The adage, all politics are local, has proven itself over the years, so today I took a closer look at my local riding, Burlington, Ontario.
I searched the Burlington Post and Hamilton Spectator newspapers' Web sites and the World Wide Web at large looking for Burlington riding references. This is what I found along with my reaction.
In this election, the main rivals for the seat are the Stephen Harper Conservatives, represented by Mike Wallace, MP and the Stéphane Dion Liberals, represented by former MP Paddy Torsney.
David Laird will again contest on behalf of the Jack Layton NDP and Marnie Mellish is representing the Elizabeth May Green Party; however, these two are highly unlikely to win this riding—if past elections are anything to go by.
Combined, the Greens and the NDP could play an important role in the distribution of votes in the riding, however. About 65,000 votes were cast in 2006. Of these, the Greens and the NDP accounted for approximately 11,600, a not insignificant 18 percent.
I have looked at the Green and NDP Web sites and searched the World Wide Web looking for any reference to specific local issues that either Laird or Mellish plan to address. I couldn't find any. Both of them seem to be depending on their parties' national campaign to tell their stories. Others may want to look further at either of these two candidates, but I have seen enough.
Getting back to the main event.
Liberal, Paddy Torsney, was the riding's MP for about 12 years before losing in the 2006. Ms. Torsney's focus seems to be anything but local. I know personally of her having helped a constituent in a personal matter, but all MPs regardless of party affiliation do that. On her Web site she claims:
"She helped thousands of constituents solve problems and change policies. She successfully brought Burlington's issues to Ottawa. She worked to bring jobs, promote opportunities for youth, honour Canada's War Veterans, and championed the National Do Not Call Registry and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Since 2006, Paddy worked with the Leader of the Official Opposition and consulted on provincial issues."
What I'm looking for, however, is something tangible that she has done specifically for Burlington that we would not have gotten in those 12 years had we voted Conservative or NDP? Amazingly, I could not find even a single example.
Well, what about the future? Her party is making loads of promises, what are her's?
Here's what I found on her campaign Web site:
"A strong voice for a Richer, Cleaner, Fairer country"
This is all about the national Green Shift program that Dion has now seemed to be backing away from, at least, during this campaign. Apparently, Paddy is still pushing it.
"An experienced voice for the Economy"
This again is just a link to the national campaign. Tells us what a mess they inherited in 1993. You must remember the 1993 campaign, that was the one in which the Liberals promised to dump the GST and renegotiate the Free Trade agreement with the U.S.
The dump the GST promise was an outright lie! Ask former Hamilton MP and deputy prime minister under the Liberal government, Shella Copps, about this: she resigned from parliament because of this lie.
"A leading voice to Fight Poverty"
Again, just another link to the Liberal Party Web site that announces a national plan. Nothing specific about Burlington, nothing local.
"A trusted voice that delivers for Burlington"
Really? What has she delivered for Burlington? What does she plan to deliver for Burlington?
The Conservative incumbent, Mike Wallace, has been the Burlington riding MP since 2006. Mr. Wallace seems to be the only one of the candidates with a Burlington-specific focus. Apparently, for him politics really are local.
Wallace has the usual national campaign stuff, but he also lists Burlington-specific, tangible accomplishments on his campaign Web site. Here's the sort of thing I've been looking for. Straight talk, not just pie-in-the-sky generalities.
"Strong Leadership: for Burlington
- $30 million for the clean up of Burlington Bay
- $7 million for the expansion of Aldershot Go train facilities
- $4 million for a Performing Arts Centre
- $9 million for Burlington from federal gas tax
- More communication with constituents through extended office hours, Upfront newsletter, Cogeco television show and four public meetings annually"
Just since 2006, Wallace seems to have delivered more to Burlington than Ms. Torsney did in 12 years. And has Wallace done as good a job on helping local constituents as Torsney? I can find no evidence that he has not.