As we enter the home stretch of the 2022 Ontario provincial election, we can look back on the activities of the Leader’s and their parties and we can look forward to election day, one week from today.
It’s safe to say that it has been a very quiet affair, in fact, some might argue it’s hardly been noticeable. Do most people know there’s an election coming up – probably. Do they know what the key issues are? Maybe. Do they know the Leaders of the main parties? Well, this is probably where the differences truly arise.
Doug Ford has been in office for 4 straight years, most of which was dominated by a worldwide pandemic. For the first 20 months he governed in the typical way, reaching out to Ontarians with a focus on the issues he spoke to in the 2018 election. But that changed in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and to reassure Ontarians he did a daily news conference for 18 months. Everyone in the province, and more than likely the country, learned who Doug Ford was. Their opinions varied, but he was a very well-known commodity.
Andrea Horwath was the Leader of the Official Opposition, but largely ineffective in the role. Her focus in Question Period rarely gained media attention and when the House rose for extended periods, she was often missing-in-action, leaving her party’s commentary to a variety of unknown backbenchers.
The Liberals were in a mess following their complete wipeout in the 2018 election where voters clearly showed they were fed up and wanted change. A leadership process elected Steven Del Duca as Leader just days before the pandemic hit and the world shut-down. He was a former member in the Legislature swept out in 2018 and as such had virtually no platform to speak to the issues. His style also proved to be ineffective.
So, jump ahead to today and these characteristics of the 3 main Leaders have basically continued throughout the election.
Without a single compelling issue, Del Duca and Horwath are battling for attention with a series of announcements designed to be publicly popular to the average citizen, but with limited costing or long-range planning. In some cases, they are attacking Ford’s spending proposals in order to get provincial attention while the issue is tops to the regional voter. Case in point is the building of Highway 413. In other cases, such as promising province-wide $Buck-a-ride for transit for 2 years, there seems to be some doubt either in the validity of the proposition or of what happens when the promise ends.
Ford’s greatest asset today is that people know him. They know what he stands for and polling has showed they think he would make the best Premier of the three Leaders. So, he has taken the frontrunner’s strategy and run. Appearing only sparingly and keeping to a well-drafted script. He has avoided the media for significant periods of time which annoys no one – except the media.
And so, as the election enters the final days, the polls have been consistent throughout the campaign with very minimal movement by any Leader. The vote is solidifying. A re-elected PC government is all but guaranteed, pointing to a majority again – the only real questions left to be answered are how big will the majority be and who will be the Official Opposition. This is good news for Ford, but not so much for the others.
In the final days, Ford will be hosting large rallies designed to show momentum. Del Duca and Horwath will be trying to get attention in any way they can.
The election’s not over yet…..but it is.