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Candidates focused on final stretch

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Premier Kathleen Wynne's admission that she won't win Thursday's provincial election isn't changing the way Liberal candidate Francesca Dobbyn conducts the final days of her campaign.

“For me it has no impact or change anything I am going to do in the closing days of this campaign,” the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Liberal candidate said on Monday. “I am still going to be out there and meeting with the people talking about my visions and my hopes for our community going forward.”

On Saturday, Wynne said she “will no longer be Ontario's premier” following the election on Thursday.

The latest polls have shown the Liberals well back of the Progressive Conservatives and NDP, who sat neck-in-neck in the popular vote with just three days left.

Dobbyn said she feels Wynne's concession provides an opportunity to attract the votes of Liberals who were disappointed in the leadership of the party and didn't know how they were going to vote come election day.

“It takes the question of leader out of it and makes it a local question, so that they can make that decision in a strong way for a strong candidate and put the right person in Queen's Park for the community,” Dobbyn said.

While Wynne did concede defeat on the weekend, she did ask voters to still vote Liberal to prevent a PC or NDP majority government.

“One of the best ways that government can operate is in a minority situation because it produces a realistic compromise,” said Dobbyn. “Really some of the best pieces of legislation have come out of minority governments both federally and provincially because you get multiple different views and opportunities.”

When Dobbyn announced her candidacy back in early April she said her main reason for running was concerns over the how Doug Ford as premier would impact social programs in the province and she continues to have those worries.

“We are four days out and he has no costed plan,” said Dobbyn. “There is talk of efficiencies and cutbacks but he won't say what he will cut back.”

Dobbyn also questioned Ford's experience.

“I am concerned, very much the way we have watched Trump, that he has no idea how government really works, what is required and what leadership really looks like,” said Dobbyn.

As for the NDP, Dobbyn has concerns about that party locally, including what she referred to as an anti-nuclear agenda.

“They would not have signed the refurbishment of Bruce Power had they been in power. That is still going to go ahead thank goodness because we need those jobs and we need that economic impact,” said Dobbyn. “The NDP blocked the bill that would have stopped winter disconnections in the fall of 2016 and we had to push and get through a whole different set of legislation in February 2017.”

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound NDP candidate Karen Gventer said she found Wynne's announcement interesting, but it isn't surprising with the polls showing the Liberals a distant third.

“I don't see it having a big effect on this riding,” said Gventer. “It seems she might be trying to solidify her support in what might be called Liberal-safe seats and this is clearly not one of those.”

Gventer said she has been hearing from people at the doors that they are not voting Liberal or PC, and that they are going with the NDP this time.

“Many people say they have always voted Liberal or they have always voted Conservative, and then their next statement is, I can't vote for the Liberals or I can vote for the Conservatives this time, so I am going to vote for the NDP,” said Gventer.

“I think there is a real chance here.”

Gventer said she has heard from a number of people who say they like PC candidate Bill Walker, but can't vote for the Conservatives with Ford as leader. She is excited with the momentum the NDP have gained provincially through the campaign.

“Andrea Horwath is a great leader and the more people have seen her and gotten to know her, the more people see what a great leader she is,” said Gventer, who plans to wind down the campaign continuing to talk to voters.

Walker said he wasn't expecting Wynne's announcement, but doesn't feel it will have any affect on the race in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

“I think people have made their decision,” said Walker. “After coming out in the first two weeks and trying all the desperate moves that they did, to then come in with less than a week to go, I don't think it is going to do much for her.”

Walker said if anything, it puts Dobbyn in an awkward spot.

“You get into this to follow your leader, and you were certain you and your leader were going to win, then what does it say to you now that your leader is conceding,” said Walker.

“To concede with a week left I think it is very challenging for (Dobbyn) and for local Liberals frankly.”

Walker said he plans to spend the last couple of days talking to voters on the phones and visiting long-term care homes. He said the response from local voters has mostly been that Wynne has to go and that the Liberal and NDP are similar in that they want to tax and spend, while the PCs are looking to control spending and get the house in order.

“People are ready for that change and I have certainly heard that,” Walker said.

The polls open on Thursday at 9 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Along with Dobbyn, Gventer and Walker, the other candidates in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound include Janice Kaikkonen of Consensus Ontario, Liz Marshall of the Trillium Party, Don Marshall of the Green Party of Ontario, Enos Martin of the Alliance Party and Jay Miller of the Libertarian Party.

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