ANALYSIS: Horwath, Hudak hold their own in Ontario debate
Posted: Sep 28, 2011 6:27 AM ET
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2011 10:08 AM ET
They came. They saw. They did not conquer. But then again, no one watching the leaders' debate should have expected that.
There was no knockdown, no 'moment' in the 90-minute debate. Dalton McGuinty, Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath did land some glancing blows — blows that are unlikely, however, to change many minds.
But it is also true that if you were tuning into the debate and didn't know that Hudak and Horwath were rookies — first timers in that kind of pressure cooker — you wouldn't have known it. Horwath in particular surprised many, even in her own party, with a strong performance that was much improved from the northern issues debate in Thunder Bay last week.
Both opposition leaders had to survive the debate — get into and out of it without a faux pas. If nothing else, they accomplished that, while more importantly introducing themselves to an electorate that is not entirely engaged, shall we say, in this election campaign.
From Hudak there was less of the message track — his forte since becoming leader. He appeared less robotic and seemed to enjoy the experience.There didn't appear to be one defining moment in Tuesday night's debate. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
Horwath clearly won the Miss Congeniality award, which is not a bad thing. But at one point many might have been left wondering: would she relate a story about everyone she's met during this campaign?
McGuinty looked uncomfortable
McGuinty was in his fourth debate as Liberal leader. And while he has clearly improved from 1999, 2003 and 2007, he still looks uncomfortable.
His smirks seem to come in all the wrong places. What's so funny, for example, about bragging about building 18 new hospitals?
And his hand-waving was so pronounced at times they may have actually helped cool down the sweltering makeshift studio in the CBC atrium.
But McGuinty held his own. Not an easy thing to do when under attack from both the other leaders.
There was a risk for the three party leaders in agreeing to a debate this late in the campaign. Especially considering — if the polls are to be believed — this election is still a toss-up. A mistake by any one of the three could have been fatal.
But, having survived, it's now back to the campaign buses for the final push leading up to October 6th.
Each of the three will take something from the debate and use it for the remaining days. Psychologically, that may work to Hudak's and Horwath's favour, since for the first time in this election they appeared as equals to the guy looking for his third majority.
There is little doubt, however, that the smiles on the faces of senior Liberal campaign staff after the debate and on the Liberal bus are an indication they believe the worst is over. That they believe they are heading in the right direction with the right leader.
Then again, if you listen to the spin from the Tories and New Democrats that's exactly what they believe too. Stay tuned.
Ontario Election Results
Updated: Oct. 7, 2011, 8:56 AM EDT
|Party||Elected||Leading||Total||Vote Share (%)|
All results are unofficial until final ballot counts are verified by Elections Ontario. CBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Latest Ontario Votes 2011 Headlines
- Ontario election polling practices questioned
- Ipsos Reid vice-president John Wright railed Friday at the conduct of some polling firms during the Ontario provincial election. more »
- Ontario's re-elected premier touts 'major minority'
- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is ruling out making deals with other parties, and says he is proud of the 'major minority' his party garnered on Thursday night. more »
- Hudak turned to Wayne Newton's bus
- A secret kept under wraps by the Ontario Progressive Conservative campaign has finally been revealed — it concerns Tim Hudak's bus, a Vegas crooner and a stripper pole. more »
- Rob Ford denies his governance hurt Ontario PCs
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is brushing off suggestions his aggressive moves to slash spending may have cost the Ontario Progressive Conservatives the provincial election. more »