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Right back to square one

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Congratulations, first, to NDP candidate John Rafferty, who captured the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding on his third try, handily defeating Liberal incumbent Ken Boshcoff in yesterday’s federal election.

Sincere thanks also must be extended to Mr. Boshcoff for his service as our MP for the past four-and-a-half years. First elected in 2004, Mr. Boshcoff deserves credit for his regular visits to this end of the riding, and listening to our concerns, at a time when voters here still were miffed over being ripped away from Kenora and dumped off on the former Thunder Bay-Atikokan riding like some long-lost cousin who suddenly shows up at the doorstep looking for a square meal and a place to flop.

Thanks, too, to Conservative candidate Richard Neumann and Green Party hopeful Russ Aegard for having the courage to toss their hats in the ring and then putting in a lot of long hours—and mileage—to outline their respective parties’ platforms and policies to voters right across the riding.

That said, the question many voters are asking themselves today is “What now?” Locally, we chose a new MP but on a national scale, we still have another (albeit larger) Conservative minority government and a Parliament that looks to be just as “dysfunctional” as the one Prime Minister Stephen Harper had dissolved five short weeks ago.

Sure, all five party leaders pledged last night to make this Parliament work, but their words all rang a little hollow after having listened to them bash each other’s actions, policies, and plans (or lack thereof) during the campaign. Can we really expect the Liberals and NDP to support the Tories’ recipe to fix the growing economic crisis? Or the environment? For their part, do you see the Tories watering down their right-wing agenda to appease the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois?

It’s clear Canadians, fresh off their third federal election in just four-plus years, are in no mood for another one anytime soon while the parties themselves certainly aren’t in a financial position to go into battle yet again. The reality of a minority government, however, is that’s precisely what’s going to happen—sooner rather than later. And just like this time, the election will be forced by the party that believes it’s in the best position to win a majority.

The Conservatives sure thought they had it in the bag, but it slipped through their fingers in the late going of the campaign and we are, in effect, back to square one.

Sadly, with voter turnout below 60 percent for the first time in our country’s history, it seems more and more people just don’t care.

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