Thursday, October 11, 2007

Election 2007 post-mortem

[Some comments on Kathy Shaidle below.]

Dalton McGuinty has more than held his own, he practically glided to victory. A month ago, I had predicted McGuinty would win 55 seats, Tory 38, and Hampton 14. This morning, the unofficial totals show Liberals 71, Progressive Conservatives 26, NDP 10.

Decisive to be sure. But McGuinty lost six percent of the popular vote and the campaign was focused way too much on education and not on the other priorities that matter to Ontarians. As we almost certainly slip into a slowdown if not a recession, we're going to need a steady hand and while McGuinty has had a steady hand steering the ship he's going to need nerves of steel in the four years ahead.

Another thing: This is the first back to back Lib win since Mitchell Hepburn did it during the Great Depression. And oddly enough, he won his first election on a promise to extend funding to Catholic high schools -- which he was forced to withdraw when his mostly W.A.S.P. caucus threatened a vote of non-confidence.

Which leads to John Tory. This is the second election he's botched -- the first was Kim Campbell's. And as Campbell lost her own seat, he also managed to lose in the district he was running in against the Education Minister of all people -- rather than run for re-election in his very safe rural seat. And what did him in? Education. Back in the 30's, it was true that most Protestants genuinely hated Catholics. Today, we Catholics are full members of society and most of us get along just fine with our Protestant and Eastern Orthodox siblings -- as well as people of every other religion and no religion at all. The Constitution may be quirky but it is the Constitution and the only realistic way for Tory to have pulled off what he wanted to do was through a Constitutional amendment which no one wants.

There is a way to ensure equality for those who don't want to be in the public or Catholic school systems, but Tory sure chose the wrong way to do it. And overall, people want integration -- and my recollections from high school were that there were quite a few Protestants in my high school and they had no trouble blending in with the rest of us; and we were also a fully multi-ethnic school, including South Asians, Arabs and blacks. We clearly got it. I can't believe Tory didn't.

As for hapless Howard Hampton, his fate is destined to be the same as Edward Broadbent federally. Right leader, wrong party.

On the MMP vote -- it was defeated, and we of course have to respect that. But the education campaign run by Elections Ontario was very disappointing, and people latched on to the totally incorrect idea candidates would have been appointed. The fight may be over for now, but it's not totally done with. Democracy will win out eventually as it has in most of the EU (including the national assemblies of Scotland and Wales), New Zealand and Japan.

And finally ... one last word, or a few.

Some of my fellow ProgBlogs, who I will decline to name for now, have every right to criticize Kathy Shaidle. I know I have on this board a few times. But there's a difference between taking on the talking point, and taking on Kathy personally. I disagree with her on just about everything political. But I consider her a friend, and our exchanges have been nothing but civil. I don't have to defend her, she can take care of herself quite well. The true test of a democracy is the extent to which we allow free expression and thought. It's rather high strung of us to plead free speech when we challenge those in power; then turn around and claim we have higher moral ground just because "we know better."

When I dispute something Kathy says -- really dispute it -- I keep it civil, or at least try to. I hope my colleagues would do the same, as with any other blogger we may disagree with left or right.

Is it a Catholic thing, you may ask? You're damn right it is, but it's only partly that. And for what it's worth, if I could find a woman -- a progressive of course -- who's as feisty as Kathy is, I'd be a really lucky guy.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.

No comments: