Ontario NDP lays out election strategy ahead of writ

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath makes an announcement during a rally in Toronto on Sunday, April 3, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario’s NDP is planning to spend up to $13 million during the upcoming election campaign, in the hopes of forming the first New Democratic government in more than two decades.

The party laid out its campaign strategy ahead of the writ being issued next week and signalled an aggressive effort to convince voters to switch parties, including campaign stops in non-NDP ridings, advertising and deploying volunteers in the field to get voters to the polls.

“This is our election,” said Michael Balagus, who serves as the campaign manager. “We are not in it for second.”

The NDP revealed the first line of attack on Wednesday, releasing a pair of commercials that both highlight the records of the former Liberal and current Progressive Conservative governments, while positioning NDP Leader Andrea Horwath as the best choice for premier.

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“I’m running for premier to work for you,” Horwath says in one advertisement released.

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While Horwath will be running for her fourth election as NDP leader, Balagus said what’s different this election is the wealth of resources at the party’s disposal — from financing to volunteers.

“We’re going to put more resources behind her than she’s ever had before,” Balagus said.

Click to play video: 'Ontario NDP unveil election platform, focusing on affordability and healthcare'
Ontario NDP unveil election platform, focusing on affordability and healthcare

The NDP, however, faces a number of challenges as the party attempts to vault itself from official Opposition and into the government benches.

Recent polls suggest the Ontario Liberals have benefited from weakening Progressive Conservative support and, at 23 per cent, the NDP is far below its 2018 share of the popular vote, which stood at 33.5 per cent.

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The party image has also suffered in the minds of Ontario voters who ousted Bob Rae from office when he led the province’s only New Democratic government from 1990 to 1995.

Balagus challenged the connection and said the party has come a long way since the Rae days.

“Andrea Horwath is not Bob Rae and today’s NDP is not the NDP of the 1990s,” Balagus said.

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