Kathleen Wynne’s bombshell announcement yesterday tells us she doesn’t know who voters will choose on 7 June but
“after Thursday I will no longer be Ontario’s Premier.”
How will this play out?
Will Liberal voters take this as a green light to vote strategically for the NDP if they believe that’s the only way of stopping Doug Ford in their riding?
Will they stick with Liberal incumbents – such as Chris Ballard in Newmarket-Aurora – on the grounds he’s been a good MPP for the past four years and deserves to be re-elected?
Wynne’s concession, five days before the election, is truly remarkable. Has she hung her candidates out to dry, broadcasting to the voters there is no possibility of a Liberal Government? Or has she thrown them a lifeline, allowing them to campaign on their own record without having Wynne’s drag anchor pulling them down?
The PCs: a tainted Party
My advice is to vote for the candidate in the best position to beat Doug Ford’s tainted Progressive Conservatives.
Even the PCs themselves know their Party has been corrupted.
Christine Elliott, the PC candidate in Newmarket-Aurora, lost to Doug Ford for the Party leadership and refused to concede defeat when the figures showed she had lost.
Elliott put out a statement saying her campaign had been made aware of
“serious irregularities with respect to this leadership race.”
She subsequently threw in the towel and accepted the result and is now one of Ford’s loyal lieutenants – at least until the result is declared.
All politicians have a shelf life. And when Elliott left the legislature she was well past her sell-by date. But the wholly unexpected resignation of Patrick Brown allowed her to re-enter Party politics, challenging Ford for the PC Leadership and, of course, losing.
As for Wynne, would it have been better for her to step aside from the Liberal leadership three months ago instead of a few days before the election?
The best parallel I can immediately think of comes from New Zealand where the Labour Opposition Leader, Andrew Little, stepped down because of very poor polling figures and his successor, Jacinda Arden, took over on 1 August 2017 a mere seven weeks before the General Election. A deal was struck with the country’s third Party and she found herself as Prime Minister.
Changing the face at the top allows a Party to present a new and fresher image to the electorate. It’s tough on the Leader but politics is like that. It is in the nature of the beast. Here today and gone tomorrow.
The PCs are now going for the NDP jugular but their campaign seems increasingly inept.
Pitching for the seniors’ vote
This PC ad, outside the Seniors’ Centre on Davis Drive, is, obviously, pitched at the older demographic.
It asks (above a grainy photo of Bob Rae):
REMEMBER THE 90’s?
1.2 MILLION ON WELFARE
And alongside a photo of Andrea Horwath it shouts:
Rae was NDP Premier of Ontario from 1990-95 so you would probably have to be in your late 30s or early 40s to have any serious recollection of Rae Days and all that.
The people in Newmarket’s Seniors' Centre may remember those tumultuous times. But around 40,000 younger people in Newmarket-Aurora will have no interest in this ancient history.
The past is another country.
Except for Doug Ford who wants to bring back the good old days where you could buy a beer for a buck.
Update on 3 June 2018: The CBC's The Campaigner email blast tells me:
"While Wynne's concession was surprising, it isn't unparalleled in provincial politics. In 2001, BC's NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh was in a similar position, conceding a week before election day and anticipating big losses for his party. He asked voters not to split the left vote by voting for the Greens over the NDP. His plea didn't work. Gordon Campbell's Liberals won all but two seats, stripping the NDP of Party status."