The Ontario NDP is pinning its hopes on hope.
"This isn't just about anger, throwing the bums out, or how many people you can fire in a week," ONDP campaign director Michael Balagus told members of the media in an on-the-record briefing Thursday.
"We think we can be the voice of hope. We think that's a big opening for us."
Balagus laid out the party's strategy, as far as he wants the press to understand it, at the party's campaign headquarters in Etobicoke. It's based on a few assumptions: The first is this is a "change" election, and eventually people will realize that. At that point, there will be a pivot — and people will realize that Kathleen Wynne will not be premier again.
Second, Balagus said he believes voters will be watching as the Liberals and the PCs tear each other down in the campaign and they won't like what they see.
And that will leave NDP Leader Andrea Horwath still standing. In order to make that happen, Horwath will come out swinging on policy issues — she will be the "Steeltown Scrapper" who hits hard issues she feels matter to Ontarians, he said — but she won't get nasty and personal.
The theory explains a new ad the party plans to put online and on TV after the writ drops.
It contains the not-so-subtle message that living under the Liberal government — high hydro bills, hallway medicine and rising costs — feels like getting hit in the private parts with a dodgeball, and life under the Tories would hurt worse. It's funny, but it's also a clear attack on the policies of the other two parties.
"It says something about you as a party, that you're approachable, that you're human, that you're not mean and nasty," he said. "We could do the ads that they're doing, the almost satanic leader with the horrible music. You can get the same message across without demonizing people, that's what we're hoping that ad accomplishes."
The NDP theory — that voters will eventually realize Wynne will not win — means they're most worried about the contrast with PC Leader Doug Ford, according to Balagus.
But they're not pinning their hopes on the idea that somehow Ford self-implodes.
"I'd hate to go into a campaign that hinged entirely on what the other guy does," he said. "And we're not doing that. We have a plan, and our plan is to be on the positive side."