Political reality

There is an excellent article by John Ibbitson in the Globe and Mail that reinforces a point I have made over and over again … those who want to govern must secure and maintain the active support of the voters in the suburbs.

If,” Mr Ibbitson writes, “you are opposed to downsizing Toronto council, or to the government’s capricious use of the notwithstanding clause, ask yourself: Do suburban voters, who make up almost 70 per cent of the electorate, share my concern? If they don’t, how can I convince them? … [because] … Any other form of opposition will not deter this government. As long as Doug Ford is with suburban voters, and suburban voters are with him, this government will see things through and be re-elected in four years. It’s odd that so many of Mr. Ford’s opponents don’t seem to understand that.

Look at Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto (these are both 2011 maps for the sake of consistency) …

exurbs.001

… the urban cores are consistently and solidly progressive, but the suburbs and exurbs, where, as John Ibbitson says, most voters live, can be ~ and often are ~ won by Conservatives … when the Conservatives speak, directly and honestly, to issues that matter to working class and middle class families.

The Conservative Party of Canada can win in 2019 IF it focuses, relentlessly on those suburban, exurban and small city/small town voters. What matters to them? Foreign and defence policy? No … not much, anyway; there are few new votes to be gained ~ and some to be lost ~ by focusing on the issues that matter most to me: a principled foreign policy that offers, for example, broad and general but NOT unwavering support for Israel, and a proposal to raise the defence budget to 2% of GDP. But free(er) trade can be a vote getter IF it is couched in terms of more and better jobs; cutting taxes, including offering the sorts of boutique tax cuts to working families that Prime Minister Harper liked is good policy and good politics; so is axing the carbon tax ~ while promising to do something useful and achievable to help fight climate change; promising to spend wisely, prudently and at home will get votes, too.

Working families, and seniors living on fixed incomes, are worried about pocket 103463526-GettyImages-580504537.600x337book (bank account) issues; there is, for far too many, just a bit too much month left at the end of the money … the polls suggest that they, those hard working and middle class Canadians, trust Conservatives on those issues, but they also wish that the Conservatives were more progressive (or just a wee bit less conservative on social issues). Those same working families are worried about e.g. irregular migrants and refugees, but they support greater immigration; again: advantage Conservatives, but only IF the CPC can be tough on those irregular migrants and, at the same time, welcoming to proper immigrants. Those working families also live in the suburbs, exurbs small cities and small towns that surround the dense, progressive urban cores. That’s where the votes are.

John Ibbitson, again, says, in another, more recent, Globe and Mail column, that “A little more than a year out from the next election, it is becoming clear that the state of the economy will dominate the campaign. If you think Indigenous issues or the threat of global warming or the state of the health-care system should be the top priority, you’re going to be disappointed … [and] … The keywords of the next campaign will be growth, jobs, security, debt and taxes. Ms. [Leona] Alleslev  [who] represents Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, an affluent suburban riding north of Toronto with a large number of new Canadians, has given the Conservatives a boost with her declaration that they, not the Liberals she once sat with, should be trusted to mind the store.” He adds, regarding NAFTA, that “Right now, most Canadians support the government’s determination to renegotiate NAFTA without sacrificing vital Canadian interests. But that support will evaporate if the talks fail or Canada is forced to accept too many concessions.

The final, all-important chapter of this story,” John Ibbitson suggests, “will be written in the coming months, before the election is formally called. For what it’s worth, there is now one MP, with a riding right in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, who has changed her bet.” The question, now, is can Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives build on Ms Alleslev’s concerns about the interconnected “global economy, while trade relationships, international agreements and defence structures [that she says] are under threat”?

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