Andrea Horwath

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Do you know who you’re voting for in tomorrow’s provincial election?

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook; Hudak: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook; Hudak: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

The 2014 provincial election is on Thursday, and it’s bound to be a tough one. Ontario voters have a choice between a Liberal party that has squandered billions of dollars on ill-conceived projects, a Conservative party that is basically lying when it says its austerity agenda will create a million jobs and an NDP leadership that seems content to offer little more than a smattering of “save you money”-style promises. It’s a state of affairs that has some people advocating for the “none of the above” option (which is something that actually exists). But, of course, there are also plenty of people and organizations that are picking favourites.

The Toronto Sun, of course, would like you to vote for Tim Hudak’s Tories, because “we cannot spend ourselves rich.” The Post is also going for Hudak this time around, mostly out of loathing for the Liberals. The Globe’s editorial board, meanwhile, released a head-scratcher of an endorsement, calling for a Hudak-led minority government, which isn’t something Ontarians can even really vote for. (It’s sort of like saying, “Okay, some of you vote PC. But not too many of you!”) The Star, alone among the major dailies, has come out in full support of premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, under the assumption that Wynne has earned her party a second chance. Torontoist agrees. On a more individual level, The Grid’s Edward Keenan thinks you should vote for (as opposed to against) something, and Metro’s Matt Elliott thinks you should really consider the Green party.

The important thing, though, is that everybody actually does go ahead and vote. It’s easy; all you need is a drivers’ license or another comparable piece of ID. The province even has a handy website where you can look up your local polling location. Whichever party wins this election will have more say over big-ticket projects in Toronto (like, for instance, subway construction) than whichever municipal candidate manages to take the throne from Rob Ford this October. Casting a ballot is very much worth the effort.

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Politics

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Two free dailies sell their covers to two different political parties on the same day

(Image: Steve Kupferman)

(Image: Steve Kupferman)

Take a look at those two covers. (The one on the left is 24 Hours, in case it wasn’t obvious.) At first glance—and these freebie commuter papers often only get a single glance—it looks like the two media outlets have come to completely opposite conclusions about last night’s Ontario leaders’ debate. Metro seems to think that NDP leader Andrea Horwath was the winner, while 24 Hours hands it to the Tories’ Tim Hudak. In fact, if you were to look very, very closely at both covers, you’d find disclaimers, written in small text, that explain what they really are: paid advertising.

This is actually the second time the NDP has done this type of thing since the start of the election. In May, the party bought the cover of the Toronto Sun, leading to no small amount of Twitter uproar. The reason these cover takeovers are a big deal is that they look deceivingly like editorial content. Neither paper’s ad-sales departments could immediately be reached for information about how much these types of ads cost, or how they’re sold.

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Politics

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Gas plants and folksy anecdotes: a few running themes from last night’s Ontario leaders’ debate

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook; Hudak: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook; Hudak: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

In Tuesday’s Ontario leaders’ debate, the single most high-profile event in this month’s provincial election, PC leader Tim Hudak, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and premier Kathleen Wynne mostly stuck to the same few talking points that they’ve been hawking to voters since before the writ dropped. This made for bad television (more than a few CBC viewers must have turned on their sets expecting programming a little more intellectually stimulating, like Just For Laughs Gags or Coronation Street), but as political theatre it was occasionally very good. Here, a few key things we took away from the fracas.

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The Informer

Politics

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CBC’s Metro Morning confirms the obvious: nobody pays attention to Queen’s Park

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook; Hudak: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook; Hudak: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

Anyone who cares about provincial politics may want to sit down before listening to the first two minutes of this segment from today’s Metro Morning. The radio show had a reporter stand on John Street, where she asked more than a dozen passers-by to identify the three leaders of Ontario’s major provincial parties. At least three people didn’t know who Kathleen Wynne was (she’s the premier of Ontario, for anyone still wondering). Someone thought Olivia Chow was a party leader. In the end, only one person was able to ID Wynne, Andrea Horwath and Tim Hudak without difficulty.

We now have about a month to go until the next provincial election—an election that may determine the future of public transit in Toronto, among other things. If this unscientific sample is anything to go by, the candidates are going to need to print up a few more lawn signs.

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Politics

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Toronto is about to be plunged into yet another election

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)

After months of talk and partisan hostility, it’s finally happening: Ontario will go to the polls in June.

At a press conference this morning, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said her party wouldn’t support premier Kathleen Wynne’s budget, which was released to the public yesterday. With a minority government, the Liberals need support from at least one of the opposition parties to pass the spending plan, and the Tories have already said no. As a result, Toronto can expect its mayoral election to become background noise for the next month or so, as provincial politicians try to curry favour with a scandal-weary electorate.

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Politics

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Pembina Institute’s message to public-transit voters: pick anyone but the Tories

(Image: Courtesy of the Pembina Institute)

(Image: Courtesy of the Pembina Institute)

The Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank, has just released one of its periodic reports on public transit in Toronto, and the takeaway is clear. The institute is saying, essentially, that if you care about transit in Toronto, you should vote for anyone you like in the upcoming provincial election, as long as they’re not Tories.

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Ontario’s election watch approaches red alert

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)

(Image: Horwath: Andrea Horwath/Facebook; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)

Queen’s Park has been bracing for a possible springtime election for months, and now we know what might cause it: new fees for public transit. The Star reports that provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath is threatening to topple Kathleen Wynne’s government if the Liberal premier tries to include “new taxes, tolls or fees that hit middle-class families” in Ontario’s next budget. The move is clearly aimed at the Liberal party’s ongoing attempts to implement new “revenue tools” to pay for new public-transit projects in the Greater Toronto Area. Without, at minimum, increasing the gas tax and tapping the HST for a few million a year, it’s likely that Queen’s Park will have difficulty delivering on Metrolinx’s commitment to build, among other things, a new relief subway line for east-end Toronto commuters.

Presumably Horwath would have no trouble bringing Tim Hudak and his provincial Conservatives on-side; they have no love for new taxes, and they want an election. Wynne’s position is especially difficult because her own government apparatus has produced two separate reports in favour of tax hikes and fees for Toronto public transit—one of them from Metrolinx and the other from an official advisory panel. And so Wynne’s choice, apparently, is either to ignore advice and possibly inflame her left-leaning, urban-dwelling base, or to risk going to the polls in a few months. She has already said that she’d choose the latter.

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Politics

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Rob Ford offers the provincial NDP advice: bring down the government

The troubled relationship between Rob Ford and premier Kathleen Wynne took another southward turn yesterday when the mayor urged the NDP party to bring down the Liberal government. Wynne’s Liberals tabled a $127.6-billion budget on Thursday that the Progressive Conservatives have already vowed to vote against. During his weekly radio show on Sunday, Ford called on the NDP to do the same and trigger a provincial election. “The leader of the NDP party, Andrea Horwath, should just say no,” he advised, explaining that the Liberal gas plant scandal has the public clamouring for an election. Funny how Ford’s latte-sipping, bicycle-riding, gravy-train-riding vitriol conveniently disappeared the second he wanted something from the NDP. [Globe and Mail]

(Images: Rob Ford, Christopher Drost, Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP)

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Politics

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Sunshine List: how much Rob Ford, Paul Godfrey and Chris Spence earned in 2012

Rob Ford earned $173,869 including taxable benefits in 2012

Each year, Queen’s Park releases the sunshine list, a catalogue of all the Ontario public servants who made $100,000 or more—and, because the $100,000 threshold hasn’t changed since the list’s inception in 1996, that exalted group now contains nearly 88,412 members. (Were the benchmark tied to inflation, it would now be over $139,000, cutting the list to about 18,000 people.) Since most people have better things to do this long weekend than sift through tens of thousands of names, we put together this cheat sheet of 2012’s most high-profile recipients of public largesse.

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The Informer

Business

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Some notables earning six-figures (or more!) from Ontario’s annual “sunshine list”

Dalton McGuinty made $208,974 last year (Image: Communitech Photos)

Once again, Ontario’s sunshine list has spotlighted the public servants who made $100,000 or more last year. A list of rich people is always a delight, and this year’s disclosure—released late last week—set the stage for today’s release of what will likely be an austere provincial budget, given Ontario’s troubling $16-billion deficit. The full group of six-figure earners is 79,000-strong, so we’ve compiled a cheat sheet of a few of the most high-profile.

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The Dish

Drinks

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LCBO confirms Ontarians will have to shell out a little extra for certain beers and spirits

Get ready to pay more for your PBR (Image: rob_rob2001)

Sure, we understand that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario sets minimum prices on booze as part of its mandate to promote social responsibility (translation: to stop us from drinking so much that we forget where we live). But sometimes it’s possible to get a little tired of all the tough love. Late last week, mean mommy the provincial liquor monopoly announced it would raise the price of some beer and spirits starting March 1.

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The Informer

People

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The Onion, that paper your friend’s friend picked up in Milwaukee that one time, now available in Toronto

This week’s edition of The Onion, complete with the debut of The A.V. Club Toronto

Joking aside: in its first export from the United States, satirical newspaper The Onion landed in T.O. this morning. Long popular with Torontonians online, the weekly teamed up with the Toronto Star to bring free print copies to some 600 boxes around the city, with particular concentrations around campuses. (The paper’s arrival might be bad news for homegrown equivalent The Smew, which, perhaps in anticipation, has put up images of its logo around town.) With the exception of entertainment section The A.V. Club and its companion website, both edited by John Semley, readers will find Toronto’s Onion remains decidedly American. Indeed, the lead story from today’s edition is “Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage” (which caused predictable confusion and outrage on Twitter). Torontonians are graced with Canadian advertisements, however, including promotions for noted Canadian humorists Rick Mercer, Jon Lajoie and, er, Andrea Horwath. The paper’s launch was accompanied by a party last night at the Drake Hotel, where revelers were treated to a potted (and mostly fictional) company history delivered by Joe Garden, the features editor. Garden, channelling his inner Dwight Schrute, also highlighted some of The Onion’s notable Canadian stories:  “Perky ‘Canada’ Has Own Government, Laws” and “Toronto Columnist Writes Annual ‘Blue Jays Have A Chance’ Article.”

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Reaction Roundup: sailing metaphors, locker room talk and ignoring Toronto. The skinny on what happened at last night’s provincial election debate

Given the amount of chatter generated by Dalton McGuinty’s erratic hand gestures last night, it would seem that the provincial election leader’s debate was the uninspiring affair that most suggested it would be. Aside from a few exciting moments and a couple of strange ones (like Andrea Horwath’s locker room anecdote), the debate was predictable enough to get any viewer properly buzzed—and we don’t mean on the political intrigue. Of course, even if uneventful, the debate could still play an important role in the final stretch of the campaign. With that in mind, we give you our summation of the ink that’s been spilled on the subject, after the jump.

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The Informer

Politics

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Provincial Election Leaders’ Debate: The Drinking Game

Sure, this hasn’t been the most exciting election in recent memory (that honour has to go to last year’s bizarre municipal race). Heck, our public broadcaster has found the whole exercise so dull that it’s chosen to broadcast a hockey game instead of the usual election special on the main network. But tonight at 6:30—we desperately hope—all that will change as Premier Dalton McGuinty, cover boy Tim Hudak and potential king-maker Andrea Horwath go at it for the first time on live television. But if you’re still looking for a spoonful of sugar to help the wonky point-scoring medicine go down, we’ve got you covered. Here, our Leaders’ Debate Drinking Game.

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The Informer

Politics

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Five notes on tonight’s (likely boring) provincial election debate

This snooze of a provincial election will soon be over, but there remains one major piece of business: tonight’s debate (oh, and voting). Of course, recent news might just provide the ammunition for an all-out slugfest. But, really, we’re more likely to see Dalton McGuinty, Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath sticking to their talking points with a steadfast resolve, while viewers inevitably watch a real slugfest—or Glee—instead. Then again, debates don’t have to be thrilling in order to influence an election, and the stakes are certainly high. With that mind, here’s the skinny on what’s being said about what tonight could mean for the election race heading into the debate.

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