Solid Political Race Shaping up in Thunder Bay Atikokan

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THUNDER BAY – With the news that Fred Gilbert, the former President of Lakehead University has tossed his hat in the ring for the Progressive Conservatives in Thunder Bay Atikokan, it is likely to be a solid political race. Bill Mauro, the incumbent MPP is seeking re-election for a third term.

Gilbert, as a challenger will offer name recognition, and his knowledge of both the city, and of Queen’s Park. Bill Mauro offers his experience on City Council, and his two terms at Queen’s Park for voters to judge.

For Bill Mauro, perhaps the real issue is that the MPP is a far quieter politician than one usually finds in today’s politics. Friends comment that for Mauro, he believes that the hard work he does will be enough for voters to see through to supporting him.

In today’s world of Facebook, Twitter, and social networking, Mauro is not there, or at least not yet. That presents a serious contrast to today’s changing political world where social-networking is making such an impact. Not to sound melodramatic, but the changes coming about as far away as Egypt are a demonstration of how powerful the new means of communication really are.

During the Ontario election campaign, which will likely follow a summer of promises and announcements by the McGuinty Government, like in 2007, in Thunder Bay Atikokan, it is likely that it will be the people voting on how they feel that the McGuinty Government has done in Ontario that may be the biggest factors in the local race.

Gilbert’s task will be reaching out to the residents in the riding, and offering reasons why they should be choosing the Progressive Conservatives over the Liberals or the NDP.

Bill Mauro’s task will be to shift from continual reminders of what he has done, to sharing a vision of what needs to be done, and why he is the individual best suited to achieve those goals.

The New Democrats almost won the riding last time out, John Rafferty was the candidate. Rafferty likely started the move of greater public engagement with his solid campaign of door-knocking and sharing his ideas online. It is a pattern that all three major parties will have to duplicate to achieve political success in October.

The political climate in Thunder Bay has demonstrated some solid willingness to embrace change, not radical change mind you, but change. That was seen in the defeat of Ken Boshcoff in the last federal election, and the shifting of Thunder Bay Superior North over to the New Democrats after years of service from Joe Comuzzi.

Will there be change in who represents Thunder Bay Atikokan this fall? No one will know for certain until all the ballots are counted. Right now however it is starting to look like a real horse race.

James Murray

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