Ontario Election – Off to the Races

Last week Ontario Budget 2022 was introduced by the Ford Government just prior to the dissolution of the House and the subsequent calling of the 43rd provincial election for Thursday June 2nd. This week, the race has officially begun and the Party leaders are out on the hustings, spreading their messages.

So now that the election campaign is underway, where do things stand and what can we expect.

A CTV/Nanos poll published yesterday, like most polls that have been released this week, indicates that the PC’s are starting with a 7-point lead with 36.9% of the vote compared to 30.4% for the Liberals. The NDP trail with only 23.7% of the voters. Also of note, is the relatively low support for all leaders when it comes to being the best Premier. It is most troubling for Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca where only 17% of voters think he would be the best Premier or a whopping 83% think someone else could do the job better. That’s a tough hill to climb as he tries to regain the liberal position in the Legislature. Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath are only slightly better at 30% and 23% respectively.

Other polls have expanded on these themes. In today’s Leger/Postmedia poll, 45% of voters believe Doug Ford will be re-elected. Troubling to the other parties is that at 28%, “I don’t know” came second ahead of Del Duca in third place at 15% and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath trailing at 12%.

So what does this mean?

It means that the election will matter. These early days will be important for all three leaders to try and set the standard – to have the others commenting on their agenda, their events, their policies. And although this is only Day 2 on the official calendar, Del Duca and Ford seem to be off to a decent start. Horwath, on the other hand, seems focused on the other two.

Going forward Ford has to maintain his front-runner position by re-announcing his commitments and avoiding mistakes. Get It Done by getting Ontario moving is his key theme indicated by the many transportation announcements recently. Look for Ford to spend most of his time in the vote-rich GTA where transportation systems are a key issue.

The voters seem to have decided that Horwath and the NDP are old news and offer very few new thoughts – after four elections, what can she possibly say to be different.

The Liberals are presenting a new look with a new leader. And while most think Del Duca has an image problem, he is making bold announcements that are grabbing some attention and engaging coffee shop discussion. Today it was capping school class sizes at 20 students and yesterday it was $1 transit fares across the province. While these are certainly appealing, when you peel back the onion, there are a lot of unanswered questions, especially around costing and timelines.

The campaign is in its very early days so look for expanded discussion of the issues, especially on the main areas of concern. Recent polls identify these issues as: health care; cost of living and inflation; housing; and economy and jobs. Surprisingly, environment, education and debt/deficit reduction trail the pack with less than 10% voter identification each.

Campaigns matter. In 2022, all the major parties have something to gain and they all have very different leaders to lead and promote their cause.

Only 27 days to Election Day.

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