TORONTO - A new poll suggests the Ontario Liberals have taken a solid lead into the home stretch of the election campaign.
The poll by Ipsos Reid puts the Liberals at 41 per cent support among decided voters and the Progressive Conservatives at 31 per cent support.
It places the New Democrats at 25 per cent support and the Green Party at three per cent.
The poll marks a major shift from recent surveys that had the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat, raising the prospect of Ontario's first minority government in 26 years.
In July, an Ipsos Reid poll showed the Tories with an 11-point lead, but the latest numbers suggest that support has slipped significantly over the last three months.
Ipsos Reid says its poll suggests the Liberals are headed back to government, potentially with a majority.
The poll surveyed 1,020 adults by telephone between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3.
The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 9 times out of 10.
The poll was conducted for Global News, CFRB NewsTalk 1010 and the Ottawa Citizen.
SEE WHO ONTARIO'S NEWSPAPERS ENDORSED BELOW:
The Globe's endorsement frames McGuinty as the moderate and experienced choice in tough economic times. While it praises Hudak's "basically sound political and economic principles," it faults him for spending the campaign criticizing McGuinty rather than outlining his vision for Ontario's future. The editorial completely discounts the NDP, arguing their "dangerously flawed" ideas could seriously damage Ontario's economy if the party is given a chance to influence policy either in government or within a minority. (CP)
The Star acknowledges that after eight years of Liberal government, many voters are looking for change. However, the editorial argues neither Hudak nor Horwath have put forward "credible plans" to deal with the issues facing the province. McGuinty is praised for making difficult choices on issues such as the HST and hydro bills and for making the "politically difficult but necessary decisions" which have resulted in his unpopularity. Again, "experience" and seriousness figure prominently in the explanation of the endorsement.
The Post's editorial board admits that while McGuinty's time in office has "hardly been a disaster" the Liberal record of "fiscal mismanagement and broken pledges" makes them the wrong party to guide Ontario through a period of deficit reduction. While praising Horwath as "warm" and "engaging," the NDP is found to be "ideologically unable to deal with the realities of a modern economy." The Post chooses Hudak based on his platform but also because they believe he is the only leader who can be counted on to make the "tough fiscal decisions" that are coming for Ontario.
In a move criticized by its co-founder Peter Worthington, The Toronto Sun has chosen not to make an endorsement. The Sun argues that neither McGuinty, Hudak nor Horwath will force government to "live within its means." While the editorial board admits it would have liked to endorse Hudak, they fault the Progressive Conservative leader for failing to put forward a strong deficit reduction plan.
The Spectator's editorial board argues either the NDP or Liberals would make a good choice for Hamilton. The endorsement credits McGuinty and Horwath for being strong on regional transit, poverty reduction, diversity and inclusiveness and for promising to reverse the downloading of costs and services to municipal governments. It finds the Progressive Conservatives either on the wrong side of these issues or simply silent on them.
The Citizen chooses McGuinty, but advises Ontario voters to hold their noses while voting Liberal. The paper prefers McGuinty's experience after watching Hudak and his team run what it sees as a less than stellar campaign. They conclude the "devil we know" is preferable during stormy economic times.
The Windsor Star endorsement faults Hudak for failing to properly articulate his plan and for not bothering to visit Windsor during the campaign. It gives the Liberals credit for showering the region with billions in infrastructure dollars and doubts the PCs or NDP would improve the situation. Despite expressing differences with the Liberals, the paper concludes they are the best party for Windsor and Essex County.
Northern Life credits McGuinty and the Liberals for doing good work on education, infrastructure, energy, the HST and reversing the downloading of costs to municipalities begun during the Mike Harris years. While Northern Life sees little in any of the party platforms for northern Ontario and a general ignorance of the need to devolve control of natural resources to regional government, they believe the Liberals will be more receptive to working with the region