TORONTO - Del Duca’s “legacy” measured in dollars and facts pummeled Tibollo’ nebulous meanderings on transparency and accountability into oblivion. It was akin to watching former World Kick-Boxing champion, Simon Marcus, make short work of his latest challenger.
Liberal candidate to replace himself as MPP, Economic Development Minister, Steven Del Duca, faced-off with an exceptionally unprepared PC opponent in the Provincial electoral campaign’s first debate. As a “proxy debate” of “champions” for Liberals and Conservatives, the latter may well be still engaged in a “candidate search”.
I almost felt like saying “Poor Michael”. Not even the Conservative moderator of the debated would step in to apply the “mercy rule”. It was painful to watch.
Facts, figures, actions and energy on the part of Del Duca were countered - if one can use the term – by ethereal expressions of what motivates individuals to seek public office. Within thirty minutes of the debate start, the Tory was literally cowering in his chair, venturing to the podium only to read from a Campaign Platform Document, or to proffer some whiny nostrum.
Full disclosure: the Corriere and several of its staff are subject to a Statement of Claim from that same candidate, as are two former Presidents and members of the Board of the National Congress of Italian Canadians (Ontario); nonetheless, that candidate aspires to public office and his actions and statements in a public forum cannot be overlooked.
For his part, Del Duca admitted that an election is very much a public interview for a job – a very special job that carries with it the privilege of serving the public, in this case his neighbours in Woodbridge.
He focused on the tangible “legacy” of his last five years in office: (1) a $1.3 billion state-of-the-art hospital for Woodbridge-Vaughan (2) a $750 annual grant to seniors over 75 years of age living in their own home, (3) a $ 7million palliative care centre, (4) funding for six new schools in Vaughan Woodbridge), (5) the conclusion of subway into Vaughan, (6) $100 million widening of Highway #7 through Woodbridge, (7) expansion of GO transit railway stations through in Vaughan, and (8) $616 million extension of highway 427 to Major Mackenzie.
Tibollo worried that government might leave a legacy of debt amounting to $1 billion a month. Reading from Ford’s Plan, he repeated the “need to drive efficiencies” and find cuts amounting to $.04 on the dollar. Cuts, he said that would be re-invested to get “the province back on its feet”, unwilling to address Del Duca’s statement (supported by the Ontario Economic Report, 2017) that the Province’s unemployment rate stands at 5.5%, the lowest since 2000.
The Conservative resident sitting to my right leaned over to whisper, “he’s not prepared for this”. I didn’t ask if the rhetorical expression was prompted by exasperation or by pity for his candidate.
When the Moderator “pitched him a beachball” on the issue of the Muzzo (yes, the same guy) Group’s development plans for the former Board of Trade Golf Course, he swung and … well, let’s say he “took a pass”, prompting the cynics to re-consider Ford’s flip flop on Green Belt development.
The Ratepayers Association sponsoring the Debate had made an announcement at the start that the Muzzo Group had [temporarily] withdrawn the proposal – probably until the electoral dust settles, muttered one resident wearing a Keep Vaughan Green button.
Del Duca matter-of-factly underscored his presence at all the ratepayer’s meetings and the actions he had taken as MPP on the issue. “I’ve lived in Vaughan for 31 years, 18 of them around the corner as your neighbour where my wife and I are raising two wonderful daughters’, he said, “how could I do anything less?”
Tibollo, a lawyer for 31 years, operates a legal practice in Brampton. One wonders why his allies in the Ratepayers’ Association thought it was a good idea to host the debate on the first day of the campaign.