Ontario election: Leaders’ debate too catchphrase-y for a drinking game

Ontario's three major party leaders
Ontario's three major party leaders, from left, Liberal Kathleen Wynne, Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak and NDP Andrea Horwath, are shown in recent photos. The Canadian Press

Ontario’s three main party leaders are set to duke it out in a debate Tuesday evening. We were going to suggest a drinking game but worried about giving you all liver failure. So here, instead, is a list of phrases to watch for over the course of tonight’s debate.

LIVE: Coverage of the Ontario leaders’ debate, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET

READ MORE: Your questions, their answers: Ontario leaders square off in debate

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  • Sounds like a Mike Harris throwback, but this is actually an NDP slogan.
  • Who’ll say it: Andrea Horwath
  • Why: The implication is that her plan is what makes sense to your average Joe Ontarian – as opposed to the other candidates, who make no sense.

(or variations on this theme)

  • Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, right?
  • Who’ll say it: Kathleen Wynne
  • Why: Much of Wynne’s plan displays an interventionist, redistribution-of-wealth streak. Plus she wants Ontarians to think of their ruling party as something other than a gas plant bogeyman.
  • They were cancelled. You may have heard.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak and Horwath, at every possible opportunity.
  • Why: To remind voters of that most unpopular and damning of Liberal scandals, the fallout from their mid-campaign cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.
  • Yikes. Corruption is bad.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak and Horwath. A lot, probably.
  • Why: To cast the Liberals in a less-than-laudatory light, à la gas plants, MaRS, Ornge…
  • Not the planet, sadly, but the Discovery District’s multi-million-dollar construction project, which the Liberals are apparently buying out for about $317 million.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak.
  • Why: In the days since his party leaked the documents, he’s been painting this as yet another hidden Liberal boondoggle and misuse of government funds.
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  • In case “MaRS” sounds too benign.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak. 
  • Why: See “MaRS” above.
  • Because no one does passive voice like a politician.
  • Who’ll say it: Wynne
  • Why: It’s become one of her most oft-repeated lines (along, to her credit, with “sorry”) regarding gas plants. Translation: Someone made mistakes but I swear it wasn’t me also I wasn’t even Premier now can we PLEASE talk about something else?
  • Everyone likes to think of themselves as middle class, even though the definition of “middle class” is a horrifically tricky one to agree on.
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone.
  • Why: It’s become code for the Average Joe politicians are there to fight for, duh. Because they care.
  • See “Middle-class Ontarians,” above.
  • How this became shorthand for Evil Organized Labour we’re still not sure. But why not.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak
  • Why: It’s a way of playing on class resentment and the conviction that that the other guy gets a better job deal than you, as well as quashing critiques that Hudak’s plan will go after organized labour, contracts and benefits.
  • Because who doesn’t like leadership, right?
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone
  • Why: Because she/he is a leader, duh. And the other two are not.
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  • The other guys’ platforms, that is.
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone
  • Why: There’s been no shortage of numbers thrown around, many of them dubious. But this is also a quick, easy way to discredit your opponent’s policies.
  • Just about everyone gives the government money: You want them to play nice with it, right?
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone, but Hudak and Horwath more.
  • Why: While its use is universal, it’s usually accompanied by promises to spend your money really frugally, and suggestions everyone else is just throwing themselves Scrooge McDuck parties with it.

IN DEPTH: Ontario Election 2014

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