Thursday, September 30, 2010

Over to you, Mr. Hudak

Various media were abuzz earlier this week with poll results showing the Progressive Conservative Party, under Tim Hudak, leads Premier Dalton McGuinty's Ontario Liberal Party in the polls.
I'm not normally prone to getting mixed up in the larger world of politics in this space, but given our premier and members of his cabinet kicked off this school year laying out the 2011 vote on their education accomplishments, it's worth a look.
As I pointed out earlier this month, I would welcome a campaign fought over education but doubt that we'll get one truly focused on educational policy and outcomes. The 2007 campaign was defined, in part, by John Tory's insistence on extending public funding to faith-based private schools. The issue was so poorly explained and debated that it turned on Tory's team and ultimately led to Hudak's selection as leader.
During the PC leadership campaign, I wrote a few posts on each candidate's education platform (such as they existed, which several didn't). In a quick perusal of the party's website this morning, I found this reference to apprenticeship training, an early September press release riddled with some interesting accounting, a statement about second-career training and a year-old statement on EQAO.
Now I realize that a year out from the campaign, most if not all parties have no interest in laying out their platform. However, there's enough to comment on now. Where's the Tory party's stance on the pending provincial-interest regulations? Its response to the criticisms of EQAO that have arisen in the past two months? Any sort of policy or idea on school-closure regulations? I thought a few statements on protecting rural Ontario would include something about schools, but nary a word.
To be fair, I don't see heaps of this from the governing party or the third party, but they're not the ones polling in majority government territory now. Hudak has spent his time as leader throwing dirt (justified or not) at the government, with precious little time explaining who he is and what he would stand for -- particularly when it comes to education. If he stands for hard-working Ontario families, then what should that mean for education?
Is it something where he'll be able to use his polling bump to his advantage? Or will he fritter away the lead and let someone else jump in with policies and ideas?