Steven Del Duca’s ‘leaked’ memo and the Liberals’ election cap. Andrea Horwath’s latest kick in the can? And most importantly, does the Keg count as fine dining in Canada?
Alex Boutilier: Welcome to Global News’ Ontario Voting Summary: Final Countdown Edition. With less than a week left until Ontarians have their last chance to vote in this sleepy election early in the summer, and public pollster projections – and, if internal memos are to be believed” leaks,” the parties themselves – suggest there remains a tight two-horse race for second place.
I say this because the Ontario Liberal War Room appears to have leaked an internal polling memo to the Toronto Star which suggests they are in a strong position to form the official opposition to a likely majority government led by the Ontario Conservative leader Doug Ford.
If this memo is to be believed–and we have no evidence that it shouldn’t–the Ontario Liberals and New Democrats have more or less publicly acknowledged that they have little or no hope of forming a majority government themselves.
But not to be outdone, the Ontario NDP war room appears to have leaked theirs Toronto Star internal polling memo suggesting a late campaign push! At some point, you have to wonder why the parties bother to write “CONFIDENTIAL” on these things…
That might sound rather trivial, given that public polls have more or less projected Ford More Years since the start of the campaign. But I can’t recall any recent example of a party admitting that apart from some minority/coalition bargaining, it’s unlikely to win the election with so much time still to go.
But maybe I’m just old fashioned. Colin, are you also puzzled? Or better yet, can you explain to us what the party strategies suggest to you?
Colin D’Mello: To be honest, I had a hard time understanding 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 a tacit admission that slowing the PC leader’s momentum is now the main objective.
Internally, veteran Liberal strategists tell me supporters and party loyalists will be “very happy” with the outcome on election night, but are very coy about the reasons for that optimism. What is the basis of this happy result? Is this the 2018 election in which the Liberals were sent to bed without dinner? Or is it the 2014 election in which the Liberals defied expectations and formed a majority?
Either way, the Liberals say there are positive signs down the stretch. The party tells me that a low turnout in the advance poll (which ends May 29) could benefit its cause, as it means voters aren’t as decided as the polls would suggest. The party thinks it can withdraw PC and NDP support before eDay, enough to do something about it. What this something is – and will it be enough – is not clear.
But as things stand, Del Duca’s best shot at claiming victory seems to be to dethrone Andrea Horwath as Leader of the Official Opposition – barely.
Alex Boutilier: This is all very interesting, but I think we’re sidestepping the question that’s on the minds of all Canadians this week, and I want a definitive answer. Does the Keg count as fine dining in this country?
Colin D’Mello: [screams internally]
I will say it until my last breath. The Keg is a classy, chic, upscale steakhouse and it all depends on where you are in life.
When I wrote this story, I approached it from the perspective of the average Ontarian. One who doesn’t earn a six-figure salary, lives a modest life, and worries about the cost of groceries and gas.
To this nobody, The Keg is top of the line.
For those living in small town Ontario, with limited dining availability, The Keg is upscale.
For my mother, who refuses to go to Hooters because it offends her religious sensibilities, The Keg is upscale.
Don’t @ me.
Alex Boutilier: Look, Swiss Chalet was a 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 are not even this good.
But back to business: Even if Ford is comfortably heading for another majority term, there are some compelling questions to keep us busy in the final week of the campaign.
If recent federal experience is any guide, it’s not necessarily a slam dunk that opposition leaders get more than a kick in the electoral box. Stéphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole — none received more than one chance to form government by their respective party.
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My guess is that if Steven Del Duca does materially advance his party’s position in the Legislative Assembly — and it would be hard not to — he will at least have the opportunity to argue that he should remain at the helm.
But what about Andrea Horwath, who now appears to be looking down on her fourth straight election defeat? Although the issue is still pending between the Liberals and the NDP, it is possible that it will come back to the official opposition in third place. Can his leadership survive this?
Perhaps more pressing for Ontarians, what does a second Ford majority look like for the province?
Colin D’Mello: For Andrea Horwath, it’s prime minister or bust.
Horwath enjoyed great support within his own party, but even as the election began it became apparent that his grip on the party was beginning to weaken.
Horwath and the NDP are now locked in a legal battle with longtime NDP MP Paul Miller over his Facebook posts and Miller’s expulsion from the party. The NDP 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 reports of growing dissatisfaction at Horwath and talk of revival.
The election night wait for Horwath – and I warn there are still several days left in the campaign – is a long list of thanks, followed by a resignation.
As for Ford, much of his success in the second term will depend on who continues to advise him in the future.
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, essentially took over the reins of government before moving on to his campaign team. .
The two have been widely credited with righting the ship and shaping Ford’s redemption story.
But what happens when they return to their respective practices and pandemic-weary staff decide to pursue other positions outside of government? How is Ford replacing key stabilizing forces within his cabinet such as Rod Phillips and Christine Elliott? And who’s stopping Ford from falling back into old habits?
This will determine what a potential second term will look like.
Alex Boutilier: And with that, dear readers, we close our final roundup of pre-election voting in Ontario. Watch this space next week as Colin and I delve into the guts 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.
Worldwide coverage of the 2022 Ontario election, week four:
Check out Global News’ pledge tracker, keeping tabs on every pledge and policy announced during the campaign.
Doug Ford and the PCs maintain a grip on the electoral race in Ontario: Ipsos poll
With Election Day less than two weeks away, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford continues to hold a sizable lead over his rivals. (Isaac Callan)
45% of voters believe Doug Ford and 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, according to a new poll. (Hannah Jackson)
‘Legit political spending’: Del Duca defends riding association dinners
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca defends his use of riding association funds to pay for thousands of dollars in expensive dinners while he was minister, saying they were used for “legitimate political expenses “. (Colin D’Mello)
Green Party of Ontario targets Doug Ford’s pandemic response in bid to reverse seats
The Green Party of Ontario is tapping into COVID-19 frustration as it hopes to edge out the Parry Sound-Muskoka Progressive Conservatives and double the party’s seat count in the provincial legislature. (Colin D’Mello)
Ontario Liberal candidate withdraws, three parties short of full slate
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says Audrey Festeryga has withdrawn her candidacy in Chatham-Kent-Leamington and will no longer be on the Liberal ballot. The development means there are now three ridings in which the Liberals are not fielding any candidates in the June 2 provincial election. (The Canadian Press)
Doug Ford campaigns on DIY brand after tumultuous first term and pandemic ‘growth’
“Doug Ford is a builder,” a host read to the audience at a recent election debate in Ontario that asked the leaders of the three major parties to submit biographies of themselves. (The Canadian Press)
A determined Andrea Horwath faces her 4th and possibly final fight as Ontario NDP leader
She is days away from contesting her fourth election – and widely expected to be her last – as leader of the NDP. With her party trailing in the polls, her last possible bid to become prime minister may not turn out as 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
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