So far a very quiet campaign – does that mean the minds are made up?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 19, 2011 – At the half-way point – no political party is losing the race but no one is winning it yet either. The citizens seem to be burnt out with the federal and municipal elections during the past 10 months. Very, very few lawn election signs and those are the ones that count.

During a two hour drive about the city we counted less than 50 signs for all three parties. McKenna had 21, Sakran 13 and Russell 4. We didn’t count the signs outside campaign offices nor did we count those clearly on commercial. We went looking for those individual homes in places like the Queensway community, south of the QEW and west of Guelph Line where McKenna had support that surprised us.

What is confusing is this: Each political party must have at least a couple of hundred members, that is people who pay their dues annually, and we wondered why those members did not have signs on their lawns. They wouldn’t say no if asked. Does this suggest that the political parties are so poorly organized that they don’t have a sign crew that gets out and puts signs on lawns. Or are political signs on lawns passé?

Clearly there is no excitement about the election. It’s going to take place and the people of Burlington seem to be comfortable with that and on election day – they will trot out to the polls and cast a ballot. Will we see another less than 50% turnout?

Province wide – no one candidate has scored big points. They have all made significant points and there is a clear difference between what Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals are prepared to do to help immigrants, with credentials that are not recognized, get a job. The Progressive Conservatives see this as unfair and point to the 50,000 Ontarians who are unemployed. The philosophical differences between the two parties is perhaps most clear on this issue.

What will it mean in Burlington? Jane McKenna, the Burlington Progressive candidate was very vocal on this one and managed to put both feet in her mouth and have Burlington described as home to the Conservative lunatic fringe.

Karmel Sakran didn’t goof to the same degree but he did suggest that if the downloading deal the municipalities have with the provincial government is ended by the Progressive Conservative government, we will all experience financial hardship as the result of the $168. increase in our property taxes. That increase would amount to 50 cents a day – not exactly financial hardship territory.

Political campaigns do bring out the hyperbole and exaggeration. It all needs to be taken with many grains of salt.

Both Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate and Peggy Russell, running under the NDP banner, are seen in the community and their organizations pump out press releases every day. McKenna seems to have withdrawn a bit and is running what is called a “bubble campaign”, which is when the candidate goes to places where the reception will be pleasant and no one asks hard questions. The Progressive Conservative campaign now has a small recreational trailer that drives about the city. They haven’t issued any press releases at least nothing we saw

If the Tories are to retain the seat they must hold their traditional vote and that means getting McKenna in front of every Tory they can find that is still breathing. If they can keep the traditional base – they should be able to retain the seat.

Sakran’s strategy was to be seen by the conservative community in Burlington as a moderate they can trust and, given the way McKenna has mismanaged her campaign so far, many conservatives may choose to sit on their hands October 6th or actually vote for a Liberal.

Less than three weeks to go. The two all candidate meetings will let the community see how McKenna stands up to Russell who is well briefed and can be forceful. It should be interesting to watch her. Sakran, who is equally well briefed, but we’ve yet to see him in a forum where he has to perform under some pressure.




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