Hudak wins leaders’ debate
There was no knockout punch by any leader in last night’s Ontario leaders’ debate but PC leader, Tim Hudak, did not have to land one in order to come out on top. He just had to look sane and to look like a capable, credible alternative to Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty and by that standard, Hudak won the debate.
Hudak answered questions using by using facts already laid out in Changebook and had antidotes as examples in many cases. By sticking to his party script, he articulated that a PC government’s main priority would be to reduce taxes and hydro rates so Ontarians can keep more of their money. He also emphasized that a PC government would continue to invest in education and healthcare.
McGuinty was on the defensive most of the night; the first time in the election that he didn’t seem in control of the conversation. He stumbled on his words, his arms flailing and strangely declared that the Ontario economy is the best in Canada. That differs from the Fraser Institute’s assessment for which they recently published a report that showed Ontario had the second worst performing economy in the country. He also said that the Liberal government has lowered taxes in Ontario. That allowed Hudak to state defiantly that that is not true and in fact, McGuinty had promised to not raise taxes twice and broke his promise twice. Hudak looked at McGuinty and said “nobody believes you anymore”.
NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, also turned in a strong performance which will serve to sure up the NDP vote and potentially add to the Liberals’ problems by taking votes away from some of their leading candidates. This too may benefit the Progressive Conservatives in tight three-way races.
The other key take away from the debate was that there was only one party who was talking about lowering the tax burden on Ontario residents and that was the PC party. Both the Liberals and the NDP offered to impose more taxes in order to help pay for a myriad of new spending initiatives. So if voters want some tax relief, there is only the one option, the PC party. If they don’t mind paying more taxes, then they have the Liberals and the NDP from which they can choose.
With the debate coming so late in the election cycle, many Ontario voters who are now making up their minds on who to vote for on October 6th, will make their decision based on what they saw in last night’s debate. Many voters were looking to see if there is an alternative to Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals. I think they saw Tim Hudak as a capable alternative who would bring needed change to Ontario and for that reason, Hudak and the PC party won last night’s debate.