The next Ontario election is still almost a year away but the battle has clearly begun.

The Liberals, well behind in the polls and led by a premier who hit a record low approval rating of 12 per cent in the spring, are trying to gain traction and woo voters with a series of announcements on hiking minimum wage, boosting health care funding, bringing high-speed rail to Southwestern Ontario and reimposing rent control.

Aimed at outflanking NDP rival Andrea Horwath, Kathleen Wynne seems to be repeating the strategy that won her a majority in the 2014 election with left-leaning and costly promises.

The Liberals have an uphill battle for the 10 seats in the London area. Party stalwart Deb Matthews, deputy premier and MPP for London North Centre, holds the party’s only seat. The NDP have two London ridings and the Progressive Conservatives own the other seven mostly rural ridings.

Matthews said she “can’t wait” to run again and also serve as co-chairperson of the campaign.

“We’ve got people who are realizing that we’ve got to fight for the things that matter to us. Those initiatives don’t happen by accident and those initiatives are in jeopardy if Patrick Brown is elected.”

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