Not only was the Ontario leaders debate televised on pretty much every local TV channel (TVO? SUN TV!? Hope you enjoyed that ratings boost!) this evening, but as luck would have it, the all-candidates debate for my riding of Trinity Spadina aired immediately afterwards on Rogers TV. More on that in a second. Let me just say that both were helpful in giving me a picture of the parties and the candidates running in next week’s election, but for the moment, I’m still undecided.
As a non-partisan, undecided voter, I didn’t carry any bias into the leaders debate. I will admit that I’m not a big fan of McGuinty, and his constant peddling of the HST and the Green Energy Act during the debate won’t win him any new supporters, in my books. As expected, McGuinty preached the status quo, citing statistics that showed what great shape Ontario is in. Of course, the other leaders had their own statistics to counter that perception. That’s the beauty of statistics; you can pretty much find some stat somewhere to support whichever point you wanna make. Did you know that 23 per cent of Albertans want to separate from Canada!? (See what I just did there?)
As far as the opposition leaders are concerned, I think that Hudak really drove home the point that the PCs are all about job creation and the economy, which obviously speaks to a large portion of the population. But the debate soon devolved into a verbal shoving match between Hudak and McGuinty, with some of the issues getting left behind in the process.
Kudos to Andrea Horwath for steering things back on topic on several occasions. You know, I couldn’t even spell her last name properly before the debate, but I think she spoke to me the most. She came off as folksy and personable, mentioning individual Ontarians by name, and I could definitely relate to her son’s hospital story. In some ways, she kinda reminded me of Jack Layton, defender of the people–and I’m sure her PR people coached her on that. If I have one concern about the NDP platform, it’s that I’m not sure they can pay for all their services on raised corporate tax rates alone.
If anything, I was most looking forward to the Trinity-Spadina debate on Rogers TV. I didn’t even know the name of my local MPP, Rosario Marchese, until the weeks leading up to the election, though I’d get the occasional flyer in the mail showing his smiling face next to Jack Layton’s. (I don’t wanna say the provincial NDP’s beating a dead horse, but…) So I was hoping to familiarize myself with him by way of this debate. Unfortunately, he got held up in traffic, or something, and his seat was left empty for the debate between the major party candidates. Sarah Thomson lead off with a shot at him not living in the riding anymore, but later, in response to a caller’s question, she revealed that she lived “just beyond the boundary” of the riding herself. Kinda looks bad on you Sarah, I gotta say.
Near the end of the debate, fresh-faced
Ronnie Mike Yen stuck up for Marchese, saying he was a “good guy,” then mentioned that there were only three solid choices who lived in the riding, in a thinly-veiled attack on Sarah Thomson, who says that she’s planning on moving here. (Whether or not that’ll happen if she’s not elected, she didn’t say…) Yen, who reminded me of a quote from American Psycho: “He’s the voice of reason. The boy next’s door…” didn’t elaborate much on several issues, and repeated a lotta ProgCon talking points. He is passionate about eliminating red tape for restaurant owners, though, I’ll give him that. (When he ran against Adam Vaughan for city councillor, the only Mike Yen signs I saw in the riding were in the windows of restaurants, so there ya go.)
If anything, the candidate who most impressed me was the Green Party’s Tim Grant, a retired teacher and resident’s association board member who had a lot more to say on education than either of the other candidates. (Sarah Thomson based her support for all-day kindergarten on the viewpoints of her five-year-old son.) He’s also his party’s transportation critic–despite not having a seat in the legislature. I felt that he came off as well-spoken and knowledgeable on most issues. Thing is, the environment isn’t a high priority for myself, personally. Then again, I’ll hafta see where the Green Party stands on legalization of marijuana before I decide to let my ballot go up in smoke.
I should mention that Marchese finally showed up, right after Socialist candidate Guy Fogel delivered a semi-passionate speech about the evils of the current system, abandoning his cue cards once he really got going. Marchese’s brief dialogue afterwards showed that he can yell louder than the commies, but I was otherwise unimpressed. Here’s hoping he makes an appearance in The Annex sometime before the election, because my first impression of him was not particularly positive.