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ELECTION PANEL: Dental care, Grade 13 and highways

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The Toronto Sun’s Ontario election campaign panel features a trio of political strategists who offer up their insights and perspectives on the big issues.

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Our latest topic: Promises, promises, promises. The past few days have seen, among other pledges, the NDP propose provincial dental care, the Liberals pitch bringing back optional Grade 13 and the PCs reiterating their plans to build Hwy 413. Which recent campaign announcements will most resonate with voters?

CAM HOLMSTROM

In election campaigns, we’re used to seeing promises being thrown around. In the first week of this election, we’ve already seen this from the three major parties. But when most voters look at those promises, experience tells me they judge them based on the likelihood of that promise actually being fulfilled.

Using that standard to judge the promises made so far in this campaign, the NDP’s plan for provincial dental care rises to the top of the list. With the feds already announcing their intention to fund dental care nationwide, a Horwath NDP government already has a willing partner in Ottawa prepared to bring dollars to the table to fund this important policy.

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That takes dental care from campaign promise to policy reality fast, something neither the PCs nor Liberals can say about their highlighted promises from the week. Voters notice that and factor it into their vote.

— Cam Holmstrom is Métis, originally from Kenora, and is now a consultant with Ottawa-based Bluesky Strategy Group.

MELANIE PARADIS

The Liberal platform has a massive hole in the middle of it: costing. We have no idea how much their promises would cost. But what we do know, is just like their years of broken promises, they aren’t good for it.

Andrea Horwath ended the week by finally discovering the housing crisis in Ontario, but her plan has absolutely no detail about how she would increase supply. Doug Ford has a plan to get over 1.5 million homes built in the next 10 years.

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Hwy. 413 and the extension of the GO rail line to Bowmanville are major infrastructure promises by Conservative Leader Doug Ford this week. And they build on scrapping the tolls on Hwys. 412 and 418, and extending two-way, all-day GO train service. These measures will help workers get home faster, giving them more time with their kids. I think that’s what really resonates with Ontarians.

— Melanie Paradis is a veteran Conservative campaigner and 2nd Vice President of the Ontario PC Party.

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MUHAMMAD ALI

The Liberals focused a lot on education this week with a message on hiring 10,000 more teachers, capping class sizes at 20 students to improve the attention each child receives, and providing the choice of Grade 13 for students who feel they lost out on significant learning opportunities during the pandemic.

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This is a smart policy approach as the situation with schools was dire during the last two years from unpredictable schedule changes due to covid outbreaks, being disconnected from peers in a virtual setting and ultimately losing out on gaining tutelage from teachers outside of classrooms that students rely on normally.

This is targeted at parents who have worried their children’s education suffered greatly, but also to ensure students are prepared for post-secondary life, academics and jobs. Liberals are making education a core pillar for their campaign because it’s been an issue mishandled by the PCs and parents want solutions.

— Muhammad Ali is a Senior Consultant at Crestview Strategy, political commentator and former Liberal political staffer who has been involved in federal, provincial and municipal elections.  

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