Monday, May 12, 2014

Will turnout give the PCs a majority?

The poll that hit the wires on Friday night was within the norm of what we have been seeing in the polls lately. Depending on the survey, either the Liberals or the Tories hold a lead with the NDP in third. With the six-point advantage awarded to the PCs by Ipsos Reid in a survey for CTV News and CP24, the poll was not unusual. But it is in Ipsos's estimate of likely voter support - the only current attempt to make such a measurement - that the PCs move ahead significantly.

As the projection model is designed to replicate the likely outcome of the election, likely voter tallies are preferred when they are available during an election campaign. Accordingly, the 14-point lead recorded by Ipsos for the Tories among likely voters has made the projection swing wildly in their favour.

The PCs are now projected to have 39.6% support (or between 38% and 43%), followed by the Liberals at 31.1% (or between 30% and 34%) and the New Democrats at 25.3% (or between 23% and 27%). This gives the Tories a slim majority of 55 seats (54 are needed), with their likely range standing at between 43 and 63 seats.

The Liberals are now projected to take 28 seats, or between 21 and 42, while the NDP is at 24 seats (or between 19 and 26). In other words, if an election were held today the Tories would likely win at least a plurality, with the Liberals having the inside edge on the Official Opposition role in a tight race with the NDP.

This is a big swing in the projection. There is a cap on how much weight a single poll can carry in any projection update (66.7%), and the Ipsos poll falls short of that. But their attempt to measure how likely respondents are to turn out to the polls is absolutely vital - particularly in a polling context where no two polls seem to agree.

Ipsos was last in the field on April 15-17, and there has been very little change since then. The Tories were steady at 37% support among all eligible voters, with the Liberals down one point to 31% and the NDP up one point to 28%. Another 4% said they would vote for a different party (including the Greens), while 16% were undecided (a drop of four points).

Among likely voters, there was even less change. This adds some weight to Ipsos's findings, as these numbers have been consistent: 42% for the PCs, 28% for the Liberals, and 27% for the NDP.

Turnout could be an election-winning factor in the upcoming election, particularly if it is as anemic as it was in 2011. The Tories appear to have a crushing advantage in this regard. Among all Ontarians aged 55 or older (the cohort most likely to tramp out to the polls), the PC lead expanded to 51% against 24% for the Liberals and 23% for the NDP. That is enormous.

There were few major shifts at the regional level, with the Progressive Conservatives leading in eastern Ontario (50% to 34% for the OLP), the portion of the GTA in the 905 area code (45% to 29% for the OLP), and central Ontario (39% to 31% for the OLP). That area is defined by Ipsos, roughly, as the part of the province between the GTA and the north.

The Liberals led only in Toronto, with 45% to 26% for the PCs, while the NDP led in northern Ontario (45% to 27% for the PCs) and was narrowly ahead in the southwest (38% to 36% for the PCs). In Ipsos's estimation, the southwest includes the Hamilton/Niagara regions. The NDP has jumped 11 points here since mid-April.

On who would make the best premier, Tim Hudak led the way with 34%, followed by Andrea Horwath at 29% and Kathleen Wynne at 28%. The numbers were identical for Horwath and Wynne among likely voters, but increased to 38% for Hudak.

It is difficult to know what to make of all the polls that have been coming out since there has been little consensus. But let's see what other surveys show in the coming days. The trends have - so far - pointed to stability at the very least.

Riding polls

Two riding polls were also added to the projection. They were both conducted by Oracle Research and done for the northern ridings of Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. The two polls were conducted on May 1-4 via telephone, surveying 450 people in each riding. Both suggested that, since the 2011 election, the Liberals have taken a step backwards.

In Sault Ste. Marie, the Liberals remained ahead with 43% support to 32% for the NDP, while the Tories were at 18%. This suggests a swing since 2011 from the Liberals to the Tories. It was the same situation in Sudbury, where it resulted in an NDP lead with 42% to 35% for the Liberals and 20% for the PCs. Before adding this poll to the projection, the Liberals were favoured in Sault Ste. Marie and the NDP in Sudbury. The only difference has been a tightening of the projected margin.


  1. turnout will be the key in this election, and particularly, the parties' ground games in tight ridings. I think we'll see a PC government with majority/minority decided by very few votes in a few key ridings.

    1. Bryan the only way you will see a PC Govt is if they win a majority. If not then expect a Lib Maj/Min Govt. Because there is absolutely no way the NDP will support a PC minority and of course the Libs won't !

    2. I'd bet on that as well.

    3. I think it's actually likely that both the Liberals and the NDP would support a PC minority initially. Harper has succeeded in making any government not led by the largest party seem somehow un-Canadian, and I think the other parties are afraid of one. Also, the NDP forced this election precisely because it wanted to separate itself from the Liberals, and is not likely to jump right back "into bed" with them. The Libs themselves would probably be wary of the long-term effect on them of cooperating with the NDP under such circumstances. Then it would be up to Hudak. If he governed moderately, as Harper did when he had a minority, it could last a while. If he came right out with an extreme budget, he'd be defeated and probably right back to the polls. If the NDP were the second party, some sort of NDP-Liberal arrangement would be somewhat more likely, but even then uncertain.

    4. Except that unlike that first time around one of the parties in the coalition won't be separatist and secondly the can point to Cameron's government across the pond.

    5. You mean the Cameron government where his party won the most seats and after the #2 and #3 parties considered a coallition the #3 party decided to work with the #Conservatives?

      In the unlikely scenario where the PCs do not get a clear majority.... the remnants of the Liberal party would have a lot of motivation to support the PCs while they regrouped..... otherwise they risk being absorbed by the NDP.

    6. We have a precedent here in ontario. In 1985 the PCs won 52 seats, the Liberals 48 seats and the NDP 25 seats. The Liberals and NDP signed an accord, David Peterson became premier and his government was wildly popular and he won a thumping majority in 1987.

    7. If the PCs win a plurality it will be very unlikely we'll see a Liberal-NDP government or a Liberal or NDP government supported by the other. Firstly, if Wynne loses I think her leadership lifespan will be measured in days maybe weeks. If Horvath has a disappointing performance the same fate will likely befall her. If the Liberals win a small plurality and the NDP increase their vote share and or seats they may smell blood; why prop up a weak Liberal party when they are on the ropes? Both parties compete for similar voters so it makes little sense for either to strengthen their main competition.

      Peter says the Liberals won't support a PC minority but, if they're in the midst of a leadership contest they will not have much choice.

      In our system except in very rare circumstances the party with the most seats forms government. If the Liberals lose their plurality the message from voters will be clear-it is time for a new government. If the Liberals and NDP think a second and third party government will be legitimate they should campaign on the issue or merge!

      Speaking of Ontario in 1985 one must remember the Lieutenant Governor made a very controversial perhaps even inappropriate decision to allow Peterson to form a government. While undoubtedly, it is the Crown's prerogative to choose Her ministers the Lieutenant Governor would have been equally correct, and more closely followed the lessons learned from King-Byng, had he dissolved the House.

    8. In 1985 there was another factor other than raw seats, the Liberals had more votes (37.9% vs 37.0%) thus making them as legit a choice to lead as the Tories were. As I recall the PC's did accept the loss fairly quickly too as it was obvious they had lost the people (as I recall it - I was 15 at the time).

    9. John,

      That is a good observation regarding popular vote and it helps demonstrate the uniqueness of 1985 and helps explain why we rarely see second and third party coalitions and agreements.

    10. Formerly Carbonear Pete when Miller of the PC's got wind of the accord between the Libs and NDP in 1985 he advised the Lieutenant Governor to call upon David Peterson to form a government. There may have been controversy but it was about Miller's decision.

      A PC minority would be something both the Libs and NDP could do something about.

      Do you really think that either party would support Hudak's far right policies? I just can't see it. Hudak would be forced to govern from the middle if he wanted his government to survive the throne speech. Of course that presumes that Wynne would step aside and resign. Despite where she she finishes Wynne has the right by tradition and constitution to meet the new house as head of government. If she is immediately defeated she can ask the LG to either call another election or to call upon one of the other party leaders to form a government. If Wynne were to ask the LG for another election then the LG has to decide whether to follow Wynne's wishes and call the election or to call upon the opposition to form a government.

    11. Arguably, Miller gave poor advice. The lesson of King-Byng is the Crown should not choose the Government. In the years since King-Byng when a Governor has dismissed a premier he has acted on the condition that the new premier seek an immediate election -Ontario was the one exception.

      How do you know Miller gave such advice? Such conversations should be and usually are confidential even after events have passed.

      Once a premier has resigned the Governor no longer need follow the premier's advice arguably the premier's commission may de facto terminate as soon as he loses a motion of confidence, the Governor is no longer obligated to follow the premier's advice on any matter. The LG may draw up a document terminating the commission before the vote has occurred as was the case with Gough Whitlam. Wynne by convention has the right to meet the House, The Crown, however, is under no obligation to follow ministerial advice unless confidence has been demonstrated. If she loses a vote on the Throne Speech she should simply resign if she has the interests of the Crown and Ontario at heart.

      Far Right policies? How about Out of control far left spending policies. Ontario's deficit is 5.5% of GDP-that is alarming and unsustainable!. Anyone who thinks such fiscal irresponsibility is acceptable chooses to have a better today for a less prosperous tomorrow!

      Ontario is broke! Government debt rose 14% last year at that rate the debt will double in 7 years! Ontario can't afford 500,000 civil servants, the NDP or the Liberals!

  2. And in the end the only numbers that matter are what comes out of the polling booths.

  3. I am sceptical of self-reported likelihood of voting stats. We know that application of this formula in the US tended to delude Romney's people into thinking he would win...some proportion of people who claim they are absolutely certain to vote - will not vote and a lot of people who say they are less than 100% certain they will vote - will in fact vote - so i would be leery about giving so much weight to IPsos likely voter model - i would stick with the overall popular vote

    1. The numbers are rather intuitive by age group. After the debacle of BC, I prefer likely voter numbers to eligible voters. I used this method in Quebec with success.

      South of the border, Silver also prioritizes likely voter numbers to anything else.

    2. DL,

      A number of criteria increase the likelihood of a person voting; 1. Are you registered to vote, 2. Did you vote in the previous election, 3. Other demographic information such as age, income etc...

      I agree self-identification may not be the best way to find probable voters but, some combination of self-identification and other criteria I think would increase accuracy.

      In BC the polls were off at least 5 points for the NDP and closer to 8 points for the Liberals. To me that speaks to a failure in methodology-were pollsters asking respondents if they were eligible to vote before canvassing their opinions?

    3. I think the idea is right but Canadian pollsters haven't really devleopped a good "likely voter" model. Ekos has one for instance and both in BC and in QC, their "normal" numbers were closer to the true result.

  4. Eric

    Intuitively your model is working better than I would have thought.

    Intuitively before the lection and without looking at any polls it would seem that a PC win (or even NDP) would be a given for this election based on the total mess the OLP created.

    However I thought the larger polls done by Innovative Research (1500) would have more of a lasting impact on your model.

    You obviously have some extra smarts built in that are not aware to the the casual outside observer (me).

    Good on You!!

    I think the Liberals are moving into the fall of Saigon mode.... They will be getting higher onto the building so the choppers can get them out of town.

    It will be interesting if the political wing of the Public Service unions can move their votes from the Liberals to the NDP so that it does not give the appearance that the people of Ontario are giving Hudak a clear mandate to slash the Public Service.

    1. The public (and private) sector unions in Ontario have been all over the map for years now between solidly supporting either the Libs or the NDP or splitting the difference -- they aren't solidly in the Libs favour, and thus only some of them would be in the position you describe. If the Liberal vote collapses, which I also see as a strong, but not definite, possibility, some of the pro-Liberal unions would try to move votes to the NDP, and succeed with some. Others of their members (and other Lib voters) would move on their own. The general process would look like the last Federal election, but not necessarily with the same winner, since Hudak isn't Harper, among other things. Either the Tories or the NDP could win in this situation -- I wouldn't hazard a prediction this early.

  5. I suspect (and would love it if there were evidence available) that the undecideds at this point include a substantial share of likely voters who are in the ABH (anyone but Hudak) category and undecided between the Liberals and NDP. This would skew the numbers based only on decideds in the PC's favour, and could be a wild card in this election.

    1. I would guess that the undecided that get caught in polls are more likely not political aware and have a mush higher chance of missing the election day than they have for voting for anyone.

    2. You don't have to guess. There are a number of ways to gauge the intentions of uncommitted voters:
      - Ask who voters voted for last time and if this is likely to change.
      - Ask who they are most likely to vote for if they decide by election day.
      - Ask if they are likely to vote strategically, that is, vote to block a certain party from forming a government.

      Federally, I live in a riding that will pit the NDP against the Liberals. I lik mulcair better than Trudeau, but I have voted Liberal in the past to block the Bloc and would do so again if the Bloc ever surged ahead.

    3. This ABH scare tactic is non-sense. Undecideds usually breakdown according to overall voting intentions. Generally speaking with 16% undecided: roughly 6/16 will go Tory, 5/16 Liberal and 5.5 NDP.

    4. whoops that should be 4.5 will go NDP

    5. @Formerly Carbonear Pete

      The undecided breaking the same proportion as the decided is the same mathematical equivalent of them not voting at all.

  6. Eric, you may be right about the likely complexion of this campaign, but I am surprised to see you go out on a limb in such a way, as you have never done before.

    Based purely on the numbers, one would have to regard Ipsos' likely voter results as a definite outlier. Furthermore, as you yourself point out, a contemporary poll with radically different results is out. I have read your justification for weighting the Ipsos poll so heavily, but based on your past behaviour, I have trouble accepting that rationale. In contrast with other posters, I have trouble seeing Hudak winning a majority, barring exceptional events during the campaign. To me, this is a race to see which party is least detested by the electorate, and Hudak's opening gambits seem designed to excite his "base" at the expense of coalescing the anti-Hudak vote. That he is tops in a leadership poll is not only news, but shocking news. It suggests a real problem with the sample.

    1. The weighting applied to the Ipsos poll is standard, considering the date of the poll (three days fresher than the previous survey) and the size of it. I'm not sure what you mean in terms of going out on a limb - this poll would have been added to the model in this manner no matter what I thought about the results.

    2. Whike I see your point (and I totally agree with it, my own model has the PC ahead but not by that much), Eric is actually just being consistent with his methodology here. In particular how he weighs the new polls.

      With that said and as mentioned before, I was also shocked to discover these new numbers. I personnaly believe Eric put too much weight on one poll at the time.

    3. Thanks, Eric, Bryan. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, Eric, as I think you have weighted this one poll too heavily, particularly considering the small sample size you are using when incorporating the likely voter numbers. It may turn out to be accurate, but that remains to be seen, and in the meantime it skews the overall picture. I was simply surprised because you generally attempt to avoid getting overly excited about one poll, particularly one which could be an outlier.

    4. I don't believe I got excited, let alone 'overly', about this poll.

  7. I think you're right Dan... whichever party looks stronger (Liberal or NDP) will get the ABH people and union support!

    1. StanMan

      Have you seen what has happened in Ontario over the last 10 years???

      There should be no discussion that the Liberal party is one of the worst provincial government in the History of Canada.

      How in the world are they even being considered for re-election.

      The Liberals in Ontario are far worse than Stelmach in Alberta and that was a disaster. However Alberta did not become a have not province and raise taxes and cut services.

      It is hard to imagine that anyone not getting direct personal benefits from the Liberal Government would vote for them.

      The polls and media are making this election far more of a contest than it actually will turn out to be,

      The media loves a horse race. That is more interesting and sell more papers, and ad slots.

      If you take away the Innovative research polls the Liberals are not even close.

      To all my Lefty friends you have no other choice than the NDP (and may God have mercy on your standard of living :)

    2. I'm not convinced that will be enough.

      Unions seem pretty pissed at the NDP right now too, and a lot of people are pretty pissed at the Liberals. Anything could happen really.

    3. BC VoR,

      The Ontario Liberals improved the standard of education and health care in this province.

      The Ontario Liberals brought in the Greenbelt Act which protected environmentally sensitive areas and curbed sprawl in the 905. There is still development going on in the 905, but it is done in a more dense manner.

      The Liberals have also brought in well received legislation in such as implementing fines for texting and driving, banning smoking in certain areas, dangerous pit bulls etc (though opposed by more libertarian types).

      The Liberals invested in infrastructure which was scaled back during the Harris years. It's ironic that Hudak now wants to build the subway that Harris cancelled, which will cost more!

      The Liberals have generally had warm relations with both business and labour. The same could not be said about the governments that were in power between 1990 and 2003.

      Sure, the same government has made some big mistakes. In his last year in office, McGuinty was terrible. He was past his best before date. Wynne has cleaned up some of that mess and that is why the Liberals are competitive again. No media or vast left-wing conspiracy here.

  8. I hope you mention that Ipsos-Reid tends to have a pro-Conservative bias in its numbers.

    1. It does not. In the last campaigns in QC, BC, ON, and federally, Ipsos has under-estimated the support of the main conservative party.

  9. Not a stats whiz here, but I'm curious. If the accuracy of the overall poll is +/- 3.9%, what is the accuracy of voting likelihood after you sub-divide the sample by party?

    1. Well you have like only 300 observations. So for a party at 50%, it's be 5.7%

  10. If the PCs are still leading in two weeks, then I could see them win a plurality or majority of seats.

    The election campaign has been off to a slow start. Once more voters tune in, I could PC numbers decrease a bit. Their campaign and rhetoric has not been weak so far.

    I still believe Wynne and the Liberals will remain in power after June 12.

    I remember back in 2011, commenters in various forums believed that the McGuinty Liberals will be trashed and it will be a cakewalk for Hudak. I was mocked several times for stating that the Liberals will remain in power. History will repeat itself.

    There will be a time when the PCs are back in power, but it is not in this election cycle.

  11. Today's Toronto Star has a brutal Editorial on Hudak's "job plan" pointing out clearly it is based on flawed numbers from the Federal Conservatives and what Hudak is proposing doesn't work. Won't take the public long to realize this !.

    1. People who read the Star don't vote conservative anyway.

    2. That's as may be Paul but facts are facts and they get spread around fast !!

    3. The very definition of an editorial is that the content being shared is that of opinion, not fact. Don't confuse the two.

  12. Oddly enough (and I really mean oddly enough, maybe even shockingly enough), the aggregated results do not give me a PC majority. It gives me:

    49 PC
    38 OLP
    20 NDP

    That would mean one really ineficient vote for the PC considering the 8,5% lead over the OLP. And ridings won with 3% or less for the OLP only, 4 go to the PC and 2 to the NDP, so on that count only, that does not give the PC a majority either.

    So either my model is extremely wrong, or either it's revolutionnary. I guess we'll have to wait for election night to see, but let's just say I hope it's the latter!

  13. There is a myth that the Ontario Liberals started the 2011 provincial election campaign 20 points behind. Its not true at all in fact apart from one poll in the immediate aftermath of the federal Liberals being wiped off the map in May 2011, most polls in the six months leading up to the writ drop in 2011 had the Liberals trailing the PCs by low single digit margins. When the 2011 campaign officially began in early September the polls already had the Liberals essentially tied with the PCs and in the end they beat them by 2% in the popular vote. I'm not sure where people get this idea that McGuinty staged some sensational Christy Clark style come from behind win - that's not what happened at all. The Liberals were already even if not ahread of the PCs the day the election was called.,_2011#Opinion_polls

    1. Looking at the polls it really shoes how perception often trumps reality.

      People will look back in 10 years and wonder how Justin Trudeau frittered away a huge lead..... and projected majority.

      Will he be labelled a worse campaigner than Hudak 2011 ???

      From March 2009 through June 2009 all the polls had the Ignatieff lead Liberals leading Harper's CPC with at least 32 % and as high as 36 % of the popular vote...

      Yet 21 months later they only got 19 % of the popular vote.

      Right now we are 18 months out from the next federal election.... Trudeau is just coming off his peak polling...... Are elections held 20 months too late for the Liberals?

  14. I've always wondered: how does an internet poll work, and how is it regarded as representative at all?

    1. That requires a long answer. Maybe you'd be better off reading these interviews I did with some major pollsters last year:

      The interviews with Christian Bourque, David Coletto, and Darrell Bricker might be the most interesting, as they are online pollsters.

  15. Pete:

    "This ABH scare tactic is non-sense. Undecideds usually breakdown according to overall voting intentions. Generally speaking with 16% undecided: roughly 6/16 will go Tory, 5/16 Liberal and 5.5 NDP."

    Hudak is putting out a lot of very scary policies. Unlike Harper who in 2004 and again in 2006 was perceived to be the "bogeyman" and thus tried to reassure voters that he was not, Hudak is screaming" I am the bogeyman". He is going to cut Ontario's corporate taxes by 30% when we already have among the best corporate tax rates in North America. How do you think that is going to play with most people? Hudak says he will cut 100,000 people from the greater public service. That will mean service cuts. Everyone wants their taxes cut, but most don't want to see public services decimated either.

    Hudak's polarizing policies are going to produce an ABH movement. The question is who will benefit from the coalescing of anti Hudak support? I don't have an answer to that. I will be shocked if Hudak can manage a majority government. I will wildly surprised if he can manage a minority government. Yes the Liberal or NDP vote could and probably will collapse with swing voters going to the party most likely to beat Hudak. OMHO.

    1. Yeah Earl I think you're probably correct and have considerable faith in the intelligence of the Ontario voter !!

    2. While I have no doubt in my mind that those in political opposition to Hudak find him absolutely terrifying, it is worthwhile to point out that Mike Harris ran on a similar slash-and-cut platform after a decade of spending and won two majority governments out of it. While there are a lot of people who speak about Harris as if he is some kind of bad word, there are plenty of others who see him as a hero, too.

      Quite honestly, I am surprised that there hasn't been more people flying off the handle over his platform. The usual suspects (e.g. Toronto Star) have had some opinion pieces, but it feels downright quiet compared to 2011. The unions haven't been dumping money into the election either, but I suppose that could change at any time. If new polling numbers show the Tories holding or increasing their lead over the Liberals and they don't suffer from any major gaffes then Hudak very well might pull off a majority government on similar pretenses to Harris in 1995. There are many who would argue that this province is in dire need of it and that no matter what anyone says we're far worse off than we were before - particularly if you don't live in Toronto. There just might be enough of them this time around to give Hudak a go no matter how off in right field his policies may be.

    3. Nick you may be right. I think 1995 was very different. The NDP government had raised just about every tax you can think of. I recall seeing and editorial cartoon with Ontario's Floyd Laugren looking into outerspace through a telescope and Bob Rae behind him asking him if he saw anything new they could tax. Photo radar which proved to be enormously unpopular was a real wedge issue with many voters as well. There was little hope that the NDP would do better if re-elected and Lynn McLeod of the OLP self destructed. That election was the OLP's to lose and they lost it it ala John Tory.

      Harris made sure people knew that classroom education would not be affected by his cuts (it was). That was his pitch though. Hudak makes no pretence about his intentions to fire teachers and others. He doesn't seek accommodation with unions public or private. He seeks confrontation.

      Harris didn't come close to the radical nature of Hudak's proposed policies.

      The Globe and Mail's lead headline in its Saturday and Sunday editions was about Hudak's gaffes in the first week of the campaign.

      If the numbers show Hudak extending his lead voters opposed to him will IMO coalesce around the party that looks best able to beat him. In elections where the electorate is polarized funny things happen. In 1990 the attitude in ON was ABP. The NDP won because the PC's were seen as weak and not able to form a government. Larry Grossman had won the leadership over Dennis Trimble who most thought had a chance against Peterson.

      In the end though it will a very interesting campaign that will likely mirror those of Quebec, BC and Alberta with the electorate making up its mind at the last minute.

      I have to say I love the Green Party's idea of merging public and Catholic boards of education. They claim that there are over a billion in savings to be had by cutting administrate costs. I like Hudak's ideas when it comes to apprenticeships as well.

      Should be a very interesting few weeks! I'm sure Eric will guide us through the ups and downs of the campaign.

    4. There are some old Mike Harris campaign ads on Youtube where he pretty much hashes out the exact same thing that Hudak is now - spending cuts, sacrifice for the common good, and ensuring that health care is not affected by the cuts. Harris also took on the teachers directly and in a very hard way with Bill 160 in 1996/1997, and he *still* won another majority government in 1999 so I don't buy the whole education protection angle on the part of people opposing Hudak. Now having said all that I would never say that the situation is completely identical, but it is strikingly similar. As for gaffes, the Liberals have had three candidates caught with sexist material on their facebook pages, so it's not like the Liberals are doing much better in that regard. Were these Tory candidates caught with that kind of content, there'd be a firestorm right now.

      One other thing to point out - and I will tread carefully on this since is something no one ever likes to admit but is almost always true - is that Wynne is simply not as photogenic as McGuinty, especially when compared to Hudak. Hudak may have a certain Cheshire cat smile that looks odd, but voters may perceive that in a more favorable way than Wynne's knack for talking down her nose to you through the camera. If Horwath could actually speak in public with some semblance of confidence she'd probably be doing much better during this election on the beauty contest factor alone. The debate may play very big part in getting one of the three parties some momentum to run on as well because beside Hudak's rather radical policy announcements it has been a snoozefest from everyone else.

      The next few polls are going to be very interesting. If the Tories manage to hold on to the support they have now despite this radical right-wing platform and can carry it through past the debates, I don't think much else will be able to stop him from becoming premier with a bigger mandate than many of us expected. We'll have to wait and see.

      Oh and btw I fully support the Green Party's proposal to merge the public and Catholic systems. We should have done that decades ago. I even think the one billion in savings might be a rather conservative estimate on their part, too.

    5. Earl,

      Ontario's deficit last year is 5.5% of GDP. That is not sustainable cuts are inevitable -do it now and control where the cut backs are located or in a couple years someone will do it for you when interest rates increase and even more money go towards interest on the debt.

      Ontario is headed toward a fiscal cliff, last year debt increased 14% at that rate in 6.5 years it will double and debt to GDP ratio will be almost 80%. If Ontarians don't do serious cutting now they impoverish their children. So what if Hudak cuts services _ Ontario effectively can no longer afford them! Perhaps Hudak is being the bogeyman because the situation is dire and it is dire. A struggling economy, deficit 3.5 per centage points of GDP higher than most reputable economists would recommend. This fiscal irresponsibility is bound to have consequences higher interests rates to start and then a larger and larger share of government revenue used to pay interest year after year. It is amazing you think Ontarians wish to bankrupt their children.

    6. Hi Pete:

      There are better ways to cut the deficit than what Hudak is suggesting. Amalgamate the Separate and Public Schools. Get rid of junior kindergarten and full day kindergarten.

      Increase taxes on everyone but make the increase progressive.

      I don't care for the parties policies either and who ever is elected will have to bring the deficit down.

    7. Hi Earl and I totally agree re Separate and Public schools. Long past time that issue was solved. Oh yes and really tax the rich. That gets my vote !

    8. Earl,

      While I agree with the abolition of Catholic School Boards and the merging of the public systems the result will be the same-teacher layoffs.

      Cutting education costs alone are unlikely to pull Ontario out of its fiscal mess. A large share of government expenditure are paid on salaries. Salaries represent 80% of costs for most school boards for example and I would think a similar number exists for all government ministries.

      Ontario already has a progressive tax system and while the left often think they can "tax the rich to clean up a fiscal mess" in reality there are many more middle class tax payers than rich tax payers. Taxing the rich heavily may get you more revenue per person but, to slay a deficit of the size Ontario accrues can not be done by raising taxes on the rich alone.

      I don't know a single educator who would suggest eliminating kindergarten, but, desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose.

      At the end of the day there are only three ways to cut the deficit: 1. Increase revenue, 2. reduce expenditure, 3. A combination of both.


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