With less than a week to go before election day, newspapers across the province are beginning to issue editorials endorsing the party they think should be chosen to lead Ontario on October 6.
How much these editorials matter is hard to say: The party that's most popular among the editorial boards is not always the party voters choose to form a government. Still, it's interesting to see who the newspapers pick and why they pick them.
The Globe and Mail
The Globe's editorial board has decided that neither Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak nor NDP leader Andrea Horwath have demonstrated they have the right approach to Ontario's current problems. Because of that, the board thinks Ontarians are best off sticking with the status quo:
"Voters on Thursday have a basic choice, between an experienced Liberal government under Premier Dalton McGuinty that believes modest efforts can see the province through the storm, and a Progressive Conservative Party, led by Tim Hudak – a leader with basically sound political and economic principles whose campaign was surprisingly lacklustre, and who will move too aggressively and is too dogmatic about smaller government when some public investment is needed.
"There is no third option. The New Democrats, under leader Andrea Horwath, are dangerously flawed, and if given an opportunity to influence policy, either in government or in a minority parliament, would wreak havoc on Ontario’s economy."
The Post comes to a different conclusion than the Globe's editorial team. While complementing Premier McGuinty with some "fine results," particularly when it comes to education, the Post cites the state of the province's books, the Liberals' credibility problem when it comes to tax increases, and the way the government handled the First Nations protest at Caledonia as reasons why they cannot endorse Dalton McGuinty for a third term:
"Mr. Hudak, at the very least, can be counted on to make some of the tough fiscal decisions that undoubtedly will come the province’s way as our biggest trade partner to the south teeters on the brink of a double-dip recession."
The Toronto Sun has raised eyebrows by not choosing to endorse the Progressive Conservatives, as many expected, and instead choosing to endorse...no one.
"We wanted to endorse [Tim Hudak] today.
"From the start of this campaign we waited for him to come out swinging against big government, high taxes, runaway debt and greedy public sector unions.
"But his platform — while better than his opponents — is not the robust, fiscally conservative agenda Ontario needs in these difficult economic times. It fails to curb provincial deficits or balance our budget until 2017/18, mimics McGuinty polices we can’t afford, like all-day kindergarten, and increases health care and other spending.
"That’s why we are not endorsing any of the three party platforms."
In endorsing the Liberals, the Toronto Star cites Dalton McGuinty's record on maintaining public services and what the newspaper argues is a proven ability to make tough calls:
"McGuinty has proven he is willing to make politically difficult but necessary decisions. Indeed, that’s where much of his unpopularity comes from. He did not shy away from bringing in the harmonized sales tax last year to give Ontario businesses the competitive edge they need. He eased the burden on individuals by cutting income taxes and providing interim payments, but the HST remained such a hard sell that his opponents have built their election platforms around criticizing and tinkering with it. Tellingly, though, neither the Conservatives nor the NDP actually proposes to scrap the tax."
The Hamilton Spectator
The Spectator's editorial board came up with a split decision:
"On balance, either the Liberals or the NDP seem to offer the most for Hamilton if they form the next government. Given their lack of commitment on downloading, and with no real emphasis on transit or poverty alleviation, the Conservatives are clearly the third choice."
The Waterloo Region Record
While criticizing all three major parties for having "peddled slogans and sound-bites" rather than detailed plans for the province's future, the Record's editorial board argues that "out of three imperfect options, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals offer the best bet for Ontario’s future."
"There is much for which we could criticize the Liberals after eight years in office — their broken promises not to hike taxes, their egregious failure to enforce the public sector wage freeze they requested, the extravagant spending that inflated the province’s budget by 63 per cent on their watch.
"However, the Liberals did face a recession and they did have to stimulate the economy — which cost billions. And in this election, they are offering the least in new spending promises. Moreover, we believe they are the most capable of preparing us for the economic hurricane blowing our way. They should, for instance, be best positioned to persuade the one million people who work for the province’s public sector that some restraint is unavoidable."
The Windsor Star
The Windsor Star cites the billions of dollars invested into Windsor and Essex County over the past eight years as a reason for readers to support sending Dalton McGuinty back to Queen's Park as premier.
"We've certainly had our differences with the Liberals over the years, and there will likely be more. But the bottom line for voters is determining which party will do the best for Windsor and Essex County. We believe it's the Liberals."
Michael Atkins, president of Northern Life, argues that the best possible election outcome is a humbled Liberal government:
"I have never joined a political party, and have no horse in this race. I’m interested in policy; period. I prefer the Liberals’ temperament and priorities, but their management leaves a lot to be desired.
"A Liberal minority would preserve continuity but enforce greater accountability."
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