused by amalgamation of the cities and the hospitals, the cutbacks that affected social housing, the changes in social services which had a deleterious effect on so many aspects of our lives and of course, the outlawing of the term “racism” in an effort to hide its reality.
Hudak came to the leadership of the Ontario PCs as a Mike Harris “mentee”. There is always the temptation for “mentees” to try to out-do their mentors. That, in this case, is a scary thought.
It is also looking as if Toronto will be getting a new mayor. Depending on the outcome of his appeal, the current mayor may be forced to step aside and a decision on how he will be replaced – by-election or appointment by Council – seems to be the only other uncertainty.
It is beginning to look like there will be a by-election. Rob Ford, who will be able to contest that by-election to replace himself, will want to prove that the tide that brought him to power in the first place is still behind him. On the other hand, the challengers will want to prove that Ford’s performance in the position over the past two years has earned him a failing grade as mayor. If the polls are to be believed, the divisions that led to Ford’s election in the first place – largely the old City of Toronto versus the outer lying cities – prevail.
Finally, the change that I would like to see, but which still seems very remote, is a more powerful lobby on behalf of the African-Canadian community. Work needs to be done intensely to awaken the political consciousness of our community. That work can begin at the doorstep when candidates come to call: Where do you stand on issues that are specific to our community? And perhaps, more significantly, what is your party’s position on these issues?
It will take organization and it will not be an overnight accomplishment. There should also be on-going monitoring to ensure that promises made, are kept.
Let me take this opportunity also to extend my best wishes for change that is good for you and your family and friends for 2013 and beyond.