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Ontario Votes 2003

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Election Day: Oct. 2, 2003   


What future lurks in the chanting crowd?
 by Mike Wise, Canada Now
 Sept. 2, 2003

It caught us by surprise.

Most reporters in the Queen's Park press gallery were expecting Eves would drop the writ Sept. 3, or even the next week.

I know I wasn't the only reporter that had to make a mid-day return home to pack quickly and then return to get on the bus with the premier.

It wasn't until I was covering a Liberal event in North York Tuesday morning that I first heard the buzz about the election call.

I managed to extract myself in the middle of the Liberal news conference and make it back to Queen's Park just in time to see the premier leave the lieutenant-governor's office, flanked by his partner, Isabel Basset.

If you caught any pictures of the election call, you know what a big media circus it all turned out to be. The chanting crowds were there for one thing: to make as much noise as possible for the assembled microphones.

It was quite a sight to behold, if not for the obvious partisan nature of it all, than just to wonder to oneself, "Just who are all these people?" Well, there were some politicians, some political staffers, and some party supporters, all brought in to cheer on the premier.

The reason for them being there was obvious: to provide some election "excitement"—to provide a sense of "momentum" to the campaign—and to get the premier's excitement level up (he does seem to give a better speech when he's pumped up by the crowd).

Still, it does strike me as a bit unnatural.

Normally, people don't belt out cheers and jeers for a politician on cue. What are they hoping to get out of it?

I know that several parliamentary assistants got their start working on campaigns as students. Even some politicians: Health Minister Tony Clement was very active in student politics while doing his undergrad at the University of Toronto in the early '80s. Does this mean a future minister could be lurking in that crowd of noisemakers? Could a future Premier be the guy wearing the "Road Ahead" hockey jersey waving an "Eves banner."

Who knows? When Premier Eves stepped onto his campaign bus to leave Queen's Park, the cheering crowd seemed to me a little bit younger. Turns out, many of them were members of the University of Toronto Young Conservatives.

As they chanted "Four More Years! Four More Years!" I chuckled while wondering about their motives.

To me, it sounded like, "For More Beers!"



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