Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Will you 'toss a coin' or make an informed choice?

By Don Pearson, General Manager, Conservation Ontario

This week’s provincial leaders’ debate was inconclusive in terms of establishing a clear winner and only time will tell if it will influence next week’s election result to any great degree.  Predictably, the P.C. and NDP leaders held the Liberals, as governing party, responsible for Ontario’s woes – high taxes, the deficit, sluggish economy, job losses, while trying to differentiate themselves from the government and from each other, pretty much sticking to their talking points.    It is unlikely that party stalwarts will change their minds based on this debate, so the question becomes ‘how will it affect the undecided voter?’
From this viewer’s perspective, the choices are between a belief that Ontario’s future depends on a new, green economy or a more fiscally restrained view of government that sees the path to prosperity through reduced government spending and lower taxes.  Voters who feel that taxes are too high, that electricity should be inexpensive, and the size and power of the public service should be reduced, will have a clear choice as will those who believe that strategic investments are crucial to maintaining an industrial sector based on tomorrow’s needs, such as sustainable energy technologies; and that pricing policies for energy and water should promote conservation.
Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell observed that election campaigns were no place for serious policy debates, and while that remark is considered to have cost her an election, it was an honest assessment that still appears to be valid, given the lack of  any real substance in the debate.  While not a criticism of the leaders, it is a sad commentary on the engagement of our population in the important democratic privilege and responsibility for choosing its government.  If we are asked to choose our government based on cryptic sound bytes and oft-repeated phrases that don’t do justice to the issue, then we might as well just toss a coin on election day.  Hopefully, undecided voters will make the effort to become more familiar with the choices, and, indeed, choose to vote rather than leave the outcome to the faithful. 
This province is worthy of an election outcome based on thoughtful consideration, rather than chance.  Do your democratic duty, become familiar with the real issues and on October 6, cast your vote!

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