At last check, the Ontario NDP had yet to nominate a candidate in Oak Ridges-Markham. Or in Mississauga South, or Pickering-Scarborough East, or a whole bunch of other ridings in the Greater Toronto Area.
In most suburban ridings where it has managed to nominate someone, its presence could generously be described as quiet. By appearances, the NDP has yet to open campaign offices in many of them, or otherwise hit the ground in any meaningful way.
This is perhaps problematic for Andrea Horwath’s party. But it’s much more so for Tim Hudak’s.
Even most New Democrats don’t think they have much serious chance of competing for seats in the outer suburbs, other than the Bramalea-Gore-Malton seat held by incumbent NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh and conceivably the neighbouring riding of Brampton-Springdale. These are places where Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are supposed to be in close battles with each other, and whoever wins most of them will have a very good chance of forming government.
The problem, for the Tories, is that they probably need a bit of help from the third party. If the NDP pulls away more Liberal votes than it did in the 2011 election, when in many of these ridings it got under 10 per cent, PC candidates will face much better odds. And if the NDP share of the vote actually drops anywhere, the Liberal path to re-election gets a little easier.
It’s not as though the local campaign is the be all and end all, particularly in suburbia. More of that vote-splitting, or lack thereof, will depend on whether Ms. Horwath herself breaks through to residents of Mississauga and Markham and other GTA communities. But the lack of much visible NDP organization in this part of the province has to be disconcerting for the opposition party that is devoting a lot of attention to it.