Ontario election: Ford scrutinized for lack of campaign platform, Horwarth under pressure to go for a win

By Marina Wang

Leaders of the Ontario Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats squared off in the final election debate on Sunday evening. Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne and New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath repeatedly prodded at Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford for his lack of a party platform. In addition, rising popularity for Horwath put her under extra pressure to seize enough votes to potentially win the election.

Recent polls have shown a surge in popularity for the New Democrats, which have now overtaken the Progressive Conservatives. Ontario Liberals are trailing behind.

The debate, moderated by journalists Steve Paikin and Farah Nasser, opened with statements from each of the candidates. Up-and-comer Horwath emphasized change for the better and family values, while Ford stressed a government for the people.

Wynne opened with a memorable “sorry, not-sorry” statement, acknowledging her unpopularity. “I’m genuinely sorry that more people don’t like me. But I’m not sorry for the things we’re doing to make life better in Ontario,” said Wynne, who continued to highlight some of her party’s accomplishments in the economy, tuition and healthcare.

Things heated up during the debate held in Toronto as Ford’s commentary often included taking down the New Democrats, describing them as “ten times worse” than the Liberals. “The NDP can’t do math and Liberals are cooking the books,” said Ford, in reference to a $1.4-billion miscalculation in the New Democrats’ spending plan. He also said that the New Democrats have “radical activists as candidates” that “get inspiration from Adolf Hitler”, referring to a meme that a New Democrat candidate had posted on social media in 2013.

Horwath called his attacks “tabloid mudslinging.”

Both Wynne and Horwath pressed Ford on his lack of a party platform with the June 7 election looming. “People started going to the polls yesterday. They haven’t got any idea of what your cuts are going to look like,” said Horwath to Ford. “Why don’t you think it’s important to be honest and show people your platform?”

Ford responded by discussing lowering taxes and hydro rates, but Wynne was quick to point out that that doesn’t comprise a party platform. “I think if you had a plan you would share it with the people of Ontario,” she said.

The final stage of the debate included questions from citizens. Topics included carbon pricing, hydro, hospital wait times, and childcare. While Ford was touting his childcare plan that would allow parents to use daycares past 4:30 “when the government shuts down.” Wynne quipped with “Have you ever been to a day care?”

Another humorous moment occurred when Ford appeared to be confused about whether he was to ask a question or respond to the discussion topic.