Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 7, 2018
Ontario’s choices are bad. But one is less bad than the others
To say Ontario’s election has been strange doesn’t capture the half of it. Just four months before the vote, the leading party had to dump its leader in a sexual misconduct scandal. The Liberals are so unpopular they’ve already conceded defeat. The next government will be formed by one of two parties that haven’t won an election since the past century. Ontario could be the first province to send millions of voters to the polls, all holding their noses.
The choice is between the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats. Both are running on platforms that don’t add up. Neither will be able to keep its promises. Each appeals to specific voter groups with fixed beliefs that pit one part of the province against the other. The question isn’t which is the best of a bad lot? It’s which will do the least damage to the province, hurt fewer people, and have the least harmful impact over the long term?
Of the two, the PCs have the biggest leadership problem. It’s unlikely any premier has ever been less qualified than Doug Ford. He appears to barely understand how government operates, has only the shallowest grasp of major issues, gives every indication of being badly out of his depth and shows no interest in learning. His approach to campaigning is to shout slogans and talk over challengers. He’s a poor debater, a bad speaker and has trouble explaining himself.
His “platform” is a collection of odd offerings with no apparent linkage. He’ll cut taxes, return “buck-a-beer,” be kinder to small business and put slots back at the racetrack. Perhaps his oddest promise is a pledge to cut gasoline taxes by 10 cents a litre, which, by past experience, might last a few weeks before the oil companies make up the gap and prices return to previous levels. He promised a costed platform, but didn’t provide it. His pledge to find $6 billion in “efficiencies” without firing anyone is unconvincing at best. If he actually tries to follow through on his promises, the swollen debt will get worse, not better.
The NDP’s Andrea Horwath is more experienced, more polished and more coherent. But that may not be an advantage. As her party erased the PC lead, it became clear that beneath her pleasant exterior lies a hard-edged ideologue devoted to left-wing dogma and with a distinct distrust of the private sector. Her daycare plan stresses that “public child-care dollars should go to not-for-profit and public providers,” because public funds “shouldn’t pad the profits of private companies.”
Why in heaven not? Free enterprise built Canada into a prosperous place. We trust private companies to produce and supply the food we eat. Is food not as important as daycare? Are farmers to be distrusted? Horwath’s rigid creed sees any attempt to make a living outside government auspices as suspicious. Her plan to control rents would eliminate the one means landlords have of keeping up with cost increases. By adding to the long list of limits that already restrict landlords, the NDP would ensure the slow deterioration of rental stock as landlords decline to spend money on maintenance they are unable to recoup. Availability would dry up as developers refuse to build structures certain to lose money. Those who have apartments would be able to stay indefinitely, provided they don’t mind peeling walls and smelly halls, but new arrivals would be out of luck. Too bad for you, young people. (Continued: National Post)