Ontario parties get aggressive with online ads in election campaign's final weekend

With only days left on the campaign trail, Ontario's major political parties are aggressively targeting voters online in the final weekend of the election campaign.

PCs, Liberals and NDP are trying to address desire for change among many voters, expert says

The PCs have released a Facebook ad warning of billions of dollars in tax hikes if Andrea Horwath's NDP wins the election. (Facebook)

With only days left on the campaign trail, Ontario's major political parties are aggressively targeting voters online in the final weekend of the election campaign.

Lydia Miljan, an associate professor at the University of Windsor, says the move may be because the parties are trying to address the desire for change among many voters. 

"I think both the PCs and the NDP are saying, 'We're the change you want, and the other guys are scary.' It is certainly the classic fear and loathing part of the campaign."

CBC Toronto has learned more about many of the ads the parties are placing on Facebook, thanks to information collected in a database of political advertisements crowdsourced and compiled by the U.S. non-profit news agency ProPublica.

This NDP ad warns of healthcare cuts if a Doug Ford government is elected next Thursday. (Facebook)

It shows PC advertisements targeted at ridings in Kitchener-Waterloo and Port Colborne areas, NDP ads targeting the Peterborough area, and Liberal ads directed at areas where recent polls suggests the races may be tight.

The PCs have been criticizing past statements made by many NDP candidates, accusing Andrea Horwath of running a team of radicals.

Many ads have featured a photo of Mississauga Centre candidate Laura Kaminker. The ads criticize her for statements she made opposing the wearing of poppies on Remembrance Day. The New Democrats aren't shying away from her image — featuring it in a Pride Month themed post highlighting the party's LGBT candidates.

The NDP responded to PC ads criticizing their candidate, Laura Kaminker, by including her in a Pride themed post. (Facebook)

The ProPublica database also shows the Liberals running several ads featuring a video by leader Kathleen Wynne, offering a "Sorry, Not Sorry" message while touting her government's accomplishments. In some cases, the ad is being targeted at NDP supporters, perhaps in an attempt to reach disaffected Liberals who have switched to the New Democrats.
The Liberals have run several ads, including an apology video by leader Kathleen Wynne, offering a 'Sorry, Not Sorry' message. (Facebook)

Additionally, the Liberals are running a set of ads warning voters that if given a choice Andrea Horwath would choose ideology over practicality, and warning that Doug Ford would fire thousands of teachers and nurses.

The Green Party is also running a number of ads online — most of them targeting the Guelph area, where leader Mike Schreiner is hoping to win his party's first seat in the Ontario Legislature.

Green Party ad targeting voters who live near Guelph.

Despite the hyper-partisan attacks seen in many of the ads, Miljan isn't sure if they are effective at reaching average voters.

"In many ways it just appeals to the base, and it appeals to people who are motivated to vote," she said. "You want to rattle your troops and say, 'If you don't vote, this could be scary outcome.'" 

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