When the Progressive Conservatives unveiled their sunny new campaign ad on Saturday, deputy leader Christine Elliott pointedly drew a contrast between Tim Hudak being optimistic and Kathleen Wynne being “angry, negative and lashing out at others.”
It wasn’t the first time this election Mr. Hudak’s party has accused Ms. Wynne of being “angry,” and I doubt it will be the last.
Months before the campaign started, I asked a couple of provincial Tories what their research told them about how the rookie premier played with Ontarians. They conceded that in general, first impressions were fairly positive. But they also said their focus groups had pointed to potential vulnerabilities. One of them was that, if she wasn’t careful, Ms. Wynne could be seen as unappealingly angry.
To those who have watched or interacted with Ms. Wynne on a regular basis, this might seem an odd accusation. Whatever her other flaws, Ms. Wynne hardly ranks among the more ornery politicians Ontario has seen; quite the contrary, really.
But the Tories believe that’s how she can come across on TV. And no doubt, when they saw the ads the Liberals ran in the run-up to the campaign, they thought she was putting herself in precisely the wrong light – or, from their perspective, precisely the right one.
Those spots set an aggressive tone that Ms. Wynne has maintained during the campaign. Although the Liberals have trotted out a few other MPPs to take shots at their opponents, Ms. Wynne is unusually willing to take them herself rather than leaning on her surrogates.
Her strategists think that makes her look honest and tough; Mr. Hudak’s evidently think it makes her look like what those focus groups told them she could. The more aggressive she is between now and June 12, the more the Tories can be expected to try to attach that other a-word to her as well.