Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No walk in High Park

Kinsella is one of the best. His protests notwithstanding, his fingerprints (or those of one of his apprentices) are all over the smear job the Liberals have unleashed against NDP challenger Cheri DiNovo in tomorrow's provincial by-election in Parkdale-High Park. All it took was a well-planted tip to a Liberal blogger and an innocent-looking link on Warren's blog on September 6th. After that, the despicable innuendo spread like wild fire in a drought.

There is little doubt the McGuinty Liberals are desperate to win tomorrow. But despite Gerard Kennedy's phenomenal 16,572 vote lead over the second-place PC candidate in the 2003 election, the polls are obviously not going so well. The election will certainly be no walk in High Park for the Liberals. Hence the call to Kinsella and his ilk to "kick ass" to make the best of a bad situation.

Now good people might like to think that such dirty tactics don't work. But sadly, they often do. Even one of our own has taken the bait.

In my opinion, Sylvia Watson's campaign tactics are toxic and demonstrate an astounding lack of judgment. Although likely a pawn of her campaign team, which has been directed from the highest levels of the McGuinty government, I do not think she can ever be an effective MPP for Parkdale-High Park after all this. Moreover, whatever her strengths as a municipal politician, she simply does not deserve to win.

In last night's debate. Watson's performance was pathetic. I expected a much stronger performance. She is obviously feeling the pressure and appeared very uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, she was particularly evasive in answering questions on integrity and honesty, even dredging up broken promises by the NDP in 1990 and Mike Harris in 1995. I'm surprised she didn't go back even farther, say, to John Robarts or Leslie Frost.

While I may not agree with many of Cheri DiNovo's policies, she appears to be a woman of integrity and strong character. She performed admirably and with dignity in the debate. We could do worse if she wins. If this really is a two-way race between the Liberals and the NDP, it is because DiNovo's profile has been significantly raised as a result of the Liberal smear campaign.

David Hutcheon, the Progressive Conservative candidate, was apparently a victim himself of vicious dirty tricks (subscription required) in the 1997 Toronto municipal election, which NDP candidate David Miller ultimately won. He gallantly defended DiNovo against Liberal smears. Hutcheon has a strong record of community service, notably in spearheading the clean up of the Humber River, and is a moderate. The Tories have come in second in the last two elections. Hutcheon is very much a contender in this election.

Tomorrow, I will be voting for David Hutcheon. He will make an excellent MPP for Parkdale-High Park. Let's just hope that Warren Kinsella strikes out this time.