McGuinty: Debate opponents short on new ideas
Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty says his opponents sold themselves short in Thursday's televised debate by spending most of their time attacking him instead of outlining their own ideas.
McGuinty, the incumbent premier, said on Friday he knew Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory and New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton would gang up on him in the 90-minute event.
The Liberal leader sustained the criticism about his broken promises, telling voters the province has come "a long way" since the Liberals took office in 2003. He asked Ontarians to judge him on his record.
McGuinty accepted the fact he imposed a health premium after vowing not to raise taxes, but said he had not choice because the previous Conservative government left him with a $5.6-billion budget.
The debate got off to a fiery start as the first question of the night centred around Tory's controversial plan to fund faith-based schools.
Both McGuinty and Hampton agreed Tory's proposal won't better the education system.
While the debate didn't contain any knockout punches, Hampton on Friday declared himself the winner.
"I tried last night to raise issues that I think matter to the majority of people across Ontario and put forward practical solutions,'' Hampton said while touring the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
"I think I succeeded in that and I think Mr. McGuinty is feeling the pressure.''
Despite polls showing Liberals in the lead, Hampton called McGuinty "desperate'' when told he apparently nicknamed he and Tory "HoJo'' for teaming up on him in the debate.
"He made excuse after excuse for breaking his promises and letting people down.''
After the debate, political pundits said the three leaders appeared poised during their arguments and while delivering their promises.
Image consultant Anne Sowden analyzed the leaders' mannerisms.
"What I noticed with John Tory, and I've noticed this throughout the campaign, he tends to hold his head over to one side, which I think is quite distracting," Sowden told CTV Toronto.
"If you look at his hands and how he uses his hands and how he stands, he comes across as very strong, but I find the head really distracting.
"Dalton, on the other hand, uses hand gestures really well. I'm finding him a lot more animated than he was in the last election campaign, and I think a lot has to do with he's got a lot more experience," she said.
Sowden said Hampton finished strong after getting off to a slow start.
"He doesn't have a very strong voice. He looked a little bit startled, but once he got going on the question, he was a lot more comfortable, he made some good points," she said. "He's got some quiet strength in his voice."
Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Frank de Jong says he's still upset at being excluded from the debate.
De Jong took a unique approach to the situation by organizing an event at a Toronto hotel, where he answered the same debate questions.
With files from The Canadian Press