Regina, Balfour offer election insights
Some would say Tom Regina of the Ontario Green Party and Gene Balfour of the Ontario Libertarian party sit at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they both had a similar goal in in last week’s election: to grow their political brands.
Both believe they successfully did that, and more.
“I really didn’t run a campaign” Balfour said. “I didn’t spend a nickel. I have been advocating for less government for the last 40 years. I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I spread the news about what it is to be a libertarian.” Balfour ended up with under 400 votes cast in his favour.
Quite surprisingly, Balfour did not even tell people to vote Libertarian. He explained that he looked at the other seven parties contesting the riding and tried to decide which one was interested in the core libertarian value of less government and had a better chance of winning the riding than he did. Balfour believed that Ontario Party candidate Kerstin Kelly was that person.
“I asked people to support Kerstin,” Balfour said.
Regina, with about 2,500 votes, echoed a similar sentiment about growing the Green movement in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“I ran a very small campaign with modest resources and I feel like we got a lot more bang for our buck than most of the other parties,” Regina said. “I am looking forward to maintaining a riding association so as to be that much more experienced and financially ready to support candidates in future elections.”
When asked for insights about the campaign he just participated in, Regina, a first-time candidate, was surprised what he heard at the doors from some voters and the difference between what he was told and how people actually voted.
“I would not have predicted the overwhelming result (a substantial Progressive Conservative majority) based on what I was hearing from people on their doorsteps,” Regina said. “It was interesting though how much ill will was being directed at the NDP and the Liberals because of what was going on in Ottawa, especially toward the Liberals. I never thought that the Liberals would not be able to bounce back at all, especially since so many polls put them ahead of the NDP.”
Regina was however disappointed that the Greens were not able to pick up “an extra seat or two.”
Balfour, a nine-time candidate, was disappointed with the result locally, and Laurie Scott’s re-election specifically.
“The only time you see her in the riding is when she is handing out cheques,” Balfour said. “She is an ‘old-school politician’ where politics is a popularity contest.”
“Scott should have been fighting for the victims of the lockdown,” Balfour said. “Instead, she and (Progressive Conservative leader) Doug Ford went along with the lockdowns proving that Laurie does not represent the true needs of the people in this riding. She chose loyalty to the party. She didn’t step up for us.”
When asked about the record low 43 per cent voter turnout Balfour was not surprised.
“There are three things people don’t want to talk or hear about right now and those are politics, religion and vaccine status. You risk being isolated depending upon how you answer those questions.” Balfour said. “Most voters in the riding thought the outcome was a forgone conclusion, so they adopted the attitude of what is the point of voting and stayed home.”
Balfour also suggested that “most voters want real discussion” on the issues of the day, not the 90 second soundbites that most debates between candidates offer.