Conservative Progressive Leader Doug Ford has limited his media exposure during the first two weeks of the provincial election campaign, selectively disrupting divisions, restricting public appearances and refusing media interviews.
Political analysts call this a favorable strategy and say it started long before the document was drafted.
It has been a strategy they have implemented, I mean, for the better part of a year and a half now, Muhammad Ali, a senior consultant at Crestview Strategy, told CTV News Toronto.
There was a moment when Doug Ford was doing daily press conferences and all of a sudden, he just stopped doing them and they really split up.
At that point, cabinet ministers like Health Minister Christine Elliott became the bearers of bad news when it came to pandemic restrictions. According to Ali, this kept the head of the PC from overexposing himself and saying vague things that could be controversial.
This is an attempt by his team to control how much exposure he gets and to make sure he minimizes how much the boat can rock, because at this point, they are doing such strong surveys, the only way they can to really collapse. , after all, if Doug Ford started saying things that push voters.
And so far it works.“
Cristine de Clercy, an associate professor of political science at Western University, called this the key strategy.
As prime minister and someone who has a fairly substantial level of name recognition among voters and is a leading candidate, according to opinion polls, Mr. Ford has far less incentive to seek media interaction, de Clercy told CTV News Toronto.
Already, Ontarians have had four years to get to know Ford, which de Clercy says reduces leaders’ incentives to open up to embarrassment, miscommunication or possible criticism.
In fact, some strategists argue that if you are a leader who is in the so-called first position, where you seem to be doing well, and your party is likely to be elected, then in fact, you want to minimize contact with the press.
De Clercy said this because interaction with the media is a two-sided currency. On the one hand, it is an opportunity for a leader to convey his message and name to the public, but on the other hand, there is a risk of facing public criticism.
Basically, there are more advantages for provincial leaders for the first time, like liberal leader Steven Del Duca and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, to fill their days with media-friendly events.
Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford made the announcement during a campaign stop at the Ontario Finishing Trade Institute in North York, Ont., On Tuesday, May 17, 2022. CANADIAN PRESS / Christopher Katsarov
This cost-benefit analysis, de Clercy explains, means that Ford is more willing to engage with the press when it feels it can control the message. Monday night’s debate illustrates this.
Despite disappearing after the first debate of leaders in North Bay, Ford came out to greet reporters for a brawl after the second election debate in Toronto.
One way I would interpret this is that he was pleased with his performance, he thought he did well, and he did a good job in presenting his party views, and so, he was a little more open to engage with the press than if he thought he had acted badly or been treated unfairly in the debate, she said.
What about OTHER LEADERS?
In Monday’s debate, Del Duca stood in the way of his campaign strategy to tell his story and help voters get to know him better.
In most of his responses, Del Duca tended to refer to different family members. His election advertisements were read in the same way, with his wife, children, and dogs making a prominent appearance, and in some cases occupying most of the time.
That’s the way some politicians humanize themselves, Ali said.
People, when they see the leader of a party, they think of them as a robot or something. They do not see them as close, he said.
In an effort to differentiate itself from the government of Kathleen Wynne, whose party lost most of its seats in 2018, Del Duca has established the new list of liberals as members of Ontario’s New Liberal Party, with some success, he said. Ali.
Instead of indulging in family narratives, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who has enjoyed public exposure for decades in her current position, took a more militant path in the second debate, directing most of the its energy towards criticism.
The strategy of being very critical and somewhat harsh in her exchanges with Mr. Del Duca and Mr. Ford clearly reflected that her party is in a lot of races, perhaps as we are talking, locked in a very close race with the Liberals or with the PCs. , said Clercy.
For the Greens, de Clercy says their platform has been strategically created to reach certain groups of people who are interested in community health care, education and infrastructure investments, all pursuing these goals within a comprehensive environmental framework. .
Ali, for his part, said he felt like Schreiner was the real winner of Monday night’s debate.
He seemed like the most articulate communicator, he said.
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Shortly before the letter was dropped, Ford shared a podium with Prime Minister and Liberal Justin Trudeau to announce an investment in electric vehicle production, the latest in a series of joint events in the province.
At the time, Del Duca argued that Ford was using this as a campaign opportunity, a claim the PC leader and prime minister denied.
Since then, Ford has said nothing about the federal government during his campaign hiatus, insisting in Monday’s debate that he is a team player who will work with anyone in power in Ottawa.
What they had long learned from the polls was that Doug Ford polls best when he is making an announcement to the federal government and he is working alongside him, Ali said. And so they have deliberately not made any criticism, points of contention against the federal government.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, shakes hands with Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford after reaching an agreement on a $ 10-a-day childcare program in Brampton, Ont., On Monday, March 28, 2022. CANADIAN PRESS / Nathan Denette
Meanwhile, Del Duca has not yet held an event with the prime minister. Ali warns that Trudeau could try to stay out of the provincial elections, with the understanding that he will also have to work with whoever is elected prime minister.
It does not benefit (Trudeau) and he has to work with Doug Ford to deliver many types of larger platform parts, Ali said.
Meanwhile, NDP federal leader Jagmeet Singh spent time in the GTA during the campaign period and even attended a rally with Horwath.
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