Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reviewing the Federal Ballot

The arrival of last week’s Federal Budget might well have been a starter’s pistol. With a couple of hours, it seemed to be common knowledge that a spring election would be taking place this May, as all opposition parties said that it is their intent to vote against what is a rather benign document because it doesn’t meet their specified standards. Anyway, the local ballot has been rather complete for some time, but a new face joined the race just in time for the post-budget foofaraw. Let’s review.

Liberals – Frank Valeriote

Winning by a 1,788 vote nose in 2008, Valeriote runs as the incumbent, but that may not be as secure a position as advertised. Not only is Guelph the only Liberal red riding surrounded by a sea of Tory blue, but the Globe and Mail has targeted Guelph as one of three riding to watch swing in the next election. Still, Valeriote has proven himself an active and engaged Member of Parliament, despite the fact that he’s an opposition MP. For a full list of Valeriote’s duties, I refer you to Valeriote’s website, but before that he was highly active in several Guelph non-profits and was a respected Guelph-based attorney. No matter the odds, Valeriote is a formidable opponent.

Conservatives – Marty Burke

Speaking of formidable opponents, Marty Burke looks really good on paper as the Conservative candidate to beat the Liberal hold on the Royal City. Burke flew for the Air Force where he was a dedicated and decorated officer for 23 years. After he retired form the military in 2000, Burke started working as a pilot of Air Canada, while he and his family settled in Guelph, where Burke got involved in politics serving on the federal Conservative and provincial Progressive-Conservative Board of Directors. He also goes to services at the Church of Our Lady, and his website says he’s a Scout Master to boot. So what’s wrong with this picture? Other recent Conservative candidates have looked just well on paper too, including two respected business men, and a popular city councillor.

New Democrats – Bobbie Stewart

Last time out, the NDP went with celebrity and put forth well known author and University professor Tom King, and the result was a fourth place finish with 16.5 per cent of the vote. This time out, the NDP are going with someone with the credentials and the experience in their party’s key constituency: social justice. Stewart has a Masters of Social Work degree and does clinical social work and coordinates the care for children from newborn to age 21 who are in foster care. She’s been involved with Family & Children’s Services for over 20 years and has participated on the Board for the Guelph Youth Singers and has volunteered for Onward Willow, the Cancer Society, and the YM-YWCA. And to sweeten the deal, according to her bio on the NDP Guelph website, she met her husband in Union Station while on her way home from the NDP Convention in Quebec in September 2006. On the downside though, she currently lives in Cambridge, and I think we all know how sensitive Guelphites are about making sure that people sleep where they eat, as it were.

Green Party – John Lawson

Originally, City Councillor Bob Bell was supposed to go to bat for the Green Party, but being a shot caller around the horseshoe, I guess, was just too much fun to let go. (Actually, to be fair, Bell runs his own business making Wike Bicycle Trailers and spring is his busiest time.) As of last week, the new Green Party candidate for Guelph is John Lawson, Pastor of Dublin Street United Church. Looking at his resume on the Guelph Greens website, Lawson’s experience includes working as an underground miner and studying at both the London School of Economics and Princeton. In Guelph, he’s fought poverty and Wal-Mart, while bring the word of God to local pubs by organizing religious discussions there.

The appearance of more “third party” candidates is a certainty, considering that there were a total of 10 candidates that ran in Guelph in the last election. If the writ is dropped, expect representatives from the Marijuana Party, the Communist Party, the Marxist-Leninist Party, the Libertarian Party, the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, and one unaffiliated candidate.

So are you in the mood for a spring election? Too bad, it seems to a forgone conclusion whether you like it or not.

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