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Move backfired

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The main argument behind the push to establish fixed election dates every four years was to prevent the party in power from sending voters to the polls when the timing was most convenient for it.

But while trying to eliminate crass partisanship from when elections are called was a noble goal, the move to fixed election dates has done little to solve the problem.

Case in point Ontario. The next provincial election is still a year away but Premier Kathleen Wynne and the governing Liberals—with an eye clearly on June 7, 2018—are using their power to woo voters by announcing such things as free post-secondary tuition to eligible students, free prescription drugs to those under age 25, and, most recently, increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour.

And clearly fixated on June 7, 2018, the government first secured two-year contract extensions, with four-percent raises, to teachers and other education workers. Then earlier this week, it offered public servants a four-year contract extension—with 7.5-percent raises.

All of which neatly would avoid any possible labour strife in the lead-up to the next election.

There's no guarantee any of these moves will get the Wynne government re-elected next June. But faced with a looming fixed election date, it obviously is pulling out all the stops to at least try to stack the deck in its favour.

It's also a safe bet the federal Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will start doing the same thing next year—with an eye on Oct. 21, 2019.

All this is nothing new, of course. But moving to fixed election dates certainly is no better than the old system.

If anything, the move backfired by, in effect, ushering in American-style politics that now sees the “campaign” start a year to 18 months before the actual election.

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