Ontario spoke loudly and clearly last week: A Liberal government is for them. Greater Sudbury also spoke clearly last week: A Liberal government is not for them
Gone are the days when the city had representation in a strong majority government. Gone are the days when the city was represented by an influential MPP, who also happened to be a cabinet minister.
Gone, too, are the days when provincial money fell on the city like so much rain.Greater Sudbury benefited immensely during Rick Bartolucci's time in Toronto
, enjoying not only the financial fruits of having a cabinet minister for an MPP, but also influence that comes from having a voice in the cabinet of a majority government.
Today though, the city finds itself in a situation we haven't been in since prior to Dalton McGuinty's sweep into power in 2003. And that dearth of influence will be felt, rest assured.
It's nothing against our new representatives. In Nickel Belt, France Gélinas has proven herself a capable MPP — her easy victory June 12 (taking nearly 63 per cent of the vote) is a testament to her abilities. What's more, Gélinas knows what it's like to be on the outside looking in, and knows what it takes to get things done as an opposition member.
His successful dogfight against Liberal Andrew Olivier behind him, Joe Cimino cannot benefit from years spent in opposition, but he can fall back on his experience in municipal government and as a teacher — both of which require some ability to build consensus, to capture and hold people's attention and to make his presence felt.
All of these are useful skills for a politician.
But Gélinas and Cimino do have their work cut out for them. As the third party in opposition, they have to find some way of making Premier Kathleen Wynne live up to the promises in the Grit re-election platform.
Those promises — ponying up the province's $26.7 million share of the $125-million Maley Drive project and completing the four-laning of Highway 69 by 2017 — were made to win her the Sudbury riding, but didn't.
Now, it falls to the city's two NDP MPPs to hold her to account, to see that she lives up to her word. And that's no small task.
Gélinas and Cimino are intelligent, capable people, but, as members of the third party in Queen's Park, we have to wonder if they are up to the challenge — the only influence they will have to speak of is the influence they can bring to bear as individual politicians, being unable, for the most part, to leverage their party's position.
That is a daunting task. They have their work cut out for them.
Wynne also has her work cut out for her. Northern Life was critical of the platform the Liberals put forward. Certainly sensitive to the needs and wants of a broad spectrum of Ontarians, the platform is also packed full of spending. It's an expensive proposition that promises something for everyone, while vowing to control spending and rein in the deficit.
But it also relies heavily on Ontario's economy behaving a certain way and growing at a high enough rate that the deficit can be brought under control in a fashion that doesn't require all of us to tighten our belts.
That is a big gamble, but it's a gamble that comes with a convenient out for the Liberals. If the economy tanks and the deficit can't be brought in line by 2018, Wynne can always blame the economy, instead of the policy.
Whether Ontarians would give the Grits yet another pass if that were to happen is anybody's guess. That the Liberals were able to win a majority this time shocked many of us, Wynne likely included. Given that, who can say what will happen four years from now?
Now, with the election over, the time has come to pay the piper. Hopefully, there will be enough money left over afterward for the Liberals to fund their promises.