So what do we know at the end of the first week of electioneering for the Burlington seat at Queen’s Park?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 12. 2011 End of the first week – and where are we in the provincial election? Well it is getting a little heated.

The biggest event was the visit to the Liberal campaign offices by the Premier. The campaign office was packed – and it wasn’t exactly a small office. A number of Tories were seen in the crowd. Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran was ecstatic.

Then there was the war of words over the immigrant job tax credit of $10,000. That was part of the Liberal platform. McKenna came out swinging on that one and managed to make a couple of solid points.

Where is the race going? The Liberals certainly have the best campaign at this point but they have been gearing up for some time and their candidate has been in place for months whereas the New Democrats have had their girl in place for less than a month while the Progressive Conservatives were a last minute nomination situation.

The Liberals however cannot win this seat without pulling some support from the traditional New Democratic base and that base is still very solid – more so since the tragic and untimely death of national New Democratic leader Jack Layton. The NDP locally still hopes for a bit of that orange wave to work itself into the provincial campaign, not likely, and then to have some of it seep into the Burlington campaign – very unlikely. However their base will hold and they may succeed in pulling back those who voted NDP in the past.

The Liberals appear to have woken up their base. It has always been around, part of the Paddy Torsney legacy. But if the Liberals hope to make this riding Liberal red they are going to have to attract some of the softer NDP vote and hope that the Progressive Conservative base continues to sit on its hands. Have you noticed that the Liberals aren’t using the bright vivid red of the past – more of a wine colour.

The Progressive Conservative base is unhappy. They did not like the way Tory headquarters in Toronto kind of imposed a candidate on them – but they have only themselves to blame for that debacle. Had they managed to develop a really solid local candidate the Toronto PC’s would have left them alone. Joyce Savoline, the current member of the Legislature for Burlington, didn’t leave the new candidate anything in terms of an election organization. She has been out on the campaign trail with McKenna and Ted Chudleigh, the member for Halton, which includes part of Burlington has shared events with McKenna while she learns the ropes.

The nomination mess has left a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of the quieter stories in town. There is nothing a political party likes more than a local constituency organization that has money in the bank and a local favourite with a good profile. Brian Heagle thought he had that to offer but he brought too much political baggage with him. Rene Papin was certainly a “good old boy” – having been a past president of the association, but for reasons that are not yet clear Papin was sort of asked to step aside. Could it have been his being a man of colour? Karmel Sakran wants to hope that if that was the case that the Tories were dead wrong?

Does Burlington want just white people representing them? Rude question perhaps but a question that the people of this city want to ask themselves.

McKenna to her credit appears to be putting up a stiff fight and talking back very loudly but then Jane McKenna has always been a very “in your face” person. If will take another week to figure out if she is more soundly briefed then when we first talked to her. If she is – look out folks. This is a driven woman.

A bit too early to tell if the lawn signs are really an indicator of support. Every political party has friends with commercial property that are made available for signs – those are expected. It is the lawns signs on the residential streets that tell the tale. If those Tory blue signs don’t sprout up quickly – that would suggest the base is going to sit on their hands and that would mean the end of a reign that started in 1943.




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