Monday, September 10, 2007

Ontario campaign officially kicks-off

The Ontario provincial election campaign is officially underway, and I think the lead of this article in the Globe & Mail sums-up well how things have gone so far:

Voters got a sense of Ontario's election campaign yesterday with Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty listing his past successes in public education, and his chief opponent labeling him a promise breaker.
That pretty well sums it up. While McGuinty has been talking about his accomplishments, discussing policy and outlining goals, the Tory Conservatives have been relentlessly negative, with nasty radio ads and personal attacks on the Web. And when Tory does try to talk policy, well, it doesn’t go well and the clarifications inevitably follow.

Tory really does seem to be dialing-up the rhetoric with comments like these:
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is the worst promise breaker of modern times, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said Sunday on the eve of a 31-day provincial election campaign.
Really John, the worst promise breaker in modern history? As Seth and Amy would say, really John Tory? I mean, obviously Tory needs to hammer on the health care premium issue. I think there’s a solid counter-argument to be made on the Liberal side, given the record the Harris/Eves Conservatives left behind, but it’s fair game and a key issue for Tory.

But the worst promise breaker in history? Really? Don’t overreach John. Descend into hyperbole and people won’t take you seriously. I mean, why just in modern history? Why not the worst promise-breaker of all time, or, as comic book guy would say, worst promise-breaker ever? Maybe there’s a French king in the 1600s that was a worst promise breaker, hence the qualifier from Tory. I mean, really.

But I can see why John is jumping-on the hyperbole train and going negative hard. A new SES poll today shows, despite all the Tory hype, the Liberals lead the Conservatives (opens pdf). The poll puts the Liberals up six on the Conservatives at 40 per cent of committed voters to the Conservatives’ 34 per cent, with the NDP back at 19 per cent and Greens at 8 per cent.

Some 15 per cent are undecided meaning this is still anyone’s game, could go either way, and everyone will have to work very hard the next few weeks. But the vaunted Tory hype hasn’t translated into support yet. Also, looking at the polling period it appears Tory’s creationism faux pas, which pissed-off both the left and the right, wasn’t factored into these numbers. It will be interesting to see how that plays-out in the next poll. A new Ipsos poll also puts the Liberals in majority territory, albeit a slim one.

Tory is going to need to start having better weeks than he did last week though. He broke his promise and went fiercely negative, came-out against a new holiday for Ontarians, insulted University of Ottawa grads and students, confused everyone about creationism, and accused teachers and the government of a conspiracy to artificially boost test scores. Yeesh.

And now, Tory’s fiscal plan is being assailed as “lacking credibility.” Not a good start to the week, but it can only get better for John…right?

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