On June 12th 2014 Ontarians are off to vote in another provincial election, it is also a year that will host the municipal election festival across the province. For now we have the three main parties running around trying to sell what they are about. Naturally each party selects candidates in local areas who may in some way correspond with the party values and ideals. Here in St. Catharines that is almost an ironic joke.
First to hit the treadmill is the sitting government led by Premier Kathleen Wynne. The Ontario Liberals have had a rough ride of late. Scandals shadow the party and the notion of skeletons in the closet has almost reached the level of a Greek Comedy.
When Dalton McGuinty made a run for the back door he left behind a mess. Kathleen Wynne has tried to put on a face of a strong leader interested in only the future. Has the smoke and mirror game worked? Maybe this election will turn out to be a true test if the alternatives had some real value in them.
Wynne's Liberals can't get past two major stumbling blocks and both are related to each other. First off the horrific bungling of the gas plant cancellations. No Ontarian can in any way understand how the taxpayer is to be responsible for such a massive cost. No matter how Wynne or her cohorts try, no excuse, no lie can fully explain what had happened, and the truth will never see the light of day. After all this is Canada and we do not hold our elected representatives accountable for anything, that would take courage and it has never happened.
Second, and equally horrific is the mess surrounding the deletion of emails and the fraudulent cover-up of documentation. In this case it is the criminal code that has been breached and no one would believe that such drastic actions were simply the act of some underling. Ministers had to be involved and possibly at the highest level. True we still hear of ongoing investigations and the opposition bellowing on the campaign trail. Wynne still talks of moving on and not dwelling on the past. In the end no investigation will result in action taken or charges laid, not against a minister.
So the Liberal caravan is on the road, with possibly only one saving issue in their hands as an offering, and that is an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. There are those who have criticised the whole idea as something we don't need. Noticeably the criticism comes from those living off the public purse and living rather well. Can it be possible to ignore all the dishonesty and deceit over one good idea?
Back in St. Catharines the Liberals have a veteran running once again in the name of Jim Bradley. This Liberal holds the record for the longest sitting MPP at Queen's Park. Jim Bradley also is the minister who had given direct instructions to two directors at the Ministry of Environment to alter documents already presented at the legislature some two years prior. All of this to simply protect pals in the Niagara area. When his pal Mayor Brian McMullan broke the law and fixed a lawful by-law fine, Jim Bradley as the Minister for Municipal Affairs ensured no action was taken against Mayor Brian McMullan, he even made a financial contribution to Mayor McMullan's re-election dish.
During the horrific C-difficile outbreak as bodies of innocent victims fell around him Jim Bradley simply waived around the Liberal cheque book and the promise of a new hospital. A new hospital St. Catharines did get, going well over budget costing in the end close to $759 million, and leaving a mountain of questions in relation to its location. Once again 2014 sees Jim Bradley walking the beat and telling all who will listen that he can be trusted. At the same time his opponents in St. Catharines are far from an exciting pair. Jimbo's record is not likely to be broken in 2014.
Speaking of opponents the Liberals are up against Tim Hudak's Conservatives and Andrea Horwath's NDP. How much of a race this really is, it's hard to predict. Tim Hudak has blown it before and once again he started off by putting the working families on side by promising to cut 100,000 public service jobs. He has made it clear he wishes to slash at social services that are provided to the most vulnerable in our community. Tim Hudak also made a swipe at teachers and the hair salons. He has clearly endeared himself to the average individual who makes up the majority of the voting public.
In St. Catharines the Conservatives chose their representative months ago. He is Mat Siscoe, a school teacher at Saint Paul High School in Niagara Falls. Mat Siscoe is a physics teacher, and by explaining the laws of physics he may shed light on the Conservative platform. As a politician Mat Siscoe really is not one. He is a first time councillor elected to the St. Catharines City Council with no other prior experience. As a City Councillor Siscoe has been a shy one with little said or done to gain any attention. If form or past actions were to be considered he is definitely not a boat rocker. When it came to vote for a new by-law to be implemented on behalf of a developer who had broken the law willingly for over five years, and taking into consideration that a fellow councillor Jeff Burch lied to council, Mat Siscoe raised his hand with all the rest.
The third opponent out of the starting gate comes in the shape of the NDP and Andrea Horwath. Now Horwath has been around for a while, she has flirted with the Liberals offering support, then like a little child changed her mind. Who really knows what's on Horwath's mind. This time out she has said that the corruption of the Liberals was enough and she was not willing to take it anymore.
Andrea Horwath said “I'm guided by my principles,” she also seems to like taking quotes as the one by John Steinbeck, “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” She then accused the Liberals of cynical manoeuvring and “politics of the worst kind.” As of the 29th of May there began reports of a possible coalition government between the Liberals and the NDP.
So what principles guide Andrea Horwath? The NDP selected candidate for St. Catharines is one Jennie Stevens. She is not known for any truly eloquent statements though she is known for something less pleasant. On her candidate profile for the Our Team section of Andrea Horwath's Makes Sense web page, Jennie Stevens lays claim to this statement about herself: “Worked closely with the Niagara Health System to protect healthcare in St. Catharines after the loss of the St. Catharines General Hospital.” Has anyone told Jennie Stevens of the newly built St. Catharines General Hospital on 4th Avenue which ran over budget with a final cost around $759 million. Oops!, a lie or just a little error?
Since principles are of high value to Andrea Horwath an email was sent to her with one major question relating to the chosen candidate for St. Catharines. There has been no response from Andrea Horwath or any crony from her camp. Jennie Stevens NDP Candidate ran from any potential questions, though the issue does not disappear simply because it is damaging and proves the level of hypocrisy both from Andrea Horwath and Jennie Stevens.
In 2010 Jennie Stevens left a telephone answering machine message. That message in Steven's own voice confirmed that she brought an issue of a by-law fine to St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan, and in her own voice Jennie Stevens confirmed that Mayor Brian McMullan had fixed the lawfully issued fine so as the individual did not have to pay it. An Integrity Commissioner confirmed that such an act was a criminal breach of law. Jennie Stevens had threatened legal action when the recording of her voice was first released. Naturally Stevens did not follow through with her threat.
As you listen to the voice of Jennie Stevens one thing stands clear, principles were not and are not part of anything she had in mind when she left that message. Jennie Stevens now represents the NDP and Andrea Horwath has her face on every sign with the name of Jennie Stevens. Andrea Horwath runs from the truth and refuses to answer a simple question. What principles really guide Andrea Horwath?
June 12th is nearing us all, and Ontarians will have to make a choice in the end. In St. Catharines it is hard to see anything but a win for Jim Bradley, regardless of the scandals or the corruption. His opponents are either inexperienced or simply hold no credibility. The Conservative candidate Mat Siscoe can only carry the hardline supporters of the Conservative Party. Anyone looking for an alternative to Jim Bradley will find it difficult to justify a vote for Mat Siscoe.
On the other hand the NDP candidate Jennie Stevens carries with her dark questions that even her party leader runs from. Corruption was an issue raised against Jennie Stevens several years ago and no answer has been provided. Andrea Horwath it appears sees little faith in her candidate as all of the signs with Stevens' name provide a third of the space for a photo of Horwath.
Clint Eastwood had to deal with only 'The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly' while here in St. Catharines we have 'the shy, the corrupt and the conniving.' Take your pick and good luck for the next four years.
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