Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2022/ Provincial Election Preblather

Provincial Election Preblather

I expect this entry will be striking similar to all my other preblather entries have been, but there is one important difference: this year I am not bothering to wait out the campaign. Instead I plan to vote early and be done with the election.

This has been the quietest election I can remember, but I bet this is also a familiar complaint from me. People in my social circles are not discussing it much -- they seem more concerned about the Roe vs Wade stuff in the States. There are few lawn signs out. I barely know the name of the local PC candidate.

I personally feel that this is a fairly important election, in the sense that having Doug Ford as premier will make a big difference in how Ontario fares over the next few years, but it seems we have collective amnesia about him and his record. We vaguely think he did okay during the pandemic (spoiler: not really) and are willing to give him a second term of office. Oy.

I feel that we have a number of crises on our hands:

There are probably more challenges than these. I feel we are headed for some really hard times. So it is actively disappointing that our options in this election are so terrible.

I predict that turnout for this election will be low.

I think Ford did a great job at controlling the narrative. He passed funding restrictions that prevented third parties (such as teachers unions) from spending much during the election. The other parties are not examining Ford's record carefully. So he is getting a free pass to another majority government.


I made the mistake of listening to the official TV consortium debate, and boy was it embarrassing.

Doug Ford is still blaming Kathleen Wynne for "destroying" Ontario, as if he has not had a majority government for five years, and as if he has not done his fair amount of destruction. He clings to his "those guys don't want to build anything" line, his "we are saving Ontarians money by getting rid of license tag fees" line, and a few numbers. That's it. He was asked about addressing racism and polarization in politics and had no talking points, so fumbled the answer. His election platform is about "saying yes" but he has had five years to say yes with a majority government.

Andrea Horwath ought to be the leader-in-waiting. This is her fourth election as NDP leader, and all she can do is blame Doug Ford, talk out of turn and talk over the other candidates. I got the distinct impression that she did not have many solutions of her own, and the ones she did make were ones that (typically) the province cannot afford.

Steven Del Duca talks about his daughters a lot. They must have had a tough pandemic. He also reminds us that we are not re-litigating the 2018 election. He also likes talking way over his time.

Mike Schreiner got away easy, as usual. Doug Ford said he could get along with him, and Horwath agreed that the Green and NDP platforms were similar in some ways. But he pulled politician tricks like all the others -- taking credit for NDP policies.

Forget the weak personalities. Are there no grownups in this room? Mike Schreiner came the closest to answering questions, but he fell back on ridiculous promises like reducing mental health waitlists to 30 days. Everybody had terrible, expensive programs they cannot pay for:

Sometimes the leaders threw numbers around, but often they spoke in platitudes. They almost never had analyses of the forces at play, or realistic ideas of what provincial governments can and cannot do.

These leaders are not dumb. When they are in office they know there are tradeoffs they will need to manage in order to govern. I have attended lots of housing forums where people have discussed those tradeoffs. But our leadership is pretending that those tradeoffs do not exist, because it is an election and they think we are all morons.

(Incidentally, I am grumpy with that consortium for excluding Jim Karahalios from the debate. Belinda Karahalios is an incumbent MPP, so in principle the True Blue party has one seat going into the election. But, true to form, the consortium carefully crafts its rules to ensure that certain parties participate and others are locked out. It would have been good for voters if Ford had to face criticism from his right-wing critics in addition to the usual left-wing ones.)

Going Broke

The NDP and Greens want to tax the rich and promise not to affect middle-class voters. What a crock. We are going broke and have huge infrastructure deficits. If we want to cover those deficits we have to tax the middle class, because the middle class has lots of money collectively.

The PCs want to cut gas taxes and get rid of license stickers and do who knows what else. The government is going broke, we are headed into a recession, and Ford wants to starve the government of its revenues.

The NDP and Libs don't want to touch the third rail of privatized healthcare, so want to pour additional billions of dollars into health care (as if that will solve the problem).

Ford's Legacy

One of the good things about listening to the awful debate were a few reminders of the many stupid things Doug Ford did for stupid ideological reasons:

It is true that once Ford got booed at the Raptors parade and once Dean French got kicked out, his government got less ideological and more pragmatic. I think that pragmatism is a part of the reason we are more willing to give Ford's government a pass -- if nothing else, it did not end up as ideological as the traumautic Mike Harris years.

Let's also observe that several rats are jumping ship. (Yes, referring to politicians as rats is disrespectful. I apologise to the rats.) Health minister and deputy premier Christine Elliott is mysteriously retiring. Rod Phillips (who was so much in demand that he was quietly reinvited into cabinet after his Caribbean vacation fiasco) abruptly quit in February. These were two of the adults in the room. Who will be the adults in Ford's cabinets once he is re-elected? Steve Clark? The bench is looking pretty thin.

Local Drama

In Kitchener Centre my choice is easy. I don't want Doug Ford to be re-elected. We have an NDP incumbent. I don't think Laura Mae Lindo has been an outstanding MPP, but she has been visible, has been pushing her portfolios hard, and has maintained some of her activist spirit. I think she has done a good enough job to deserve re-election. It may be the case that voting will split the vote between her and Kelly Steiss so that the PC candidate gets in, but I don't see how switching my vote to Steiss would fix that. Furthermore I am incredibly disinclined to vote Liberal after their repeated betrayals. I eagerly await the Liberal mailer that states "Only Kelly Steiss can defeat Doug Ford in Kitchener Centre"!

The Green candidate Wayne Mak seems to have more signs out than Steiss or the PC candidate Jim Schmidt, but that is not saying a lot. If he is hoping to ride the Mike Morrice wave I think he will be disappointed. In fact I think Mike Schreiner might be disappointed in Guelph if he is not careful -- the only way Greens win seats is if they focus all their attention on a few key ridings, so we had better hope that the Greens are again converging in Guelph. I would not be surprised to see Schriener go down in defeat,

In Waterloo I feel the decision to stick with Catherine Fife is even more straightforward. She has been less visible in the media this term than she was last term, but she is finance critic of the party and (I suspect) would be a viable candidate as NDP leader if/when Horwath steps down. I see no reason not to vote for her.

The other ridings are interesting. Most interesting is Cambridge, where the PC incumbent Belinda Karahalios was kicked out of caucus and (with her husband Jim, who was also kicked out of the PCs) formed their own "True Blue" party. Both Karahalioses are running under the True Blue banner, but more impressively the new operation has managed to run candidates in every riding of Ontario. This party is way right of the current PCs, so if there is a right-wing backlash against Ford there could be some chance he could lose votes to the True Blues. I do not think they will win any seats but I wonder whether they will split any ridings?

Amy Fee is Kitchener South-Hespeler is another rat who is jumping ship, so there is no incumbent in that riding. My guess is that it will easily go to the PCs, but who knows?

Jim Karahalios is running against Mike Harris Jr in Kitchener-Conestoga. Harris is probably safe, but who knows? He only won by 500 votes in 2018.

The local all-candidates meetings are disasters. Again the PCs are refusing to send candidates to all-candidates meetings (even the Chamber of Commerce ones!) so I think we are collectively giving up on them, and thus collectively giving up on the pretense that we care about the quality of local representation.


I want to vote early because I want this election out of my hair. So far it has not made me too crazy and I would like to keep it that way. I could be burned. A lot can happen in twelve days. But even if there is a Liberal tidal wave I am sufficiently angry with the Liberals that I do not know I would vote for them. We shall see how many regrets I feel after the election. I expect I will be kicking myself.

I will probably miss the ritual of standing in line to cast my vote. With COVID this is still making me nervous, but I am a strong believer that keeping elections an event has advantages over spreading the voting over so many days.

I think I am going to regret not paying more attention to Ford in a few month's time, when his governments takes its "strong mandate" and pulls all kinds of shenanigans. We are in for years of difficulty no matter what the government. Should Ford be presiding over these years?