Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ontario Election

Some notes on the Ontario election.

1. The affable approachable John Tory, the man of the people, tried to reshape the Ontario Progressive Conservatives to be the party of the people. A kinder compassionate Red Tory, went down to defeat personally in his own riding and his party stayed with the same seats it had entering the race. Tory tried to reform the Tories to be Progressive in order to divorce the party from its Harris heritage.

Tory's campaign message of more money for transit, the need for more family doctors, more funding for treatment of children with autism and for public housing, and phasing out the health tax, was drowned out by the controversy over religious school funding.

2. The Green Party made huge gains at the expense of the Conservatives!! Note that well.

The NDP gained in popular support taking votes from the Liberals, while CTV showed last night that the percentage by which the Conservatives declined in popular vote went directly to the Green Party. What does this mean Federally? Well the same. 'Progressive' Conservatives, Red Tories are abandoning the party for the Greens.

The Ontario Greens had a candidate in every riding for the first time.

Party leader Frank de Jong, who only won about 10 per cent of the vote in the Toronto riding he was running, said the political landscape has changed.

"We've tripled our vote and we've come third in many ridings," he told CTV's Naomi Parness after the results were in.

"We're thrilled. It's a huge gain. Politics will never be the same in Ontario again."

The Green leader was upbeat after winning about 8 per cent of the vote, even though he didn't achieve any of his three election aims, including the main goal – electing the first party member to a Canadian legislature.

A handful of Greens appeared set to finish third, and the party polled about 10 per cent of the vote in central and southwestern Ontario.

And while de Jong didn't get equal coverage with McGuinty, Conservative Leader John Tory and the NDP's Howard Hampton, and was excluded from their TV debate, he was regularly quoted or profiled in province-wide media outlets.

The Green buzz seemed to be confirmed when Hampton, late in the campaign, warned left-leaning voters against their "right-wing, conservative philosophy," including plans to privatize health care and other public services.

That drew a suitably angry public rebuttal from the usually upbeat and positive de Jong, a part-time elementary school music and shop teacher. "Hampton is spreading disinformation by saying such things," he said at a St. Catharines campaign stop. At the same time, he was delighted with the attention the spat produced.

All this was a huge gain from previous campaigns, when de Jong was pretty much anonymous.

3.The NDP were virtually left out of this whole election yet gained in popular support as well as gaining seats. At one point in the night it looked like they had doubled their seats to 14! In the end they got 10. A good reason to change leaders!! Hampton's lack of popularity as a potential Premier in pre-election polling dragged the party down. It had good policies and positions but that was all lost in the fracas over private religious school funding. Had they had a leader that was more outspoken and charismatic they could have gotten more seats. Unfortunately for the NDP he is promising to stick around.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton fared slightly better than Mr. Tory, in that the coverage of him generally focused on whatever issue he was trying to get across that day. But in his case, the problem was that it wasn't the right message. With an unimaginative campaign, he wound up being marginalized - the one thing he absolutely needed to avoid.



Last Thursday I wrote that Howard Hampton appeared to be reaching the end of his rope. In the midst of a third straight futile campaign as NDP Leader, he had openly speculated to The Toronto Sun's editorial board on Wednesday that he might be "the wrong person" for the job. It was in keeping with his tone in the campaign's latter stages; when he'd visited our own editorial board at the start of the week, there was little pretense his party had much chance on election day.

The first, more minor mistake was the NDP's lack of preparedness for the start of the campaign. Rather than trying to set the agenda, Mr. Hampton waited several days before unveiling his platform. With the NDP needing a big splash to avoid becoming an afterthought, that marginalized them from the outset.

The bigger problem was that Mr. Hampton declined to make the one pitch that could have increased the NDP's support base. With polls showing the potential for a minority government, he should have openly campaigned for the balance of power - something Jack Layton, did in the last two federal elections. By outlining all the progressive things the NDP would force Dalton McGuinty to do, he could have won over enough left-leaning Liberals to increase his seat count.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton easily won his seat in Kenora-Rainy River, and said New Democrats made strong gains in the number of Ontarians who voted for the party.

"We increased our popular vote significantly tonight. And we're going to send more New Democrats to Queens Park and some of them are very youthful, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with them," he said.

And while Hampton had no problem being re-elected for the sixth time in his northern riding of Kenora-Rainy River, he now joins the other leaders whose parties lost with questions being asked about how much longer they should stay on.

After three campaigns as leader and without a breakthrough, some are wondering whether Hampton will want to lead the NDP through another campaign.

- Despite his efforts to raise "the real issues," Howard Hampton failed to make major gains in his third election as NDP Leader, but vowed to lead the party into the next one.

"I'm not going anywhere," he told a crowd of supporters to a huge round of applause last night at a hotel in Fort Frances, in his riding of Kenora-Rainy River. "I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can."

4. Despite the slander campaign launched by Liberal hacks; Cherniak and Kinsella last year, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo kept her seat.

5. The McGuinty and Williams landslides mean that the Harpocrite government is in serious trouble if they force an election. And now all eyes move west to see what the results in Saskatchewan will be. If the NDP play Williams card of bashing Ottawa and win, well that will be the final nail in Harpers attempt to force an election over his 'every vote is a confidence vote' Throne speech.

In his first news conference since gaining power 20 months ago, Harper delivered an ultimatum to Parliament. If the opposition parties support the throne speech, they have to support everything in it. All items will be confidence votes.

Sound familiar? That's because it is. University of Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan -- who is to Harper what Karl Rove was to U.S. President George W. Bush -- outlined the exact strategy in an article in the Globe and Mail Aug. 1 under the headline: It's time for Conservative minority brinksmanship.

"By using confidence measures more aggressively, the Conservatives can benefit politically," Flanagan wrote. "If the opposition parties retreat, the government gets its legislation. If the opposition unites on a matter of confidence, the Conservatives get an election for which they are best prepared."

Now here's Harper Oct. 3: "We must be able to govern... It's not a matter of making threats. They (the opposition) have got to fish or cut bait. The choice is not an election or obstruction, the choice is an election or give the government the mandate to govern.

"You can't pass the throne speech one day and the next day say, 'Well, I didn't mean to do it or we didn't actually give you a mandate,'" he continued. "We will be interpreting a positive vote on the speech from the throne as a mandate to consider the major elements of the throne speech and the major elements of the government's program to be matters of confidence going forward."

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1 comment:

janfromthebruce said...

Hi Eugene,
"It had good policies and positions but that was all lost in the fracas over private religious school funding. Had they had a leader that was more outspoken and charismatic they could have gotten more seats."
Let's go to the outspoken place and just-a-oppositioned against multi-faith funding. There was a group of outspoken public school trustees that wrote to the NDP executive 2 times about one school system. Once before and once during. We strongly suggested they needed to jump in here and read the tea leaves - advocate for a one all inclusive school system. Even if they threw a bone - suggest a royal commission, legislative committee, push the liberals to do this and taking the position of the power brokers.
This did not happen, however, one MPP did have a meeting with a few of us during the election.
The reality here is that cons voted for the Greens on this one issue, and particularly in western Ontario.
Howie would have than got press and attention, and therefore be able to talk about our other issues. We needed to be different than the libs and we were not different enough to matter in this "religious funding war."
70% of the public polled by the end for one school system.
A third place party cannot frame the election but the NDP could have shifted the frame to one school system or at least responded to the public yearning.
Instead, they basically ignored it or said that is not what the public wanted to talk about. It was the only thing the public wanted to talk about - bottom line.
So, rewrap, cons voted for Greens - Why? Easy, it was not about the environment, it was because they ran on one school system.
If NDP brain thrust had willing to be bold and outspoken, they would have thrown at the bare minimum royal commission as power broker, thus picking up those votes in very close ridings that the libs took, on the one hand, and con protest votes in Oshawa, that Sid Ryan lost again.