It’s day seventeen of the Ontario election and the campaign trail will run half virtually, half in-person today, as the leaders for the New Democratic and Green parties isolate with COVID-19.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Green party Leader Mike Schreiner tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, disrupting their campaigns and renewing attention to the pandemic as an election issue two weeks ahead of voting day. Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca continued their in-person campaign events on Thursday, each publicly stating that they tested negative for COVID-19.
Ontario’s political parties are offering differing visions for how to address the high cost of gasoline, with the NDP proposing to cap and regulate prices. The Progressive Conservatives government passed legislation to implement a 5.7-cent cut to the gas tax for six months starting July 1.
Here’s where the leaders of Ontario’s main political parties are today:
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford
Doug Ford is making a campaign stop in Niagara today.
Behind the campaign curtain: Running the election campaign for the Progressive Conservatives is Kory Teneycke, who masterminded Ford’s 2018 majority win in the province. Teneycke, a former director of communications for Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and senior executive at the short-lived Sun News TV, took on the helm of the re-election campaign last spring. He’s credited as giving Ford’s government new direction and focus.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath
Andrea Horwath says she is not feeling 100 per cent after testing positive for COVID-19. She has said she will isolate until she is no longer testing positive, and in the meantime, will continue to hold events and make announcements virtually via Zoom. Horwath had been set to hold events in Thunder Bay, but instead will talk about gas prices in a Zoom press conference.
The NDP said they would regulate retail and wholesale mark-up of gas prices, getting the Ontario Energy Board to set a weekly price that includes reasonable profits for gas companies. They have also pledged to repeal the PC’s 5.7-cent cut to the gas tax cut.
Behind the campaign curtain: In charge of the NDP is Michael Balagus, who ran the Andrea Horwath’s 2018 campaign and served as Horwath’s chief of staff as opposition leader. For the first time, this election the NDP can afford to spend the maximum amount in this campaign – $8.9-million.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca
Steven Del Duca is set to campaign in Ottawa, one of the few regions in which the Liberals retained seats amid their disastrous 2018 showing.
Also today, Del Duc says regulating gas prices – as the NDP have pledged – doesn’t actually work. He says the NDP plan would just put a weekly cap on gas prices instead of an overall way of preventing increases. The Liberals have pledged to keep the PC’s gas tax cut in place.
Behind the campaign curtain: Christine McMillan is a rookie campaign director, and former aide to premier Dalton McGuinty. Christine who co-ran McGuinty’s war room in 2007, has been around Ontario Liberal politics since in 1995.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner
Mike Schreiner says he is feeling fine after testing positive for COVID-19, but will isolate for at least a few days. In the meantime, he will continue to hold events and make announcements virtually via Zoom.
Behind the campaign curtain: Schreiner’s former chief of staff, Becky Smit, is the chair of the campaign.
Early voting for the Ontario election
Advance polls for early voting: Advance voting locations opened yesterday in Ontario and will run until May 28. Ontarians can vote at any of the advance voting locations in their electoral district. Advance voting locations are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Find your electoral district by entering your postal code on the Elections Ontario website. Election day is on June 2.