Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ontario Election Preview Part 2: The Leaders

Continuing with my preview of the upcoming provincial election, today I focus on the leaders. The election features three leaders with experience in running provincial campaigns and one new comer. How will each leader campaign?

Dalton McGuinty: Like a fine wine, McGuinty gets better with age. Liberals are hoping he gets more votes with age too. If you had told people after Dalton's disastrous 1999 campaign that the party would be centring its campaign around Dalton McGuinty's personality, they would have laughed in your face. However, that's exactly what the Ontario Liberal Party is doing. They've launched, a straight shooting informal website that they hope will sell McGuinty as an average guy who has big ideas for this province. They hope Dalton's mea culpae on some of his previous campaign promises will help to dull the Tory and NDP attack. McGuinty is not the shrinking violet he was in 1999 and expect him to fight a good campaign.

McGuinty's political career may very well rest on this campaign. A loss and he would almost surely have to resign his leadership. Unless he decides to join his brother David in Ottawa, Dalton's career would be done. Even if he wins a minority the knives might come out for the affable leader. He's been in charge for over ten years and it may just be time for a change. I like McGuinty. I like him more every day.

John Tory: John Tory is a bit of a political anachronism. A little back to the future. The new leader of the Progressive Conservatives is much to the left of his two immediate predecessors. Tory's politics are more Bill Davis than Mike Harris. He's going to try to sell that as well. In an era when the Conservative movement in the country has lurched right, Tory is trying to win from the centre-right. This may cause the PC's problems as Tory tries to juggle the necessity of playing to his rural right wing base and trying to win election in a centrist Toronto riding. Tory cannot take Don Valley West for granted as the incumbent, minister of education Kathleen Wynne, is not going to go down without a fight. If Tory lurches to far to the right, expect Wynne to make his life miserable. On the other hand, if Tory plays too much to the centre he could alienate his base and lose the election.

Tory has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde thing going in his career. He has a briliant record as a manager in the private sector and inspires admiration to an almost fanatical degree in his co-workers and employees. Almost everyone who's worked with him thinks he'd make a great premier. On the Hyde side, Tory has had just an awful time of it in politics. He was at the helm of the Kim Campbell campaign and did or should have been the one to approve the infamous Chretien attack ads. He also ran for the Mayor's chair in Toronto in 2003. Tory had all the money in the world behind him and lost to a single issue with less name recognition. It wasn't even that close. The Tories are praying that the third election is the charm for their leader, otherwise the knives could be out pretty quickly.

Howard Hampton: Howard Hampton is finally getting the hang of this leader of the NDP thing. That, or people have finally forgotten about the Rae administration. Either way the Ontario NDP is in better shape than its been in since that weird night in 1990. Hampton's attacks on McGuinty's salary hikes and energy record won him a pair of by-elections. He hopes to build on that in the election.

However, Hampton is old news, and not particularly interesting news at that. Nobody really dislikes Hampton, they just don't want him to be Premier. This is his last election as leader barring a 1990 sized miracle. If you want proof, his wife's retirement from the legislature should be a fairly strong clue. Shelley Martel is not going back to Northern Ontario by herself or at least not for long.

Frank de Jong: The leader of the Green Party of Ontario has the most experience of any of the leaders. He has been Green leader since 1993 which may be an indication of how coveted this job is more than anything else. Mr. de Jong has run for office a lot. He's run for Queen's Park seven times, Parliament Hill four times and just for good measure he has run for city council in Ottawa. The closest he's come to victory was his distant third finish in the 2003 provincial election. If this section is biography heavy, it is because Mr. de Jong faces a serious anonymity problem in spite of his long tenure. Unlike their federal counterparts, the provincial Greens have not been showing signs of becoming a major player in Ontario politics. If anyone else wants this job this should be Mr. de Jong's last kick at the can. Eight strikes should be enough, no?

1 comment:

Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

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