Saturday, June 14, 2014

Let's Hope They Draw The Right Lessons

Ontario -- and Ontarians -- are lucky. So writes Gerry Caplan:

The Liberals’ luck is also Ontario’s luck. The Conservatives, and a good number of observers, believed Tim Hudak would emerge with the most seats, though not a majority. By parliamentary tradition, the Lieutenant-Governor would have been obliged to ask the last premier to form a government if she could; had Andrea Horwath agreed to support the Liberals – and now we’ll never know – the latter could have formed another minority. Yet as another way of scaring voters away from Mr. Hudak, Ms. Wynne took the dubious gamble of promising to advise the L-G to ask Mr. Hudak to form a government if he got more seats. He would have done so, found an excuse to force yet another election, and very possibly have emerged victorious. The consequences for the province are unthinkable. So lucky Ontario has been saved.

Tim Hudak's fate, however, was not a matter of either good or bad luck:

He was the sole author of his own misfortune. He and his team headed off to Washington, met some of the most extreme Republican politicians and “thinkers,” and returned promising Ontario a full-blown Tea Party platform. It was a corporate fantasy come true and was soon blown out of the water. Rarely in Canadian history have so many independent experts agreed on the dishonesty and distortions of a party’s platform. Still, to be fair, it seemed that Mr. Hudak had managed to persuade the 36 per cent of voters who supported him in 2011 to stick with him again. At least so it seemed to virtually every pollster and every wise guy pundit – until election night. Somehow, fully 5 per cent of those supporters abandoned ship on election day, Mr. Hudak ending up more than 7 per cent behind the Liberals. It was an unequivocal repudiation.

Which is a round about way of saying that Ontarians knew a scam when they saw and heard it. And what about Andrea Horwath -- who Caplan criticized for triggering the election?

Ms. Horwath was mainly inept and a little bit unlucky. She increased the NDP’s vote from 2011 by 1 per cent and might have legitimately expected more seats in return. But it was not to be. Let’s be clear: her intention was honourable. Like Tom Mulcair in Ottawa, she understood that to increase the NDP’s vote, and give it any chance of forming a government, somehow the party’s appeal must be expanded. So far so good. But her execution was sloppy and incoherent. She alienated an important part of her base – always the wrong thing to do – without giving many potential new voters reason to support the party. It was an experiment gone wrong, with many lessons for the future.

I suspect that all three of the parties will be drawing lessons from this election. Let's hope they're the right ones.


John B. said...

The NDP is reminding us that in 2011 they elected seventeen. So, because the results of by-elections are always the result of a distinctive set of dynamics, the one percent increase in their support from 2011 actually did translate into an increase of four seats.

Owen Gray said...

For once, John, progressive voters were able to hold back the conservative tide. We have not always been so lucky.

Lorne said...

I think Caplan has offered an incisive analysis of the Tories' failed strategy, Owen. However, in watching some recent commentary on television, the story the right wing is spinning is that Hudak was only the most honest politician in addressing Ontario's fiscal realities. While there may be a modicum of truth in such a claim, Hudak was indeed the author of his own demise, given the choice of a 'shock and awe' campaign that turned into what one columnist, I think, termed shock and revulsion on the part of a reflective electorate that has a longer memory than some thought.

Owen Gray said...

Andrew Coyne writes that the Tories should conduct the same kind of honest campaign a second time, Lorne, hoping that the electorate cottons on to reality.

Seems to me there are two realities at odds here.

mogs moglio said...

Harper will suffer the same fate as Hudak odds 10 to 1.

Owen Gray said...

I hope you're right, Mogs.

Anonymous said...

"the one percent increase in their support from 2011 actually did translate into an increase of four seats."
Think of how many more seats she/we could have won if she hadn't taken a seen-as right-wing turn in ideology and hadn't been viewed as cozying up to whodat. She shot herself in the foot and can't understand why it hurts. She needs to step down as ONDP leader and we HAVE to get somebody to take the helm that doesn't trade in their so-called progressive values to roll the dice in hopes of forming a "coalition government" with the worst right-wing piece of shit that this province has managed to produce in a very long time!
Personally, I don't think she's bright enough to figure out what the lesson is here. The CONS didn't lose enough of their constituents to give the Libs that kind of majority, but the "undecideds" sure as hell had their minds made up for them.
Here endeth the lesson.

Owen Gray said...

Lots of traditional Dippers are not happy with either Mulcair or Horwath, Anon.

I'm not sure, though, that their message is getting through.