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Ontario Votes 2003

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Election Day: Oct. 2, 2003   

Morning After

Our reporters have assessed the mood of the three leaders' campaigns on the morning after the televised debate. Here are their notes from the Liberal, NDP and Conservative buses:

 by Julie Ireton, CBC Radio
 Sept. 24, 2003

Julie Ireton
On the morning after the debate, the Liberal team started before the sun was rising, even though the first event of the day was at 8 a.m.

Organizers were able to draw more than 500 supporters to a west-Toronto hotel, where people in the energetic crowd practically mobbed Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty, trying to meet him and his wife and shake his hand.

Dalton McGuinty
With hundreds of supporters out to greet him, Dalton McGuinty could allow
himself a little grin
The Liberal team continues to be well organized, and it was a very shrewd move to rally hundreds of supporters the morning after the debate.

McGuinty said he's very confident, but implored party workers not to let up and encouraged the Ontario electorate to get out and vote.

The Liberal bus has become the most popular of the main parties, in terms of the media. They've had to add an additional bus just for reporters.

The McGuinty handlers are trying not to be over-confident. They only have eight days to go, and are trying to hide their exhaustion and stifle their yawns. And the response they received on the post-debate hustings is going a long way to help energize the campaign team.

The Liberal crew promises the next week will be very busy, making several stops in different locations every day. Already today we've been to Etobicoke, Peterborough and Ottawa, and there's still McGuinty's all-candidates meeting tonight. (top)

 by Peter Armstrong, CBC Radio
 Sept. 24, 2003

Peter Armstrong
I think it was Cool Hand Luke who said sometimes nothing is a pretty good hand.

Well, Howard Hampton and the NDP didn't have much to start with, but they're still convinced of that old poker adage.

The party threw an opulent (by New Democrat standards) victory party the morning after the debate. About 150 people packed into Bar Italia in the heart of Toronto's Little Italy.

Howard Hampton at Bar Italia
Howard Hampton gets a rousing cheer from his supporters
The NDP campaign has been the "little bus that could" throughout the contest thus far, and judging from the victory breakfast it's clear that's not about to change.

Howie claimed the victor's title to the debate (like the other two leaders) and pronounced the Tories finished. He said the Conservatives are out, essentially conceding a Liberal victory unless—and here's the pitch—New Democrats do something about it.

But even party staffers know Hampton's bluff is a long shot.

The coffees poured fast and furious in the College Street establishment, but most in the room could barely believe his bluff would hold. At best the NDP is looking to make some (even marginal would be acceptable) gains.

Then, of course, the "Eves of Destruction" tour hit the road again.

And come Oct. 2, Hampton is only hoping to stay at the table and keep his party in the game, so he can ante up the next time the cards are dealt. (top)

 by Mike Wise, CBC TV
 Sept. 24, 2003

Mike Wise
It's the morning after the televised leaders' debate, and my first day back on the campaign tour after a few weeks off filing what we call "melts," where I string together the "best-of" campaign moments of the day.

I found myself, strangely out of synch with some of the other reporters who've been doing the campaign grind on the bus for weeks now. Several of them were still tired from the "post-debate" parties Wednesday night. Contrast that to me, relatively well rested, and eager to be out of the office to see the campaign in action.

But from the other reporters, I'm getting a sense of "let's get this over with," as if, despite the hectic tour schedule set up for us, they sense the outcome of the election may almost be certain.

Ernie Eves
Ernie Eves went on the offensive Wednesday
My e-mail inbox was filled with duelling press releases from the Tories and Liberals, both trying to convince me that their man won the televised debate. I glance at them quickly, mostly just to make sure some overzealous campaign worker didn't include another "kitten-eater" line by mistake.

As for the premier, he seemed a bit scrappier this morning, even though he arrived at his first campaign event a few minutes late. He was met by a small group of campaign workers waving friendly signs—a far cry from the large crowds greeting the Liberal leader.

The premier toured a small printing business, providing the visuals for him to stress the impact of his tax cuts on boosting the economy. He even went on the offensive, spreading doom and gloom with predictions about what would happen to the economy after the Liberals' first budget.

Eves continued on the attack, during a radio phone-in show, warning that if voters make the wrong choice next week, they'd pay for it "for a long, long time."

It's going to be an interesting final week. (top)



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