Kathleen Wynne walked onto the debate stage with a big target painted on her back Tuesday evening. Incumbents are always attacked during debates. This debate was no different. Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath, the leaders of the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, ganged up on the Premier during the first half hour of the debate. The first question was about the two cancelled gas plants. Ms. Wynne apologized many times, while Mr. Hudak tells us that her apologies are worthless and that if re-elected, it is possible that the Liberals would make another colossal billion dollar mistake.
Tim Hudak gave us straight talk. He told us that he wouldn’t lie. And he stuck to that. He won this debate. While Kathleen Wynne apologized and dodged questions and failed to offer actual ideas, Tim Hudak gave us solutions. He vowed to cut down the cabinet, he vowed to create a million jobs. He vowed to resign if his Million Jobs plan did not work. Wow. He vowed to shrink government. He vowed to keep taxes low. Voters are eating this up. Hudak talked about his grandparents losing their farm. He talked passionately about investing in education and talked about investing in special needs programs, and I think that he seemed like, on that stage, a true leader, someone who understands the struggles of people, who knows the needs of Ontarians. “Hope is on the way,” was his closing message. He reiterated his pledge to resign if his million jobs plan did not work. Tim Hudak won this debate, hands down.
Andrea Horwath, as the third party leader, had less time to speak than Ms. Wynne and Mr. Hudak. While she was speaking, she shot at both leaders. She talked about how the Conservative government of 1995-2003 started privatizing the energy industry and she told us that the Liberals continued doing what the Conservatives started. She talked about how she would stand up for families, but she offered few plans, few ideas, until the fifth question. She vowed to cut auto insurance rates by 15%. She vowed to invest in roads and transit and infrastructure. Andrea Horwath did not win this debate, but she did not lose this debate like our Premier did.
The loser of this debate was clearly Kathleen Wynne. “You’re acting like someone who won the lottery,” Hudak said, saying that the Premier would drive Ontario into bankruptcy. That was what we call a ‘zinger.’ Ms. Wynne plans to spend, spend, spend. Wynne did point out that while Mike Harris was Premier, the graduation rate was 68%, and now the graduation rate is 83%. That is a good statistic. But one good statistic is not enough to win a debate. The gas plants dragged her down. She seemed out of touch with average people.
One last point. I noticed that none of the six questions came from people in Northern Ontario. Newmarket, Guelph, Peterborough, Cobourg, nothing from Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay or Timmins or North Bay or any Northern communities. If I was on that stage tonight I would have pointed that out. There are over three quarters of a million people living in Northern Ontario. The fact that the no question from a Northerner was chosen to be used in this debate, it’s pretty shameful.
This election is crucial. I hope everyone goes out to vote on June 12th. The leaders have made their pitch. Mr. Hudak came out looking good, Ms. Wynne came out looking weak. But it’s up to you, the voters, to choose who our next Premier should be. Whether we elect a new PC government, or continue to let the Liberals lead, or shake it up with the NDP, this debate showcased their plans, and it’s up to you to decide which one will help Ontario the most.