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The leaders’ debate for the Ontario election just wrapped up, and it was a hot mess (for lack of a better term). All three leaders had fiery rhetoric, half formed plans for the province and cute anecdotes. Here are the highlights of the Ontario debate.

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak focused on the idea that budget balancing would create jobs, which Ontario is losing. “Alberta’s greatest export is oil, Ontario’s is our next generation” he said. He wants to lower taxes, but would also cut spending and public sector jobs in order to get back to a balanced budget. After the infamously poor math of his Million Jobs Plan, he tried to prove he actually does have the ability to formulate practical plans for the province. He even made a commitment, that he would resign if his plan fails. Yes, he would resign from his limited term as premier if his 8 year plan does not work. He also tried to be nice to each candidate personally, saying to Wynne that he “spent a lot of time in her office.” A tad awkward phrasing, Mr. PC. 

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne talked about investing in the future as the way to create economic prosperity, through infrastructure and partnership with business. When asked a direct question about what programs she would cut in order to balance the budget, she dodged more nimbly than Jackie Chan in that martial arts movie whose name you can’t remember. 

NDP leader Andrea Horwath focused on dishing out serious burns against the other candidates and how their plans clearly don’t work. Her comments were stinging and her knowledge of every previous mistake of her colleagues was fun to watch.


The first battleLearn More

The first battle
| Nathan Denette | Ontario


In general, all the candidates used very clear tactics. Hudak tried to prove his practical credentials and told some really damn cute stories about his family, unfortunately including one about how he helps his daughter with math homework. Both other candidates tried to tie Wynne to her controversial predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, while she tried to stay away from that label. Horwath struggled against being marginalized as a third party candidate and was really mean to everyone else. Hudak was surprisingly nice to her, only criticizing the NDP for their support of the Liberals, ostensibly setting up a path towards cooperation in case he gets a minority. 

While Hudak’s rhetoric was likely the strongest, since he told compelling personal stories (facts tell, stories sell) and gazed at us with those lovable eyes, nobody seems to have run away with the debate. It’s unlikely that it changed the hearts and minds of too many voters. Horwath did a great job of making the other two leaders seem like slimy politicians, but did little to raise her own stature. Hudak was a great speaker, but was an easy target for the others after his major math mess up. Wynne tried to seem like the natural leader, but both other candidates attacked her on her less than squeaky clean record and she seems to have slipped on her own slime on the way out of the debate. 

So, there you have it. Everyone was mean to each other, cut each other off and in general reduced the confidence Ontario has in their politicians and their ability to govern. 

While she may not have come out on top in this debate, Andrea Horwath had some one-liners that really deserve to be showcased, so here they are:

Horwath Burning the Big Guys

“The choice is between bad choices and bad math” 

“The Million Jobs Plan has a million math mistakes”

In response to Wynne dodging a question, “That’s what leadership is not, Kathleen Wynne.”