Well, we did it. We gave Doug Ford—the man even the National Post called wildly unqualified to be premier—a huge majority government. It’s a Ford Nation, we just live in it.
Ford’s Progressive Conservatives won 76 seats, while the NDP will form the official opposition with 40 seats and the Liberals lost official party status by winning a mere seven seats. But the Greens won a seat! And so did Kathleen Wynne, who promised Ontario a week ago she wouldn’t be premier anymore. Shrug emoji.
No doubt progressives, and young people particularly, are looking for someone to blame. Old people, rich people, white men—yes, all of them are likely heavily responsible for Premier Doug Ford, but polls suggest he had a lot of support across a number of demographics. But there’s a ton of blame to go around and a lot of it has to be put at the feet of millennials, who represented the largest voting block this election. The most annoying sentence in the English language is “You can’t complain if you didn’t vote” but hey, I’m not saying that. (I’m just quoting it.)
Anyhoo, here are some quick and dirty takeaways from last night.
1. 58 percent of the population decided the election
Yes, that’s how democracy works but a 58 percent turnout is not great—even if it’s the best showing in Ontario this millenium—especially considering the stakes and who was just elected. And given that the PCs only took about 40 percent of that 58, it means only a minority of Ontarians actively voted for the new premier. But hey, they showed up, and you gotta show up to win.
The first-past-the-post system sucks, especially if you are a progressive voter, but hey, didn’t Justin Trudeau promise to change this at the federal level? Oh right, I almost forgot about that cynical about-face.
2. Doug Ford is a sore winner
If you thought being elected premier would result in a kinder, gentler Doug Ford, you don’t know Doug Ford.
Ford’s victory speech started mere moments after Premier Kathleen Wynne’s concession speech. The normal protocol is to allow the outgoing leader a chance to say goodbye via a televised speech but Ford totally bogarted Wynne’s TV time. Say what you want to say about Wynne but she was a historic figure in Canadian history for being the first LGBTQ premier and served her province for 15 years. She deserved better than one last bit of bullying by Ford.
3. The NDP blew their big chance
Despite the Liberals losing official party status and needing a new leader, they are likely to be in a much better position in 2022 than they were in the 2018 election. (And I suspect many Liberals preferred four years of PCs vs. the possibility of losing to the NDP now and becoming the second-tier progressive party. They still somehow managed nearly 20 percent of the vote.)
This was Andrea Horwath’s big chance. The Liberals have never been less popular. The PCs picked the most divisive option for party leader in Doug Ford. And yes, while the NDP made serious gains, they must be disappointed given that some polls last week had them in the lead.
Horwath has been NDP leader for 10 years and it’s fair to say that most Ontarians still don’t really have a good grasp at who she is. There certainly was some speculation that she would leave after the 2014 election loss and who knows what might have happened if the NDP was running someone with some charisma against Doug Ford. How would Jagmeet Singh have fared against Doug Ford—I suspect pretty well.
4. Toronto is about to get screwed
As someone who covered city politics during the Rob Ford era I can say A) it was wild and B) Doug Ford had some absolutely terrible ideas (a monorail to a megamall!) and hated “downtown elites”—i.e. anyone without an SUV.
As noted by the Toronto Star’s Edward Keenan—“A premier of Ontario with a majority government is the unstoppable boss of Toronto, able to dictate binding policy to the city’s government on a whim.”
Ford now has the ability to actually enact his will on Toronto and I suspect Toronto Mayor John Tory is going to become the de facto opposition leader in this province. The transit file, already FUBARed, is only going to get worse.
5. The suburbs won it for Doug Ford
It’s lazy political analysis to say: “It’s all about the suburbs, baby!” but it’s true. The urban/rural voting divide, which we also see in the US, is huge and our political system does no favours to inner cities. Toronto’s GDP is nearly 20 percent of the ENTIRE country, and is roughly the same size as all of Alberta, yet the PCs only took one seat (Eglinton-Lawrence) in the old City of Toronto. This is going to be a storyline for the next four years.
6. This helps Justin Trudeau in 2019
Trudeau, who is increasingly looking to be in danger in the 2019 election, now has a Conservative leader he can point to and say: “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer seems unlikely to give Trudeau much to capitalize on, other than being an IRL Ned Flanders, but Doug Ford will likely scare more than a few Liberal voters into staying red.
7. The bigger the lies, the better your chances of winning
All three of our candidates had a somewhat loose relationship with the truth this election, that is the nature of politics after all. But as pointed out by The Walrus’s Justin Ling (full disclosure: he considers me a friend), Doug Ford represents a high in political bullshit.
“Ford, however, is exceptional. That’s because his lies live nowhere near the truth. That’s what separates him so entirely from norms in Canadian politics,” wrote Ling.
We’ve seen this in the 2016 US election and with the Brexit vote. When one campaign plays by one set of rules—anything goes—and the others stick to something close to the facts, you know who is going to have the advantage.
8. We now have an alleged drug dealer handling Ontario’s legalized weed rollout
Yeah, I’m not letting this one go, even if everyone else has. It’s hilarious and sad and weird.
9. Your voting selfies mean shit
Sorry, young progressives. Too many of your cohort just didn’t give a shit.
10. We're gonna need that buck a beer
Although, given Ford's own election party was charging $10 for a domestic beer last night, I suspect this isn't high on the priority list.
Follow Josh Visser on Twitter.
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