Highlights of the Week

  • The Ontario 2018 election campaign officially got underway on Wednesday, May 7.
  • NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is off to a strong start, with impressive debate performances, rising poll numbers, and a key endorsement from ETFO, Ontario’s largest teachers’ union.
  • In the first debate, the Premier was squarely on the defensive, and Andrea Horwath found her opening to cast the sparring PC and Liberal leaders as “bad and worse.” The second debate saw Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath go toe-to-toe over who was the better option for change.
  • Sensing budding NDP momentum, PC Leader Doug Ford shifted his attention away from Wynne and toward Horwath in the second debate, held in front of a group of northern municipal representatives in Parry Sound: “Andrea will claim that she will fight for the North today… but will head to Toronto and huddle with… radical special interests who would destroy Northern Ontario’s resource sector.”
  • The PC Leader delivered a steady week for his campaign, stamping out candidate brush-fires while highlighting his plans to cut taxes for Ontario’s middle class. This was counterbalanced by his opponents, who tried to make hay of his comments that the North should “take care of its own” before looking to bolster immigration.
  • Liberal Leader and Premier Kathleen Wynne, trying to break through the media noise, announced a plan to hire 3,500 new nurses if re-elected – a new promise not included in the commitment-heavy pre-election budget.
  • Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa came out swinging Monday morning by attacking the NDP platform’s finances, claiming there are “sizable” mistakes in the 97-page document that would result in the NDP being forced to make $3 billion in cuts.
  • The NDP rejected the accusation and challenged the Liberals’ credibility on numbers.


Counsel’s Take

  • Doug Ford is going full steam ahead, making major platform announcements including a 20% tax cut for the middle class, $5 billion in new subway funding for Toronto, and 30,000 new long-term care beds for seniors.
  • He delivered a solid performance in the second (northern) debate, improving on his performance in the first, where he struggled to effectively respond to Wynne and Horwath’s attacks and questions about PC-led cuts.
  • Heading into the second debate on Friday, and in reaction to the tightening polls, Ford pivoted his attention, taking aim at the NDP.
  • Ford’s messages continue to resonate with voters despite attacks from both sides, as the PCs continue to enjoy a strong lead in the polls. But with the NDP support building, he cannot afford to get too comfortable.

Caroline Pinto
Managing Principal

  • Kathleen Wynne showed her steel and knowledge in two debate performances, fending off attacks from both flanks – and paternalistic “nice smile” comments from Doug Ford.
  • Wynne and the Liberal team jumped on Ford’s anti-immigrant view that we should “take care of our own first,” pointing out the huge contributions of newcomers to Ontario and the need for population growth in the North, where Ford made the comment.
  • In a tooth-and-nail battle with the NDP for current second place – critical to attracting “anyone-but-Ford” voters – the Premier committed to hiring 3,500 new nurses.
  • The challenge will be getting skeptical voters to pay attention. The Premier will need to land some punches with her opponents, and rally those centre-left voters to her side in the coming weeks.

Philip Dewan

  • This is a change election. The question Andrea Horwath and the NDP want voters to ask is, what kind of change?
  • With the Ontario NDP starting this campaign with momentum, Andrea Horwath is focused on contrasting her offer with Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs, who despite promises, have yet to table a fully-costed platform.
  • Horwath gained the most from both debates with her grasp of the issues and personable approach. Her focus on measures to make life more affordable is breaking through the clutter and seems to be giving voters both the change they want and measures that make their lives better.
  • Horwath and the NDP had a great week – the challenge is that she’s now a target early on in the campaign, with several weeks to go.

Brad Lavigne
Principal and VP
Senior NDP Campaign Advisor


Horse Race – Most Recent Polls


Quotes of the Week

“I truly believe you [Kathleen Wynne] got into politics for the right reasons. When did you lose your way?”

First Leaders Debate, May 8, 2018

– Doug Ford
Leader, Ontario PC Party

“I just turned away because I’m not sure what my smile has got to do with making good policy for the North or anywhere else in the province.”

In response to Ford’s comment about her smile during the second debate in Parry Sound.


– Hon. Kathleen Wynne
Leader, Ontario Liberal Party

“[Mike Harris and Tim Hudak] were very up front about what their cuts were going to look like. They were honest about it. And I want to know, why don’t you [Doug Ford] have the guts to tell people what your cuts are going to look like? What is in store?”

First Leaders Debate, May 8, 2018

– Andrea Horwath
Leader, Ontario NDP


The Lighter Side

On a more unusual note…babysitting. We may not know who Ontarians will cast their ballots for yet, but Abacus Data has a surefire winner for this critical question: Who would you prefer to babysit your kids? The winner? Andrea Horwath with a whopping 68%.