Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blogging the Ontario Leaders' Debate

Tonight I will try live-blogging the debate. Check out Cherniak's as well.

6:29 PM.

Starting any minute now....

6:31 PM

Tinkering with the standard?? Videos instead. Liberals first...Oh tackling the broken promise on the health tax right away. Smart thinking for getting that out the door.

NDP: Ok video, at least it wasn't all full of attacks. But the "Get orange" slogan is incredibly lame.

Conservatives. Parent of autistic child to start. I don't think this was appropriate to use her to attack McGuinty. Otherwise the usual about "broken promises have consequences"

6:35 PM

First question on inclusiveness of different cultures in education to Tory.
Tory starts talking about fairness, you either fund all or none, of course he dodges all the serious issues surrounding his plan.
McGuinty talks about his own record on education, good job highlighting how much better things.
Hampton wants to fund neighbourhood schools and fix the funding formula, ok how are you going to do that?

6:40 PM

Now fuller discussion on issue...
McGuinty raises some of the serious about the religious schools plan, which religions will be funded and which not? How do you decide? Do we want to keep moving forward in the direction we are going with higher graduation rates, higher test scords, smaller class sizes or force Ontarians into a huge divisive debate.
Tory says other provinces have done it, not true though, no one funds it 100% like Tory proposes or brought all religions in with public shcools boards, etc....
Hampton talks about funding formula again. McGuinty talks about how much more he has invested in education. Lots of yelling now over the religious schools issue. No one is getting heard now.

6:45 PM

Question again about education. Moderator notes McGuinty accomplishments but also mentions the funding formula and bigger class sizes in some grades.

McGuinty notes his progress again. Hampton again talks about funding formula, infrastructure problems and apparently. Both Hampton and Tory say they will fix funding formula, except Tory is promosing much less for education over the next 4 years than McGuinty so I'm not quite sure how he will do that, while Hampton's platform is way over budget by $2 billlion.

McGuinty: More money in 4 years and that Tory's party did in 8. Good line.

Tory notes how he's met parents frustrated with schools and there being more portables now. Hampton talks about board cuts. I think a lot of these problems originated with Harris.
McGuinty notes we've come along way.

Tory notes how McGuinty said he would fix funding formula and real leaders do what they say they are going to do. I'm guessing that line will be repeated a lot tonight.

Talking about autism now...McGuinty says 3x as much funding for autism than under NDP gov't and $10 million for therapy in classrooms.

6:50 PM

Next question about transit. Hampton says he'll upload 50% of costs from municipalities. He'll get to work on it right away. Tory says he'll get on it right away and will use every cent of gas tax, says McGuinty's plan doesn't do anything until 2011.

McGuinty talks about his transit plan and the impact it will have in Toronto.

Hampton says the plan will take too long to implement. McGuinty talks about projects getting under way now that plans out decades to come.

Tory says McGuinty waited to election time to put out plan. McGuinty notes he gave out 2 cents of gas tax right at the starts and the Cons never offered that.

Hampton complains about downloading of services. McGuinty notes fights Harris govt picked with municipalaties and how they're the ones who did all the downloading, McGuinty is starting to upload.

Tory says he will upload some services after a report comes out. McGuinty says it hasn't been easy to fix the mess left behind by Harris/Eves. Notes the services they have uploaded and the progress they are making.

Hampton says cities are worse off than under Harris and McGuinty said he would reverse it (and he has started to reverse it). Notes property taxes going up.

Tory claims McGuinty doesn't care about rural communities. McGuinty notes the 100 schools lost in those communities under Harris and the plan he has put in place to keep the at risk schools in place.

Hampton claims schools are worse off in Northern Ontario, McGuinty says it's not true.

McGuinty summarizes: 2 cents of gas tax, uploading social services, investing in schools

7:05 PM

Next question a bit surprising: Does McGuinty support having recall elections?

Answer: No he doesn't. Goes into an explanation as how hard it was to raise taxes and the difficult choice he had to make given the hidden deficit.
Hampton says everyone knew there was a $5 billion deficit (bs, no one thought it was that high).

Tory essentially says it was ok for McGuinty to break his promise on the health tax (basically he accepted McGuinty's explanation - let's see how much he still uses that example down the line anyway), but he has other broken promises too.....

Hampton asks about clawback National Child Benefit, why didn't he eliminate it? McGuinty mentions Ontario Child Tax Benefit and how it gives them back more money but Hampton voted against it.

Tory says voters aren't fooled. And only McGuinty won't eliminate health tax. McGuinty notes how Tory is proposing the same slash and burn policies as Harris (raise spending, cut taxes, and balance budget somehow without cuts)

Finishes up with a clarification does anyone support recall? No no one does on the stage.

7:10 PM

Manufacturing question: Asks what Hampton thinks about NDP record on decimating manufacturing. Hampton says nothing about that. Talks about current troubles in Manufacturing sector.

McGuinty notes how unemployment in North and East is lowest in 17 years and unemployment is down since 2003. Tory complains some more, says Ontario is worst in the country. McGuinty says he refuses to be so negative about Ontario.

Hampton complains that McGuinty doesn't care about the North. McGuinty notes that under the NDP Ontario lost 1300 jobs a week, under him gained 1800 a week. No reply from Hampton of course.

McGuinty is good to mention that 340,000 jobs have been created and 95% earn $19.50 an hour or more.

7:15 PM

Next quesiton about poverty to Tory, what will Tory about affordable housing, low welfare rates and helping communities.

Tory says he spent time in impoverished communities and he has a plan to fix those communities.

McGuinty says Ontarians need to think of themselves as a family and can't leave others behind. Increased social assistance 3 times, disability payments 3 times, brought back student grants, Ontario child benefit, 120,000 young people getting grants, new dental plan for working families. Very good answer.

Hampton says the answer is to raise the minimum wage (leaving aside the job losses that would ensue).

McGuinty talks about his own record on health care and how they are getting better services and wait times are down. Tory says he's going to stand up the low income earner and McGuinty says that's pretty rich giving his party's background on bullying the poor (not those exact words of course). Tory praises McGuinty's Ontario Child Tax Benefit, says he'll keep it. Good for him.

Lots of yelling now.

7:25 PM

Question 8 now....

This one about crime. Moderator notes how crime is going down, but people think it's important.

McGuinty notes the 1000 new police officers and the plans he has put in place to help communities.

Hampton says he'll help communities.

Tory fear-mongering like crazy. Everyone is afraid to go outside now apparently and it's all McGuinty's fault. This is low. Tory says he'll fix justice system, just doesn't really say how.

McGuinty mentions how Ontario's crime rate is lowest in Canada essentially. Said he's asked Harper to have tougher sentencing and asks Tory if he'll support a handgun ban because crimes are committed with stolen handguns from legal owners. Tory parrots the Harper line that "handguns are already banned" which is not true, guns get stolen from legal owners and are out on the street the next day, it's choking the supply to ban them.

Tory says crime rate higher in Brantford that in Toronto he says. Wow crime must be pretty low in Toronto, cuz there's virtually none in Brantford (that is my home after all). Shame on Tory for trying to spin it this way.

7:30 PM

Next question.

A bit surprising, I know the next questioner. He asks Hampton about tuition and what his party will do.

Hampton says he will lower and freeze tuition. Tory says he still wants to regulate tuition and increase grants (which is what McGuinty is doing), meanwhile Tory wants to give less funding to universities.

McGuinty notes how he was first to freeze tuition for two years. They added $6.2 billion in funding. Helping students now with textbook grants and more student grants.

Hampton says McGuinty said tuition was too high in 2003. McGuinty notes how NDP once promised to eliminate tuition and it increased 51% on their watch. Later notes how it increased 81% on Tories and families were contributing more then Govt was putting in (same under NDP btw). McGuinty notes the govt puts in $3 for every $1 a student puts in.

7:40 PM

Next question about energy.

Tory asked is nuclear necessary. He says yes it is.

McGuinty agress with nuclear, but also stressing conservation and renewables.

Hampton says nuclear is dangerous and expensive.

Tory asks why McGuinty didn't close coal power plants (why won't Tory commit to ever closing them?).

McGuinty asks Hampton how Ontario can take out nuclear which is 50% of its power supply. Hampton says California and Manitoba were more efficient (do they use 50% nuclear?).

7:45 PM

Next question about health care. Woman asks McGuinty what has been done with health care money.

McGuinty notes investments in wait times and how half a million more Ontarians have a family doctor.

Hampton says invest in home care.

Tory says health care system is no better than 4 years ago. Fudges the number a little on who has a family doctor.

McGuinty reminds people of Tory's voodoo economics plan. Tory claims the money is there.

Tory says McGuinty is complacent for bringing down health care wait times apparently. Throws out the leadership matters line for no reason.

7:50 PM

Final question. Got distracted missed it.

Hampton talks about global warming.

McGuinty talks about moving Ontario forward.

Tory complains some more.

Hampton talks about the need for minimum wage.

McGuinty notes the consequences of that.

Tory downs all over Ontario saying we are the worst at everything and are going nowhere in Canada. Why do you want to be Premier?

McGuinty notes Tory always stands up for the private sector and McGuinty for the public.

Lots of yelling back and forth again.

7:55 PM

Closing statements....

Hampton goes over his "six priorities". Hampton says we can count them!

McGuinty notes how we are moving forward. Closing hospitals to opening hospitals, teachers fired to teachers hired. New environmental plans and health care plans noted.

Tory says he is something different. He is straight with you on everything (like on religious schools?? Somehow I don't think so). He can make a difference. Leadership matters.

That is the end.

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