On Monday, May 7 the leaders of the three main parties in Ontario squared off in their first televised debate of the campaign. The debate came on a day when a new poll Pollara Strategic Insights conducted for Maclean’s showed that Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne had fallen to third place behind PC leader Doug Ford and NDP leader Andrea Horwath, and that the NDP has considerable room to grow.
The debate, hosted by CityNews, was focused exclusive on issues related to Toronto, and involved questions from the audience as well as an opportunity for the leaders to grill each other. Here are the opening and closing statements from each of the leaders.
I have to say I’m very excited to be here this evening to show folks that in this election, you really can choose change for the better. As we enter this campaign period, we have people lined up in hospital hallways. We have a hydro system that’s been sold off and the bills are skyrocketing. People are feeling the squeeze. Families are having a harder and harder time making a go of it. But it absolutely does not have to be this way. We can have a government that makes sure our hospitals are there when you need them, that our schools are in a good state of repair, that people can get the dental care and the prescription drugs, that families can afford child care. These are changes for the better. Mr. Ford is going to offer more cuts that will only make life harder. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a premier in our province that puts the people at the heart of every decision she makes, and that’s my plan for the province of Ontario.
When I came into this office in 2013, and was re-elected in 2014, I made a commitment to the people of Ontario that I would build this province up. And I’ve been doing that every single day. We have built 800 schools, 24 new hospitals, there is transit being built all around the province, roads and bridges. The economy is growing faster than other parts of the country, faster than the United States, and the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 20 years. So we need to continue, and the next thing that we need to do is put more care in place for people. People who are looking for mental health supports for their children, folks who are looking for child care, people who are looking for care for their elderly parents. Those care pieces need to be in place and that’s exactly what our platform lays out. There is a very stark contrast that people are going to see in this in this election. It’s a contrast between a care plan, and a cut plan that Doug Ford is bringing forward.
After 15 years of Liberal mismanagement, scandal and waste, it’s time for change. We have seen this Liberal government make sure that they have taken care of their Liberal insider friends, and Liberal insiders, lobbyists. But we can tell you one thing my friends, we will make sure we bring government that respects the taxpayers. You know me, I’m for the little guy. I will make sure my priorities are reducing the wait times in hospitals, straightening out the hydro mess, creating good paying jobs, and putting money back into your pocket. I will bring accountability, transparency and integrity back to the people of Ontario. We will make sure we run a government for the people. Time for change.
This is going to be a very important election debate over the next 28 or 29 days, and there are some pretty stark choices. As you heard tonight there are very different perspectives. There are perspectives on my right here that is about cutting and finding what he’s calling efficiencies but will amount to cuts that will hurt people that will hurt services. I’ve got some magical thinking on the left here about how things can just magically happen without actually having the policy that is going to make it work. So I would just say to the people of the province, please ask your candidates, look at what we have done, look at what we are building, and we are going to continue to build in this province. It is about care, it is about making sure that the care that people need is actually in place. Or it’s about cutting services that people need. That’s what this election is about.
While Mr. Ford and Ms. Wynne fought about who’s going to make the worst premier of Ontario, I think this election is our opportunity to do something completely different. We don’t have to choose between bad and worse. We can actually have change for the better in our province. Just imagine a province where everyone can afford the prescription drugs they are prescribed by their doctor. Imagine a province where people can get their dental work done, where we own more and pay less for our hydro system, where young families can not only afford a home, but they can afford the child care that we need, where we have a seniors care system that offers our seniors dignity. That for me is not just a dream, that’s a plan, and you can help make that happen together we can change the province for the better on June 7. I hope you’re with me.
‘Well after 15 years of mismanagement, scandals and waste of your hard-earned tax dollars, the Liberal government is desperate to hold onto power, to continue lining the pockets of their friends and their Liberal insiders. I’m going to make sure we run a government that respects the taxpayers. You know me, I’m for the little guy. My priorities have been very clear. I’m going to make sure we reduce the wait lines at hospitals. I’m going to make sure that we put money back into your pocket, clean up the hydro mess, and make sure that we reduce taxes. We will create a government for the people. We will bring accountability, transparency and integrity back to the great taxpayers of Ontario.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said the Pollara poll put the Liberals in second place. The poll found the Liberals are in third place.