Did you watch the Ontario Leaders Debate this week?
I watched it streamed to my computer, with instant Twitter analyses running next to it. I kid, the Twitter analyses were mostly just pot shots at the Leaders when they made a point and one fellow calling for a drink every time things like “Million Jobs” or “bad math” were mentioned.
The first thing that happened when they had wrapped up (I didn’t watch the scrums afterwards) was the clamour over “Who won the debate?”
The party faithful were the first to jump, obviously their leader had taken the debate, wasn’t it obvious? Secondly the experts started to give their opinions. Thankfully experts only get one vote just like the rest of us.
So what is my take on the debate?
Glad you asked.
(Disclaimer: I admit to being somewhat biased, but I’m trying to stand back from that today)
I really didn’t see a real winner in the bunch, certainly no knockout punches as far as I could see. No one really managed to draw blood as it were, but there will be some bruising for Kathleen Wynne.
For the most part, I though Wynne stood her ground although she was on the defensive for much of the debate. This only stands to reason as she is the Premier and both Hudak and Horwath are gunning for her spot. I thought that the other two were trying to goad Wynne into a fight and she took their shots without taking the bait. Had she allowed the debate to turn nasty I think Wynne would have lost ground, instead she tried to project a strong, stable leader and for the most part looked like a Premier.
A number of people wondered why she merely apologized for the Gas Plants rather than go on the offensive since both the PCs and the NDP were willing to kill those same Gas Plants and would have ended up costing the same amount of money in the end. What she did do was to take the wind from Hudak over this. By accepting and apologizing she prevented him from going on about how He would have handled it and left him nowhere to go.
Hudak gains some points for staying on message for the whole evening. One Million Jobs was in almost every answer he gave. However, his attempt to look folksy by sharing his personal stories left me cold, take a bunch of points away for that. It is not easy to act personable, especially if that is not a natural trait, I don’t think Hudak is very personable, nuff said.
Horwath was a bit more entertaining, her barbs especially at Hudak (the Buckley’s reference for example) stick out most in my mind. Unfortunately, other than a few notable moments Horwath was relegated to the background, had she gotten a rise out of me either in a good way or bad she might have earned a few points from me. It’s too bad, I do like her but she just didn’t have the right plan for the debate.
So if no one won, who lost?
I joke again, depending on your point of view each of them could be consigned to third place, but no one really lost.
It is hard to lose when the game plan is to try and topple the sitting Premier and no one really took aim at either Hudak or Horwath with a serious game changer.
I found the debate to be rather boring to be honest, which is unfortunate. No one was swinging for the fences, the knockout blow because there is always the risk of getting opening yourself up to a hard shot.
It is a shame since Provincial politics touches us much more than Federal politics, but we spend so much of our time watching (and complaining about) the crew in Ottawa. Almost everything we do (in Ontario) in our day to day lives is touched by the decisions made in Queens Park and yet we hardly pay any attention to the people we put in there. Municipal politics is the same thing. Other than election time, we really don’t have much interest about the goings on in Council unless of course you live in Toronto, but that’s a horse of a different colour altogether.
So what to do about Ontario?
If the polls have anything to tell us it’s that come June 12th we’ll probably have another minority government and either Wynne will hold on to the Premiership or Hudak will replace her. A minority means that whoever forms the government will only be able to govern with the support of one of the Opposition parties.
We’re basically saying to them that we don’t trust any of you to run the joint on your own. It’s pretty much the truth isn’t it? We’re not too happy with the Liberals, but Wynne is a new face who really hasn’t had a chance to do much other than to answer for the sins of her predecessor, and we don’t appear to trust the other two whether it’s memories of Mike Harris or Bob Rae. (To be honest, Rae did a pretty good job considering the cards he was dealt.)
Anyhow, since we don’t seem too interested in giving the keys to the car to any one of the parties, maybe we should try something new.
Let’s tell them to act like adults.
But we need this to resonate with them. Sending a message to the Leader you like the least (or dislike the most) is pointless, you’re just going to be partisan and that is the problem we have at both the Provincial and the Federal level. We don’t need more partisanship, we need less.
I propose drafting a letter that says in effect:
“Dear Leader, I voted for your representative here in _______ and I support your party. What I am requesting of you and your MPPs is to act in an adult manner in the upcoming session at Queens Park.
“When you debate, do so respectfully. Please argue your points forcefully, but listen to the counter arguments as well. The point is to make legislation that is good for me and the rest of Ontario and not to try and further your political goals. We can only have good legislation if the parties act in the best of interests Ontario and that means that sometimes the other people may be right.
“All the parties in the Legislature believe in what they stand for, this is why we have elections, but none of those policies are cast in stone. We have seen good things come from minority governments in the past, we would like to see good things come from this government as well.
“PS There will be a test later. My next vote will go the people who acted with Ontario in mind. Don’t blow it.”