This morning I am contemplating the new reality, Premier Doug Ford.
Voters, in their wisdom, decided to experiment with Doug Ford, a Party leader with no legislative experience and a Party platform you could write on the back of an envelope. His business, Deco Labels, is allegedly on the ropes and he is being sued for millions by his late brother’s widow, Renata Ford. He has promised to cut 10 cents off a litre of gas and bring back a beer for a buck. The Globe and Mail – a conservative newspaper – pronounced him unfit to be Premier.
But now he is.
For the next four years Ontario will be a fascinating laboratory for the new populism.
Loss of Party Status
For the Liberals, the election result is catastrophic. A meltdown across the Province and the loss of Party status at Queen’s Park. This means no public money to establish caucus offices and the loss of opportunities to speak in debates as of right and to ask questions during question period.
Kathleen Wynne made a terrible decision on Saturday (2 June) to concede defeat. This left Liberal supporters bewildered, trying to decipher what she was really saying. At a stroke the Liberals abandoned their platform. We were told their candidates should be elected for the sole purpose of being a brake on the PCs and NDP.
This was not a clarion call to arms.
Kathleen Wynne: better to have lost her seat
Kathleen Wynne now finds herself in a truly terrible predicament. From Premier to the backbenches, sitting with a tiny rump of the Party she once led. Much better for her to have lost her seat than to return to Queen’s Park in such circumstances. For her it will be a mausoleum.
First-past-the-post has many failings but one major virtue. It you want to throw the bums out you can. And it does so with brutal efficiency. With many proportional systems politicians who lose their constituency seats often survive, re-appearing in the legislature via Party lists. They form an indestructible political class. You see this in many European countries.
Here it is different. Those who lose will go on to do other things. Newmarket-Aurora’s former MPP, Chris Ballard, made the best case he could but he was swimming against a powerful tide which swept him out to sea with the rest of them. There was nothing he could do about it.
Turnout in Newmarket-Aurora went up from 53.4% in 2014 to 57.1% on Thursday (with two polling stations to report so it will go up marginally). Voters weren’t rushing to the polls to support the Liberals.
The NDP by historic standards did a terrific job but didn’t come close to winning a majority.
Stars in alignment
This year, the stars were all in alignment for the NDP. The Liberals, deeply unpopular. The PCs enveloped in scandal. Who knows what the landscape will be like in 2022.
But, as sure as night follows day, Andrea Horwath will stay on and fight the next election, her fourth as leader.
The NDP is now the Official Opposition and, admittedly, that’s a big deal. Last night she seemed quite ecstatic about being runner-up.
Almost too happy.