This is the third in a series of brief articles that will look at where the political parties of Ontario stand before the provincial election. The first article was on The Green Party & Mike Schreiner and the second on The Liberal Party & Steven Del Duca. The opinion largely draws on the last candidate debate on May 16, 2022. A call (opinion) will be made in the final article on who will win the election with each article before offering a supporting view.
THE NDP PARTY
Andrea Horwath comes across angry at everyone and everything and she wants Ontarians to feel the same way, turning that emotion into a vote for her. That constant need to be the loudest in the room overshadows a candidate who genuinely cares about the well-being of people and might have some gems in her plan for Ontarians. It is, however, hard to focus on what it is that she and the NDP would do because she talks so much about what the other party leaders won’t or haven’t. During the candidate’s debate she spent a lot of time attacking Ford for his work since 2018 and Del Duca for his work up until 2018, fighting two separate election periods that at times came across desperate and disorganized. Little stands out on the NDP platform, not because it doesn’t have a plan, but because it’s hidden behind all the noise Andrea Horwath generates.
From that noise, there is a moral point Horwath makes while addressing Doug Ford that should resonate with all Ontarians, “Whenever I think about what happened during the pandemic, I think about long-term care and the absolute tragedies that took place there.” Horwath continues with the example of Cathy Parks who was “traumatized by the death of her father in a private long-term care home (points at Ford), (a) for profit long-term care home who basically refused to give him the care that he needed.” She continues, “lots of families watched as loved ones, as the armed forces showed us when they arrived, dying in long-term care homes of malnutrition and dehydration.” While the statement reminds Ontarians of Doug Ford’s failures, the opportunity to identify what the NDP resolution for the future would be, is missed.
What is in the NDP Plan?
Two things stood out from listening to Horwath during the candidate’s debate. First that nothing stands out from her plan and that the promises that had some gumption, appear to be borrowed from the Green or Liberal Party. If you’re a hard-core NDP supporter you may feel otherwise, but the average Ontarian swing-vote may not connect with what was presented. Ontarians are left to re-watch the debate or look up the NDP plan and I don’t know that they will invest the time to do that.
A couple of extracts from the debate on health and education included a focus on what the Ford administration hasn’t achieved and by virtue hinted at what the NDP plan might.
1. In a glimpse into health care support, especially mental health, sprinkled with some commentary on the economy, Horwath said, “There’s still a lot of people suffering from COVID in terms of mental health challenges, people that lost their businesses. Mr. Ford got the call from Walmart, and they did well, but small businesses lost a lot. People lost loved ones. We have to take care of folk’s mental health in this province, and we have a plan to do exactly that with mental health through your OHIP card.”
2. In terms of education, it can be surmised from Horwath’s comments that she believes, as do the Liberals that class sizes should be smaller. Again, addressing Ford, she says, “There were cuts to education before the pandemic hit. Mr. Ford was firing 10, 000 teachers to the point it was so awful that kids were actually protesting outside of their own schools. There were 20,000 kids on the lawns of Queen’s Park trying to save their public education system from this Premier and kids deserve so much better than that… we have to address all of those things and make sure our class sizes are smaller.”
The Online Plan
At a high level, the Ontario NDP highlights themes like affordable living, fixing health care, employment, fixing education, climate control, Indigenous Peoples, Public Services, COVID, and Northern Ontario. You then have to dig into each of those to find a list of specifics. Again, a lot of work for constituents who are giving Doug Ford an early lead on less than 10 second soundbites and slogans.
How Will The Party Show?
The NDP is poised to lose their position as leader of the opposition. While Horwath focused on Doug Ford, she also spent a lot of time focusing on Steven Del Duca and the 60% of Ontarians that don’t want to vote for Doug Ford also don’t want to be confused or see a similar attack style from the NDP as they see in the Conservatives. That may hurt any Liberal swing votes Horwath could have had.
If the debate was the measuring stick, Horwath placed 3rd behind Schreiner and Del Duca, but still ahead of Ford in terms of actual substance and credibility.
Horwath recognizes that the NDP may still get the strategic vote from ridings that want to remove any connection to Ford when she says, “This election has a lot at stake. What we need to do to fulfill a lot of the opportunities that we talked about tonight, all of that starts with defeating Doug Ford’s government.” While that closing statement has merit, the NDP are not going to take enough from the Conservatives or the Liberals to form a new administration in Ontario. This may be the last kick at the can for Horwath, who may have miscued the right strategy on this campaign.
To learn more about the Ontario NDP, please visit their website.
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