By Darren Lum
So, Ontario, where were you this election? There was a little less than 44 per cent of eligible voters who cast a ballot, which is a provincial record by 15 per cent.
Doug Ford won a majority, but, really, we all lost. The Conservatives can be happy about the victory because they get to govern the province for another four years. However, we all need to take a look in the mirror about where we stand regarding why we set the record for lowest voter turnout with just 43.5 per cent of eligible voters going to the polls to exercise their democratic freedom in provincial history. What kind of democracy do we have when close to 1.9 million people out of 10.8 million voters are represented by the government of choice.
While the New Democratic Party’s leader Andrea Horwath won her seat, she stepped down as leader, and the Liberal’s Steven Del Duca, who was defeated in his riding, resigned. Both announcing the news during televised concession speeches on election night.
For the second consecutive election, the Liberals do not have official party status after finishing with less seats than the required 12 seats, which was changed by Doug Ford in 2018. Close to a split of the left vote taken by the Liberals and the NDP proved to be a mathematical dream scenario for the Conservatives, who won despite avoiding the media and some all-candidate events.
Locally, Laurie Scott was re-elected for the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding for a sixth time.
She received 25,656 votes, which was good for 52.75 per cent of the eligible voters, beating the next closest candidate Barbara Doyle of the NDP by 17,979 votes. (By the way, our voter turnout was only a few per cent better than the provincial turnout.)
Scott in a post-election interview said she spoke to supporters during the campaign trail who said they always look for the name Scott when voting, which harkens back to her father, William C. Scott who was first elected to the House of Commons in 1965 and won six more elections.
This could be interpreted as a good thing for her, but I believe it’s a problem for democracy because people are not looking beyond a name for what a candidate will bring. It’s something I considered in the federal election with Justin Trudeau. My parents loved former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I do not share the same enthusiasm for a name. I don’t hate Justin nor love him, but I looked at what he promised and what he has achieved before casting my vote.
In the 2018 election, Scott took almost 57 per cent of ballots cast in the riding. By comparison in the 2014 election she took about 41 per cent.
As I wrote in a past editorial, we get what we deserve instead of what we need sometimes. The Conservatives are boasting about close to $200 billion in spending, much of it with infrastructure expenditures, which includes building highways, public transit, health care facilities and schools over the next decade, but also promises for the expansion of eligibility for low-income individuals and families with the LIFT tax credit, and a tax credit for Ontario seniors care at home. But what about the teachers, the health care professionals needed for these buildings?
I want to be steadfast in my optimism for a bright future, but we’ve seen by the actions of this provincial government how doing the same thing over and over doesn’t yield a different result just because of hope. Then again, “Let’s get it done” is a catchy phrase. Let’s see what happens though.