Highlights of the Ontario Election Debate

Ontario’s four main party leaders sounded relatively civil during Monday night’s televised election debate in Toronto.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, Liberal Leader Del Duca, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner spent 90 minutes discussing topics divided into four sub-topics: the economy, health care health, education and leadership.

Here are the highlights of the debate:

THE BINDER

One tense subject was physically present on the debate stage: a filing cabinet sitting on Ford’s podium.

Every once in a while, the PC leader would glance at his notes for a little extra support. He was the only person to bring notes for the debate.

“If you’ve watched debates across the country, at the provincial, federal and municipal levels, there’s nothing wrong with putting notes down to make sure you’re organized,” Ford said during a scrum after debate.

“People don’t care about that. Do you know what interests them? They care about the jobs of the future.

While Horwath acknowledged that each party leader had a sheet of paper in front of them, she said it was just a set of instructions, which she was grateful for, along with her own associated blank sheet. a pen to scribble down talking points.

“Mr. Ford was next to me. He had his briefcase, and he certainly referred to it a lot. It was his choice. It was his decision,” Horwath said.

The Liberals did not directly address Ford’s use of the notes, but Del Duca did reference the binder in post-debate scrums and in a press release.

The Liberal leader said Ford was “literally reading a script like he pulled it out of a binder from four years ago” when talking about PC policies. Meanwhile, a liberal press release subtly poked fun at the binder trope by compiling a list of “corrections to the most egregious lies in Doug Ford’s binder.”

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Doug Ford, left, reviews his notes as Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca speaks during the Ontario Party Leaders’ Debate Ontario, in Toronto, Monday, May 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Rather than punch Ford, Schreiner asked about the binder in his scrum to dive into his ability to be authentic and speak from his heart. “I’m telling you exactly how I feel,” Schreiner said.

“It’s a shame that perhaps all leaders don’t feel like they have the freedom to be so direct with people. »

FORD DEFENDS PANDEMIC ACTIONS

As expected, the COVID-19 pandemic was a major concern for party leaders as they discussed issues such as the economy, health care and education.

When asked about what party leaders have learned from the pandemic, Ford admitted it was “the most difficult time” of his premiership and that his government hadn’t done everything right.

“I will tell you that every decision I made was made with the best intention and the best medical advice I could get at the time. But we will fix the system. We are fixing it now,” he said promisingly. “would never happen again”.

At the same time, Ford reacted defensively when his three opponents criticized those same decisions, saying it was easy to comment from the sidelines.

Del Duca, for his part, argued that Ford’s argument that he was working “24/7” during the pandemic sucked because “that was the job you signed up for.” .

In a post-debate scrimmage, the Liberal leader said he was disappointed that Ford was competing for pity when he talked about the past two years.

“You don’t just become prime minister when there are parades and sunshine,” he said.

Ford accused the Liberals of leaving hospitals without enough personal protective equipment while Horwath argued health care deteriorated under 15-year Liberal rule but Ford’s cuts destroyed the system .

ALL-UNION PCS SUPPORT

Ford took as many opportunities as he could to point out that several unions have lent their support to the Progressive Conservative Party.

The NDP has generally been known as a pro-worker party and has supported labor movements in the past.

Ford said endorsements from some union leaders show the NDP has “lost touch.”

“You’re not in touch with the hard-working men and women supporting us for the first time,” Ford said while Horwath joked, “I think you have to look at yourself in the mirror. »

The CPs have received support from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers as well as unions representing construction and electrical workers.

When asked what it means for unions to back Ford as prime minister, Horwath responded by saying journalists will have to ask those union leaders.

“I certainly know that commitments to workers will never end for me. »

‘DOUG FORD SMILE’

At the end of the debate, Del Duca addressed Horwath’s digs at him and his party, saying that every time the NDP attacks him, “Doug Ford smiles.”

Horwath has often said that the Liberals had 15 years to “fix things” and they didn’t. Throughout the 90-minute debate, she stuck to that technique, oscillating between criticizing Ford’s actions over the past four years and commenting on how the system was broken to begin with.

Speaking after the debate, Del Duca reiterated that statement, saying the NDP’s first round of ads last year targeted it rather than the ruling party. While he says he’s not concerned about the vote split, he says he’s disappointed given the many policies the two parties have in common.

“It’s disappointing that Horwath has spent a lot of time, maybe as much, maybe even more time attacking the Ontario Liberals instead of fighting for them.

Horwath, for her part, didn’t seem concerned about the vote split. She told reporters that Del Duca “just isn’t ready” to be prime minister, adding that her party doesn’t have candidates in all constituencies.

“We are your best shot at getting rid of Doug Ford. »

“A COLOSSAL MISTAKE”

A clear division drawn early in the campaign was further reinforced when Highway 413 emerged within the opening minutes of the debate.

The NDP, Liberals and Greens instilled their opposition on the pavement as Ford touted his glory in his opening statement.

Del Duca’s disapproval came in the form of a personal response on the six-lane highway, which would run east from Halton to York Region through his constituency of Vaughan.

“I’m the only person on this stage tonight whose community is directly impacted because of this freeway project,” Del Duca said. ”I’m also the person who many years ago, when I was transport minister at the time, I saw that was a mistake, a colossal mistake, which you don’t need. ”

Meanwhile, Schreiner and Horwath separately delved into the highway’s considerable environmental impact. “It’s a climate catastrophe,” Schreiner said.

“It opens up to farmland, it opens up to the greenbelt,” Horwath said, “What we don’t need are more massive highways to mansions that no one can stand on. to permit. »

LIKELY UNION

Ford applauded a party leader during the debate.

“What I like, at least, Mr. Schreiner is honest and forthright,” Ford said.

When the topic of tackling rising levels of hate crimes and political divisions was brought up, Ford complemented Schreiner’s transparency while saying the NDP and Liberals aren’t outspoken when it comes to increasing Taxes.

“He says he’s for higher taxes. He is for more regulation. And I just wish you rubbed off on your other two colleagues,” Ford said of the Green Party leader.

“We work together, Mike, and you’re the kind of guy you can put political stripes behind you. »

Before Schreiner could respond, the moderators stepped in to announce that time was up and they’d moved on to a new category.

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