Whatever else, Premier Dad Dalton is certainly not dead yet ..

Sep 14th, 2011 | By Randall White | Category: In Brief

Before non-Tory partisans get too excited about such headlines as “Ontario voters trending to McGuinty, poll suggests” (Globe and Mail) or “Liberals inch ahead of Tories in two new polls” (Toronto Star), they might want to at least consider “Tories leading the pack: Poll” (surprise, surprise — in the Toronto Sun).

The poll in the third headline here — from Abacus Data — asked something a little different from the “the traditional ballot question,” and may well be the “outlier” in the current pack. But it does suggest that, with just one week of the so-called official campaign expired, the Ontario provincial election on October 6, 2011 is still far from a sure thing for any party (or combination of parties, none of which may win a majority of seats in the  legislature at Queen’s Park?).

Peterborough Progressive Conservative candidate Alan Wilson, right, Socialist Party of Ontario candidate Ken Ranney, centre, Liberal candidate Jeff Leal, left, NDP candidate Dave Nickle, not in photo, and Green Party candidate Gary Beamish, not in photo ... take part in their first all-candidates meeting for the upcoming provincial election on Oct. 6. BRENDAN WEDLEY/THE PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY.

Non-Tory partisans do have a right to be excited in some degree by the headline “PCs plummet while Liberals climb, new poll suggests” — in today’s Toronto Star. But this applies only to the  modest geography inside the boundaries of the provincial capital city in Toronto (where, intriguingly enough, the Dalton McGuinty Liberals are currently said to be at 39% of the popular vote, compared with 30% for Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats, and a paltry 24% for the Tim Hudak “Progressive Conservatives”). And less than one in every five Ontario residents lives in the City of Toronto, even as currently officially defined.

Meanwhile, out beyond the postage-stamp borders of the capital city (where the Hudak Conservatives do have more support, without any doubt), other headlines are in motion: “Suburban GTA could play election kingmaker” ; “Eastern Ontario’s election narratives” ; “Peterborough All-Candidates Debate” (you can’t get much from this local TV clip as yet, but in Ontario elections some still see what happens in Peterborough as a sign of where the province at large will finally go) ; and “McGuinty holds out on northern Ontario debate.” (The one debate we know about for sure, for all of the province, will take place on Tuesday, September 27.)

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath speaks alongside Sheikh Faisal Razack at the Islamic Forum of Canada Mosque in Brampton on Friday September 9, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim).

Two non-geographic key current headlines arguably also suggest some further reasons for at least some happiness in the McGuinty Liberal camp.

PC Leader moves away from ‘foreign’ workers, targets eHealth scandal” suggests that the one early issue some saw as a sad-but-true death knell for the Ontario True Grits has not quite panned out for the Hudakians. (And it seems a reasonable guess that the eHealth scandal is now a little too long in the tooth to inflict decisive damage?)

Finally, “Ontario needs independent jobs commissioner, Horwath says” suggests that there probably is a glass-ceiling limit to the growth of support for Ms. Horwath’s party, the tragedy of Jack Layton and all that notwithstanding. (Among more than a few who may be wavering between Grits and Dippers, eg, you can almost hear the rolling of the eyes at the thought that a “jobs commissioner” might actually be able to do anything at all useful, beyond providing jobs for the commissioner himself or herself, and her or his staff!)

Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty is greeted by London Mayor Joe Fontana at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. (Dave Chidley / THE CANADIAN PRESS).

So … now there do seem at least some fresh prospects that Dalton McGuinty actually may be the Oliver Mowat of the 21st century. (And back in the late 19th century, a few provincial history buffs may recall, Mr. Mowat — the Premier Dad or even Grandad of his day — won not just three but SIX provincial elections IN A ROW, during another era of prolonged economic struggle and uncertainty in Canada’s most populous province.) Mr. McGuinty may still look like Norman Bates in Psycho.  But so does Tim Hudak! And while Ms. Horwath is not unattractive, she is no Michele Bachmann — to say nothing of Mr. Bates’s victim, the altogether glamorous Janet Leigh.

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