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Left to right, Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

The Ontario election kicks off Wednesday morning. Here's a look at where the leaders will be on Day 1 and why it matters.

Andrea Horwath: Looking for another orange wave to ride

The NDP head west, starting with the closest race of the 2007 campaign: Liberal Laura Albanese took York-South Weston by a mere 452 votes four years ago, and now Paul Ferreira is trying to steal it back. Here, too, the party is trying to make good on a Liberal ousting during May's federal election.

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This evening they head to Leader Andrea Horwath's home base in Hamilton. This is where she rode into Queen's Park on a wave of local anti-Liberal backlash in a 2004 by-election. She'll probably try to capitalize on that same sense of discontent now.

Tim Hudak: The Big Apple – no, not that one

The Progressive Conservatives will leave the vote-rich Greater Toronto Area on this first day of the provincial election campaign, heading up Highway 401 destined for Ottawa's Hard Rock Cafe.

There are two stops along the way – one in Colbourne, at the Big Apple pie shop that has been a photo-op highway stop for generations. The riding – Northumberland Quinte West – is held by Liberal Lou Rinaldi. The bus will also stop in Brockville, for a quick visit in a Conservative-held region.

The rally in Ottawa at the downtown rock bar will feature Randy Hillier, the firebrand MPP from Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. Mr. Hillier – whose support helped Leader Tim Hudak win the nomination – is being painted as an ultra-conservative by rival campaigns.

On Tuesday, the Liberals suggested the Conservatives were being dragged into Tea Party territory by Mr. Hillier and his followers, and that's why the Conservatives were so vehemently opposed to the Liberal plan to provide employers with a $10,000 tax credit for hiring immigrants.

Dalton McGuinty: A power play in the GTA

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The Liberals kick off their campaign with a rally at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga at 12:15 p.m. ET. In the 2007 election, the Liberals easily won all five seats in the Mississauga region, which is also home to two cabinet ministers.

This time around, however, the Liberals face a few challenges. There is brewing opposition among Mississauga residents to a proposed gas-fired plant on the Mississauga-Toronto border. Last year, the McGuinty government pulled the plug on a controversial gas-fired plant in Oakville amid fierce local opposition. It was widely believed he did so to protect Kevin Flynn's seat in Oakville.

As well, Peter Fonseca won't be running this time around – Michael Ignatieff poached the former Labour Minister to run federally last year. Mr. Fonseca captured 60 per cent of the votes in 2007.

After Mississauga, the bus heads to London.

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About the Author

Karen Howlett is a national reporter based in Toronto. She returned to the newsroom in 2013 after covering Ontario politics at The Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau for seven years. Prior to that, she worked in the paper’s Vancouver bureau and in The Report on Business, where she covered a variety of beats, including financial services and securities regulation. More

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