A series of provincial byelections are just 10 days away, but a controversy continues about the fact that they have been called in the middle of the summer.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has called byelections in five ridings across Ontario, including two Toronto ridings. Voters in these ridings will be heading to the polls on Aug. 1.
Opposition members have been critical of the premier’s decision to hold the byelections just ahead of a long weekend in the summer when many people may be away on vacation.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that candidates from her party have been facing a consistent challenge when canvassing neighbourhoods in Ottawa, London, Windsor and Toronto.
"How many people actually show up to the doorstep when you knock on the door? That’s the challenge of a midsummer election," Horwath said.
In Toronto, Doug Holyday, the deputy mayor who is competing for the seat in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, suggested that the summer provides many reasons for people to be away from their homes.
"This is a terrible time to call the election," Holyday said.
In the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding Holyday is up against Peter Milczyn, a fellow Toronto councillor who is running for the Liberals, as well as P.C. Choo, the candidate for the New Democrats.
Prof expects 'record lows' at polls
Cheryl Collier, a political science professor at the University of Windsor, believes the turnout is likely to be dismal in all of the ridings where byelections are taking place next week.
"I would be surprised if they weren’t record lows," Collier told CBC News in an interview.
Wynne has rejected the idea that she is playing politics with the timing of the byelections.
When speaking with reporters in Windsor on Monday, the premier played down expectations.
"Byelections are tough for a government, there’s no doubt about that," Wynne said.
The pending byelections were triggered by the departure of five Liberal MPPs in recent months, including former premier Dalton McGuinty.
Heading into the Aug. 1 byelections, the Liberals hold 48 seats in the Ontario legislature, compared to Progressive Conservatives' 36 seats and the New Democrats' 18 seats.
That means that no matter which party picks up the available seats, the Liberals will remain in power as a minority government because none of the other parties will surpass them in the standings.