Ontario election: Boots on the ground win the war

Ontario Premier and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne addresses supporters in Stratford, Ontario on Monday June 9, 2014, . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

What military minds have accepted as truth is also a fundamental law of election campaigns: the only way to win is to come down to the trenches and get dirty on the front line.

This is why Premier Kathleen Wynne is doing her best impersonation of Henry V giving a tough pre-battle pep talk to volunteers and supporters in the waning days of the campaign.

“This election is not close. This election is a tie,” she told red shirted Liberals during a campaign stop in Napanee.

Earlier in Kingston she warned that a Tim Hudak government was a very real possibility. The Liberal playbook always includes an appeal to NDP voters to switch to stop the big bad party on the right, but this election is different since a handful of NDP votes in a handful of key ridings could determine the outcome.

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“God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour,” Henry V told his soldiers on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt.  Wynne, although not exactly Shakespearean in her pitch, says Tim Hudak’s plan would be dangerous for kids.

There is honour in fighting such an adversary, and there is no shame in changing the colour of your banner from orange to red to defeat him is her argument.

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With weeks of campaigning in the rear view mirror, all parties know at this point it comes down to who makes the trek to the polling booth. If advance polling numbers are any indication, there could be fewer Ontarians than ever marking an X in this electoral battle.

Read More: Here’s the list of challenges the incoming premier will have to deal with.

Conventional wisdom is, both factors give the Liberals an edge: the Grits have more money, more volunteers and more of everything required to get the vote out.

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Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, centre, and Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak speak after taking part in the Ontario provincial leaders debate in Toronto, Tuesday June 3, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/POOL-Mark Blinch

But that is meaningless when the electorate is annoyed and demanding change but Wynne has been effective in presenting herself as an agent of change, despite leading a party in power for eleven years.

As for low turnout, that usually favours the incumbent.

What about the anger? The billion wasted?

“If the gas plants were that important to voters we wouldn’t even be in this thing,” a senior Liberal campaign official told me.

In Depth: Ontario Election 2014

But the Liberals are in this thing.  Henry V tells his happy few, his band of brothers, “He that outlives this day, will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d”.

Wynne is not promising victory, but rather glory in the defeat of a common enemy for the left.

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