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Ontario Election: One Last Look

With less than 24 hours until polls open and Ontarians can cast their ballots, we’ve prepared an overview of what voters can expect.

Leader Tracker

With Ontarians set to vote tomorrow, we take a look at the last-minute campaign stops.

Premier Kathleen Wynne began yesterday with three early morning radio interviews before meeting with York University students at a private residence in North York. Wynne continues to attack the NDP over the York University strike claiming that the NDP are too beholden to the unions to put the public interest first. Wynne stated, “We are not ideologically tied to the idea that back-to-work legislation is inherently wrong. It is a last resort, and it is the tool that government has to have in order to act in the public interest.”

Wynne then travelled to London North Centre in the afternoon, and ended her day with a rally in Kitchener South—Hespeler with Liberal candidate Surekha Shenoy.
Today Premier Wynne has four events on her schedule, including an interview with Global News, a stop at the Hugh Garner Co-op in Toronto Centre and then stops in Port Dover and Oakville—North Burlington.

PC Leader Doug Ford stayed in the GTA Tuesday, holding late morning and afternoon meet and greets at the campaign offices in the ridings of Eglinton—Lawrence, Don Valley East and in Premier Wynne’s riding of Don Valley West. The Tory leader ended his day shaking hands at the Promenade Shopping Centre with Thornhill PC MPP Gila Martow.

Ford has five campaign stops today, in Milton, Oakville, Burlington, and Etobicoke before holding his final campaign rally in Caledonia. Ford’s final push has seen him looking increasingly more like a Premier, the PC Leader has adopted the slogan “Ready to Govern” and is often speaking in front of his more high-profile candidates.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in Brampton yesterday morning promoting her vision for healthcare, contrasting the NDP promise to invest in hospitals with PC leader Doug Ford’s proposed $6 billion in cuts. Horwath then made stops in Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, Hamilton, Brantford and Burlington.
Horwath will maintain the pace set by her campaign over the past weeks with five campaign stops today, all of which are in the GTA. The NDP leader will use her last day of campaigning before election day to target voters in Scarborough, Brampton and North York. The NDP will look to capitalize on the positive message and momentum in the final hours of the campaign as they look to go from third party status to government.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is focusing on his Guelph riding as he looks to be the first Green party member elected to Queen’s Park. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in Schreiner’s riding urging voters to support NDP candidate Aggie Mlynarzclaiming that the election is a “two-party race” between the PCs and NDP.” Schreiner countered by telling supporters that, “a Green vote is not a wasted vote. It is a historic vote.”


Election Day 101

Ahead of election day, an advertising blackout period began at 12:01am today; publishers and broadcasters are prohibited from airing any political advertising, with exceptions being online advertising posted prior to the blackout period. Genuine news reporting will continue through election day.

On the ground, each campaign will have dedicated teams of volunteers working to ‘get out the vote’, contacting their identified supporters and ensuring that they have cast their ballots for their parties. If not, parties will provide support to ensure that people know where to vote, as well as provide transportation to the polling station if required.

Party leaders typically stay close to their home ridings on election day, having photo ops of them voting in their constituencies, generally with their families. Leaders will also take the time to prepare for the evening results period, where each party will hold a ‘victory party’ event and a speech from their leader.

Most major news networks will start coverage as the polls are closing. With the recent two-way race between Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath, a significant number of ridings are trending very close in the polling numbers. Traditionally, the closer the vote is, the longer it takes for official results to be released. If the race remains as close as many predict, Ontarians may have to wait until early morning for a winner to be announced.

Following the release of results from Elections Ontario, losing party leaders traditionally take to the stage at their events to concede victory to the winner, and give speeches to their party faithful. After that, the newly-elected Premier will deliver remarks to Ontarians at their party’s event.

After a hectic and fast-paced campaign, the new Premier and their team are expected to take the weekend to catch their breath, but be back in action next week with initial ideas and announcements on the expected path forward.

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow and watch for Global’s post-election update out on Friday.

(Photos courtesy of @AndreaHorwath and @fordnation via Twitter)

Government’s Transition 
Global Insights by Hershell Ezrin

While every government transition is shaped by political priorities, the general outline remains similar from election to election.

The Secretary to Cabinet, the senior-most public servant in the province, issued instructions to ensure that the public service remained neutral and non-partisan leading into and during the writ period. Public servants are not allowed to do evaluations of opposing party platforms for use by the government in its own campaign, although of course they have kept track of election platform promises of the different parties.

With the imminent election of a new government, the transition processes accelerate. Designated Deputy Ministers are available to be a point of contact for the party-appointed transition teams. Detailed briefing books outlining the issues each ministry has been facing and future policy challenges have been prepared by the public service. Some departments will undoubtedly dust off and present old policy chestnuts dressed up to meet the winning party’s platforms.  Independent officers of the Legislature such as the Ontario Integrity Commissioner will meet with newly elected members in mid -June to brief them about their ethical obligations.

The immediate areas upon which transitions focus include the machinery of government, selection of a cabinet, senior public service assignments and the development of Ministry mandate letters. The state of the provincial accounts may dictate both political strategies and legislative agendas. The recruitment and training of political staff, particularly in senior roles, is an early priority.

Machinery of government refers to the re-jigging of ministries. The new government may want to put greater emphasis on a specific policy area, create additional profile or add resources or focus. Cabinet- making requires a sensitivity to balance the expectations of returning members with the recruitment promises or hints that attracted newly elected MPPs, to satisfy geographic representation and of course to utilize the talent available most efficiently. Not all Cabinet ministers are created equal in political skills or intellectual capacity.

While most of the public attention is focused on political appointments, the new government may also use this time for consideration of changes in public service assignments. This may be a product of moves within the public service or recruitment from outside. The pool of former political staff with federal or other province experience will be carefully reviewed by a central body within the party or the Premier’s office.

Meanwhile the symbolic first acts of government that will set the tone for the new administration will be debated internally; decisions will be made about when to recall the legislature, a throne speech and the development and release of individual mandate letters. A deeper understanding of the state of provincial finances may impact certain decisions or policy approaches. Depending upon developing issues (ranging from NAFTA to the York University strike), a new government may require a brief legislative session to endorse a course of action.


Key Dates

June 7              Ontario election
June 18            Post-election panel moderated by Tom Clark, hosted by the Empire Club


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