Why can't I find a Del Duca voter in Vaughan-Woodbridge?
Plus: Union endorsements fly, daycare delay, candidate controversies
ABOVE THE FOLD
“He doesn’t really seem like a leader.”
“He looks stuffy.”
“Once he put in his platform mandatory Covid shots for kids, when I saw that, I was like, I wouldn’t do that — that’s stupid.”
Those are some of the thoughts residents in Vaughan—Woodbridge have about Liberal Leader STEVEN DEL DUCA — who’s vying to win back the seat he lost to PC Minister MICHAEL TIBOLLO four years ago.
Per the local residents and polls, it’s going to be a tough slog for the Grit captain.
As Queen’s Park Observer first reported last week, internal PC polling suggests he won’t make a comeback. In 2018, Tibollo won 50 per cent of the vote while Del Duca turned up about 31 per cent. This time around, the Tories’ projections — shared with their caucus in a recent briefing — suggests it’s a tighter race, but Tibollo would still come out on top, with about 47 per cent support versus 33 per cent for Del Duca.
According to 338Canada, it’s currently a “toss up” between the Liberals and PCs. (UPDATE: 338Canada now pegs the riding as a PC hold.)
I went door-knocking in Woodbridge on Sunday to get a feel for what voters want.
Some folks weren’t interested in speaking with me. Others were surprised to hear there’s an election going on (“I thought it was still Liberal?”). One construction worker outside La Paloma, a gelato shop and cafe, wasn’t happy about any of the political options on the table: “They’re all kind of shady and iffy.” Finding someone who supported Del Duca outright was a challenge.
I agreed to publish only first names in order to allow voters to speak candidly.
One contentious issue splitting residents is the controversial Highway 413 — something only the PCs are planning to build. For MARCO, who lives on Blue Willow Drive and commutes regularly for work, it’s about getting out of gridlock. “They [the Liberals] don’t want to build the 413 — like, really? With all the damn traffic in this city?” he told me.
Context: While the PCs tout the highway as a time-saver, their own reports suggest it won’t do much to ease traffic.
It would also pave over the Greenbelt, which is a dealbreaker for TARA, a 47-year-old mother of three. “There were mistakes with Covid but you know, Ford did his best…then he wants to build the 413…I support the Greenbelt, because saving the earth is important to me. So now, I don’t know.”
Another issue that kept cropping up: the Grits’ promise to add Covid vaccines to the list of mandatory immunizations for schools (with the usual exemptions). JOHN — a father of four between the ages of 10 and 18 — has voted Liberal in the past, and was seriously considering doing so again because he favours their child care policies in particular. But making Covid shots mandatory in schools “just kind of threw me away,” he said.
“I’m not set on any one party…just trying to pick the lesser of three evils.”
LUCY is leaning PC, but is willing to cast her ballot for any party that can help with her medical bills. “One of my big issues is medical support. I’m a diabetic, so anything that helps…it can be expensive.” While the NDP are promising quicker universal drug coverage, starting with a baseline of 125 medications, they’re a long-shot in the riding — earning just over 14 per cent of the vote in 2018.
Card-carrying Grits aren’t feeling so confident in Del Duca’s prospects either.
One organizer, who voted for Del Duca in the 2020 leadership race, said he’s “not looking good in his riding…We are fighting to the max for DAVID MORRIS (Toronto Centre), Dr. NATHAN STALL (St. Paul’s), SHELLEY BROWN (York Centre), etc., in some of the safest Liberal seats in the country. Vaughan—Woodbridge is off the table unless they re-tool,” they told me. “I and many other left leaners in the party are furious about once again the same war room trying to coast.”
For his part, Del Duca acknowledged the lessons he learned from 2018’s walloping — when he and dozens others in his party lost their seats — saying in Monday’s debate that he regretted not listening to constituents better.
Counterpoint: I’ve reached out to the Liberal campaign to help find a local Del Duca voter who’s willing to chat. Stay tuned for that story later this week.
WHERE THE LEADERS ARE AT — 9 a.m.: Del Duca kicks off the day at Toronto’s Old Orchard Park with an announcement about “making life easier and more affordable for families.” He then hops on the Burlington GO train to highlight the buck-a-ride promise.
— 9:30 a.m.: NDPer ANDREA HORWATH is at a Kingston pharmacy for an announcement. She then heads to Smiths Falls and Ottawa West—Nepean.
— 11 a.m.: PC Leader DOUG FORD is in Hamilton for an announcement about — you guessed it — “getting it done.”
— The Greens MIKE SCHREINER is spending the day in Parry Sound—Muskoka — a riding his party is gunning for — alongside candidate MATT RICHTER. The pair will be “officially endorsed by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation in Elora.”
— UNION BACKED: The PCs and NDP continue to fight over union endorsements, perhaps a rare accomplishment for the former. The PCs have won their fourth endorsement from a private-sector union: the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, while the NDP is boasting about support from OPSEU, the biggest public-sector union. The Canadian Press has the details.
— AND THE MOST-GOOGLED LEADER IS…: Post-debate, Ontarians are most curious about the Grits’ relative newcomer. “Google searches for Steven Del Duca skyrocketed on debate night as some voters were introduced to the ‘new’ Liberal Party leader for the first time.” CTV has the story.
— CANDIDATE CONTROVERSY: “Ontario PC candidate WILL BOUMA headed a religious ‘youth and education committee’ that published a magazine for kids that called on its young readers to reject the ‘homosexual lifestyle.’ Bouma, who previously served as Doug Ford’s parliamentary secretary and the assistant to the Finance Minister, sat on the executive of the Christian Reformed Church’s ‘Free Reformed Missions International’ from 2011 until 2017, just before he sought the Ontario PC nomination in Brantford—Brant. According to the church’s own documents, Bouma also helped lead the Free Reformed Churches of North America’s ‘Youth and Education Committee’ during this time. Both organizations have troubling anti-LGBTQ associations.” Scoop from left-leaning outlet PressProgress.
— DAYCARE DELAY: “When Ontario signed a deal with the federal government to introduce $10-a-day child care, the province said parents would start seeing rebates in May — but with the program still in its early stages, the sector says that’s unlikely to happen.” CP digs in.
⏳ COUNTDOWN: T-minus 15 days until Election Day.