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C-word is a dirty word in election campaign

Ottawa Sun City Hall Columnist Susan Sherring.

By Susan Sherring, Ottawa Sun

On the local campaign trail, the C-word is clearly making Liberal candidates a little hot under the collar.

C — as in Coalition — has become a bit of a dirty word since Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne appeared open to the idea of working with the New Democrats.

If the Tories pull off a minority, there's been some speculation about whether Wynne would try to form a government with NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

There's precedent for it, but voters don't appear to like the idea of voting in one party — and getting another at the helm.

At a news conference Thursday, local Liberals tried to stay clear of discussing the hypothetical.

It was amusing to watch the local Liberals offered each other the podium; and Ottawa West-Nepean candidate Bob Chiarelli showed off an uncomfortable smile.

But pushed, one of those on hand — Ottawa South Liberal candidate John Fraser — admitted he's willing to work with whoever to deliver the kind of province he believes residents want.

His first response had absolutely nothing to do with a coalition government.

It's a certain skill politicians have — to respond to a question with an answer that has nothing to do with the question posed.

Pressed to be more direct, here's what Fraser had to say:

“From my perspective, I will work with anybody out there who wants to do the things that families depend on. (PC leader) Tim Hudak doesn't want to do that. That's apparent. I think it's clear what people want from us, that's what I'm hearing at the door... no one is saying to me, I'd like to have fewer nurses, or I want my son's class size to be larger.”

Apparently that was more open and honest than some on hand wanted to hear.

Soon after Fraser spoke, a friendly Liberal staffer came over to the Sun to do the spin. That's when communication types attempt to spin the message – despite the truth that has been spoken.

In this case, the staffer attempted to pretend Fraser hadn't just confirmed he would work with whomever, suggesting he said he instead said he couldn't talk about the unknown!

Of course, not true, but still — an amusing attempt.

It's always difficult for local candidates to get any coverage of issues of concern within their communities.

Many of the candidates aren't well known — and even when they are, province-wide issues tend to dominate.

On Thursday, as they've been doing frequently throughout the campaign, several Liberal candidates gathered at Algonquin College to highlight their party's commitment to continuing the 30% tuition credit.

The commitment to continue the credit can be found in the Liberal budget, so it really wasn't an announcement of any kind.

And there were more Liberals on hand than there were reporters.

So the Liberals, including Chiarelli, Fraser, Nepean-Carleton's Jack Uppal, Ottawa Centre's Yasir Naqvi and Marie-France Lalonde from Ottawa-Orleans — were highlighting not just their commitment to the tuition credit — but Tory leader Tim Hudak's commitment to get rid of it if he emerges victorious on June 12.

With two universities and a college making Ottawa their home, it's a big issue locally.

According to numbers released by the Liberals, the program has already helped 230,000 students and their families.

Twitter: @SusanSherring

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