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Merriam: Oh, say, can you see the parallels?

JIM MERRIAM, QMI Agency

The differences between the presidential election in Yankeeland and the byelections in Ontario are striking.

And yet there are parallels.

First, these are two jurisdictions so deep in debt it's hard to see them ever returning to solvency.

The U.S. debt - $15 trillion-plus and counting - risks dragging the world economy further into the dumpster.

The $263 billion Ontario debt by comparison seems to be a mere drop in the bucket.

However, it carries the risk of dragging all of us who live in the province into the same dumpster.

In both countries the debt was massive when the current governments took office. However, both have run it to the point that it threatens to engulf us all.

Both the U.S. and Ontario have governments from somewhere left of centre, depending upon the issue. Those who would like to unseat the incumbents are either further left or centre-right in Ontario.

In the U.S., the opposition is totally right wing and these ideologues swing all the way to the fringes where they find themselves cheek-by-jowl with some of the most extreme zealots.

The leaders of the governments in question are different, too. President Barack Obama is as much like Dalton McGuinty as my mules are like Hereford cows.

If you were to look up charisma in the dictionary you might find Obama's picture. In Ontario, you're more likely to find McGuinty's smiling face if you look up dull or bland.

Admittedly, charisma does not necessarily a good leader make. However, Obama has earned his chops in a number of ways, including the takedown of Osama bin Laden.

McGuinty's chops were eaten by pit bulls before he had a chance to earn them. You still might find remnants of them on shelves in corner stores, but you'll have to look behind the flaps that cover cigarettes for sale.

A less than effective opposition works in favour of the incumbents in both countries, although more so in Yankeeland.

There, the Republican challenger Mitt Romney has trouble keeping his hand-made, thousand-dollar loafers out of his mouth. Back in Ontario, Tim Hudak is mostly plagued by a backroom team that might be made up of former Liberal advisers; such is their lack of understanding of the people of the province.

The NDP team is doing better, but nobody seems to know how much better.

Health care is a big issue in both elections. In the U.S., so-called Obamacare has offered health coverage for the first time to everyone in the country.

In Ontario, the question is how to deliver the best possible medical care to everyone when the government wastes billions on the file through e-health, Ornge and bureaucracy such as LHINs.

Back to Obamacare, the Republicans are against it, mostly because of the way it tramples human rights by requiring folks to purchase health insurance. Obviously, the trampling of rights is another parallel, although in Ontario they're trampled on the question of placement of wind turbine factories.

All in, Obama's strengths have the Democrats slightly ahead in current polls. If Romney keeps gaffe-ing it up there's every chance the president will hold that lead.

With only two ridings going to the polls in Ontario, the results are harder to predict.

However, if the Dalton Gang runs on its record, there is every chance that the NDP will win one of the ridings and the Tories the other, opening the door for McGuinty to walk off into the sunset.

jmerriam@bmts.com



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