Jordan: It would be totally fair. If you didn’t know the context to take a look at Ontario and call it a conservative stronghold in the coming election geographically speaking. The electoral map of the province is mostly blue and provincially it was just over a year ago that voters overwhelmingly rejected liberal candidates and handed the provincial Tories the keys to Queen’s Park.
News Clip: It’s a big win Doug Ford delivered a huge majority Progressive conservative government my friends this Victory belongs to you.
Jordan: But of course there is a lot of context here Ontario may look blue at a glance on the map. But the part that is red is the area that has the highest concentration of federal ridings of anywhere in the country and the voters did elect a conservative majority a year ago, but a lot has happened in that year.
News Clip: The Ford government wants to go from 35 Public Health agencies to just 10. The provincial government is planning to act more than 3,400 teaching positions over the next four years to save some money. A new poll just released this evening find support for Doug Ford’s government here at Queen’s Park is collapsing with the PCS.
Jordan: So right now the key ridings in Ontario are basically up for grabs. Andrew share will be spending a lot of time in those writings. As long as Doug Ford is somewhere else and the Liberals will be doing everything they can to hold onto these seats that gave them their majority in 2015. So which ridings will decide this Province and ultimately the election what will move the needle for the voters in those ridings and how closely did those voters think Scheer is too Ford and how much could that hurt his chances? I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is the big story. Today our lay of the land series. It’s the big one Ontario and to help us explain. We have Fatima Syed who is an investigative reporter with the national Observer. So Fatima, how is democracy doing in Ontario?
Fatima: I think it’s still kicking. I think it’s still, you know fighting back.
Jordan: That’s good. Seriously, though. It’s been more than a year since a huge conservative majority. How does that play into the coming federal election?
Fatima: Well, if you’ve read the news at all in the past year in a bit a lot has happened in Ontario and it seems like all of Canada is watching this Province based on everything that’s happened. We got a conservative government for the very first time in two decades and since they came into power they have cut Everything across the board. I wouldn’t say they’ve cut everything they’ve cut elements of everything across the board from environment stuff to education to Arts to Legal Aid Healthcare a lots been cut and people are worried if this is emblematic of what a conservative government in Canada, will do should it take. Power in Parliament Hill.
Jordan: So how close are the two governments Doug Fords and and the government that Andrew Scheer wants to form
Fatima: If you recall a certain Maclean’s magazine cover Doug Ford and Andrew Scheer part of this informal Alliance of conservative politicians across the country who are fighting things like the price on pollution that was imposed by the liberal government and more. So they’re tight. Having said that since the federal election campaign has started Ford has gone underground Ford is not very visible. In fact, just last week Andrew Scheer was in Etobicoke, which is Ford’s home writing and Doug Ford was nowhere to be seen Ford says that he’s focusing on Ontario that it’s not that he’s not participating in the federal election. Just that he’s he has his priority set on The Province. The federal election doesn’t really matter much. But if you look at reports in the Toronto Star in the CBC and others there are conservative insiders and and political party folks are concerned that when they’re door knocking in Ontario. The first thing that comes up is what are you going to do about Doug Ford? And that is hampering Andrew Scheer’s campaign. So how does this play out Ontario is a very important Province for the federal election. It always has been not just because it’s the most populous of all the provinces in Canada, but just because it has a lot of political power. For example, just the greater Toronto area encompasses 30 ridings. And they have swung back and forth from Liberal to conservative and back in recent elections, which may makes this election particularly interesting because it means that the biggest concentration of up for grab seats anywhere in Canada exists in Ontario right now. So, you know, everyone is looking at for instance Toronto suburbs, which currently are held by a wave of liberal MPS and whether that’s going to switch to conservative. People are looking at Mississauga which until Doug Ford’s government was elected was liberal provincially and federally and then turned blue provincially in the June 2018 election will that happen on a federal level with the Andrew Scheer sort of candidates. The GTA itself is home to more than 6 million people and and a lot of them are Battleground ridings right now and a lot of them are in contention. The Liberals wanted in 2015 by a very very tiny margin and based on if we’re if we’re basing the results of this federal election on what happened in the provincial election. Yeah that margin might happen again. We just don’t know which side the results will land on.
Jordan: Well, the conservative majority was not particularly close in the provincial election. So why aren’t we basically projecting the same thing to happen in the federal election?
Fatima: Because politics is just very different in 2019 than it was. In 2018 or in 2015, which is Doug Ford came to power. I think the landscape just changed right we had sort of a mix of premiers from various different political backgrounds. Now, we have a Canada that is run mostly by conservative premieres. All fighting on similar issues politics has become a little dirtier a little more contentious a little more. Debate filled I guess is is the phrase that’s very diplomatic of me and since 2018 because of all the Ford Cuts, we’re no longer in an era of Trudeau Sunny ways, which is what brought him into power in 2015. Now Trudeau is fighting Andrew Shearer who he has dubbed dug for 2.0, you know, every time Trudeau talks about and Assurance in relation to Doug for. He’ll say things like Andrew Shear takes his cues from the Ontario Premier or conservative politicians. Love to say they’re for the people but we all know what happens when they’re in office or and he’s also said this in the past that the middle class can’t afford another Doug Ford and it’s up to every single person to make sure that doesn’t happen. Trudeau is essentially fighting Doug Ford 2.0 and that itself is emblematic of what Is at stake in this federal election, every time a conservative politics comes up a by a liberal candidate. It’s always framed as a do you want another Doug Ford right running your country and that is why Ontario is the place to watch.
Jordan: So what have people reacted to the strongest out of the Ford Cuts can we get a sense of what issues have made the biggest impact
Fatima: not to sound like a broken record because I’ve been on this podcast before but the carbon tax or the price of pollution is definitely a top of mind because it’s something that Andrew Scheer is promising to scrap the minute. He takes power if he takes power and it’s something that conservative premiers across the country are fighting a gains and that’s something that’s going to play out in Ontario again. You have seen this in the lead-up to the election. In campaign where the federal liberals have come into Ontario time and time again to subvert the provincial government by offering money and Investments to Ontario companies and Ontario institutions that are actually trying to do something about the climate crisis, but no longer are receiving funding from the provincial government because of the. So climate change is definitely going to be a factor and Doug Ford’s cuts to environmental policies is going to play out on a federal level. The other thing that’s going to play out our pocketbook issues this week and last week since the federal campaign has started you’ve heard from Andrew Scheer and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh talking about things like a public transit tax credit, which used to exist under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Andrew sure is vowing to bring that back. By claiming that it’s going to balance the idea of reducing emissions and also giving you money back so you can be a good commuter and as we know commuting is a big issue in a province of Ontario Jagmeet Singh was in Ontario. In fact, he started his campaign in Brampton, which used to be his writing when he was provincial MPP before he became Federal leader, and he was. Speaking about cellphones and data bills and reducing that and he was also talking about health care and the first policy investment he announced was a hospital in Brampton, which is something that the Doug Ford pulled my government pulled money from so you can you can connect the dots and see that every behind every policy announcement is something that Doug Ford did in Ontario and that to me as someone who’s been watching this government for the past year and a bit is very interesting.
Jordan: What could sheer do and share and the conservatives do if they are getting tarred with this brush by the Trudeau campaign to distance themselves from Ford’s more unpopular policies or just I guess from Ford in general. How can they successfully do that?
Fatima: I don’t know for sure because I think that the federal Tories are taking a Page from Doug Ford’s Playbook actually in sort of the issues they’re tackling because they are tackling things like the carbon tax or putting money back into people’s pockets by announcing like, you know pocketbook policy announcement like the trans and one we just spoke about and I think if a conservative parties, Wants a winning approach in the GTA their pegging it to the fact that they can replicate what Doug Ford did nationally. I don’t know if that’s certain anymore because I think Doug Ford was one of those exceptional political circumstances that happened that we’re still trying to understand how exactly it happened. Maybe the Stars just aligned for him to take power. But I think Andrew Scheer has his work cut out for him, especially in Ontario because Ontarians have seen a Doug Ford government in office for the past year in a bit. They know what it looks like and they know what it. They’re now hearing from Justin Trudeau that Andrew Shear is the same as Doug Ford. So Scheer has like like a multi-front battle not only does he have to convince on Terry ins that Liberal Liberals suck, but he also has to convince them that he’s not like Doug Ford, right? And I don’t think he’s effectively done that yet because all the policy focuses. He’s had so far are exactly the same even the language he’s been using his is quite similar. So I don’t think. He has yet convinced Ontarians that Doug Ford and Russia are two very different entities and that an Andrew Scheer government is not necessarily going to do the same thing as a Doug Ford government. That’s a very fine distinction that I’m still waiting to understand myself. Um, so I can’t expect before ders to understand it.
Jordan: Well, it’s fascinating to me that things might actually be easier for sheer. If he were running against Kathleen Wynne’s liberals in Ontario than running in Ontario with a conservative majority in the province backing them up.
Fatima: Exactly and I think you know to flip that argument on its head. I think Doug Ford will. Inadvertently and the sounds so messed up but inadvertently have more success with a Trudeau government still in power because then he’ll have an enemy in office right now. I think a lot of the success and traction dug for it has had is because he’s defined his policies as anti Trudeau what happens if Andrew Scheer gets elected. How does he sell removing the price on pollution to Ontarians then? Right. So things like that are it’s a lots going on Jordan.
Jordan: Well, I was going to I mean that’s the next thing I was kind of going to ask you about is so far. We’ve basically talked about it as a two-party battle for seats in Toronto and the surrounding areas but also all of Ontario, but the NDP has a bit of a foothold in Toronto. What are the chances and what do the does the NDP or the green party have to do to play spoiler?
Fatima: Jagmeet Singh is at an advantage when it comes to this regard because he has served in Ontario. So he knows this province very well and since 2015 the landscape of Ontario has changed to you know, the last census showed that we are majority-minority Province Now 51 percent of Ontarians are now visible minority or identify as such that might play to Jagmeet Singh’s advantage. If he plays his cards, right he knows Brampton. He knows Mississauga. These are two of the biggest cities in Canada. Also, one of two of the most diverse cities in Canada. Having said that NDP doesn’t really have any Star candidates in this province none that you can really think of off the top of your head and be like, yep. That’s the NDP candidate that you know is really shining out, you know on Deck so it’s an uphill battle for the NDP, but I think Brampton for sure could definitely swing NDP federally because it’s Wong NDP provincially as well the three seats in Brampton went NDP in 2018, and I think the NDP is is sort of betting that they can do that again, at least federally
Jordan: If we’re talking about the area in and around Toronto as being sort of the closest races and the most important races to the general outcome of the. We’re in particular if someone in BC or Newfoundland is watching the Returns on Election night. What riding should they be looking at?
Fatima: Okay, so I have to so the first one is Etobicoke, which is Doug Ford’s home writing which he won in June 2018 by a margin. I think he wanted by 27% of the first team to win and they do but what’s interesting this time around is that we’re not afford who is Rob Ford’s wife? Running as the People’s Party of Canada candidate. So interestingly on September 13th when Andrew Shearer was in Etobicoke. So is Maxine Bernier the leader of PPC with Renata Ford in a rally. So the ford name is out there all over again Etobicoke North has one of the safest Federal seats for the Liberals in recent years Kirsty Duncan who is currently the minister of Science and sport is running again this year and she won it by a margin of 30. Nine percentage points in 2015 and since 1962 the Liberals have only lost Etobicoke North once and that was in 1984. He won it back in 1988 and it’s had three different liberal MP serving it but it’s always been liberal. Could that change this year? Because it is Ground Zero for Ford Nation and you have a very prominent Ford running. I think this is one of the seats that the People’s Party of Canada is banking on. Renata Ford is their highest profile candidate federally I would say after Maxine Bernier which will make this interesting. The other riding to watch is Milton where you have your classic star rookie versus solid veteran playing out the Liberals have put up Adam Vancouver in the gold medal winning kayaker from the 2004 Olympics in Athens who then carried the Canadian flag at the Beijing games opening ceremony for years later. I was a huge get for them. It was a huge get. And he’s also I would argue a rare occurrence this year in the federal election because he’s genuinely a bona fide star newcomer to politics. Yeah, and there’s not that many this year. In fact, I would say he might be the only one who’s just brand new but like huge stardom and could potentially make waves. And the reason why his race is one to watch in Milton is because he’s going up against the incumbent MP who is conservative Lisa Raitt who herself is a huge name. So she bucked the 2015 wave of liberals beating Tories across the greater Toronto area in the previous election, and she’s her own sort of Rarity because she’s a conservative who brings. Her own brand. She’s a proven name. She has a proven record and a proven success factor to this campaign and she’s going for her fourth straight win.
Jordan: She’s got a profile outside of her writing which is kind of unusual for a she died today for a party who’s not Empower.
Fatima: Yeah, and she has a national profile. I would say like her party has put her up to speak on all sorts of issues whether its climate or race or you know several others. She’s very high-profile. So it’ll be interesting to watch and the demographics of. Alton have changed significantly since 2015 when Lisa Raitt last one it according to the latest census the City’s population growth 31 percent to over a hundred and ten thousand in the last four years making it the fastest-growing jurisdiction in Ontario. It’s also younger and more diverse. In fact, the Muslim vote is at play in Milton, which the conservatives have had trouble cording thus far because they haven’t yet been able to convince the Muslim demographic. Their allegiances to certain groups. So that one is especially interesting for me to watch because of these two big names going to battle.
Jordan: What kinds of things not particular writings but what kinds of policies should we be keeping a lookout for over the next few weeks as we try to figure out which way the key writings in this province will go?
Fatima: I would be interested to see if any of the federal leaders go north admittedly. The campaign is only been what 10 days barely and so far we’ve seen the visits to Ontario have been focused in. You know the areas that you’d expect Toronto Mississauga Brampton.
Jordan: Where we talked about seats being up for grabs
Fatima: Exactly the key Battlegrounds. I would be interested to see if any of those parties go north and and Court the indigenous vote in Ontario, or if they go further out to the suburbs. Justin Trudeau did go to Windsor yesterday, but I would argue that that is also you know another big city and key Battleground
Jordan: How much of that is because we just don’t think of those seats as in play.
Fatima: I think that has something to do with it. I also think it’s hard to get up north. Yeah, I think if you’re a political party like weighing your options on where to get the most traction. Do you want to go somewhere which has less people and is harder to get to and will take more time or do you want to go to a city that has like millions of people and you can get all of their votes and writings in one day exactly. Yeah, but you know in the past Justin Trudeau especially has said that no relationship matters to him more than the than the government’s relationship with indigenous people. And I’m very curious to see how that message plays out this election because you know some have argued that he hasn’t done enough for indigenous peoples in Canada and Ontario has a significant population of indigenous communities, and I’d be curious to see if he goes there same goes for Andrew Scheer you know, he did not have the greatest visit when he went up to the Arctic a couple of months ago. The Optics weren’t great from that visit and I’d be curious to see if he replicated it in some way or try to you know, bring that back by visiting indigenous communities in which we. He goes to if we’re looking at election night or the day after and the conservatives have utterly toppled this government and Andrew share is leading a majority. What will have had to happen in your mind in Ontario. The greater. Toronto area would have had to have fully gone blue as it did in the provincial election. For Andrew Scheer to win nationally because if the pundits are to be believed and all the political analysts and polling companies and pollsters and everyone else has to be believed. If any political party wins in the greater Toronto area the chant the chances are that it will win over most places in the rest of the country. So if Andrew Scheer wins on Election night, it will probably because Ontario swung for him.
Jordan: And a lot will depend on how far or close he is to Doug Ford
Fatima: the last poll showed that in Ontario.The Liberals had 40% of the decided voter support and the conservatives had 32% of the support. It’s a close close margin and things can change in the next 30 days. So we’ll see what happens.
Fatima: Thank you Jordan.
Jordan: Fatima Syed is an investigative reporter with the national Observer. And that was the big story. We are almost halfway through the lay of the land. If you want to hear the previous ones, you can find them and our other episodes at thebigstorypodcast.ca if you want to complain or congratulate us, you can find us at @thebigstoryfpn on Twitter and you know. We are wherever you get your podcast an apple on Google on Stitcher on Spotify on Pocket Casts, which I hear a lot of you like. It’s free now. Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, we’ll talk tomorrow.
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