Here’s our daily look at what’s making news on the Ontario campaign trail.
Update: 10 a.m.
The Liberals have released audio purportedly of now-Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford selling party memberships at a Tim Hortons in 2016 on behalf of Kinga Surma, who went on to win the PC nomination in Etobicoke Centre. The voice thought to be Ford's is heard to say, "It doesn't cost ya anything" — implying people wouldn't have to pay for their own memberships. The voice also says, "You don’t have to fill that out," in reference to the standard paperwork all new members are expected to complete themselves.
- The Liberals said that this morning they will release a recording of Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford and Kinga Surma, PC candidate for Etobicoke Centre, “implicating Doug Ford directly in another nomination & membership controversy.” The National Post reports that a former top Conservative official says Ford paid for memberships for new party members, which is against party rules, and bused them to help Surma win her nomination. Ford is expected to address the allegations at 11 a.m., following the Liberals’ press conference.
- The NDP has asked Elections Ontario to investigate 12 Progressive Conservative nomination contests in relation to the theft of personal data from 60,000 customers who use the 407 toll highway. The New Democrats say that the 12 campaigns “have been identified in various media reports due to discrepancies in their nomination process." The PC nominations named by the NDP were for the ridings of Beaches–East York, Brampton Centre, Brampton West, Brampton South, Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas, Burlington, Mississauga East–Cooksville, Mississauga–Streetsville, Mississauga–Lakeshore, Mississauga–Erin Mills, Milton, and Oakville. No allegations against the PCs or any individuals have been proven in court. For his part, Tory leader Doug Ford says that if the party receives any evidence of wrongdoing, it will act on it immediately.
- Ford has tried to pin the blame for any PC nomination irregularities on his predecessor, Patrick Brown. In an op-ed for the Toronto Star, the former Tory leader took issue with Ford’s having characterized the party as a “mess” before he took over in March. Brown defended his record at the helm, arguing that under his leadership, membership ballooned, fundraising skyrocketed, and the party enjoyed “a 20 point lead in numerous public opinion polls.”
- A new Maclean’s-Pollara poll taken Monday and Tuesday shows the NDP leading at 38 per cent (up 8 points from a poll conducted by the same firm on May 3-4), the PCs at 37 per cent (down 3), and the Liberals at 18 per cent (down 5). Another poll by the firm Leger showed very similar results: the NDP and PCs tied at 37 per cent and the Liberals at 21 per cent.
- TVO.org’s John Michael McGrath writes that while it remains unclear how (and how many) young people will vote in the Ontario election, the fact that pollsters are even paying attention to these voters is a significant development.
- Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne and NDP leader Andrea Horwath are trading barbs over how to deal with strikes. Wynne criticized Horwath’s declaration that an NDP government would never enact back-to-work legislation in the event of a prolonged labour stoppage, saying that an ongoing strike at York University would be over now if NDP MPPs hadn’t blocked the Liberal legislation to end it. “I’m not going to take any advice from Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals, who for years now have been toe to toe with the doctors creating a lack of stability for patients,” Horwath responded.
- While visiting Woodslee in southwestern Ontario, Ford promised that the PCs will release a fully costed platform before election day — but he didn’t say exactly when. Ford also promised that if the Tories form the next government, he’ll appoint a farmer as his minister of agriculture. He added that his party would expand natural gas, cellular, and broadband service to rural communities.
- In Sudbury, Wynne promised that the Liberals would increase funding to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund if re-elected. The fund, which is used to encourage economic development in the north, would see a 50 per cent increase by the 2020-21 fiscal year.
- The Liberals are pointing to a recent cap-and-trade auction that raised $467 million for the province as proof that their climate-change strategy is working, and attacked the Tories for lacking a plan to deal with the issue.
- At a debate Wednesday night, Goldie Ghamari, the PC candidate for Carleton, said she doesn’t believe climate change is caused by humans.
- Horwath acknowledged to reporters that she’s in the midst of putting together a team that would help the NDP transition into government if the party were to win the election. But, she added, she’s not “counting her chickens before they hatch.” She also said that an NDP government would re-examine the province’s first-past-the-post electoral system.
- Horwath spoke with a small group of protesters angry at one NDP candidate who has said she refuses to wear a poppy on Remembrance Day. Steve Paikin was there and recorded part of the encounter.
- TVO.org’s Jon Thompson looks into whether Thunder Bay’s “invincible” Liberal, Michael Gravelle, can hold on to his seat.
- The Agenda With Steve Paikin invited candidates from the Liberal, PC, New Democrat, and Green parties to debate their affordable-housing plans. The program also featured Steve Lurie, of the Canadian Mental Health Association, discussing the parties’ plans for facilities to help the homeless, or those at risk of homelessness, find services and supports.
What to watch for
- Wynne will be in Toronto today. She’ll make an announcement at website company Wattpad at 11:50 a.m., visit Caldense Bakery at 3 p.m., and then attend a rally at the Brighton Convention and Event Centre at 6:15 p.m.
- Ford will continue to focus on southwestern Ontario today. He’ll make an announcement at Marwood Metal Fabrication in Tillsonburg at 11 a.m. and then attend a meet and greet in Brantford at 1 p.m. and a rally at the Lincoln Alexander Centre in Hamilton at 6 p.m.
- Horwath will make a health-care-related announcement at Regent Park’s Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto this morning and then head to Fairview Lodge in Whitby at 2:30 p.m. to make an announcement about long-term care.
- Green Party leader Mike Schreiner will make what is being billed as a “major climate change announcement” in Toronto at 1:30 p.m.
- Tonight on The Agenda, pollster Erin Kelly, of Advanced Symbolics, will provide an update on the Ontario election campaign. The program will also look at a number of strategies that could help increase the supply of housing throughout Ontario. Watch it on TVO at 8 p.m. or 11 p.m. You can also catch the program via Facebook and Twitter at 8 p.m.
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