LILLEY: Ford campaigns with trip north and new ads aimed at voters

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Doug Ford took the description of Monday’s throne speech being the unofficial launch of next June’s election campaign quite literally.

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Shortly after the speech was delivered, the premier hopped on a plane to go campaigning in Timmins.

Officially, the reason for his visit was to meet frontline workers. After chatting with and thanking doctors and nurses at the local hospital, Ford revealed the real reason for his trip north.

Timmins Mayor George Pirie, a long-time mining executive in the region, will be the Progressive Conservative candidate for the next election.

It’s a bold move for Ford and the PCs to invest so much time and effort in a riding they haven’t won in decades. The last time the PCs won any part of the area now covered by this riding was 1987.

New Democrat Gilles Bisson has represented Timmins at Queen’s Park since 1990 and is a formidable regional power player. Bisson regularly wins with 50% of the vote or more; he took 57% of the ballots cast in the 2018 election.

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The PCs think they can win in this seat, and in other NDP ridings with a significant blue-collar workforce like Essex, near Windsor, by selling these voters on a new message.

The PCs are the party of yes is the message: yes to building infrastructure, homes, and highways, while the NDP is the party of no.

It might sound like a crazy strategy, but today’s NDP under Andrea Horwath isn’t the party of miners, factory workers or the skilled trades. Ontario’s NDP is more concerned about issues that get discussed at the faculty club than the union hall.

The only strong union support the party receives these days is from unions representing well-paid civil servants like bureaucrats and teachers.

The NDP has set itself up as the party of saying no to new projects, and the Liberals under Steven Del Duca, have foolishly done the same.

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While Hwys. 412 and 418 were built under Del Duca’s watch as transportation minister in the Wynne government, his party is now opposed to the construction of Hwy. 413 northwest of Toronto and the housing that would spring up around it.

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Ontario’s two main progressive parties seem to believe we can add hundreds of thousands of people to the province, but don’t think we should build places for them to live or infrastructure to get them around. When they say no to those projects, they are also saying no to jobs, communities, and more.

Three ads currently running on radio hammer home this message with a positive spin on Ford while shining a negative light on Horwath and Del Duca. TV versions of the ads are being finalized, and party officials say the campaign will be seen and heard across Ontario with a multi-million dollar buy.

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The campaign is on — even if we don’t vote for another eight months.

The NDP is busy disqualifying potential candidates over past social media posts.

Curtis Fric, a former candidate in Niagara West, has been barred from running over social media posts critical of the federal NDP. Given that the NDP has caucus members who have posted fully anti-Israel comments in the past — and one who marched with a sign saying “F— the police” — this exclusion seems puzzling.

The Liberals, meanwhile, once an Ontario political powerhouse, are having trouble attracting candidates in some areas and so far, have only nominated people in 53 ridings.

  1. Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a press conference at Queen's Park on Sept. 22, 2021.

    LILLEY: Monday’s throne speech a preview for the coming election

  2. Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

    FORD: Economic growth will fuel Ontario’s path to recovery, not tax hikes or spending cuts

  3. A sign with the slogan

    GOLDBERG: It’s time to restore business confidence in Ontario

The election seems a long way off, but June 2 will be here before we know it.

Ford’s PC Party is already starting to flex their muscles, while the other parties are still trying to get their acts together.

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