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Voters across North America out for blood

When it comes to my outlook as a reporter I tend to be a "big picture" type of individual. So here's the latest North America-wide trend to ponder.

When it comes to my outlook as a reporter I tend to be a "big picture" type of individual. So here's the latest North America-wide trend to ponder.

There is a definite anti-government and anti-incumbency trend going on at the moment, with voters showing their fangs towards incumbents around North America. Halloween is coming, after all.

We're seeing it especially from the Americans. They're about to hold mid-term elections for Congress and other offices, and polls indicate a lot of discontent towards President Barack Obama and his tax-and-spend Democrat led Congress for alleged mismanagement and wasteful spending.

Catching particular attention has been the Republican "Tea Party" movement led by partisans such as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, with some "Tea Party" candidates beating established Republicans in primaries to win their spot on the ballot in November.

Seen as a movement of the discontented, the Tea Party has really shaken things up in American politics. Success in November could really make life miserable for Obama in getting his agenda through in the future.

The discontent south of the border is being felt in Canada, too, in some of the election races going on.

The media in Toronto is abuzz about the mayor's race there, with right-wing city councillor Rob Ford shocking everyone by topping the polls and being a real threat to win the fall election.

Ford is a big, burly, tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy - the polar opposite of the usual leadership at city hall. He's spent much of his time opposing the wasteful spending of outgoing Mayor David Miller and the rest of the left-wing politicians running the city.

The Ford "phenomenon," as some media people have put it, says a lot about what people in Toronto think about the high taxes and messes the current leadership has wrought. Last year there was a garbage strike that stunk the city right up and had people upset.

They're also mad about the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Mayor Miller, though, is not to blame for that. Instead, voters are pointing fingers at Premier Dalton McGuinty and the provincial Liberals for bringing it in, and his popularity has plummeted. People are complaining they can't make ends meet because of level of taxes they have to pay.

There's even more opposition to the HST in British Columbia. The governing Liberals led by Premier Gordon "HST" Campbell are so far behind the NDP in the polls people are openly speculating whether the Liberals will survive as a party.

Of course, we know about Premier Ed Stelmach's problems in Alberta, with many right-wingers so fed up with him they are now supporting the Wildrose Alliance led by Danielle Smith. Then you have Premier Jean Charest's problems in Quebec with all these scandals involving cabinet ministers dragging down his party. One wonders how long he is for this world, too.

Of course, the rest of the country is only playing catch up to the Atlantic region, where three provinces have thrown governments out in the last three years. Two weeks ago, it was New Brunswick's turn.

There is definitely discontent out there and a lot of things are driving it. Mainly, people are struggling to make ends meet in much of the country, and they don't like it when they are getting socked and punched by politicians who hike their taxes and don't understand their problems, and waste their precious taxpayers' dollars.

This ultimately leads me back to the Battlefords and the political scene around here. I am wondering if this kind of cranky mood is going to make its presence felt here.

Last month, incumbent MLA Len Taylor was nominated to run in the Battlefords for the NDP in the 2011 provincial election. The seat is likely to be hotly contested by the Sask. Party and the Liberals. Taylor, of course, is an incumbent - but more importantly, he is in the opposition party.

If this cranky mood makes its way to Saskatchewan, a couple of things could happen. One is that Taylor could mobilize and direct the discontent towards the Sask. Party government in power over alleged misdeeds and inaction on affordable housing, crime and health care, especially the proposed new Saskatchewan Hospital, which still hasn't been built.

The other possibility is the Sask. Party could mobilize discontent against the current incumbent, Taylor, for allegedly not solving these issues himself while in power. Now that he's in opposition he's not able to do much at all, the Sask. Party would say, so voters might as well boot him out and join the winning side. The Sask. Party is also bound to go after the NDP for their stand on the Northland Power deal. The NDP says SaskPower should have built the plant, not some "Ontario" company. Never mind that Northland Power created prosperity in the Battlefords and bought the naming rights to the curling rink. All the NDP can do is criticize, the Sask. Party would say.

But there is a third, very real prospect at election time. Maybe voters around here won't be cranky at all, having already gotten it out of our system back in the 2007 election. Sure, there are problems, but a lot of people are happy about the economic prosperity and the progress made in a lot of areas. We don't have the kind of financial woes that other provinces have, we don't have the HST to worry about, and there has been nothing to prompt "Tea Parties" to break out.

Here's a thought: maybe voters in the Battlefords won't be in a mood to dole out punishment to either the Saskatchewan Party or to Len Taylor.

What happens if voters go to the polls in a good mood? Good question.