Windsor

Collier | Windsor-Tecumseh byelection

The field of candidates for the Aug. 1 byelection in Windsor-Tecumseh has been set but what does the line up mean?

Collier picks Percy Hatfield as the front runner in this August's Windsor-Tecumseh byelection.

Collier says none of the candidates will have the cache of Dwight Duncan. (CBC News)

The field of candidates for the Aug. 1 byelection in Windsor-Tecumseh has been set but what does the line up mean?   Jeewen Gill for the Liberals, Percy Hatfield for the NDP, and Robert de Verteuil for the Conservatives.

Who’s running for office tells Windsorites plenty, according to Cheryl Collier.

When looking at this year’s candidates Collier sees a number of things, but Collier said she’s certain who will win the riding.

"My biggest impression is it's likely to be Percy Hatfield. it's going to be quite a step down (in terms of political influence) from the days of Dwight Duncan," said Collier who pointed out that Duncan was Dalton McGuinty’s right hand man.

The Liberals could have done better in selecting a successor, said the professor of political science at the University of Windsor.

"Duncan stepped down in February. The Liberals have five months to come up with a candidate they hope can replace him and the best they can do is Jeewen Gill? With all due respect to Gill, he lacks the cache of Dwight Duncan," said Collier. " And Robert de Verteuil?  He ran a distant third for the Conservatives in 2011."

To be fair Collier said no one has the same cache as Duncan, "But they could have come up with a higher profile candidate."

"I hear they approached Mayor Eddie Francis, but he declined," she said. "Francis has had a highly successful municipal career and in no way is going to enter a race at a higher level of government unless he knows he can win."

She says Francis might take a run at the federal level, but if Duncan or Sandra Pupatello want in, "what’s left for Eddie Francis?"

"Provincially I think the Liberals have abandoned Windsor-Tecumseh but over and above that I don’t  think the Liberals get Windsor," she said.

 "I don't think the Conservatives get Windsor either," said Collier. " If you see Windsor as a labour town, a union town, an NDP town nothing could be farther from the truth."

She went on to say if Windsor was a "dyed in the wool" union town Eddie Francis wouldn't  have taken on CUPE  and won four years ago and been re-elected to head the city, and the city's garbage collection wouldn’t have been contracted out.

"The labour movement certainly has influence, but they don't decide elections. They'll probably endorse a candidate in Windsor-Tecumseh, but it won't matter," said Collier.

There are some people within the labour movement who've sworn off Percy Hatfield, because of that CUPE strike four years ago but Collier said that won’t affect the outcome.

"It might rob him of some union support, but Percy Hatfield will get plenty of support because Windsor is not a party town, it's a candidate town."

According to the Collier, some Ontario ridings are strongholds where the party elected just doesn't change, that’s not the case in Windsor.

"An individual can carry a party to power in Windsor, not the reverse," she said. "So the NDP is fortunate to have scored a candidate like Hatfield."

A Percy Hatfield win may be good news for Percy Hatfield, but not necessarily good news for Windsor, said Collier.

Collier pointed out that Hatfield would be the second NDP MPP from the Windsor area but "they're in opposition with no great amount of influence."

"It wasn't long ago that we had two provincial cabinet ministers representing this city Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello," she said. "It's not entirely about influence ... it's about making sure Windsor's concerns are heard at Queens Park."

Cheryl Collier is a professor of political science at the University of Windsor. She can be be heard on the Early Shift with Tony Doucette at 8:14 a.m. on Mondays. Tune in to 97.5 FM or listen live online at www.cbc.ca/windsor.

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