Is Rob Ford’s dismal approval rating bad news for Tim Hudak (and good news for Dalton McGuinty)?

Is Rob Ford’s dismal approval rating bad news for Tim Hudak (and good news for Dalton McGuinty)?

Tim Hudak (Image: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

Dalton McGuinty says Ontario voters can expect cuts in the style of those proposed by the Rob Ford and co. at city hall if Tim Hudak is elected. Of course, the fact that McGuinty is saying that now is one of the least surprising political moves on the provincial election campaign trail to date (and this has been one unsurprising election race): Ford is poised to break his “no cuts” campaign promise while watching his approval rating wane—read: plummet—across the city, and the Liberals have been trying to run against the Ford administration from the election’s outset.

The Toronto Sun has the story:

McGuinty said the Tory fiscal plan is short money and the only way Hudak will be able to make the numbers work is to cut services.

“You can’t possibly address that hole at some point without making cuts at some point in time to the areas where we spend most of our money in provincial government — that’s in our schools and in our hospitals,” McGuinty said in Scarborough.

Liberals have long been warning Hudak — a minister under former premier Mike Harris — would starve public services if he were to win the Oct. 6 election. And Ford’s budget-slashing proposals to sell off theatres and zoos and cut back on snow-clearing and transit service have given them the chance to keep the scenario high on the agenda.

Of course, Ford’s dismal approval ratings aren’t as catastrophic as they first appear. The mayor has years to get his approval rating back on track before he’s up for re-election. But with the provincial election less than a month away, Hudak doesn’t have the same luxury. The city manager’s proposed cuts will be presented to Ford’s executive committee next week, and the ensuing outrage could get even louder. If McGuinty wants to continue playing the imminent cuts card, he’ll have plenty of opportunities leading up to October 6. Plus, with Ford and Hudak’s mutual ties to Mike Harris, McGuinty could continue to plant scary seeds in voters’ minds.

Interestingly, Hudak hasn’t exactly been shy about attaching himself to Ford. He hasn’t had a chance to do so since Ford Fest, but we’re curious to see if the mayor’s faltering support could cause Hudak to renounce his Ford Nation citizenship. And if the Conservatives’ support continues to fall, Ford might even withhold his endorsement. As the Globes Marcus Gee argued, Ford would be unwise to endorse the losing Conservatives if he’s going to find himself negotiating with the Liberals once again.

Cohn: Hudak’s Tory RV hits rib country in search of votes [Toronto Star]
Hudak plunges into dangerous liaison with Rob Ford [Toronto Star]
Cohn: Tim Hudak, Tim Horton and Mike Harris [Toronto Star]
Ontario voters trending to McGuinty, poll suggests [Globe and Mail]
Why Rob Ford should stay mum on Ontario’s election [Globe and Mail]
• Does bland still work in Ontario? [The Grid]