June 2, 2018 4:00 pm

COMMENTARY: Ontario political panel reacts to Kathleen Wynne’s announcement

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Each week until the election, Global News presents regular updates from our political panel, where Tom Parkin of the NDP, Deb Hutton of the Progressive Conservatives and Omar Khan of the Ontario Liberals offer their analysis on the unfolding campaign. This time, Global News commentator Matt Gurney gets their reaction to Kathleen Wynne’s announcement that she won’t win the election. 

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MORE: Kathleen Wynne admits Liberals won’t win election, urges voters to still vote for the party

GURNEY: I’ll say this for it: it’s a bold move. On Saturday morning Kathleen Wynne announced (conceded?) that she would not continue to serve as premier after the upcoming vote, as if there was much doubt of that, but also asked Ontarians to shift their votes back to the Liberal party. The message is clearly that Liberal voters can be confident in a future Liberal party without the deeply unpopular Wynne herself, and vote their conscience accordingly. There was also an explicit appeal for more Liberal MPPs specifically to stop a majority for either the Progressive Conservatives or the New Democrats. So I guess I have two questions for you fine people. What does this say about what conclusions Liberals themselves have reached about their standing with the electorate? And what impact will this interesting manoeuvre have, if any?

READ MORE: Party leaders, experts react to Kathleen Wynne conceding Liberals won’t win Ontario election

HUTTON: I’ve been saying since the beginning of this election that it is a race between Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath. I guess Kathleen Wynne has come to that conclusion as well. And while it’s not unusual for parties to call for strategic voting, this may well be the most extreme example we’ve seen.

The most important part of Wynne’s concession is her call to stop both a Ford or Horwath government. Wynne and Horwath share very similar policies and ideologies and yet Wynne clearly believes that the NDP in this election have taken that path to an extreme place that will be damaging to Ontario.

Don’t be fooled. Voters should decide who and what policies they believe are in the best interest of their family and our province and if that decimates the Liberals, so be it. The voters are always right!

PARKIN: Yes, even the Liberal Leader concedes this is a choice between Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath. Personally though, it worries me that she won’t state her own preference. Because I think it’s pretty obvious.

Doug Ford would cut $6 billion — and he won’t show anyone his plan for the cuts. He would inflict damage on our schools and health care. People will be hurt. Kids and vulnerable people. Seniors. People in poverty. People struggling to get a raise. And it’s all so he can give a tax cut to the rich. Ford’s tax cut means people with incomes over $109,000 would get $1,100. People with incomes between $39,000 and $49,000 would get $18. That’s morally wrong. Economists say he will increase the deficit, and his deficit would be somewhere between $2.1 and $2.6 billion more than under Andrea Horwath’s plan. Doug Ford makes backroom deals. His party is already deep in scandal. Doug Ford inflicted deep damage on Toronto and he would damage our province. He’s a huge threat to our province’s success, to people’s security. We cannot take any risk with our voting.

Andrea Horwath is who you see — she’s not pretending to be “for the people” — she actually is. Andrea has a fully costed plan to end hallway medicine and address affordability of everyday life. She has the best plan for childcare —one that would save young parents tens of thousands of dollars every year. Her pharmacare plan would ensure coverage for everyone and save businesses $800 million a year. She has a plan, you can read it, you can see exactly how she’d pay for it. She respects voters. She is the best choice for premier — and the only vote to stop Doug Ford’s destruction. But the only way she wins is if you vote for her.

It’s a pretty clear choice. Only a vote for Andrea Horwath can stop Ford. Anything else is a big risk.

KHAN: Today’s announcement was a true show of leadership and selflessness by Kathleen Wynne. She is putting the needs of the province ahead of her own. With only a few days left before voting, every ounce of effort we have is being dedicated to electing as many Liberal MPPs as possible. Beginning today, new ads will be running in communities across the province arguing that the importance of our strong local candidates and voting Liberal to stop either Doug Ford or the NDP from winning a majority.

This message was echoed Saturday morning in an honest and direct message from the premier. Acknowledging what all voters know to be true, she argued that even though a new government will be elected, there is more reason than ever to send Liberal MPPs to Queen’s Park. And that’s to stop Doug Ford or the NDP from having a blank cheque. Voters know that with a majority Doug Ford will cut deeply into health care and education. He will change this province, and not for the better. Voters know that with a majority the NDP will put Ontario’s economy at risk by hiking taxes and killing jobs.

Only by voting Liberal can voters keep whoever wins on a short leash. Only by voting Liberal can we keep whoever wins accountable to the public. Voters have been clear from the beginning of this election that they want change. But they don’t want an extreme, out-of-control government.

A vote for the Liberal Party is your best bet to make sure that the next government is not a majority government. And that the next government is held to account to all voters.

PARKIN: Only Andrea can stop Ford now. Wynne is wrong: votes for Liberals do not result in a minority, they result in a Ford majority. Only a vote for Andrea Horwath stops Doug Ford. By asking for a minority, Wynne is arrogantly insisting she get to continue to wield power — people have already rejected that.

Something special is happening in Ontario. Andrea is inviting everyone to be a part of it. We can fix health care and address the affordability of everyday life. We can help young families save tens of thousands of dollars on childcare. Ensure that everybody has dental benefits. Extend our health care plan to pharmacare so every Ontarians gets the prescription they need. Better care for our seniors. Helping young Ontarians being held down by student debt. Andrea is making people hopeful and optimistic about making a good life for themselves here in Ontario.

Andrea has been so clear: everybody is included in her plan. She is saying to everyone — join us, let’s get this done!

READ MORE: Ontario election 2018: Find your riding and candidates

HUTTON: But three-quarters of Ontarians want change — real change. And Doug Ford is the only candidate who will bring the change that the province desperately needs.

His plan to cut taxes, lower hydro rates and clean up Hydro One, end hallway medicine and bring accountability and transparency to government speaks to cleaning up the mess of the past 15 years. And Ford has a solid team of candidates behind him that can competently lead the province for the next four years.

By contrast, the NDP has put forward a plan that will kill jobs and lead to high deficits and debt. Horwath claims to have a costed platform but has no realistic ability to predict how costly her promise to never legislate striking public-sector workers back to work will be, or how much turning Ontario into a sanctuary province will cost.

The team of NDP candidates doesn’t inspire confidence. Horwath’s bench strength is nil as her most productive MPPs aren’t running in this election. An NDP government would be a risky and reckless choice. There is only one choice for change for the better and that’s Doug Ford.

KHAN: Two-thirds of Ontarian’s don’t want Doug Ford as premier but Andrea Horwath hasn’t been able to close the deal because many progressive Ontarian’s don’t trust her and her team to be able to competently manage the economy. Ontarians need a strong Liberal contingent at Queens Park to be able to moderate the cuts-cuts-cuts agenda of Ford and the tax-tax-tax agenda of the NDP.

Liberals won’t win this election but I know Ontarians agree that it’s important to keep a strong viable and centrist party at Queens Park so that everything we have built over the past 15 years can be protected. This includes a strong economy with the lowest level of unemployment in 20 years but also key social programs like caps on class sizes, free tuition, pharmacare and rent control.

Ontario can’t afford to give a blank check to either Doug Ford or the NDP. And that’s what Kathleen Wynne told them, honestly and directly, today.

PARKIN: Kathleen Wynne has conceded she can’t win and admitted that only a vote for Andrea Horwath will stop Doug Ford. But votes for Liberals do not result in a minority, they would result in a Ford majority. We cannot take that risk. We can vote with hope and optimism.

KHAN: Both the NDP and Conservatives have extreme elements within their ranks. We need a strong Liberal presence at Queens Park to keep them in check.

HUTTON: This has been one of the most interesting elections I can ever recall. With two very different choices, the province is being divided into two political camps. Voters may not like their choices, but they can’t argue they don’t exist! It really will all come down to voter turnout and the last-minute decision of undecided voters.

GURNEY: It’s been remarkable to watch it happen, but we’ve all been so wrapped up in the daily grind that we’re not even looking at the big picture yet. Wynne has admitted that the Ontario Liberals’ remarkable 15-year run in office is coming to a close. That’s historic. And it’s something I’m looking forward to reflecting and commenting on … after all the craziness of this fascinating election dies down. But for now, I guess we all need to wait and see what comes next.

READ MORE: Ontario election 2018: How, when and where to vote

Matt Gurney is host of The Exchange with Matt Gurney on Global News Radio 640 Toronto and a columnist for Global News. Tom Parkin is a former NDP adviser and a political commentator with a social democratic point of view. Deb Hutton was a senior adviser to former Ontario premier Mike Harris. Omar Khan spent over a decade working for several Liberal cabinet ministers at Queen’s Park and is a vice-president of the Ontario Liberal Party. 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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