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To get a sense at just how wide-ranging this debate was, at one point the leaders were talking about memes of Adolf Hitler. Not much was off limits as Ontario’s three major party leaders sparred on stage for the final time before election day.
PC Leader Doug Ford, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne talked hydro, health care, climate change and voter trust, taking shots at each other and blasting their differing visions for the province.
It was sharp, testy and at times, downright divisive. Here were some of the night’s highlights.
Wynne made the quip right off the top in the opening statements, acknowledging that people don’t like her but touting her accomplishments in education, childcare and minimum wage.
It may have seemed unexpected but it coincided with a new Liberal ad of the same name, released during the debate.
According to Twitter, #sorrynotsorry was also one of the most tweeted hashtags during the evening — and Wynne the most mentioned leader.
In one of Wynne’s most impassioned moments, she had to fend off Horwath’s suggestion that the Liberals have little to show after selling off a portion of Hydro One.
“You want people to believe that we sold Niagara Falls and we did not,” said Wynne. “Every dollar … is going to infrastructure.”
There was loads of fear-mongering about a potential NDP government — with worries raised by both Wynne and Ford. Ford invoked former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae’s name and kept repeating that things would get “10 times worse” under an NDP government.
Horwath defended herself, stating this was “not 1990” and she was “not Bob Rae.” The tables turned when Wynne asked Ford what would happen to schools, hospitals and services under a Ford government.
One of Ford’s routine rambles about health care and growing the economy was sidetracked when Wynne called Ford out on not having a fully costed platform, with just 11 days left until the election.
“You could have had those conversations then you could have had a platform written,” she said. “You talk to the people in the field, you understand what they are going through.”
But it was Horwath who got the final word in, explaining that it’s about more than just talking. “You have to listen to them,” she said.
According to poll tracker, the NDP are (just barely) the front-runners, thanks to a recent surge in support. So it’s no surprise that Horwath was the prime target for a good portion of the debate.
A significant attack came from Wynne who pointed out her similarities with the NDP but deadpanned “your plan won’t work.” Horwath fought back, attacking Wynne’s record and accusing her of not paying attention to the struggles of “everyday folks.”
There were a few light moments sprinkled throughout. When Ford talked about the government and daycares shutting “down at 4:30”, Wynne called him out, asking if he had ever been to a daycare.
The audience laughed but Ford didn’t crack a smile. He jabbed back: “I’m planning [on] going down to Queen’s Park.”