Doug Ford’s Big Election Victory Contrasts With Bleak Outlook for Ontario Liberals

CommentaryDoug Ford rode into an election victory on the backs of an exhausted electorate who simply wants a sense of stability right now. I am not saying the Ford Progressive Conservatives sat back and did nothing. They made several smart, strategic political decisions that contributed to their victory. Timing is everything though, and with the public being tired from years of lockdowns, heated rhetoric, and political division, the party representing the steady status quo held the most appeal. The record-low turnout indicates few people wanted to engage or vote for change. Ford campaigned his way to the premier’s chair in 2018 with a populist mandate. The PCs were out to slay the entrenched Liberal dragon in government. Ontarians were more than tired of the Kathleen Wynne government and were eager for change. Ford’s platform of spending restraint and tax reductions for the middle class was well received by many, but for the most part, people were more intent on voting Wynne out as opposed to voting Ford in. The 2022 Ford campaign reflected an establishment approach to governing. It was quite a pivot in approach after only one term in office, but governing through a pandemic instilled a sense of pragmatism and focus on maintaining order within the Progressive Conservatives. While Ford alienated a portion of his support base when he embraced an authoritarian approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns and vaccine mandates, he gained at least as many new supporters who wanted an interventionist approach to the pandemic. The Ford PCs took on a low-key approach to the election with something of a steady-as-she-goes platform, and it clearly worked. Voters weren’t eager to change as they had been in 2018, and opposition parties failed to foster or engage a movement for change. The Ford government was still vulnerable. With only 43 percent of the electorate coming out to cast a ballot in the election, it means there was a large pool of potential swing voters sitting in the wings. They may not have been thrilled with the Ford government, but they needed some inspiration to get up and do something about it. Neither the Liberals nor the NDP provided that. The NDP stuck to their tried-and-true policies, but it wasn’t enough. Ford had cunningly managed to get several union endorsements for his party and managed to eat the NDP’s lunch with the working class. Without the labour vote, the NDP lost ground in their traditional territories of strength. They maintained their status as the official Opposition, they will be seeking a new leader, and they will survive to fight another day. The Ontario Liberals could be in a political death spiral, however. The Liberals needed to stake out some ground and stand on it. They needed to find weaknesses in the Ford government and highlight them. The Liberals needed to find and foster opposition to the Ford government, and they needed to get those people out to vote. Instead, they came off as directionless and weak. Their leader, Steven Del Duca, suffered from a terrible deficit in charisma, and he was trounced in his own riding, which could be a mercy for him in a way. It makes retirement from the political world easier when one doesn’t have a seat. The future for the Liberal Party of Ontario looks bleak. Without even having official party status in the legislature, the Liberals will be starved of official resources for research and exposure during sessions. They are going to have a very tough time just gaining public interest, never mind building into a viable government in waiting in the next four years. The very first governing party in Alberta was Liberal. In the early 1990s, the Alberta Liberals came within a hair of unseating the Progressive Conservative government. The PCs were narrowly saved by Ralph Klein’s popularity. Since that electoral defeat, the Liberals went into a state of steady decline going through seven leaders and losing every seat they had over the years. In the 2019 Alberta election, the Liberals garnered 0.98 percent of the popular vote. The lesson here is that even the most established of legacy parties can dry up and fade away if they fall into the wrong pattern. The Ontario Liberals need to seriously rebrand themselves with a new leader and some distinct direction if they hope to avoid the fate of their Alberta counterparts. The Doug Ford government may not be setting the world on fire, and their electoral support wasn’t exactly resounding despite number the of seats it translated into. Until the opposition parties figure out who they are and what they stand for though, Ford should remain comfortably in power for some years to come. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Cory Morgan is a columnist based in Calgary.

Doug Ford’s Big Election Victory Contrasts With Bleak Outlook for Ontario Liberals

Commentary

Doug Ford rode into an election victory on the backs of an exhausted electorate who simply wants a sense of stability right now. I am not saying the Ford Progressive Conservatives sat back and did nothing. They made several smart, strategic political decisions that contributed to their victory.

Timing is everything though, and with the public being tired from years of lockdowns, heated rhetoric, and political division, the party representing the steady status quo held the most appeal. The record-low turnout indicates few people wanted to engage or vote for change.

Ford campaigned his way to the premier’s chair in 2018 with a populist mandate. The PCs were out to slay the entrenched Liberal dragon in government. Ontarians were more than tired of the Kathleen Wynne government and were eager for change. Ford’s platform of spending restraint and tax reductions for the middle class was well received by many, but for the most part, people were more intent on voting Wynne out as opposed to voting Ford in.

The 2022 Ford campaign reflected an establishment approach to governing. It was quite a pivot in approach after only one term in office, but governing through a pandemic instilled a sense of pragmatism and focus on maintaining order within the Progressive Conservatives. While Ford alienated a portion of his support base when he embraced an authoritarian approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns and vaccine mandates, he gained at least as many new supporters who wanted an interventionist approach to the pandemic.

The Ford PCs took on a low-key approach to the election with something of a steady-as-she-goes platform, and it clearly worked. Voters weren’t eager to change as they had been in 2018, and opposition parties failed to foster or engage a movement for change.

The Ford government was still vulnerable. With only 43 percent of the electorate coming out to cast a ballot in the election, it means there was a large pool of potential swing voters sitting in the wings. They may not have been thrilled with the Ford government, but they needed some inspiration to get up and do something about it. Neither the Liberals nor the NDP provided that.

The NDP stuck to their tried-and-true policies, but it wasn’t enough. Ford had cunningly managed to get several union endorsements for his party and managed to eat the NDP’s lunch with the working class. Without the labour vote, the NDP lost ground in their traditional territories of strength. They maintained their status as the official Opposition, they will be seeking a new leader, and they will survive to fight another day.

The Ontario Liberals could be in a political death spiral, however.

The Liberals needed to stake out some ground and stand on it. They needed to find weaknesses in the Ford government and highlight them. The Liberals needed to find and foster opposition to the Ford government, and they needed to get those people out to vote. Instead, they came off as directionless and weak. Their leader, Steven Del Duca, suffered from a terrible deficit in charisma, and he was trounced in his own riding, which could be a mercy for him in a way. It makes retirement from the political world easier when one doesn’t have a seat.

The future for the Liberal Party of Ontario looks bleak. Without even having official party status in the legislature, the Liberals will be starved of official resources for research and exposure during sessions. They are going to have a very tough time just gaining public interest, never mind building into a viable government in waiting in the next four years.

The very first governing party in Alberta was Liberal. In the early 1990s, the Alberta Liberals came within a hair of unseating the Progressive Conservative government. The PCs were narrowly saved by Ralph Klein’s popularity. Since that electoral defeat, the Liberals went into a state of steady decline going through seven leaders and losing every seat they had over the years. In the 2019 Alberta election, the Liberals garnered 0.98 percent of the popular vote.

The lesson here is that even the most established of legacy parties can dry up and fade away if they fall into the wrong pattern. The Ontario Liberals need to seriously rebrand themselves with a new leader and some distinct direction if they hope to avoid the fate of their Alberta counterparts.

The Doug Ford government may not be setting the world on fire, and their electoral support wasn’t exactly resounding despite number the of seats it translated into. Until the opposition parties figure out who they are and what they stand for though, Ford should remain comfortably in power for some years to come.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


Follow

Cory Morgan is a columnist based in Calgary.