Authored by: Sadaf Abbasi and Amanda DeYoung
All four major party leaders have had close to four weeks to define why they are best fit for the top job in Ontario. Now, with less than a week to election day, each leader has just a few days left to capture voter attention and gain their confidence. Here is an overview of where the leaders have been and what they have been doing and saying to secure your vote.
The PCs and Doug Ford
The PCs and Doug Ford have been well positioned since the beginning of the election campaign. During the last few weeks, we have seen a leader who has remained calm, maintained his party’s messaging, and has once again related best to voters across the province. According to a poll by Nanos Research conducted by The Globe and Mail, Doug Ford has proven to be the top choice on pocketbook issues this election. Polling as the most trusted party to make Ontario more affordable and best to manage economic recovery post pandemic, it is very likely we could see a PC majority government elected on June 2.
In the past week, Doug Ford has spent time campaigning in the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge where Michael Tibollo is up for re-election. Aiming to win this riding a second time, he is up against Liberal leader Steven Del Duca this election, making it a must-watch seat on election night. The PCs are also hoping to gain new seats in the Hamilton area, with the Premier hosting a rally in the Flamborough—Glanbrook riding.
Liberals and Steven Del Duca
Because Steven Del Duca won the Liberal leadership race right at the start of the pandemic, the election campaign has been the first real opportunity for Ontarians to get to know him as the party leader. Acknowledging this, Del Duca spent the first few weeks of the campaign introducing himself and his family – trying his best to relate to voters. Focusing on the areas where Ontario was hit hardest during the pandemic, Del Duca has campaigned on revitalizing Ontario’s healthcare system, pledging to provide greater supports for home care, and long-term care. Worried about the future of our workforce, Del Duca also presented proposals to strengthen Ontario’s education system – the most notable being his plan to bring back Grade 13 to rebalance the learning gaps created by the pandemic.
Recently, Del Duca campaigned in the Beaches—East York, currently an NDP riding, to support former city Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon as she is in a close race with the new NDP candidate Kate Dupuis. Del Duca also stopped in another NDP held riding in Parkdale—High Park and the PC-held riding of York—Centre. At each stop, he has pitched himself as the only alternative to Doug Ford, reiterating “the only way to stop Ford is to vote Liberal.”
The NDP and Andrea Horwath
Andrea Horwath’s in-person campaign stops halted after contracting COVID-19. Now fully recovered, she is spending the last leg of the campaign advocating for the NDP’s plan to end hallway medicine and strengthen Ontario’s healthcare system. In the past week, Horwath has also focused on the environment and their pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, financed by a cap-and-trade-system.
With polling suggesting the NDPs will lose a few of their seats in Hamilton, a city with historically strong NDP support and home to Horwath’s riding, many observers are speculating that this will be her final fight as NDP leader.
Mike Schreiner and Ontario Green Party
Over the course of the election campaign, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner has built himself up as a likeable and down-to-earth politician. He has spent a significant amount of time canvassing in Guelph, the riding he currently holds, and the riding most likely to elect a green member of provincial parliament. He has also spent a significant amount of time in Parry Sound—Muskoka as without a Liberal candidate to compete against, there is likelihood that this riding will turn Green. Schreiner’s key motivation is to tackle climate change, with key commitments including halving climate pollution by 2030 and protecting “30 per cent of Ontario lands and water.”
The Green Party is also proposing $2 billion in annual funding to help municipalities build “climate ready infrastructure.” While, like Horwath, Schreiner was stuck in isolation after contracting COVID-19 in the middle of the election campaign, he has fully recovered and is committed to using this last week to prove to Ontarians that the Ontario Greens are a viable party.
As we head into the final week of the election, we should expect to see campaigns spending the majority of their time in their home ridings and the Greater Toronto Area. Advance polls will remain open until May 28th, with election day held on Thursday June 2nd. While polling can tell a campaign’s story, it often does not predict the results. Anything can happen between now and June 2, with no leader going down without a fight.
You can find further information on how to vote and your voting location at Elections Ontario. The Sussex team will provide a post-election analysis on what to expect next as we learn the results of the election and who will form government.