A recent poll by Forum Research shows Tim Hudak's Tories finally dipping in the polls, falling from 41 per cent, past the magic 40 mark, down to 38 per cent. The Liberals and NDP both picked up 2 points and the Greens slipped down by one.
Although it's only been one poll reporting what is really a fairly small change in the middle of a typically quiet summer, it does seem significant as Hudak has been the Teflon man until this point. Many are pointing to the revelation that Hudak has signed a petition to end abortion funding in Ontario as the reason for his party's drop in popularity. His promise to get rid of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) can certainly be seen as a way of axing funding for abortions.
What other issues are emerging as possible election touchstones?
The multi-billion dollar Samsung green energy deal signed by Dalton McGuinty might continue to make headlines. The Liberals just renegotiated the deal to shave $327 million off the deal and they are selling it as a good deal made better. The Tories vow to scrap the deal regardless of the financial penalty or job losses. Unable to restrain is usual apolitical self, David Suzuki himself as jumped into the fray and rained all over Hudak's threat.
As an election issue, the HST has had a much quieter landing in Ontario than it has in B.C. but that hasn't stopped both the Conservatives and the NDP from banging that drum. While neither has gone so far as to pledge to repeal or scrap the new tax, both have promised to remove it from some services such as electricity. While both parties are championing HST reform, this one really seems to be Horwath's issue.
Healthcare has been a pretty quiet issue as of late. While the E-health spending scandal still resonates, the Liberals have rolled out the promise of both new and expanded hospitals and neither the NDP nor the Conservatives are fighting very hard on that front.
Similarly, Education has been an issue with little attention. The closest we get to this being an major issue is the topic of the Early Learning initiative. The Liberals want to continue the gradual roll out, the NDP want the process sped up, and the Conservatives say the fate of the program rests on the health of the provinces finances. No big feud here.
A dark horse issue in the upcoming election could also be spectre of Stephen Harper. A video of a BBQ attended by Harper and Toronto mayor Rob Ford (one where the discussion of a Conservative Toronto/Ontario/Canada triple play was openly discussed) was taken down from YouTube after much negative reception. The idea of having Conservatives rule both the House of Commons as well as the Ontario Legislature isn't sitting well with too many Ontarians, but is it enough to affect votes? Well, McGuinty has already begun to run with it.
What issues do you think will dominate this election? Your comments are welcome.