The Inside Agenda Blog

Ontario Election Brief: The Debate Reviews Are In

by Daniel Kitts Wednesday June 4, 2014

Last night's televised Ontario leaders' debate has come and gone, and apart from a lot of people on Twitter saying Steve Paikin won, here's what some key political observers had to say. 

Radwanski: Stumble early in debate could spell trouble for Wynne

Adam Radwanski: "Through the first month of Ontario’s election campaign, the Liberal Leader did not get as rough a ride on the gas-plants scandal as her party was braced for. But Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath made up for lost time during the debate’s very first segment, which fortuitously for them was on that very subject – using her role in signing a related document to tie her directly to the waste of public dollars." Read the full article (The Globe and Mail)>>

Cohn: Even conjuring up Mulroney’s famous barb falls short

Martin Regg Cohn: "Wynne, as the incumbent, faced the toughest test Tuesday night. And survived. Like Hudak with his leaky platform, she went into the debate with a decade-long legacy of Dalton McGuinty to defend, and never lost her composure or confidence. The attacks did not shake her (just as her counterattacks failed to rattle her rivals)." Read the full article (The Star)>>

Ivison: Brutally honest message might not be enough to convince voters about unlikeable Tim Hudak

John Ivison: "The PC leader spent the evening moving his arms around, as if he were about to break into Simon Says. He looked slightly swivel-eyed when he rambled with messianic zeal about his 'Million Jobs Plan,' which Ms. Horwath pointed out has 'a million math mistakes in it.'" Read the full article (National Post)>>

Blizzard: Hudak only leader who gave the straight goods

Christina Blizzard: "Tim Hudak looked into the camera and gave viewers the straight goods. Kathleen Wynne was on the defensive from the outset. And Andrea Horwath? Well, the self-confessed Steeltown Scrapper landed a few left hooks to Wynne and a couple on Hudak to her right. But was it too little, too late?" Read the full article (Toronto Sun)>>

Chianello: Hudak performed solidly, but will it matter?

Joanne Chianello: "While Hudak performed solidly Tuesday night, is it likely that the PC leader swayed anyone who wasn’t already voting for him? Apart from platform math, Hudak’s biggest hurdle is his own likability among voters. If Hudak had only needed to sustain momentum, this debate would have been more than enough. But with recent opinion surveys showing the Liberals pulling ahead, he had to do something much harder — halt a slide and reverse the trend lines." Read the full article (Ottawa Citizen)>>

Fisher: Hudak and Horwath strong -- but Wynne ducks fatal blow

Robert Fisher: "If you were expecting the 'Fight in 40,' the CBC studio in which Tuesday's Ontario leaders debate took place, then you'll be disappointed. There was no knockdown, no verbal punch that was devastating to any one of the leaders." Read the full article (>>

Stinson: Hudak and Horwath try to make ‘corrupt’ Liberal record stick

Scott Stinson: "Mr. Hudak, more often than was necessary, said he was the only leader on stage being honest with voters. 'They’ll say they can balance the books and everyone can keep their job and they can keep spending,' he said of his opponents, a line that looked rather prescient when one of the viewer questions noted, correctly, that the Liberal plan requires dramatic curbs in spending in the coming years and asked the Premier where she would make them." Read the full article (National Post)>>

Poll: Hudak won debate

A snap poll conducted in the moments after the debate by Ipsos finds 36 per cent of respondents found Tim Hudak won the debate, versus 27 per cent for Kathleen Wynne and 26 per cent for Andrea Horwath. Read the full article (Ipsos)>>

Poll: Hudak won debate but may not win election

Another poll, by Forum Research, found 33 per cent believe Hudak was the winner compared with 28 per cent for Wynne and 20 per cent for Horwath. However, the poll also found: before the Tuesday telecast, voters who tuned in said they preferred the Liberals over the PCs by 37 per cent to 31 per cent, and afterward the Liberals still led, 40 per cent compared to the PCs at 35 per cent. Read the full article (Toronto Star)>>

Walkom: Forget the debate, Ontario election is all about the economy

Thomas Walkom: "Much attention will be focused on who wins Tuesday’s leaders debate. Yet, as my colleague Chantal Hébert has pointed out, most of us who make those pronouncements are eventually proven wrong. In the end, debates are rarely magic." Read the full article (Toronto Star)>>

For more on the Ontario election, read Steve Paikin's coverage of the campaign.

Image creditReuters/Mark Blinch