, 12.30.2017 06:26 PM

2018: the coming provincial and municipal elections

My former Sun colleague Antonella Artuso got in touch with me to seek my opinion on the coming Ontario and Toronto elections. Her story is here.

And my full response to her excellent questions are here:

Provincially, the Ontario Liberals have a very unpopular leader but a very durable party brand. The Ontario PCs have a not-bad brand, but not nearly enough people know their leader. And the Ontario NDP have a very popular leader – but few folks trust their party in the role of government.

The election will come down to the campaign. Campaigns matter. And I’d say any one of the three parties has a shot at winning – if they have the best campaign.

Municipally, I know both John Tory and Doug Ford and like them both. Doug’s problem is that John is seen as a decent and honest guy – and an antidote to the crazy Ford Nation years. John’s challenge is that the Ford Nation is still a factor.

On balance, I think John will win. There’s no progressive challenger – and Doug needs one in the race to have a fighting chance.

People like John, and likeability matters in this business!


  1. Jean Dennie says:

    I agree with the provincial election comment. Although polls don’t show it, I think it’s wide open. If the PCs run a smart campaign, they can win. The NDP need to go far left to show they are different than the Liberals.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Likeability, or the reverse, is usually everything. Wynne got the mea culpas right last time. But you can’t ressurect more than once…

      Let’s see how sincere and credible they are coming out of Horwath’s mouth.

  2. al zwikker says:

    Funny, you have a PC ad on your site…

  3. Miles Lunn says:

    Generally concur. Though Wynne’s approval ratings will make winning very difficult. Had she stepped down and they chose a new leader, I think the Liberals would have a much better chance. So far the PC’s are making all the right moves and if I had to bet money I would chose them, but the party has a long history of shooting itself in the foot so basically their main challenge is not do anything stupid and they should win, but do something stupid and they can lose. NDP has the steepest hill to climb but essentially they will win if most like Wynne’s policies but don’t like her, otherwise continue on a left of centre progressive agenda but with a different leader.

    Municipally agree fully and unless the left puts someone up to split things I suspect John Tory will easily get a second term. Ford’s decision to support Trump will make him toxic amongst most as Trump is reviled in Toronto even by most on the right.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      I think Ontario is headed for an inverse Trudeau reality. NDP comfort and support went a long way in insuring Justin’s indirect election. Wynne no longer has that.

      Brown and the PCs could still theoretically win but I don’t see it –PC strategists have been totally unable so far to raise the Brown comfort level. Despite his moderate turn, it looks like Hudak in miniature. Real big problem.

      That’s why I give the inside track to Horwath. It requires another leap of faith. Rae days are long gone. She can win this.

      • Miles Lunn says:

        I am not sure that Ontario overwhelmingly leans left, I think if anything it’s more of a centrist than left wing province so as long as Brown avoids any bozo eruptions he should win. Yes he may scare some, but remember Harper got 35 percent in Ontario in 2015 and I expect Brown will get at least that and most likely a bit more.

        For the NDP to win they need the Liberals to crater which is possible but not likely. Also if the Liberals crater, not all of their vote will go NDP, majority yes, but the Blue Liberals will probably go to the PC’s and with the PC’s have a much larger base than the NDP they don’t need to pick up nearly as much. I agree the NDP could win but they face a much steeper hill than the Tories. For starters the Tories are close to or over 50 percent in much of rural Ontario so that right there is 30 to 40 seats. In the 905 belt the NDP is extremely weak so it will asides from a few ridings likely go either PC or Liberal. That means they pretty much need to scoop up every seat elsewhere. Let’s remember when Rae won, he won most of rural Southwestern Ontario and the PC’s were in the low 20s then while the 905 belt had a lot fewer people and ridings. So surprises like you are alluding to is possible but the odds are not great.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Excellent reply, thanks. I don’t know so much that it will be all about left versus center versus right. What if it turns out to be about progressives à la Kinsella versus right? That might change the numbers.

          Is it fair to say Notley won on a progressive wave? I wonder.

          • Miles Lunn says:

            Progressive means left leaning just as conservative means right leaning. Notley did somewhat catch a progressive wave, but also fatigue with the PCs, weak Wildrose party, and divided right played a big role. I don’t think Wall and Pallister’s large wins were indicative of a strong conservative trend either.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Even when I was a CPC and PCP member, and before that, I considered myself a Red Tory. Left on social issues and SOMEWHAT right on economic and fiscal.

            But there again, does that really make me a progressive or merely a so-called centrist? You can have a lot of fun with labelling. If I was in Ontario, I could even bring myself to vote NDP, without that much soul searching. Maybe Brown will eventually grow on people like McGuinty and Charest did but for now?

          • Miles Lunn says:

            I guess one can disagree on labels, but the PCs under Brown are hardly staunch conservatives, their platform is fairly Red Tory like. Now yes Brown is not exactly the most likeable and true some may think he will have a hidden agenda. Still they have a strong base and as long as they don’t something too stupid (which could certainly happen) I think they should be able to get around 40%, after all they have a rock core of 30% and even Harper got 35% in 2015.

          • Pedant says:

            Ronald – why would you join the more right-wing mainstream parties even though you are a staunch leftist on social issues and cannot even bring yourself to call yourself conservative on fiscal issues? Was it your aim to turn the CPC into a clone of the Liberals? in which what’s the point in having a CPC if it doesn’t offer an alternative philosophy?

  4. Kate Chesham says:

    Wynne will pull down the Liberal brand down to defeat.
    Brown will win a slim minority government.
    Horwath will shore up Brown and reject Wynne.
    Liberals will find a new leader, female too, and Brown will be booted out within 12 months.
    Horwath and new Liberal Ms. Premier will run Ontario into the ground but morOntarians will grin and embrace it as they have before.

  5. Douglas Owen says:

    I will be interested to see how the new third party spending rule changes this election. The 8.5 mil that was spent last election ( Working Families spent 2.5 mil ) most of which benefitted the Liberal party, is no longer in the mix. I’m glad to see a level playing field.

  6. Pedant says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t John Tory have something like 70% favourability? How can any other candidate overcome that? I can’t see it.

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