Sunday, June 24, 2018

What Happened

Martin Regg Cohn has an interesting post mortem of the Ontario election. He concludes that, because the Liberals pulled their bacon out of the fire a couple of times, their fall was destined to be a hard one:

Had the Liberals not risen from the grave in the three previous elections, there would have been far less accumulated animus. Had they lost in 2014, as everyone expected, they likely would have easily retained at least two or three dozen seats, not the historic low of 7 seats.
By surviving previous elections, they postponed the inevitable reckoning — setting the stage for a far harder fall in 2018.
It's important to remember how the Liberal benefited from past Conservative  and NDP mistakes:

In 2007, under an embattled Dalton McGuinty, the Liberals were rescued by the faith-based school funding proposed by then-Progressive Conservative leader John Tory — a political leap of faith voters wouldn’t take. In 2011, an unpopular new PC leader, Tim Hudak, could only reduce the tired Liberals to a minority.
After McGuinty bailed out, Wynne’s ascension allowed the Liberals to fight under the banner of “change” in the 2014 election — promising pension reform and a new kind of politics by the province’s first woman premier. Let’s not forget, however, that Wynne didn’t so much win the election as the Tories lost it under Hudak, while the New Democrats lost their way under Andrea Horwath.

Knowing that Wynne was unpopular, the Liberals concentrated on policy: "promising a $15 minimum wage, Pharmacare for young and old adults, free tuition, and free child care for pre-schoolers."

But the animus against Wynne and the Liberals was simply too strong to overcome:

Voters were beyond buying what Wynne was selling. It mattered little if the experts noted the Liberals had a better child-care proposal than the NDP, because Ontarians tuned them out (or perhaps we’ve learned that most voters aren’t moved by the issue, unless they happen to be on a waiting list for daycare). Even if Wynne had a winning performance in the main televised debate, she was no longer on the scorecard of most voters.

For the Liberals, the election was unwinable. But the truly sad part of the story is that the so called Progressive Conservatives -- under Doug Ford -- won.

Image: Toronto Star


Rural said...

Your closing sentence says it all, Owen!

Toby said...

The animus that so many voters have for the NDP (all across the country) I don't understand. For so many, Canada is a two party country and the third option is to stay home. Maybe elections should require some sort of quorum in which low turnout would void the election.

Owen Gray said...

It's strange, Toby. The NDP has given us many of the policies that define us as Canadians. But we've let other parties implement those policies.

The Mound of Sound said...

What happens when the electorate loses faith in politics to address its problems and worries? You mention Wynne's promises of pharmacare and $15 an hour minimum wages. Don't get me wrong. Those initiatives are very important yet they can look like trinkets, baubles when you feel that your government is unable or unwilling to tackle the greater problems of the day.

There's actually a school of thought and it's growing that holds we're wallowing in the mire that besets any society that has for too long been at peace. I did a post on that this morning. Some believe that we need another major power war to reset social values, morality and social cohesion. Like most controversial arguments there it is built on elements of fact and history.

Even in my fleeting military days we were taught that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while an obvious deterrent ("MAD"), also ensured that some day there would be a nuclear exchange whether that result from a deliberate effort to seize powers and territory by reducing a rival or out of fear or simply false assumptions and blunder.

Look at our own federal leaders (past 30 years) or our neighbour's federal government and you'll see a political caste that has lost its ability to govern in the public interest for various reasons including the compromising accommodations they have made to narrow, private interests.

To me, Owen, the leadership exemplified by Wynne, Harper or Trudeau Jr. or their counterparts on the world stage is anything but assuring.

Owen Gray said...

These days, Rural, "Progressive Conservative" is an oxymoron. And that's truly sad.

Jay Farquharson said...


In BC, since the 60's, every economic growth spurt is under the NDP, every recession the Right, ( Post Bennet Socreds, Liberals),

You'll never see that in the mainstream Media. All you will get is the Fraiser Institute, BC Business Council, etc saying how Dipper policies are bad for business.

You have to go to the "good govornance" blogs, the accountant/economist blogs, to find that out.

It's an urban myth that still lives large, like Republicans are strong on National Defence, even though the current crop in the US are all Russian assets.

Owen Gray said...

The phrase that keeps recurring in my mind is "economic royalists." That's the phrase Franklin Roosevelt used to describe his opposition, Mound. He knew who they were and he wasn't afraid to call them out.These days our leaders are obviously in the pockets of the economic royalists.

Owen Gray said...

As provincial governments, the NDP knew how to balance budgets, Jay. Tommy Douglas -- good Scotsman that he was -- was particularly good at it. But you'll never hear about that, either.