This is the second 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. 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 LIBERAL PARTY
Steven Del Duca has had to repeatedly remind Ontarians that it is 2022. That’s because opponents, primarily Horwath and Ford keep raising issues prior to and including 2018 when the Liberal Party of Ontario was the governing administration. In fact, they’re betting on convincing Ontarians it is 2018 and that the Liberals are still in power, so they have a target. Ford knows the NDP are a distant threat and Horwath knows if she has any chance of gaining support, it’s from the Liberals. Del Duca would have none of it as he shut down Horwath and Ford several times by saying, “respectfully…we’re not here to fight the 2018 election all over again,” distancing himself from the previous administration while laying the foundation for lessons learned.
Standing His Ground
Del Duca also had his offensive play clearly focused on Ford, while continually extending an unreciprocated olive branch to Horwath and a counter-supportive one to Schreiner. “Over the past two years what we have seen in terms of Mr. Ford’s attendance at question period has been appalling. More than 82% of the time set aside for him to respond to the opposition parties, he’s been absent. Now if you’re watching at home and you don’t show up for work 82% of the time, I suspect you don’t get promoted, in fact you don’t keep your job.” Del Duca delivered that blow late in the debate while Ford visibly rolled his eyes and showed frustration. Ford and his administration have been repeatedly dogged by their untimely absence during the past four years and on this campaign. Del Duca pointed that out several more times to the annoyance of Doug Ford.
As Horwath threw occasionally jabs at him, Del Duca remained calm and respectful, even reminding her that, “every time you attack me as you’ve done for a year, Doug Ford smiles,” always starting with respectful endearment that made Horwath look petty in the moment.
Getting past the noise, Del Duca cemented his ideas, focused on today with sights on the future and not just by saying it’s not 2018, but by demonstrating confidence in the Liberal book-balancing plan for 2026.
The Listening Plan
When the candidates were asked what lesson, they may have learned, or what they might do differently, Del Duca said he has learned how to listen better. That listening translates into several platform initiatives including $1 public transit, re-instating rent control, and building 1.5 million new homes as part of tackling the rise in cost-of-living. He’s also committed to hiring 100,000 health care workers and 3,000 new mental health resources, plus leveraging $1billion to help clear surgery backlogs and reducing surgery wait times. He tackles education with forgiving of health-care student loans, repairing schools, and ending mandatory online learning. He also touched on the environment by identifying the looming cost and impact Ontario is facing, “under (the Doug Ford) leadership there will be a 600% increase in fossil fuel burning fuel to produce Ontario’s electricity in the next number of years. This is what happens when you have leadership who doesn’t have the capacity to lead.”
Del Duca’s approach of fix what’s broken now, while taking a planning approach for what’s next is done with transparency, credibility, and experience. “The Ontario Liberal plan that we put out a few days ago is fully costed. You can see that we used the same fiscal anchors that the Financial Accountability Officer used that the Auditor General validated. We anticipate that we would be able to responsibly balance Ontario’s books by 2026. “
How Will The Party Show?
As things sit post-debate, the Liberals are poised to become the official opposition party. They have made significant ground based on polling and Steven Del Duca has done a fair job re-branding the party and re-connecting with Ontarians. His inclusive demeanor during the debate fostered collaboration and invited feedback while his promises were both sincere and plausible.
“I will never cut and deliver chaos and havoc in public education, public healthcare, economic dignity and support for small businesses, elder care, and the fight against the climate crisis the way Doug Ford has. So, I believe in balance, moderation, and responsibility,” said Del Duca to Ontarians and did so in a believable manner that offered reassurance.
While Del Duca spent time distancing himself from 2018, maybe he didn’t need to. His openness on learning, maturity, and change is a positive experience Ontarians could benefit from. Afterall, he did two things that invested his position in a way Ontarians should appreciate:
1. Put both his daughter’s names in the mix of several observations.
2. Acknowledged the past and provided a path for change through self-awareness.
This is a different Steven Del Duca than 2018 and could surprise on election day to become the next Premier of Ontario. To learn more about the Provincial Liberal Party, you can visit their website.
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