And here, to celebrate, is a snippet from my column next week:
Doug Ford – who I know and like, full disclosure – is not a professional politician. He may have been a city councillor for a single term, but he is as far from a professional politician as one can get. He does not have anywhere near the experience that Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne and Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath have. Not even close.
Unlike the other two, he has never led a political party before. Unlike the other two, he has never ruled a caucus before. Unlike the other two, he has never participated in a leader’s debate before last Monday.
But he’s still winning, and he’s winning. Media polls even suggest he has a twenty-point lead. Internal party polling, meanwhile, suggests that the Grits are heading towards third party status. And perhaps no party status at all.
How could such a thing happen to the once-mighty Ontario Liberal machine? Three reasons. One, Kathleen Wynne needed to take a walk in the proverbial snow way back in 2017. Two, the Grits needed to jettison the profligate Martinite crew around Wynne – the ones who destroyed the federal Liberal party a decade ago. Three, they needed to be infused with new blood and new faces.
They didn’t do any of those things.
Traditional political campaigns do not work against populists.
Populists possess an extraordinary magical power: they are able to transform an attack on them into an attack on those who support them. And that is why virtually everything Kathleen Wynne said to Doug Ford in that first leaders’ debate last week – that he doesn’t understand how government works, that he doesn’t have experience, that he doesn’t get it, that he is out of his depth, blah blah blah – ricocheted off of him and onto the unhappy people who support him. And thereby wedded them more closely to their man, Doug Ford.
An attack on Doug Ford, you see, is an attack on them.