What to look out for during the Ontario election campaign?

This Wednesday, Ontario officially entered the election campaign. Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party will try to get a second term on June 2nd. For his part, liberal Steven Del Duca will try to bring his party back to power four years after the historic meltdown. The outgoing official opposition leader, Andrea Horwath, hopes her fourth campaign as NDP leader will be right. Overview of issues and files to be tracked before June 2nd.

The cost of living

Many experts expect this to be the most important issue of the campaign, and many of the announcements already made by major parties confirm this.

The Progressive Conservatives have promised to reduce gas taxes starting July 1 and raise the minimum wage. The NDP, which has devoted the first chapter of its election platform to the issue, wants, among other things, to reduce the cost of car insurance. Liberals, who still don’t have a platform, want to set public transportation fares at $ 1 across the province.

“Doug Ford will be performing customer service during this campaign. […] He is attacking the rising cost of living by proposing to return the money to Ontarians, ”explained Jonathan Malloy, a professor at Carleton University. “People are worried about their personal finances. It’s for this reason that you see populist measures from the government,” said Livianna Tossutti, a political scientist at Brock University. “What will be important for voters is affordability and inflationary pressure,” said Lydia Miljan, a professor at the University of Windsor.

Liberals and New Democrats are also trying to stand on the left on this theme to attract progressive voters.

The NDP specifically proposes to offer free psychotherapy sessions, a proposal that costs more than a billion a year. The Liberal Party has promised on their part to start 10 days of paid sick leave, a measure already introduced by the NDP bill in 2020. Both parties are also proposing to raise the minimum wage: the Liberals in 16 $ per hour; the NDP at $ 20 per hour.

Strategic Voting

“The parties will say there is no strategic voting, but clearly there is,” Livianna Tossutti launches.

Splitting the left vote is a dream scenario for Doug Ford, the political scientist says, because it opens the door to a new majority. The Progressive Conservative Party won eight rides by a margin of less than 2.5% in 2018. And in those races, the combined vote of Liberal and NDP candidates was, on average, 15 percentage points higher than that of the candidate. led by Doug Ford. .

In April, NDP leader Andrea Horwath launched an appeal to Liberal voters in hopes of stopping the Progressive Conservative Party.

On social media, Liberal Party campaign manager Christine McMillan replied that “only the Liberals can defeat the Conservatives”. “I know we often discuss polls, but what matters is the choices of the parties if they are elected”, insisted its leader Steven Del Duca April 21.

The Liberal Party-NDP agreement in Ottawa could also encourage some undecided voters to avoid their counterparts in the province, Lydia Miljan believes. Especially since chefs Steven Del Duca and Andrea Horwath did not close the door on such an agreement. “It won’t be a dominant issue, but it will be raised during debates,” the professor predicted.

COVID-19

It will remain difficult, in many ways, to ignore pandemics when campaigning.

The sixth wave of COVID-19 has already risen in Ontario, which could limit the spread of the disease to candidates of different parties. And the curve should flatten on voting day, Public Health provides.

“The less the opposition parties talk about the pandemic, the better,” thinks Professor Lydia Miljan. “They will see that if they ask for more health measures, they will remove the voters.»

The NDP and the Liberals are likely to fight for the vote of those concerned about COVID-19, while voters who want to go ahead are likely to vote for Doug Ford, sums up his side Jonathan Malloy. According to the Carleton University professor, all parties need to think about the message they want to send on the subject. Do they want to show that they are careful? Or will they want to attract the satiated?

At a first unofficial election event in March, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca apparently chose the second option by coming unmasked, like his candidates, in a crowded room. This is a credibility issue for him, Professor Miljan thinks, considering his criticisms of Doug Ford’s pandemic management.

The Mystery of Del Duca

On March 7, 2020, just six days before Ottawa declared a state of health emergency, Ontario Liberal Party delegates elected Steven Del Duca as party leader. Defeated in 2018 on the ride to Vaughan-Woodbridge, northwest of Toronto, he has been leading his troops from home for more than two years.

Former government minister Kathleen Wynne is the least known of the leaders of the major parties – and that is an advantage for her, believes political scientist Jonathan Malloy. “He is a minister, but not a minister with great reputation. Therefore, voters do not yet have an opinion on him,” he studies.

But according to a recent Abacus poll, only 37% of Ontario Liberal Party supporters believe he will be the best premier: Steven Del Duca is less popular than his party, and “that’s a risk”, estimates by polls analyst Éric Grenier. However, the media coverage inherent in an election campaign can change things, Lydia Miljan observes. “We know how Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath will campaign, but not Steven Del Duca.»

This story is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.

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