In the lead-up to the mayoral election, Doug Ford suggested that he’d leave politics if he couldn’t convince voters to to hand him his brother’s crown. Now, though, with the election over and the Ford dynasty in shambles, he seems to have changed his mind. The Globe reports that Ford is openly musing about running for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives—a job vacated by Tim Hudak after he led the party to a humiliating defeat in this year’s provincial election. It’s true that Ford has some reason to be confident in his electability (he finished second in a hotly contested citywide race, after all), but to win the leadership he’d have to gain the support of PC insiders, who may be reluctant to make the famously abrasive councillor their party’s public face.
Soon-to-be-former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak arguably lost last week’s provincial election because of his promise to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs, a scary proclamation that even some party loyalists admit wasn’t sold to the public particularly skillfully. At best, Hudak’s rhetoric was brutally truthful, and now, as intra-party discord begins to leak into the press, we know that it narrowly avoided entering just-plain-brutal territory.
According to the Star, the Tories’ campaign strategists considered and rejected the idea of actually naming some of the public employees that would have been fired under the PC plan. Hudak would have handed out mock “pink slips.” The Star says the campaign even considered holding a press conference in a room wallpapered with the names of Ontario Power Generation employees who earn more than $100,000—some of whom, presumably, would have had their jobs eliminated. To recap: members of Hudak’s inner circle thought that the way to win the election was to incite even more uproar over the single most controversial aspect of their platform, a move that probably would have intensified support among their base while further alienating everyone else. This, evidently, is how elections are lost.
Last night’s election was a surprising victory for premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals. With a majority government secured, they’ll most likely have four years to implement their agenda free of interference. Despite the euphoria in progressive circles, there are plenty of people for whom this outcome is nothing short of a disaster—Tim Hudak, for one. His Progressive Conservatives had what seemed like a clear path to victory: just bring up the Liberal party’s many scandals as often as possible and let voters do the rest. And yet, thanks in part to a far-right platform that didn’t resonate with urban voters, the Tory cause has been sidelined for another term.
A day later, everyone has something to say about Thursday’s electoral surprise. Here, for your convenience, are nine of the best reactions, ordered from most to least pessimistic, starting with today’s ridiculous Toronto Sun cover (above), which is actually a sequel to the even-more-ridiculous cover the paper ran in 2011.
The 2014 provincial election is on Thursday, and it’s bound to be a tough one. Ontario voters have a choice between a Liberal party that has squandered billions of dollars on ill-conceived projects, a Conservative party that is basically lying when it says its austerity agenda will create a million jobs and an NDP leadership that seems content to offer little more than a smattering of “save you money”-style promises. It’s a state of affairs that has some people advocating for the “none of the above” option (which is something that actually exists). But, of course, there are also plenty of people and organizations that are picking favourites.
The Toronto Sun, of course, would like you to vote for Tim Hudak’s Tories, because “we cannot spend ourselves rich.” The Post is also going for Hudak this time around, mostly out of loathing for the Liberals. The Globe’s editorial board, meanwhile, released a head-scratcher of an endorsement, calling for a Hudak-led minority government, which isn’t something Ontarians can even really vote for. (It’s sort of like saying, “Okay, some of you vote PC. But not too many of you!”) The Star, alone among the major dailies, has come out in full support of premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, under the assumption that Wynne has earned her party a second chance. Torontoist agrees. On a more individual level, The Grid’s Edward Keenan thinks you should vote for (as opposed to against) something, and Metro’s Matt Elliott thinks you should really consider the Green party.
The important thing, though, is that everybody actually does go ahead and vote. It’s easy; all you need is a drivers’ license or another comparable piece of ID. The province even has a handy website where you can look up your local polling location. Whichever party wins this election will have more say over big-ticket projects in Toronto (like, for instance, subway construction) than whichever municipal candidate manages to take the throne from Rob Ford this October. Casting a ballot is very much worth the effort.
Journalistic objectivity is a fraught notion even under ideal circumstances. Even so, it’s a little astonishing (and a true indicator of how contentious this month’s provincial election really is) that a union that represents some of the best journalists in Toronto and around the province has abandoned all pretence of impartiality in the hopes of steering its members away from Tim Hudak and his Progressive Conservative party.
Take a look at those two covers. (The one on the left is 24 Hours, in case it wasn’t obvious.) At first glance—and these freebie commuter papers often only get a single glance—it looks like the two media outlets have come to completely opposite conclusions about last night’s Ontario leaders’ debate. Metro seems to think that NDP leader Andrea Horwath was the winner, while 24 Hours hands it to the Tories’ Tim Hudak. In fact, if you were to look very, very closely at both covers, you’d find disclaimers, written in small text, that explain what they really are: paid advertising.
This is actually the second time the NDP has done this type of thing since the start of the election. In May, the party bought the cover of the Toronto Sun, leading to no small amount of Twitter uproar. The reason these cover takeovers are a big deal is that they look deceivingly like editorial content. Neither paper’s ad-sales departments could immediately be reached for information about how much these types of ads cost, or how they’re sold.
In Tuesday’s Ontario leaders’ debate, the single most high-profile event in this month’s provincial election, PC leader Tim Hudak, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and premier Kathleen Wynne mostly stuck to the same few talking points that they’ve been hawking to voters since before the writ dropped. This made for bad television (more than a few CBC viewers must have turned on their sets expecting programming a little more intellectually stimulating, like Just For Laughs Gags or Coronation Street), but as political theatre it was occasionally very good. Here, a few key things we took away from the fracas.
Politicians “create jobs” the same way homeopathic medicines treat cancer—which is to say, they almost definitely don’t at all, but a certain percentage of the population will never be convinced of that. Political change can nudge job numbers in the right direction, but the economy, like the human body, is too big and complex to respond predictably to tiny doses of cure. And so Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s “Million Jobs Plan” has been highly suspect from day one. What’s more, economists are now saying that it may be flawed to the point of utter uselessness, largely because of a single mathematical error.
It has been almost 20 years since the last time a newly elected conservative provincial government cancelled a major Toronto public-transit project, and it seems as though Tim Hudak thinks the city is overdue for a repeat. The PC leader told reporters this morning that, if his party wins next month’s election, he’ll cancel four planned light-rail projects in the GTA, including lines that are supposed to be installed on Sheppard and Finch avenues.
This is why pre-election polls are tricky. Earlier this week, we found out that a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid had given a slight edge to the Tories in next month’s provincial election. That was good news for Tim Hudak, who seemed to be on his way to forming a majority government. Today, the Star reports on a Forum research poll that comes to a very different conclusion. It found that support for the Liberal party is growing, and that Kathleen Wynne, riding a wave of disgust with Hudak’s recently announced plan to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs, could end up with a 68-seat majority in June. The poll gives the Liberals 38-per-cent popular support, with the Conservatives at 35 per cent and the NDP at 21 per cent.
ThreeHundredEight.com, a website that tracks Canadian political polls, has revised its running projection of the provincial election’s outcome, putting the Tories and the Liberals in a virtual dead heat. The Liberals have a slight advantage in terms of projected seat count, but ThreeHundredEight’s numbers suggest that the most likely outcome for the party, at this point, is another minority government. As always, though, the only perfectly accurate poll is the one taken on election day.
Despite some PR hiccups, it appears that the lead-up to next month’s provincial election has been relatively kind to Tim Hudak. A new analysis by ThreeHundredEight.com, an election-tracking website run by political reporter Éric Grenier, gives Hudak’s PC party a high probability of winning a majority when voters go to the polls.
Over the course of the past week, two of Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s campaign-trail photo-ops haven’t gone so well. First there was the campaign kick-off event at a music studio, where reporters posed awkward questions about his party’s opposition to music-industry grants. And then, on Saturday, Hudak ran into some problems with transit police after he attempted to stage an event on a TTC subway train without a photography permit, and also in violation of the TTC’s rules against political canvassing. The fascinating thing is that in both cases, when the problems began, Hudak’s expression tightened into the exact same grin, a rictus of perfectly suppressed terror. Is this his DeRozan face?
Anyone who cares about provincial politics may want to sit down before listening to the first two minutes of this segment from today’s Metro Morning. The radio show had a reporter stand on John Street, where she asked more than a dozen passers-by to identify the three leaders of Ontario’s major provincial parties. At least three people didn’t know who Kathleen Wynne was (she’s the premier of Ontario, for anyone still wondering). Someone thought Olivia Chow was a party leader. In the end, only one person was able to ID Wynne, Andrea Horwath and Tim Hudak without difficulty.
We now have about a month to go until the next provincial election—an election that may determine the future of public transit in Toronto, among other things. If this unscientific sample is anything to go by, the candidates are going to need to print up a few more lawn signs.
That face in the image above is the face of a trapped man. It’s the face Tim Hudak made on Monday during a miscalculated photo-op at MetalWorks Group, a recording studio in Mississauga. Hudak had intended to talk about his “million jobs plan,” the Ontario PC party’s fairly self-explanatory election platform.
The plan aims to create a million jobs (though politicians, of course, can’t directly create jobs except by hiring government workers). Unsurprisingly, it involves lowering taxes and trimming the provincial bureaucracy.
Monday’s edgy, music-studio photo-op backdrop ended up working against Hudak, though, as reporters repeatedly questioned him about his party’s decision to vote against the Ontario Music Fund, a provincial grant program that benefits music companies like MetalWorks. Seemingly unable to think of an answer that would both satisfy reporters and please his music-industry hosts, Hudak was only able to keep his composure by resorting to generalities. “Look,” he said. “We voted against the 2013 budget because it increased taxes and put us deep in debt.”
The PC party opposes so-called “corporate welfare”—government handouts to businesses, given in the hopes of stimulating job creation—and so it’s not shocking that Hudak wouldn’t embrace the music fund. What is a little startling is his apparent lack of preparation for the inevitable questions about it. The photo-op was a painful start to the 2014 provincial election for Hudak, who already tends to score lower than the other major party leaders in popularity polls. The video, from Global News, is below.
The Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank, has just released one of its periodic reports on public transit in Toronto, and the takeaway is clear. The institute is saying, essentially, that if you care about transit in Toronto, you should vote for anyone you like in the upcoming provincial election, as long as they’re not Tories.