Feature, Musings —02.27.2018 10:26 AM
- Patrick Brown‘s entry into the PC leadership race meant chaos, controversy and Kathleen Wynne‘s likely re-election. Now that’s he’s gone (again), an Ontario Liberal victory becomes a lot less certain.
- Eric Hoskins‘ sudden resignation is very bad news for Wynne, too. He joins departing senior ministers like Brad Duguid, Liz Sandals and Deb Mathews, all of whom Wynne needed in a tough re-election battle – to help spread the Ontario Liberal gospel.
- That’s not to say that Hoskin’s riding is at risk. Even if there is a grit-dammerung, and Ontario Liberals are wiped out province-wide, Hoskin’s old riding of St. Paul’s and Toronto Centre are safe. (Josh Matlow might put that prediction at risk, however.)
- Andrea Horwath is still in a witness protection program somewhere, and Wynne is still the main beneficiary. As long as Horwath lets Wynne style herself as the only progressive choice in the race – just as Wynne did in 2014 – the Ontario Liberal leader remains competitive.
- Doug Ford continues to impress card-carrying PCs, and surprise journalists. Everyone had expected that, by now, he would have pulled the pin on one or two verbal hand grenades, and swallowed them. But he hasn’t. Ford’s been disciplined, genial and hard-working. His smart campaign guru Michael Diamond deserves a lot of credit.
- Caroline Mulroney has greatly improved. At the start of this abbreviated race, she was a political newbie, and it showed: she looked and sounded nervous and uncertain, and had a penchant for repeating talking points over and over. In recent days, however, she’s stepped up her game – but many PCs are still saying (as party leadership partisans often do) “she’s my pick next time, not this time.”
- Christine Elliott has momentum. Under the able guidance of Fred DeLorey, Elliott has acquired frontrunner status in this crazy-short campaign, and she’s showing a lot more energy than she did in 2009 and 2015’s PC races. If Doug Ford doesn’t win on the first ballot – and that’s a tall, tall order for anyone – his support would mostly go to her. She, I know, is the candidate the Ontario Grits fear the most.
- With the departure of Pat Sorbara, I’m told the infighting in the Ontario Liberal campaign team has stopped. Under smart folks like Chad Walsh, Rebecca MacKenzie and Alexis Levine, Wynne’s campaign effort is looking stronger. (The well-compensated Board members around her, meanwhile, are busily making quiet plans for their next political gigs – subtly burying Wynne prematurely, just as they did with Paul Martin.)
- Justin Trudeau presents a bit of a dilemma for Ontario Liberals. A few short months ago, he would have been an asset to any provincial Grit campaign. Now – following many months of controversies and missteps, most recently the Indian Imbroglio – the bloom is decidedly off the dauphin’s rose. Expect to see him less on the hustings.
- The pollsters still say the Ontario PCs have the advantage – notwithstanding all the Patrick Brown-related scandal and controversy. Personally, I think the PCs are well-advised to never, ever count out Kathleen Wynne – under that kindly, grandmotherly exterior, there is a spine of political steel. Wynne, in my experience, will do whatever it takes to win. PCs would be well-advised to avoid underestimating her yet again.