Unfortunately, I don't think the damage that's been inflicted on Toronto by Mike Harris can ever be undone. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that a Liberal victory in the upcoming Ontario election will be, if not a good thing, not a bad thing. Quite frankly, Eves is not the man to run this province and we need the PCs out for an election cycle so they can discover what they're all about and get some sort of real leadership.
During the blackout, we went to our next door neighbour's house for a pre-spoiled meat BBQ. A long term Tory, he's now refusing to give another cent to the party or vote for them in this election. Why? Mainly (though not exclusively) amalgamation. Before, property taxes were one third of what they are now, garbage used to be collected twice a week, recycling once a week, our sidewalks and driveways used to be shoveled. Not my libertarian dream of municipal government, but at least there was some "get" from all the giving. What did we get out of amalgamation exactly? And since we're asking questions, if amalgamation is such a good idea, why wasn't the lower half of Vaughn ("Toronto's ass-hat") and Mississauga ("Take Toronto's wealth — without paying the price") included? Answer: they vote PC, Toronto doesn't. And economics be damned, we can't piss off our voters, can we?
It should be an interesting election. The Tories generally win by a combination of bribing their dedicated voter groups with their own money (something this premier has now taken to ludicrous extremes), a reputation for responsible fiscal stewardship, and relentless personal attacks on the Leader of the Opposition.
Of course, the sound accounting reputation went south... even though Ernie Eves still lies about it, everyone knows the province is going to run a huge deficit this year, the first in years. A lot of that is due to Eves' bizarre declaration last summer that, rather than make a decision on how Ontario was going to solve its energy problems, he would effectively just give away free electrical power to everybody. And then of course he followed up by closing down the Legislature and conducting his official government business on closed circuit TV from an auto plant to dodge the critics. His recent auto plant pronouncements included independent school systems for Hindus and Muslims, to avoid that whole integration thing, and big tax breaks for home owners (not home buyers, which might have made at least some sense), and the elderly, for no other reason anyone could see other than all those constituencies vote Tory.
A bit later I'll be posting an email sent to me by a Tory supporter who also is looking elsewhere.
For the past week, I've been working on a quite hopeless campaign in the west of the city. Even so, the mood among us young Tory activists can be best described as "nastily confident:" infinite contempt for Dalton, smirking condescension for Howard (my candidate, after looking at the NDP platform, said that they came across as children, "If only we are all nice and good to all the poor people out there and raise the minimum wage to ten dollars a hour and bring back rent control, everything will be JUST FINE!"). [Bruce] Rolston writes of "relentless personal attacks on the Leader of the Opposition." Oh, he ain't seen nothing yet. I've been told that we've got some incoming attack ads on poor Dalton that are just masterpieces of vitriol. Hey, let the mud-slinging begin.