The main attack used against Andrea Horwath this election by the Ontario Liberals and the Toronto Star (in 24 op-eds so far,) is that Andrea is a dreaded “populist.” And taking this rhetoric to the max, a “right-wing populist.”
Horwath left of Wynne
But if one compares Andrea's platform to Kathleen Wynne's, the undeniable fact is that Andrea's platform is to the left of Wynne's.
So when campaigning Star columnists tell you Andrea is right-wing and Wynne is the real progressive leader, they are outright lying. They are actually pimping a political agenda — namely, to secure a majority government for Wynne.
I think it's pretty clear, the Liberal party and Toronto Star are engaging in Harper-like sleaze politics. They are smearing and sneering instead of debating the issues. Like the Conservative party and Sun News, their agenda is to use whatever means to achieve partisan political power.
What is populism?
Next is the question: is populism fundamentally a bad thing? The simple answer is that populism is just another name for ‘democratic’.
In a democracy, the people determine their own fate. Populism is a condescending term that implies the people are too dumb to understand the issues and need a group of elites to make all the decisions for them.
No doubt some populism is chalk full of ignorance. Like Tea Party populism. These people are fooled by plutocrat elites into voting away their public benefits so the rich can get bigger tax cuts.
Ultimately in a democracy a balance needs to be struck between what is claimed to be evidence-based policy (which is often entangled in self-serving agendas) and what the people choose.
Elites may feel they are better than everyone else. But in the end, they only have one vote just like everyone else.
NDP populism is about putting some of the focus on everyday issues that affect average people's lives: low-income and middle-income earners. It's left-leaning people-friendly populism.
In an anemic economy with declining living standards, families are struggling and need a break. The NDP offers them the kind of breaks that will actually do some good.
Some of Andrea's “populist” policies are: $12/hr minimum wage, providing relief from endless hydro-rate hikes, 0% interest student loans, money for child care, dental care for kids, 24-hr health clinics, 15% auto insurance discount — and canceling failed corporate tax cuts for the wealthy.
The Liberal party, on the other hand, has become so out of touch they have embraced a form of anti-populism modeled on Leona Helmsley: only the little people pay.
For 11 years the Liberals have gouged average Ontarians with pay-as-you-go conservative measures: delisted services, user fees, eco fees, regressive taxes and skyrocketing electricity rates.
And while putting the hurt on the average person, they have been borrowing $2.4-billion every year to pay out to the wealthy in lavish corporate tax cuts.
Even Wynne's pension plan is regressive. According to Maclean's it’s great for upper-income earners but terrible for low-income earners: they will receive $1 in benefits for every $2 they pay out.
Liberals abandoned real centrist liberal values decades ago for neo-liberal ideology. While they pay lip service to a Just Society, they help tear it down with continuous spending cuts while enabling the reckless tax cuts of the hard-right.
Although Liberal elites feel smug and superior to average Ontarians, they really don't have much to show for it: lopsided policies, corruption, waste, debt & broken promises.
So this election don't be manipulated by fear and empty rhetoric. Look at the issues with your own eyes. Decide what's best for you, your family and your society.