This is the fourth 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 second on The Liberal Party & Steven Del Duca, and the third on The NDP Party & Andrea Horwath. 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 PC PARTY
Doug Ford showed up at the candidate debate with binder in hand and that’s about where it starts and ends in terms of perceived effort, despite claims that he has been “working around the clock, 24/7”. Reflective of the Progressive Conservative campaign, if not the last four years as Ontario’s Premier, Ford’s effort lacked sincerity, substance, and absence even when there was presence. If the debate was the deciding event, Ford would finish last amoung the four major candidates and Ontario would have a new Premier.
His strongest contributions when he was focused on answering the right question based on binder notes, despite the debate rules asking candidates not to bring in prepared material, amounted to little more than prepared slogans that Ontarians have been hearing on the radio and tv for weeks. Those include, “Get It Done” and “We say Yes”. They were at times accompanied by some statistics, delivered in a manner that had the potential to cast doubt and required fact-checking. The alternate facts were called out by Del Duca when he said, “You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts Mr. Ford."
Ford seemed focused on issues from the 2018 election to manufacture support against a Liberal government that has not been in power for four years, more as a deflection from their own generalized plan. Del Duca dressed Ford down by telling viewers, “Mr. Ford is the only one on this stage who doesn't realize he's been Premier for the past 4 years because he's still fighting the 2018 election with slogans other people write for him.”
What Is The Plan?
For a plan that arguably lacks planning and substance, it is at a minimum necessary to look at some of the Progressive Conservative offerings.
Doug Ford is going to build a new highway (ignoring climate issues, fuel cost, and remote working benefits learned during the pandemic). His philosophy during the debate was that Ontarians need to get from “one point of the province to the other.” Following that logic and given that Highway 413 is slated to run from about Mississauga northeast towards Vaughan, could that mean plans are in the works to redefine the provincial boundaries? I mean if you live outside of Highway 413 then you won’t be trying to get from one side of the province to the other. Green Party Leader, Schreiner puts the Highway 413 initiative into perspective when he tells Ontarians that Ford, “wants to build a fiscally and environmentally reckless highway," while pointing out that Ford reroutes the highway to “accommodate his buddies”. Horwath delivers a close-out punch with, “we don't need more highways to mansions that no one can afford... why are your developer buddies more important?" Ford smiles for the camera.
Cost of Living
To help fight the rising cost of living, he is going to eventually cut a few cents off the provincial gas tax for a few months. That was also part of the promise he made four years ago that hasn’t been delivered in its entirety and so he’s promising it again. He also reminded Ontarians that he won’t bring back the car sticker fees, while trying to tell them that his opponents would, as they quickly rebutted to the contrary.
To his credit, Ford demonstrated the value of receiving a quality education as he addressed his opponents saying, “if it was up to you three, you wouldn’t build nothing.” The oft used double negative is either something he’s aware of and continues to do because it placates to part of the voter base, or he genuinely believes that’s how it should be said. Andrea Horwath might have figured it out when she said, “Mr. Ford refuses to acknowledge cuts and chaos he brought to education.” Part of Ford’s reply on education was to tell Ontarians that he believes Minister Lecce is the best ever Education Minister.
Ford mentions adding more hospital beds and paying nurses a recent bonus as opponents ask Ford to repeal Bill 124 that only achieves silence and smiles.
It’s hard to really understand what the plan is, when things will happen and how, or if it is costed. On the surface things sound great when you hear Ford say things like, “we’re going to invest in jobs of the future” or “we’re actually putting millions of dollars,” because they provide hope for people. The challenge is that it’s unclear what tangibles those high-level statements translate to for Ontarians.
How Will The Party Show?
The PC Party is currently trending to win a 2nd term as the government of Ontario. That doesn’t mean that most Ontarians will vote for them. Doug Ford currently holds more of the 1/3 of the pie than any other leader. His 30% plus is bigger than what Horwath or Del Duca each have. That also means that Ontario is going to elect a Premier and government where more than 60% of the residence will vote for someone else.
By all account, Ford has given Ontarians, even his base, enough reason to consider alternative leaders. For example,
- a disastrous handling of the pandemic for seniors, students, educators, small businesses, and the average citizens
- stretches of absence from himself and Ministers, including the current campaign
- cuts in education
- poor support for health care workers, Bill 124, and early signs of privatization
- the abandonment of climate control opportunities
- a lack of overall transparency
That said, Doug Ford may win this election with a majority of seats, but not with the majority of support from Ontarians which may add fuel to the existing social and economic divide already brewing.
To read more about the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, you can visit their website.