Discover more from newsBeyond POLICORNER
Your election questions, answered
In this edition: checking in with Elections Ontario on planning and voting FAQs, Miller drama continues, six ridings to watch, polling on PSM and debate winner
Happy Sunday. Welcome to of POLICORNER — your insider’s guide to Canadian politics, policy and power. We are four days away from learning who will form Ontario’s next government. Drop us a line with your election night plans and predictions.
In this 8 minute read, we speak with an Elections Ontario rep on planning and get answers to the most asked voting questions. Six ridings to watch on election night. Paul Miller goes after his old party during an all-candidates debate. Plus, fresh polling shows the Green Party on track to win in PSM and Ford and Schreiner win the debate.
We are less than a week away from voting day. It’s the job of Election Ontario to organize and administer provincial elections in the province. We spoke with Jo Langham of Elections Ontario to check in on planning and get answers to election FAQs. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
Is Elections Ontario facing a staffing shortage this time around? How many additional workers are needed?
“We have to hire 55,000 poll officials to work on Election Day. We are obviously aware of some of the challenges that Elections Canada faced in September. We opened our portal to take job applications earlier this year and it will be open until the end of May. We encourage people to apply for any of the roles — ranging from information assistance to area managers. If you go to our website, you’ll be able to see all the available jobs. We do not require a resume.”
What are the requirements for applying to these positions?
“A lot depends on what the role actually is. If you go into the application, it will give you a brief outline of what is required. People will be able to see what kind of skills they need for what roles.”
How many polling stations will there be per riding?
“I don't have any precise number for you. I can say that there will be more than 7000 polling locations on voting day.”
It’s the first provincial election during a pandemic. What COVID-19 safety measures are being implemented at polling stations? How has Elections Ontario been working with Ontario’s top doctor?
“Our priorities are the health and safety of voters and our staff. We’ve been working with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health since the fall of 2020 and are following their best recommendations. We have also — throughout the pandemic — been liaising with the other electoral management bodies that have held elections during the pandemic to get their best practices.
We’ve done a variety of things. We bought back ten days of advanced voting. We’ve introduced our online application to vote by mail. Some of the things people will see at voting stations will be very similar to what they’ve seen throughout the pandemic. We will have signage to promote physical distancing. If voters or our staff want to wear masks or use hand sanitizer, it will be available. They will see our poll officials behind plexiglass screens. We'll also have people there regularly cleaning down high touch surfaces.”
What challenges did this pandemic pose with planning?
“Elections Ontario works on a four year cycle. We start preparing for the next election pretty much when one election is done. We had everything — as you might imagine — pretty much mapped out. Then obviously, the pandemic hit. We have revised our processes. We’ve been ready and working towards addressing the challenges brought by the pandemic.”
How much is this election estimated to cost?
“The estimate that we have is $157.8 million.”
Tell us more about the app? How does it work?
“You can download the app from the Google Play Store or the App Store. It enhances how we communicate with voters. It will basically now provide personal information directly to people's mobile devices. You’ll be able to see where, when and how to vote. It will tell you all of the ways to vote. It will give you a list of candidates in your electoral district. It will tell you things like where your returning office. It will talk to you about the jobs available.
One of the major things that it enables us to do is send notifications directly to electors to alert them of anything important. The other big thing is the voter information card. We know that people may leave home without their voter information card but they typically don’t leave home without their phone. They will have that with them as well.”
When do you expect that we will find out the results on election night?
“In the last election, results were provided and media called the election 15 minutes after polls closed at 9 PM. We expect the same thing this year.”
This Q+A was edited for length and clarity.
POLICORNER WATCH LIST
Results will begin to trickle in shortly after 9 PM ET. These are the six ridings that are shaping to be an uphill battle and will tell the tale of this election.
Ajax: Polls suggest a battle is brewing between the Liberals and Tories in this riding — held by former PC MPP Rod Phillips. Liberal candidate Amber Bowen is hoping to paint the riding red. She’s up against local school board trustee Patrice Barnes for the PCs. 338 Canada has Barnes with a two point lead.
Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte: This riding is currently held by Attorney General Doug Downey, but polls show it could come down to the wire on Thursday night. Downey is up against Liberal star candidate and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman. 338 has Downey well ahead of Lehman.
Toronto Centre: NDPer Kristyn Wong-Tam is looking to take helm from former NDP MPP Suze Morrison in this traditionally Liberal riding. Wong-Tam will face two-time Liberal candidate David Morris. 338 says the riding is too close to call.
Mississauga—Lakeshore: Liberal candidate Elizabeth Mendes — a former senior staffer in the Ministry of Finance — is hoping to unseat incumbent PCer Rudy Cuzzetto. 338 has Cuzzetto ahead of Mendes in a riding that is too close to call.
Brampton Centre: Polls suggest this riding — currently repped by NDPer Sara Singh — will become one of the Brampton ridings turned blue. Tory candidate Charmaine Williams — a city councillor — is polling ahead of Singh. It would be a major upset for the NDP — Singh is a name considered as a replacement for captain Andrea Horwath. 338 has the PCs ahead.
Oshawa: Longtime NDP MPP and candidate Jennifer French is looking to keep her seat in the traditional orange riding. It could be an uphill battle for French, who is five points behind PCer Alex Down. 338 has the Tories in the lead.
We have entered the final stretch of the campaign — voting day is four days away. Here’s what you need to know about the week that was and the week ahead.
On the polling
Abacus Data was out with new data that shows that the “desire for change” in power is down. A new update by the polling firm has the PCs ahead with 36 points, leading by eight points over the Liberals. The NDP trail at 24 points.
Green captain Mike Schreiner and NDP leader Andrea Horwath had the best debate impression amongst those surveyed. The winner was PC leader Doug Ford — Abacus says he won because “none of the leaders won or lost the debate.” Check out the latest polling from Abacus here.
Innovative Research’s latest survey showed that 1 in 4 believe Ford and Schreiner won the debate. The new polling shows that nine per cent believe that Del Duca won with Horwath at eight per cent.
The big debate winner was Mike Schreiner, according to the poll. The Green captain won the debate among “partisan and unaligned voters” and among those who watched the full 90-minute showdown.
Mainstreet Research says the Greens are on track to win their second seat in the Legislature. Green candidate Matt Richter has a ten-point lead over PC candidate and Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith in Parry Sound—Muskoka.
It’s a riding where there is no Liberal candidate — Barry Stanley was dropped by the party after the Toronto Star uncovered a book where he claimed that “homosexuality is caused by infants ‘rebreathing’ their own air shortly after birth.”
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE: 36.8% (+0.8)
LIBERAL: 26.7% (+0.4)
NDP: 23.4% (-0.5)
GREEN PARTY: 7.1% (+0.4)
OTHER: 6.0% (-0.4)
The change since POLICORNER’s previous edition is represented in the bracket.
Mark your calendars!
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
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: POLICORNER featured three high-profile local candidates hoping to rep their riding at the Pink Palace.
The first installation of our series featured Liberal candidate Jill Promoli from battleground Mississauga.
We then spoke with NDPer Irwin Elman — the former Child Advocate — who is looking to paint the Liberal stronghold of DVW orange.
Green candidate Matt Richter — who polls suggests may have the best shot at doubling the Green caucus — sat down with us to talk about his campaign in Parry Sound—Muskoka.
newsBeyond reached out to multiple Tory candidates and a party spokesperson — none responded to our interview requests by deadline.
“They’re not the party of labour anymore,” independent candidate Paul Miller — who was a longtime NDP MPP — said of his former party during a debate with the NDP and Liberal candidates in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. Miller took aim at party leader Andrea Horwath, telling the audience that “she should have stepped down before this election.”
newsBeyond asked Horwath for her thoughts on what Miller had to say. “There's no doubt in my mind that the situation that occurred with Mr. Miller is one that no party leader would be able to have any other decision than the one I made. I stand by that decision,” she said in Mississauga.
Editorial endorsements are coming in. The Toronto Sun’s editorial team endorsed the Tories as the “best choice in the provincial election for who should govern Ontario.” The Star’s editorial board is backing progressive candidates with the best shot at defeating PCers in their riding.
The Grits have lost another candidate — this time in Chatham-Kent—Leamington. Audrey Festeryga has withdrawn from the ballot to protect herself and family from “relentless personal attacks” after the NDP cast doubts about the validity of her nomination. More on Festeryga here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
CBC NEWS: “Ottawa directing RCMP to eliminate neck restraints, tear gas and rubber bullets: Mendicino” by David Thurton
“What's in a song? For Doug Ford's campaign, a whole lot” by Lucas Powers
PRESS PROGRESS: “Doug Ford’s Office Wanted Names From Surveillance Allegedly Targeting Ontario PC Minister’s Family Home” by Stephen Magusiak and Luke LeBrun
TORONTO STAR: “Could Doug Ford’s cottage riding go Green? Pollsters say ‘the stars are aligning’” by Jenna Moon
CTV NEWS: “Trudeau signals new gun-control changes coming; here's what the Liberals have promised” by Rachel Aiello
Last week’s question: what riding did federal NDP captain Jagmeet Singh represent in the Legislature before making the jump to Ottawa? That would be Bramalea-Gore-Malton. Singh resigned three weeks after becoming NDP captain.
Thank you for reading POLICORNER. Have campaign gossip? A newsy leak? Drop us a line and we’ll keep you anon. Share the newsletter and invite your friends and colleagues to join the POLICORNER fam.