With just over a week to go before Ontarians head to the polls to elect the next government, the party leaders squared off in a general issues debate. Here’s what you missed:
Ghosts of gas plants past
As many predicted, the gas plants cancellation reared its ugly head early in the debate. Both NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak drilled Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne on the $1.1-billion scandal. Ms. Wynne spent the first few minutes of the debate apologizing repeatedly for the mistakes her party made.
It even united the two opposition leaders on several instances as they teamed up on Ms. Wynne and launched off each other’s attacks.
The gas plants dominated the first few 10 minutes of the debate and was a constant reference for the two opposition leaders — along with mentions of the Ornge and eHealth scandals — as they tried to remind voters of the controversies that have surrounded the Liberals' decade-old government.
Steeltown scrapper’s zingers
The award for most memorable one-liners of the night was easily captured by Ms. Horwath. She offered herself as an alternative choice for voters with the quip: “You don’t have to choose between bad ethics and bad math.” Later, she springboarded off Mr. Hudak’s colourization of his plan as a tough-but-necessary choice with the zinger: “your tough medicine is certainly not Buckley’s. It tastes awful, but it’s not going to work.” Ms. Horwath also went after Mr. Hudak’s Million Jobs Plan saying it had “a million math mistakes,” and interrupted him once to say “I don’t see a single thing that you’ve been able to accomplish.”
Hudak’s math problems
Like the gas plants for Ms. Wynne, the questionable math in Mr. Hudak’s platform was a recurring theme for attacks from his opponents. Several economists have said his Million Jobs Plan conflates person years of employment with new jobs, inflating the number of jobs that could be created. Both Ms. Wynne and Ms. Horwath took every opportunity they saw to point that out. Mr. Hudak dug in his heels on the plan, insisting it would work. He also shared a story of his father making him do math problems in the car on road trips. “Maybe that explains why I’ve got this background in economics,” he said.
Slapping the premier’s wrists
Mr. Hudak took a new approach to his criticisms of Ms. Wynne, alternating between admonishments for past sins of the Liberal government and expressions of respect for his colleague. “Kathleen, I’ve known you for a long time. I respect the work that you did. You took on some tough cabinet jobs. But you’ve changed,” Mr. Hudak lamented, later talking about times the two had spent talking in Ms. Wynne’s office. It came off as an attempt to not just criticize but scold his opponent to present himself in more of a leadership position.