Ontario election: Leaders’ debate too catchphrase-y for a drinking game


June 3, 2014 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Ontario’s three main party leaders are set to duke it out in a debate Tuesday evening. We were going to suggest a drinking game but worried about giving you all liver failure. So here, instead, is a list of phrases to watch for over the course of tonight’s debate.

“Million Jobs Plan”

“Government that makes sense”

  • Sounds like a Mike Harris throwback, but this is actually an NDP slogan.
  • Who’ll say it: Andrea Horwath
  • Why: The implication is that her plan is what makes sense to your average Joe Ontarian – as opposed to the other candidates, who make no sense.

“Government as a power for good”

(or variations on this theme)

  • Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, right?
  • Who’ll say it: Kathleen Wynne
  • Why: Much of Wynne’s plan displays an interventionist, redistribution-of-wealth streak. Plus she wants Ontarians to think of their ruling party as something other than a gas plant bogeyman.

“Gas plants”

  • They were cancelled. You may have heard.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak and Horwath, at every possible opportunity.
  • Why: To remind voters of that most unpopular and damning of Liberal scandals, the fallout from their mid-campaign cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.


  • Yikes. Corruption is bad.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak and Horwath. A lot, probably.
  • Why: To cast the Liberals in a less-than-laudatory light, à la gas plants, MaRS, Ornge…


  • Not the planet, sadly, but the Discovery District’s multi-million-dollar construction project, which the Liberals are apparently buying out for about $317 million.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak.
  • Why: In the days since his party leaked the documents, he’s been painting this as yet another hidden Liberal boondoggle and misuse of government funds.


  • In case “MaRS” sounds too benign.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak.
  • Why: See “MaRS” above.

“Mistakes were made”

  • Because no one does passive voice like a politician.
  • Who’ll say it: Wynne
  • Why: It’s become one of her most oft-repeated lines (along, to her credit, with “sorry”) regarding gas plants. Translation: Someone made mistakes but I swear it wasn’t me also I wasn’t even Premier now can we PLEASE talk about something else?

“Middle-class Ontarians”

  • Everyone likes to think of themselves as middle class, even though the definition of “middle class” is a horrifically tricky one to agree on.
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone.
  • Why: It’s become code for the Average Joe politicians are there to fight for, duh. Because they care.

“Working families”

  • See “Middle-class Ontarians,” above.

“Union bosses”

  • How this became shorthand for Evil Organized Labour we’re still not sure. But why not.
  • Who’ll say it: Hudak
  • Why: It’s a way of playing on class resentment and the conviction that that the other guy gets a better job deal than you, as well as quashing critiques that Hudak’s plan will go after organized labour, contracts and benefits.


  • Because who doesn’t like leadership, right?
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone
  • Why: Because she/he is a leader, duh. And the other two are not.

“Doesn’t add up”

  • The other guys’ platforms, that is.
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone
  • Why: There’s been no shortage of numbers thrown around, many of them dubious. But this is also a quick, easy way to discredit your opponent’s policies.

“Taxpayer” (esp: “Respect for…”)

  • Just about everyone gives the government money: You want them to play nice with it, right?
  • Who’ll say it: Everyone, but Hudak and Horwath more.
  • Why: While its use is universal, it’s usually accompanied by promises to spend your money really frugally, and suggestions everyone else is just throwing themselves Scrooge McDuck parties with it.

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