Political Points is your daily guide to some of the stories we’re watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail’s team of political reporters.
This is a special edition of Political Points, giving you a primer on the current state of the Ontario Liberal leadership race. For a quick primer on the seven candidates, read this. The most important point: All seven are current or former provincial cabinet ministers, and it’s still anyone’s race. They meet tonight in Ottawa for their fifth all-candidates debate and the party is streaming it online. The race ends at a party convention Jan. 25 and 26, 2013.
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and have kids, good luck today.
A series of one-day rotating strikes by Ontario’s teachers hits “Super Tuesday” with nearly 392,000 children locked out of classrooms and labour leaders warning of more job action to come.
The true target of the strikes is the Liberal government, who passed the controversial Bill 115 that sought to short-circuit collective bargaining. Teachers will be picketing the offices of leadership candidates Kathleen Wynne, Eric Hoskins, Glen Murray and Charles Sousa.
For what it’s worth, the Globe editorial board says the teachers need to follow the province’s doctors and share the pain, while Adam Radwanski says Dalton McGuinty handled the negotiations very badly.
Where they stand in the polls
Whoever wins the leadership has their work cut out for them.
The Ontario Liberals’ poll numbers have improved over a dismal fall, but they still wouldn’t be expected to win an election held right now.
The latest poll, from Abacus Data, puts the overall race at 35 per cent for the Progressive Conservatives, 31 per cent for the NDP and 28 per cent for the Liberals. (Abacus’s polls are online surveys and don’t have a margin of error.) One-fifth of those who said they voted for the Liberals in the 2011 election now say they don’t know who to vote for.
Of the candidates, Gerard Kennedy led the pack in being both known and liked, especially among those who voted Liberal in 2011. Most other candidates were not particular well known, even among party voters.
Whoever takes over as leader will almost certainly see an improvement in approval ratings over Dalton McGuinty, who finished dead last in an Angus Reid survey of the most popular premiers.
How much money they have
In politics, the only number more important than a poll is how much money you have. Here’s a breakdown on where the candidates stand on fundraising, as of currently disclosed records: (Note: this total doesn’t include contributions of less than $100.)
Eric Hoskins: $71,500.
Gerard Kennedy: $38,850.
Glen Murray: $94,150.
Sandra Pupatello: $131,700.
Charles Sousa: $171,300.
Harinder Takhar: $20,500.
Kathleen Wynne: $175,250.
Where they stand on the issues
Our Queen’s Park reporter Karen Howlett has an excellent rundown of the policy platforms. Many candidates made policy announcements on Monday. Eric Hoskins has released one of the most detailed platforms so far, including a proposal to peg seniors’ prescription costs to their income. More affluent seniors would have to pay for their drugs, while the working poor would get increased access.
Kathleen Wynne, who announced her health-care policies yesterday, would phase in universal access to some drugs. Many of her proposals build on the work of current Health Minister Deb Matthews, who supports Ms. Wynne’s leadership.
Harinder Takhar would offer more protection for temporary employees, while other candidates have so far focused on rural issues. Gerard Kennedy has not yet unveiled any policies.
A little help from their friends
In the endorsement scorecard, Sandra Pupatello has far and away the most support among the party establishment, followed by Kathleen Wynne. The other candidates only have a handful of endorsements from their colleagues.