Here's the other way this could be an election issue


Should the city and Ontario Provincial Police bureaucracies decide to work well together in the event of a council "Yes" vote on an OPP costing request, I may end up with egg to remove from my face. (Keep it sunny-side up, please, and do pay attention to those shell fragments...)

My post-FAO opining about the likely outcome of the crucial April 23 council vote included some significant electoral implications. That was based on the assumption that, out of the typical estimate of 18 months to two years to turn a city from municipal policing to OPP, the lion's share of that time would be spent getting a figure that is palatable to the city, while less time would be needed for the powers above to approve any badge change.

Getting that number late would put the whole decision whether or not to switch badges into the 2014 election season.

In fact, the opposite may be true. As I'll be reporting in tomorrow's print edition, OPP brass are saying they could have a figure for the city to consider as early as summer's end.

The rest of the time will be spent on public consultation (and we will want that -- plenty of that), the debate and vote on a proposed switch and then, if the answer again is "Yes," the disbandment and transition.

So, can an OPP costing still be an election issue? Yes, if it takes the OPP longer than only a few months to get the stats it needs from the city and crunch the numbers, and if the very emotional debate Mayor David Henderson rightly predicts takes a lot of time.

Since the OPP's proposed number would need adjustment after six months, that hypothetical delay would also involve a bit more time for a revised figure.

All of this, one would imagine, would take us into the electoral discomfort zone -- the period of time that is close enough to a municipal election that the call to "let the voters decide" becomes too uncomfortable to ignore.

On the other hand, here's another OPP-related election scenario.

Say the costing comes in before the end of September, and the public meetings take us till mid-December or so. At that juncture, a (theoretical) pro-OPP majority could railroad the decision through and, as a Christmas present, Brockville gets six months of disbandment and transition.

In this scenario, the badge change is made just as the 2014 election campaign begins in earnest, and we have a grudge match for mayor, with Louise Severson, or someone else, trying to capture that (probably significant) portion of the electorate seeking to punish those who ditched a 180-year-old police force.

Severson said last Friday that, were she to run again for the top ticket next year, she would not make policing an issue.

But then, she would probably not have to utter a word about the matter.

Back in 2000, Nick Iamonico, an unknown candidate with no experience or talent for politics or campaigning, managed to get 1,130 votes compared to Ben TeKamp's 6,874, all because of discontent with TeKamp's previous council's decision to sell the PUC. An experienced campaigner would have seized plenty more, and made it a contest.

If you thought the PUC was an emotional debate, wait for the OPP debate.