01.16.2017 07:10 AM

Ontario politics: if you are seen as out-of-touch, can you get back in-touch?

Ironically, I’m at CBC right now. And that’s where I read this.

Other pundits are all but writing Wynne off.

“She has lost that credibility with voters and once it’s gone it’s almost impossible to get back,” said Quito Maggi, CEO of Mainstreet Research.

His firm’s polling in the latter half of 2016 suggested the Liberals would do far better without Wynne as leader.

“It’s not the message, it’s the messenger,” said Maggi in an interview. “Even some of the positives that this government has tried to announce the last six, eight, 12 months have been completely drowned out immediately by the negatives.”

Polls by three different firms in the final months of 2016 put Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating in the range of 13 to 16 per cent. She faces an election in June 2018.

“There comes a point with governments when there may be little they can do to change circumstances, particularly after a party has been in power for a long time,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute.

But the team around Wynne is not pressing the panic button — yet.

When your numbers are mired at Mulroney-1992 levels – the lowest one firm has ever recorded for a sitting Premier – it’s time for a big rethink and some big changes. Obviously. This situation has been going on for many months, and it needs to be fixed now if the Ontario Liberals are to avoid many years in opposition.

Wynne has some amazing staff, from Andrew Bevan on down. But I do not feel that she has been well served by her campaign team. At all.

She has some positives – but those well-compensated operatives haven’t been telling people about those positives. She has an impressive policy brain – but they needed to be showing folks more of her impressive heart, too. She is the Premier, and she is supposed to be talking about the big picture – not being hauled out to announce beer sales in every frigging grocery store.

What will Kathleen Wynne do? Will she do as Quito says, and resign to make way for another leader? Beats me. But one thing is certain: what they are doing now isn’t working.

At all.


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    P. Brenn says:

    hard to tell…something has to give ..change her or campaign team , one or other…who is in control of party?

    The hydro mess is biggest threat followed by debt..whoever wins next election there is a large hole in the boat and lifejackets are quite soggy

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    BlueGritr says:

    Wynne will win because the Ontario Tories have no idea how to win. Plus, the GTA will save her bacon.

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      Miles Lunn says:

      GTA doesn’t always go Liberal. The 905 belt is more a bellwether than a Liberal stronghold. Harper swept this in 2011 and in 2015 despite it mostly going Liberal, the Tories still averaged around 40% and only lost due to the collapse of the NDP vote and increased voter turnout. It’s true downtown Toronto will never go PC, but it could go NDP. If you look at the 2011 federal election results, that is probably what would happen if an election were called now. Now yes the PCs do have a history of shooting themselves in the foot and losing easily winneable elections, but I’ve never seen a leader be re-elected with a sub 30% approval rating so unless her approval rating has a strong rebound, she is toast.

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    Bill Templeman says:

    “Other pundits are all but writing Wynne off.”

    A sure sign we will have another Liberal gov’t in Ontario, (a minority, granted) next election.

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    bluegreenblogger says:

    Does she need to be ‘in touch’? IMHO, at this moment, she is electable because there is nobody else. Campaigns matter though, so maybe Brown can make something of himself, or the Dippers may come out of the gate with a roar. And boy, is she vulnerable.

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    Michael S says:

    Isn’t her campaign team the same one that drove the federal party into the wilderness?

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    Andrew says:

    Unlike other political mistakes, the Hydro issue is the only issue that Ontarians will be reminded each and every month.

    Hiding the carbon tax within the many fees on a Hydro bill lacks transparency.

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      ottawacon says:

      The carbon effect on Ontario hydro pricing isn’t going to be that significant. Hydro and nuclear basically have none, all of the renewables basically have none. That covers most of the baseload and ‘near’ base resources. All of the power wheeled into Ontario to match peak demand is not subject to it, there is no meaningful ‘leakage’ policy. To the extent that merit order generation has any conceptual meaning in the mess that is the Ontario power market, natural gas will set that power price, but so much of Ontario generation is now wholly independent on the actual market price that there should not be any flowthrough ‘windfall’ effect as occurred in Europe. Essentially, a small portion of Ontario power with a relatively low emissions profile is going to see a small increase.

      The Ontario electrical sector is already so screwed up it has a perverse resilience.

      Now, when people see the impact on heating their homes with natural gas…

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    Miles Lunn says:

    I’ve never seen a leader with an approval rating this low come back so it would be a first. Yes the PCs and NDP have their weaknesses but when people decide they want to throw the bums out that becomes a secondary consideration. Now if she resigns in the next six months, the Liberals may still have a fighting chance. After all Gordon Campbell, Dalton McGuinty, and Don Getty all resigned with similarly low approval ratings and their parties by changing leaders were able to come back. Also lets remember Stephen Harper’s approval rating when he lost in 2015 was around 33%, nearly double that of Wynne and that still wasn’t enough to avoid a very bad defeat. Her approval rating is similar to Greg Selinger’s who get beat quite badly and Brian Pallister much like Patrick Brown had his issues but that didn’t matter.

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      BlueGritr says:

      Dwight Duncan would be an ideal choice to replace Premier Wynne. But doubt he has any interest in leaving McMillan LLP.

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        Miles Lunn says:

        I would say Sandra Paputello or someone who hasn’t been a member of caucus for over a decade would the best choice. Dwight Duncan was finance minister when McGuinty became unpopular so he would do better than Wynne, but not sure if he could win. The party has been in power for 15 years so unless both opposition parties blow it badly, the Liberals will probably lose as usually people tire of a party by then, but we shall see.

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          Warren says:

          If there’s a change it needs to be:

          1. Someone from outside the current group
          2. Someone with actual knowledge of hydro
          3. Someone who knows finance and government

          That narrows it down to one person, methinks.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    It’s all about her personal number. Do they still like her? Is she still viewed as the only safe economic choice for Ontario? And finally, what has she come up with that will make angered voters first pause, and then likely reassess their position on Wynne?

    Without three times Yes, she’s history.

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