, 06.08.2018 12:15 AM

OLP: the aftermath, and the future

The Wizard, and Wynne, have destroyed the Ontario Liberal Party.

A rump in the Legislature.  A massive party debt.  A terrible, terrible campaign – possibly the worst in Ontario political history.

So where do Ontario Liberals go from here?

I gave many years of my life to the Ontario Liberals.  They were my political home – until Kathleen Wynne arrived, that is.  When she arrived, all of the McGuinty/Chrétien Liberals were driven out.  We were maligned and shunned.  Offers of help were ignored.  Some days, Kathleen refused to even utter Dalton McGuinty’s name.

Now Kathleen and her Wizard – who was reportedly getting $70,000 a month to preside over the worst campaign some of us have ever seen – are gone, or going.  I like Kathleen, as a person, and wish her the best in her future endeavours.  But good riddance to Kathleen the politician, and her Wizard and her Board.

So where do we Ontario Liberals go from here?

Not so long ago, when it became apparent to some of us that a Wynne-led Ontario Liberal Party was headed for disaster, Daisy Group commissioned a poll by a reputable national agency.  We wanted to know what would happen if the OLP was led by the woman who should have won in 2013 – the woman who was knifed in the back after a shady backroom deal involving Messrs. Murray, Hoskins and Sousa.

Below are the key findings, never before seen publicly.  They show three things:

  1. The Ontario Liberals would have won last night, big, with Sandra Pupatello.
  2. The Ontario Liberals would have picked up support in precisely those places where the PCs and the NDP triumphed last night.
  3. The Ontario Liberal brand was strong – but only with Pupatello as leader.

So, you may ask yourself: can Ontario Liberals come back from last night’s disaster?

Yes. But only if Sandra Pupatello is leader.

And, if she wants the job.


  1. N.A. Boily says:

    I have to agree with you, Warren. During that campaign, I could not believe the Libs chose Wynne over Pupatello. Even as a life-long democratic socialist, I would have been sorely tempted to vote Liberal in that election if Sandra had won…. and she was so classy in her concession speech…. hopefully, she’ll come back to politics, but do you think she would have the time and energy to rebuild from the ashes of this disaster?

  2. Gord says:

    The Liberals will be back. If the federal experience from 2011-2015 tells us anything, it’s that the Liberal “brand” is extremely resilient. With the right leader and the right message, a leap from third place to government is not inconceivable (again, see Trudeau, Justin). Their best bet is someone who was not in the Wynne government (and therefore not tarred with that brush). So your preferr d candidate would fit the bill nicely. Again, the real question is if she wants it.

    • Mohamed Mahdi says:

      I think the difference this time is there is literally no one waiting in the wings to save them this time. Also, their loss of official party status will make it a lot harder to recover at this point.

  3. Ian says:

    I wonder about comparable analysis for Horwath. Nine years, three general elections, and yet the NDP consensus is ‘she did well’, and presumably deserves to make that 13 and 4. Squandered their best shot in a generation as far as I can tell.

    • doconnor says:

      I expect she’ll step down in a year or two, depending how things go. I expect the Ford government will be very rocky and scandal filled and he could lose his majority over caucus defections.

    • Ron Benn says:

      The problem with the NDP is that they are happy being a strong 3rd, and ecstatic if they come in 2nd. When you strive for mediocrity, then why would you challenge the leader who delivered it?

  4. p bre says:

    ..party pays for all these polls and ignored them with Wynne..why?

  5. Robert White says:

    I have not been a Liberal long enough to know much about Pupatello. I remember her run for leadership during the leadership convention but that’s about all I seem to remember.
    Suffice to say that Pupatello’s brand may not be suitable in four years time given the millennial push demographically.

    Leadership is a coin toss IMHO. Wynne was a good retail politician when she was in her prime. Her brand is now obsolete as it should be given accrued debt. The PC Party will have to slash & burn to ameliorate the debt conundrum.

    Personally, I cannot understand how Ford won such a majority based upon platitudes alone?


  6. J.D. says:

    I really liked her in the TVO election coverage last night!

  7. Corey D says:

    Couldn’t agree more Warren. Pupatello was the best option then, and she’s still the best chance the OLP has of getting back on track as a legitimate centrist party that can compete moving forward.

  8. James says:

    I’m old and have keenly watched and followed politics in this Country for nearly 50 years.

    A lot can be dissected and learned from the catastrophic demise of Wynne and the Liberals, but seriously was it really that much of a surprise and will the party actually take a lesson from it?

    Liberals set a left leaning course after Bob Rae and the NDP came to power in an effort to swing NDP voters to an alternative left. With McQuinty and especially Wynne, it became abundantly clear that there was no longer any difference between the ideologies of the two. If you don’t believe that then consider the past very loud rumblings both Provincially and Federally of a NDP/Liberal coalition in an effort to defeat the PC’s. That speaks volumes to the commonalities shared between them.

    The writing was on the wall for the Liberals when Dalton left. The only saving grace for them and Wynne was that the PC’s, who have a history of shooting themselves in the foot, didn’t have a suitable candidate up until now. Instead of heeding that warning and changing course, the party forged ahead with what can only be described as an arrogant agenda that was doomed. The clock has been ticking very loudly but it was all but ignored by the Party.

    Imho the electorate of this Province is yearning for a Liberal party of yesteryear. A middle of the road party. With that in mind Ford the PC’s were actually able to appeal to that segment of the electorate and swung the Liberal vote their way leading to their majority and the absolute demise of the Liberals.

    If Liberals want a comeback then they will need to re brand as that middle party or fold and unite with the NDP. That will mean a lot of house cleaning but will it be too much too little too late with a taxpayer facing a mind boggling 350 Billion Dollar debt.

  9. Rene Gauthier says:

    I would say that the biggest mistake made by Wynne was that she didn’t resign and pass the keys to a new leader before the election. She should have stepped aside last fall. She may have owned the loss, but she brought the party down with her as well. When the leader has become the embodiment of a government well past its prime, that leader should have known that the party was over and walked away. Her actions cost the party dearly.

  10. Sean says:

    She seemed to be the obvious choice last time around. I was really stunned when delegates moved to Wynne. She is in a similar position now to that of JC in 1990. She has the experience and will have the loyalty of the troops. She’s part of the glory years, but well enough removed for a time to not have the baggage that goes along with it.

  11. Lou says:

    Very simple. Wynne was always more NDP than Liberal. Joined the libs so she could win and then made awful cabinet choices in exchange for support. Sousa was as tone deaf a finance minister as I can remember and putting Murray in charge of anything was moronic. To take a lesson from your old boss Warren, you put the BEST people in posts REGARDLESS of any personal animosity or past rivalry. I fully expect to to see Mulroney and Elliot in major portfolios and defacto “faces” of this Government. Ford may be foolish, but he’s not a fool.

  12. Adam says:

    What few recollections I have of Pupatello is that she is a right-of-centre or even right-wing Liberal, and basically McGuinty v2.0. I guess she would win over centrists, but not me.

  13. terence quinn says:

    If you are going to lose losing like the Libs just did is eventually good for the party. It cleanses the soul. They have strong support at their grass level and will rebuild from there. I hope several qualified candidates come out of the woodwork to give the party some life and things to think about going forward.

    I hope David Herle is expelled from ever having anything to do with a Liberal election platform.

  14. Roman Botiuk says:

    I wonder if the 2018 Ontario election is too goofy to teach lessons to future campaigns. In particular, I think it would be a mistake for the federal Conservatives or NDP to look at the electoral map and draw conclusions. There was the Ford factor that may have turned dark blue light blue and pink or even dark red dark blue, especially in Etobicoke and Scarborough. I think what we do see is the Liberal base- what they got is what a dog painted red gets, and that is the only value of this election, and even then the Liberals took their base and their volunteers to the woodshed and beat the crap out of them, so their base is probably larger

    • Matt says:

      The OPC won all the area’s of Etobicoke, Scarborough and to a lesser extent North York that Ford won in the 2014 Toronto Mayoral election.

  15. Pipes says:

    I agree with you 100%. Sandra should have been the leader and Wynne buried the Liberals and as far as I am concerned she is a disgrace and an embarrassment. I guess she isn’t ‘sorry’ about that as well eh? I think the next government will be the NDP and the Libs wont be back until 2030 or so………..

    Thanks Kathleen, great job……………

  16. barn E. rubble says:

    RE: “But only if Sandra Pupatello is leader.”

    Altho I am a PC supporter I couldn’t help but think Ms. Pupatello seemed like someone that would be a good premier. I still think the same about Ms. Elliot, perhaps more so, given my bias. I switched from channel to channel from TVO, global, CBC, CP24 for different perspectives . I have good reason not to like KW and whether that’s a carry over from DM doesn’t matter. My local MPP Kevin Flynn is a good and decent man/public servant. Served his constituency well. However, he went along with the incompetence and corruption of his government and benefited with a cabinet post for perhaps the most wasteful boondoggle in history. I don’t believe his seat was in jeopardy because of the gas plant (that was needed) . So it’s not like 1.2 billion (and just as reminder: .2 billion is 200 million$) went completely to waste. I’m guessing at the time Mr. Flynn saw it as a win-win. Or perhaps better; a wynn-win. He will now accept the consequences of his own decisions. Too bad. But he did have choices. Some of those choices would’ve been for the public good, and not just his, or his party.

    • James Smith says:

      Full disclosure, Kevin is a friend since his days on Oinkville city council. Kevin did his job, he represented his constituents on the gas plant issue with Dalton’s administration & the costs associated with Gas plants are totally at the feet of his administration not Ms Wynne’s.
      I’m sure that great MPPs like Kevin lost for 4 reasons:
      1) Ballot question was Kathleen & that was a headwind
      2) The Premier “quitting”
      3) The fear of a NDP government drove people to the Tories
      4) The campaign our host alludes to
      A lot of my friends have lost jobs so I’m not a happy bunny but things will get better.

      • barn E. rubble says:

        RE: ” . . . but things will get better.”

        Because the PC’s won? I agree. Welcome aboard!
        For the first time ever, I’m hoping those I voted for were lying. IE: spending. The wish here is that reality will intervene and spending a $billion a month just on interest doesn’t make sense and something will done about it. For Liberals, that’s like canceling a gas plant or 2 every month.

        • James Smith says:

          Things will get better after the approaching storm that will wreck Ontario for some time. But things will gets better after that.

  17. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Generational change tends to produce better political outcomes. Liberals need to remember that 2013 is far removed from today’s political reality on the ground.

    And they should choose their next leader accordingly. They need a person who will expand their vote base and that means a veritable centrist, not too left or right.

    • barn E. rubble says:

      RE: “Generational change tends to produce better political outcomes.”

      Says who? There hasn’t been a generation willing and able to save the world like the last one. Would this generation step up and be willing to die to fight tyranny? No. Not a chance.
      They’re willing to spend their lives in their parents basement killing everybody as per video game. Maybe get a job . . . like, if I HAVE to . . .

      RE: “. . . not too left or right.”

      I’m an old white guy but I still remember that’s what Liberal was – sorry – used to be . . . generational change? For the better? Show me.

  18. Sam says:

    Sandra Pupatello? You’ve got to be kidding. The party needs to move FORWARD, not backward to another McGuinty acolyte and trough feeder/government appointee to various boards. That type of leaders is in no way what the current and next generations want. Why can’t you dyed-in-the-wool Liberal vets see this? Find someone new from business, entrepreneurship, not someone from the Liberal bench of the past. You need to recruit, not recycle. Not necessarily young blood, but new blood. Leave the past in the past. Find solid new candidates untarnished by any Liberal decisions or scandals so you can truly remake the party, AND so that no mud from the past can be flung.

  19. Pedro says:

    Just like campaigns matter and make a difference, I’ll hedge a bet that Sandra Pupatello would have had ALL that success you claim after 5 years as Premier. Life – and politics and stuff – happens and that kind of reverse crystal ball viewing is silly and speaks of harboured resentments and anger which, need to be gotten rid of. But who am I to say? Any Liberal, federal or provincial has been anathema to me since I was 10 and a kind, wise man said, “Just watch me.”

  20. James Smith says:

    Full disclosure, Kevin is a friend since his days on Oinkville city council. Kevin did his job, he represented his constituents on the gas plant issue with Dalton’s administration & the costs associated with Gas plants are totally at the feet of his administration not Ms Wynne’s.
    I’m sure that great MPPs like Kevin lost for 4 reasons:
    1) Ballot question was Kathleen & that was a headwind
    2) The Premier “quitting”
    3) The fear of a NDP government drove people to the Tories
    4) The campaign our host alludes to
    A lot of my friends have lost jobs so I’m not a happy bunny but things will get better.

  21. Matt says:

    Anyone see Wynne’s presser today?

    She seemed to be suggesting Ford should give the Liberals party status so Liberal supporters voices can be heard in the legislature and on committees, Like McGuinty dig for the NDP when they only won 7 seats.

    To my recollection, that’s not how it happened.

    Howard Hampton’s NDP got 7 seats and party status was 9.

    Some time later there was a by-election which was won by Andrea Horwath giving the NDP 8 seats.

    It was only then the McGuinty Liberals switched the number from 9 down to 8 to give the NDP official party status

    Sorry, but no. It’s a slippery slope. Where would it end. One seat gets party status?

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      That was about making friends and inroads on the left.

      That’s the last thing Ford needs to do, given his mandate. Playing semi-hardball is in his interest – – at least for the next several years. He’s got all the cards right now.

    • Fred from BC says:

      “Sorry, but no. It’s a slippery slope. Where would it end. One seat gets party status?”

      Exactly. The rules are there for a reason. Much like the FPTP electoral system or the Electoral College in the USA, only the losers ever seem to complain about how “unfair” it is; when they are winning, not a peep from them.

    • David White says:

      Ms. Pupatello on TVO on election night confirmed that the McGuinty gov’t did extend party status to the NDP with 7 seats in 2003, against her wishes because she always had to battle the NDP so hard in Windsor. So Matt, your recollection is inaccurate. Have to trust Ms. P. as she was sitting at the table.

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