Recent Provincial Political PollSunday, March 10, 2013 by: Mac Headrick
Love him or hate him you have to admit Dalton McGuinty is one very smart politician. Recently I learned something very important from the former premier. In professional poker you can identify the great players in part by their ability to know when to fold their hand. In politics often your career is finished by being voted out of office or kicked out by your own party. Dalton McGuinty walked away under his own terms. In today’s column I will examine the state of politics in the Ontario Legislature since McGivney’s departure.
I suppose I could sum it up in one sentence. Nothing has changed since the last election 17 months ago. Last weeks poll by Forum Research broke it down as follows. Popular vote has the Conservatives and Liberals tied at 32% with the NDP coming in third at 29%. Forum Research states a potential error of 2% which means the popular vote is a statistical tie. Due to voter concentration the actual seat count would now be close to equal.
Based on the above if an election was held today the projected seat count would be Liberal Party 53 seats (one less than needed for a majority), Conservatives 36 and the NDP 18. It costs over 90 million dollars to run a provincial election. What party is going to force an election that maintains the status quo?
Without question the big winner recently is the Liberal Party. Considering the number of scandals, tax increases, resignations, and labour unrest with public sector unions, to maintain the level of popular support at 32 % is amazing. The selection of Kathleen Wynne as the new Premier appears at this time to have been an intelligent choice.
The big loser is, of course, the Conservatives. I have come to the conclusion that under the leadership of Tim Hudak a majority government is out of the question. More than that I doubt they can even displace the Liberal Party. I am not a Conservative insider but I am curious about the present Conservative strategy. It appears that on a weekly basis Hudak will make an announcement blaming someone for the financial woes of Ontario. It is the unions, people on social assistance, etc. For the record I give Hudak high marks for being crystal clear on where the Conservatives stand on different issues. At the same time as he blasts whatever group is the flavour of the week, he states he will not work with the Liberal Party, or suggest changes. It is apparently right or wrong the electorate doesn’t want another election. I would think the Conservatives would at least pretend to make the Legislature work.
The NDP presently occupy a unique spot in the political landscape. Andrea Horwath has the highest approval rating of any of the party leaders. It appears Horwath is benefitting by working with the Liberals. The NDP gains popularity by advocating for issues such as lowering car insurance rates. Their influence on the political direction of Ontario often greatly exceeds their seat total. The problem for the NDP is twofold. Their election seat total is normally in a negative proportion to their popular vote. In an election the left leaning electorate will often leave the NDP to support the Liberals.
I believe the Liberal Party has caught a break in the ongoing union issues in the education sector. The public high school teachers have seen the light and have resumed extra curricular activities. They realize that with two educational systems (public/ Catholic) they have no choice. Parents will vote with their feet. I still believe the elementary will follow suit. Given the choice between Kathleen Wynne or the embrace of Tim Hudak (political rhetoric aside) whom do you think the major public sector unions are going to support?
The next big test for Kathleen Wynne will be the April election. The Conservative Party has already made itself irrelevant to the budget. The NDP has a somewhat popular issue in car insurance premiums. I am curious as to how this will be played out by the Liberal Party.
It bothers me greatly that only approximately 50% of Ontarians even bother to exercise their right to vote. During the last provincial election I read extensively about all the party’s economic plans. To sum up, they all were unrealistic and over optimistic. I have come to the conclusion at this time that the average voter doesn’t want clarity or truth. They want to feel good. The best I can hope for is that the art of political compromise can work. Ontario doesn’t have the financial resources to spend as in the past.
As l see it (being an optimist) perhaps the presence political situation in Ontario is a good thing. Instead of focusing completely on the next election our politicians can try to make the legislature work.