All elections are important, but the 2018 provincial election in Ontario seems especially significant. Three parties – the Greens, the NDP and the Liberals – while holding different values and putting forward different platforms – offer us the opportunity to continue to move in a direction that is at least somewhat compassionate, intelligent, inclusive and progressive. One party – Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives – offers the opposite opportunity: to move in a regressive direction, with leadership that is neither intelligent nor compassionate and that will create an Ontario that is unwelcoming to many.
Think Mike Harris, writ larger, louder and worse in every way.
Misogyny, racism and more
There is much to criticize about Doug Ford. Here are just two examples.
His misogyny is well established. Just one example of his understanding of women’s equality concerns:
“I have a household of five females, believe me I know every issue about every female.”
My father also lived in a household of five females, but it by no means made him an expert on the discrimination women face or on what needs to be done to achieve equality for women. One of the many differences between my father and Doug Ford? My dad knows that simply living with a bunch of females does not make him an expert on women’s equality.
Ford’s racism is equally well known. Ford declined to appear at a recent leaders’ debate organized by Toronto’s Black community, but says he is not racist because:
“I take Black kids up to my cottage.”
Where’s the platform?
Ford has been outspoken on key issues like carding (he’s fine with it), Ontario’s new and progressive sex ed curriculum (he’ll get rid of it) and access to reproductive choice (he’s against it).
He has also been clear that he opposes carbon taxes, safe injection sites, bike lanes and the minimum wage increase and supports cuts to corporate taxes.
However, despite Ford’s statements on various issues, the PC Party has not yet released an official platform.
The Liberal Party’s platform can be found largely in the government’s 2018 budget.
The Green Party Vision, available on its website, provides a picture of what the party would do if it formed the government after the election.
While there is always a considerable gap between what parties promise during an election campaign and what they actually deliver, platforms provide voters with a starting point when they are considering which party or candidate they want to support.
A party without a clear platform shouldn’t even get out of the starting blocks.
For many of us, this election is more about stopping Ford’s PC Party from forming the next government than about anything else. Inevitably, this leads to the question of whether or not to vote strategically.
Until about 10 years ago, I had never voted strategically. I was against it for many reasons. However, in an election I no longer recall, I was persuaded to vote strategically for the Liberal candidate in my riding to prevent the Conservative candidate from winning; really, to try to stop Stephen Harper’s Conservatives from winning the federal election.
Because voting strategically felt a little shifty to me, it seemed only appropriate that my polling station was in the fertilizer and pesticide department of my local Canadian Tire store.
The strategic voting strategy failed, and I swore I would never do it again. But I have – again and again and again. After voting for 30+ years as I wanted to, I have now voted strategically several times in a row.
Of course, I understand the wisdom of it, but can I just say that I am tired of it? I want to vote for the party (or candidate) I like the best rather than the one that is not quite as bad as the other one that might win if I don’t vote strategically.
Once again, I face this dilemma. In my riding, there could be a close fight between the incumbent Liberal candidate and the PC candidate, who is well known because he was a long-time small business owner and former mayor in the community. There is a strong NDP candidate, but is he strong enough to come up the middle? Would ensuring one more Liberal seat rather than an NDP seat be more likely to keep the PCs from winning the election?
My head is spinning as I try to figure out the right thing to do.