POLITICS
09/27/2011 04:33 EDT | Updated 11/26/2011 05:12 EST

Ontario Leaders' Debate: McGuinty, Hudak And Horwath To Face Off On TV

Flickr: abdallahh

TORONTO - Ontario voters get their only chance to see the leaders of the three main political parties at the same time during tonight's televised debate.

Polls suggest the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are in a virtual dead heat, creating the potential for a minority government with the NDP playing king maker.

LIVE COVERAGE OF ONTARIO LEADERS' DEBATE

Henry Jacek, professor of political science at McMaster University in Hamilton, says the closer debates are held to voting day, the more impact they have.

And he says tonight's, coming so late in the campaign, could have "a big influence."

PHOTOS: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE THE ONTARIO DEBATE

The parties are hoping the 90-minute debate will also inject some life into a campaign that so far seems to be flying under voters' radar.

Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty has three previous leaders' debates under his belt, but tonight's will be the first for both PC Leader Tim Hudak and NDP chief Andrea Horwath.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE ONTARIO LEADERS' DEBATE ON TWITTER

Jacek recommends Hudak focus on keeping his cool, and looking like a premier.

He says Horwath could benefit if her male counterparts go into attack mode, leaving her to show off a more conciliatory style.

At a photo-op hours before the debate Horwath said she is going to use the debate to have a conversation with voters.

"People will get a chance to see the three leaders, finally all three of us together at a debate," Horwath said, not missing an opportunity to take a dig at McGuinty for not attending a northern debate.

"I think you'll see three quite different visions for the future and three quite different people who want to see those visions realized."

McGuinty's recent promise to a scrap a gas plant in Mississauga has had him in treading in some hot water lately.

The opposition has pounced on the promise — calling it a desperate attempt to win votes at tremendous financial cost to taxpayers.

Hudak promised Monday to consider the best interests of concerned residents when it comes to wind farms.

He said he would respect signed contracts, but also look at termination clauses to get out of them if that's what local residents want.