Leaders Debate: Who Won?

(Blackburnmedia.ca file photo)

Ontario’s three main party leaders were firing on all cylinders last night in their only televised debate of the campaign ahead of the June 12 election.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized repeatedly for her government’s cancellation of two gas plants that could cost as much as $1.1-billion. Tory Leader Tim Hudak defended his promise to create a million jobs and vowed to resign if he didn’t live up to it. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Liberal corruption is the campaign’s central issue, and questioned the math behind Hudak’s jobs’ pledge.

An Ipsos Reid flash poll of debate viewers conducted on behalf of CTV News and CP24 showed most believe PC Leader Tim Hudak won the debate and landed the knockout punch. Premier Kathleen Wynne performed below expectations, according to the poll, which also showed that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath impressed but failed to earn a victory.

National political pundits are divided on who emerged the victor.

The Toronto Star says Kathleen Wynne is still haunted by Dalton McGuinty, and that Andrea Horwath painted herself as the only reasonable alternative.

The Globe and Mail says Hudak probably won on most scorecards by virtue of calmly delivering the clearest message of the three but Horwath was perfectly likable.

The Toronto Sun gives the win to Hudak, saying he “did a solid job of talking through the clutter. He was confident, he was well prepped. And he told some personal anecdotes about his family that gave him a softer image.¬†”

The National Post reported that, “tracking studies suggested the mega-watt smile of NDP leader Andrea Horwath carried the day. People who watched on TV liked her and overlooked her policy inconsistencies.”

And Ryerson University politics professor Wayne Petrozzi says there were missed chances all around to sway voters and score points.