Ontario Provincial Election 2018: How Much Can Voters Excuse?

Two weeks in, ideas become a question of how much we can excuse? Image credit: CFUW Halton and Milton Chapter

By: Laura Steiner

How did we get here?  Two weeks ago we were presented with two distinct visions of Ontario; each with their pros and cons.  Now we find ourselves neck deep in a mud storm that shows little sign of letting up, with new audio about this candidate, and allegation about that one surfacing every other day, and that’s just the Progressive Conservatives.  This morning it was about Doug Ford allegedly helping a candidate recruit members ahead of their nomination.

It’s gone from a choice between those two competing ideas about Ontario, to being a question of how much we can excuse.  Can we excuse a tired Liberal party that’s been in office for 15 years, with all of the baggage, and scandals that entails? Can we excuse a PC Party that finds multiple candidates facing allegations of corrupt practices including over 20 linked with the 407 data breach? Can we excuse the NDP’s  election time ghost of Bob Rae? Or their promises of Ontario as a sanctuary province, their inaccurate estimates of their platform costs, and of no back-to-work legislation? It is a long list of things among these three to examine.

It comes down to local candidates.  But even voting local has its issues.  In Milton PC candidate Parm Gill has missed two all-candidates’ debates, doing himself a disservice.  Milton is still that kind of town where you need to show up to community events even before the writ has dropped. Add to this an unfortunate appearance by an audio track which at least makes him look like a shady guy.  Can voters excuse that? Do they excuse the lack of a cohesive platform or a key message that keeps getting hijacked by candidates’ antics?

Or what about a barely present NDP candidate Brendan Smyth? To his credit he has a good reason for not being there (working out of town), and has owned it.  The NDP have also tried to be present in different ways, sending a rep to the Education debate who stayed for the entire evening, and answered questions afterwards. He has a good online presence, but there is a sense few people have actually physically seen Brendan Smyth.  It’s logical to assume that if he won, that would certainly change.  Can voters excuse this, and elect someone virtually sight unseen?

What about incumbent Indira Naidoo-Harris? She has secured a few successes for Milton; the post-secondary campus, the hospital expansion, new schools, expanded classroom space, and expanded Go Parking. It’s the overall Liberal record that’s the problem.  A hurried minimum wage implementation, gas plants scandal, eHealth, Sudbury by-election.  Arguments with Auditor-General, and Financial Accountability Officer over the books; mishandling the hydro file, Green Energy, and  tortoise-speed transit development.  Can voters excuse all of it because they like the candidate, and want to reward success?

What about the Green Party? Eleanor Hayward is well-known in Milton.  She has shown up to both debates, giving the Green Party exposure in a riding that has traditionally gone either Liberal or PC.  There is an appetite for change, and the idea of an MPP that is able to vote in their constituents’ interest holds a certain appeal.  But are voters ready to take a chance? A Green Party victory anywhere would represent a huge change in thinking in the province.

Voters have a tough choice on June 7.  How much are we ready to forgive and excuse?