Canada election: Did Doug Ford laying low work for Andrew Scheer?

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Doug Ford’s impact on the Canada election
WATCH ABOVE: As the dust settles on the 2019 federal election campaign, pundits and pollsters consider the impact of Premier Doug Ford. Travis Dhanraj reports – Oct 22, 2019

A day after the federal election with the dust still settling, Ontario Premier Doug Ford resurfaced with an announcement of more money to fight crime across the province.

Ford made the announcement of $6 million over three years away from reporters and cameras.

“When we invest in our men and women in uniform, we get results,” Ford said in a statement.

The media have had limited access to the premier since the election campaign began. Ford was available twice to the Queen’s Park press gallery over the past several weeks, and both times were a great distance from Queen’s Park.

One appearance was in North Bay during the International Plowing Match and the second was last week in Kenora, located nearly 20 hours driving distance from the legislature.

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The question political pundits and pollsters have been chewing over is whether or not Ford’s noticeable absence had an impact on the campaign.

“I can’t imagine that having the premier allegedly lay low for a couple of weeks had much of an impact one way or another,” Sean Simpson with IPSOS Canada said on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Results from the federal election

However, Simpson said a poll done for Global News on election day of 10,000 people showed a slim majority of Ontario residents said Ford as premier “had at least some impact on their vote.”

“Some of those are conservatives more likely to vote as a result of Doug Ford. Of course others are supporters of the Liberals and the NDP maybe voting against,” he said.

While most GTA ridings did not change parties, Milton did. Long-time conservative MP and former Harper cabinet Minister Lisa Raitt was unseated by the Liberal candidate and Olympian Adam van Koeverden.

When asked Monday night if she believed Ford’s negative approval ratings had an impact, Raitt said she didn’t know.

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“I think what me and our team will do is we will look at the polls and see where we did well and where we didn’t do well, and see if that’s going to help us translate into what happened,” she said.

A spokesperson for Ford said he called Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Tuesday to offer congratulations on his re-election.

“They discussed shared goals for the province and agreed to work collaboratively to move important projects forward,” Ivana Yelich, Ford’s press secretary, said.

Ford later issued a statement and said the provincial and federal governments need to work with municipalities to build “hospital infrastructure, create long-term care beds for our aging population, address gridlock and congestion on our roads and to build affordable housing for young people and families.”

“The Premier thanked the Prime Minister for his support of the Ontario Line and his recognition of this important project that will help end gridlock and get people moving across the Greater Toronto Area.”

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Yelich added the two leaders committed to sitting down in person soon, however no date was given.

Political science professor Nelson Wiseman with the University of Toronto said the so-called “Ford Factor” was real, adding he believes both leaders can now move past the mud slinging.

“There will be tensions, but relations will go on between Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill.” Wiseman said, referencing political history.

“Mike Harris and Jean Chretien couldn’t stand each other either, yet they met and often appeared together on the same platform and I expect that is going to happen with Trudeau and Ford.”

When asked about the strategy of staying out of Ford staying out of the public eye, Wiseman called it “self-muzzling.”

“I think the federal conservatives asked him to stay away. Remember we had Andrew Scheer here in Ontario campaigning with the premier of another province Jason Kenney, but where was Doug Ford- nowhere to be seen,” he said.

Some, including former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, suggested Ford should have been a larger part of federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s campaign — an assessment Wiseman disagreed.

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“My feeling is that Bob Rae is wrong about that,” he said.

“Actually bringing out Ford would have provoked, I think. The Liberals would have had an easy time provoking him.”

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