In the 2010 election the Conservatives had a 15 per cent plurality over the Liberal candidate. In 2014, that dropped to about nine per cent. A return to a 15 per cent plurality, or even close to that, would certainly be an indication that Ms. Wynne's government is getting progressively more unpopular.
The government already spends 9.2 per cent of its revenues to service its debt and, according to its own estimates, this will rise to nearly 11 per cent in the next four years. Put plainly, Ontario spends $1 out of every $10 sent to Queen's Park to pay for past debt. This is money not spent on health care, education, transportation, or other public priorities. The increase in rates and the expectation for further hikes means even more tax revenues will go to paying interest instead of key government services.
Naturally, candidates draft campaign platforms to suit likely voters. My concern lies in the potential effect of removing these groups from the conversation altogether. If young people do not see their views, priorities or issues emerging in campaign conversation, this will add a significant barrier to the already daunting task of engaging youth participation.
Toronto's and Ontario's cash cow -- banking -- is going to face increasingly rough seas. This won't happen immediately, but a steadily downward trajectory affecting profits and employment is clear. At a recent high-level conference in New York on the future of finance, the news was great for consumers but grim for the world's bankers.
Earlier this week, on CTV news, I predicted that two political parties would be looking for new leaders if the Ontario Liberals prevailed. Election day had yet to expire when Tim Hudak announced he would be stepping down, fulfilling half of my proposition. What I didn't say, but had meant to, was that defeating the party of Dalton McGuinty should be effortless, and that any leader unable to pull the thing off must be regarded as unfit. Never in my recollection has Ontario suffered a regime so deserving of a rude dismissal, and yet here we are, and here they are too, nothing having been altered by an election that may as well never have happened.
The newest hot trend in the trying-so-hard-not-to-expend-one-iota-of-independent-self-guided-research crowd is declining your vote. In less than 24 hours all manner of articles have sprung up that read like the person writing them caught a case of spontaneous narcolepsy when forced to talk about the election. Nobody is going to argue the fact that the Ontario party leaders we've been presented with this time around come across as flat and less than engaging, but when was it ever going to be an option that Hudak's lifeless floating grin be the one I could hold accountable were something to happen to me in my own neighbourhood? Did everyone forget how our political system works?
There is no doubt that youth engagement is a catch 22. Political parties with limited resources tailor their message to rally their base rather than reach new supporters. Youth don't vote, so they continue to be overlooked. If politics seems irrelevant to your life and campaigns don't address your concerns then why pay attention? On June 12 we need you to answer back.
Now here comes my confession: I don't know how to vote. In any of these elections. It's embarrassing because I really love politics. I talk about it all the time. I mean, I work at Samara, an organization that works to strengthen political participation in Canada. I literally (and I mean literally in the actual literal sense) spend my whole day working on civic engagement. How could this happen to me?
If you can master this skill our research demonstrates that you can increase trust in leadership by 9 per cent in as little as 13 weeks. What does this mean to business higher productivity? Less churn. What does the mean to politicians, the difference between losing and winning, especially in a horse race election like Ontario's.
The Conservative platform is off the economic track as it invokes analogies and comparisons that defy the economic fundamentals. Ontarians on June 12 have to vote on their future. They can choose to invest in Ontario's education, health, and infrastructure. Alternatively, they can choose to become the victims of false analogies.
Do you think anyone would disagree to finding savings in the healthcare system that wouldn't affect patient care, that would increase employment, reduce taxpayer burden, and help increase pharmaceutical self-sufficiency? It turns out the Ontario Liberals don't think that is a good idea.
Research in pedagogy shows that children learn much better in smaller classrooms. Tim Hudak, if elected, has promised to increase classroom sizes and the student-teacher ratios. The Ontario elections could very well be a vote on the learning outcomes for millions of school-going children. Tim Hudak, the leader of the Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, is campaigning to increase the classroom size by two to three students and the student-teacher ratio, in addition to numerous other proposed cuts to the Ontario's education system. This may require parents to learn more about learning before they vote on June 12.
It should be said that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives Party's name is its own twisted type of false advertising. In fact, were Tim Hudak's policies implemented, the amount of tuition that I have to pay would increase by at least 30 per cent due to Hudak's proposed elimination of the current post-secondary grant. Under Tim Hudak, it seems that post-secondary education -- and indeed, university education in particular -- would return to being something for only the upper echelons of society.
If you can't be bothered to pay attention and have decided that your vote won't matter anyway, you may unconsciously be setting an example that your children will follow. If we want to live in a viable democracy, we have to be willing to think critically and to take some risks.
Andrea Horwath wants things to 'Make Sense,' Tim Hudak 'Wants a Million Jobs,' and Kathleen Wynne has 'A Plan for Ontario.' One can't expect too much from platform titles, but none of the policy books display a focus on improving the health of Ontarians via bettering their social conditions as a primary driver. This leaves it up to the voters to read between the lines.
As the election heats up and politicians fall over themselves to promise the moon to voters, the single largest problem facing Ontario continues to be the province's pitiful finances. Hudak has been brutally honest with the people of Ontario about what his government will cut and the tough decisions they will make to get the province back on track.