Alberta Politics
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath meeting a new constituent in the Blue Dog Café in Paris … Paris, Ontario, that is. (Photo: Twitter.)

Andrea Horwath is going to win Ontario on June 7 – that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

Posted on May 21, 2018, 2:08 am
10 mins

Happy Victoria Day! I’m feeling good about my prediction that the next Premier of Ontario will be Andrea Horwath.

When I made that prediction back on Feb. 27, scads of commenters on social media and quite a few on this blog and at said I was crazy.

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford (Photo: Ontario PCs).

This being a blog that leans toward the progressive side of the political equation, most commentators were very nice about the way they wrote off my opinion. The prevailing sentiment was: I wish you were right, Dave, but you just don’t understand how things are here in Ontario.

“Sorry Dave,” said a typical commenter, politely. “I think the Conservatives will form the next Ontario government and the Liberals will be the Official Opposition. The NDP will be squeezed out by Conservatives on one side and by progressives who will vote Liberal to try to prevent a PC win.”

Nevertheless, I argued that Ms. Horwath’s Ontario New Democrats would win the June 7 Ontario election based on this observation: “I know this because I’m from Alberta and we’ve been through this perfect storm already.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (Photo: David J. Climenhaga)

I enumerated the circumstances that led to the election of Rachel Notley’s NDP on May 5, 2015: A long-in-the-tooth Progressive Conservative government Alberta voters had decided needed a rest; pollsters and pundits who insisted the only party that could win was the far-right opposition Wildrose, which had an ideology that made most Albertan voters’ skin crawl; and a credible and experienced leader at the helm of the NDP.

“We all know what happened on May 5,” I wrote. “Alberta’s New Democrats, led by the charismatic and obviously capable Rachel Notley, were picked by voters to lead Alberta into a future no one quite expected.”

“Ms. Notley was a familiar face in a new role … genuinely progressive – as were a great many Albertans, it turned out, just like voters in Ontario.” You can read how I set out my argument in more detail here.

Meanwhile, back in Ontario in February, voters were sick of the Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives were in a state of chaos as their leader disappeared into a pit created by a #MeToo scandal, and Ms. Horwath was suddenly looking like a very credible alternative, if not one that anyone yet expected to win.

I concluded that Ms. Horwath, the MPP for Hamilton-Centre, had enjoyed a long run in the Ontario Legislature without any major disasters, ergo

  • She would look to a lot of voters like she’s got what it takes to be premier, and certainly not like a right-wing ideologue who would start smashing the crockery.
  • She’s untainted by the scandals associated with the Liberal Government yet ticks many of the other boxes for stuff Ontarians like about Premier Kathleen Wynne.
  • Like Premier Notley, she’s a familiar face seeking a new role, obviously capable, and genuinely progressive.

What’s happened since then? Well, the principal development is that, having lost their leader, the Ontario PCs replaced him with Doug Ford, the less-likeable brother of the late drug-addled Toronto mayor, Rob Ford.

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (Photo: West Annex News, Wikimedia Commons).

Doug Ford was once a lacklustre Toronto city councillor and (according to a never-retracted article in the Globe and Mail) a former hashish pusher. Obviously seeing a political strategy that worked elsewhere, Mr. Ford made it his business to imitate the style and campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump. As for Mr. Trump’s attitudes, Doug Ford seems to have come by those on his own.

Moreover, Mr. Ford’s PC campaign has been dogged by reports of stolen data misused by his candidates, broken election financing laws and accusations of ballot box stuffing in PC nomination races.

All of which, if you ask me, made the Premier Horwath scenario I described in February much more likely.

Subsequently, Ms. Horwath emerged as the clear winner in the televised Ontario leaders’ debate.

Yesterday, she admitted that the NDP made a $1.4-billion error in its campaign fiscal plan, which has now been corrected. Her opponents may try to play this as a disaster for her, but Albertans will recall that in 2015 Premier. Notley’s campaign financial plan included a similar, much larger error. As Ms. Notley said at the time – a remark echoed by Ms. Horwath yesterday – “the measure of leadership is how you deal with it when mistakes are made, and our decision was to advise people right away.”

Ontario’s Punditry Industrial Complex, led by the Ford Nation cheerleaders at the National Post, naturally continues to insist Mr. Ford and his unprogressive Progressive Conservatives will win on June 7. You can almost hear them chanting, There Is No Alternative …

There is an alternative, of course. It is Ms. Horwath and the NDP. Recent polling suggests that as the election nears, Ontarians are behaving as predicted in this blog in February.

“An anybody-but-Ford movement is percolating as the June 7 election draws closer, with Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals at the biggest risk of being left behind,” the Toronto Star reported last week. According to the Pollara public opinion survey cited by the Star, 78 per cent of Ontario Liberal voters are prepared to back New Democrat candidates to keep the Ford PCs out of power.

Both Mr. Ford and Ms. Wynne started slagging Ms. Horwath and the NDP the instant that poll appeared.

But the CBC’s poll tracker, updated yesterday, said: “Though the PCs are still well ahead, Doug Ford’s numbers have been trending downwards in the first stage of the campaign. … The momentum appears to be with the New Democrats and largely against the Liberals.”

On Friday, a Global News headline read, “Experts say outcome of Ontario election no longer ‘absolutely’ certain.” CTV added, “Ontario PCs leading in polls across the province, but NDP narrowing the gap.”

The same day, pollster Innovative Research Group said “the NDP is poised to overtake the PCs by either winning a larger share of the left-wing value clusters, increasing their share of economically alienated voters or replacing the Liberals as the party best able to stop the PCs.”

By yesterday, the traditionally Liberal Star was saying, “For Ontario voters, Andrea Horwath may be ‘just right’.” Asked MacLean’s Magazine: “Just how far can Andrea Horwath go?”

Published polls so far in May show the Ontario PCs between 35 and 42 per cent, the NDP between 28 and 35 per cent, and the Liberals between 22 to 26 per cent.

You know you’re really onto something when the National Post, fearless champion of the Canadian overdog, tells its readers “NDP surge in polls no guarantee it’s a true contender.” Yeah, right. To put that the way the Post really intends, presumably: Just stay home progressive people, or if you have to vote, hose it away on the Liberals. …

Naw, it’s too late for that. I wrote my story on Feb. 27, and I’m stickin’ with my conclusion:

“Andrea Horwath is going to win on June 7, just like Rachel Notley did on May 5, 2015. Remember where you heard it first.”

8 Comments to: Andrea Horwath is going to win Ontario on June 7 – that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

  1. Scotty on Denman

    May 21st, 2018

    Would that your, for me, very desirable prediction come true: your reasoning is good and I could only add to it by reiterating my belief that conservatism throughout Western nations, addled by almost four decades of Gecko addiction, too meth-blistered skanky to recruit younger voters, and way too paranoid to coax general voters under the bridges where its gin-soaked, Hogarthian base rallies in tattered top hats has simply proved my point by elevating The DoFo to the post of Troll in Chief.

    I would also add that, with the two big rollers tanking and the third-place NDP percolating, the race is sharpening to the kind of point that pierces through mere vote-splitting territory and, perhaps, even beyond minority government potential.

    I guess it’s called “momentum,” the result of which might see Liberal support surge to the NDP—understanding that many moderate conservatives, who’ve been parked with the Liberals since Mike Harris’s “Common Sense Revolution” disaster, might, for the very sake of moderate conservatism, join in to force a losing DoFo-led party into the policy and leadership redo that all neo-right co-opted conservative parties must do to become relevant again.

    Thirdly I’d also add that, for much the same Con-D’oh-moribundity reason, Upper Canada’s traditional foil against whatever party controls Ottawa would simply double the bum’s rush: a DoFo-Howdy Doody-Con tag-team against JT could only condemn both levels of laughably stilted, pseudo-ideology. It seems the answer should be obvious simply by process of elimination: Horwath’s NDP is the remainder.

    Finally, electoral frustration and disappointments are shaking up Western democracy everywhere and voters are in the mood for a change—not the kind of well-worn “change” politicians have been promising rhetorically for decades, but the kind that tends to give losing traditional parties a permanent time-out (Alberta being a more recent example where conservative body parts have hived-off, reattached in odd places, or winked-out entirely, ultimately producing a snarling Frankenstein where a respectable monolith once stood). The DoFo’s problem here is that his infamous late brother has already tapped-out the caution-thrown-to-the-wind sentiment. And, naturally, the Trump comparison cannot be avoided. Indeed, compared to the ‘swamp-drainers’ who seem to always appear on the grill with plug in hand, mixed up with the usual soggy cigarette butts, soiled bandaids, befouled hair, discarded syringes and crackpipes, Ms Horwath looks positively virginal, the more attractive kind of “change.”

    That said, I caution that my home province (45 years ago) still likes to think of itself as the centre of the universe where common sense and NDP have acquired different meanings than elsewhere.

    Let’s just put it this way: Wynne lost before the campaign began, The DoFo is losing as it proceeds and—hoping you are correct—Horwath will be the next Premier of The Centre of The Universe whence she may join the happy family of John Horgan and Rachel Notley.

  2. Albertan

    May 21st, 2018

    It would be interesting to know what the Ontario NDP’s internal polling for this election is indicating. The Alberta NDP’s internal polling indicated that they knew about one week ahead of time that they would win, thus then getting ready to govern. As always, politics of every stripe always orchestrates their own demise and it never hurts to elect different politics every once in a while. Ontario’s Liberals and Conservatives have had their chances since the last Ontario NDP reign. I am cheering for Andrea Horwath’s NDP!

    • Bob Raynard

      May 22nd, 2018

      “As always, politics of every stripe always orchestrates their own demise”

      If David’s prediction should come to pass, I think that is what the Ontario PCs will have done by choosing Doug Ford. Sure, they may like him best, but he is the least likely to attract more centre of the road voters.

  3. Death and Gravity

    May 21st, 2018

    I won’t take that bet. And neither will John (Toad) Ibbitson of the Mourning Wail. He’s urging voters of integritude to elect Ford by voting “None of the above”. It’s the same desperate concern trolling as you report for the National Pest. I am happy to say that some of the Globe’s paying commentariat see through his cunning ruse; I doubt the same is true for the Pest.

  4. Jerrymacgp

    May 21st, 2018

    Ms Horwath’s NDP win? Unlikely, IMHO. The political culture in Ontario is not really all that comparable to that here in Oilberta, and I think many Ontario voters will still see the Ford PCs as their best option to throw the bums out. But Official Opposition, with the Wynne Liberals relegated to 3rd place, is a far more realistic scenario. There will be many Liberal voters who are sick & tired of the McGuinty-Wynne legacy, and yet would never in a billion years even remotely consider voting for a Ford. For them, the NDP is a viable option.

  5. Tom in Ontario

    May 22nd, 2018

    Poll question
    Are you more likely or less likely to vote for premier someone a major newspaper claims is a former hash dealer?

    • Jim

      May 23rd, 2018

      Thats more real world experience then Kenney, so there’s that I guess.

  6. David

    May 22nd, 2018

    It’s tricky to make predictions from a distance, but it does seem that the Ontario NDP is on a roll and they have the momentum at the best time for them.

    I think the fundamentals of Ontario’s politics are fairly clear, even at a distance – people are tired of the Ontario Liberals and for whatever reasons do not like Wynne or Ford much and are quite wary of both. I don’t think the Ontario Liberals have run a particularly bad campaign, except people have decided some time ago that they want them gone and the Ontario Liberals haven’t been able to change that. The Ontario PC’s have been a mess for months, with the strange and sudden removal of their previous leader and now with a series of missteps in the campaign. Unfortunately for them, the missteps have been both at the party and candidate level. I think there is a group of voters that was willing to vote PC even if they had concerns about Ford, but their confidence in the party has also now being shaken.

    The Ontario PC’s seem to have quite a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over the last decade and by choosing Ford as leader they may do it to themselves again. The Ontario NDP was in third place for so long most did not think they were a serious alternative until recently, but now over the last month they have clearly passed the Liberals and according to some recent polls are actually now neck and neck with the PC’s.

    It will be very interesting to see how the last couple of weeks of the Ontario campaign goes.


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