The Campaigner

Doug Ford doesn't have a platform yet — but he does have a campaign song

Patrick Brown may not be PC party leader any longer but he's making news on the campaign trail. With 21 days to go, here's what you need to know about the Ontario election.

Plus Patrick Brown isn't a party leader, but he's still making waves on the campaign trail

PC leader Doug Ford arrives to tour Fielding Environmental during a campaign stop in Mississauga on Wednesday. Ford now has a campaign tune. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

It's day nine and deja-vu is starting to set in. Leaders are making similar stops over and over again — at homes in the suburbs, at breweries and throwing rallies at banquet halls. They are saying similar things over and over again too, railing against Hydro One, health care, lost jobs and each other.

With 21 days to go, here's what you need to know.

Latest from the campaign

  • Patrick Brown is writing a book
    • The former PC leader says he was a victim of a wicked plot to kill his political career and the book's aim is to look into who did it, why and how. Brown isn't saying much more about it right now — so he doesn't interfere with the election.
  • PC candidate resigns, as his former employer probes theft of data
    • ​Simmer Sandhu was supposed to be running in Brampton East but quit after 407 ETR, his former employeer, started investigating an internal data breach affecting 60,000 people. They wouldn't say who was being investigated but Sandhu called the allegations "totally baseless."
  • PCs part ways with organizer after Ford improperly attended Scarborough fundraiser
    • Strict new rules under Ontario's Election Finances Act means party leaders can't attend fundraisers during a campaign. But Doug Ford did late last month. His team said they were "misinformed" by the event's organizer, who has been removed as a campaign organizer.

The moment

The Liberal leader did not speculate if Patrick Brown's book, Take Down: The Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, would name those involved in what he believes was a wicked plot to kill his political career. Kathleen Wynne, instead, noted on Thursday that she had only seen the book's cover. 0:17

Kathleen Wynne may be running against Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath but on Thursday she was asked about former PC Leader Patrick Brown, who is now writing about what he calls his political "assassination" after being accused of sexual misconduct.

Wynne told reporters she had no idea what will be in the book.

"I've only seen the cover of it, and I have no idea what will be in between the covers," she said. 

Awkward laughter ensued.

Noted

PC Leader Doug Ford may not have a platform yet but he does have a campaign song. It's called For the People and it's being played at his rallies and in his campaign ads. His team has even made a shortened ringtone version of it.

The tune features lyrics like "gotta fight, for what's right, for the people" and "bring us hope, bring us change, for the people." The party wouldn't confirm who wrote the song or how much it cost, saying only that it was written by a Toronto composer.

Ford spokesperson Melissa Lantsman said in an email they put out the song because people want change.

But campaign songs aren't anything new in Ontario politics. Back in the 1995 provincial election, then premier Bob Rae helped put together an original jingle for the NDP and used it as an intro to every speech. He ended up losing.

Riding to watch

Mushkegowuk-James Bay, population 30,037, profile by Waubgeshig Rice

Voters in northeastern Ontario hope the new riding of Mushkegowuk-James Bay gives them a new voice at Queen's Park and a greater presence on the wider political landscape in the province. Created from the northern portion of the Timmins-James Bay riding in 2017, the new constituency covers a wide swath of the region from just north of Cochrane and Timmins all the way up the James Bay coast to Hudson Bay. It's about twice the size of the Maritimes with a population just over 30,000 people, which is roughly 60 per cent francophone and 27 per cent Indigenous.

Mushkegowuk-James Bay is home to many towns and First Nations, including Hearst, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany and Moose Factory.

Like much of northern Ontario, voters in this new riding have leaned heavily toward the NDP in past provincial elections. Key issues to people who live in the region are the high cost of hydro, resource development like mining, jobs, funding for social services and gas prices. While many of their priorities are similar to those of voters in the south, residents in this part of northern Ontario have long felt alienated from the decision-making and economic hub of the province, so they're hopeful a new riding will put a new spotlight on their issues. 

There are five declared candidates running for the new seat at Queen's Park: Gaëtan Baillargeon for the Liberals, André Robichaud for the Progressive Conservatives, Guy Bourgouin for the NDP, Vanda Marshall for the Libertarians and Jacques Joseph Ouellette for the Northern Ontario Party.

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne arrives on the O-Train at a campaign stop in Ottawa on Thursday. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Where the leaders are

  • Ford: Event in Cambridge (1 p.m.), rally at Bingemans in Kitchener (6 p.m.)
  • Horwath: Event at Markham home (9 a.m.), event at St. Catharines train station (1:30 p.m.) 
  • Schreiner: Candidate breakfast meet and greet in Guelph (8:30 a.m.), visiting grade five civics class in Guelph (2:30 p.m.), meet and greet with university volunteers in Guelph (9 p.m.)
  • Wynne: Event in Ottawa (9 a.m.), call-in show on CBC Radio's Ontario Today (12 noon), event at St. Lawrence College in Kingston (3:45 p.m.), event at brewery in Whitby (7:45 p.m.)

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About the Author

Haydn Watters

Haydn Watters is a roving reporter for Ontario, primarily serving the province's local radio shows. 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.