It’s early going to be sure, but Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would do well to get some of that early momentum swinging back in his direction if he hopes to keep the Liberals in power after the October election. Ever seen a hockey game or a football game where the announcer says that one team has all the momentum now, although nothing has actually happened to impact the score? You think it won’t make much difference, but the proof is in the playing: the team with the momentum looks better than their opponent, with nothing tangible to show for it or explain why it happened.
Every day I read another announcement from Tim Hudak in another rural riding in this province, selling people on something without having to put his money where his mouth is, necessarily. So there they sit: promises about cutting health care while increasing health services, putting prisoners to work on chain gangs cleaning garbage and graffiti, announcing tax relief and income splitting, and always about families, families, and dear gawd, more about families. Hard working families. Families that Dalton McGuinty doesn’t appreciate or understand. Families, no doubt, that would do better under a Hudak-led Conservative government.
But here is my concern, above and beyond living under the tri-fecta of conservatism in Canada: living in Toronto under conservative zealot Rob Ford, in Ontario under Tim Hudak, and in Canada under Stephen Harper. And if Harper is the least repulsive of the bunch, then Christ are we in trouble in Toronto. And how might we get there? By the Liberals repeating the same mistakes made by bulldog and former Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman when he ran for mayor of Toronto last year.
I could not have disagreed more with Rob Ford’s vision for Toronto, but I knew exactly what he stood for. I can say the same for Tim Hudak, as I could have for Stephen Harper. And look what happened to those potential voters who could not tell you what George Smitherman or Michael Ignatieff stood for? They opted to vote for the man who they understood, for better or for worse.
And the same can likely happen to Dalton McGuinty, who has often ruled Ontario with a father- knows-best, Protestant value-based attitude that many have found to verge on arrogant (which seems to be a familiar Liberal charge lately.) He needs to get out there, tell people what he and his party are about, and convince them than after eight years in government, that he still has unfinished business to attend to. Because after this long in power, one could wonder what more he hopes to accomplish.
And so far I have heard very little on the subject, while Hudak hits the pavement, shaking hands, kissing babies, and telling people in rural Ontario that he gets them, and the man in Queen’s Park does not.
To that end, the Liberals have announced a series of TV and radio ads that will start airing Monday night. They are not attack ads, but play to the image of a strong Ontario recovering from the recession. Oh, and it also mimics the Chrysler ad’s that feature Detroit and Eminem. Listen to it here.
McGuinty, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath as well, for that matter, would do well to take a page from the conservative handbook, because it has worked for Rob Ford, and it has worked for Stephen Harper. Formulate a simple, easy to understand message that resonates with a broad enough base of people; don’t assume that anyone will inherently vote for you; attend as many public gatherings as you possibly can; and hammer home your message.
The Dippers and the Liberals need to win this one for me in October, because I don’t want to have to move to escape the conservative tri-fecta.