Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party have swept to victory in Ontario, thrusting Ford into the Premier’s seat, in one of the most volatile and sensational elections in recent history.
Fifteen minutes after the polls closed, both CBC and CP24 projected a Progressive Conservative majority government for the province.
"My friends, help is here," Ford declared to supporters in a victory speech in his riding of Etobicoke. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I will never forget the trust you've put in me. This victory belongs to the people, and tonight, the people of Ontario have spoken."
Ford’s win comes at the vast expense of the Liberal party, which lost its official party status after winning just 7 seats. Kathleen Wynne announced she would step down as leader of the Liberal Party. The PC Party clinched 76 seats, 13 more than the number needed to form a majority government, but won just over 40 percent of the popular vote. The NDP secured 40 seats in total, replacing the PCs as the official opposition party.
The Green Party won a single seat in Guelph, making Green Party leader Mike Schreiner the first Green MPP in Ontario's political history.
The Conservatives were last in power over 15 years ago, under former Premier Mike Harris — Ford’s victory ushers in a new chapter in Ontario politics, one that is guaranteed to be highly combative in nature, given Ford’s brand of populism.
Ford dominated in the suburbs of Toronto — neighbourhoods like Mississauga, Etobicoke, Scarborough and Oakville — voted resoundingly for the Conservatives. The NDP emerged successful in many of Toronto's downtown ridings, and in the far north of Ontario — towns like James Bay and Nickel Belt.
Ford campaigned on a traditionally fiscally conservative platform, pledging to “put money back” in the pockets of Ontarians. He fell short of his promise to deliver a fully-costed platform before voting day, instead releasing a plan that lists many of the party’s initiatives but not a detailed fiscal plan on how he would pay for it.
Some of his promises include cutting hydro rates by 12 percent, and getting rid of the provincial gas tax which would effectively lower the price of gas by 10 cents. Just days before the election, Ford added child care to his list of promises, pledging a rebate of $6,750 per child, up until the age of six. That stands in sharp contrast to the NDP’s childcare plan that specifically targets low-income earners, ensuring that those who make under $40,000 will not incur any childcare costs whatsoever.
Ford has also pledged to revamp Kathleen Wynne's controversial sex-ed curriculum, a policy initiative that gained him a massive amount of traction amongst socially conservative voters.
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Although the NDP took a lead in the polls mid-way through campaign season, both the PCs and the NDP were neck-and-neck in the last week before the election. A day before Ontarians cast their vote, a majority of polls showed the PCs taking a slight lead over the New Democrats.
In yet another late-stage twist to campaign season, Wynne unexpectedly conceded defeat just days before Ontarians were set to vote, acknowledging that she would not become the next Premier of Ontario, and instead urged people to elect “as many Liberal MPPs” in order to thwart an NDP or PC majority.
The Liberal Party’s last ditch attempt at gaining back any semblance of support — like the “Sorry, Not Sorry” social media video that shows Wynne apologizing that more people don’t like her, but being defiant about her governing legacies — was ultimately futile.
The PCs have been engulfed in scandal after scandal, in what has been one of the most interesting election campaigns in recent history. In January, former PC leadership candidate Patrick Brown was accused of making sexual advances on two women, one of whom was almost half his age. Brown vehemently denied those allegations, but the scandal ultimately led to his withdrawal from the race — a race that Ford ended up winning.
That was just the beginning. The Ford campaign entered election season mired in controversy, starting with accusations that Ford paid for memberships for new party members in order to get his preferred candidate elected — accusations that he repeatedly denied.
A PC candidate — Raymond Cho, the incumbent MPP for Scarborough-Rouge River — reportedly got into a physical altercation with a Grade 7 student outside a Scarborough school, resulting in the police being called to the scene. Cho ultimately apologized for the incident, and no charges were filed against him.
The NDP too has had to deal with its fair share of controversies.
In late May, the party came under fire for Hitler-themed social media post that was allegedly shared by Tasleem Riaz, the NDP candidate for Scarborough-Agincourt. Two PC candidates — Todd Smith and Gila Martow — unearthed a 2013 meme posted by Riaz on Facebook which features a quote commonly attributed to Hitler. Shortly after the allegations emerged, Riaz issued a statement saying that she did not recall sharing the meme, and was “horrified” that an inappropriate meme ended up on her Facebook page, a statement which the Conservatives swiftly dismissed.
A few days prior to that, Horwath was forced to come to the defence of another NDP candidate, Laura Kaminker of Mississauga Centre who made a couple of comments on social media rejecting the concept of donning poppies on Remembrance Day. Kaminker described poppy-wearing as a “ritual of war glorification”, to which Horwath disagreed but ultimately defended Kaminker’s right to free speech.