Well, we all know the story. For a month or so, we have been the talk of the province. Political defections, secret recordings, bruised feelings, police investigations and a political swarming. We don’t remember being this popular.
We all have our opinions on the drama and on each of the actors — from Premier Kathleen Wynne to the Liberal riding association. From NorthernLife.ca’s point of view, the moral questions bear scrutiny and the practical considerations weight. For the sake of brevity:
Suzanne Shawbonquit (NDP) A good person, new to the game, we don’t believe she has the gravitas, experience or temperament to bring long-term value to the city in this role. But if you want to punish Thibeault or Wynne in particular, or the Ontario Liberals in general, she is your ticket.
David Robinson (Green Party) He is a smart activist who has made a huge contribution to our community. If you want to make a thoughtful protest to the mainline parties or believe he can be the beginning of a political revolution in the province, vote for him. Full disclosure: Robinson has written for several Laurentian Publishing titles for many years.
Paula Peroni (Conservative) An experienced politician and a strong spokesperson for the Conservative Party, but this is not her time. This is a three-way blood feud and nothing is going to change that. A vote for Paula is for diehard Tories only.
Andrew Olivier (Independent) Well-spoken, hardworking and an inspiration to many. We don’t like his tactics, though, and think he fell victim to the same moral hubris shared by others in this drama. He evacuated the high ground the moment he made the secret recordings public.
His motives are as self-serving as the rest of the crowd before you even get to the question of secretly recording conversations in the first place with anyone. It was unbecoming.
If he had declined to run and not used his secret tapes as a political campaign tactic, then of course it would have been a different story and a happier ending for Olivier. Bad thinking or bad advice. We’ll never know. Olivier is also missing something important: A party. Sudbury needs firmer representation than an independent could provide.
Glenn Thibeault (Liberal) Thibeault will never be the same. Politics is a contact sport. It is not for the timid. It is played by teams who work long and hard, and with great passion. You think long and hard before you leave a team who supported you, believed in you and bled for you.
You think even longer before leaving that team for the arch enemy, even if it is not the same playing field. That said, Thibeault shouldn’t be held accountable for how the ground was cleared for his candidacy. That is for others to explain.
Premier Kathleen Wynne. To begin with, the party and the premier have every right — and for good reason — to interfere from time to time with a nomination process to upgrade a nomination strategically or to avoid a migraine headache. Political parties are teams of like-minded people who want to win a political war. There will be disagreements and there needs to be resolution. The buck stops at the top. It did.
As to the inducements offered to Olivier, the premier’s defence of them is laughable. The intent was clear: You play ball with us; we’ll play ball with you. What play ball meant will be subject to numerous interpretations, some of them legal.
But what do we do in the meantime?
We say elect Glenn Thibeault. He’s a seasoned politician with deep roots in the community, whose skills put him head and shoulders above the other candidates. He has been a very effective constituency man, an articulate member of the opposition and past executive director of United Way.
Thibeault will be working for the government in power, and we believe he’ll make a difference over time as wounds heal and the business of government moves forward in uncertain times. Sudbury is the mining capital of the world and we need to be plugged into government to maximize our economic growth and sustainability.
Thibeault has our vote. His job now is to mend fences and build bridges, to learn from this unfortunate interlude, and to get to work moving this community forward.
A tall order, but we believe Thibeault is the one for the job.