The writ for the 2011 Ontario Provincial campaign officially drops next week, which opens the doors to a tight month of campaigning for local politicians vying for the seat to represent Guelph in Queen’s Park. The slate of the four major party candidates was officially solidified in July, but the question is what moves have they been making in their operations leading up to the official campaign kick-off.
Our current MPP, Liberal Liz Sandals, has been doing what she usual does: her job. The typical series of announcements and commentary have been made by Sandals as she both fulfills her constitutional mandate and defends her party in the face to opposition statements meant to curry voter sympathy. To wit, Sandals was quoted in an August 15 article in the Guelph Mercury saying that the Progressive Conservative’s plan to slash home hydro and heating bills by approximately $275 per year was “nothing more than a shell game.”
She added that the debt at Ontario Hydro can be laid at the feet of the previous Tory government saying that it was driven up, in part, due to mismanagement. “All that money got run up during the last PC government because they were charging less than the true cost of hydro,” Sandals said. “If you don’t charge the consumer, you have to borrow from the bank.”
On the other hand, Sandals has tried to hit some usual constituencies. It was her voice (or e-mail, I supposed) that informed 2,4000 opponents to the mega quarry in Melancthon Township that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has major concerns about the project. On a slightly more positive note, Sandals was on hand to announce a $77,800 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to be used toward making high school students aware of the opportunities in the burgeoning agriculture sector last week. Obviously this program, if successful, could have a huge impact on Guelph.
Speaking of all things environmental, Green Party candidate Steve Dyck has been quietly getting his campaign together while getting fundraising together and doing some canvassing at local events. He officially opened his campaign office at 497 Woolwich St. N. Additionally, Dyck has been helping to get the word out about the GPO platform and leader Mike Schreiner, and responding to electors’ questions and queries on Facebook and Twitter.
Readers of my blog will already know that NDP candidate James Gordon has been spending some of his summer vacation doing a listening tour of the city. The singer/song-writer asked Guelphites if they might like to gather their friends and invite him over to their homes so that they can ask him questions and voice their concerns. This week he opened his campaign office at 133 Wyndham St. N., the former home of the Alma Gallery, which featured music courtesy of the candidate and his NDP colleague, and Timmins-James Bay MP, Charlie Angus. Gordon also helped organize a candlelight vigil for Federal NDP leader Jack Layton, who passed away from cancer a week ago Monday.
Greg Schirk, candidate for the local Progressive Conservatives, spent much of his summer campaigning not for provincial office, but to get acclaimed as his party’s local candidate. Securing his candidacy in late July, Schirk has hit the ground running by hosting events and doing the leg work to get his campaign off the ground. Despite his late entry in the race, Schirk’s political machine was quick to establish itself and get to work, and with a province-wide lead in opinion polls, the PCs here and across Ontario don’t want to lose momentum going into the race before it’s even officially begun. Especially since recent polls have shown the provincial Liberals starting to turn their own downtrodden fortunes around.
Starting next week, look for Campaign 2011 Coverage Part 2: “The Wrath of Khan.” Also, check out my blog, Guelph Politico, for all the latest updates and election scoops at http://guelphpolitico.blogspot.com/ And if you’re not sick of me by then, I’ll probably be a guest on CFRU’s “Beyond the Ballot Box” political show before too long. Happy election season, folks! Here we go again.