In the final days of the Ontario election campaign the leaders looking to replace Doug Ford as premier are blanketing key ridings with new advertising and sharpening their attacks against the incumbent government in the hopes of shaking up the results on election night.
The Ontario NDP revealed its “final arguments” to voters in a new TV and digital commercial designed to syphon votes from both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives by highlighting each party’s record on health care.
“The NDP will stop the cuts, fix health and seniors care and save families thousands,” the ad claims.
The party said it plans to spend more than $208,000 to target four ridings with pro-NDP commercials – including Mississauga—Malton, Mississauga—Streetsville, Brampton North and Vaughan—Woodbridge – a 940 per cent increase from what the party spent in those same ridings during the 2018 campaign.
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca took more direct aim at Ford’s performance as premier, repeating a claim that the PC leader is unsuited to lead.
“We know there is one individual who is not competent to lead this province and we know that because of how he’s performed over the past four years — before COVID and during COVID,” Del Duca said during a campaign stop in Toronto’s East York. “Doug Ford needs to be stopped and the only option to stop Doug Ford … is to vote Liberal.”
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While the two parties pose the greatest threat to Ford’s desire to return to office for a second term, both have struggled to gain traction in public opinion polling, with the most recent Ipsos survey for Global News tracking 40 per cent of respondents who said Ford is their preferred choice for premier.
With 90 per cent of eligible voters yet to cast a ballot, however, the party leaders are spending the last days on the campaign trail trying to sway votes and deliver a surprise election night victory.
“I have a prediction,” Del Duca told supporters on Monday. “The people of this province are going to burst Doug Ford’s bubble and we’re going to have a strong progressive bubble at Queen’s Park.”
Ford’s final pitch, meanwhile, continues to focus on drivers – a key demographic that the Progressive Conservative Party has been trying to court while in government by cancelling licence plate registration fees, passing legislation to temporarily cut gas prices and promising to build new highway infrastructure provincewide.
“People are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, traffic that is only going to get worse if we don’t build,” Ford said during a news conference.
The Progressive Conservatives have used highway construction – specifically Highway 413 – as a wedge issue with his political opponents, all of whom have promised to cancel the plan to build the 905-area highway if elected.
“They made it clear they want to cancel highways, they want to toll highways, but the only thing they won’t do is build highways,” Ford said.
While all three of the province’s main political parties have largely remained stagnant in public opinion polls, the only party that has experienced a surge is the Ontario Greens, driven by Mike Schreiner’s performance in the leaders’ debate.
Schreiner’s appeal to voters has largely been concentrated in three ridings – Guelph, where Schreier captured the first Green seat in Ontario history, University–Rosedale and Parry Sound–Muskoka – where the party feels it has a realistic shot at doubling or tripling its caucus.
“So many voters have said, ‘I wish Mike Schreiner can be the premier of this province,’” Schreiner said during a dally with supporters. “If you want Green, vote Green … to get the Ontario you want.”
The election is on June 2.