/Orange County?

Orange County?

By Emily Stonehouse

Will Haliburton County go orange? It’s a question I’ve asked myself as I’ve watched the ER closure saga wage on. 

On May 25, Marit Stiles, the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party and the leader of the official Opposition, came to town. She stood on the cracked bricks of the Village Green, meeting locals who donned the yellow “Save the Minden ER” t-shirts, shaking their hands and hearing their stories. 

She showed up. She cared. 

And what I realized, as I sat in the blazing sun and watched as national news agencies pushed microphones in her face, is that this is a big deal. 

Not only because we have a large-scale politician standing in our corner of the world. But because she waves an orange flag. 

It’s no secret that Haliburton County is blue country. As I’ve mentioned in other columns, sometimes, I don’t even see the point in voting. It’s just common knowledge that we will stick to our Conservative guns. Old habits die hard. 

And for the most part, we’ve stayed our status quo. Not a lot has changed or shifted or impacted us by steadily voting for what we’ve always voted. The Conservative Party around here seems to be like that favourite woolen sweater that always fits just right. Or an old movie that feels safe. Or a warm bowl of mac and cheese on a rainy day. Comfort food. 

In 1990, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Dennis Drainville ran as an NDP candidate for what was then Victoria-Haliburton, and won with a whopping 6,520 votes over his nearest opponent. 

Since and before then, with the exception of some sprinkling of red here and there, we’ve been blue. 

And we’re still blue. But maybe, that comfort food is suddenly getting sour. 

Maybe, it’s not sitting well with us anymore. Maybe it’s taking away things that are precious to us. Maybe it’s changing. Maybe we’re changing. 

And maybe it doesn’t come down to blue or red or orange. Maybe it comes down to the people. 

Doug Ford presented himself like an every day Ontario man himself. He threw around buzz words like “small town businesses” and “local economies” and “buck a beer” like they were candy. He made it seem like he was a guy we could approach. Maybe someone we could picture sitting on a barstool at the Dominion. A guy who would care about any one of us, in any tiny corner of the world. 

But the truth of the matter is that he doesn’t care. If he did, he would be here, right now, fighting for our hospital with every other person who cares in this community. 

So maybe it’s time to put aside the politics and start looking at who is here. Who is putting their boots on the ground and standing behind the little community that could. 

And it just so happens that the party doing that right now, is orange. So maybe it’s time to shelve the comfort food, and get ready to try something new.