By Mike Wilson
The provincial election is tomorrow.
For weeks now, we’ve been able to cast our vote at advance polls across the riding.
And for weeks we in the media have had our inboxes flooded with press releases from the various political parties.
Within a day of the government confirming the worst kept secret in Ontario – that election day is June 2 – one party had sent a dozen releases announcing their party’s intentions to make this announcement or implement that thing if elected.
It was overwhelming, to be honest.
While it is great to see that these parties appear to have some sort of plan on how they would govern if elected, it’s not the main reason I like to read these releases.
No, my friends, it’s the language used by the parties in an effort to convince the public why they are the party to vote for.
Please keep in mind this is at the party level, and not reflective of how our local candidates have been campaigning.
The Progressive Conservatives, for example, have taken aim at the Liberal Party.
Sorry, I must correct myself. The PCs have taken aim at the “Del Duca-Wynne Liberals.”
Because, you know, Kathleen Wynne is still leading the party… oh right, she isn’t. But it does make for a great sound bite, no?
Voters, as evidenced by the last election, were not big fans of Kathleen Wynne, hence how the Liberals went from forming the government to losing official party status in one fell swoop.
Likewise, the Liberals use a similar strategy, ensuring they put the word “Ford” in front of “Conservatives” while slamming the Conservative campaign’s latest plan, or pointing out how the current government has dropped the ball on one portfolio or another.
The New Democrats, meanwhile, are equal opportunists when it comes to slamming their opponents – the Del Duca Liberals and Ford Conservatives.
Then there are the sound bites from the campaign trail, which are equally as entertaining.
While it all seems childish, that’s campaign season in a nutshell: to make headlines that will encourage swing voters to mark X next to their name on the ballot, regardless if the statements are 100 per cent true or not.
I am a firm believer – and this is my belief, not based on facts or data – that a very large majority of voters already know who they are voting for when they go to the polls tomorrow.
Not a single campaign promise will change the minds of this majority. No, they will vote the way they have always voted because that is how their family, for generations, has voted. Or they are a card-carrying member of the party they support and will vote that way no matter what.
A relative of mine likes to joke that in certain local ridings, the family dog could run as the candidate for certain parties and win handily because “that’s how the riding has traditionally voted.”
In my mind, where a party gains or loses votes is from the “on the fence” (OTF) voters.
These OTF voters are the ones who follow the campaigns closely, read the party platforms, and choose who they will vote for based on how they feel about what a candidate or party is offering.
Frankly, Ontario needs more OTF voters.
We need more voters to look at what their values, needs and wants are, and compare that to what a political party or candidate is aligned with. If it happens that what you or your family needs align with what the Liberals, for example, are running on, vote for them. The same can be said for the Conservative, NDP, Green, New Blue or Ontario parties – if their vision lines up with yours, vote for them.
Regardless of how you decide to vote, the important thing is that you vote.
We are fortunate to live in a country where those of us over the age of 18 can vote, regardless of age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation – so make your vote count and make an informed decision when you go to the polls tomorrow.