Ontario Leadership Debate: It’s about the Money

Leaders are facing off for our votes. Election Day is June 7, 2018

By: Laura Steiner

Last night’s Leadership Debate; the final in this 2018 provincial election campaign boiled down to one thing: the money.  First time voter Martin asked “How do you plan to pay for all the additional services that you’re promising us?” The simple question exposed a weakness in all three of them, and in this election.

The Liberals’ bookkeeping practices have been under heavy criticism from both the Auditor General, and Financial Accountability Office for a while now.  They show a return to balance this year, yes.  But within the next five years, the debt starts climbing again.  With the argument over the accounting problems it’s impossible to tell what kind of shape the books are actually in.  Any of those parties could win, but find their platform blown to pieces because somebody forgot to carry a 1.

The Progressive Conservatives (PC)’s have a big weakness on the financial platform.  They haven’t released a full platform, nor given any indication of how much it will cost.  It makes it easy to seize on the idea of cutbacks, although Doug Ford has not mentioned anything about that.  The previous platform was framed with a revenue neutral carbon tax with the money going to pay for the majority of their platform.  Without it, the question of affordability is a key.

The NDP did attempt to answer the question.  Andrea Howrath was the only one that did.  But her answer of adding an extra tax to higher earners made many cringe with the horror.  What would that do to job creation and the economy? A $7 billion error in the platform is significant.  Horwath gets points for genuinely apologizing for it, but she still needed a plan to address it.  So where’s that?

Other Debate notes:

  • “Sorry not Sorry:” Kathleen Wynne’s opening statement featured the slang term sorry not sorry.  Something went wrong with her delivery.  What was supposed to be unapologetic actually came off as condescending, and passive-aggressive.  It’s blown up on social media as its own hashtag.   Through the first half of the debate she looked tired, and unsure of herself.  She recovered a little bit in the second half.
  • “Folks, and friends”: I found Doug Ford to be the most disappointing.  Much of the platform holds question marks beside it, chief among them is affordability.  He had the chance to spotlight the specifics. He blew it reverting to the slogans, and one word-use like: friends, and folks.  We’re your potential employers, not your friends.
  • And the winner is… Andrea Horwath.  She had notable exchanges with Ford as she called him out for not having his full platform.  She was the only one who looked like she was fighting for something.