Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath speaks with a supporter during a campaign stop at Blackwater Coffee Co. in Sarnia Ont., Monday.

Federal parties deeply involved in Ontario campaign, closely eyeing results

OTTAWA — As voters prepare to head to the polls in Ontario, federal parties that have been deeply involved in the provincial campaign will be keeping close tabs on any successes — and failures — as they prepare for the federal race in 2019.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a hands-off approach, so as not to interfere in the outcome of a provincial election. But his office is quick to paint a rosy picture of the state of the province under Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s leadership.

“Ontarians will make their decision on who to elect as premier and (Trudeau) will work with whomever they choose. Since taking office, we have worked hard with the province of Ontario and achieved much,” said PMO press secretary Matt Pascuzzo.

“The Ontario economy has created almost 270,000 jobs, most of them full-time, and the unemployment rate is down to 5.5 per cent.”

Those comments, however, came before Wynne’s stunning admission Saturday that her party was so far back in the polls that it won’t win the election. Wynne is now pleading with voters to at least elect some Liberals in order to keep a majority Progressive Conservative or NDP government in check.

Trudeau did attend a funding announcement with Wynne in Ontario on the eve of the start to the campaign — an indication he was showing his support for Wynne’s bid for re-election, says Liberal strategist Greg MacEachern, senior vice-president of Proof Strategies.

“I think it indicates some regard that he had for Wynne and for the efforts that she gave him in the last federal election.”

But although Trudeau himself is sitting out the campaign, some of his heavyweight MPs and cabinet ministers have been rallying the troops.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott attended a campaign rally in east Toronto in May, during which both cabinet ministers praised Wynne’s leadership and predicted a Liberal win, despite polling suggesting otherwise.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna sent an email to Liberal supporters last week calling for volunteers to help Ottawa candidate Yasir Naqvi’s re-election campaign, and had plans to canvass with him in Ottawa Centre. Former prime minister Paul Martin also joined Wynne for an event on Friday.

Behind the scenes, the Liberal team has recruited additional federal assistance, notably from Zita Astravas, who took an unpaid leave-of-absence as chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. Astravas formerly worked in issues management in the PMO and used to be Wynne’s press secretary.

Hill staffers from multiple federal ministers’ offices in Ottawa have also been volunteering time to make provincial campaign phone calls.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has also been getting a hand from the federal party.

His war room is filled with a number of former Stephen Harper government insiders, including Ford’s campaign manager Kory Teneycke, who worked as Harper’s director of communications, and Jenni Byrne, who ran Harper’s campaigns in 2011 and 2015, and is now Ford’s director of field operations. Ford also received a show of support in a tweet from Harper himself.

Just Posted

RDC cancels championship-winning golf program due to tight finances

Short season, small number of student golfers were also considerations

Fire investigators comb through industrial fire wreckage looking for answers

Industrial building in north Red Deer was completely gutted in Wednesday morning fire

Time for a central Albertan in cabinet, says chamber of commerce

Central Alberta had no cabinet ministers in last government

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

WATCH video of Innisfail resident creating the world’s biggest caricature

Watch as Innisfail resident Dean Foster creates the world’s biggest caricature of… Continue reading

Lower price discounts to boost Q1 oil profits but uncertainty hangs over sector

CALGARY — Lower discounts on western Canadian oil prices have swollen producer… Continue reading

Local Sports: Hard training pays off for Red Deer runner Jared Howse

Jared Howse understands success doesn’t come easily. The 17-year-old has put together… Continue reading

CRA’s automatic benefit registrations give retirees reason to file on time

TORONTO — This is the time of year when procrastinators begin to… Continue reading

Study: Genetic test predicts middle-aged obesity risk

NEW YORK — Can a genetic test identify newborns at risk of… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer Co-op Plaza Food store closing

Central Alberta Co-op is closing its downtown Red Deer Plaza food store… Continue reading

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Most Read