Ontario Liberal Premier, Dalton McGuinty
Credits: DARREN BROWN/QMI AGENCY
"I have an abiding confidence in the collective wisdom of voters and whatever they decide, we will respect," McGuinty said after visiting students at a west-end French school.
"Win, lose or draw, when it comes to the upcoming byelections, we'll respect the mandate we receive from Ontarians, from Ontario families in particular."
The two byelections -- set for Thursday -- could reshape the minority legislature voters delivered in October 2011, with the governing Liberals held just one seat shy of a majority.
Voters in Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan could give that majority back if they both send Liberals to Queen's Park.
Few expect the Grits to lose their hold on Vaughan, vacated by the retired former finance minister Greg Sorbara, but the fight to replace 22-year Tory MPP Elizabeth Witmer in Kitchener-Waterloo has turned into a tough, three-way race.
PC Leader Tim Hudak downplayed his party's chances in Kitchener-Waterloo but vowed to work hard to regain the support of its voters.
"There's no doubt Elizabeth Witmer was a very popular member there for a long time," Hudak said of his former caucus colleague. "It's more of a Witmer seat than I'd say a Tory seat or a Liberal seat or an NDP seat.
"But we take it very seriously and we'll be fighting each and every hour until byelection day to get our message across," he said.
Whatever the outcome, Hudak said the day after the byelections will be the "same for me as it is today."
Hudak said if he had a "mulligan" on the 2011 provincial election, he would spend more time emphasizing the conservative alternatives to the McGuinty Liberal platform.
Voters in the byelections shouldn't be fooled by the premier's get-tough message with the public sector, he said.
"There is a transparent phoniness to Dalton McGuinty's message that after nine years of opening the floodgates to runaway spending that somebody's going to turn off the taps," he said. "It's almost like he walked into the office after election day and said, ‘My God, who spent all this money.'"
New Democrats have basked in the limelight since last fall, as the third party used its balance of power to squeeze concessions from the Liberal budget -- influence they would lose if the Liberals win big Thursday.
"Ontario is facing some real difficulties if Dalton McGuinty gets his majority," NDP MPP Peter Tabuns said.
"I don't think he deserves a majority -- he deserves to be defeated."