On the hot seat in Oakville
On Wednesday, Ford announced 500 more job cuts at its plant in Oakville.
The Oakville seat is currently held by Liberal Bonnie Brown. But she held on to this seat by her fingernails in the last election - a mere 625 vote margin, which in a large suburban riding is only 1.25 per cent of the total votes cast. The Tories worked hard to upset her then, and they're working hard to finish the job this time. The riding is high on their list of 905 pick-up targets. That's why Stephane Dion made a stop there during his pre-election tour. And it's probably safe to assume he won't be the only leader to drop in.
When jobs are cut, which party benefits? The conventional wisdom used to be that in bad economic times, voters were likely to punish a sitting government.
But the Conservatives opened their wallets for Ontario's auto sector in the run up to this election. That could neutralize this effect. Opinion polls such as the recent CBC-Environics survey do suggest the Tories are seen as best able to manage economic issues.
Another conventional way to look at the race in an 'auto' riding is to assume that union organizers can successfully mobilize large numbers of votes for the NDP. But recent federal and provincial elections haven't borne this out.
During the Mike Harris years in Ontario, ridings with large union memberships in the 905 suburban belt around Toronto voted PC. Oshawa is currently held by the Conservatives federally, despite its long history as an NDP seat. Job losses have traditionally been rallying cries for union activists, but with union membership in decline across the province, the NDP's muscle has been weakened.
Where that leaves a sitting Liberal MP like Brown is anyone's guess. But my bet the answer is... nervous.
Oakville is part of Politics with Don Newman's Ontario picks for THE POLITICS POOL - where political junkies from across Canada attempt to predict what's going to happen in this fall's tightest races. Calling Oakville in these early, early days would be a very bold pick indeed.
— Janyce McGregor
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