You may wonder why I don't scrutinize the provincial Progressive Conservatives. For me that's very simple. Liberal, Tory, same old story. Two big tent brokerage parties concerned chiefly with securing power and placating the rich. At this point, the Liberals most threaten my desire to have governance which truly pursues the common good. Politics, and ethics for that matter, begins wherever you find yourself. At this moment, there is a provincial government seeking re-election on the basis of having provided not horribly bad government. This not only further disenfranchises an already apathetic electorate, but it is actually misleading.
As I've tried to show on this blog, this government has indeed provided horribly bad governance. And when Kinsella and his ilk reduce punditry to making fun of candidates' photos or their linguistic gaffes, or when the Toronto Star actively campaigns on behalf of the Liberals by working with the Liberal war room to fashion a ballot issue that is designed to sink the Tories, the standards of politics are further diminished. The Star is now more than a liberal mouthpiece, it is actively endorsing McGuinty and his Liberals. The Star's recent editorials suggesting that McGuinty is a better leader for our province or that the Liberals can boast a solid record on poverty issues are not only very questionable assertions, but are transparently cynical and partisan attacks on John Tory and Howard Hampton respectively.
So is the election all but decided? I don't think so. There may be some interesting surprises on Oct. 10. Environics recently released a poll on voting intentions, and more specifically, on what voters reported, unprompted, as the most decisive factors in casting their vote. So will extending funding to faith based schools be the ballot issue that the media are so desperately trying to make of it? According to this poll, faith based funding was the second from the bottom in terms of importance played in voters' decisions. Only 3% of voters said that it was the most important factor influencing their decision. The highest rated factor was health care (14%) followed, very interestingly, by breaking/keeping promises (12%), then education (11%), the environment (8%), then, interestingly, owing to the widespread recognition that John Tory came out ahead, leadership debate (6%). For an excellent summary on the disparity between voters' main ideological concerns and media coverage, see Paulitics. The media has largely tried to make the election about faith based school funding (incidentally but one plank in John Tory's platform) while deflecting voters' attention from the issues which they themselves see as most important.
Of course, the grim reality is that people will still vote against their own best interest. Sadly 19% polled didn't even know or wouldn't say what's most decisive to them. Still, it's clear that the party which would best address the factors that voters say is most influential to them is the NDP. The NDP promises fully funded health care and education (23%). Of the major parties, the NDP is best on the environment (8%). On social programs, poverty, minimum wage (4%), the NDP is not only the sole political party formed out of a need to defend the rights of working families and those others marginalized and exploited, the NDP managed to put poverty back on the agenda at Queen's Park during the last session. I also believe that the NDP has the best plan for dealing with the looming economic crisis and the decimation of the manufacturing sector (5%), not that many have heard of it because the media are too busy covering faith based school funding.