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Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board: Ontario’s election – remember, all politics is local

May 11th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board: Ontario’s election – remember, all politics is local
Business and Finance
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Editorial: Ontario’s election – remember, all politics is local

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They’re off: Do you know who your local candidate is? (Julie Oliver/ Postmedia) JULIE OLIVER / POSTMEDIA

Ontario’s election campaign is about more than who has the best slogan or is the most skilled debater. It’s about more than change or personality. It’s about the power individual voters have. We can use our ballots better than we sometimes have.

Each of us needs to identify what we think the priorities are – in Ottawa as well as provincially – and demand specifics from local candidates. Then, we must figure out which local candidate, moreso than which party, is most likely to get action. Here’s a start:

Long-term care. The miserable state of care for the elderly in this city demands answers. Each of the main parties has leapt in with general promises – more beds, more personal service workers, more money. Are these the right solutions? Are there better ones? Does your local candidate have any other ideas, particularly for Ottawa, or is he/she just spouting talking points?

Mental health and drug addiction. We’ve all become more aware of mental health challenges in this community. Does your local would-be MPP have plans? Last week in the Citizen, Kanata father Sean O’Leary wrote that Ottawa is the only major city in Canada without a single bed or facility to assist in detox/withdrawal from opioids for those 16 and under. Local candidate, what will you do about that?

Transit. Light rail is fashionable, and provincial funds are a big part of transit plans. What are the other parts? Is it only about government mega-projects? Do private entrepreneurs (one group has touted a private rail line, for instance) have a role? What does your wannabee representative think?

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Education. Elsewhere on this page is a piece from a trustee who laments how Ontario school boards have been stripped of meaningful power to guide local leaning. As parties argue over sex-ed and math scores, will anyone revisit the status of school boards? Should they? Ask at a local all-candidates’ meeting.

Hydro rates, and the environment. For all communities, this file is fraught. Does your local candidate see a reasonable path on electricity rates, or on the super-charged debate around carbon taxes, cap-and-trade and other environmental proposals?

MPPs have an obligation aside from serving their leader and party: They are supposed to hold government – even their own – to account on your behalf. So think about whether the individual you vote for in your riding will act effectively on your behalf, or slavishly follow a distant edict from Toronto. Parties matter, but individual talent and initiative do as well.

We expect a lot from political leaders during campaigns. Let’s expect more from ourselves too.

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