10/03/2011 09:34 EDT | Updated 12/03/2011 05:12 EST

Why Did the <i>Sun</i> Hang Hudak Out to Dry?


Editorially, the Sun has decided it can't support any of the party leaders in Thursday's provincial election.

In my view this is a mistake -- even a dereliction of duty.

If not recommending to readers which leader would be best for the province, the newspaper should at least be advising who they think would be the least worst.

But no. Ontario voters are on their own -- though the paper does "encourage everyone to vote."

By not endorsing -- even reluctantly -- any party leader, the Sun is saying a pox on all of them. So whatever goes wrong in the province in the future, the Sun is seemingly absolving itself of any responsibility -- even if it's the responsibility of urging the government to do this, or that, or whatever seems appropriate at the moment.

Newspapers tend to inflate their editorial influence among voters. Or assume they have more influence than they do. Voters often (usually?) ignore editorial advice and go their own way, making their own decisions, which is an endearing characteristic of our democracy.

In the latter Trudeau years, the Toronto Star, in three successive elections, urged voters to elect a different party in each election -- implying who knows what miseries might occur if their urgings were ignored.

The voters rejected the Star's advice in two of those three elections.

But at least the Star was making a stand.

In fact, editorial endorsements are something of a ritual that don't mean much, except flatter whoever is on the receiving end.

Often the leaders of political parties do not excite the electorate. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a prime example. He is variously depicted as cold, mildly paranoid (sometimes with good reason), mechanical and dogmatic. In elections where he headed minority governments, the Star and Globe (if I remember correctly) found him "scary." Silly asses.

But a plurality of Canadians preferred Harper to his rivals -- and Canada has flourished as the most successful country in these times of recession and economic woe.

It puzzles me that the beloved Sun doesn't feel a different premier would be an improvement, after some eight years of Dalton McGuinty repeatedly vowing not to raise taxes then raising them, of increasing the debt, of evading responsibility and avoiding truth. Yet the Sun abdicates from making a choice.

I would have thought the Sun would (reluctantly) have endorsed Tory Tim Hudak, who may not be Ronald Reagan but who at least is "hope" for change.

While polls show all three parties close enough to indicate a minority government on Thursday, my sneaking hunch is that voters have had enough of McGuinty, do not want more of the same, are eager for change and will vote accordingly -- but in smaller numbers than in past elections.

This will likely help the NDP, but should give the Tories and Hudak a shot at reducing government bureaucracy, cutting government spending and waste, and creating a climate where businesses will take heart and expand the job market.

A benefit on the 2008 recession is that economic necessity reduced the power of the automotive industry's trade unions, which compromised to help the industry survive.

Something similar is necessary in the public service, which benefits more than any worker in the private sector. Neither McGuinty nor the NDP's Andrea Horwath can, or will, effect change. Only Hudak has a chance. That seems reason enough to vote Tory.