EDITORIAL: Election about who has leader’s ear

PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA — Election day. Your chance to affect inevitable change that is coming tonight.

Which of these candidates will have the ear of their leader and represent our interests at Queen’s Park?

For most it’s an easy choice to cast their ballot against Kathleen Wynne and the governing Liberals; for some others it’s more difficult to decide between the PC’s Doug Ford and the NDP’s Andrea Horwath.

It needn’t be.

While the party leader and prime minister of the province are paramount in politics, local members of Parliaments are important, too.

Listening to Wynne, Ford and Horvath, you’d never know whose side they were on. Each said what the other was going to do — in addition to what they hope to do.

Many voters question whether they will or can follow through on elections promises.

To hear the local candidates in Parry Sound-Muskoka, while all did reasonably well under the short circumstances of the campaign, for the most part electors would have served themselves better by going online for better, clearer information.

Voters, like these students at GHS, have had a chance to get look at the candidates up close and to hear how they would represent their constituents. The question is, who can bring our concerns to their leaders?

For most of the time, at least at the handful of all-candidates’ meetings questions weren’t always on Ontario topics or areas of provincial responsibility.

But, as at the door or on the street, the public exposure gave those interested a chance to size up the candidates in person.

And, in reality, that’s what this election is all about for local voters.

By now you know who the leaders are and where they stand.

It’s just too bad Ford, Horwath and Wynne didn’t see their representatives in action.

The only exception is Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, who knows his PS-Muskoka candidate Matt Richter so well, having worked with him closely for more than a decade.

Because here in this riding voting should be about which of Richter, incumbent Tory Norm Miller, Liberal Brenda Rhodes or New Democrat Erin Horvath can make our case at Queen’s Park.

And more importantly with their leaders.

Rhodes and Horvath don’t know Wynne or Horwath any more than you do.

Even Miller, who has been the MPP since 2001, is almost a stranger to Ford.

Miller didn’t support Ford in the PC Party leadership, but he says he can work with him.

In fact, Miller said in one all-candidates meeting that within his own caucus he’s known to be the least parochial MPP, implying that he’s not always tied to small or large ‘C’ conservative thinking.

It’s the big picture he’s concerned with in Ontario.

But what does he consider good for Ontarians that count.

Alas, the question for voters locally is which candidate can lobby their leader in the best interests of Parry Sound-Muskokans.

Who will Ford or Horvath listen to? On the hospitals, for example.

Is it Miller, who has been an MPP for 16 years and as such been a major voice in the small 27-seat Tory caucus and how party policy has gone?

He told MuskokaTODAY, “I hope they listen to me.”

Or is it Horvath, who has a similar public advocacy background as Horwath (no relation)?

Both their leaders have laid their cards on the table.

Ford made two stops in Muskoka during the campaign, and his family has a cottage in Port Sydney.

Horwath took a pass on PS-Muskoka, possibly conceding the seat to Miller.

But don’t forget, Dan Waters won the seat for Bob Rae when PS-Muskoka went orange for one term.

No wonder Miller has been working extra hard this election to re-take the seat.

Miller would be a strong advocate for the North if elected; he has travelled it extensively as a critic for the North and the embattle MNR.

Horvath, no doubt, would be rewarded if she upsets Miller.

So, think carefully, and vote on who will advocate best on our behalf.

Vote practically (strategically?) or with your conscience.

Heart or head.

And have a good sleep tonight.

Tomorrow Ontario will change one way or the other.