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Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak talks to supporters during a campaign stop in Brockville, Ont., on Sept. 7, 2011. (Lars Hagberg/Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak talks to supporters during a campaign stop in Brockville, Ont., on Sept. 7, 2011. (Lars Hagberg/Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Where Ontario leaders are on Day 2 Add to ...

Andrea Horwath: Making the Hammer resonate

Wheels on the big orange bus start up early Thursday, as the New Democrats head out of the Golden Horseshoe area and make for northern ridings.

Andrea Horwath heads first to Sudbury – Liberal Rick Bartolucci territory, but abutting the NDP-incumbent France Gélinas’s Nickel Belt riding. There, the party is poised to make its first new policy announcement of the campaign.

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Then Sturgeon Falls, Timiskaming. The NDP is looking to win the Quebec-bordering Timiskaming-Cochrane riding back from the Liberals. David Ramsay, a longtime (and onetime NDP) MPP isn’t running for reelection this time around, but his 2007 NDP opponent is.

Finally, a trip up to Thunder Bay-Atikokan, where Liberal Bill Mauro edged his NDP rival by the slimmest of margins in the last election.

The NDP is counting on gains in the province’s northern ridings. It isn’t hard here to find voters who feel forgotten by Queen’s Park.

But this first foray will be an important litmus test for how Ms. Horwath’s Hamilton-style messaging plays farther afield.

Tim Hudak: A bellwether like no other

The Progressive Conservatives will work their way back to Toronto from Ottawa, and the last stop of the day may be the first riding they’ll want to watch come election day.

Peterborough has become legendary over the years for being the ultimate bellwether riding. The city’s voters like to be on the winning side of an election, almost always choosing a representative from the party that goes on to form the government.

So it goes that Liberal MPP Jeff Leal swept into power alongside Dalton McGuinty in 2003, to replace Progressive Conservative MPP Gary Stewart who was swept into power with Mike Harris in 1995.

Naturally, the city has swung hard toward the Conservatives federally in recent elections and that’s something Leader Tim Hudak hopes will rub off on his party.

Before he gets there, he’ll make stops in the Ottawa suburbs of Nepean and Gloucester, which are both held by Liberals. He’ll also make an early afternoon stop in Belleville, which is also Liberal held.

Dalton McGuinty: The battle for London begins

The Liberals have an action-packed day on Thursday, beginning with a stop at this morning at the University of Western Ontario in London, where Mr. McGuinty will boast about all the clean energy jobs he has created.

London is a major battleground, so we can expect the Liberals and the Tories to spend a lot of time here. The Liberals nabbed all four London area seats in 2007. It is home to two cabinet ministers: Health Minister Deb Matthews and Attorney General Chris Bentley.

But provincial Liberals are nervous about what happened in the federal election, when the Tories won three London seats and the NDP took the fourth. As well, Steve Peters, the popular MPP who was Speaker, is not running. Liberal insiders think the Tories have the best shot in his riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London.

From London, the Liberals head to Woodstock, where Mr. McGuinty will visit the Toyota plant – again, hammering home the message about all the jobs he has created.

Then the bus heads to Burlington, where Mr. McGuinty will speak to volunteers at candidate Karmel Sakran’s office. The Liberals think they have a shot at winning this riding. Tory incumbent Joyce Savoline is not running again. She won by a narrow margin in 2007.

Follow on Twitter: @kahowlett

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