May 28, 2018

Postgame Analysis: May 27th Consortium Debate

Authored by:

Alik Angaladian

Alik Angaladian

Meredith Logan

Meredith Logan

Shay Purdy

Shay Purdy

Alik Angaladian: Doug Ford’s pitch… “I’m for the little guy, I’m for the people”

With advanced voting already underway, this debate was one of the last opportunities for all three leaders to show voters that their party is the best to run the province.

The last ONPulse shows the NDP is leading the PC by 4 points so the stakes for Ford were high during this debate. Even with an important endorsement by popular former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion earlier this week, Ford Nation’s pre-writ lead collapsed. This debate was Ford’s chance to bring supporters back and halt the NDP momentum.

Trust, affordability and values were the main themes of the debate. Ford’s strategy during yesterday’s debate was simple: focus on both Liberal and NDP rivals by pointing out that their parties were not to be trusted to run the province. Ford stayed on message throughout the debate and tried to reassure voters that a Ford Nation government is the only one that could be trusted. He presented his party as the only one if elected that would make decisions that supported the “little guy”. However, Ford’s plain-spoken manner was often interrupted during yesterday’s debate. This led the leader to seem like he didn’t have enough time to finish his thoughts and often looked like he was shaky, offering little detail and having trouble following the debate format.

Wynne and Horwath didn’t miss a chance to press Ford for more details about his vision for Ontario as he is the only one of the three who hasn't released a platform. Ford fired back, saying each of the campaign's announcements have come attached with an estimated price tag. Ford answered both leaders, however missed a chance to hit back at his biggest threat of the moment, the NDP. With Horwath slamming the PC for their lack of respect, Ford had another clear opening to remind Horwath that her party made a multi-billion mistake in their platform.

Prior to this week, many thought that this was Ford’s election to lose, and with polls showing an NDP win, was this debate enough to sway voters to vote PC? We will find out on June 7.

Meredith Logan: Premier Wynne proudly defends her record

It almost felt like Premier Wynne was the only adult in the room last night. The final debate before the June 7th election was certainly feisty as party leaders tried to convince Ontarians to “pick me, pick me”.

Premier Wynne certainly had her track record to turn to this evening, but will she be able to do better as per her campaign ads if re-elected? As a juxtaposition to Doug Ford, who is the only leader not to release a costed platform, the Premier looked strong as she defended her government’s record. But with the NDP’s polling numbers rising, voting for the lesser of both evils can be compelling.

Questions from the audience revolved around childcare and the economy and Premier Wynne fielded them like a political veteran tonight. But will her experience be enough to breathe some life into these last few weeks of the campaign for a Liberal team struggling against a powerful change narrative? Being on the road will be critical for the Liberals who need to re-connect with the middle class voters who elected them and convince them to cast their votes for that familiar face who many feel has let them down.

Shay Purdy: Horwath holds her own

While Andrea Horwath has been at the helm of the Ontario NDP for three elections, this was her first debate in a position where she is actually being looked at as the potential next Premier of Ontario.

Horwath has generated some extraordinarily positive momentum since the beginning of the campaign, which made this debate one in which she undoubtedly had the most to lose. The good news for New Democrat supporters is that she didn’t really lose anything in the final debate, which means that things remain firmly on-track for the Ontario NDP’s intended ballot question: Who do you want to be your premier, Doug Ford or Andrea Horwath?

Horwath had a strong opening statement that focused on the people of Ontario and the issues that matter to them, and then followed up by clearly winning the debate around the first and perhaps most important question, which focused on trust.

She was predictably attacked from both sides and, in most exchanges, skillfully managed to turn things around on her opponents – pointing to the ways Wynne’s government has failed Ontarians, and to the absurdity of Doug Ford running to be Premier without an actual plan.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was combative and sure-footed in her first leader’s debate as a front-runner, consistently coming out on top of the often unwieldy open debate moments.

She looked and sounded worthy of the job of Premier of Ontario, without looking and sounding like a typical politician. And on a night when all Andrea Horwath had to do was not lose, she probably won.

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