Listen Up! Here we go again

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

Sometimes I think it would be really nice to go at least three years without any elections or any electioneering. No door knocking, no election signs, no fast-talking politicians, no debates and no promises that mostly won’t be kept. But that is not to be. By this October, and perhaps even sooner, we will have had three major elections in a little more than one year.

The one immediately ahead of us, the federal election scheduled for October 21, is already promising to be a knock-down, no-holds-barred battle. Political junkies will love it, the majority of Canadians will endure it, and few people will believe that anything is really going to change when it is all over, no matter who wins.

No one is getting too excited about federal politics in Parry Sound-Muskoka yet, but that is about to change.

Tony Clement has confirmed he is stepping down and we are already seeing people lining up to replace him as the Conservative candidate in a federal riding that has been known to switch its allegiance from time to time. In fact, Trisha Cowie, the Liberal candidate in the last federal election, did very well across the riding and is seeking the Liberal nomination again this year. She will likely win it without competition, although I have heard a rumour that Lori-Lynn Giaschi-Pacini, who recently ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Bracebridge, would love to be the Liberal candidate. Highly unlikely, but a great boon for the Tories should it ever come to pass.

Huntsville’s mayor, Scott Aitchison, is making no bones about his interest in becoming the next member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka. He will be a great candidate and would serve us well in Ottawa, but it won’t be a slam dunk. First, he will have to win the Conservative nomination and there are at least two other candidates hot on the trail. Both have roots in Muskoka or Parry Sound but neither live here.

And, of course, the federal Conservative Party has to call a nomination meeting in Parry Sound-Muskoka. Well, actually, they don’t. They could simply appoint a candidate they believe could win the riding. Someone like Kevin O’Leary, who has a cottage in Parry Sound. He bills himself as a finance guru. He is also a TV personality with a big mouth and a failed candidate to replace Stephen Harper as Tory leader. It would be a stupid mistake, however. The last two Tory candidates who were parachuted into the riding lost.

When it comes to the election itself, it is my view that most voters in Parry Sound-Muskoka pay as much attention to the candidates as they do to the political party they represent. Should Scott Aitchison and Trisha Cowie become the Conservative and Liberal candidates respectively, they will be two strong candidates and it will be quite a horse race.

What happens in Ottawa also matters as well, of course, and lately events there have made the outcome of the federal vote this year uncertain. Three months ago, I would have predicted the Trudeau Liberals would form another majority government. Right now, they are in free fall. A recent Forum Poll, usually pretty accurate, shows the Conservatives at 42 per cent, the Liberals at 29 per cent, and the NDP at 19 per cent. Anything can change between now and the election, but with the Liberals currently facing an uphill battle you can expect almost anything in the next few months. It will not be pretty. They do not like to lose. No more sunny ways.

We have seen the beginning of this with accusations from Justin Trudeau that Conservatives are soft on racism and white supremacists. An abhorrent accusation with no foundation, of course, that has been vehemently denied by Andrew Scheer. But Trudeau is trying it out to see if it works. Such a sad statement that this is the kind of mudslinging that politics has come down to in Canada. It simply brings out the worst, rather than the best, in everybody.

Surely, we are better than that.

And finally, there is still time for a Hail Mary pass. As I have said, to the Liberals everything is about holding on to power. Should the next few months show that they cannot dig out of the hole they find themselves in, a resignation by Justin Trudeau would not surprise me. Nor would the election as leader of someone like Chrystia Freeland, currently Minister of Foreign Affairs. That would result in a snap election with the Liberals going into it with a new Prime Minister. At that point, it would be a whole new ball game.

Unlikely you say? Of course. But in politics anything can happen, and it often does. So, buckle up folks. It’s going to be quite a ride.

Hugh Mackenzie

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