Tories not poised for big GTA upsets: experts
Diana Szpotowicz, CTV.ca News
Published Saturday, March 26, 2011 8:48PM EDT
One of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's first stops on the campaign trail is a speech Sunday at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton, in what will be the first of many attempts to woo GTA voters.
But experts say Toronto's Liberal-leaning voters aren't likely to switch allegiance to the Tories in large numbers before the May 2 election.
Stephen Clarkson, a professor of political economy at the University of Toronto, says even if Tories campaign hard in the GTA, they likely won't break the Liberal stronghold in many ridings.
That is, "unless something completely unpredictable happens on the campaign trail, because with short campaigns it's difficult to recover," Clarkson told CTV.ca.
However, Clarkson notes that with the recent election of right-leaning mayor Rob Ford in Toronto, GTA voters may be more open to Conservative candidates.
"Instead of Conservative candidates throwing their hands up in the air, they can be optimistic," said Clarkson.
Some ridings are vulnerable to a Conservative takeover on election day, says Nelson Wiseman, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He says some of these include Eglinton-Lawrence, York Centre, Brampton-Springdale, Mississauga-Brampton South.
Wiseman said that Liberals will campaign hard to hang on to the ridings they have.
"I think they'll also target some of the ridings they lost in the last few elections like Trinity-Spadina," which was lost in 2006 to NDP member Olivia Chow.
Clarkson said the Conservatives likely won't make a big breakthrough in Toronto also because the NDP is likely to put in a strong campaign. He also pointed out that the Liberals can send out Ignatieff on the campaign without worrying about making silly mistakes like previous leaders.
"He speaks well, he has experience in campaigning and he's learned from his mistakes," said Clarkson.
Wiseman said that part of the Conservative's strategy has been, particularly in north-western ridings, to heavily target new Canadians.
"Chinese-Canadians, Filipinos, South-Asian Canadians have been a target," he said, citing the example of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who made frequent appearances at events involving Asian-Canadian communities.
"Earlier this month, he was at a Filipino-sponsored affair where they put a cape on him and called him the ‘King of Multiculturalism,'" said Wiseman.
He says that at most, the GTA ridings may switch by maybe six or seven seats. "It's too early to tell, but according to the polls, Conservatives do have an early lead."
A recent poll conducted by Nanos Research for CTV and the Globe and Mail shows the Conservatives at 43 per cent support in Ontario, up from 39 per cent last month. The Liberals are at 30.9 per cent, down from 32.8.
"The only thing that strikes me that could work for the Conservatives is this ‘coalition is undemocratic' shtick. It might convince voters to elect more Conservatives." Clarkson said.