The Ontario provincial election is still too close to call, with election day a week out. What began with Rob Ford and the Conservatives with a clear lead has become a much closer competition. Since May 1, Andrea Horwath and the NDP have been steadily rising in the polls: Slated to snag seats long held by the Liberal and Conservative parties.
This is Horwath’s fourth provincial election—third as leader of the NDP—and she’s got her work cut out for her if she hopes to win. Paying close attention to the opinions and voices of voters across the province is paramount to any politician’s success, and MIREMS makes those voices—otherwise hidden behind language barriers—accessible.
MIREMS is currently monitoring 616 multilingual and multicultural media sources in Ontario, ranging from Windsor’s Arabic Almohajer Al Jadeed, South Asian Saanj News in Caledon and Ottawa’s six Arabic and seven Chinese sources.
A special collection of editorial and opinion stories from these sources over the past month highlight the role of multilingual and multicultural media in this election as well as Ontario politics year-round.
Many reports covered the opinion that voters are leaning towards the NDP the same way they leaned towards the Liberals in the last federal election. The “keep the conservatives out” mentality has certainly moved some voters from Liberal to NDP, but this alone isn’t enough to swing the entire election. As Inacio Natividade wrote for Sol Portugues: “The idea is that given the polarization of the electorate, there’s still an undecided portion in the volatile electorate that could be a surprise factor and give Andrea Horwath a final victory.”
The Canadian Punjabi Post called the rise of the NDP in the polls a “big surprise.” Christo Aivalis writing for the Philippine Canadian Inquirer went further. In his article titled: “How an NDP victory in Ontario is a real possibility” Aivalis comments on the surprising turn of events, with the race now almost neck and neck between Horwath and Ford; a contrast to first thoughts of Wynne and Ford’s race adding: “The momentum is with the NDP.”
Some sources threw their support behind the NDP. A column in Share, a weekly newspaper serving the Black and Caribbean community in the GTA urges readers to give the NDP “genuine consideration.” Noting that Horwath’s platform’s focus on health care, pharma care and childcare “deeply resonate” with many Ontarians, mentioning as well, her party’s complete ban on police street checks. On CIAO 530 AM Morning with Tejinder Sidhu callers chimed in to support the NDP’s position on auto insurance policies.
Other sources shared opinion and editorials that were more critical. Toronto’s Farsi Salam Toronto, a weekly paper weighed in on all three candidates' promises surrounding the price of gas, calling Horwath’s pledge “vague.” And an editorial on 51.ca the online Chinese source out of Toronto says “The New Democratic Party is handing out candy; their candy is sweeter and has nicer packaging than the Liberals'. In the end, however, perhaps voters only get to see the colourful wrappers, but don't actually get to eat the candy.”
Multicultural and multilingual media has also given two NDP candidates a direct line to connect with their voters. Kingsley Kwok was introduced to the readers Chinese source Ming Pao Toronto in an article highlighting candidates in the area. Sandra Lozano, a Salvadoran-Canadian candidate for Vaughan-Woodbridge wrote an article for the Spanish source Correo Canadiense saying she’s proud to be the first Latina woman running in her region finishing with “I believe the NDP is the change that Ontario needs, a positive and energetic change."
Four years ago, during the last provincial election, MIREMS paid close attention to the multilingual media. The Punjabi Post reported in 2014 on Horwath’s campaign launch in the incredibly multilingual and diverse city of Brampton where MIREMS monitors 22 multilingual and multicultural sources. This year, the NDP party leader kicked off her campaign in Hamilton, which has six sources covered by MIREMS consultants.
As the next two weeks unfold, the polls will make their predictions, and news sources across the province will stay on the election trail.
Ensuring that all Ontario voices are accessible is the foundation of MIREMS’ work, and could hold the key to swinging voters and winning seats.
MIREMS 2014 Ontario Election Sample Report
Look back at some stories and headlines from the 2014 election, as told to Ontario's multilingual and multicultural communities.