Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives begin the campaign with a comfortable lead. Liberal Steven Del Duca and NDP Andrea Horwath fishing in the same pond. Del Duca’s mystery machine.
Alex Boutilier: Welcome to Global News’ Ontario Votes roundup, your weekly recap of all the developments – major, minor, just kind of funny – on the campaign trail as the Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives seek a second mandate at Queen’s Park.
Each week, Global’s Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello and I will try to make sense out of the week that was, parties’ strategies and how the race is developing ahead of the June 2 vote.
Since this is the first official week of the campaign, let’s set the scene. Ford’s PC’s enter the race as pretty clear frontrunners after an at-times tumultuous four-year majority mandate, ranging from the chaotic early days to the even more chaotic COVID-19 pandemic period.
But the sun is now shining, schools remain open and the patios are popping up across Ontario – and according to Ipsos polling conducted for Global News, the Tories enjoy a comfortable lead with 39 per cent of decided voters.
Steven Del Duca’s Liberals (26 per cent) and the NDP under Andrea Horwath (25 per cent) appear to be locked in a deadly struggle over who can form the official opposition. And from my relative outsider’s perspective, Colin, the first few official days of the campaign felt that way to me – that the two opposition parties are focused more on making sure the other doesn’t siphon their support, rather than making the case that Ford has to go.
You are not a relative outsider, but a consummate insider. What stood out to you about the early days of the campaign?
And this might be a rookie question but … the Ford re-election slogan is “Getting It Done.” Can you tell me what, precisely, is getting done?
Colin D’Mello: Imagine Doug Ford, donned in a hard hat, with rolled up sleeves, a hammer in hand and sweat on his brow. That the image the Progressive Conservatives want to project for their second term — a premier focused solely on building up Ontario. You’ll be hearing this on repeat for the next four weeks.
Now, onto the campaign. After all that chatter about a divisive, nasty election campaign, the first few days have been a bit of a yawn.
The attacks have been flying all over the place – Del Duca has been hitting at Ford’s record in office, Ford has been slamming both Del Duca and Horwath over highways and Horwath’s been firing back at both – but there hasn’t been a galvanizing issue coming into this campaign, which is perhaps why Ford is sitting so high in the polls.
There have, so far, been a few surprising things during week one of the election campaign:
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigning with Ford on the eve of the writs being issued. The two leaders held a joint auto manufacturing investment announcement in Windsor days before the campaign was set to begin – which must come as a demoralizing blow to Steven Del Duca and the Liberals. Del Duca insists that it was Ford who was campaigning with taxpayers money, while Trudeau was “governing.” Uh-huh.
- The aggressiveness of Andrea Horwath: The NDP have already pledged to spend $8-12 million during this election campaign and will mainly be targeting PC and Liberal seats and spending little time in incumbent ridings, and they’re putting their money where their mouths are. Horwath sped off to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s Pickering-Uxbridge riding, forcing Ford to play defence and campaign in that riding the very next day.
- The Liberal campaign van: They say a 28-day campaign is a sprint, not a marathon. The Liberals took that literally. The party rented a sprinter van that has some Liberals questioning how bad the party’s financial woes truly are.
And so as we wrap up week one, Ford stands out as the clear winner. The PCs, despite all odds, have maintained their commanding lead in the polls and haven’t shown much vulnerability to attacks.
Alex Boutilier: Given that public polling seems to suggest few voters know who Steven Del Duca is, do you think renting a van runs the risk of having it nicknamed the “Mystery Machine?”
Colin D’Mello: Alex … no …
Alex Boutilier: Tune in next week to find out of Steven and the gang can solve the mystery of Ontario’s cost of living caper and unmask the true culprit.
Global’s Coverage of the 2022 Ontario Election, Week One:
Check out Global News’ promise tracker, keeping tabs on every pledge and policy announced during the campaign. https://globalnews.ca/news/8790914/ontario-election-2022-promises/
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