Signs of an election in the air

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You know spring is coming when you see the air filled with returning birds, not to mention the melting snow and brown look to everything. And you can tell the signs of an approaching election when you get pictures like these flooding the files of newspapers across the province. Yes, government candidates are handing out money with reckless abandon, and Steve Clark is running from place to place in the riding handing out cheques and promises of cheques wherever a camera can be found.

This is not to be cynical about politicians: they all do it, no matter what party is in a position to dole out such largesse. But it’s certainly a perk of office that members of the ruling party get to pose for so many cameras and make so many statements pointing out, in a nicely humble way, how wonderful they and their government are to the people of Ontario.

Nor is it only photographs that come flooding into newspaper mailboxes at times like this. Press releases are equally plentiful, announcing all those wonderful funding initiatives, and each one accompanied by a personal statement from the local MPP. These statements, however, lose some of their glow when compared to statements by neighbouring MPP’s. The fact is that, no matter which riding is in question, the statements are identical. The lovely quote attributed to Steve Clark in Leeds Grenville is exactly the same as that attributed to Jim McDonell next door in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry.

It seems a little, I don’t know, cheap to pretend that each MPP wrote the statement on their own, rather than depending on an anonymous staffer to do it for them. After all, how hard can it be to have something of your own to say when you’re making a generous donation of taxpayers’ money to taxpayers? It would be nice to see politicians finding their own words at times like that. Of course, the Party needs to avoid any slip-ups at this stage of things. You don’t want some rural MPP putting their foot in it by saying the wrong thing, or getting the facts wrong; so maybe it’s better to put words into their mouths, just to be sure.

But, the main point is: all the signs are there. The election campaign has properly begun. Money is being splashed about, or at least it’s being promised. Whether it ever actually arrives may depend on the results of the vote in June. So settle down and enjoy the rest of the campaign, as politicians go through that excruciating and annoying process when they have to ask for votes. Keep them honest: it may the only chance you’ll have to get them to talk to you.

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