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On-line debates will freshen up our stale politics

We now have a date pencilled in for the Provincial Leaders’ Debate.

Tuesday 3 June 2014.

We learn the broadcasters only want one debate and it had to be scheduled around the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Personally, I think one is too few. There is a real hunger out there for meaningful debate on substantive issues. People are totally fed up with bland politicians mouthing platitudes. (Hudak, love him or loathe him, is speaking out and grabbing people’s attention.)

So, if the broadcasters have a stranglehold on televised debates why can’t we have some on-line, hosted by the press?

In the UK the Guardian newspaper (left leaning) has teamed up with the Daily Telegraph (on the right) to offer an on-line platform to the politicians in the UK’s 2015 General election campaign. Others, too, want to get involved.

It is a terrific idea and one we should emulate.

Tim Hudak has now released the full PC election platform. The Liberals are fighting on their stillborn Budget proposals. But the NDP prospectus is embarrassingly thin. Andrea Horwath, who initially proposed a series of five debates, would never survive such a test. She would, literally, be lost for words.

Here, Toronto Star columnist, Carol Goar, helpfully reminds us of the thin gruel Ontario’s NDP is offering:

So far, the NDP leader has promised to reduce government spending by $600 million a year; cut Ontario’s small business tax to 3 per cent (it is now 4.5 per cent); downsize the provincial cabinet by a third; remove the provincial portion of the HST from hydro bills and hand out $100 per household rebates; stabilize the child care system with a one-time infusion of $100 million; offer companies wage subsidies of up to $5,000 to hire a new worker; raise the minimum wage by 50 cents a year until 2016; increase Ontario’s corporate tax rate by an unspecified amount and balance the budget by 2017-18.

Goar continues:

There are still three weeks left in the campaign. Horwath could still reach out to low-income Ontarians. But at this point, she appears to be auditioning for the role of waste-buster and austerity advocate.

Here in Newmarket, sooner rather than later, I’d like to see on-line debates between candidates for the Provincial Parliament (base salary $116,550) and for our York Regional Councillor ($51,696 plus Town salary of $64,056).

And why not?

These are big jobs open to people with big ideas.


 

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