Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford, whose party is tied with the NDP in the latest poll, will make an announcement in Woodslee on Wednesday, the first party leader to come to Windsor or Essex County since the provincial election campaign began two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Liberal leader and Premier Kathleen Wynne offered to come to Windsor, but Liberal candidate Rino Bortolin told her not to.
“The offer was made if we wanted it, and we turned it down,” said Bortolin, who’s running in Windsor West, where voters ousted Liberal cabinet minister Teresa Piruzza in the last election. “We basically told her we don’t need her to come down. The focus is my brand.
“There are a lot of ridings that will need her support and want a visit from her to strengthen their chances and for us, we don’t feel that actually strengthens our chances,” he said. “We feel it’s my brand that’s going to bring people out to the polls.”
Wynne called Bortolin last Friday to make the offer.
The premier and her campaign team are asking ridings across the province if their candidates want her to stump for them, said Jordan Renaud, campaign manager for Liberal candidate Remy Boulbol in Windsor-Tecumseh.
Wynne hasn’t asked Boulbol’s campaign yet, Renaud said. If she does, “Well, she is our leader, and we would engage in that conversation, but that would be a broader discussion amongst our campaign and also probably as well with the other local campaigns because what impacts Windsor-Tecumseh impacts Windsor West,” said Renaud.
Not a resounding yes.
Party leaders are used to boost campaigns in ridings where the parties could gain or lose seats. But Wynne, the most unpopular premier in Canada, whose Liberals have plummeted to third place with only 23 per cent support in the latest poll by Ipsos for Global News, is seen as a leader who could hurt candidates. The Ipsos poll asked, “Which leader is someone you can trust?” Only 12 percent of voters named Wynne. The most common response that local candidates from all three main parties hear from voters is they want Wynne out.
Some Liberal candidates try not to say her name or the party’s.
Liberal candidate Amanda Yeung Collucci in Markham-Unionville doesn’t use the word Liberal on her signs, though the signs are red, the party colour.
“I’m not a Liberal, but that angers me,” former Windsor-Riverside MPP Dave Cooke, who was a cabinet minister in Bob Rae’s NDP government, said of Bortolin. “His brand isn’t what’s up for offer. It’s the party. You’re either part of the team, or you’re not, and all the research shows very clearly you can’t run on your own brand. It shows a complete lack of understanding of how parliamentary politics works.”
It’s always up to local ridings to decide if they want the leader there, but it’s “unheard of” for candidates to say publicly they don’t want the leader to come, he said.
“It’s embarrassing that the premier offers to come to our city, and the local candidate says no we don’t want you.
“I think Kathleen Wynne deserves better than that,” he said. “They’ve (the Liberals) done things for Windsor.”
Wynne won the party an extra term, winning the last election when she wasn’t expected to, he noted.
Political science professor Lydia Miljan of the University of Windsor called it “a little bit disingenuous.”
“I do find it interesting that people were willing to stick with the Liberal brand, put their name underneath that banner, but somehow they don’t have the confidence in the leader,” she said.
Ford will be at 2840 Lakeshore Road 235 in Woodslee at 11 a.m.
He will also make an appearance at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens in the Kingsville community of Ruthven around 12:30 p.m.
Essex hasn’t elected a Conservative MPP since 1963, when William Murdoch lost to Liberal Donald Paterson. The riding was Liberal for decades until NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak was elected in 2011. He won his second term with more than 60 percent of the vote in the last election. The federal riding was also Liberal for decades, but it went Conservative in 2004, then NDP in 2015.
Essex was considered vulnerable if the Conservatives won a big majority. But with the party’s lead dwindling and the NDP continuing to rise, Essex is considered safe.
The Conservatives were leading in Southwestern Ontario until the Ipsos poll, published Tuesday. That poll now shows the NDP with 43 percent support in Southwestern Ontario and the Conservatives with 35 percent.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who was pouring drinks at a local bar the second day of the last campaign, when the party was projected to take Windsor West from the Liberals. She was expected to be here less this time because the party’s seats here are considered safe, and she hopes to pick up seats in other ridings. She has already been to Sarnia-Lambton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.
But she is planning to come to Windsor and Essex County, a party source said, though no date has been set.
“We’re not taking any riding for granted,” the source said. “We’re going to be working as hard as we always have.”
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner was the first of the four publicly-subsidized parties to visit Windsor. He came in March.
–The Windsor Star