The debate is over and it's back to the campaign trail for the three main party leaders as they try to drum up votes for the June 12 election. Canadian Press
With only one day left to campaign and polls pointing to a tight two-way race between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, Ontario leaders are making a hard, final push for votes ahead of Thursday's vote.
Here's a look at the strategies of the leaders of Ontario's three main parties on Wednesday's final day on the campaign trail:
Tim Hudak, Progressive Conservatives:
From the early days of the campaign, Hudak has stuck to a simple, unwavering message: A PC government will make deep cuts to the public service in a move to bring jobs to the province and eliminate the deficit quickly.
Jamie Watt, chairman of the Navigator Communications public relations firm, said Wednesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning that Hudak likely won't deviate from that message as the campaign enters its final hours.
"Hudak has had a lot of success with his message," said Watt. "Some people hate that message, but it's very clear what he's running for."
Hudak has spent much of this week focusing on the ridings that ring the Toronto area known locally as "the 905," a reference to the region's once dominant telephone area code. On Wednesday, Hudak will swing through Mississauga, then move southwest to Waterloo, Niagara Falls and Jarvis.
Kathleen Wynne, Liberals
CBC reporter Genevieve Tomney reported this week that the Liberals have kept Wynne somewhat under wraps in the campaign's final days. On Wednesday, Wynne cancelled a noon appearance on CBC Radio's Ontario Today — an hour-long call-in show — citing a change in her campaign schedule. Brad Duguid, Liberal candidate for Scarborough Centre, will appear in Wynne's place.
This is Wynne's first campaign as party leader and an underwhelming performance in last week's debate of the leaders has left her in a dogfight with the PCs, with the NDP running a distant third.
Many of her campaign stops this week have offered no opportunity for reporters' questions, a suggestion the Liberals want to play it safe until the final buzzer. It's telling that Wynne will spend the final day of the campaign in Toronto, where the ridings tend to be races between the Liberals and the NDP. Wynne's itinerary has eight stops on her schedule.
Much of Wynne's campaign has been a reaction to Hudak, with the Liberals trying to portray him as a hatchet man and former protegé of former Tory premier Mike Harris. Wynne has said Hudak's plan to cut 100,000 civil service jobs will throw the province into chaos. She has also tried to pick apart the murky math in the Progressive Conservatives' "Million Jobs" plan.
But Wynne has also had to focus on the NDP as well. Early this week, Wynne made a plea to left-leaning voters, imploring them to vote Liberal as a way to block Hudak's path to the premier's office. Wynne also admitted the race is essentially a tie between her and Hudak, telling "progressive" voters than an NDP vote isn't the way to prevent a PC government.
Andrea Horwath, NDP
An all-out blitz is the best way to describe how Horwath has spent the final week of the campaign, and that will continue Wednesday. The NDP leader has a staggering eight stops on her itinerary, stretching from Mississauga west of Toronto to Kingston, almost 300 kilometres away.
On Tuesday, Horwath led a similar charge through close ridings in southwestern Ontario. Speaking on Metro Morning, Watt said this hasn't been Horwath's best campaign, but she could play a key role should a minority government emerge after Thursday's vote, which polls suggest is a distinct possibility. The Liberals raised the prospect of an NDP-PC coalition, an idea Horwath shouted down Tuesday as "bullspit." A strong NDP showing at the polls could come at Wynne's expense.
Horwath has accused the Liberals of scare tactics in their move to woo left-leaning voters, and called on Ontarians to "vote with their heart."
Horwath has portrayed the Liberal and PC options as a choice between "corrupt and crazy." Expect that to continue Wednesday.
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