The Clouds of a Perfect Political Storm

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political storm cloudsTHUNDER BAY – Over the past months, Thunder Bay City Council has been burning the midnight oil. Meetings are stretching out later and later. Last night, Council sat until past 2:00 in the morning. A few weeks ago, Councillors commented that it was past 04:00 before they got home.

The number of individuals bringing their deputations to Council and presenting their problems is growing. It is likely a message that Council isn’t fully grasping yet.

There are enough issues forming that will likely generate what might be called a “Perfect Political Storm”.

By that I suggest that happy voters are less likely to vote, but unhappy voters will crawl on broken glass to vote out a Council which they see as not listening.

When you consider it, Canadians do not vote a government in, we vote the old one out. It has happened repeatedly throughout our history. The last time it did in massive numbers, the old Progressive Conservative Party was reduced to what was called in western Canada a “breeding pair”, when Elsie Wayne and Jean Charest were the only two PCs elected.

The political landscape in Northern Ontario appears to be shifting. Moves are starting to re-form the Northern Ontario Heritage Party provincially.

Now, that might sound like a stretch to suggest that a new party will come out of no where and push out the current MPPs. But what it does suggest is that inspite of the billions of dollars flowing to the North, there are enough people who are very unhappy.

Talking with some of our Councillors, the city’s approval rating in a recent Angus Reid poll commissioned by the city is evidence that people are happy.

What is likely being missed is that happy people may be far less inclined to vote.

At the local level, between the Marina Park, the Wind Farm, development plans, roads, taxes, and public safety there are enough issues gathering to generate storm clusters that may merge this fall in a ‘perfect political storm’.

Would that be good for Thunder Bay? That is a question which is really moot. If the voters decide change is what they want, then the voters will be right.

For Thunder Bay, and for Council right now might be a good time to step back and take a long hard look at the situation.

For Councillors, and in particular Councillors at large, who are facing many decisions, the message might be to start looking at the issues which are coming up and start doing the mental arithmetic on how many voters are likely to be angered by the decisions that are made.

The next step is to start adding up votes.

My math would suggest that in most cases a majority of the ward councillors are going to be fine, but that several of the At Large Councillors are not.

That of course is just my opinion, and as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray

News Director

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