Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Editorial Series – Parsing the Slate

Last Monday, the Guelph Progressive Conservative Riding Association had their nomination meeting and selected local businessman Greg Schirk as their candidate for this Fall’s Provincial Election. With that belated selection, the slate of four main party candidates was complete for the riding of Guelph, which means the election season is unofficially underway, at least until the writ is dropped at the end of summer.

So with about a month to spare till the campaign begins in earnest, lets take a look at the names we’ll be seeing on the ballot, their strengths and weaknesses, and maybe what the political landscape, provincially-speaking, is going to look like on October 6th.

Liz Sandals – Liberal
Incumbent Candidate
2007 Election: Won by 20,346 votes; 40.92 per cent

Sandals is a quality candidate: stalwart, loyal and a background of committed public service to the community she represents. On the other hand, there’s not a lot of love out there for her boss, Premier Dalton McGuinty. A recent opinion poll put PC leader Tim Hudak up 11 percentage points on McGuinty, with people citing issues like the HST and hydro prices as reasons for backing the Official Opposition, but since they literally rebelled against the HST in BC, how bad could we hate it here? Still, Sandals may be the nice, safe choice. She works hard, she does her job, and the only press she makes has to do with funding announcements and facility openings. Plus, if the comments in the blogosphere are to be believed, a lot of people in the city are on her side with the whole Health Unit drama. Maybe that’s enough for a hat trick.

Greg Schirk – Progressive Conservative
2007 Election: PC candidate Bob Senechal received 12,180 votes; 24.49 per cent

Schirk is an accomplished entrepreneur and a life-long Guelph resident, and in this business they call that cache. But in all seriousness, Schirk is going to be tough competition for Sandals, especially if the poll numbers continue to hold up in Hudak’s favour. But ay, there’s the rub. Who’s preoccupied with politics in the middle of a heat wave? Well, except you and me, of course. Still, Sandals should not be underestimated, and neither should the people of Guelph and their affinity for our Liberal representatives. In her last election, the people and the press were junk piling on Brenda Chamberlain for things like voting against same sex marriage. Yet, she still won her final election in 2006 by a healthy margin, and against a very attractive Conservative candidate. Sometimes, the odds go out the window.

Steve Dyck – Green Party of Ontario
2007 Election: Green candidate Ben Polley received 9,750 votes; 19.61 per cent

On paper, Dyck has got it going on. He’s a local businessman (he’s President of Guelph Solar Mechanical Inc., a solar heating solutions company), he’s a trained mediator, and he knows how to socialize (he’s the inventor of Green Drinks, a regular Green Party social). The man has definitely got his Green credentials down, but the question is if Dyck will be able to capitalize on Polley’s gains in 2007? That’s a tough one if you consider the results of the recent Federal election. Like Polley, Mike Nagy ran before and was able to capitalize on previous gains. In 2011, John Lawson wasn’t able to keep pace, and perhaps lost ground to the resurgent Liberal. Could Steve Dyck be looking at a similar fate in his own 2011 race?

James Gordon – New Democratic Party
2007 Election: NDP candidate Karan Mann-Bowers received 6,880 votes; 13.84 per cent

While it seems unlikely that an Orange Revolution will sweep Ontario, the ascension of Andrea Horwath to the leadership of the party means good news for the NDP, and the same can be said of Gordon’s nomination locally. Advantage one: name cache. People know the name James Gordon, and if they don’t like his politics, they might surely appreciate his unique brand of folk music. Advantage two: Gordon is no fly by night politico. He knows the issues and has been engaged in local politics for some time. In short, he’s accomplished. The problem? The NDP don’t have a lot of success with local celebrities, but maybe this time it’ll be different.

Stay tuned, because it’s countdown to Election Day. Well, again. Election Day 2! “The Wrath of Hudak.” “The Search for Dalton.” “The Voyage Horwath.” Whatever you want to call it. We’ll see you in September with more election news, and see you next week with more editorializing.

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