Why bother voting for the Ontario Tories?

I've been following the Ontario election for the past few weeks hoping that I'll hear something, anything, that will make me enthusiastic about voting for Tim Hudak. I've got to say, it's been a tough slog.

Hudak proposes to balance Ontario's budget (which, by the way, is projected to be $25 billion in the hole this fiscal year) largely by eliminating "waste". However, he plans to INCREASE funding for education and health care (which together account for over half of the province's expenses) by some $5 billion. At the same time, he plans to extend full-day kindergarten to all Ontario schools by 2014, fill classrooms with expensive technology, increase the number of spaces at post-secondary schools by 60 000, hire more doctors and expand hospitals and home care, all while reducing taxes by 5%. This will be paid for largely by eliminating "waste and fraud" and reducing the size of the civil service. I'm sorry, but the PC economic policies just don't make sense, and there are no serious proposals for the type of sweeping structural changes that are going to be necessary to pull Ontario back from the brink.

The Ontario PCs also have an unfortunate tendency to focus on red meat law-and-order issues that frighten away centrist voters and make conservatives seem like heartless monsters. This campaign has seen Hudak promise to put prison inmates in chain gangs and make the sex offender registry publicly available on-line so that communities can take the law into their own hands "to protect their own kids". Good grief - chain gangs and vigilantes? This is a serious political party?

I was all set to vote in protest for the Freedom Party, knowing that it would probably do nothing but split the conservative vote and help the Liberals win another four years with McGuinty at the helm. Then a breath of fresh air blew in this weekend when I sat down with my morning coffee and read this in the National Post: comments from McGuinty and Hudak made in interviews with the paper's editorial board last week. Maybe Hudak gets it after all.
McGuinty: I'm no longer a Boy Scout. I know what it means to put your public muscle behind a strategic initiative like clean energy. It's up to us to decide on an opportunity, and I recognize green energy as a tremendous opportunity... Yeah, I picked a spot. I'm driving for it, hard, in an unrelenting fashion.

Hudak: This is the difference between Dalton McGuinty and I. I don't pick winners and losers. I don't think that I know best where the economy is going and I'll double-down on building a wind turbine, solar panels and casting out jobs elsewhere. I won't give out $230-million contracts to a video-game manufacturer to get a photo-op and try to look modern. I believe we have mechanisms to determine the marketplace: They're called customers. We have tremendous strengths in our province in financial services, technologies, mining, forestry, I believe there is still a future in manufacturing as well. We're not bringing back the jobs that disappeared but I think there can be broadbased job creation. I reject the notion a premier or some big thinker will know where the next jobs are from and put all our eggs in the one basket of a green-energy or affirmative-action program.
Whoa! Did Tim Hudak really say that? Maybe there's hope. Maybe we don't have to put up with another four years of Nanny McGuinty micromanaging the economy while embarking on ridiculously expensive social-engineering projects. Maybe the gross incompetence of the last eight years - Caledonia, the health care "premium", e-Health, Eco-fees, the HST, etc ad nauseam, will be rewarded with a well-deserved thrashing, and Premier McGuinty can retire to write his memoirs and be rewarded with a nice ambassadorship somewhere.