Liberal candidates in Ottawa representing typically safe ridings for the party are, in the final days of the election campaign, pushing out flyers, signs and internal polls urging residents to vote for them to prevent PC Leader Doug Ford from sealing a majority government.
Nathalie Des Rosiers, the Liberal incumbent in Ottawa-Vanier — a longtime Liberal fortress — suggested to voters in a recently-distributed flyer that casting their ballots for the NDP would be the same as “a vote for Doug Ford.”
The flyer from the Des Rosiers campaign also says a recent survey conducted between May 24 and 26 shows “a two-way race” between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in Ottawa-Vanier. (It does not mention the number of respondents.)
The flyers were distributed just days after Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne conceded her party wouldn’t win the election — but still asked voters to send their local Liberal candidates to Queen’s Park to avoid handing the PCs or New Democrats a majority government. Some Liberal candidates in Ottawa appear to be running with that message.
Des Rosiers said the flyer, in some ways, was a response to “many questions” and “hesitancy” over whether to vote Liberal or NDP that her campaign faced while door-knocking. She said the purpose of the flyers was to “explain the consequences of splitting the vote.”
“When you have progressive voters who are asking, ‘What should I do?’ … we’re simply telling them, in the particular context of Ottawa-Vanier, if you’re voting for the Greens or the NDP, they can still want to do that, but they should know that one consequence is it gives more of a possibility of electing a Conservative MPP,” said Des Rosiers, who has represented the riding since winning a byelection in November 2016.
Lyra Evans, the NDP candidate for Ottawa-Vanier, disputed the claim that casting a ballot for her party would split the progressive vote, suggesting the Liberal campaign is underestimating growing support for the New Democrats in the riding.
Evans said she thinks the messaging in the flyer reflects a “last-ditch” effort by “somebody trying to desperately hold onto her seat.”
The NDP, however, in another riding, have peddled the same sort of message. Aggie Mlynarz, the NDP candidate for Guelph, recently suggested a vote for Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner would contribute to electing a Ford majority in the provincial legislature.
Back in Ottawa, John Fraser, the Liberal incumbent for Ottawa South, also put up campaign signs calling on voters to “STOP Doug Ford” and “VOTE John Fraser.”
The signs, unusually, do not bear any trace of the Liberal party name or colours; some are either yellow with black, block letters, while others are black with white lettering.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Fraser said Ottawa South has historically “always been a battle between (the Liberals) and (the Progressive Conservatives)” and voters shouldn’t believe “the hype” — presumably, word of high NDP support suggested by recent polls.
The signs are “a call to action to those voters in Ottawa South who don’t want to see Doug Ford in the premier’s chair,” Fraser told CBC News.
Fraser, also on Wednesday tweeted the results of what he said was a recent poll conducted in his riding, which showed his PC rival, Karin Howard, in the lead.
Fraser has represented the riding of Ottawa South since 2013. He first won the seat in a byelection and was re-elected in 2014. The riding has gone Liberal since 1987.
Ontarians head to the polls on June 7.