Ray Rivers’ take on the upcoming provincial election

By Ray Rivers.

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 12, 2013.  Five by-elections on August 1st.  Tim Hudak is betting on Mr. steady-as-he-goes, Doug Holyday, to plant the PC flag in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.  Very early polls had shown Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn with a healthy margin, but that was prior to Holyday entering the race. 

 Five by-elections is a very gutsy roll of the dice for the new Premier Wynn.  It’s mid-summer and PC supporters will be out there, as they always are, but a lot of the other voters won’t.  Also, sitting governments are usually strategically disadvantaged when it comes to by-elections, since voters use these occasions to vent.   And, Kathleen’s government is still reeling from the gas plant cancellations ordered by her predecessor.  Nothing upsets an electorate more than thinking their government wastes their money for political expediency.    

 Dalton McGuinty’s boldest moves were in the environment.  Ending Oak Ridges Moraine development, banning toxic lawn chemicals, creating a Green Belt for southern Ontario and phasing out dirty coal plants were highlights.  The plan was to replace coal with wind and solar energy, backed-up by natural gas.  Ontario would lead the country in developing renewable energy technology and creating green jobs.  And the plan was in place, working and gaining momentum.  Thousands of new jobs have been created and wind now produces as much electricity as coal. Then, in the face of a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ revolt in the last election, McGuinty broke with his energy plans and cancelled the half-built gas plants.

 So energy will be a topic in these by-elections.  Premier Wynn is slowing and moderating the energy program, but staying the course.   And, she is generally supported by the NDP’s Horwath, promoting an even greater shift to renewable energy and conservation.  But the PC’s Hudak doesn’t agree. 

 He would turn back the clock, fire up the coal plants with new vigour and wipe green power from the face of the province.  And, Hudak is pretending that he can cancel the iron-clad renewable energy contracts, already in place.  He’d have as much luck as McGuinty had, trying to cancel Harris’ 407 give away to that Spanish consortium.

 In any case the renewable contracts amount to a tiny fraction of our energy costs – far less than the debt on the aging nuclear plants we pay for with each hydro bill.  Plus, the Liberals have had to make up for the years of Harris’ neglect of our energy system.   So it is little wonder that energy costs, like gasoline prices, are rising and will do so under any political party.

 Hudak’s energy policy is false, half-baked and out-of-step with energy policies everywhere – pure wishful ignorance.  Don’t believe me?  See what the other media say.  Going back is not really moving forward, especially when your only plan is burning coal again. That is not being a conservative, it’s being a contrarian.  Still, not every voter pays attention to the policies of the party they end up voting for, and the PCs may win one or more of these by-elections.

Doug Holyday is a true conservative cut in the moderate mold of conservatives of his generation, as opposed to those on the extreme right, like Mr. Hudak.   And former Etobicoke mayor Holyday may well be one of them.  He is so well-known and liked that he didn’t even need to campaign in the last municipal election.  And voter recognition is a big part of getting elected to anything.  Some might call him on his hypocrisy, leapfrogging to a higher level of government after having so harshly condemned others (Olivia Chow), but that won’t deter those voters who keep electing him.

 Doug Holyday is a true conservative cut in the moderate mold of conservatives of his generation, as opposed to those on the extreme right, like Mr. Hudak.  So, in some ways he could be a moderating voice, to keep Hudak from acting like he is leading the Tea Party.   Some would admire Holyday for his blind loyalty to the mayor, as his deputy, through all the troubling days and childish antics of Rob Ford.  But if I lived in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, I’d want to know why. 

 Why did Holyday never challenge Mayor Ford on his conflict of interest – on the crack-cocaine video, and all those other issues he must have disagreed with?  And what does that tell us about him and what he would do at Queens Park?  Is he ethical but just afraid to speak up?   Will he be his own man, represent the best interests of his constituents, or will he go-with-the-flow like the other desk thumping seals?  And will he challenge Tim Hudak on energy, so his party can come to a sensible policy?

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat after which he decided to write and has become a  political animator. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 comments to Ray Rivers’ take on the upcoming provincial election

  • Gee, these PC stalwarts sure like to mount their partisan horses, don’t they? Almost without exception these hoary Tories love to attack the point of view more than the point itself. Strange how so few of them mention Mike Harris or recall, back in 2003, when the Burlington POST tore strips from PM Chretien for choosing not to send Canadian troops off to Iraq. That ad wrapper no longer discusses the subject now, of course. I’m no great fan of ol’ Dalton (he still reminded me of Norman Bates from Psycho…) but I would sure like to hear some convincing arguments in favour of Tim Hudak, and maybe a nice word or two about Rob Ford.

  • Huh?

    Ok Ray,
    I think you used to be the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association President. As “Navigator” said, you should disclose that. Why wouldn’t you? It would link you to the likes of Dalton McGuinty, Dwight Duncan, George Smitherman, Benjamin Levin, Chris Mazza, Alfred Apps, Deb Matthews, and a myriad of other Super Hero’s of this legacy that Premier Wynn vows to continue.
    Wouldn’t you be proud to disclose your connection?

    Editors note: We place a short biog note at the end of every column Ray Rivers writes mentioning that he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995. We could upgrade that to say he ran as a Liberal candidate. Rivers was also a senior bureaucrat with the provincial government for more than 20years.
    He provides a viewpoint with an admitted political perspective. He has in the past taken a swing at Dalton McGuinty and Justin Trudeau.
    We would welcome an identified Tory to write a weekly column.

  • Huh?

    Mr. Rivers,
    Wow! You completely blow my mind. Your partisanship achieves the same level of the Toronto Star and the CBC. I presume that you use only those two sources to attain your “facts”.
    How misguided you are. I was so excited about the Burlington Gazette until now. We can catch this drivel on the CBC any night of the week Ray. Sorry Mr. Parr, won’t be visiting your Gazette anytime soon.

  • Navigator

    Mr. Rivers,I wonder why you are so reluctant to disclose your current official Liberty Party credentials. Journalists refer to that as “full disclosure” and they don’t shy away from it.

    Anyway, on to the task at hand.

    “Thousands of new jobs have been created and wind now produces as much electricity as coal.”

    Doing a quick whip around on the Internet I determined the number of permanent jobs in Ontario attributable to the manufacture of wind turbines is about 300 people in Tillsonburg and it should be noted that will be employment number in 2014 when the plant is fully operational. The number of people employed in Ontario manufacturing solar panels is a little harder to come by given that there is not much profit in the panels and most manufacturers produce other things. If there is little profit in solar panels there will not be much demand for additional labour. My best guess is that a few hundred people are employed in this fashion. Of course, focussing only on employment we need to factor in the fact that coal plants were closed and that probably about 1,000 people lost their jobs as a result, not only devastating the small nearby communities, but also counting negatively against the jobs created in renewables. It likely just balanced out and we are still waiting for the creation of the “thousands of new jobs that have been created.”

    The Ontario unemployment rate is about 8%. This compares to the national average of 7.3% Ontario has been a “have-not” province since 2008 with the net loss of 279,000 manufacturing jobs and its unemployment rate has exceeded the national average ever since. That is the Liberal legacy.