By TOM GODFREY
A last-minute push for votes is underway by candidates for the Ontario elections as the Liberals try to hang on to an 11-year stranglehold on the province.
We may quite likely have the return of a Conservative government on June 12, if the polls continue to favour leader Tim Hudak and his “million jobs plan”.
The PCs have been ahead of the Liberals in the polls by four to nine points at different times in the campaign. The gap is closing as the horse race comes down the stretch. The NDP has been a distant third.
If anything, the election results will be a close call. A CP24/CTV Ipsos Reid poll last week showed the PCs had the support of 36 per cent of decided voters; the Liberals with 34 per cent and the NDP with 23 per cent.
Hudak has assembled a good campaign team and they are making a huge last-minute drive to recruit and get residents out to vote or erect signs on their lawns.
The PCs have gained some steam with a plan to create one million jobs. It is unclear exactly how the jobs will be created. At the same time Hudak is facing heat from civil servants for his plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs.
Even though he may be gaining support for his economic platform, many still see in Hudak former premier Mike Harris and his disastrous fiscal policies, since his cuts can lead to front-line workers such as inspectors and firefighters losing their jobs.
He has vowed to reduce spending that he claims the Liberals are famous for.
Three volunteers have been at my door seeking support for their candidates in the last week. Two of them were from a local PC candidate and one for Wynne.
Wynne has been on the defensive lately as many have complained about the Liberals cancelling a Mississauga gas plant that left us $1 billion in debt.
Others are unhappy with the Liberal spending abuses at e-Health Ontario, Ornge Air Ambulance, or at Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation; where hundreds of workers are on the Sunshine List for earning more than $100,000 yearly.
Wynne has been forging ahead with the creation of an Ontario pension plan despite calls by many that it would lead to increased payroll taxes.
Horwath on the other hand is being criticized by some supporters for deserting the unions and pandering more to Liberal voters, rather than only those traditionally to the left.
She is gaining momentum as she hammers Wynne and Hudak about jobs and the economy, while pushing GST cuts to lower Hydro rates.
There is no doubt that the outcome at Queen’s Park will affect the Toronto mayoral elections on October 27.
A Wynne win may help shore up some support for NDP front-runner Olivia Chow, who is the only candidate to the left of centre.
Chow has been leading the polls in the hotly-contested race that has Conservative John Tory in second place.
A Hudak win will help galvanize support for Tory, who has been gaining support for his plan to curb traffic congestion and improve mass transit with a One Toronto Transit Plan to use cutting-edge technology.
Either way, there is a lot riding on the provincial elections next week.
It can mean we return to the Liberal free-spending ways or get ready for whopping cuts and reforms, as Hudak is promising to save taxpayers’ money.
The pleas for our vote can be heard in the many political ads appearing on every medium these days. Voters were also able to view the candidates in a TV debate last Tuesday.
Do your part and get out and vote before the provincial poll shuts for another four years. There is a lot riding on this ballot.