in other parts of this great country often find Ontarians a bit
arrogant. Perhaps our fellow citizens are right that we could do with an
extra dose of modesty. But let’s face it: We’re pretty darned
At least, we’re important when it comes to securing political power in
this country. Ontario has more than a third of the seats in Parliament,
which makes it hard to win an election without doing well here. In fact,
in nine of the past 10 federal votes, the party that has won the most seats in Ontario has gone on to form the government. (The one exception was 2006,
when the Liberals winning the highest number of Ontario seats wasn’t
enough to keep Stephen Harper out of the Prime Minister’s Office.)
So as much as it might irk Canadians outside the province, Ontario is a
hot topic in political circles following the Oct. 21 election results.
It should come as no surprise, then, that #onpoli podcast hosts
Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath have been spending some time this
week looking into the message that the province’s voters have sent to
the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, and Greens.
Should Conservatives drop their fixation with smaller government?
“The Liberals actually provide a lesson
for conservatives here: for most of my adulthood, the party of Jean
Chrétien and Paul Martin was proud (to the point of obnoxiousness) of
their role in ‘slaying the deficit’ and balancing the federal budget.
But 2015 was a generation removed from Chrétien’s first election win,
and Justin Trudeau correctly judged that deficit-fighting wasn’t paying
dividends for the Liberals anymore and that voters weren’t quite as
terrified of the prospect of deficit spending as they once had been.
Objective factors changed — Canada’s fiscal situation went from
terrifying to managed — and so the Liberals changed with them, and they
Why the NDP was such a bust in Ontario in the 2019 election
winning 40 seats in last year’s provincial election, the NDP had high
hopes for Ontario going into the 2019 federal campaign. However, Steve
Paikin writes that after the New Democrats managed to hold on to only
six of 121 Ontario seats in the October vote, party insiders are trying to figure out what went wrong.
According to NDP sources who talked to Steve, a number of factors came
into play. They include an inexperienced leader in Jagmeet Singh; fear
of a Conservative government, leading to strategic voting that favoured
the Liberals; and perceived double standards around how the “guy with
the turban,” as one New Democrat described Singh, was asked to respond
to Quebec’s controversial religious symbols ban while other leaders “got
a pass on it.”
The Ontario NDP are trying to figure out what October’s results mean for
their chances in the next provincial election, slated for 2022. However
the party chooses to react to what happened on the federal scene, Steve
writes, one thing seems clear: Current leader Andrea Horwath isn’t
“Horwath has already led her party
through three general elections. … She has certainly grown in the job
since she won it 10 and a half years ago, appearing more confident and
communicating better. Her performances during question period (clips on
the nightly news presumably being how most people see her) are calmer,
stronger, and less annoyingly sanctimonious than those of other NDP
leaders in the past.”
Assuming she stays on, she’ll be only the third Ontario NDP leader to helm her party through four elections.
Steve lists a litany of problems, including a lack of cash, a small
membership, and serious challenges in finding people willing to run
under the Liberal banner. He also paints a picture of a party that is
struggling to mount a decent ground game in much of the province:
“There are 124 ridings in Ontario, and
I’ve heard estimates that the Liberals are just plain dead in one-third
to one-half of those ridings. That means no riding association
president, no treasurer, no money in the bank, no volunteers. The
situation is dire.”
those reasons and more, Steve says he’s almost startled that five
people are actually running for the leadership. He wonders if this will
ultimately be a contest where the winner winds up envying the losers.
Elizabeth May’s Green party legacy
The outgoing federal Green party leader sat down for an interview with Steve this week on The Agenda.
While she didn’t address the party’s performance in Ontario directly,
she did go over some factors that hurt Greens across the country,
including in this province. Two things she blames for the party not
winning as many seats as hoped: our electoral system, and the NDP.
On The Agenda this week, Elizabeth May explained to Steve
Paikin why she believes now is the right time to resign as leader of the
Green Party of Canada.
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