Considerations for NDP voters

If you are a resident of Kingston and the Islands and your preferred outcome for this election is an NDP majority government under Andrea Horwath, then your vote is undoubtedly for Ian Arthur. If, on the other hand, you are not certain that would be the best outcome, then the considerations discussed below may be helpful.

In light of Kathleen Wynne’s forthright June 2 acknowledgement that she will no longer be Premier after June 7, I now consider the optimum outcome for Ontario as being a Legislature in which neither the NDP nor the PCs command a majority.  In that scenario, even if the PCs win the larger number of ridings, it is quite unlikely that sufficient NDP and Liberal MPPs would support the mandatory confidence vote on the Speech from the Throne, which means that Doug Ford’s proposed government would fall and Andrea Horwath would then likely become Premier.  Minority governments have historically been quite productive and make far fewer expensive mistakes because their leaders must temper their impulses, listen to the views of others and seek acceptable compromises to advance their policy agendas.

Here in Kingston, all that one can be concluded from the most recent local polling data is that it has become a very close three-way race between the Liberal, NDP and PC candidates, since the differences between the candidates’ rankings are less than those polls’ margins of error.  Hence the outcome will be determined by the large number of still-undecided voters.  Given the degree to which popular incumbent MPP Sophie Kiwala’s share of the vote was being depressed by the unprecedented unpopularity of her party leader, she will more than likely now be in the lead and hence the best bet for voters whose overwhelming concern is to do what they can to avoid Doug Ford becoming our majority Premier.

That said, our primary responsibility as voters remains to choose the candidate who will best represent us and our community in the Ontario Legislature for the next four years. By all objective criteria, Sophie is that candidate.  If you view and critically compare the content rather than just the images on all three candidates’ campaign websites, you will find that Sophie’s has by far the most substance.  Where the others make vague promises as to what they hope to do for us, Sophie has a host of proven achievements which conclusively demonstrate that she has what it takes to turn her promises into reality.  Most MPPs have relatively little to show after their first term in office, which is quite understandable given the very steep learning curve which they face in a highly complex environment, and the fact that it takes time to earn sufficient respect and trust of one’s colleagues to garner support for one’s initiatives.  Sophie was able to hit the ground running, in part because of who she is and in part because her previous seven years working closely with MPs Peter Milliken and Ted Hsu had given her a deep understanding of how to perform the real job of an elected representative.  Over the past four years, she has grown to be one of Ontario’s most effective MPPs.  As individual voters and as a community, therefore, it would be foolish for us waste that considerable investment on her part and ours by electing someone who would have to start all over from scratch.

There is one more very important consideration which applies to this particular election. Our next Legislature is likely to be both fractured and fractious, with the majority of the most experienced MPPs gone. Therefore, Kingston’s best contribution to good government in this province would be to return Sophie to the Legislature. She is the only one of the local candidates with the necessary experience and personal skills to build bridges, find consensus and help get things done. She has a reputation for being unfailingly gracious and respectful to MPPs and staff of all parties, while retaining her fierce determination serve the interests of the people who elected her and of all those in need.  Those attributes are evidenced by the fact that all of Sophie’s private member’s bills were passed unanimously, which is almost unprecedented.

Strategic voting revisited

Strategic voting means choosing to cast your ballot for the candidate who has the best chance of beating a candidate whom you either dislike or whose party or party leader you most definitely do not want in power rather than for the candidate you would actually prefer to elect. Because you’re voting against rather than for a party or candidate, it’s an essentially negative act but one which many deem necessary in order to minimize the risk of a greater harm.

Effective strategic voting is difficult because candidates are elected on a riding-by-riding basis and there is frequently insufficient firm polling evidence to support a truly reliable choice. In any given election, local factors such as the respective qualities, name recognition and track records of the candidates can and frequently do outweigh the broader voting trends captured by national and regional polls. Every riding is unique in that manner. In a close race, those broader polls are useless because the sample size in each riding is much too small to support statistically meaningful predictions (i.e., when the margin of error in each candidate’s percentage support exceeds the differences among those candidates).

One of the dangers of strategic voting is what I would term the bandwagon effect which occurs when individual voters attempt to make strategic voting decisions based on those national and regional polls. If that results in their voting for the candidate of the party riding high in those polls, they may end up weakening another strong candidate who in their particular riding actually stands a better chance of defeating the candidate of the party they hope will not win the election. The results of such a vote might therefore end up being contrary to their intentions.

Because the candidates’ campaign teams require a fairly good understanding of how voters’ intentions are changing as the campaign unfolds in order to fine-tune their advertising, they frequently commission private paid polling within their own ridings for that purpose. But even those can be problematic. Voters may give different answers later in the campaign, when they have a better understanding of the issues, than those which they gave earlier. The answers also vary depending on how the questions are asked. For example, when asked which party they are supporting, they often name a particular party; but when the names of the candidates are listed in a different question, they choose a favoured candidate from a different party.

In the current election, I originally advocated for strategic voting for two reasons. First, I believe that Doug Ford is manifestly unsuited to serve as a majority Premier for the next four years and truly fear the consequences for our province and its people. That, coupled with the PC party’s huge lead in the polls constituted good reason for me to seek to minimize the PC candidate’s chances given that, in a close election, one seat could make the difference between a majority and a minority. Second, the private polling data which I saw showed Gary Bennett (the PC candidate) in first place, Sophie Kiwala (the incumbent Liberal MPP) in second and Ian Arthur (the NDP candidate) in third. Hence, the strategically logical path for progressive voters was to vote for Sophie.

That situation has changed over the second and third week of the campaign and, most recently, with Kathleen Wynne’s June 2 statement acknowledging that she won’t be Premier after June 7.  The optimum outcome for Ontario is now clearly a Legislature in which neither the PCs nor the NDP enjoy a majority.  Province-wide, the Conservatives and the NDP are now virtually tied.  Here in Kingston and the Islands, however, the most recent private polling results which I have seen show a true three-way race in which the differences between the PC, Liberal and NDP candidates are less than the margin of error for those numbers. What is definitive from the numbers is that there is essentially no chance that Robert Kiley (the Green candidate) will win. That leaves undecided voters who wish to have a meaningful say in who forms the next government the choice of voting for either Sophie Kiwala or Ian Arthur.

Those who are very much hoping for an NDP majority will undoubtedly vote for Mr. Arthur. For the rest of us, Sophie represents our best choice. She is an MPP to be proud of, one who has earned our votes by the way she has comported herself, her proven effectiveness in her role and all that she has done for our community and fellow Kingstonians.  In particular, Sophie’s proven ability to work well with MPPs of all parties in order to get things done will be invaluable in the fractious Legislature which is likely to result from this election.  If you are still unsure of which one you will support, I would recommend that you study their respective campaign websites very carefully to satisfy yourself which of the two would have the most to offer as our MPP.

Considerations for undecided voters

In recent days, I have responded to a number of questions from people who are still undecided as to who they will vote for on June 7.  In most cases, they feel that they should vote, but are not happy with any of the parties.  My advice was to decide which candidate would in their opinion do the best job as MPP, and to vote for that person regardless of party affiliation.

While I had previously argued elsewhere in these Considerations articles for strategic voting, I emphasized that it’s only effective if done locally based on reliable polling data from one’s own riding.  Unfortunately, province-wide public polls reported on sites like the CBC’s Ontario Poll Tracker are useless for that purpose because their sample sizes range from 600 to 1600.  That implies an average of 5 to 13 completed interviews per riding, which is far too few for statistical significance at the local level. The larger local campaigns commission private polls, but those numbers bounce around a lot and can’t be independently verified. A recent Kingston poll showed one candidate in the lead for the question as to which party the respondent was supporting and a different candidate in the lead for the question as to which named candidate the respondent favoured.

Now that the danger of having Doug Ford as our majority Premier for the next four years appears to have receded a bit, perhaps it’s time to revisit the more fundamental question of which local candidate is most likely to best perform the real job of an MPP.

To answer that question, I would suggest that you think like a member of a search committee which has been tasked with choosing who should be hired for a very important position in your organization.  Good search committees focus on relevant experience, evidence of effective teamwork, excellent communications and interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic and, above all, a demonstrated track record of success.

In Kingston and the Islands, I have absolutely no doubt that an objective search committee would select Sophie Kiwala to serve for another four-year term as our MPP.  Sophie’s demonstrated track record is one of caring about everyone in her community, really listening, acting on what she hears, building effective coalitions, working 80-hour weeks and delivering truly impressive results.  Very few people have the mix of skills, experience and aptitudes to do that job well.  Having worked closely for many years with MPs Peter Milliken and Ted Hsu, Sophie had a big head start over most first-term MPPs, but even she had a lot of rapid learning to do on the road to becoming the exceptionally effective MPP she is today.  Why would we want to throw all that invaluable experience away and start over with someone who would have to re-learn it all from scratch?

There’s one other very important consideration which applies to this particular election.  Our next Legislature is likely to be both fractured and fractious, with many of the most experienced MPPs gone. Kingston’s best contribution to good government in this province would be to return Sophie to the Legislature. She is the only one of the local candidates with the necessary experience and personal skills to make a positive difference and get things done in such a quagmire. She has a reputation for being unfailingly gracious and respectful to MPPs of all parties, as well as staff, while retaining her fierce determination to get things done.  As just one piece of evidence, all of Sophie’s private member’s bills were passed unanimously, which is almost unprecedented.

Authoritarian populism

Wikipedia defines populism as “a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against a privileged elite.” Populist politicians therefore portray themselves as anti-establishment despite, in most cases, coming from privileged backgrounds. Once in power, such politicians typically strive to centralize power in their own hands, using that overarching (but usually phony) struggle to justify their authoritarian policies which undermine democratic norms. Every issue is over-simplified and anyone who disagrees with them is deemed an “enemy”, vilified as being part of the “elite” against which they are struggling for the good of the “common people”. That includes the media, academics and any “experts” with the temerity to use facts and evidence to rationally argue against any of those politicians’ typically ideologically-driven policies.

As exemplified by Donald Trump, populist politicians are usually lacking in experience in government, patience with complexity and willingness to listen to and accommodate opposing views. Such willingness is essential to a well-functioning democracy which serves the interests of all of its citizens. Lack of experience means making lots of expensive mistakes. Not listening magnifies those mistakes. And believing that every complex problem should have a simple solution is an exercise in futility. Our world is inherently complex and is becoming inexorably more so. One-man government inevitably underperforms. Ironically, authoritarian populists attract and surround themselves with wealthy power brokers who have little interest in or empathy for the needs of those in the low- to middle-income strata. As we’ve seen time and again, the result is increased inequality and millions of people who had been attracted by the populist slogans and angry, divisive rhetoric finding themselves worse off than before.

The burning question for Ontarians at this time is whether Doug Ford is at heart an authoritarian populist and, if so, what his becoming Premier would likely mean for our future. While all of us as voters need to decide that for ourselves, his past performance as a Toronto City Councillor from 2010 to 2014 is highly indicative of such tendencies. A well-documented Toronto Star editorial categorizes his behaviour during that period as “a study in presumption, impulsiveness, indiscipline, indiscretion, bullying and an inability to put the team first”. Bullying is certainly one of the classic behaviour traits of an authoritarian populist. Another is an utter disregard for truth in statements and promises made while seeking to win votes and maintain control. Truth has no value or meaning to populists, since words are only a means to an end. They believe that when their promises are not met, people will either have forgotten or it will be easy to shift the blame to a scapegoat. In the case of Mr. Ford, his own words in the many email fundraising appeals which he sends to the PC base exemplify his disregard for truth.

Some have argued that Mr. Ford can’t be a populist because, unlike other prominent populist politicians around the world, he has yet to publicly attack immigrants. But not all populist politicians are inherently racist. Rather, they need scapegoats against which they can raise a wave of popular anger that they hope will sweep them into power. In most countries, the immigrant population is sufficiently powerless to make for a convenient target. Canada (especially Toronto) has long since passed the threshold of having a sufficient percentage of voters who identify as immigrants as to make the expression of such views tantamount to political suicide. Mr. Ford is having to make do with “liberal elites”.

Considerations for low-income voters

If one or more of the following describes your situation, then you and your family have an awful lot at stake in the outcome of the June 7th provincial election:

  • You’re a minimum or near-minimum wage earner;
  • You need to take multiple poorly-paying jobs just to put food on the table and cover your rent;
  • Your job or jobs offer few if any benefits and/or very little security;
  • If one or more of those jobs entails an unpleasant, abusive or unsafe workplace, you have no choice but to put up with it;
  • You support a family member who suffers from long-term or recurring physical and/or mental health issues;
  • You have one or more children who you hope will have better life chances than what you had, but don’t see how you can afford to help them get the post-secondary education needed to qualify for better jobs.

While Doug Ford gets lots of media attention for his blathering about Kathleen Wynne not living up to her promises, that’s simply not true. The fact is that Ms. Wynne promised action towards a fairer Ontario economy as one of her top priorities from the moment she was sworn in as Premier, and she has been living up to that promise ever since. Consider the major minimum-wage hikes; mandatory extension of benefits to part-time employees; expanded rent controls to protect people against sudden, dramatic rent increases that force them out of their homes; free post-secondary tuition for students from low- to middle-income households; free prescription drugs for your children and free quality child care for preschoolers; as well as major improvements to ODSP and Ontario Works. All of these programs serve to reduce the extreme stress that has been building on lower-income families and individuals. Additionally, her government has launched a major three-year pilot project to test the feasibility and cost of providing a basic income guarantee as the ultimate economic safety net for all Ontarians. If successful and implemented, basic income will largely eliminate the threat of real poverty hanging over the heads of everyone whose jobs could be lost to automation in coming years.

Now, can anyone actually imagine that all these improvements in people’s life chances and circumstances would have happened under a PC government, especially one led by Doug Ford? And how many of those gains will be lost over the next four years if he should become Premier? Conservative governments have traditionally deemed improvements to social programs as too expensive to undertake, whereas Liberals are more inclined to do deeper analysis which reveals that the real long-term costs of an inadequate safety net for families and individuals are almost invariably higher. True to form, Mr. Ford is promising to find “savings” to balance the budget while simultaneously cutting tax rates on corporations and individuals. If history is any indication, those “savings” will surely include measures that will reduce the incomes of lower-income people while the tax cuts will primarily benefit those in the upper-income levels; i.e., they serve primarily to further increase inequality.

But Mr. Ford is more than just a conservative. His words and behaviour strongly suggest that he is a classic example of a populist politician. Such politicians typically come to power by convincing those who are unhappy with the current system to vote for them, not realizing that the changes that they will actually make once elected will be contrary to the best interests of those same voters. For example, Mr. Ford has recently promised to keep Ontario’s minimum wage at its current $14 level rather than allowing it to rise to $15 on January 1, 2019 as had been legislated by the current Liberal government. In its place, he says that he will introduce a new tax credit for anyone earning minimum wage that will bring their tax down to zero. In reality, his proposed tax credit doesn’t come close to compensating minimum-wage workers for the income that they will lose if their pay is frozen at the $14 hourly rate, and they will be significantly out of pocket as a result. Click here to see the detailed calculations for full- and part-time employees. His grossly misleading claims that his plan will save them money when the opposite is true constitute strong evidence that a Doug Ford government would be harmful to low-income voters and their families.

Considerations for seniors

Seniors also have a major stake in the outcome of the current provincial election, not just for themselves and their own lives but also for the future lives and prospects of their children and grandchildren. The majority of today’s seniors grew up in a society replete with hope and expanding opportunities, and with a reasonable expectation that their children would do even better than they had. That hope has been largely dissipated by today’s harsher economy in which most young people believe that their lives will be harder than those of their parents. The majority of today’s workers have little or no prospect of ever having the kind of long-term secure jobs with benefits and company pensions which most seniors once considered the norm. Ever cheaper and more capable robots and automation will further reduce employment opportunities while increasing the share of wealth held by corporations and well-capitalized individuals. All of which raises serious questions about how unequal our society can be allowed to become. As you will see elsewhere on this site, the Liberal government has mounted a wide variety of initiatives to help restore some equality of opportunity. By contrast, a PC government under Doug Ford would most likely have vastly different priorities, including tax cutting which will serve to further accelerate income inequality. Do we really want to leave our children and grandchildren with an evermore unequal society like that of our neighbours to the south, a society steeped in anger and violence and where your best hope is to somehow get wealthy enough to live apart in a safe, gated community and receive good health care?

The current government has acted in numerous ways to better meet the needs of today’s seniors. It was the first to create a ministry dedicated solely to seniors, ensuring that their voices are heard at Queen’s Park. More specific actions include:

  • Aging with Confidence, a new, multi-faceted action plan to support seniors at all stages of life, so that they can remain independent, healthy and active, safe and socially connected;
  • A historic expansion of OHIP+, which will provide everyone aged 65 and over with completely free access to over 4,400 prescription drugs;
  • The Seniors’ Healthy Home Program, with up to $750 annually to support seniors aged 75 or older so they can live independently in their homes for longer;
  • $15 million to support “naturally occurring” retirement communities (a new model of care called “Oasis”, that was pioneered here in Kingston, combats loneliness, brings services directly to seniors in their existing homes in buildings with a high concentration of seniors, and gives them more autonomy over their own lives than would be possible in an institutional setting);
  • More volunteering opportunities that connect seniors and youth, fostering learning and mentorship while reducing older people’s risk of social isolation;
  • 5,000 new long-term care beds over the next four years and 15 million more hours of nursing, personal support and therapeutic care annually for residents in long-term care homes; and
  • A free annual high-dose influenza vaccine, targeted to better protect seniors.

It’s clear from what Doug Ford has said that he is a populist politician, which has serious implications for what we can expect of him. Should Mr. Ford become Premier, his priority will be cost cutting and tax cuts, which will ultimately hurt seniors, as well as move our Ontario society more in the direction of its more unequal U.S. counterparts. If you don’t want that, please refer to my post on strategic voting for some ideas on what you can do to make a difference. If you’re one of those who has been put off by the multi-year conservative campaign of pervasive distortions and negativity directed at Premier Wynne, please read this very thoughtful Toronto Star article on the Wynne legacy and consider my analysis of those depictions, bearing in mind that it was primarily written for the benefit of Liberals who have likewise been influenced by such views. Or, if Mr. Ford’s misleading sky-is-falling depiction of Ontario’s debt load has you worried, I would invite you to check the facts which point to a much more rational perspective on the debt numbers.

And if you have followed some of the above links, you’ll realize that, like many populist politicians before him, what Mr. Ford says often has a very tenuous connection with the truth. Should that be contrary to your values, please consider voting instead for someone who is always truthful, always respectful to everyone she encounters (even her opponents), always listens, is experienced and effective, and is always working for the betterment of her community, not herself. That someone is Sophie Kiwala, whom you could actually take pride in introducing to your children and grandchildren.

Considerations for Liberals unhappy with Kathleen Wynne

You certainly wouldn’t be the only Liberal in this riding who normally wouldn’t hesitate to vote for incumbent Liberal MPP Sophie Kiwala but has been either unhappy with one or more of the decisions made by the Wynne government over the past several years or has absorbed some of the general negativity about Kathleen Wynne.  However, with Kathleen Wynne’s June 2 statement in which she forthrightly acknowledged that she will no longer be Premier after June 7, the optimum outcome for Ontario is now a Legislature in which neither the PCs under Doug Ford or the NDP under Andrea Horwath enjoy a majority.

The best way for you to increase the likelihood of a productive minority government is to cast your ballot for re-electing Sophie.  The new Legislature will most likely be a fractious one in which the majority of MPPs will be new and inexperienced.  We in Kingston would not be doing either ourselves or the Province any favours by sending yet another inexperienced MPP who would have to master from scratch the complexities of government, the Legislature and everything that being an effective elected representative entails.  She is the only candidate who doesn’t just have good intentions but has proven that she can work effectively with MPPs from all parties in that environment to turn those intentions into concrete accomplishments.



Considerations for decided Sophie voters

I applaud your decision to vote for Sophie. Your vote for her will be a critical contribution to a far better future for our community and province than the alternative.

You can multiply the impact of your vote by simply talking with others in your circle, encouraging them to vote and telling them why you have decided to vote for Sophie. If they have doubts, ask them to explain their reasons or concerns. After Kathleen Wynne’s forthright June 2 acknowledgement that she will no longer be Premier after June 7, the pervasive negativity which has been directed at her should no longer be a factor in voting decisions.  What does matter going forward is what kind of government we collectively want for Ontario.

There are three arguments which I would suggest that you consider employing in situations in which you wish to influence votes:

  • The optimum outcome for Ontario is now a Legislature in which neither the PCs nor the NDP enjoy a majority, and the best way for Kingston voters to contribute to that outcome is to re-elect Sophie.
  • She is by far the most qualified of the candidates and is the only one who is offering more than just good intentions.
  • She is an MPP to be proud of, one who has earned our votes by the way she has comported herself, her proven effectiveness in her role and all that she has accomplished for our community.
  • Her proven ability to work well with MPPs of all parties in order to get things done will be invaluable in the fractious Legislature which is likely to result from this election.

Considerations for Green voters

As a Green voter, you are likely motivated more by policies which seek to address climate change and mitigate environmental damage than by personality. But, if you have ever met and spoken with Sophie, it’s equally likely that you’re happy with her performance as your MPP and, given her strong environmental values, you might have been pleased were she to have been a member of your own party.

While environmental and climate action is an arena in which, whatever one does, there is always more that can and should be done, that doesn’t mean that we should denigrate or dismiss what has actually been done to date. Rather, it provides the foundation for what we do in the future. More specifically, recent Ontario Liberal governments have made important strides that exacted very significant political costs. April 15th was the fourth anniversary of the last coal ever burned in Ontario to generate electricity. That represents the largest single action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by any jurisdiction in North America, ever. The Green Energy Act jump-started a renewable energy industry in Ontario that today employs more than 15,000 people. Ontario is currently one of only four Canadian provinces which taxes carbon emissions. The proceeds of that tax are earmarked for a wide variety of conservation and other measures to further reduce emissions. These include: home retrofits for energy efficiency; new windows, lights and furnaces in public schools; improved energy efficiency at hospitals (the saving of which will be redirected into patient care); improved cycling infrastructure; energy-efficient repairs and retrofits for social housing units; incentives for businesses of all sizes to adopt new clean-tech and reduce emissions; and fast-charging electric vehicle stations across the province.

The key question for any environmentally-minded voter in the upcoming election should be: what can we do to preserve those gains? The priorities of a Doug Ford government would be radically different, viewed through an ideological lens which regards carbon taxes as unwarranted government tax grabs and which opposes any and all interference in the functioning of free markets. Recall the gutting of Canada’s fisheries and environmental protections by the Harper government once they had a majority. A Doug Ford government would undoubtedly side with developers over citizens and environmental groups seeking to protect environmentally sensitive habitats and endangered species. He has already demonstrated that bias in his recent promise to private developers open up a “big chunk” of Ontario’s Greenbelt for their use. While quickly retracted under pressure, his statement suggests that his personal world view is one of a get-rich-quick developer. From an environmental perspective, the long-term cost of a majority Ford government would be incalculable.

So how can we protect the environmental gains already made and the programs now in place, let alone do better going forward? Given how unlikely it is that any NDP or Liberal MPPs would vote in favour of a Doug Ford Speech from the Throne, he can only become Premier if he wins sufficient seats to form a majority government. From a Green perspective, the optimum outcome for this election would be a Legislature in which neither the PCs nor the NDP enjoy a majority. Based on all of the local polling data available to date, the chances of Green candidate Robert Kiley being elected are mathematically miniscule. If you agree with the premise that we would be better off with a minority government, your best chance for your vote making a positive difference in the outcome would be to cast your ballot for incumbent MPP Sophie Kiwala.

Sophie is an MPP to be proud of, one who has earned our votes by the way she has comported herself, her proven effectiveness in her role and all that she has done for our community and fellow Kingstonians. In particular, Sophie’s proven ability to work well with MPPs of all parties in order to get things done will be invaluable in the fractious Legislature which is likely to result from this election.

Considerations for Conservative voters

As a person who would normally prefer to vote PC, this is quite likely to be a very difficult election for you. Most conservative Kingstonians are Progressive Conservatives in the true sense of the term. But sadly, Canada’s Conservative parties today are no longer the parties of Bill Davis and Flora MacDonald. If it’s any consolation, I personally voted for Flora because of the person she was and the values she lived.

Kingston PCs are by and large not drawn to populist politicians like Doug Ford. If you are unhappy about having Mr. Ford as party leader, you’re not alone. According to the official leadership vote posted on the PC Party of Ontario website, Doug Ford was the least-favoured of the candidates in voting by Kingston and the Islands conservative delegates. He came in dead last on the first count, behind even the relatively unknown social conservative activist Tanya Allen, and almost all his gains on subsequent ballots would have been second choices after Ms. Allen was eliminated in the province-wide tally. What these numbers mean is that only 15% of Kingston PC voters were sufficiently comfortable with Mr. Ford’s leadership to mark him as their first choice. Another 14% were willing to consider him their second choice, only 2% their third choice and an astonishing 69% either made him their last choice or refused to mark him at all[*].

And if you are a fiscal conservative, Mr. Ford’s recent spate of hugely expensive promises with absolutely no thought to where the money will come is likely giving you heartburn. Just like Donald Trump’s driving the already-massive US national debt to unprecedented levels, Doug Ford would rack up Ontario’s debt levels even higher than Andrea Horwath’s NDP.

So what can you do, especially in light of Kathleen Wynne’s forthright June 2 acknowledgement that she will no longer be Premier after June 7? You might choose to focus on your local candidate, Gary Bennett, who is far from being a populist. But, in introducing Mr. Ford to Kingston PCs on April 17th, he unambiguously referred to him as “My friend and your friend, the next Premier of Ontario”. With those words, he made it clear that a vote for Gary Bennett in this election is a vote to make Doug Ford Premier. He has repeatedly responded to questions about Mr. Ford by implying that, if elected, he and other PC MPPs could be counted on to keep Mr. Ford on track.  That, sadly, is more fantasy than reality.  Recall what little success anyone has had in managing Donald Trump or, for that matter, the Ford brothers in Toronto when Rob Ford was mayor.  Recall as well how little real influence Conservative MPs had during the Stephen Harper years.

The optimum outcome for Ontario is now clearly a Legislature in which neither the PCs nor the NDP enjoy a majority.  And the best strategy for Kingston voters to contribute to that outcome is to re-elect Sophie Kiwala.  She is an MPP to be proud of, one who has earned our votes by the way she has comported herself, her proven effectiveness in her role and all that she has done for our community and fellow Kingstonians. She’s a lot like Flora MacDonald in that respect.  In particular, Sophie’s proven ability to work well with MPPs of all parties in order to get things done will be invaluable in the fractious Legislature which is likely to result from this election.

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