Autopsy of an election

Who won the Ontario yesterday?

It’s not who you think. The PC had performed badly as they had not won new seats, the NDP had a correct score but no wave, as the party had lost some strongholds. You probably all think that it’s the Liberals who had won it? Really? Nah. I do not think the Liberals have won a big prize.

In fact, the Liberals had lost the election by winning it with a majority. By doing what is happening right now in France to the Socialist Party who have no credibility left. There could be a possibility that the Liberals continue their ways and their government could become toxic. The Liberals had done a five weeks campaign based on denial and attacking others because their own record is frankly terrible. Very few new ideas from them.

The Liberals have won a majority? And yet, their coalition that put them in power could collapse really fast. First example are trade unions related to the public sector, if the Liberals do like what McGuinty did two years ago, it will probably be too much for them. Without  »Working Families » and the teachers union supporting them, not sure that the Liberals will have a strong machine.

On a side note, as many are saying, the trade unions in the public sector are possibly the only organisation who is organized enough in Ontario who had any power to GOTV. Even many people in big business support the Liberals because they love giving subsidies. And unions in Ontario are not close to the NDP as they are to the Liberals since a few years.

The dilemma for the Liberals is that if you massively raise taxes, you will have quasi-riots and if you do massive cuts, trade unions will do everything to destroy you especially if they had supported you in the past. Ask Bob Rae. The new electoral map is also a double edged sword for the Liberals. The 905 could be a very volatile region like the 2011 federal election told us.

The second thing are taxes. Like for Manitoba with the GST raise, sooner or later, one tax will be too much. The Liberals had become toxic since 2011 in almost all of rural Ontario and if there is a chance that they do a policy which puts people angry except in their strongholds. This had happened to the NDP in BC in the 2001 provincial election.

This is why this election will have consequences. Ontario will be downgraded sooner than later if business continue as usual and Wynne superpowers to not cut anything and please anyone will vanish as quickly as they appeared. If the Bob Rae legacy told us one thing, you need to be really strong when times are rough.

People tended to laugh about Atlantic provinces or Quebec for a long time for re-electing corrupted, incompetent and despotic governments, now it’s Ontario who is the joke province by taking the easy way out rather than the responsible way in.

I must say that Tim Hudak did a great campaign except that his Million Jobs Plan was tacky, ill-conceived and stucked to him for too long. This was a problem and it’s sadly better in an election to be general and concise as same time. Negative advertising also works well especially against a government as despotic as the Liberals. Stephen Harper had learned this after his 2004 loss and it worked wonders against Michael Ignatieff. Next PC leader should make the referendum as a referendum on the Liberals, and says that he would make things better. It worked really well to the Quebec Liberals (which are frankly not like Ontario Liberals) to transform the election on a referendum on a shaky PQ government.

But Hudak loss doesn’t mean a lots of things as he was always a very unpopular leader in the polls who burned his chances rapidly. Ontario is not a left-wing utopia and there will be a tide against the Liberals as soon as they will impose another (carbon?) tax or a deficit levy. This will make the Liberals toxic in the 905. In some ways, Quebec (who is currently doing a very ballsy pension reform for employees in the municipal sector) is becoming like the Ontario of the mid-1990’s while Ontario is becoming like British Columbia in the late 1990’s.

The NDP are in a shaky position being a third party in votes in Toronto while doing well in industrial heartlands and in Northern Ontario. But Horwath has a big problem in her hands. Like in BC, they are divided between two clans, the urban activist wing and the pragmatic bread and butter camp (some call them the Tommy Douglas camp, as they are supportive of balanced budgets). But it’s sure that one of the wings will leave the party. The Liberals are also divided between a left of centre faction and a more pragmatic centrist faction. If things go very badly for the Liberals, party will have difficulty be united.

In conclusion, what is strange is how the Liberals had taken a big gamble with this election like the BCNDP winning an unexpected majority in 1996. This gamble is a dangerous game as you are sometimes better to rebuild in opposition for a few years rather than continue. The party have many skeletons in their closet and awful management skills. Like the Tories in the UK in the 1990’s, the Liberals could win another term in government to be for ages in opposition being divided between two wings. And there is no doubt that the Liberal cabinet is far from strong and that wishful thinking aside, the federal Liberals are nervous if the Ontario Liberals screw up until fall 2015.

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