Quick Hits - April 30

  • Erin and I are back from seeing The Hunger Games — the first movie we’ve seen since part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was really quite good. The elements that made The Truman Show so strong (the whole world is watching) really helped make the story work. It probably also helped that I didn’t come into the movie with many preconceived notions from the book. From what I’ve seen, there was a big challenge, here, since the book is told in the first person, very tightly to Katniss’ point of view. The glimpses that I saw of the decadent capital of Panem, and the sense from some of the characters helping the tributes that they themselves felt trapped within this corrupt society, really helped sell it for me. And Jennifer Lawrence was utterly brilliant.

    Special thanks to Grandma Rosemarie for watching the kids and making this night possible.

  • And speaking of special nights, happy 40th birthday to my wife! Yet another “landmine” birthday. Actually, the string of birthdays (mine, Nora’s and Erin’s) has really helped drive home how big this is. It will be odder having this arrangement when Nora turns five and Erin and I turn forty-one.

  • In political news, I was startled and saddened to see Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer resign her seat. I’m sure she’ll do well heading up the Workplace Safety Investment Board, but we’ve lost a good MPP — one of the only Conservatives I’ve seriously considered voting for (back in 2003, in fact, when it was most definitely not cool to be voting Conservative in Ontario — in the end, I voted Green). She represented her riding with great skill, energy and integrity, and her sudden departure, putting the Liberals on the cusp of an actual majority, is a stinging indictment of the leadership of Tim Hudak.

  • It will be interesting to see what happens next in Kitchener-Waterloo. Speculation is rampant that a by-election will be called soon, and the riding must be considered very much in play for the Liberals. It’s possibly the most left-leaning riding in the region (the NDP and the Greens, these past few elections, have together taken 20% of the vote), and the Liberals have come close to winning it before. It would not surprise me to see Sean Strickland going for it. He almost won it in the past, and he is a pretty popular municipal councillor. He’d be a strong choice for the Liberals. But given the NDP and Green Party’s former strength in the riding, the thing the Liberals have to fear here is vote splitting on the left. Indeed, New Democratic voters might be highly motivated to keep the minority in place, but tip the balance more towards their side.

  • On the Conservative side, I have to think that the news that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford intends to campaign against McGuinty in this riding should a by-election be called has the local riding association waving their hands frantically and saying, “please, sir! Don’t help us!”. I mean, consider: Ford is campaigning against the Liberals because, in his words, the Liberals aren’t doing enough for Toronto. What’s he going to say to certain KW voters he may encounter who believe that the Liberals have given Toronto too much? The issues on the ground in Kitchener-Waterloo are very different from the issues on the ground in northern Etobicoke, and if Ford thinks he’s going to unleash ‘Ford Nation’ against McGuinty in KW… well, he’ll unleash something, but I don’t think it will be what he expects, nor will it fall in McGuinty’s lap. The coming by-election is as much a referendum on Tim Hudak’s leadership as it is McGuinty’s minority, and with red tories like Witmer walking away from the party, Ford’s tipping of the Conservative scales to the right won’t be welcome by local voters. But it will be interesting to see.

Anybody who thinks that the phrase “may you live in interesting times” was just a Chinese insult clearly wasn’t a journalist or political junkie.

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