Skip to content

Opinion: Dave Dale, Silly season begins pandemic-style

'I don’t think they’ll be able to rely on the right-wing tail wind from down south. There’s not much ‘Trump bump’ left in the tank, is there?'
bob rae in Kap with len wood (2)
Remember when Bob Rae's NDP grabbed hold of the Ontario reins in 1990? The unions ate them alive over a 'social contract' when the recession deficit was just $12 billion. A pivotal moment in time.

It’s not that I don’t like a good election. Some of them have been fun sport.

The trifecta of federal, provincial and municipal polls coming our way, though, offers little but foreboding and guaranteed anguish. Just as the pandemic threatens to wane with budgets swamped in a sea of red ink, we get to hold our nose and choose our poison. Again.

At the national level, it’s slim pickings. The Grits and Justin Trudeau don’t even have to dream up false promises about changing the electoral system or solving any of the same problems as before. Their campaign will be: “Do you really want THEM at the wheel as we hurtle into the economic abyss?”

The only reason the Liberals would want to seek an early mandate renewal would be an acute sense of opposition weakness. Imagine how devil-may-care they’d be with a freshly-minted majority?

I could go down the list of CPC, Bloc, NDP and Greens but it’s clear they all need to step it up before they can offer a legitimate choice. Trudeau’s Grits are tripping all over themselves and everybody else seems to be stuck in their own goop.

Locally, I’d be shocked if Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota doesn’t beat whoever the Cons throw into the fray, although I am interested to see what the NDP’s candidate can muster in debates. North Bay Coun. Scott Robertson brings a certain socially-charged energy to the race.

The scent of the next Ontario election is heavy in the wind with the Tories charging forward with bold confidence despite a leopard-level spotty record the past few years.

I doubt the buck-a-beer thing can work as well the second time around. Hydro rates don’t seem lower to me and a hot summer might bring that issue to the forefront. What else was promised in 2018? Oh ya, ‘We’re not the Liberals or NDP!” Well, that’s one promise made, promise kept.

I don’t think they’ll be able to rely on the right-wing tailwind from down south. There’s not much ‘Trump bump’ left in the tank, is there?

Political science students should study this campaign with keen interest on how the spin docs address the challenge.

Can the PCs get a redo by blaming everything on Trudeau or will the electorate distinguish between what was done and not done right provincially?

Education is a mess and long-term care failures are more than just a black eye. But it always comes down to the Liberal and NDP split and which party members blink first.

In the Nipissing Riding, the incumbent MPP Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Business Development and Trade, still has clout and historical support on his side.

The former North Bay mayor has lost a bit of shine, though. His demotion from finance minister stung, along with two aborted runs at party leadership. Has Fedeli even confirmed he’s on the ticket?

Without evidence to the contrary, the Grits appear to have abandoned the riding, but the NDP’s Erika Lougheed offers an interesting choice for those on the right who were not impressed with Premier Doug Ford’s pandemic record (after his high-water mark of support from last spring evaporated).

If you see the Ontario PC's ‘A’ team in the riding you know they’re taking it seriously, notwithstanding clauses aside, they can’t afford to lose their grip here.

The Cassellholme Home for the Aged redevelopment quandary is their biggest bridge to cross now that the rail passenger plan cash has bought more time.

Will they set precedent and take debt-strapped municipal councils off the hook by guaranteeing the provincial portion for the $122-million and counting project?

Or will they push for a private partnership solution, banking on the poor memories of other such forays into big business finding that juicy layer of margin when delivering public needs?

The pandemic should have shed light on what happens when profit is the focus in health care settings. But we don’t live in a world where facts and track records reign supreme.

Maybe they’ll find a private option for the arena dream instead to take some of the debt burden heat off the table?

It’s all about keeping a base, renting realty, and creating a plausible fall guy (in this case, the feds). If the PCs pull off another win, blame it on the double trouble of left-leaners not finding common ground.

And then there’s the municipal situation. Who in their right mind would want to inherit such a cluster of economic challenges as worldly problems and uncertainty get downloaded to small towns everywhere?

It doesn’t look like a fun and glamourous thing to do.

One thing is for sure, I think we’re going to need more transition homes for the “under-housed.”


Dave Dale is a veteran journalist and columnist who has covered the North Bay area for more than 30 years. Reader responses related to his work can be sent to [email protected]. To contact the writer directly, email: [email protected] or check out his website