The Campaigner

Doug Ford showed up at a hydro rally for 6 minutes

It's all about hydro Tuesday, with news of Hydro One board members giving themselves raises. All the leaders have criticized the move, with Doug Ford even bringing it up at a rally in front of Hydro One's annual general meeting.

Plus the memes are now going after Horwath too

Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford leaves after brief rally about Hydro One in Toronto on Tuesday. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

It's all about hydro Tuesday morning, with news of Hydro One board members giving themselves raises. All the leaders have criticized the move, with Doug Ford even bringing it up at a rally out front of Hydro One's annual general meeting.

Here's where we are on day seven.

Latest from the campaign

The moment

PC Leader Doug Ford hosted a brief rally in front of Hydro One's annual general meeting Tuesday. 6:39

The only stop listed on PC Leader Doug Ford's itinerary Tuesday was a rally out front of Hydro One's annual general meeting — and it was a brief, weird one.

He pulled up in a black SUV right at 9:30 a.m., popping into the crowd of supporters and shaking some hands. He then spoke to reporters, attacking Hydro One, its CEO, its board members, Kathleen Wynne and notably the NDP — whom he has started going after.

"The NDP are just as bad as the Liberals," he said. He also said wouldn't commit to buying back shares in Hydro One, as the NDP have promised to do. Ford then went to leave, but walked the wrong way and ended up in an alley between two buildings. 

After the confusion, he hopped back into the car six minutes and 20 seconds after showing up.

Noted

The target has turned — slightly — for Ontario Proud, the most popular political Facebook group in the province with more than 359,000 likes. The group, chock full of anti-Liberal and anti-Kathleen Wynne memes, videos and articles, has started taking on Andrea Horwath and the NDP.

Here's an example:

(Ontario Proud/Facebook)

Jeff Ballingall, the group's founder, said the approach is new and comes after hearing talk of coalition possibilities between the Liberals and the NDP. Horwath ruled the possibility out on Monday but Ballingall said some attacks will continue.

"We are pivoting a bit because the NDP are surging," he told CBC by phone. He said the prime target is still Wynne but he will be spotlighting key NDP platform policies that the group's supporters "might find alarming." Two recent memes target the NDP's plan to make Ontario a sanctuary province, with one asking users to share if they think it is a "crazy policy."

Ballingall's still voting NDP though, strategically in his east Toronto riding where the PCs have a slim chance of winning. He also wouldn't have a problem with the NDP and the PCs working together, should either form a minority.

Dispatch from the field

On the NDP bus, with Lisa Xing

The NDP launched its southwestern Ontario platform today. Most of the region traditionally votes PC, especially in the rural areas. But, among mooing cows and playful barn cats, Andrea Horwath seemed to be garnering support among some rural voters whose families have, for generations, been blue.

It seems the NDP is trying to capitalize on the momentum that suggests they're second in the polls and trying to win over voters who are wary of Doug Ford and are tired of the Liberals.

Two dairy farmer sisters in Watford spoke with me about why they would be first-time NDP voters on June 7, and the answer seemed to echo what a lot of voters in the region told me: they want change. They're skeptical of Doug Ford leading the PCs. And even though there are some strong incumbents running, they're willing to take the risk and vote for a party they've never thought of voting for before.

Riding to watch

Kitchener-Conestoga, population 100,705, profile by Kate Bueckert

Mike Harris Jr., son of former premier Mike Harris, was handed the Progressive Conservative nomination in this riding after he lost his bid to become the candidate in Waterloo. He replaces former PC transportation critic Michael Harris (be sure to keep your Mike/Michael Harrises straight) who said in April he was not running again due to an eye condition, but was booted from the party two days later over sexual texts he sent an intern six years ago.

Some have criticized Ford for parachuting Harris Jr. into the riding. It will be interesting to see how he fares against Liberal candidate Joe Gowing and NDP's Kelly Dick.

Poll tracker

The NDP continues to gain, while all other parties fall — some more (Liberals and Greens) than others (PCs). Get the full breakdown.

Where the leaders are

  • Ford: Rally in front of Hydro One in Toronto (9:30 a.m.)
  • Horwath: Announcement in London (9:30 a.m.), campaign event at coffee shop in Paris (1:30 p.m.), health care town hall in Kitchener (6 p.m.)
  • Schreiner: Meeting with Toronto Star editorial board (12 noon), campaigning in Guelph (4:30 p.m.)
  • Wynne: Announcement in Waterloo (8:50 a.m.), announcement in London (2:20 p.m.), visit to Wellington Brewery in Guelph (5 p.m.)
A counter-protester showed up with this sign at Doug Ford's hydro rally in downtown Toronto on Tuesday. (CBC)

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About the Author

Haydn Watters

Haydn Watters is a Toronto-based journalist. He has worked for CBC News and CBC Radio in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and the entertainment unit. He also ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont.