Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s party is launching a pre-election advertising blitz with campaign-style spots attacking his opponents and touting the Progressive Conservatives as “the only party looking to the future.”
The opposition New Democrats and Liberals are also poised to unleash their own ad campaigns in the coming days.
The barrage of new political advertising means Ontario voters will be seeing and hearing a preview of how the parties intend to battle for votes in the provincial election slated for June 2, 2022.
“Politicians are famous for finding reasons to say no. That’s not me,” says Ford in a new radio ad he voiced himself.
“We’re the party saying yes,” continues Ford. “Yes to building highways you can drive on so you don’t sit in gridlock. Yes to building homes more families can afford. We’re the only party looking to the future and we’re ready to build.”
The Progressive Conservatives are also airing radio ads critical of Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, saying Ontario “crumbled” during his tenure as a cabinet minister in the Wynne government.
“Remember life under Kathleen Wynne?” says the PC Party ad. “Steven Del Duca wants to take us back. He was Wynne’s right-hand man when they sent your hydro bills skyrocketing, sold Hydro One, all while Liberal insiders got rich.”
Ontario’s political parties can spend as much as they want on advertising over the next few weeks.
The province’s campaign finance law prohibits each political party from spending more than $1 million on advertising in the six months before the official start of a general election campaign. That restriction doesn’t take effect until early November, as the campaign period officially begins early next May.
Another PC radio ad targets New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath.
“Andrea Horwath is a politician that says one thing and does another,” says the ad. “She says she stands with workers but supports job-killing red-tape. She talks about how expensive everything is but plans to raise your taxes.”
Officials with the Ontario NDP say the party has already recorded some ads and is poised to launch them in the coming days.
“We are going to be showing Ontarians very clearly the difference between a Conservative government and what they say they have brought to Ontario versus what an NDP government would be able to bring,” Horwath told reporters Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
The NDP produced two video ads in the summer, one of which targeted Del Duca, using a line of attack that is now being echoed in the PCs’ radio spots.
“You might not remember his name, but you’ll never forget his record as Kathleen Wynne’s right-hand man,” says the NDP video ad. “Together … sending your hydro bill through the roof. Now he wants to be premier to do it all again.”
Del Duca spent most of his tenure in Wynne’s cabinet as minister of transportation, and also served a few months as minister of economic development before losing his seat in Vaughan in the decimation of the Ontario Liberals in the 2018 election.
“Having the opportunity to remind Ontarians about the record of Mr. Del Duca when his team was in government is the appropriate thing to do,” Horwath said Tuesday.
The PCs say Del Duca’s tenure as a member of Wynne’s government is a natural target for their advertising.
“It’s important to contrast the differing perspectives and track records of political leaders all the time. In our democracy, that is a healthy thing,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
Ontario Liberal Party advertising in the coming weeks “will be forward-looking, it’ll be positive, it’ll be ideas-based,” Del Duca said Tuesday. “It will not be full of personal attacks against other political leaders.”
He said the ads will “give people a compelling and relatable reason to support Ontario Liberals come the next election campaign.”
In a string of previous Ontario elections, the Liberals benefited from significant attack-ad campaigns by union-funded organizations that targeted PC leaders. For the 2022 campaign, such organizations will be constrained by tighter spending limits brought in by the Ford government.
Although those new limits were struck down in June by an Ontario Superior Court judge, the Ford government invoked the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to override that court ruling, bringing the rules into effect in the run up to the 2022 election.