Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ontario Debate & Tory's Health Care Plank

TC has not blogged on the subject. My view is that if the news coverage of the debate is gone by Monday, it can be said the debate will have no impact on the campaign. The beginning of the debate, presumably where direct viewership would be greatest, was all about religious schools, an issue that works for the Liberals but not the other two parties.

Prior to the debate John Tory announced a private health care initiative, a clearly unpopular gambit, labelled in their press release of course as "John Tory Strengthens Public Health Care". On the face of it it doesn't make sense. However, it might be designed to appeal to the affluent voters in Don Valley West, where he is in a tight race with Education Minister Kathleen Wynne. I am not at all certain of this but it is a possible explanation for an otherwise foolish promise. The only poll I have seen on this is one of those methodologically suspect online newspaper polls. It asked if government funding of private clinics (as Tory proposes) would lead to two tier medicine. 68% said Yes. In addition, in the Strategic Counsel poll (page 15) the Liberals outpolled the Tories on who was best able to handle health care 39 to 24 with 18 for the NDP. Making health care an issue doesn't make sense for Tory.

UPDATE: This column by Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star spells out the implications of Tory's proposal:
He's not just talking about letting private clinics deliver medicare services. His plan would set the stage for a full-scale, private, parallel system.

Regardless of the debate outcome, the next 10 days are critical. This is the point where the campaign gels, voters become conscious of the need to make a decision and the options for the parties begin to run out. At this point the Liberals are clearly ahead. Some polls suggest that it is close enough that it could be a minority government; others clearly imply a majority

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