Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Fighting for attention in Canada's biggest city and its surrounding region, the Leader of the Official Opposition is set to deliver what his campaign team is billing as "an incredibly Toronto-specific" pitch.

At a campaign-style rally on Sunday that New Democrats are hoping will serve as a show of force, Thomas Mulcair will begin to lay out an "urban agenda" involving five core commitments: funding for public transit, a national child-care program, support for public housing, facilitating the recognition of foreign credentials, and a small-business tax cut.

Mr. Mulcair has previously signalled his platform in this year's election will be built around those policy areas, but his speech will provide details on what they will mean for the Greater Toronto Area. Notably, he will promise that within eight years the GTA would get 164,000 affordable daycare spaces under the $15-per-day national program his party is promising.

Story continues below advertisement

But as much as it will be aimed at highlighting his policies, the speech also signals a push to introduce Mr. Mulcair himself to a place that scarcely knows who he is. And the success or failure of that effort will go a long way toward determining who forms the next government.

The NDP currently has seven MPs in Toronto, all but two or three of whom appear to face tough fights in the campaign scheduled for fall. If New Democrats have much hope of building on the gains that propelled them to Official Opposition in 2011, they need to make inroads elsewhere in an area that will have approximately 55 of the country's 338 ridings under newly adopted boundaries. And in parts of the region where the NDP is not competitive, the extent to which NDP candidates split the vote could determine the results in head-to-head battles between Conservatives and Liberals.

New Democrats acknowledge that, as in much of the country outside Ottawa and Quebec, Mr. Mulcair's profile in Toronto is troublingly low. And they know it will be one of the toughest places in which to raise it.

Unlike in some smaller cities, an opposition leader often cannot attract media coverage simply by turning up. By his party's count Mr. Mulcair has spent 15 days in the GTA in the past seven weeks alone, but it is questionable how many local residents have noticed.

The GTA is also the most expensive place in the country in which to advertise, which is a problem for a party with less robust fundraising than its opponents. While all parties are likely to spend at or close to the national limit of slightly more than $20-million during the official writ period, the Conservatives and to a lesser extent the Liberals have more money to spend leading up to it.

Those parties may also get better value out of advertising in Toronto, because they are competitive in all the cities that surround it. The NDP holds federal seats only in the city itself, and with the exception of Brampton – where popular MPP Jagmeet Singh is persistently rumoured to be plotting a federal run – Mr. Mulcair's party has shown few signs of competitiveness in those suburbs.

While such considerations contributed to the provincial NDP all but giving up on the GTA in last year's Ontario election, and ultimately losing three of its six local seats, Mr. Mulcair's advisers stress they have no intention of doing likewise.

Story continues below advertisement

They insist Toronto-area voters, along with Canadians elsewhere, will warm to Mr. Mulcair the more they get to know him. On Sunday, as in other public appearances since he changed some of his staff and advisers this winter, the NDP Leader will speak more personally than he was previously willing to do – seeking to draw a contrast with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and especially Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, by highlighting how his blue-collar background helps him understand Canadians' everyday struggles. And that backstory is likely to feature in whatever advertising campaign the NDP is able to muster in the months ahead.

In addition to New Democrats, many Conservatives are hoping Mr. Mulcair will be able to sustain such an effort in the Toronto area, and get a bit of traction with it. That's because they're counting on the NDP to pull votes away from the Liberals in suburban battlegrounds.

Not that Mr. Mulcair's campaign team is ready to accept a role as spoiler. Making inroads in the GTA, one of his advisers said Friday, is essential to competing for government. This weekend's event is meant to show that the NDP intends to do just that.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies