We have known about the June 7, 2018 voting date for four long years, and for at least two it has been the date everyone expects that the long reign of the Ontario Liberals will come to a quiet end.
Just like Stephen Harper before her, on June 7 Kathleen Wynne will make a short speech thanking the few supporters who have stuck with her to the bitter end, congratulate the few Liberals who will have retained their seats, and will exist the political stage forever. Hopefully, for her sake, she will lose her own seat, saving her the necessity of hanging around for a few months before quietly resigning as an MPP.
But, as a province, where do we go from there.
With all due respect to Conservative Leader Doug Ford, the party is clearly not ready to rule.
All of the members of the caucus and most of the other candidates signed a pledge back in December to accomplish much of Patrick Brown’s centrist progressive agenda before the next election in 2022. Remember that odd bit of theatre. Brown is now long gone as is the pledge, much to the relief of almost all of the Conservative caucus, but many of his hand-picked candidates remain
After Brown was ousted, most of the caucus rallied around Christine Elliot, who may have been able to present a clear proposition to the Ontario electorate on June 7.
But, of course, she lost the leadership contest to Doug Ford. He inherited a caucus that supports Elliot’s mainstream conservatism, a set of leftish Brown supporting candidates, and a few new candidates that support his own brand of populism.
Will Ford manage to impose his own agenda on his party should they win, or will the party insiders gain control. If so, will the ghost of Patrick Brown hold sway, or the Elliot-ites?
Conservative supporters may deny this, but we all know that the Conservative Party is counting on riding the ant-Liberal wave to power, hoping to put a cohesive program together afterwards. What those policies are, and how they will be implemented, is anyone’s guess.
The only alternative to a Conservative majority, would result from a massive shift of Liberal support to the NDP, who had been languishing in third place until only a couple of weeks ago. As swing voters worry about the prospect of a Doug Ford led government, and many Liberal party supporters in swing ridings have decided that the ABF (anyone but Ford) idea is a good one, there has been a shift to the NDP.
The NDP are running on a pretty centrist agenda. They promise business as usual with a bit more pain for corporations in terms of taxes and regulations and bit more support for the 2 million Ontarians living in poverty. The appeal has gained strength over the last week, but a revelation that their platform contained a mathematical error has not helped. Seven hundred million dollars was sitting in the income column instead of the expenditure column, resulting in a $1.4 billion increase in the projected deficit in year 1 of their regime.
The Liberal Party has pounced on this, as you would expect, although the fact that the auditor has trashed their own actual accounting of the province finances makes it seem pretty much like the pot calling the kettle black.
The Conservatives haven’t, or hadn’t as of Tuesday morning, said anything about the NDP error. They have had some of their own scandals to deal with, and perhaps they are a bit un-willing to criticize another party’s platform until they have one of their own.
Think about that.
As I said above, we have fixed election dates in Ontario. Everyone has known about June 7, 2018 for four years. There have been 1,500 days to prepare for this election
Nonetheless 14 days before that election, the party with the best chance of forming a majority, (an 85% chance according to CBC poll tracker Eric Grenier, down from 95% a few days ago) is so broken that it does not have even a tentative platform to show us. In addition, their leader has never governed at any political level and will have only the grudging support of his caucus should he be elected. Yikes.