Yesterday, Kathleen Wynne dropped a bombshell. She announced that she knew her party could not win the election; and she asked Ontario voters to give her party a place in a coalition government. Things are looking grim for the Liberals. Some projections have the party winning as few as two seats. They have to win at least eight to retain official status in the legislature.
It's really hard to decipher how things will turn out -- mainly because Ontario's ridings have been redrawn. Robert Drummond writes that there are several possible scenarios:
It’s clear the Liberals can’t recover enough to win a majority of the legislature’s seats, and given the concentration of the NDP vote in particular areas, it would also be surprising as well if the New Democrats won a majority. (Of course, we were surprised in 1990 when the NDP captured a solid majority with under 39 per cent of the popular vote.) If there is a majority government, it seems most likely it will be Conservative.
The possibilities for minority government are much more numerous. Suppose the PCs win a plurality of seats, but not a majority. They would then have a legitimate claim that Ontario’s lieutenant governor should invite Ford to form a government.
Wynne will still be premier until a new government is sworn in. If her party was to make a late surge and hold on to some of its seats, she could ask that the legislature be called into session and could attempt to make an agreement with the NDP (or less likely, the PCs) to hold onto office.
If she winds up in third place in terms of seats however, her claim to continued power would be significantly weaker. The closest (though not perfect) analogy is found after the election of 1985 when the PCs, having lost a majority, asked for the legislature’s confidence in the hopes of continuing to govern.
They had managed minority governments from 1975 to 1981, and might have hoped to do so again. However, David Peterson’s Liberals and Bob Rae’s NDP agreed to withhold confidence from the PC government.
They settled on an accord by which the NDP would agree not to cast non-confidence votes against the Liberal government, headed by Peterson, for two years in return for the Liberals’ agreeing to pursue an agenda on which the two parties could agree.
The problem is that the Dippers remember how that agreement ended. Mr. Peterson called an election, the Dippers were cast aside, and got no credit for the policies they helped shepherd through the legislature.
With that history in mind, "NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has expressly ruled out a coalition with the Liberals, though that position makes sense if you think you can get a majority, but less sense if it means Ford would consequently become premier."
Politics makes strange bedfellows. Stay tuned.
Image: 680 News