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The Hamilton Spectator
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Monday September 19, 2011
Wedge politics and negative campaigning have backfired for Ontario's Tory leader, who polls suggested went into the provincial election as the clear front-runner, observers said Friday.

At the same time, they said, all three main party leaders still have plenty of time before voting day Oct. 6 to win over the electorate or, perhaps, to step irreversibly in campaign doo-doo.

"We've had a bit of a game-changer so far," said Bryan Evans, a political science professor at Ryerson University.

"The Liberals have found their footing, the Tories have lost theirs and the NDP are holding on to what they had."

Much of the first 10 days of the campaign that officially began Sept. 7 was dominated by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's attack on a Liberal proposal to help new Canadian professionals find their first jobs.

Hudak, who blasted Premier Dalton McGuinty for wanting to help "foreign workers" at the expense of other jobless Ontarians followed up by attacking the Liberals for "coddling" criminals.

"The Tories are trying to come up with wedge issues, but nothing seems to stick," said Larry Savage, who teaches political science at Brock University.

"As the front-runner, he should have steered clear of these wedge issues (because) it looks like they've blown up in his face because they polarize people."

While Hudak needs to play to his conservative support base, observers said his challenge is to expand his appeal to a much broader swath of the electorate. Continued...

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