The writ doesn’t get dropped until tomorrow, so I know the Ontario general election is not formally underway until then. Nevertheless, I can’t shake the feeling that the Tories and the NDP were not quite ready for the campaign.
Kathleen Wynne’s campaign, though, seemed to be firing on all cylinders when it hit the road running on Monday. So what does this say about who knew what about when an election would be called?
Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats seem less ready than the other two main parties, which is a bit surprising considering it was she who triggered the election when she announced Friday that she would not support the Liberal’s budget.
Apparently, the NDP has still to appoint candidates in several ridings—perhaps as many as three dozen seats lack nominated candidates, of the province’s 107 electoral districts. And, apparently, the Dippers don’t have a bus for reporters covering their campaign, as is usually provided by the main parties.
Moreover, Horwath’s refusal to answer questions about whether she intends to give a $4 per hour pay raise to personal support workers or set up an Ontario pension plan—both of which was promised by the Liberals in their budget—leads one to believe she hasn’t yet completed her campaign platform.
Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has had a bit of a shaky start.
For example, he used a visit to Metalworks Music studio Monday to kick off his campaign with a talk about his “million jobs plan,” a centre-piece of his platform. A strange move considering the Mississauga studio is a beneficiary of the $45-million Ontario Music Fund, something Hudak voted against in the 2013 budget. He calls these handouts “corporate welfare.” Hudak then tried to sidestep questions as to whether he’d cancel the Ontario Music Fund if he became premier.
Why, I wonder, would Hudak place himself in such an awkward position? He comes across as such a dope when he tries to dodge questions—four times on this occasion. I watched the Global News report and squirmed in my seat at his uncomfortable performance.
If Tim Hudak doesn’t find a better way of answering uncomfortable questions, this is going to be a very long campaign that won’t end well for him.
Last week I watched as he was asked—many, many times—to comment on Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s drunken comments deriding Hudak for his support for flying the gay “rainbow” flag during Sochi games. He dodged and weaved as he tried to avoid direct answers, and I squirmed in my seat as I watched.
Tim Hudak, or any other Tory leader for that matter, will not appeal to all of the voters all of the time—he’ll have to settle for about 40 per cent or so. He needs to articulate consistent, thoughtful positions on a range of topics and be able to do so whenever he’s in front of a microphone and camera. If his views and positions are such that they’ll turnoff more than 60 per cent of voters, he’s in the wrong business.
Toronto- and Ottawa-based media will be hostile to any right-of-centre politician, that’s a given. Dodging questions won’t help for they’ll just keep on asking the same questions, making him look foolish for not giving an answer. If he can’t handle a hostile media, he’s in the wrong business.
The writ drops tomorrow.