News

BLIZZARD

A weird and wacky election

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne drives a tractor on a farm near Paris, Ont. (BRIAN THOMPSON, QMI AGENCY)

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne drives a tractor on a farm near Paris, Ont. (BRIAN THOMPSON, QMI AGENCY)

This bizarre, upside-down, back-to-front election campaign got even weirder and wackier Tuesday as the parties readied their TV advertising.

We have a Tory party that’s warm and fuzzy, a Liberal Party that’s to the left of the NDP — and a socialist party that appears to have disappeared off the radar. The only time it does surface, it sounds more conservative than the Conservatives when leader Andrea Horwath talks about not raising taxes on the middle class.

Until now, there’s been a black-out on conventional TV ads, although parties have been allowed to post them online.

This seemingly never-ending campaign still has three long weeks to go, and the parties are campaigning in odd ways.

The Liberal campaign is so butt ugly it’s hard to believe this has the stamp of approval of Kathleen Wynne — the woman who likes to position herself as the voice of reason. The person who likes to consult.

A Liberal attack ad this week targets PC leader Tim Hudak’s plan to lay off 100,000 broader public sector employees over four years.

It portrays a water insepctor, a teacher and others all saying, “Tim Hudak fired me.”

So let’s examine Hudak’s promise to pare back the civil service.

The broader public sector has 1.1 million workers. Cutting 100,000 workers over four years would take it back to staffing levels in 2009. Hudak says he can do it mainly through attrition.

That’s not a big stretch. Yet we had Wynne showing up in Walkerton last week to suggest cuts would lead to deaths in the streets. And that was a horribly disgusting thing to do on the 14th anniversary of those deaths.

You’d have thought the Tories would have countered negativity with more negativitiy — but they didn’t take the bait.

Instead, they put out their softest, gentlest — yet one of their smartest — voices in Christine Elliott.

Elliott spoke about the PCs’, “message of hope.”

And she chastised Wynne for being, “Angry, negative and lashing out at others.”

Later in the video, we hear Hudak urging voters not to vote against someone but to vote in favour of something.

It’s a smart strategy for the lone male party leader in the race. It wouldn’t look good to be seen attacking a woman.

And speaking of female leaders, where is Horwath?

New Democrats did well in last year’s byelections because they appeared to be the party that had ideas.

Now, when it really counts, they’ve disappeared.

The Tories saved their main scorn for the so-called “Working Families” — the powerful union-backed group that’s funded costly ad campaigns targeting every PC leader since Ernie Eves.

In an ad released this week, the Tories use unflattering photographs of the Working Families leadership, calling them, “male pale and stale.”

The Tories turn the tables on their attackers, saying working families is “actually run by old white guys,” a criticism usually reserved for the Tories.

And no one, it seems, is prepared to target the gas plant scandals, Ornge, the deleted e-mails, eHealth.

Or are they saving those for the final days of the campaign?

With Wynne taking the party so far to the left with her recent budget, Horwath risks losing a lot of her support to the Liberals.

That’s why you’d think she’d be hammering away at the scandals and presenting herself as the leftwing party that has integrity, honesty, openness.

No one needs her to stake out that territory more than the Tories, who are relying on a strong NDP vote to create three-way splits in many ridings.

At this point it’s still anyone’s election.

Anyone can be the big winner.

And anyone can lose big time.

 


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions