, 06.03.2022 08:10 AM

My latest: the morning after Doug Ford’s big night

Random Ontario election observations, the morning after:

Centrism matters: Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford stuck resolutely to the political middle, which — in Canada, at least — is where all the votes are. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca yanked his party too far to the ideological left. Today, Ford is still premier, stronger than ever, and Del Duca has resigned, unable to even win his own seat. Pierre Poilievre should take heed, but won’t.

Reaching out matters: During his election night victory speech, Ford explicitly appealed to “federal Liberal” voters, saying he welcomed and needed their support. As the stunning results rolled in on Thursday night, it was apparent he already had it. Ford has created a political coalition that is ideologically broad enough to include those who traditionally vote for Justin Trudeau, and those who voted previously for Mike Harris. That is an extraordinary political achievement.

Personality matters: Ford’s campaign message — Get It Done — was meaningless. Get it done? Get what done? By whom? When? What worked, instead, was Ford himself — he has honed an affable, amiable political persona that is populist in the true sense of the word: People can picture having him over for a barbecue, and they know he’d help clean up at the end.

Visuals matter: Visually, Ford ran a campaign that was bright, buoyant and blue. Del Duca’s campaign, meanwhile, was sweaty and awkward, and Del Duca himself was ribbed for wearing a Walmart-style vest that was blue — his opponent’s colour! Visuals matter because voters receive most of their political information — and make their political choices — based on what they see and hear, not what they read.

Campaign competence matters: Del Duca lost multiple candidates to scandal because he and his campaign team didn’t bother to properly vet them. The resulting micro-scandals threw him off-message for days. In some ridings, the hapless Ontario Liberal leader simply had no one running for him. In Ottawa, meanwhile, Ford needlessly lost an incumbent candidate because his campaign team refused to let him be seen in the capital in the immediate aftermath of a devastating wind storm — a storm that left tens of thousands without power.

Leaders matter: Ford ran the table — getting re-elected with a second huge majority, and forcing the election night resignations of both his main opponents. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath arrogantly stuck around too long, and voters simply got tired of her. Del Duca, meanwhile, was never a leader — he was just a former political staffer and lobbyist, and it showed. He was incapable of projecting leadership and inspiring confidence. Ford, meanwhile, became a leader — and was re-elected — by his performance during the pandemic, where he wildly exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Friends matter: With progressive policies and the promise of work, Ford and his much-liked labour minister worked tirelessly to capture the support of trade unions — and they got it, much to the astonishment of Liberals and New Democrats. By making unions his friends, Ford dismantled the powerful Working Families coalition, and thereby hobbled the Grits’ campaign.

Campaigns matter: Campaign strategists like to say that, but it isn’t always true. Sometimes, the best-funded, best-run campaigns can flounder — while penniless, hapless campaigns can capture hearts and minds. Doug Ford won — and won for his party and team — because he is a HOAG: A Hell Of A Guy. He was the very centre of his campaign, and he has shown himself to be a likable, easy-going sort of politician, one who — like Ralph Klein, Mel Lastman, Rene Levesque and my former boss Jean Chretien — won by being a plain-spoken regular guy who can make a mistake and admit it. By being understood, by connecting.

Voting matters: More than ten million Ontarians were entitled to vote. Less than two million voted for the victorious PCs, and slightly more than a million each for the Liberals and New Democrats. That means only about 43% of eligible voters did so — a shockingly low number. If democracy is to have any meaning, that needs to change. Now.

Warren Kinsella advised a trade union active in the election.


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    ted says:

    The Liberals actually received a slightly larger share of the popular vote than the NDP but in a first past the post election, it was meaningless.

    And a good thing too, Del Duca was inept. Andrea Howarth was well past her sell by date but second place was still miles out of reach for that guy.

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    dawn mills says:

    I thought the lipless Woodbridge wonder gave a pretty good exit speech. Gracious and not smarmy. Horrorvath, meanwhile, didn’t seem to realize that her party LOST. The campaign was OVER. On and on and on about why the NDP won the Defeat. Greeny Mike too was smug and arrogant. You won 1 seat and picked up 1% in popular vote. Whoooho! Looks like a revulsion more than a revolution. As for Dougie, he keeps on smiling.

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      Pedant says:

      “I thought the lipless Woodbridge wonder…”

      These kinds of personal attacks are tiresome. No fan of Del Duca, but for once can we avoid commenting on the physical appearance of leaders and candidates?

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:



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        Mark D says:

        Personally, I found every party leader gracious in their election night speech. Although one of these leaders was my preferred candidate for premier, I agree that every leader put forward their best effort during this election period and sincerely wanted what they thought was best for the people of Ontario.

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    Dork in East York says:

    An absolute disaster for the OLP. Not winning official party status is an embarrassment. They should have at a minimum won Toronto-St. Paul’s, Eglinton-Bathurst, Spadina Fort-York, Ottawa Centre, and a seat or two in Mississauga.

    Time to tear it down and start from scratch.

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    Derek Pearce says:

    You’re not the only ink-stained wretch to note that in order to win in Ontario you must be centrist. If the federal Conservatives insist on choosing PP for leader they’re going to learn this the hard way.

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      Ron Benn says:

      Mr. Pearce, that lesson has been offered to the federal Conservatives in 2015, 2019 and 2021. They have chosen not to learn it, repeatedly. A sign of a not particularly bright student.

      By my back of the envelope count, there are about 52 federal ridings between Lake Ontario and the 407. The federal Conservatives hold six. Lots of room for improvement.

      A prudent political player would examine which parts of the Ford campaign resonated in that densely populated part of Ontario. They would identify which parts of the Scheer and O’Toole campaigns did not resonate there.

      Instead, the presumptive leader’s (PP) policy platform (or what passes for one) appears to be focused on winning the last two Alberta seats.

      As I said earlier, this behaviour is indicative of a not particularly bright student.

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    Peter Williams says:

    The NDP and to some extent the Liberals used to care about working Canadians, especially those represented by unions. However the NDP and Liberal policies now deal with the concerns of the leftist elite.

    I think “Get it done” resonates with all those who build things for a living, as opposed to the academic crowd who like to endlessly study and pontificate.

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      Sean says:

      Excellent comment. Bang on. Exactly what I have been thinking the entire campaign. Ford was *building stuff* and Joe and Jane Frontporch have had it with all the debates about whether or not we should be building stuff.

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    EsterHazyWasADoser says:

    As Warren has pointed out, Premier Ford learned from his mistakes, listened to people who knew what they were talking about, and campaigned on his strengths. He was underestimated by his opponents. That should not have happened 4 years ago, and it is inexcusable for the political staffers on the losing side it happened again. The OLP ran an appalling campaign and appeared disorganized and incompetent. The NDP, it would appear, has a ceiling, and it is unlikely they will ever win a majority here in Ontario.

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    Arron Banks says:

    Ford made the PCs what the pre-Ignatieff/Trudeau Jr. Liberals were and what the British Tories are: a natural (key word) governing party. Rigid ideology takes a back seat to effectively governing. Mike Harris, for example, buried the Eglinton subway, Ford spent a you know what tonne of money to build a subway in Scarborough and the Ontario Line.

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    Pedant says:

    It’s funny how the mainstream media picks and chooses its narrative. The Globe/Star/Macleans/CBC/CTV echo chamber has decided that centrism is the reason for Ford’s reelection, leaving aside Ford’s ascendency was based largely on populism, which the mainstream media apparently hates (policies that favour the working class? ew!).

    If the NDP had shelved the woke derangement and adopted a Bernie Sanders’ style campaign focused entirely on bread and butter issues of importance to the working class (and a leader with the energy and passion to speak to these issues), the results might have been very different. Actually, the Green campaign was closest to that model but received little coverage.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      I see your point but will quibble a little: first off, why wasn’t Bernie the nominee if his working-class populism is the magic ticket to power, or improvement thereof in a subsequent election?

      Second, for some people, populism equates to government largesse while other schools opt for adopting policy that allows for a hand-up but not necessarily cradle to grave goodies as exist in my province. Believe me, in Quebec, our version of populism/socialism is incredibly popular. All that we need now is for the government to wipe our ass when we get off the can and the masses would love it.

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    Naif says:

    I don’t think Ford not showing up in Ottawa WN in the last week was pivotal. Robertson has been a non-entity all along, the complete absence post-storm was just more of the same. His campaign had no ground game to speak of, so getting repeat emails about some 400 series highway somewhere in Southern Ontario was about all most OWN voters saw of the Conservative campaign

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      Ron Benn says:

      I agree Naif. Mr. Roberts demonstrated his limited political acumen a couple of years ago when he authored a private members bill to address what he perceived to be the need to change from day light savings time.

      In the still early stages of a global pandemic, at a time when residents of Ontario were struggling with health and financial woes, Jeremy Roberts thought that the most compelling issue to be addressed by the legislature was a twice annual requirement to fiddle with the clocks. Something that we do to stay in sync with most of the world that we interact with on a daily basis.

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        Gilbert says:

        Daylight saving time is completely unnecessary.

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          Ron Benn says:

          Whether daylight savings time is necessary or not is irrelevant. Ontario’s economy is integrally linked to other provinces, the US, Europe and Asia. Every move that Ontario makes needs to be done with a clear understanding of its impact on those economic links.

          Mr. Roberts private members bill was amended to state something to the effect of “if everyone else shifts from DLST then Ontario should too”. Too borrow a line from a younger generation “Well, duh!”.

          Mr. Roberts little ego trip had the Ontario legislature diverting its attention to some future, low probability in the near term event, rather than focusing on issues such as how to protect the most vulnerable. Vulnerable to major medical trauma. Vulnerable to a loss of income due to pandemic induced societal restrictions. Vulnerable to major economic melt down.

          His lack of political acumen is why he won’t be missed in caucus or the legislature.

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:


            I was once told that an informal working group exists which includes reps from Ontario, Quebec, New York and some New England states but it’s moving at glacial speed.

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    Joel Lorimer says:

    I think the get it done line was great. The exact opposite of deliverology. I find as a life long liberal there is no liberal party anymore it became the ndp. Could Chrétien come back one last time?

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      Warren says:

      I’ve tried to talk him into it!

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:


        With respect, I doubt he has the fire now. Aline’s passing also took part of him with her. They were that close and I have no doubt about that.

        Now, were we in a constitutional crisis or on the brink of dissolution, that might reignite the fire. Chrétien has done so much for his country. I wish him a long and happy life and a good rest.

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          Warren says:

          You don’t know him. Don’t speculate.

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