Straight Talk
CHRISTINA BLIZZARD - Ontario party leaders don't want to get burned on lame issues

Andrea Horwath

Credits: Dave ThomasToronto Sun/QMI Agency


TORONTO -- Just like the electrified third rail on the subway, politics has a live wire that fries those hapless politicians who touch it accidentally.

Health care is the issue that does the most damage most often.

Any politician who suggests changes to the system will immediately be zapped by 50,000 volts in an uncomfortable place and die on the spot.

Likewise, premier-designate Kathleen Wynne, PC Leader Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath, leader of the NDP, have some "danger, do not touch" zones ahead of them.

WYNNE: Do not even think of re-visiting the sex-ed curriculum.

Yes, sitting in an office at Queen's Park it may all seem very easy.

Even in her trendy mid-town Toronto riding, surrounded by latte-loving, Ugg Boot-wearing super trendies, this may seem like a good idea.

It's not.

Sure, voters in this province are past the whole gay politician thing.

We don't care about a person's sexual identity. Happy to have a lesbian premier.

But if she launches into a review of the sex-ed curriculum now, she'll be viewed as having an agenda to promote the gay lifestyle in the classroom.

Back in 2010, Premier Dalton McGuinty was forced to "re-think" the revamp of the sex-ed curriculum when parents complained it wasn't appropriate to discuss oral and anal sex with 11 year-olds and Grade 3 was too young to talk about sexual identity.

Wynne has already said she plans to move ahead with changes to sex-ed.

My advice? Stick to balancing the books.

It ain't broke -- so don't fix it.

TIM HUDAK: Much as Wynne needs to appear as if she doesn't have a gay agenda, Hudak and his MPPs mustn't be seen to be homophobic.
Ontarians are inherently fair. They don't care that Wynne's gay. In fact, some voters are quite proud this province was progressive enough to be the first one to have a lesbian premier.

Remember the Liberal flip-flop in 1994 about Bill 167 --  legislation that would have given spousal benefits and adoption rights to same-sex couples?

Liberals, under leader Lyn McLeod, flip-flopped on support for it before the 1995 election -- and it cost them support.

It wasn't that people saw same-sex benefits as a key issue. They didn't. The economy, taxes and the mountain of debt accumulated by former NDP premier Bob Rae were the burning issues.

But voters don't like to see people treated unfairly. And McLeod was perceived to have betrayed the gay community.

Hudak must stay focused on issues such as jobs and the economy, and leave the battle over sex ed for others to protest.

HORWATH: Her latest wish list of blackmail items she wants from the Liberals in return for her support is baffling.

Why would she want to be seen to be co-operating with a government that's so wildly unpopular, especially when the NDP is doing well in the polls?

Her demand that the government insist on a 15% rollback on car insurance premiums is simplistic at best, inane at worst.

Sure, no one's going to defend the insurance industry. But as Horwath well knows, auto insurance is a complex business which can't be micro-managed by government. Unless, of course, she wants to be really bold -- and introduce public auto insurance. Or not.

Voters aren't impressed by Deal Or No Deal politics.

It could be she doesn't want to give the impression she can't wait for the next election.

No party wants to be seen as the one that precipitates an early vote -- yet, they all have their reasons for wanting to go to the polls sooner rather than later.

The Liberals don't want to wait too long. There's more to come out for sure on the gas plants. They'd be better pulling the plug before that happens.

Tories and NDP both see victory within their grasp.

Just so long as they don't get burned by their third rails.

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