Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Morning After

Last night was the lone televised debate of the Ontario election campaign. With the vote too close to call, a lot was riding on it, and after last night...

...not a heck of a lot changed. I have a hard time seeing how anyone would actually change their mind as a result of last night's debate, and the Ipsos flash poll largely confirms that.

After all, if you're like me and you like Dalton McGuinty, you liked what you saw. While the opposition focused on buzzwords and empty anecdotes ("Gary the accountant tells me he lost his job because of the HST"), McGuinty made his case his facts and figures. He responded to attacks, defended his record, and talked about his plans. He looked and sounded like was a grown up - some might even say a Premier.

That's not to say it was a masterful performance we will all rave about years from now. He fought much of the debate on weaker ground - there was a lot more talk about taxes and energy prices than about Health Care and education. He took some hits. But that's the life of an incumbent - the important thing is, he held his ground.

Hudak was the leader who most exceeded my expectations, but that likely says more about my expectations than about his performance. I liked his "big screen TV" and "lemonade stand" metaphors, and he showed real emotion when talking about his daughter's experience in the Health Care system. If you were scoring the debate on points, Hudak landed the most blows. His "nobody believes you anymore" soundbite will probably lead off most clip packages.

However, the one knock on Hudak's performance is a biggie. Quite simply, he looked and sounded like an opposition leader, not a Premier. He mentioned "Changebook" and his "5 point jobs plan" a few times, but there were only scattered descriptions of specific platform promises. He went after McGuinty at every opportunity - even when asked directly about what bold ideas he had for Ontario. It was a good performance, but not one that screamed "Premier-in-waiting".

And then there's Andrea Horwath. Horwath had the most to gain from this debate, and she likely helped herself out a bit. She was likable, and played those tried and true NDP hits - "hike up corporate taxes", "results for people", "putting people first".

Personally, I wasn't moved. She talked about the difficulty of balancing a family budget as a mom...on her lowly six-figure MPP salary. She talked about the awful treatment her son received at a Hamilton hospital...and later admitted the story was more "illustration" than fact. She told a story about a woman who gave her a big hug because she loved the NDP platform so much.

Personally, I found it all manipulative and lacking substance. But it will play to Horwath's base, and may even rope in a few undecided votes.

Add it all up, and after 90 minutes of debating, we're no closer to figuring out who will win on October 6th.

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  • Pretty good recap. My one quibble is the "looking premier material" type comments. It's something only the politicos care about. Of course McGuinty sounds like a Premier - because he's been it for eight years. Mike Harris didn't look like a Premier either compared to Bob Rae. And that's against a 1995 Bob Rae!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:28 a.m.  

  • Okay CG, odds are decent I'll vote for the Red Team candidate in Parkdale-High Park. I like DiNovo perfectly fine, yet Horwath has no commitment to the environment, and Pasternak's door knock and her Liberal campaign flier have swayed me in your guys's direction.

    A couple things….

    > Best Schools in the English-speaking world.

    That's something; I've never heard it before so I wonder how much of it is "stats can say anything you want" and how much of it is true. I feel I would have heard by now.

    Here's the big thing, and it's a question I'm forwarding to Pasternak's office…

    > 90% reduction in coal-burning electricity. From 10 to 900 wind turbines.

    A NINETY PERCENT reduction in coal-burning electricity?? As in, the region of Ontario has cut electricity derived from burning coal by NINETY PERCENT??? Is it possible that this is true? Is it possible that this is true and I've somehow completely missed hearing it ever mentioned in the media? What does this stat actually mean? If you have any info, I'm very interested.

    PS. I see here that the region is "North America's leader in Clean Energy - creating 50,000 jobs in solar, wind, and pumped storage". That sounds like quite an impressive stat; although I'm not big on Gore or Suzuki, apparently they also believe ON is NA's clean energy leader. Maybe I've been missing much of the good news about the McGuinty government.... although between the 3 choices at hand, he's my preference to continue as Premier.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 3:08 p.m.  

  • I received this:

    "The Liberal government has reduced the amount of electricity generated by coal by 90%. That's the equivalent of taking 7 million cars off the road.

    Moving forward, the plan is to eliminate all coal units by 2014. Eliminating coal fired plants is the single largest climate change initiative in North America."

    I replied:

    "So if only 10% of Ontario's electricity is generated by burning coal, how is the other 90% derived today?"

    This really surprises/intrigues me...

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 7:13 p.m.  

  • I used to be disenchanted with the media... now doubly so.

    Read a lot on google last night. I do remember hearing a lot of promises and talk that struck me as just talk and promises.

    I looked for criticisms of the gov'ts statements, plans, for failures... so far I don't see a lot.

    And Pasternak's flyer said 50 000 jobs have been created as a result of this energy plan... sounds like McGuinty's doing better than Obama.

    I think McGuinty's earned another term in office and Dan, I'll be pleased on Oct 6 to vote for his team.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 8:30 a.m.  

  • If you want to see how electric power is generated today, go to

    Just one thing to note: Ontario's energy demand peaked at something over 27.000 MW several years ago. This summer, peak demand barely exceeded 23,000 MW - after thousands of new homes were built and new air conditioners were installed.

    Under Dalton McGuinty, the collapse of the manufacturing sector has been the single largest factor in the reduction of electric demand in the Province, proving once again that if you kill the economy, pollutants will drop and incompetent politicians will take credit as if they did something good.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:13 p.m.  

  • wow great link... never saw this on google and it's much appreciated

    I've read that ON's auto manufacturing is going strong (tho I realize you're talking about manufacturing in general, not specifically auto)

    I imagine that thousands of new air conditioners are more energy efficient than previous models, a la stoves and fridges etc...??

    I don't believe or accept McGuinty has "killed the economy"...

    - first, the economy's quite strong in Canada (as you know)

    - second, no Premier has much power over the general economy. A government can affect their local economy for good or bad, but the economy's bigger than Merkel or Obama or Sarkozy or Harper, so McGuinty and Clark and Charest and Wall are only players to a certain level and extent.

    Have found some criticisms of the Green Energy Act; they mostly focus on subsidizing. Since the auto industry and many other sectors also receive subsidies, it's not really a big concern for me.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 1:35 p.m.  

  • JBV, you can believe what you want.

    And while there are still a few auto manufacturing plants operating in Ontario, go ask the people of Oakville how busy they are. Go ask the people at Talbotville how it feels to have their plant completely shut down. Go ask the people in Oshawa how it feels to be down a shift at the auto plant.

    Yes, you can believe the Liberal spin, or you can go out there and gather some actual facts.

    And that's just the auto sector. Other manufacturing has been decimated in this province, and with the high hydro costs they aren't even considering coming back to Ontario.

    Although air conditioners might be a little more energy efficient than their predecessors, that hasn't meant that the previous, inefficient air conditioners are out of service. Has your hydro consumption declined by 15-20%? Go check your bills. You can be certain that commercial operators don't have the option of shutting off their lights, or turning off the air conditioning: the decline in consumption cannot be explained by "efficiencies".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:48 p.m.  

  • Not interested in any party spin, thanks - just asking questions to gather some of these much-vaunted facts you recommend.

    I get it, buddy -- you feel anger & frustration. Still, no Premier has that much power over the economy -- it matters not what party they represent.

    By Anonymous JBV, at 8:55 a.m.  

  • What amazes me is that McGuinty is on track to win a third term (albeit a minority premiership) although only about 25% of Ontarians think the province is on the right track. That's got to be some sort of record.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 11:18 a.m.  

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