On the campaign trail: Leaders prep for Tuesday's televised debate
NDP leader Andrea Horwath shows off her party's new financial savings app as she talks with the media after a campaign stop in Toronto on Monday, June 2, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
George Hoff, CP24.com
Published Monday, June 2, 2014 11:17PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 2, 2014 11:21PM EDT
On the eve of the televised Ontario election debate, the leaders have cut back their appearances and ramped up their preparation time. Each of the leaders did show up for a morning photo op in different parts of the GTA, a moment all three used to reinforce a key theme of their campaign.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, his blue hard hat at the ready, went to the roof of a building overlooking an Ontario government building that he called “a Taj Mahal of Liberal bureaucracy.” Hudak said a PC government would reduce government waste to protect nurses and other frontline professionals.” Reporters asked Hudak if he had ever been inside the government building but he didn’t answer the question. Hudak is not abandoning his campaign centrepiece, the promise of a million jobs, but more and more he is using his camera time to focus on the “wasteful spending” of the Liberal government.
Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s photo op was with a group of those very “front line professionals” Hudak promised to keep on the job. But Wynne’s message was Ontario should worry about what will happen if Hudak is elected. Wynne warned Hudak will bring a “wrecking ball to everything we have built together.” I think I heard a possible line from tomorrow’s debate as she said voters will be “choosing between two opposite directions for Ontario.”
It is being left to the voter to decide. Will Tim Hudak’s 100,000 government job cuts be faceless bureaucrats in fancy buildings or will they be the nurses, teachers and home care workers standing with Kathleen Wynne?
The top two leaders ignored NDP Leader Andrea Horwath today. Horwath is increasingly fighting for attention and airtime. Her best grab today was to introduce a new NDP app designed to help voters figure out how much will be saved if the NDP from the next government. I checked it out but to get the final number the NDP site asks for personal information.
Horwath has used every opportunity to draw attention to Liberal spending and the many examples of taxpayer money being frittered away. She also distances herself from the PC plan to cut jobs. With the Liberals and PCs in a close fight to get the most seats, expect Horwath to have to fend off the coalition question again and again. And, like today, expect her to deflect the answer and point to what she will do.
A CTV/CP24 poll from IPSOS released today shows just how volatile the electorate still is and how important tomorrow night’s debate is for all three parties. Four in ten of Ontarians (38 per cent) say they will wait until after the debate before making a final decision on whom to support. While 13 per cent say they will decide how to vote right after the debate, another 14 per cent say they’ll wait till the last week before deciding. The survey also shows another four in ten (41 per cent) of voters, according to the survey, made up their minds even before the campaign began – and the debate won’t change their minds.
Of course not everyone will be glued to their TV during the debate. Indeed, like every political debate, the sound bites grabbed by journalists in the minutes and hours after the debate will have a tremendous impact on how the debate is scored. The leaders and their strategists will be hard at work priming journalists on the best clip and spinning the mistakes made by the other leaders.