I'll be voting for Dalton McGuinty. No surprise there. But I still want to take a moment to explain why, because I truly believe this is a government deserving of re-election.
When I first moved to Ontario in 2008, I had rather lukewarm feelings towards the Premier. He'd spoken well at an Alberta Liberal convention a few years earlier, but it's not like he had the crowd chanting "yes we can!". My sense was he'd been a competent Premier but had largely wasted his first term, preferring to govern towards re-election than towards some grander vision.
But during my time in Ontario, I've grown more and more impressed with McGuinty, both in terms of his political abilities and, more importantly, by what he's managed to accomplish.
Throughout his second term, McGuinty hasn't shied away from thinking big. His push on green energy has had mixed results - smog days are down and Hydro bills are up...but the important thing is that Ontario has begun shifting from the industries of yesterday towards the industries of tomorrow. McGuinty introduced the HST knowing full well it would be popular with experts and economists, but not with the public.
In less controversial moves, he has continued to make improvements to Ontario's Health Care and education systems. Ontario wait times have gone from the longest in Canada to the shortest. I was at a party a few weeks ago, and people were remarking about how easy it is to find a family doctor these days. Full day kindergarten has come to Ontario. Ontario schools are now ranked number 1 in the English speaking world. If I sound like a Liberal commercial, it's because I am. And that's another reason I'm proud to be voting Liberal.
Back this spring, McGuinty was getting the snot punched out of him by everyone. PC ads calling him "the Taxman" were airing on every channel. The temptation must have been uncontrollable to punch back. Instead, the Liberals began airing minute-long commercials with nothing but McGuinty talking about his record. He used facts. He cited third party validators. He made the case for re-election.
Of course he has taken some jabs at his opponents this campaign. That's the name of the game. But the Liberals have been the only party treating voters like grown-ups. It showed in the debate, when McGuinty spent the night boring the audience with facts, Hudak spent the night finding new ways to say "taxes bad, McGuinty bad", and Andrea Horwath spent the night producing a string of platitudes and charming stories.
The grownup tone of the Liberal campaign was also matched with a grownup platform. The Liberal platform is more modest than the Tories', who pretend they'll be able to cut taxes without cutting services. The NDP platform is even more troubling - in addition to promises that would cripple the economy, Horwath has abandoned the NDP's traditional role of looking out for the little guy, in favour of gimmicky promises. The environment? She likes the idea of it, but wants to cut taxes on gas guzzlers and home heating. Taxes, I would add, which are paid disproportionately by the richest Ontarians.
Those are some of the reasons I'll be voting Liberal today. I'm sure a lot of Ontarians - the majority in fact - disagree with me. If you do disagree, then make sure you too get out and vote today, so that your voice is heard.