It's not every day that you wish your boss well on their first day of grade four. But Penelope, the face of Ontario's newest non-partisan election campaign, Penelope 4 Ontario, is no regular fourth grader. After all, when was the last time you saw an eight-year-old workin' a pin-striped pantsuit?
John Duffy (L): After a week's struggle in which by most accounts the Liberals got the better of the fray, the two sides moved this week to prosecute their campaigns on separate patches of ground.
You can call it the plea for "small town values," or "getting in touch with the Regular Joe," but I'll continue to call it what it really is: Voting for Dummies. And the worst part is the notion that these politicians are working-class folks is, of course, entirely fiction.
Heather Fraser (NDP): Andrea Horwath's got a plan to freeze tuition fees. Meanwhile the Liberal's are running on a plan to reduce tuition by 30 per cent. A likely story. Just like on other issues, the Liberals want us to believe they'll do something when the record shows they won't.
Jason Lietaer (PC): Liberals (and the NDP) ridicule our plans to put prisoners to work. They think GPS bracelets on sex offenders is a dumb idea. And a website that tracks sexual predators? Ridiculous. I ask, though: if not these ideas, what? Is Dalton McGuinty satisfied that he's doing enough?
John Duffy (L): For the PCs, the core proposition is the idea that Premier McGuinty's Liberals manipulate the public policy of the province to their own purposes and those of their favoured constituencies, leaving the "rest of us" to pick up the tab. Call this concept "restitution." The Liberals have a different construction of "change." Call their concept "uniting."
Administrative efficiency, human rights, respect for minorities and the integration of immigrants are all good reasons to put an end to religious segregation. Yet for politicians, the question remains taboo. We're in the early days of the provincial election campaign, and leaders are avoiding the subject like the plague.
Hudak's hypocrisy is nowhere more apparent than on his personal flip-flop on the immigration file. A year ago, Hudak claimed that "(we need) practical and affordable measures to help new Canadians find employment and create jobs." Makes sense, right? It does!
Dalton McGuinty's tax rebate for businesses who hire new immigrants means that other established citizens who are unemployed don't get hired. That alone seems a mockery of McGuinty's rather silly sentence that "a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian."
Jason Lietaer (PC): Guess how many months in a row Ontario's unemployment rate has been above the national average? Fifty-six. Dalton McGuinty is now the Joe DiMaggio of Ontario politics, and not in a good way.
The Tory lead is not insurmountable, but to some, any Tory lead is a bit of a puzzle. Hudak has not been ranting and railing for change and attracting all sorts of publicity. In fact, he seems to have been practicing the Dormouse approach -- quiet, laid back, not making waves, just offering himself as an alternative.
McGuinty's announcement today hits that rising concern right on the mark. Andrea Horwath is in Sudbury promising to try to create jobs in Northern Ontario. Tim Hudak feels out of the swim. Am I missing something? Or is the PC campaign missing the moment?
A merger would reduce our political choices, taking Canada from a multi-party system to a U.S.-style system of two monolithic parties -- something even more limiting in the Canadian context given the tradition of tight party discipline.
Even though embracing renewable energy will save ratepayers money, the Conservative Party of Ontario has vowed to cancel the province's program. Instead, Ontario should look more closely at Europe, where renewable energy is embraced by right- and left-wing alike because it is a win-win proposition.
Despite the need for bold leadership to rise above the dissonant cacophony of provincial voices and ensure concrete progress towards Canada's green energy future, the federal government remains content to muddle along, making ad hoc one-off deals with provinces. Canadians must directly challenge this incoherence.
The Ontario election overall is an interesting one to watch as a litmus test for the staying power of Conservative and NDP gains, and to see whether rumours of the Liberal Party's demise may truly be exaggerated.