At last, the best season of the year is here! The sun is shining, birds are singing, the chipmunks are mating, and, all around Ontario, political party volunteers are furiously canvassing empty houses whose habitants have long left for nearby beaches to enjoy the stunning weather (read: overdose on vitamin D). Of course, I am talking about election season! Ahhh, don’t you just love the smell of political vitriol in the morning?
In a media race that is now increasingly seen as a battle between Liberal Party candidate Kathleen Wynne, and Progressive Conservative Party candidate Tim Hudak, it may be NDP Party candidate Andrea Horwath, who actually ends up garnering the most media attention. (For those who are wondering, the Green Party candidate left for the beaches already… #YOLO.) Far from becoming boring, like pretty much all other NDP candidates, Andrea Horwath is now stirring the proverbial bee’s nest with a slew of recent attempts to shift the party’s focus away from the working class and towards the middle class (Justin Trudeau approves this blunder). Just based on the uproar that many core party supporters are causing right now, I can tell that this slow political suicide may hold just as much entertainment value as that time MPs pointed out that Don Meredith’s phone number led to a sex chat hotline, an embarrassment which George Takai summed up with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nSKkwzwdW4
As a self-professed anarchist who votes based on the entertainment value generated by each candidate, I was quite impressed by the NDP anecdotes that I have seen floating online. Horwath received an open letter from over 30 current and as former New Democrats – many of whom are implied big shots within the party – who said they were “angry” that she did not support the Liberal budget on May 1, 2014. Many choice words were employed to express this anger. Take this snippet, “From what we can see, you are running to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes. It is not clear whether you have given up on progressive voters or you are taking them for granted.”
Suffice to say, the same group went on to say that they were “seriously considering not voting NDP” this time.
According to Professor Henry Jacek from McMaster University in Hamilton, the source of this anger stems primarily from Horwath’s decision to offer tax cuts to small businesses to offset a promised hike in the minimum wage to $12 an hour in the Liberal budget. In addition, NDP party supporters did not approve of her decision to purchased a front-page ‘wrap-around’ ad in the Toronto Sun, which is “not known for its support of New Democrat values.” Jacek went on to add, “Wynne had a lot of things in the budget that union leaders liked, and they’re worried about (Progressive Conservative Leader Tim) Hudak and his pledge to cut public sector workers, and, in a sense, it’s getting late in the day for Horwath at this point.”
While Horwath’s campaign did try to defend their “ashy to classy” strategy by pointing out that the New Democrats had expanded their ranks in the legislature from 10 to 20, it seems that, even if she manages to convince union leaders that she is not straying from working class values, it will be an instance of “too little, too late.” As Professor Nicholas Wiseman from the University of Toronto said, “Hudak’s been campaigning for years … and the Liberals have been setting the stage… The NDP were very late off the mark.”
Yet, both professors were in agreement when they said that it is a salvageable situation, adding that Horwath will need to come up with a strong performance in the June 3, 2014 debates after getting off to a “rough start” in the campaign. I figure that there will be at least a few weeks of extra fun to be had from this episode, as long as she delivers a political performance that slightly exceeds the expectations of an epileptic mime.
Whatever the case may be, I will be cheering on for Andrea Howarth with popcorn in hand.