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.