Steven Del Duca’s “leaked” memo and the Liberals’ electoral ceiling. Andrea Horwath’s last kick at the can? And most importantly: Does the Keg count as fine dining in Canada?
Alex Boutilier: Welcome to Global News’ Ontario Votes Roundup: Final Countdown edition. It’s less than a week before Ontarians have their last chance to vote in this sleepy early summertime election, and the projections from public pollsters — and, if “leaked” internal memos are to be believed, the parties themselves — suggest it remains a tight two-horse race for second place.
I say that because the Ontario Liberal war room appears to have leaked an internal polling memo to the Toronto Star, which suggests that they are in a strong position to form the Official Opposition to a likely majority government led by Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford.
If that memo is to be believed — and we have no evidence that it should not be — both the Liberals and Ontario’s New Democrats have more or less publicly acknowledged that they have little to no hope of forming a majority government themselves.
But not to be outdone, the Ontario NDP war room appears to have leaked their own internal polling memo to the Toronto Star, which suggests a late campaign surge! At a certain point, you have to wonder why the parties bother writing “CONFIDENTIAL” on these things …
That might seem rather unremarkable, given that public polling has been more or less projecting Ford More Years since before the campaign began. But I can’t recall any recent example of a party conceding that, outside some minority/coalition-ish horse trading, they are unlikely to win the election with so much time still to go.
But maybe I’m just old fashioned. Colin, are you similarly perplexed? Or better yet, can you walk us through what the parties’ strategies suggest to you?
Colin D’Mello: To be honest, I’ve been struggling to make sense of the Ontario Liberal strategy in the final stretch of the campaign. Publicly, Steven Del Duca has started talking about “stopping Doug Ford” which seems to be tacit admission that slowing the PC leader’s momentum is now the primary goal.
Internally, senior Liberal strategists tell me supporters and party stalwarts will be “very happy” with the result on election night, but are very coy about the reasons behind the optimism. What’s the baseline for this happy result? Is it the 2018 election in which the Liberals were sent to bed without their dinner? Or is it the 2014 election in which the Liberals defied expectations and formed a majority?
Either way, Liberals say there are some positive signs in home stretch. The party tells me low voter turnout during the advance polls (which close on May 29th) could be advantageous to their cause because it means voters aren’t as decided as the polls would lead us to believe. The party believes it can snipe away support from both the PCs and NDP before e-day, enough to do something. What that something is — and will it be enough — is unclear.
But as it stands right now, Del Duca’s best shot at claiming victory seems to be dethroning Andrea Horwath from her position as Leader of the Official Oppostion — barely.
Alex Boutilier: That’s all very interesting, but I think we’re dodging the question on all Canadians’ minds this week, and I want a definitive answer. Does The Keg count as fine dining in this country?
I will say this until my dying breath. The Keg is a ritzy, fancy, high-end steakhouse and it all depends on your station in life.
When I wrote that story, I approached it from the perspective of the average Ontarian. One who doesn’t make a six figure salary, lives a modest life and worries about the cost of groceries and gas.
To that person, The Keg is high-end.
To those who live in small-town Ontario, with limited dining availability, The Keg is high-end.
To my mom, who refuses to go to Hooters because it offends her religious sensibilities, The Keg is high-end.
Don’t @ me.
Alex Boutilier: Look, Swiss Chalet was a special treat when I was growing up, so I’m not going to @ you on this one. And Hooters offends me too, but not for any religious reason. The wings aren’t even that good.
But back to business: even if Ford is comfortably cruising to another majority mandate, there are some compelling questions to keep us busy in the last week of the campaign.
If recent federal experience is any guide, it’s not necessarily a slam dunk that opposition leaders get more than one kick at the electoral can. Stephane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole — none were given more than one shot to form government by their respective parties.
I assume that if Steven Del Duca materially advances his party’s position in the legislature — and it would be hard not to — he’ll have an opportunity to at least make the case he should stay at the helm.
But what about Andrea Horwath, who now appears to be staring down her fourth-straight electoral loss? While it’s still up in the air between the Liberals and NDP, there is the potential she could move from official opposition back down to third place. Can her leadership survive that?
Perhaps more pressingly for Ontarians, what does a second Ford majority look like for the province?
Colin D’Mello: For Andrea Horwath, it’s premier or bust.
Horwath has enjoyed a great deal of support within her own party, but even as the election commenced it became evident that her hold on the party was beginning to falter.
Horwath and the NDP are now engaged in a legal battle with longtime NDP MPP Paul Miller over his Facebook posts and Miller’s ejection from the party. The NDP’s Black caucus began to criticize the party’s decision to hold a nomination meeting in Brampton North, which resulted in Kevin Yarde losing the privilege of running under the orange banner. And recently, there have been some reports of growing dissatisfaction in Horwath and talk of renewal.
The election night expectation for Horwath — and I caution that there are still several days left in the campaign — is a laundry list of thank yous, followed by a resignation.
As for Ford, much of his second term success will depend on who will continue to advise him going forward.
It was shortly after Ford’s cabinet decided to close playgrounds and give police new powers during the third wave of COVID-19 that two key strategists, lobbyist Kory Teneycke and pollster Nick Kouvalis, basically took over the reins of government before they transitioned onto his campaign team.
The two have largely been credited with righting the ship and shaping Ford’s redemption story.
But what happens when they return to their respective practices and when pandemic weary staff decide to pursue other positions outside government? How does Ford replace key stabilizing forces within his cabinet such as Rod Phillips and Christine Elliott? And who keeps Ford from falling back into old habits?
That will determine what a potential second term will look like.
Alex Boutilier: And with that, dear readers, we close our last pre-election Ontario Votes Roundup. Watch this space next week as Colin and I dig through the entrails of Thursday’s election — the surprises, the many more non-surprises, and what it all means for the rest of us. Until then: see you at The Keg.
Global's Coverage of the 2022 Ontario election, Week Four:
Check out Global News’ promise tracker, keeping tabs on every pledge and policy announced during the campaign.
Doug Ford and the PCs maintain tight grip on Ontario election race: Ipsos poll
With less than two weeks until polling day, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford continues to hold a commanding lead over his rivals. (Isaac Callan)
45% of voters believe Doug Ford, PCs will win Ontario election: Ipsos poll
Nearly half of Ontario voters believe Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives will win the provincial election next week, a new poll has found. (Hannah Jackson)
‘Legitimate political expenses’: Del Duca defends riding association dinners
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is defending his use of riding association funds to pay for thousands of dollars in expensive dinners while he served as a cabinet minister, claiming they were used for “legitimate political expenses.” (Colin D’Mello)
Ontario Green Party targets Doug Ford’s pandemic response in bid to flip seats
Ontario’s Green Party is tapping into COVID-19 frustration as it hopes to gain an edge over the Progressive Conservatives in Parry Sound-Muskoka and double the party’s seat count in the provincial legislature. (Colin D’Mello)
Ontario Liberal candidate withdraws, party three short of a full slate
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says Audrey Festeryga has withdrawn her candidacy in Chatham-Kent-Leamington and will no longer appear on the ballot for the Liberals. The development means there are now three ridings in which the Liberals aren’t running a candidate for the June 2 provincial election. (The Canadian Press)
Doug Ford campaigns on handyman brand after tumultuous 1st term, pandemic ‘growth’
“Doug Ford is a builder,” a moderator read out to the audience of a recent Ontario election debate that asked leaders of the three main parties to submit biographies of themselves. (The Canadian Press)
A determined Andrea Horwath takes on her 4th and maybe final fight as Ontario NDP leader
She is days away from contesting her fourth — and widely expected to be last — election as NDP leader. With her party trailing in the polls, her possible final attempt at becoming premier may not turn out how she had hoped, but it won’t be for lack of trying. (The Canadian Press)
3 Ontario political parties pledge to end for-profit long-term care
The COVID-19 pandemic cast a spotlight on long-term care and showed that private corporations should not be in the business of elder care, say three of Ontario’s four major political parties, who pledge to remove for-profit care from the system.
Ontario leaders promise to repeal public sector wage cap increase legislation
Three Ontario political parties are promising to repeal legislation that has capped public sector wage increases for workers such as teachers and nurses since 2019. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the controversial legislation known as Bill 124 is disrespectful.