Ontarians are closing in quickly on a June 7 election that will see media attention focus heavily on the two most likely to be elected premier: Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne and Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford.
Already a lot has been written about both. Here are what the pundits, editorial pages and others are saying. It’s not kind.
“What is astonishing about the Wynne Liberals is how brazenly they say one thing and do another. Including attacking and/or ignoring the two now-vindicated, independent fiscal watchdogs of the legislature — the auditor general and the financial accountability officer — who have been warning for months that the Liberals’ numbers simply did not add up.”
— Lorrie Goldstein, SunNews columnist
“The Ontario Liberals face a vexing problem heading into the June election. Polls show that voters actually like recent Liberal policies. But as for party leader Kathleen Wynne? Not so much. Her approval ratings are the pits…
“So what is it about Wynne? Fourteen years of Liberal rule in Ontario has a lot to do with it. “Think of it this way,” says Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research. “They’ve pretty much annoyed everybody.” Indeed, more than a decade in power is ample time to run afoul of most constituencies in one way or another — doctors aggrieved by fee rollbacks, small business owners adjusting to wage increases, rural towns grappling with school closures, renters priced out of the housing market or simply anyone who’s ever paid a hydro bill. “They’ve just been around too long and people are getting tired of them,” Bozinoff says.
— Joe Castaldo, Maclean’s magazine
“The real train wreck and dumpster fire in Ontario politics is not the election of Doug Ford as leader of the Progressive Conservatives.
“It’s the financial record of Liberal government over 15 years, first under Dalton McGuinty and now Kathleen Wynne.
“Under their leadership, Ontario has become the most indebted sub-sovereign (non-national) borrower in the world, with a current debt of $312 billion, 125 % higher than the $139 billion the Liberals inherited from the PCs in 2003.
— Ottawa Sun editorial
“During a recent speech at Humber College, Kathleen Wynne said ‘If you don’t vote, then somebody who looks like me is going to, some senior person, older than me, some white person.’ This statement is an insulting mix of ageism and racism that is aimed directly at me and my fellow white seniors.
“Does she think that young voters from visible minorities are better qualified to elect our next provincial government? Our premier talks about a caring, fair, inclusive society but she resorts to bigotry when the situation suits her. Imagine her outrage if Doug Ford had made the statement that she used to encourage one particular group of voters to get out and offset the votes of another specific segment of our society.”
— Ron Agnew, Hamilton Spectator letter
“For all of Doug Ford’s political career, the Toronto businessman has spouted simplistic slogans, personally attacked those he disagrees with, and played loose with the facts.”
— Globe and Mail editorial
“Maybe voters are so fed up with the Liberals, who have made their full share of mistakes during 15 years in power, that they’ll sign that blank cheque and turn the province over to the man with no plan.”
— Toronto Star editorial
“It’s important to note that Mr. Ford doesn’t share his brother’s demons. He is a professed teetotaller who has successfully run the family label-making business for years.
But there’s also bad news. Mr. Ford has often shown poor judgment and character since his election to Toronto council in 2010. A cursory review of his record shows the following:
He fights dirty, smearing opponents with abandon. He once claimed then-chief of police Bill Blair leaked information about a pending subpoena of his crack-smoking brother to get revenge.”
— Globe and Mail editorial
“Doug Ford could be charming at times, with that big salesman’s grin and joshing manner. Even if he is a wealthy businessman, he has a regular guy, hail-fellow way about him that plays well against the buttoned-down, airbrushed, scripted politician that the system tends to churn out these days. He is much more outgoing than his late brother, who was often shy and awkward.
“But it didn’t take much to make Angry Doug emerge. When he didn’t get his way, he blamed others — the dishonest media, his opponents on the left; whichever came to mind.
— Marcus Gee, Globe and Mail
“Ford Nation has a significant presence. Its suburban members are racially, ethnically, socioeconomically and gender diverse. Their identity is pragmatic, family-oriented and commonsensical, rather than ideological, alternative lifestyle and obsessed with identity politics.
“They demand a government that is accountable to the people and not just special interest groups, like public sector unions. Most are not social conservatives, but they want meaningful parental participation in sex education so their children have time to grow up. They care about the environment, but resent hugely expensive green boondoggles that give government bragging rights, yet do absolutely nothing to actually address climate change — hello a carbon tax. Many are bitter about the war on cars, sky-high electricity rates and crushing taxes that make it hard to afford a decent standard of living and support their families.
“Doug Ford clearly speaks to those people and has the enormous advantage of opposing a deeply unpopular premier. For them, he is authentic and represents change; he listens, cares and will act.”
— Joe Oliver, chairman of Echelon Walth Partners and former federal Minister of Finance