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Let the campaign begin!
In this edition: 72 hour highlights, a tight race for second place, Promoli on why she's running, union endorsements or not, Moderna shots for kids OKd, EO's staff lookout
Happy Friday. Welcome to POLICORNER — your insider’s guide to Canadian politics, policy and power. The provincial election campaign is officially on. Send all the campaign gossip and newsy tips our way. Drop us a line.
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In this 12 minute read, we take you through the highlights of the first 72 hours of the campaign. New polling has Ford in the lead and Del Duca and Horwath fighting over runner-up. Plus, POLICORNER on the campaign trail — a Liberal candidate from battleground Mississauga on why she’s running in Tory territory.
The election campaign in Ontario is officially on. Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford kicked off the 28-day race with a visit to Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell to request the dissolution of the Legislature.
Dissolution has put all legislative business to an end. The order paper has been wiped off and any unpassed bills have effectively been killed. Constituency offices will remain staffed and cabinet ministers will keep their portfolios until the start of the new Parliament. MPPs term are officially up.
Dowdeswell — along with Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa — have signed the individual writs for each riding to authorize the start of the election.
The leaders set the campaign messaging from early on.
“People have a very clear choice,” Ford said as he walked into Dowdeswell’s office on Tuesday. “This election is about one simple thing. Either the people of this province are going to choose to go backward and chose another way of moving this province forward — as the previous government destroyed this province, or they’re going to choose prosperity. Getting things built,” he said.
“It's important for the people of Ontario to know that — in large measure — I'm just like them,” Liberal leader Steven Del Duca told reporters. Del Duca said the election would be about “earning trust and earning confidence” from voters.
Del Duca also said the time is “ideal” for people to get to know him and understand “why they should have faith that I will deliver for them should I earn that honour.”
“It is very clear that the best shot to get rid of Doug Ford is to vote NDP,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said at her first campaign stop in Mississauga. “We're asking people to come together and do exactly that,” she said.
Federal politicians are also showing support for their candidates in the election. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh with Kate Dupuis in Beaches East-York. Conservative MP Dan Muys with Neil Lumsden in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. Katie Gibbs installing a lawn sign on Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi’s front yard. Naqvi’s caucus-mate John McKay attending Mitzie Hunter's campaign launch.
NDP MP Matthew Green at the NDP's campaign kickoff in Hamilton. Mississauga-area reps Rechie Valdez and Iqra Khalid with Liberal candidate Jill Promoli. Liberal MPP-turned-MP Michael Coteau with Tyler Watt in Nepean. NDP MP Peter Julian with Mary Rita Holland in Kingston and The Islands.
Week one of the election campaign is coming to an end. Here is the latest from the campaign trail — with 26 days left before voting day:
Tracking the leaders
The Progressive Conservative leader’s first campaign stop was in battleground Brampton — reiterating his commitment to building Highway 413 if re-elected in June. Ford — joined by LiUNA members and local candidates — told voters that his party has a team and a plan.
Ford later attended a campaign launch rally in Etobicoke. “We need your help,” Ford told supporters at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “We can't do it alone. We need everyone in this province to get out the message. It’s a message of hope and optimism. A message that Ontario’s best days are still ahead of us,” the PC leader said.
Ford pledged to extend all-day 15-minute GO service to Bowmanville. The $730 million plan would see the Lakeshore East GO line extended into Durham Region — with four new stations built.
STEVEN DEL DUCA:
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca spent Education Week making key policy planks on education. Del Duca’s first campaign stop was at Wedgewood Junior Public School — pledging to invest an additional $10 billion to build 200 new schools and repair/rebuild 4,500 schools across the province if elected in June. The party is also promising to impose a “hard cap” on all class sizes at 20 students for every grade and hire 10,000 extra educators.
The party also made a buzz with plans to reinstate Grade 13 — which was scrapped in 2003 — as an “optional” fifth year of secondary. The party says the new grade “will give students the choice of spending more time on required courses for postsecondary education.”
NDP leader Andrea Horwath started the campaign from the front lawn of Queen’s Park. Horwath was off to Mississauga to visit the campaign office of the party’s Mississauga-Malton candidate Waseem Ahmed. Asked why she chose Mississauga to start the campaign, Horwath told newsBeyond “the people [in Mississauga] are seeing life get harder — regardless of whether the Liberals or Conservatives are in office. We are here to say to the people of Mississauga that it doesn't have to be this way.”
The NDP leader announced an updated housing platform with a commitment to spur “1.5 million new homes people can afford.”
Horwath also unveiled the Ontario Dental Plan — a program that “would bring in free or low-cost dental care” for low and middle-class class families. The plan would cost the province $380 million annually when federal funding starts flowing to the province.
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner kicked off his party’s campaign with an early morning rally in Toronto. “I’m here today, asking you to vote Green, because the other parties are not up to the job,” he told supporters.
Schreiner announced the party would build 160,000 affordable community rental homes “in partnership with co-op and non-profit housing providers.” The Green leader also announced plans to bring 60K young people into the “new climate economy” by funding tuition and guaranteeing apprenticeships if elected.
POLICORNER is keeping a tally of party nominations. A 2 PM deadline for next Thursday has been set for candidate nominations. Here’s where the parties stand:
NDP: 124 candidates
LIBERAL: 112 candidates
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE: 120 candidates
GREEN PARTY: 120 candidates
NEW BLUE: 124 candidates
On the polling
Fresh polling released shows that Tory leader Doug Ford has taken the lead in the race. Liberal leader Steven Del Duca and NDP leader Andrea Horwath are in a tight race for second place. Here’s the latest polling:
Global News/Ipsos has the Tories in the lead with 39%. The Liberals are in second at 26% and the NDP is polling at 25%. “The Progressive Conservatives have pulled away from the rest of the pack as the Liberals and the NDP jockey for the progressive vote,” according to the Ipsos report.
With new polls showing a split amongst progressive voters, we asked NDP leader Andrea Horwath if party messaging about being “best positioned to defeat Doug Ford” is hurting her chances at forming government. “Not at all,” she said.
CTV News/Nanos has the Progressive Conservatives with a narrower lead — at 36.9%. The Liberals are at 30.4% with the NDP trailing in third place at 23.7%. The Green Party is polling at 4.3% and the Ontario Party at 2.8%.
Here’s the latest from CBC News’ Poll Tracker:
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE: 37.2%
GREEN PARTY: 5.1%
Mark your calendars!
May 10 at 1 PM: Northern Leaders Debate (North Bay)
May 12 at 2 PM: Candidate nominations close
May 16 at 6:30 PM: Provincial leaders’ debate (TVO HQ in Toronto)
May 19 to 28 from 10 AM to 8 PM: Advanced voting
May 27 at 6 PM: Applications for mail-in voting due
June 1 at 6 PM: Special ballot voting ends at local returning offices
June 2 from 9 AM to 9 PM: Voting day
WHY THEY’RE RUNNING
POLICORNER will feature a local candidate running in the provincial election each week. Here’s the first installation of our new segment:
She didn’t grow up in a political family.
Jill Promoli’s interest in politics was ignited as a high school student — during the Mike Harris government. “I was in high school during the Harris years. Between cuts to public services and the Walkerton Water Crisis, I really started to get a sense of how much the decisions at Queen's Park can change our lives,” she told newsBeyond during an hour-long canvass in her community.
Carrying the Liberal banner in a riding that she has called home for 11 years, Promoli was appointed by party leader Steven Del Duca to run in Mississauga—Streetsville. “I had a lot of people telling me that I should consider running. They say that you have to ask a woman to run seven times first. I don’t know how many seven times I’ve been asked,” she said.
It was at the start of the pandemic when Promoli decided to jump into provincial politics. “I think the pandemic has sort of shone a light on every crack in the foundation,” she said.
“There was so much happening and people were really pushing. I thought it was the time to consider. I decided to fill up the initial form. The party then reached out and said they’re interested. It wasn’t immediately known that it was going to be appointed. My appointment came in the December.”
Losing her two-year-old son to a flu outbreak in the classroom was a motivating factor. Promoli launched For Jude, For Everyone, a flu vax awareness campaign. “I never thought I was going to do this then run for office. It was more of I’m going to do this and I hope that we can help prevent somebody else from being in our shoes — we'll never know what those results but maybe it will make a difference.”
That changed. The party’s star candidate said she realized that a lot of her advocacy came from the policy level. “I was reaching out to people who had seats at the table and the chance to do that work. I found that it just wasn't happening.”
What issues are on the top of mind for voters? Promoli says housing affordability has been top of mind. “I'm hearing a lot about education and about the healthcare system in general. People are just generally feeling that they're not getting the support for the services that they value here in Ontario.”
Promoli is running in a riding repped by PC MPP and Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction Nina Tangri. “It’s really important that I’m talking to people at their doors about what they need from their government,” she said.
“You're right. I am running against an incumbent. But I'm talking about what I'm here to offer them,” she added.
At the door, Promoli will “occasionally” hear about the Kathleen Wynne era. “For the most part, people are talking about what's happening now in their lives and what they're looking for going forward.”
But with the campaign underway, Promoli says her fellow Liberals are “really excited to have a chance to build something that's going to work better for Ontario.” “What I see from my fellow candidates is people who are excited about the possibility of making things better for people. The energy is there.”
Her message to voters: “We deserve better than what we're getting from this current government. We can have that on June 2. We deserve policies that are both practical and compassionate and that's what the Liberal Party is here for.”
SCOOP: Not all teachers unions will be endorsing a political party in this election. Though ETFO has yet to endorse one party — but “applauded” the NDP’s education platform — local affiliates will be supporting local candidates in this election. OSSTF is not endorsing one party — but will be throwing support behind education-friendly candidates on a riding-by-riding basis. OECTA — which represents Catholic teachers — will not support one party but local affiliates may endorse local candidates.
Ontario will allow Moderna shots be offered for 6 to 11 years olds, in alignment with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. The province released the updated guidance on Friday, as we first reported this week. Ottawa Public Health began allowing the use of the Moderna vaccine for kids in late April after a law professor filed a human rights complaint to get access to the vaccine.
Gloves were dropped at the first Conservative leadership debate in Ottawa. Five candidates attended the Canada Strong and Free debate: Leslyn Lewis, Scott Aitchison, Pierre Poilievre, Jean Charest and Roman Baber. Watch the debate here:
Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has a new home: Public Health Ontario. The advisory table has also named Dr. Fahad Razak as its new Scientific Director — replacing Dr. Peter Jüni. Jüni sat down with us for an exit-interview shortly after announcing that he’d be leaving. Catch up here.
Elections Ontario is on the lookout for staff to work at polling stations on e-day. Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa says the agency is looking for individuals who are 16+ to work at polling stations. Apply here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
POLITICO: “Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows” by Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward
POLITICS TODAY: “PC staffer fired over Freedom Convoy donation suing Ford, journalists” by Sammy Hudes
TORONTO STAR: “Public funding for Catholic schools must continue, Steven Del Duca says despite anti-abortion moves by some” by Rob Ferguson
CBC NEWS: “Canada added 15,000 jobs in April, enough to push jobless rate to record-low 5.2%” by Pete Evans
In the last edition, we asked when the Ford government’s first budget was tabled? Former treasurer Vic Fedeli tabled the $163.4-billion budget on April 11. More from the Star about the budget.
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: “Here's the thing: we know that during the pandemic, ridership on both provincial and municipal transit systems has dropped. We understand that we can't leave these numbers as low as they are.” Know who said this? Drop us a line or reply to this email.
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