, 05.28.2018 07:01 AM

Column: what will Justin do without Kathleen?

What will Justin Trudeau do?

When Kathleen Wynne loses, that is. Because she is going to lose the Ontario election. Badly.

The reasons are myriad. She leads a wildly unpopular government. She’s been the most unpopular Premier in Canada for eons. She should’ve resigned more than a year ago, to give someone else a chance to rebuild. Ego and self-delusion persuaded her to stay.

She was also encouraged to stay by a cabal of self-interested advisors who convinced her that she won in 2014 – when, in fact, it was simply a case of Tim Hudak losing. They were the leftover dregs of Paul Martin’s crew, the ones whose treachery and sophistry consigned the federal Liberal Party to a decade in the wilderness, from 2005 to 2015.

Under Wynne, this inept gang has run the worst campaign in modern Ontario political history.  They cravenly sought to squeeze every last penny out of the Ontario Liberal Party and the provincial treasury. They will leave the former in tatters, with an expected $12 million debt and a puny legislative rump.  Wynne’s campaign wizards are finished.

If she’s lucky, Kathleen Wynne will be, too. If she is lucky, she will lose her Toronto seat on election night. In that way, she will be spared demands that she immediately quit. Her constituents will make the decision for her.

But what of her closest political ally, Justin Trudeau? What does the evisceration of the Ontario Liberal Party mean to him?

It means good things and bad things, in equal measure.

The bad is plain to see.  Kathleen Wynne was Justin Trudeau’s closest provincial ally.  Before she became the most unpopular Premier in Canada, Wynne helped Trudeau on the 2015 election trail.  She lent him staffers, and her cabinet and caucus members, too.

With the Ontario Liberal Party machine reduced to just a few seats – and maybe none at all – it will no longer be around to assist Trudeau in 2019.

If he looks around his office, the federal Liberal leader will know why this is a big problem.  His Chief of Staff, his Principal Secretary – along with several ministerial Chiefs of Staff and senior advisors – all come from Queen’s Park.  Trudeau knows he would not have won power without the support of Ontario Liberals.

Also problematic is who will fill the Premier’s chair.  It is in the interest of Ontario PC leader Doug Ford (and, to a lesser extent, Andrea Horwath) to take on the role of leader of the opposition to Trudeau.  It keeps Ford/Horwath popular with their respective base, and – in Canadian politics – the provincial squeaky wheel usually gets the federal grease.

But, for Trudeau, not all the news is bad.  A Premier Ford or a Premier Horwath almost certainly means a re-elected Prime Minister Trudeau.  Ontario voters are among the shrewdest in Canada.  They rarely – less than ten per cent of the time in the past Century – elect the same party to represent them at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill.

Ontario voters like to hedge their bets.  That, in part, is why Wynne’s days were numbered the moment Justin Trudeau won big majority in the Fall of 2015.  And it’s why he’ll likely keep winning as long as a partisan antagonist is ruling the roost at Queen’s Park.

For Justin Trudeau, then, the loss of Kathleen Wynne is a decidedly mixed bag.  There’s good news, and there’s bad news.

For Kathleen Wynne, however, the news is all bad.

She’s done.


  1. Tom Sansone says:

    Central Policy, ‘aka a lean binary deficit economy!

    Starting with NAFTA and International B2B trade.
    ‘aka lean rate cuts and trade saving measures

    Manufacturing and business tax curve reductions.
    MFG property tax cuts, labor and capital rebates

    Increase space for old age and Emergency RM’s.

    Infrastructure and transportation build.

    Bridge urban B2B service centers with regional supply networks, and block chain distribution solutions.

    Synergize regulation compliance, ease up on variance, and minor human equity restrictions.


  2. Ron Benn says:

    I wonder whether Kathleen Wynne remained at the top because she could not accept that her best before date was long past, or because no one with a shred of competence (and that is a short menu to begin with) wanted to take over, knowing oblivion was inevitable.

    It is reminiscient of the end of Mulroney’s reign in 1993. The federal PC’s had no chance to form the next government, and no one of consequence even considered running for the leadership. Kim Campbell’s desire to be the first female PM in Canada (asterisk denoting never voted to the position in a general election notwithstanding) was more than she could control, and the rest of cabinet moved on to seats on corporate boards. The end result? Two seats!

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      That’s not the way I remember it. I recall a lot of pushing and convincing her to do it. That started when she was still in cabinet. Remember that her and GHW Bush had the best polling numbers in semi-recent history before their respective elections but…

  3. Miles Lunn says:

    I agree on Ontario voting opposites, but if Horwath becomes premier which is a very real possibility, voting for either of the two main federal parties would achieve this, whereas if Ford wins only voting Liberal. Trudeau would probably rather deal with Horwath as they have more in common and it would be a more congenial relation whereas with Ford it would be a very adversarial. On the other hand Ford would suck up a lot of the oxygen and him along with Kenney would be easy targets he could use on why Conservatives shouldn’t be elected so Ford winning probably makes his re-election more secure than it does with Horwath.

  4. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Even with a likely loss by Wynne, this Prime Minister’s re-election chances are only 50-50. That is due to his not cleaning house in the PMO. That’s long overdue. That crew will sink him if they are still around in 2019.

  5. Matt says:

    Story says $12 million debt.

    It’s a $12 Billion deficit, $320+ billion debt.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    The PM needs people around him who are stars who exude self-confidence and absolute competence: he is lucky to have that in cabinet with Freeland, Ralph and Marc.

  7. Sean says:

    All of the defeated Liberals will be appointed to boards, Senate, ambassadorships, consulates. The Wizard will be hired to run JT’s re-election campaign, billing $140,000 per month.

    • Miles Lunn says:

      If JT wants to lose he will hire the wizard because that is exactly what will happen. If he wants to win in 2019, he would hire Warren Kinsella to run his campaign if Warren is even interested but at least he is one who has a pretty good track record of winning unlike the Wizard.

      • Warren says:

        Thanks Miles, but I’m not interested. I may help out a municipal candidate, this year, but I’m focussed on family and business and writing books at the moment.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        For a lot of them, their head is so thick that they only realize what a fool they were in not hiring the absolute best, until after it’s too late…history tends to repeat itself in politics cause most leaders are a lot less bright than they THINK they are. And it ain’t the legion of bootlickers and ass kissers who’ll set ’em straight while still in office.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Your old boss was exceptional: he knew that his best-before date was not yet up, hence Aline and four more years!

          And when he finally left, it wasn’t because of the wolves at the door. He knew the right moment had come to bow out, undefeated.

          God Bless Chrétien.

  8. Ron Benn says:

    Ronald, we appear to be discussing two interpretations of the same set of facts.

    Was the pushing and prodding you describe because everyone thought Kim Campbell was a brilliant choice, or due to the lack of any credible alternatives. Why didn’t Michael Wilson run? Perrin Beatie? Elmer MacKay? To further muddy the waters, my recollection of the pushing and prodding was to find a second person to run for the leadership, a job that Jean Charest reluctantly accepted.

    Put another way, was all the pushing and prodding an effort to find ANYONE foolish enough to would lead the PC’s into a crushing defeat?

    In any event, the parallels to Premier Wynne remain. The Mulroney government, as led for a few months by Kim Campbell, was obliterated at the polls. The only question yet to be resolved will be whether the Ontario Liberals will outperform the federal PC’s of 1993. In order to do that, they only have to win, as a % of the total seats available, one seat.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Thanks for the reply. Hopefully, someone else will weigh in to give us their recollection. Admittedly, my view of the world could be wrong…it was a long time ago.

    • Fred from BC says:

      I always believed that Kim Campbell was chosen for the same reason as Rita Johnson in BC and, later, Kathleen Wynn in Ontario: because they were women.

      All of them followed deeply unpopular (male) leaders who stood no chance of reelection. It was insulting to think that people would be so easily swayed by such a transparent ploy (sexism works both ways, doesn’t it?), but they did it anyway. Wynn proved to be the exception to the rule, but only won because of the terrible choice of opponent; the other two went down in flames. I felt bad for both of them….they had to know that they were being figuratively ‘sacrificed’, didn’t they?

      Hopefully we’ve moved past all that now.

  9. Pedro says:

    Meh. We in Ontario are cursed by mediocre political leaders who lack true faith in themselves AND in the electorate. That lack of faith transfers to the citizens and results in a mediocre economy that needs to hum and sometimes rev to pay for the society we desire. That lack of faith in an individual results in politicians driven by self-serving ego rather than public service. Ms. Wynne and her governments of the past few years have demonstrated they do not respect the public trust that is tax revenue. People get that and Warren you have described how scandal mongering over questionable yet not flagrantly illegal acts and statements metaphorically bead off the backs of the public. You are correct that we Ontarians are at least smart enough to hedge our bets. Good news: the sun will come up tomorrow, all three of these leaders will likely NOT be on the Ontario nor Canadian landscape for very long and . . . the kids are alright. Thank goodness for the millennials, their level of education and wisdom and, their blossoming interest in their futures. We need a humming economy to help young people get jobs and for businesses to earn profits on which to pay taxes. Paying for this society will not be possible by ever increasing taxation levels on “higher” income earners.

    • Art says:

      Trickle down economics has never worked. But nobody is proposing never ending taxes on the wealthy so your point is moot. And you can’t cut taxes whilst provincial debt is so high.

      • Pedro says:

        The Eighties called. They want your pat response to a call for some respite from unending nickel, diming, dollaring and hectoring of wealth creators back. There was NO call for tax reduction in the comment.

      • Pedro says:

        Oh, and speaking of eighties, a US 77 cent Canuck dollar used to mean Ontario manufacturers would yank the sheets off the equipment and put efficient Ontario workers to work. Ain’t bin happenin’ much. Can’t imagine why?

        • Art says:

          Well, it just sounded like all the talking points of how great our wealthy elite are and we’d starve if we didn’t have them. God bless ‘THE CREATORS!’

  10. Pedant says:

    The alternation theorem will be bad news for T2 if the NDP wins. Yes it is a different party from the PM’s, but then again it’s also a different party from Scheer’s Conservatives. Next year, Ontarians will still be able to abide by the alternation theorem by choosing the federal Tories and at the same time achieve ideological/philosophical diversity between the two levels of government as well.

  11. Gord Tulk says:

    Warren ALL The LPC whould be focussed on is the GTA real estate market. https://www.zolo.ca/toronto-real-estate/trends

    Check out the larger home stats – off 30% YOY. (worse than Phoenix market ever experienced) That decline/malaise will spread down market and with it the LPC hopes of maintaining the status quo in the GTA. (lump that in with wipeouts in AB and SK and losses in BC…)

    And if the NDP wins in Ontario that RE market will only get worse faster.

    The LPC needs Ford to win…

    • doconnor says:

      A 5 or 6 bedroom house is a mansion by Toronto standards. The kind of houses middle class people buy have steady prices according to your link.

      • Gord Tulk says:

        These higher end homes are a leading indicator in this particular market.

        In a hard asset sector like real estate a 30% drop is enormous. (and the similar market segment in the GVA is off 38%)

    • Adam says:

      Bringing the real estate market down to earth is exactly what needs to happen.

      Endlessly skyrocketing real estate and housing prices are a fantasy when faced with the reality of income stagnation and instability.

      If it all kept going, sooner or later the housing market would hit a wall of unaffordability that much harder.

    • Andrew Frederick says:

      As you can see the Canadian real estate market stays resilient. Its no surprise, whether it was NDP or Conservatives, the Toronto or Vancouver housing markets would have lifted because of Monetary Stimulus, which both governments would have used during a crisis, which is currently ensuing. Look at the numbers in Vancouver also, where the market is getting so heated home buyers are back to multiple offers: https://www.strawhomes.com/mls/north-vancouver-homes/

  12. Kev says:

    The very last thing the Scheer Tories want is a Premier Doug Ford.

    The. Very. Last. Thing.

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