The humiliation is complete as PC Leader and wannabe Premier, Tim Hudak, is “ushered off” a TTC subway car by transit police.

No permit. No photo op.

This exquisitely humbling “event” is picked up by the news media everywhere. A CBC video records it for posterity. The Toronto Sun reports the PCs blaming the unions. The Toronto Star talks about a campaign event going off the rails. The National Post is the kindest, saying the event was "almost" derailed. 

However it was reported, yesterday’s cock-up becomes a metaphor for Hudak’s campaign. Another day. Another gaffe.

And the Star tops it off with an editorial faulting Hudak’s math.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Wynne sails through a less-than-challenging interview with Matt Galloway.

Andrea Horwath is up in Thunder Bay prospecting for an extra seat or two and complaining the Liberals are “long on promises and short on delivery”. Unfortunately, the NDP platform is being dribbled out in stages to maximise media coverage. I still don’t have the long list of NDP promises.

Here in Newmarket, York Regional Council hopeful, Darryl Wolk tweets

@gordon_prentice To be clear, I have not endorsed anyone in the Newmarket-Aurora Provincial. Listening to issues, putting Newmarket first!

Then, for good measure, he tweets again:

@gordon_prentice I do not support cutting “non-teacher” positions. We must support special needs students. Our candidate should talk policy.

“Our candidate” is, of course, Jane Twinney.

On 11 March 2014 Wolk tweeted to his 3,744 followers:

For the record I plan to vote for @JaneTwinney in provincial election.

Now we know, that in the intriguing World of Wolk, that does not count as an endorsement.

31 days to go.


Tim Hudak's pledge to cut 100,000 public sector jobs in two years is a game-changer

It is a bold move - kamikaze more like - designed to grab our attention.

It could – and probably will – blow up in his face.

The Barrie Examiner perceptively reports that Hudak made his breakfast-meeting pledge at Barrie Country Club in front of an audience of the faithful that had been shoehorned into “one of the golf club’s smaller rooms”.

This gets me thinking about how much real support there is outside the PC die hards for a remedy that seems a million times more toxic than the disease it is supposed to cure.

In his “Paths to Prosperity” platform paper Hudak talks cautiously about phasing out 10,000 non-teaching positions to save $600m. That measured approach has been thrown out of the window in his bid to capture the headlines. The precise location of the other doomed 90,000 jobs remains, for now, a matter for conjecture.

All in all, 10% of public sector jobs are to go but doctors, nurses and police officers are to be protected. No forced job cuts there. But teachers are singled out as legitimate targets.

Almost 11,800 teachers and support staff work in York Region – the third biggest School Board in Ontario - and they may feel a tad nervous.

For those who escape the scythe, Hudak is promising a public sector wage freeze.

In her biography posted on her website for the 2010 Municipal Election, PC candidate, Jane Twinney, speaks about being active at Meadowbrook Public School where she ran the school lunch programme. With that background, I am left wondering where she believes the axe should fall in our schools. 

That's not something she should be allowed to dodge.


The left-leaning Toronto Star takes aim again at Andrea Horwath’s NDP. Columnist Rick Salutin tells his readers the NDP is selling its soul for a mess of populist pottage. I agree.

Horwath will have to start putting flesh on the bones pretty quickly otherwise she will be written off as a gadfly with nothing serious to say about anything that really matters. I want to be proved wrong but time is running out.

Meanwhile, here in Newmarket things seem to be hotting up. One of my spies tells me she spotted a lot of “blue” action at the corner of Mulock and Leslie at 8.20 on Thursday morning. She saw a cheerleader with pom poms and five people jumping up and down and waving PC signs, including Jane Twinney. (Is this true Jane?)

Jane – with the famous name - is an enigma. She won the PC nomination without a contest. Stephen Somerville pulled out saying his family had been threatened and the brittle Maddie Di Muccio self destructed.

Jane Twinney’s views may be unformed. Or, less likely, she may be keeping them from a curious public. That flashing smile coupled with bouncing cheerleaders and pom poms may be the right mix to win in Conservative Newmarket.

Some of Jane’s supporters think she is a closet Liberal. Darryl Wolk, who dreams of defeating Regional Councillor John Taylor, tweeted on 8 March 2014

PC nomination was a slap in the face to grassroots members and basic democracy. Win or lose we get a Liberal at Queen’s Park.

Again, after further reflection, Wolk tweeted on 21 March 2014

My opinion is Newmarket-Aurora ends up with a Liberal regardless of who wins in Newmarket-Aurora.

Does Jane Twinney want that kind of endorsement?

Does she give a toss what Wolk says? Probably not.

She has a fundraiser in Aw Shucks on Monday.  Maybe things will be clearer then.

33 days to go.



With refreshing honesty, Andrew Coyne, writing in the National Post, says the Party Leaders on the campaign trail fill their days with "meaningless tripe".

He repeats Andrea Horwath’s call for five debates involving the Party Leaders, focussing on policy. The Globe and Mail, too, says Ontarians need the debates.

At the last election, fewer than half of the electorate voted. Most people couldn’t be bothered to lever themselves out of their armchairs to cast a ballot. Why?

All the political parties, to a greater or lesser extent, blur the edges between their policies and their opponents. They do not offer a clear choice. And they do not explain their policies in depth and at length. Everything is reduced to a sound bite that, more often than not, vanishes into the ether seconds after it is uttered.

At least this time the NDP, famously “policy-lite” under Horwath, is not going to get a free ride.  In the long run that will be good for the NDP and good for our politics.

Many people are deeply alienated, believing their vote makes no difference whatsoever. Indeed, some go further and say the very act of voting encourages the politicians and props up a system that is totally bankrupt. Have a look at this 2013 conversation between the UK comedian and actor, Russell Brand, and Jeremy Paxman, the anchor of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight.

For its part, the CBC ramps up stage-managed events that are hardly worth reporting into an “election analysis of the day’s events on the campaign trail”.  We learn from Tim Hudak that if people want “personality” they should vote for Wynne or Horwath. If they want policy, he is (so to speak) your man.

Which clown in his entourage advised him to say that?

Policies are increasingly set by the Party Leaders who are in turn beguiled by pollsters and campaign professionals. The electorate is diced, cubed and then salami sliced with the message tailored for the demographic that counts. The result? The real election is fought in a handful of swing ridings. And the rest of us end up as onlookers.

The reality is that political parties everywhere are on life support. These days, it almost seems eccentric to belong to one. No wonder people walk away from it all.

Televised Leaders’ debates matter. And candidates’ debates in the other 104 ridings are important too.

They may - just - shake us out of our torpor.

34 days to go.


As the Ontario Election officially gets under way, the Toronto Star tells its readers that many of the promises from Party Leaders “are so vague that they’re useless”.

The Star backs NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, when she called for a series of televised debates but warns she had better think of something to say.

“Other leaders may have put forward some dubious proposals but she has presented virtually nothing at all.”

Adam Radwanski in the Globe and Mail goes so far as to say she risks not being taken seriously because she plays “fast and loose” with the facts.

These are early days but perceptions formed early on can stick.

Too bad then that today’s NDP pledge to raise the minimum wage to $12 hourly over two years is so timid. A paltry 50c hourly increase in each of the next two years. I wonder what people in Wal-mart think of that?

It is estimated that almost one in ten employees in Ontario work for the Minimum Wage, the figure doubling in the last decade.

35 days to go.