Trending With the Tea Party in the Ontario Provincial Election

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A political movement whose members would cheer the death of an uninsured patient seems like something that Canadians can band together to dislike.

But what influence does the Tea Party actually have north of the border?

Those watching the Ontario provincial election unfold might be led to believe that it represents a colossal threat. Former premiers Bob Rae and Ernie Eves both recently evoked the movement in their criticism of the direction that right-of-centre politics have taken in Canada.

WIth their help, Conservative leader Tim Hudak has been branded by the Liberal war room as "Tea Party Tim." Of course, the only real menace to Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty is the notion that his constituents will express their displeasure at the ballot box.

Still, it's telling that the readiest shorthand to undermine Hudak with needs to be imported from another country. Vague allusions of bad spelling, casual racism and messianic faith in Sarah Palin are somehow enough to dissuade Ontario from voting in someone new.

Meanwhile, the actual Tea Party now wields enough credibility and clout to organize a Republican debate for CNN, and its denial of climate change and global warming was recently acknowledged as legitimate in a major study by Yale University. Discrediting the viewpoints reflected by the movement isn't going to make them disappear.

References to the TP-word, however, also shed light on the fact that the Liberal party now has a branding problem — as reflected in its blowout in the federal election in May. Voters are obviously looking around for an alternative to the status quo.

For this round, however, it would seem that the best McGuinty's team can do to distance itself from the Conservative trend of "American-style" campaigning is to present Hudak as even more "American-style."

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