2022 is a double election year with both provincial and municipal elections in June and October respectively. The Rose City Politics panel assesses what to expect as the election year starts.
2022? Expect more COVID responses and politics, lots of politics.
With both a provincial and municipal election looming, you’ll beg for the monotony of a city budget. If COVID Year One was Team Canada, and Year Two was The Hunger Games with a side of a politicized pandemic election, Year Three will be Rocky IV.
Expect politicians to ratchet up political pressure, whether via COVID or wedge issues. Elected officials would be wise to avoid mudslinging and just point to accomplishments and goals. It’s easy to get traction on social media, but easier to forget social media isn’t real and people want results.
Last year Mayor Dilkens used COVID clevages to attack the local health unit over vaccine procurement and deployment, culminating in his tunnel vaccination pipe dream. He also pushed his Platform 4 Windsor which sucked up oxygen from the federal election. Have no doubt, the mayor will seek to dominate the discourse until the municipal election. In earnest, Mayor Dilkens’ reelection campaign began August 2021 when he officially launched Platform 4 Windsor, his multi-year reelection platform, funded by taxpayers.
Regardless of which party wins the provincial election and forms government, or whoever is elected to Queen’s Park, City Council, or The Mayor’s Office, Windsor and Essex County needs fighters willing to keep the issues affecting the region as a whole at the forefront of both provincial and federal Cabinets respectively.
Stellantis is down to one shift, there still isn’t any news about a battery plant (locally or nationally), an automotive trade dispute still looms with the United States, and the hospitality sector is still dominated by COVID restrictions causing Caesars and others to remain closed with employees laid off.
Hopefully as we continue moving through COVID and these two elections we emerge positioned to continue fighting, because quite frankly we’ll need to.
This double election year brings an opportunity to weigh in on leadership at the provincial and municipal levels. Pandemic performance is sure to factor heavily into both votes: candidates at both levels will peddle competing narratives about COVID-19 and what it tells us about the path forward. For what it’s worth, here’s mine: ideology, policy ideas, and spending promises are far less important than character and quality of judgment. What matters most is how leaders respond to events, how well they listen, and whose interests they truly serve.
Doug Ford rode to office on a wave of public anger without much thought to what he might do with the levers of power. The defining element of his character, as revealed by the pandemic experience, is a dithering reluctance to make tough, unpopular choices. With two open seats in the region, residents of Windsor-Essex will be able to remake the political landscape locally and have an impact on provincial outcomes. Based on early positioning, it appears that some would like to make 2022 an election about the proposed hospital on County Road 42. Sustained public apathy in the face of a loud, ugly, and unproductive debate suggests to me that this will not be an effective strategy.
There’s nothing like a crisis to reveal character. While Mayor Dilkens surely wanted the best for Windsor during the pandemic, in practice his self-serving choices undermined that goal. The clearly unserious media circus around vaccine doses in the tunnel, and his tendency to take opportunities for political positioning and score-settling undermined confidence in public health. Adroit media management by Mayor Dilkens limits criticism and therefore the political impact of these choices, but the election campaign will give residents of Windsor an opportunity to judge Mayor Dilkens’ balance between serving the public and serving himself.
This year will provide the chance to make two trips to the polls. The provincial election a few months away will be followed by a municipal election in the fall. Timing can be everything for political fortunes. This year’s elections will be extraordinary in importance, setting the fate of Windsor-Essex for generations to come.
It will come as no surprise to those who follow my opinions that, in my view, the Megahospital “plan” is the most #critcal issue we face as a city and as a region. No other issue in the hands of politicians comes even close to having the impact, literally, on the health of our communities and its residents – in more ways than one.
It’s not like I would wish, oh I don’t know, something like a pandemic to happen that would give the opportunity to observe how decisions are made by elected officials so we can evaluate how much trust we should have in them. Seriously, if how these politicians handled the pandemic hasn’t been enough to doubt their competencies and soberly question whose interests they’re looking out for, we’re doomed. Beware politicians and mega-empire-building bureaucrats who tell you we’ll be better off when they shut down two hospitals, and an undisclosed third (Leamington – I’m betting you’ll be next – snap out of it).
It is not too late to take corrective action and prevent such a huge mistake. Everything is riding on this year’s set of elections because, after these, we will reach the point of no return. I hope to see people running for election who will challenge the status quo, the mediocrity of current thinking, and the comfortable privilege of those running the show. The political fortunes of some can seal the fate of many. Timing can, indeed, be everything.