TORONTO – Tom Mulcair has jumped the starting gun for this fall’s election, hitting the campaign trail in the crucial battleground of Ontario.
The NDP leader launched an eight-day tour today in Toronto, which is designed to showcase his team, his policies and his party’s momentum in the province.
Mulcair promised to take his party’s message to middle-class families across the province, saying a stronger middle class and a stronger economy “is just one election away.”
Ontario accounts for more than one third of 338 seats that will be up for grabs on Oct. 19.
Mulcair’s tour will target ridings the NDP says it believes it can steal away from the ruling Conservatives.
There’ll be no campaign plane or bus; but apart from that, the tour has all the appearance of a full-on election campaign: two events each day, rounds of local media interviews, capped almost every evening by partisan rallies.
The tour will take Mulcair to more than a dozen Ontario cities.
“It’s definitely an opportunity for us to stress-test our campaign and to make the case that there is a choice,” says Anne McGrath, the NDP campaign director.
“What we’re trying to tell people is … if you want to make a change, we have the leader, the plan and the team.”
Mulcair spoke in Toronto about his proposed national childcare plan and his promise to reduce the small business tax rate to nine per cent, down from 11 per cent.
He is also expected to talk up some of the policies he’s been rolling out over the past year on agriculture, infrastructure and public transit.
And he’ll be showcasing some of the candidates the NDP hopes will knock off Conservative incumbents, including former provincial NDP leader Howard Hampton, who’s taking on Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford in Kenora.
Others include city councillor Diane Freeman, who’s taking on Tory MP Peter Braid in Waterloo, pastor Alex Wilson, who’s gunning for Tory MP Roxanne James in Scarborough Centre and teacher Mary Fowler, who’ll try to unseat Tory MP Colin Carrie in Oshawa.