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In this Provincial Election: Anyone But the Tories

As the Ontario election draws to a close, Torontoist has been mulling an endorsement. The problem with making an endorsement in this election, though, is that it is the political-writing equivalent of doing your laundry. It’s responsible, but hardly anything we can get excited about.

Neither the NDP nor the Liberals have swayed us sufficiently to rise, as a publication, to their defence.

Dalton McGuinty has run an upbeat, optimistic campaign, but let’s be honest: nobody in the province is particularly enthusiastic about Dalton McGuinty. Under eight years of his leadership the province of Ontario has mostly fared…well, kind of okay. There’s the occasional eHealth scandal, of course, but for the most part the Liberals have provided the usual bland competence with undertones of complacency and slight corruption that have become the hallmarks of Grit rule anywhere in Canada. Dalton McGuinty is the Safe Establishment Choice: he might chicken out in the face of Charles McVety’s lobbying over sex education, and calls for a post-G20 inquiry—both of which are deeply concerning—but he hasn’t himself instigated any policy initiatives that render him unfit for office. Really, the failure of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals is that they have done a passable job when people are asking for an exceptional one. In a time when decisive leadership is needed, Dalton McGuinty offers…not so much of that.

Andrea Horwath has done good work in putting some important but politically unsexy things on the table—most notably, in her call for the province to re-assume 50 per cent of the TTC’s operating costs. The NDP has maintained its strong defence of health care, and has the appetite to challenge big polluters in a way that other parties perhaps do not. But our concern with Horwath is that while she has a lot of good ideas, her party’s platform fails to fund them in any realistic manner. Corporate taxes and “efficiencies” (and really, haven’t we learned enough about the perils of that word by now?) won’t get us close to where the NDP wants to go.

(We also feel obliged to mention that the Green Party does, in fact, exist. But not much more than that, to be honest. After all, this is a party where the Eglinton-Lawrence candidate refused to send out flyers because he didn’t want to kill trees, instead campaigning with a song on YouTube.)

So, with all the apathy we’ve accumulated from the NDP and Liberal campaigns, why are we even bothering to make any sort of endorsement at all? The answer is simple: Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives have run an ugly, ugly campaign, one of the ugliest in modern memory.

In this campaign, Tim Hudak has repeatedly characterized the new Canadians targeted by a pro-jobs Liberal tax credit as aimed at “foreign workers,” calling it “affirmative action.” Calling new Canadian citizens “foreign” is asinine. Calling a tax credit designed to make hiring them more attractive “affirmative action” renders that phrase completely meaningless. The fact that Tim Hudak quite obviously did all of this to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment is monstrous. The fact that, when called out for it, he then lied about calling them “foreign workers” is pathetic, the sort of thing Canada’s Jon Stewart would play on The Daily Show Canada if we had something like that. This tells you a lot about Tim Hudak: it says that he thinks you’re stupid and won’t pay attention to him for more than ten seconds.

In this campaign, Tim Hudak has promised to bring back chain gangs. That is not hyperbole: the Tories bragged about chain gangs specifically. It doesn’t matter that the program’s usefulness is highly debatable, given that most prisoners in Ontario provincial prisons aren’t exactly there long and prisoners working for free will just be taking away jobs from people who aren’t prisoners. Tim Hudak wants you to know he is a tough man who isn’t afraid to make criminals pay. This tells you a lot about Tim Hudak: it says that he values his personal image and his ideology over inconvenient reality.

In this campaign, Tim Hudak has released a platform full of graphs that, to a one, fail to conform to “the normal requirements of academic or professional practice.” Three of them presented data that was outright false. The rest are simply misleading by presenting data in ways that, while stating the actual numbers, have been graphically designed to present misleading information. This tells you a lot about Tim Hudak: it says that he thinks you are shallow, uninformed, and lazy, and that you can be distracted by pretty pictures.

Most recently, in this campaign Tim Hudak and his Tories released a direct-mail flyer that was full of homophobic, transphobic garbage. The claims in the flyer were, unsurprisingly, bullshit. Hudak has since doubled down, complaining about how his young daughter will soon be starting junior kindergarten and he doesn’t want her having to learn about sex or anything like that. This of course continues to ignore the fact that nobody in power has proposed anything of the sort, but that was never the point. The point is that it tells you a lot about Tim Hudak: it says that he wants you to know that he doesn’t want your kids doing anything faggy. He wants you to know so bad he sent you a flyer making sure you knew.

Really, it’s sort of amazing to see what Tim Hudak has done. At the start of this campaign his victory was more or less assumed: all he needed to do was put forth some vaguely centrist and sober fiscal plans for the province’s future and then coast to victory. He may still win. But if he doesn’t, it is entirely his fault. Ontario is full of fiscally centrist, socially liberal voters. Mike Harris understood this and Stephen Harper understands it—both were smart enough to not campaign on social issues (though of course that’s a separate question than their policies once in office). Even Rob Ford downplayed the fact that he sat out Pride, but Tim Hudak decided to stick to his guns on minority-baiting. We repeat: Tim Hudak isn’t as politically astute as Rob Ford. This is not a man who should be made premier.

So, even though we are hard-pressed to do aught but sigh at the prospect of McGuinty or Horwath and cannot bring ourselves to endorse either of them, we will instead provide an undorsement. Thus, Torontoist officially endorses Not The Tories. If a PC candidate has a shot at your riding, find whoever is most likely to defeat them, and vote for that candidate: Liberal, NDP, even Green (if you happen to live in the riding of Unicornland, where we understand the Greens are running strong). If the riding is safe from a Tory getting in, vote for whomever you like, but if the Tory is a threat at all, just go ahead and vote strategically. In this election there’s really no voting for; there’s only voting against.

Luckily, the Tories provide us with whole reams of against to vote for, because this isn’t just about Tim Hudak: it’s about every last Tory running for office. The silence from the various MPPs and candidates on Tim Hudak’s bigoted, dishonest, and stupid campaign says all you need to know about them. They are either cowards or hold indefensible positions, and in either instance they are simply not worth your vote.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    “In this election there’s really no voting for; there’s only voting against.”

    it seems like *every* election is like that. Maybe it’s time to re-think how the voting system works if we have to keep voting like this :’(

    • The tribe has spoken.

      Personally, I like voting against. It’s easier to say who you don’t like than who you do. I wish we had elmination rounds, like in Survivor. That would make democracy way more fun.

    • The tribe has spoken.

      Personally, I like voting against. It’s easier to say who you don’t like than who you do. I wish we had elmination rounds, like in Survivor. That would make democracy way more fun.

  • Anonymous

    Hudak scares the shit out of me.

  • http://twitter.com/donaldblair Donald Blair

    Oh no, Torontoist didn’t endorse Tim Hudak. Next up, pigs caught flying past the CN Tower.

  • Sandra

    This is so cynically written and depressing it makes me want to jump off a bridge. Those who vote “strategically” (which is media-created intellectual laziness) get the politicians they deserve. Don’t vote Green because they don’t have a chance? Congratulations on your self-fulfilling prophesy! At the very least, please consider advocating for fair voting reform measures before just throwing in the towel like this.

    • http://twitter.com/gilmourtaylor Geoff Gilmour-Taylor

      I dunno. I think it’s just reflective of the cynicism that progressives are feeling these days.* After two elections where neocons/neo-Thatcherites ran roughshod over a weak centre and left, this is where we’re at: damage mitigation.

      It’s all nice to talk about voting reform (I kind of like AV, although I haet PR), but it’s not going to happen by tomorrow, October 6. But even under a different voting system, all voting is strategic. No one (except the most authoritarian, easily-led people) has a candidate or a party they like perfectly. You’re already compromising the moment you have someone representing you to a parliament. Put another way, politics is the art of the possible, and you have to take that into account when you vote.

      I personally am not going to tell anyone not to vote Green (or Marxist, or Animal Alliance, or whatever) if you really feel they speak for you, or their candidate speaks for you. No vote is a wasted vote. But if the bad guys win, yeah, it is partly your fault. (It’s mostly the fault of the people with more power than you.)

      And these are the bad guys we’re talking about. Encouraged by the gains of the radical right in the US, they’re ready to push an agenda that’s anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-woman and above all, anti-poor. These are the people who view the widening gap between rich and poor as a good thing, who believe that workers must be grateful to their rich employers for allowing them to have jobs, who want to dismantle the systems (OHIP, pensions, public housing, transit, even government itself) that make life livable. These are the people who think being gay or trans is a choice, that lazy foreigners are taking our jobs, that it’s good fiscal policy to run deficits during economic booms and cut spending during recessions.

      The Liberals and the NDP may have their problems, but at least they represent a form of governance. Getting MPPs from either party into Queen’s Park means leverage against the nihilists (or even defeat).

      (Sorry to get all ranty. I’ve been saving it up all day.)

      *And let’s be honest, Torontoist is a progressive publication with a progressive bias. That’s why we’re here.

      • Andrew Wade

        I think I’ve had my fill of strategic voting after the municipal election. So I still don’t know how I’m going to vote. The Liberal candidate in my riding is very good, but I don’t know how I can effectively protest what the Liberals did with the public works protection act except by voting against the party.

        • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

          Do you mean to say you believe casting a ballot is the only effective form of political action? If so, that’s sad.

          • http://twitter.com/gilmourtaylor Geoff Gilmour-Taylor

            Well, what else is effective? Because a lot of people (including, I happen to know, Mr. Wade) have tried a lot of methods to try to get some sort of accountability on this item, and it hasn’t been forthcoming. Not even an acknowledgement that there may be some problem. The ballot box is the one place where your say can’t be ignored.

            Andrew, I don’t know what to suggest. I know your Liberal candidate has done good things. I’m glad I don’t live in that riding any more; I’m in a strong NDP riding with a good incumbent candidate (who I hope can contain some of the problems I’ve seen with Horwath’s platform). I don’t have to make such a terrible choice.

          • Andrew Wade

            I was waffling all day, but it’s done now. I will make sure the Liberals know exactly why they lost my vote.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not on me, or other voters, to turn the Green Party (or any other party trailing in 4th place or lower) into one that stands a chance at the polls, it’s on the party. They only appeal to 1–5% of Canadians for a reason.

      Voting for a 4th place party isn’t going to change the electoral process in Canada or Ontario; we need a first or second place party on board to do that. So vote accordingly.

  • http://twitter.com/Tedhealey Dead Robot

    Most recently, in this campaign Tim Hudak and his Tories released a direct-mail flyer that was full of homophobic, transphobic garbage. The claims in the flyer were, unsurprisingly, bullshit.

    Can I marry the Torontoist.com? Because sometimes I can’t love you any more than after reading that.

  • http://twitter.com/natekelly Nathan Kelly

    “Ontario is full of fiscally centrist, socially liberal voters. Mike Harris understood this and Stephen Harper understands it—both were smart enough to not campaign on social issues…”

    So very true. This is a well-written, if characteristically snarky unendorsement.

  • literacy worker

    I work in adult literacy and these Liberals have been almost as disastrous to this field as their predecessors.

    In adult literacy, we refer to “No Wrong Door” as “No. Wrong door.”

    They create programs and then make the eligibility criteria so restrictive that no-one qualifies. Or, if anyone does actually qualify, they find that instead of learning something new or developing a new opportunity, they are entangled in a Monty Python skit.

    Greg Sorbara defended the fact that the edibility criteria for the above mentioned jobs-for-new-Canadians program means people would only have a 19 month eligibility window (must be citizen and in Canada less than 5 years) by saying that “research” shows that if people are away from their professional training for over 6 years, they will never practice that profession. At another point, he defended the program by saying that only about 1200 Ontarians would ever be eligible for the program. (http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/theagenda/index.cfm?page_id=7&bpn=109288&ts=2011-09-14%2020:00:00.0)

    This is the type of technocratic nonsense that we in adult literacy are subjected to daily by this crew of neoliberals. Blech.

  • Ciker

    Hudak and his ilk are horrific buffoons. I am embarrassed at our collective lack of political engagement that allow idiots like this to rise to the top – much like the scummy film on the surface of a pond.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t honour this bunch by referring to them as Tories. When you say Tories, I think of people like Joe Clark, Bill Davis, Flora MacDonald, and even John Diefenbaker — people on the Progressive side of the Progressive Conservative tradition, people with a social conscience, people who despite their identification as “conservatives” carry a nice streak of red in them. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even debase the honourable tradition of conservatism by applying it to this lot.

    Hudak’s so-called contribution to the conversation consists of little more than smudged photocopies from the U.S. Republican playbook. Homophobia? Bigotry? Manufactured resentment? Misrepresentation? Cultivated stupidity? Thuggish behaviour? If you’re looking for evidence of teabaggery’s northward creep, you needn’t look farther than this.

    • Brian Szuberwood

      Perhaps we should call Hudak’s tories the “T” party?

  • disgruntledconservative

    Well said!! I agree and I’m a conservative. I have no choice but to vote for the Ontario Freedom Party.

  • Douris

    The McGuinty Liberals: “undertones of complacency and slight corruption”? UNDERTONES?! Guess you haven’t been paying much attention…and that’s what Teflon McGuinty counts on.

  • Anonymous

    Really disappointed by Torontoist’s constant cynicism about the Green Party in Ontario. They have presented a bunch a really great ideas in their platform and Mike Schreiner seems to be a really great leader with a good vision.

    To be honest, one would expect this from the Star or the Sun, but one comes on here hoping for some real reporting and one only gets the same. Why bother? On every platform point overview you either misrepresented some aspects or totally downplayed some great ideas to make them sound childish.

    So Bruce Grey is Unicorn Land where the Greens are currently running second?

    I’m going to vote Green for the first time in Ontario and I really think its the best choice. Sorta wish I wasn’t the only one reading platforms and looking at actual results (Ontario will miss all of its Greenhouse Gas targets by a country mile this year, something people should be ashamed of)

    • http://twitter.com/gilmourtaylor Geoff Gilmour-Taylor

      Late follow up: the Green candidate came in fourth place in Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound, with about 6% of the vote (they got 3% province-wide). So, no, I don’t think it’s Unicorn Land, there. I suspect it was a lousy poll.

      I don’t think the Greens placed higher than fourth in any riding. At this point, they’re a raising-awareness party. If they want electoral success, they’ll have to run fewer candidates and concentrate their limited resources on a few really stellar candidates in the easiest ridings. And if they can get a few MPPs, then they’ll be taken seriously as a party that can achieve results. Then they’ll be allowed on the debates and, if they’re lucky, be able to snowball that into more success. This pretending like they’re already a contender and can run candidates in every riding has got to stop, or they won’t last.

  • Lady Gaga

    This is fucking stupid. Keep talking and keep splitting the votes. Learn some politics and get your heads out of writing bullshit. K? Thanks.

    • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

      Anonymous Coward is anonymous & cowardly.

    • Anonymous

      I really hate your music, Lady Gaga.

  • Craig

    Yet from what I can make out, rural voters think Hudak is not conservative enough and still may not go their way…they want someone who will really make deep cuts to balance the budget and will take on the unions harder…

  • Anonymous

    Wow. McGuinty mildly ok…after halving a false law so that protestors (not rioters) can be arrested. I’m actually insulted.

    So trying to buy votes through tax credits and bribing individuals to come work at this country is ok? It’s such an insult to assume that immigrants come to this country for a one-time payout, as compared to wanting to come to a great country.

    And the flyer wasn’t complete bs. The tdsb program does talk about having kids as young as 5 exploring the gay pride parade. Which is disturbing. It’s a great event, and lots of fun, but honestly, it’s not a family event. If it was, CityTV wouldn’t run disclaimer ads between commercials. If you feel fine with someone who is more into clifford the dog watching sexualized behavior, gay or straight, please turn yourself into the cops.

    I’m not going to argue about how Hudak has made misteps in communications. I am going to question how arresting and detaining citizens, and sexualizing children is ok. And I’m going to ask how we Torontonians feel that such behaviour is to not be deplored.