EDITORIAL: The provincial election — so far

It’s always struck us at the Town Crier that it’s a little presumptuous of us to tell readers who they should vote for — especially so in provincial and federal elections.

We report almost entirely on local matters that come under the purview of our municipal representatives.

However, all politics is local, as they say. Our communities are also affected by issues largely dealt with at higher levels of government.

So our current compromise at an editorial position in this Ontario election is not to support any of the parties but to rank a few issues we think readers are weighing.

• Change: Invariably, when a party has been in power for a while the electorate starts feeling the government’s in a rut and needs shaking up. In this election, however, while the Liberals bear the burden of Dalton McGuinty’s long reign, the PCs seem to want to go back to an earlier rut — to the days of Mike Harris’s government of the latter 1990s and early 2000s. And the NDP is this time trailing the Liberals in progressive ideas. Paradoxically, so far it’s the incumbent premier, Kathleen Wynne, who seems the most forward-thinking.

• Deficits: Yes, people should live within their means. But one of our means is borrowing. Families get mortgages to buy homes, students take loans to finish their education, and businesses raise funds for projects they expect to bring future profits. Likewise, governments sometimes have to invest in social programs or to stimulate the economy — to bring future benefits. While throwing money away on ineffective projects is foolish, so is reckless slashing of spending to preserve the abstract ideal of a balanced budget. As we’ve seen repeatedly, austerity programs taken to extremes bring negative results.

• Jobs: It’s easy for a candidate to claim he or she will create X number of jobs if elected. It’s more difficult to accomplish. Hudak has gone the furthest in making employment promises in this election, which is to his credit, but at this time of writing the only proposals he’s made in this direction are to cut public jobs and to further reduce already low corporate taxes, an approach that seldom, if ever, works. If he’s got some other plans in mind, we’d like to hear them. We’d also like to hear what the other leaders are proposing to fight unemployment.

You may gather from this the direction we’re leaning so far, but it’s still early days in the election campaigns. In the next four weeks, we expect to learn more that could change our views. Put us in the undecided camp.