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.