The province of Ontario’s motto, translated into English, is: Loyal she began, thus she remains.
For the duration of the current provincial campaign, we should consider changing that motto to “Election? What Election?” While many of Ontario’s 13 million residents know that an election is underway, many also don’t seem to care. After two municipal, three federal and two provincial campaigns, this is the seventh election for Ontario residents in five years. And, they are tired of heading to the polls.
On September 7th, when Premier Dalton McGuinty visited Lt. Governor David Onley for the dropping of the writ to officially begin the campaign, he said to the assembled journalists: “Hang on to your hats, folks: it’s going to be a fun one.”
Well, it’s been surprisingly un-fun thus far. No real engagement or commitments from the leaders. But, the real campaign battle is still ahead of us.
The advance polls open September 21st and close on the 30th. This week, parties should start pushing to get supporters to the polls before the debate on Tuesday, September 27th.
Media coverage will intensify after the debate. Third party and political party television advertising will ramp up and sign crews will be in high gear redecorating the landscape. The leaders will be riding “The Bus” to attend multiple events and photo-ops each day and phones will be ringing off the hook with pollsters and parties identifying and getting out the vote. Only then, will the average voter form their decision as to who they will support.
With most polls showing a very close, volatile race, every vote counts. One poll showed that McGuinty has seen a substantial shift over last year towards approval of his job performance [+11 per cent] and another pollster has suggested that if NDP support gets up to 28 per cent, the PC Party will win the election. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess and the election is very much up for grabs.
With just 17 days until “E-Day” this election will be over before we know it.
This post was originally written by Andrew Pask, who is no longer working at Hill+Knowlton.