By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Days removed from a party delegation to hot and humid India and Pakistan, Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown was facing cooler temperatures while helping campaign for his party’s candidate in Whitby-Oshawa.
Brown hit the streets near the lakeshore in Whitby alongside candidate Lorne Coe to get the word out on voting in the Feb. 11 byelection.
The party leader says that despite the riding’s long history as Progressive Conservative blue, that doesn’t mean they can rest easy over the coming weeks.
“We have a great candidate, and he is going to make a great MPP. He is going to be successful in this byelection, but we don’t take anything for granted,” Brown says. “This is a federal Liberal seat. This is a seat that has gone both ways. We feel very cautiously optimistic, but no seat is the property of any political party. Any seat, it’s up to the voters, and we certainly don’t view any seat as one that is entrenched Conservative or entrenched Liberal or entrenched NDP. You have to earn it every election.”
The lone public opinion poll that has been done thus far – conducted by Mainstreet Research and Postmedia the day after the writ was dropped for the byelection – found Coe to be in the lead with 37 per cent support, ahead of Liberal Elizabeth Roy’s 29 per cent. However, with a margin of error of four per cent, the two can possibly be tied for the lead.
Both Brown and Coe say the biggest issue they’ve been hearing from potential voters is the high cost of power.
“(The biggest issue) I’ve been hearing from Lorne and from volunteers…is energy prices. If there’s one area that the Liberals massively mismanaged, it’s certainly energy prices. The auditor general report that came out about a month ago, it was an indictment,” Brown says of the December report that found the province has paid $37 billion too much for hydro since 2007. “Look at energy prices. Three times that of Quebec, double that of Manitoba. The premier tries to hide this incompetence by saying it’s about green energy. The auditor general directly contradicted the premier, saying this has nothing to do with green energy. They have green energy in Quebec, they have it in Manitoba. This is about scandal and incompetence. This is about selling energy for less than it costs to produce. This is about the gas plant scandal that there is now actual criminal charges for. We need to get Ontario back on track, and part of that is about having an energy policy that works.”
“Voters here in Whitby-Oshawa, as families, they try to live within their means,” Coe adds. “And they have an expectation, especially in the case of high energy rates as well as healthcare costs. The government needs to live within its means as well, and the Liberal government is not living within its means.”