Ontario Liberals and NDP are left playing catchup after the first leaders debate
Last night’s first leaders’ debate saw the leaders of their respected provincial parties on the attack, hoping to score a knockout punch against Ontario Premier Doug Ford. He went twelve rounds and never hit the mat like any good boxer, considering it was three against one.
COVID-19 was a hot topic of the night, and according to the opposition leaders, Premier Ford failed Ontarians. However, recent polling shows that Ontarians still favour a P.C government despite the split of opinions on handling the global pandemic.
It is easy to point fingers at governments at the start of the pandemic, but it is disingenuous considering the unknown. And when comparing Canada’s handling of the pandemic to that of our neighbours to the south and other G7 nations, we have done exceptionally well.
It is also of note, that some provinces had better handling of COVID-19 but all at multiple points during the pandemic had to deal with outbreaks that called into question their Premier’s decision making. That being said, Ford did acknowledge there were mistakes made and lessons learned.
Even in the aftermath of public criticism of the Premier on reopening the province and mask mandates from some industry experts, it does not appear to be enough to derail his administration from securing a second term.
Premier Ford has been able to keep people working and stimulate the economy as Canada emerges from a once-in-a-century pandemic. According to Stats Canada, Ontario’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.4%. While the national average reached a record low of 5.3% in March, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 5.2% in April.
The Ontario Liberals and the NDP will need to provide Ontarians with a more convincing argument about why their parties are the best choice come election day.
The Green Party is still the Green Party. Intelligent candidates, good policies but terrible marketing. Since its formation in 1983, they have failed to convince the majority of Canada; according to a person we interviewed is more than, “a party of tree huggers and hippies.” There’s nothing wrong with either, but they have done little to change that perception.
In last night’s debate, not only did Ford reaffirm to his party and its members their decision to elect him to lead the party, he may have done enough after only one debate to secure a second term in Queen’s Park.