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Think globally, vote locally in this election

We recently returned home after a week in east Tennessee. It’s one of my favourite places outside of Canada, full of rich history, good mountain music and memorable literature. It sits on the edge of the Smoky Mountains, close to Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina.
The weather was mixed. We spent one windy night under a tornado watch. Fortunately, none of the funnel clouds in the neighbourhood touched down and no damage was done where we were.
Despite its rich cultural background, Tennessee has become a tragic harbinger of Ontario’s future if Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak ever becomes premier. Transportation is routed – and rooted – in the interstate highway system. Built for cars and trucks, it moves people and goods everywhere. The highways themselves, with their collector lanes, access ramps and cloverleaf interchanges, take up a huge chunk of every city’s footprint.
Health care is an expensive mess and labour laws are a sham. Tennessee is one of the “right to work without a union” states that Hudak wants to emulate.
We got home last Friday, the day on which the province wandered into a general election. I’m still not convinced that getting into one was a good idea. Ask me again on June 13 and I’ll let you know.
As an interesting sidebar, democracy has fallen into such disrepute nowadays that party leaders spend a lot of time pointing fingers and accusing each other of provoking it. “It’s not my fault we’re having an election,” they say, “it’s hers, or his, or theirs. Never mine.”
Well, never mind. Here we are and we have to make the best of it. Those of you who have been regular readers of this column for the past 14 years will know I have not changed my views. There will be a James Gordon sign on my lawn, a James Gordon button on my lapel and a James Gordon song in my heart. I’m not sure which song. He’s written several good ones. Maybe the one about owing it to the pioneers to take our country back.
As the campaign unfolds, we’ll hear a lot from the party leaders. So much so that they will all but drown out the voices of the local candidates.
We’ll also hear a lot from the nervous Nellies who want to bring us back to the good old days of the two-party system. Don’t fall for this. It is better to listen and judge each party on its own merits and vote for the one you want.
You are always better off voting for what you want, even if you don’t get it, than voting for what you don’t want and getting stuck with it.
As far as the leaders go, they have all said and done things that I find disturbing. Of the four of them, Andrea Horwath, Tim Hudak and Kathleen Wynne are saying and doing pretty much what we should expect.
The most hypocritical of them all is the Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner. Even local Green members recognize the work James Gordon has done to organize and build grassroots environmental awareness. Their party could have run Schreiner in any riding.
Why did they choose Guelph? His connection to our city is tenuous. Schreiner won’t be elected here, but he might syphon support away from the most environmentally conscious candidate in the provincial NDP stable.
Over the next five weeks, listen to what our local candidates are telling you. Judge them on their merits and their records. Then vote for the one who speaks to you and for you. Think globally and vote locally.

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