Biting the Bullet …
Ten days from Election day in Ontario and it looks like a horse race between the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democratic Party. The CBC’s poll of polls, in my view the most reliable tracker of voters’ intentions, shows the NDP leading the popular vote with 36 per cent followed closely by the Tories with 35.9 per cent and the Liberals with 21 per cent. The media is screaming that the NDP has catapulted into first place. On Friday the front page of the Toronto Star featured a poll showing the NDP at 47 per cent, a number they must have known was wrong, which it later proved to be.
What has been much less publicized is what these numbers actually mean when translated into how many seats each political party is projected to win. This is important because a large percentage of New Democratic support is concentrated in inner-city ridings. The CBC’s poll of polls has broken down the popular vote, riding by riding, and based on the current popular vote for each party, they project 70 seats for the Conservatives, 51 for the NDP and three for the Liberals. That still translates into a majority government for the Conservatives.
Anything can happen in the last week or so of an election campaign and it often does. Barring a miracle, the Liberals seem to be down for the count. The mood for change is very strong and the recent revelation from the Provincial Auditor General that Ontarians paid $37 billion above market price for electricity over the last eight years was, for many, the final straw.
That leaves the Conservatives and the NDP and not withstanding the seat projections, I believe it is a horse race because only a slight shift in the popular vote can make a significant difference in a number of ridings attained by each. What a stark choice voters have. That would include me.
As one friend said to me recently, an NDP win would be worse than another Liberal government in Ontario and, sadly, I agree with him. Andrea Horwath may be the best liked of the three main party leaders but make no mistake, she brings with her an undisguised socialist-like agenda that can only add to Ontario’s current dismal and frightening economic outlook.
In their first year in office, the NDP proposes to add $4.7 billion to Ontario’s already staggering debt of $348.79 billion, the largest debt of any sub-national government anywhere, with interest already costing taxpayers $11.9 billion every year for which they get nothing in return. Horwath has no real plan to reduce Ontario’s debt.
The NDP don’t seem to understand that someday soon financial institutions around the world are going to stop buying Ontario’s debt. The Province’s credit rating will likely be downgraded within hours of a new government taking office, which means that interest rates will increase. And at some point there will be much less money to pay for essential services such as health and education, let alone for all the so-called free programs the NDP are promising in order to get elected. This is not scare-mongering. This is reality.
It is also scary to realize that an NDP government will be controlled by some of the more aggressive unions in this province. One can say what they like about Bob Rae’s NDP government of a generation ago, but when push came to shove he put Ontario’s interest above the interests of the unions that supported him, making him a pariah in what was then his own party. Not so Andrea Horwath. She has already said that a government led by her would never pass back-to-work legislation to end strikes that go on too long; strikes that prevent students from graduating or people from receiving services they badly need. That completely changes the balance of power in collective bargaining. It is a sure and certain signal that unions will have the hammer and they will own an NDP government. Even the left-leaning Toronto Star has its doubts about that.
I truly believe an NDP government with its current platform led by Andrea Horwath, however nice a person she may be, would be a disaster for Ontario. I also believe there is nothing to be gained in this election by voting for either the Liberals or the Green Party, although the Green Party platform does contain some elements to be admired. So, where does that leave me?
As previous comments from me would indicate, I am not a fan of Doug Ford. I would have much preferred another leader for the Progressive Conservative Party. But we have what we have. I do not have to like the leader. I just have to believe that he and his party are the most likely to deal with the essential elements that will return Ontario to the economic engine of Canada that it once was. I do believe that.
The Conservatives are the only political party that takes Ontario’s debt seriously. It is, I believe, the most important challenge facing Ontario. Reducing our debt and eliminating government waste, bringing manufacturing jobs back to Ontario and stimulating the economy are the only ways to preserve a government’s ability to provide a high quality of essential public services such as health care and education. It is also the only way to ensure that we have the resources to help those in our society who, for whatever reason, are unable to help themselves. To me, that has to be the bottom line.
I also take some comfort in the bench strength that the Conservatives appear to have. People like Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney and Rob Phillips will balance whatever proclivities Doug Ford may display. Their influence is real because, in Ontario, a leader cannot govern without the support of his or her caucus.
And so, in spite of my reservations about Doug Ford, I will bite the bullet and vote Conservative. For me, no other viable option has been presented. I should stress that this is a personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of any one else. With the possible exception of Hazel McCallion, I may be all alone on this one! We shall see.
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