POLITICS
09/20/2011 11:29 EDT | Updated 11/20/2011 05:12 EST

Ontario Election: Party Leaders Jump On Tractors At International Plowing Match To Court Farm Vote

CHUTE-A-BLONDEAU, Ont. - Agricultural issues dominate the provincial election campaign today as the four main party leaders jump on tractors at the International Plowing Match in eastern Ontario in search of the crucial farm vote.

The plowing match is a must-attend every year for Ontario's political leaders, but especially this year with voting day just over two weeks away.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Green Leader Mike Schreiner will all ride on party floats in the opening parade.

But the main event for the politicians, the all-important photo-op, comes later as all four try their hand at plowing a straight furrow.

McGuinty's ride will be a red Massey Ferguson, Hudak's a blue Ford, Horwath's an orange Kubota tractor and Schreiner will be on a green John Deere.

It's been raining in the area, so the plowing field is very muddy and should pose a challenge for the politicians.

The Liberals have faced opposition to giant wind turbines in some parts of the province, but say many farmers hope to earn extra cash from their own green energy projects.

McGuinty has also been getting high marks for extending risk management programs to most agricultural sectors.

The Tories promise a more comprehensive business risk management program, while the New Democrats have a plan to help young people become farmers or stay on the farm.

About 15,000 are expected to attend today's opening of the plowing match, which is being held in a 40-hectare farmer's field at Chute-a-Blondeau, near Hawkesbury on the Ontario-Quebec border.

Organizers expect about 90,000 people to attend the five-day event, which rotates to a different area of Ontario every year.

Photo gallery Ontario Leaders Ride Tractors See Gallery