The leaders of the three major political parties of Ontario debated on Tuesday night ahead of October 6th election.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who has led Ontario for last eight years was a clear underdog. He had a lot more explaining to do than the other two candidates whose records were not under laser like scrutiny. Liberal leader maintained his usual calm demeanor, addressing voters’ logic more than their emotion.
PC leader Tim Hudak stayed with his mantra of “On October 6th, families have a clear choice…” Rather than stressing more on what the PC government will do for Ontario, he emphasized on attacking Mr. McGuinty.
As opposed to Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Hudak, NDP leader Andrea Horwath made constant references to people – meeting a woman at a bar, the man who could not afford to pay his bills and so on. It was a clear indication of what the NDP has been saying at all levels. “We put people first.”
I have seen Mr. McGuinty speak at a number of different community events – at South Asian young professionals’ event, at gurdwaras, at mandirs and at mosques. In his addresses, Mr. McGuinty responds to the concerns raised in those events by speakers who came before him. I would have imagined he would have quoted many more Ontarians who benefited through his government’s policies for last eight years.
While almost all sectors of Ontario government were touched, the parties responded in a press release sort of a manner, sticking to their message, tailoring their answers to their party tune rather than responding to the questions boldly. One would have expected Mr. McGunity to do it because he said himself, he had a “bold vision.”
Mr. Hudak’s favourite line while addressing Mr. McGuinty was “You know that’s not true.” As expected, there was overwhelming discussion about jobs, economy and tax breaks for international corporations.
In the global market where one level of government is trying to sign free trade agreements with countries around the world, one would imagine that the policy with all levels of government will be consistent. So, take for example India. The federal government has India file as a priority. If the Government of Ontario does not take the same approach to India and other global markets, can these global markets be comfortable in doing business in Ontario? I am fully aware that most middle class families don’t much care about what happens with billion dollar companies; they care more about having a job to pay for their responsibilities. So much debate about corporate companies may be moot for many “average, middle class Ontario families.”
What was not so very civil of the leaders was to talk over each other. While one of them scolded and instructed the other for letting him finish, I was left to ask that all these leaders willingly ask Ontarians like me to make some hard choices. However they are not even willing to make a choice of giving other person time to complete their sentences.
Can any of them be trusted? I also wonder if leaders after getting elected are cocooned by advisors, strategist etc in such a manner that they lose touch with ordinary people.
Or maybe it’s just me being cynical!
By Asma Amanat