Last Week’s Highlights

  • Following a campaign re-launch that failed to achieve lift-off, and virtually no positive movement in the polls, Kathleen Wynne made the unprecedented move of conceding that there was no foreseeable way for her party to win the election.
  • Acknowledging that she would no longer be Premier after Election Day, Wynne urged voters to elect as many Liberals as possible to prevent a PC or NDP majority government on June 7th.
  • The move came with less than a week until Election Day and all polls suggesting the campaign has officially turned into a two-way race between Doug Ford’s PCs and Andrea Horwath’s NDP, with both parties now in striking distance of achieving at least a minority government.
  • Most polls show the NDP with a narrow popular vote lead, but prognosticators are consistently giving the edge to the PCs, who appear likely to earn the most seats if the vote is evenly split. Depending on how the vote breaks down by riding, it may be enough for Doug Ford to secure a majority government.
  • Whether Wynne’s unorthodox move has the intended effect of protecting the few potentially winnable Liberal ridings (and whether voters want to give Liberals the balance of power in a minority government) remains to be seen. If the Liberal strategy falls flat, the NDP will most likely benefit.
  • The NDP momentum shows little sign of flagging, with Andrea Horwath and her party winning the endorsement of the Toronto Star’s editorial board.
  • This comes after a bumpy week for the NDP campaign, with greater scrutiny of some NDP candidates, such as Brampton East candidate Gurratan Singh, University-Rosedale candidate Jessica Bell, and Toronto-St. Paul’s candidate Jill Andrew stealing headlines for much of the week.
  • While some reporters haven’t been too fond of Horwath’s responses to her candidates’ past actions, the polls have yet to reflect similar voter discontentment. With some PC candidates facing their own controversies, voters appear to be tuning it all out as political noise.
  • The PCs continue to hold strong and steady. They secured their own editorial endorsements this week from both the Toronto Sun and the National Post.
  • The PCs released a compilation of their campaign promises on their website last Wednesday to deliver on their longstanding commitment to provide a platform document before Election Day. The “platform” they released ultimately raised more questions than it answered, as it included price tags for some items, but no mention of how the Tories would pay for their promises.
  • The PC campaign spent less time on its platform and more time on its team this week, flanking Ford with impressive Tory candidates at several announcements.
  • The campaign reminded voters that a slate of qualified candidates – like former leadership rivals Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott – would likely join Ford at Queen’s Park. Ford focused his line of attack on the NDP, contrasting his deep bench strength against their “radical” candidates.
  • The past week turned up a wild card for the Ontario election: US President Donald Trump. The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it plans to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
  • Wynne and Horwath immediately came out against the decision, noting the difficulty tariffs would pose for Ontario’s steel industry and workers. Ford also denounced the decision, but his opponents were quick to point out his previous comments of unwavering support for the American President.
  • Green Party leader Mike Schreiner appears on the verge of winning in Guelph, even though he was denied the opportunity to participate in televised leaders’ debates. A win here would make history for the Green Party, which has yet to win a single seat in any Ontario election – and ensures that the Greens will have a podium at the next leaders’ debate.
  • Advanced polling is now over, and all parties are working overtime to get their people out to the polls on Election Day. While Elections Ontario is reporting higher levels of advanced voting than last election, research shows decreased voter turnout overall in recent provincial elections, and the delayed delivery of half a million voter cards could be cause for concern. Ford and Horwath are virtually neck-and-neck, so turnout could be the linchpin for either leader’s victory.

Counsel’s Take

NDP
  • With the Liberals recognizing they cannot win this election, and with the NDP neck-and-neck with the PCs, Andrea Horwath and her team are working flat out to attract as many former Liberal voters in every corner of the province to support the NDP in order to beat Doug Ford.
  • Horwath’s message to these Liberals will be that it’s not good enough to hold Doug Ford to account after election day, he needs to be defeated on Election Day. Her closing message is that “no matter where you live, no matter who you voted for in the last election, only by voting NDP in this election can Ford be beaten.” The last flourish of polls over the next 48 hours will show us how receptive Liberals are to that message.
  • So far, public polling shows that more Liberal voters have the NDP as their second choice and that more Liberals prefer an NDP government over a PC one. Horwath’s message to those voters will be: if you want to keep investments in health and education strong AND stop Doug Ford, then join us.
  • In the final days of the campaign, look for Horwath to barnstorm ridings that the NDP should win with the support of just a few more Liberal switchers.

Brad Lavigne
Principal and VP
Senior NDP Campaign Advisor

PCs
  • It was a strong week on the campaign trail for the PC leader. Without the litany of candidate controversies that dogged the campaign in the preceding week, Ford was able to showcase support from the strongest members of the PC team, including Christine Elliot, Caroline Mulroney, Steve Clark, Rod Phillips, and Lisa MacLeod. By week’s end he had also received public endorsements from the National Post and former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman.
  • As Election Day approaches, Ford has kept his focus on driving home campaign messages about reducing small business tax rates, hydro rates, and other pocketbook issues that PC voters can count on under a Ford Premiership.
  • Notwithstanding a limited platform release without full costing, Ford has managed to stay neck-and-neck with the NDP in the polls, a reality which supports the notion that detailed issues or agenda matters are not what matter most for voters in this election.
  • As the polls have remained tight heading into the final stretch, Ford and his team have also kept up their attacks on the NDP, emphasizing the “radical” nature of the party in its current form. It’s a line of attack that’s focused most on one thing – getting PC voters out to the polls.
  • Whether the intended effect of Wynne’s concession to prevent a PC majority is effective remains to be seen.

Caroline Pinto
Managing Principal

Liberals
  • Saturday’s extraordinary spectacle of Premier Kathleen Wynne calling a press conference to announce that she cannot win the election, while asking voters to support local Liberal candidates to stop a PC or NDP majority, says it all about the Liberal campaign.
  • There is no hope for even modest success, much less victory – it is all about trying to save a handful of seats. Even official party status in the Legislature (eight seats) may be a stretch goal.
  • The gamble is that with the unpopular Premier taking herself “off the table”, Liberal sympathisers may feel free to support a locally-respected Liberal candidate. Combined with attacks on both opponents – including controversial ethnic language ads about Doug Ford’s alleged history as a drug dealer – it is a last ditch strategy.
  • The best-case outcome for the Liberals would be salvaging a few critically-needed seats. The risk is that the Hail Mary pass could be intercepted, with Andrea Horwath enlisting progressive voters who may now feel free to vote NDP as the only option to stop Doug Ford.
  • Thursday’s results will determine whether the Liberals emerge with a Kim Campbell-style near wipeout or a vastly diminished but still viable legislative presence.

Philip Dewan
President

Horse Race – Most Recent Polls

 

 

Quotes of the Week

“On June 7th, voters will elect a new government. I don’t know who voters will choose but I am pretty sure that it won’t be me. After Thursday, I will no longer be Ontario’s Premier. And I’m okay with that.”

June 2, 2018
Kathleen Wynne, Liberal Party Leader
While making her unprecedented concession speech admitting her party won’t win the election.

 

“I’m on a fruit farm here…if you want to compare apples and peaches, it’s night and day.”

May 30, 2018
Doug Ford, PC Party Leader
Dismissing the PCs’ various candidate scandals compared with those of the NDP while at a campaign event on a farm in Sarnia.

 

“People sometimes do quote-unquote ‘radical things’ to get the attention of decision makers.”

May 31, 2018
Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader
In response to a question about University-Rosedale candidate Jessica Bell, who was once arrested for participating in a mercury contamination protest.

 

The Lighter Side

  • As many fun-loving Americans are apt to do around Super Bowl season, members of the Queen’s Park gallery have started their very own Ontario election edition of the Puppy Bowl. Meet the contenders below.
    • PCs: Snoopy
    • NDP: Shadow and Tank
    • Liberals: Vacant (perhaps understandable, given Kathleen Wynne’s pre-election concession over the weekend)
  • In what made for a noteworthy photo op, former Liberal Premier David Peterson paid a surprise visit to NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on the campaign trail last week. Peterson, who sits on the board of the Stratford Festival, just happened to be walking by when he spotted the NDP leader’s campaign bus during its Stratford campaign stop. As for whether the former Premier had any advice for the NDP frontrunner, he harkened back to the Liberal campaigns of 1985 and 1990, noting: “I have won going in 20 points behind and I’ve lost 20 points ahead.”
  • As the CBC put it in their campaign coverage, Doug Ford learned an important lesson in provincial politics last week – when it comes to seniors, you’d best be on time. While late arrivals are par for the course on the campaign trail, a memorable moment ensued last Tuesday when an elderly man in the audience at a retirement home in Port Colborne shouted “You’re late!” at the PC leader when he showed up 45 minutes behind schedule for a campaign speech – not once, but twice.