Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Ontario Election: History Repeats Itself

Meet the new election, same as the old election. As the results of the Ontario have been decided it is difficult to look over the results and not see a great deal of similarities between the 2018 provincial election and the 2011 federal one.

In both cases the Liberals were battered down to third place. The Tories secured approximately 40% of the vote and in the weakness of the Liberals the NDP filled the gap to become the Official Opposition after a breakthrough. The ultimate kicker - the leader of the Green Party managed to win her/his seat.

There are plenty of parallels to how the Progressive Conservatives won in Ontario to how their federal cousins did seven years prior. In fact, in 2011 Stephen Harper's Conservatives won 73 seats to Doug Ford's 76. Similarly, the Liberals were reduced to 11 seats federally and provincially it was 11.

I think we see a lot of alignment between these two elections because there simply is a lot of shared blood between the six parties. I am less clear on the Green Party, so I don't want to speak out of ignorance. Kathleen Wynne strongly supported Justin Trudeau in 2015, Jack Layton was a strong ally to Andrea Horwath and Jagmeet Singh did pitch in for the campaign this time around. An obvious move given that his brother now represents his old seat. The connections between the Tories are less obvious, but several Harper era Conservatives successfully ran for seats this time around.

Aside from the parallels in the outcomes and votes I think we can likely extrapolate how some of the politics over the next four years may look. Doug Ford is going to introduce a conservative agenda to the province for the first time in fifteen years. There is going to be substantial resistance from the progressive side and its allies. It will be the ONDP's job primarily to keep the PCs in check and hold them to public account. Ms. Horwath will be challenged to do it as well as Tom Mulcair did. For four years he made the case for why the Conservatives did not deserve re-election.

However, do not expect the 2022 election to be a mirror of 2015. Doug Ford will have only completed his first term and the public is more like than not to give him a second, just out of tradition and habit. More likely it'll be a battle for the opposition parties to assert themselves and reduce the PC majority, if possible, and for Mike Schreiner to prove his worth as the sole Green MPP.

On a final note, I predicted 111 of the 124 provincial ridings correctly. In terms of overall numbers I did better, but I figured I'd fess up and say that I was off. I underestimated the NDP breakthrough in Toronto, and which seats the Liberals would manage to hold, and underestimated the PCs in a few spots. Oh well, still not bad for an amateur. I did call all five of my local ridings correctly though, so that's a bonus.

2018 was a hell of a provincial election and will no doubt make for exciting politics in Ontario for the years to come. Keep watching, there's plenty more to come.

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