TORONTO - Less than three months away, Ontarians will head to the polls to elect their next provincial government. Voting day, June 2, is rapidly approaching and the campaign is well underway. This campaign will look similar to those of the past, especially as Covid restrictions ease throughout the province and life begins to resemble something familiar.
However, like previous elections, Ontario voters also face familiar concerns. Some of the defining issues include the state of the economy, housing affordability, the fear of privatization, cuts to health care and the protection of Ontario’s publicly funded education system.
This will be the time for Ontarians to have their say in their future and the government responsible. More specifically, 7.5% of the provincial population self-identified as Canadian of Italian origin. That is close to one million Italian Canadians in Ontario, as per the most recent data from StatsCan (2016 Census).
Across Ontario, people of Italian heritage make up a minimum of 10% of the population in about twenty of the province’s 124 electoral districts. They are citizens and they have a culture of voting.
In this election campaign, the Corriere will “explore in depth” a third (42) of those districts. Constituencies where Italians number more than 8,000 and will be key in districts where the margin of victory may be close.
We invite all candidates to address our readership in matters significant to their ridings. We encourage our readers to write to us about issues that are important to them.
It is noteworthy that four years ago, only 58% of eligible voters actually cast a ballot, and that represented an historic level. That is why those 42 ridings will be pivotal.
In 2018, the Progressive Conservative Party (PC), led by Doug Ford won 76 of the 124 seats in the Legislature. A party needs at least 63 seats to form a majority government. The Ontario NDP, led by Andrea Horwath took 40 seats while the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP), led by Kathleen Wynne ended up with only 7 seats. The Green Party, led by Mike Schreiner gained one seat, becoming the first in Ontario History. With Wynne gone, current OLP leader, Steven Del Duca aims to rebuild support for the party
The outcomes are not always secure. During the Ford government’s mandate, the PC lost five seats and now sits at 67. Last week, the NDP also lost a seat when the leader removed MPP Paul Miller from caucus. He had represented the riding of Hamilton East – Stoney Creek since 2007. The NDP cited “unacceptable” information uncovered during the vetting process but provided no details.
A spokesperson for the NDP told the Corriere that “the NDP will certainly nominate a candidate in Hamilton East – Stoney Creek”. However, he did not indicate who that candidate would be or when that nomination might take place.
Several constituencies have yet to nominate their respective candidates. With less than six weeks until the official start of the 43rd Ontario General Election Campaign on May 4, this will be hectic time.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter