Ottawa/Queen's Park



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- Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

If you are not one of the 4.7 million Canadians who cast their ballots over the Thanksgiving weekend, you have from now until Monday at 9:30 p.m. to decide how to vote in the federal election.

You are not going to find the answer here, but we'll try to give you a little more to chew on over the next three days.

We have had only two Members of Parliament over the past 25 years in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound – one Liberal, one Conservative. Between them they had 23 years of political experience at the municipal level before they ran federally.

We have never had an MP who served as a cabinet minister.

This election we have no incumbent in this riding, and six candidates.

Locally, this has been a very civil campaign. No sparks or punches flew at all-candidates' meetings. No real risks were taken either. Candidates represented their parties' positions well.

Nationally, it has been an ugly campaign. Strategists have tried to distract us from the policy issues with personal attacks and innuendoes, and third parties and trolls have filled the net with angry hashtags and insulting, sometimes lying, memes.  They want us to vote against someone, and not for our own best interests.

If every Canadian's vote counted toward the makeup of the 43rd parliament, this campaign could have been very different. But this is the electoral system we have in 2019. First-past-the-post. Again. You must consider the local candidate, the leader, and the party platform in relation to your priorities for your community and the country.

If you are voting for the local candidate, you are considering their experience and skills and their observable ability to represent us well in the House, in committee and possibly even at the cabinet table.

If the leader is the most important factor in your decision, you are more dependent on debates, news clips and soundbites. Here is some of what we know.

Trudeau is running on his four-year record as Prime Minister. It is easily researched. Every success and mis-step has been publicly reported and dissected. Elizabeth May too, with more than four decades of activism and eight years in the House as party leader, is pretty much an open book.

Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and Maxime Bernier are in their first elections as party leaders. Singh was chosen by NDP members in 2017 on the first ballot. Scheer became CPC leader the same year. In the thirteenth round of a ranked ballot vote among party members, Scheer won by a margin of less than 2% over Maxime Bernier. Neither were among the top choices for the majority of local Grey-Bruce Conservatives. Bernier soon left to found the People's Party of Canada.

Will you vote for the parties' platforms? They are all easily available on-line for your consideration. Some make clear, bold promises. Every promise has a cost, whether in dollars or policy changes, and it is up to you to decide if the price is fair and the policy has value.

Some of the platforms are vaguest on the largest issues. We are only now beginning to see what was not revealed during the provincial campaign. It is more difficult to make decisions on what you cannot see.

At this point it looks like there will be a minority government after Monday. The members in the House of Commons will have to keep their focus and not be distracted from the essential challenge.

We at the Owen Sound Hub believe there is no challenge greater than climate change; no issue that can be addressed without reference to its impacts, and nothing that can be done without a plan to pay for it.

This does not mean we are encouraging you to vote on a single issue. Across Canada, municipalities, farmers, businesses and citizens are recognizing that climate change will affect every aspect of our lives going forward - water, safety, taxation, transportation, work, housing, food, health care, energy, and Indigenous and international relations.

With the greatest respect for all those who have worked so hard in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound over the past months in the name of democracy, we encourage you to vote for the candidate you believe is best suited to be our voice at the big tables dealing with the many facets of climate change in the unprecedented days ahead.


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