, 10.23.2019 07:36 AM

Did Doug Ford sink Andrew Scheer?

Elections produce mythologies and stupidities.  An example of a stupidity is that opposition research firms – like, say, mine – don’t actually do opposition research.

An example of a mythology is that Trudeau, Scheer, Singh and May won.  They didn’t.  They all lost what they most wanted: Trudeau, a majority.  Scheer, power.  Singh, more seats.  May, way more seats.

Another mythology that came out of this nasty, brutish and not-nearly-short-enough election: that Doug Ford sank Andrew Scheer.  He didn’t.

Now, some nameless nattering nabobs (naturally) have been hissing to reporters that Andrew Scheer would have done better if it wasn’t for Doug Ford, blah blah blah.  The problem with that is twofold: one, Doug Ford did what the Scheer people asked of him – he basically disappeared from public view.  He kept his head down, to avoid becoming an issue in the federal election.

Ontario’s Premier kept so quiet, in fact, he didn’t even say anything when Scheer’s folks insulted him, and invited Alberta’s Premier to campaign at three dozen events across Ontario.  And Doug Ford even kept his cool when the federal Tories okayed the greatest insult of all – they encouraged Jason Kenney to campaign in Doug Ford’s own riding, without giving him a head’s up.

That’s a big no-no. In politics, there are few greater insults than that: stomping through an ally’s turf without approval.  But even so: Doug Ford kept quiet, and he kept out of public view.  He kept his cool.  So, that’s reason number one that the Ford-sank-Scheer-in-Ontario theme is totally bogus.

Second reason?  This map.  Here’s how Doug Ford did in 2018.

See those swaths of blue?  Those are all the places where Doug Ford’s vote was located.  Places where Andrew Scheer did not win, and where Doug Ford did.

Ford’s party got less popular in their first year, true.  But so did the New Democrats.  Only the Ontario Liberals went up.  Since the Summer, Ford’s negatives have started to shrink, significantly.  His new approach to governing is paying off.

So, those are a couple reasons why the Ford-sank-Scheer claim is a myth: Ford wasn’t around, at all, when Scheer was.  And Ford’s historic Ontario strength is precisely in those places where Scheer – as we’ve learned – has none.

Andrew Scheer lost Ontario for lots of reasons, which are being documented by the pundits.

He didn’t lose because of Doug Ford.



  1. Pedant says:

    Perhaps Doug Ford did cost Scheer the election, but only indirectly.

    Ontario alternation doomed the Scheer Tories. A PC government at Queen’s Park meant that Ontario voters couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the same team in Ottawa at the same time.

    • Harry Belafonte says:

      Agreed… if the disaster Wynne was still the premier I think PC would have won a majority. In this life timing is everything.

  2. Richard Besserer says:

    Glad to see you haven’t shut down the blog, Warren.

    How to read this though?

    1. Canadians seem to prefer Grits in Ottawa and Tories (or local analogue) in the provincial capitals, each serving as a check on the other. If Doug can keep Justin at bay from Queen’s Park, your typical Ford Nation member doesn’t need Andy urgently.

    2. Even if Doug had campaigned more openly for Andy, it’s not clear how much better Andy would have done. There’s only so much of the Ford charisma Doug could have transferred.

    3. Besides, if you weren’t from the west, the Tory platform had little to offer that the Grit platform didn’t. Doug’s star power couldn’t fix that.

    4. Why did Doug take the apparent slight with such good humour, do you suppose Warren? You know him better than we do.

    Forgive me for wondering if Doug has his sights on Rideau Cottage himself, and Andy is in his way!

    • Karl Marx Milton Friedman says:

      Hi Warren,

      KMMF here.

      Canadians are amazing people. All of your calls for Trudeau to lose were thwarted by the steady hand of aggregate who inhabit and define this, the greatest country in the world.

      About Doug Ford:

      Flawed reasoning abound!

      Dough Ford was an independent variable in a multi-variate regression analysis I did on Monday night. I gained access to the consciousness of all Ontarian voters during the very act of voting using a smart phone brainwave scanning tin-foil hat. The Ford government was indeed a factor subsconsciously as they locked down their choice, there was a fair bit of BUYERS REMORSE hence your argument is weak that DOugh Ford won big blue areas while Scheer didn’t…we will never know the truth unless I sell my tin-foil hat to you and Eric @ the CBC….

      Joe Biden is toast.

      Keep fighting the good fight, Warren,*

      *Lisa Warren

  3. Chris S says:

    I think you might have been right about Scheer harming himself by talking about having a CPC majority government in the bag in the last week of the campaign. He shouldn’t have said that, even if he really believed it was a possibility. Certainly, it is questionable if his statement was based on any reliable internal polling information. Clearly 34-35% (what they actually got) is nowhere near what the CPC requires to form a majority government. Scheer also had the habit of looking and acting like a kid that got caught stealing from the cookie jar every time reporters asked him about controversial social issues or the minor scandals that arose about his personal background. It seemed he was always uncomfortable dealing with these matters and strangely unprepared to offer acceptable responses to media questions that would put the issue to rest as soon as possible. Seeing this a number of times could have easily made people uncertain and suspicious of him particularly if they didn’t know much about him to start with, which was another problem he faced. The fact that his dual citizenship became a campaign issue was an unforgivable oversight both on the part of the Canadian media which should have discovered and published that fact years ago, and also his own campaign advisers who should have insisted that he renounce his U.S. citizenship immediately after winning the CPC leadership.
    Overall, Scheer and his team ran an underwhelming campaign that had too may unforced errors in it, and got underwhelming results as a consequence. I really can’t see the membership of the party giving him another chance under the circumstances, but we will see.

    • Chris,

      To save the taxpayers money I propose:

      booking one hospital room for both Scheer and Trudeau and then under surgery, quickly excise the sanctimonious gene from each of them. (And while they’re at it, make Harper’s surgery FOC.)

      Then repeat the same medical procedure for each and every prospective leadership candidate of either party.


    • The Doctor says:

      Excellent post Chris. Well put.

  4. Robert White says:

    The CONs War Room was inferior from the outset. They completely blew the taxation platform plank by not incentivizing working class & middle class taxpayers with enough of a tax credit to make voting for them worth while.

    The LPC had great planning emanating out of their War Room and they won the election hands down at the end of the first week.

    Scheer is worthy of a second kick at the can now that he has demonstrated amply that he is capable of generating the required interest.

    If the CONs had have hired the right planners they would have scored better in the long run. Ford should not be blamed for Scheer’s failings. Scheer’s War Room staff are responsible for the loss and NOT political colleagues like Doug Ford.


    • Robert,

      I wouldn’t keep Scheer, unless I had a political death wish. My advice for potential anti-popes is to come out of the bushes early, and make your presence felt as loudly as possible. Then work ASAP on getting allies, and establishing an informal network in the party.

  5. Don Regan says:

    Do you seriously think that map would look the same if there were a provincial election today? No, Ford would lose. Ford is sinking Ford and his record certainly didn’t help Scheer.

  6. Gord Tulk says:

    Respectfully disagree Warren. The data prove that ontario was the outlier. The only real difference was Doug Ford and the OPCPs ham-fisted government and the implementation of things that drive down conservative popularity.

    Had Ford and co been adroit like MOE and Kenney we might be talking about a CPC minority.

  7. brahmabull says:

    This was yet another election of urbanism vs. ruralism, the West being far more “rural” or at least, more in tune with rural socio-economic values. Doug Ford succeeded because he’s a Toronto-first candidate leading a party that has a solid rural foundation so was able to marry the two. Contrast that with Scheer, the aw-shucks dude from Saskatchewan which may as well be a Corner Gas caricature for most of the people living in the GTA or Montreal.

    There’s an urban-rural divide that’s also reflected in every other western country. Urbanites have become immunized to the ups and downs of resource economies and couldn’t care less about agriculture, mining or energy sectors, most don’t even know anyone who owns a pick-up truck. And there’s no solution to this on the horizon, if anything the divide will become more exacerbated.

    • Phil says:

      Exactly to my point in my own post. DOFO being a city boy could deliver seats in Toronto and 905 (without losing rural folks) not all but more than they got without him.

    • Ron Benn says:

      While Andrew Scheer may represent a Saskatchewan riding, he has spent most of his life in Ottawa.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        No wonder he’s not so hot. Come to think of it, same thing applies to Trudeau’s formative years…

      • brahmabull says:

        Fair point. And Ottawa is its own unique bubble.

        • Ron Benn says:

          It certainly does. The disconnect between the federal government (elected, appointed and public servants) and the rest of the nation is profound, and not recognized by the above noted list.

  8. Eastern Rebellion says:

    After Premier Gran, anybody was going to have some negatives because they were going to have to say “NO”. The cookie jar is empty folks, and the reckoning is going to be grim. All of the attacks are Ford are from vested interests who are used to having their way. The people voted to put an end to that. Of course the Libs were going to attack Ford, and it would appear Scheer was crass and quite frankly, disloyal, and to me it is an indication of why he isn’t ready for prime time. If the CPC can’t win in Ontario, they will not form a national government. It is that simple.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      1) pointlessly attacking families with autistic kids wasn’t just a “cookie jar is empty” thing, it made the Ford govt look sadistic
      2) pointlessly attacking Toronto city council and threatening to use the Notwithstanding clause to ram that through was completely totally unrelated to the “cookie jar is empty” thing, and even to Ontarians from Kenora to Owen Sound to St. Thomas it made the Ford govt look sadistic

      I know his #s have improved since he got rid of the Dean French way of governing, but I don’t think WK is quite right re Ford’s affect on Scheer. The two things I just mentioned (among others) do in fact have a lingering life in voters’ minds.

      • Pedant says:

        Wynne brought back the spring bear hunt that had been abolished by Mike Harris, leading to dead females and starving cubs as a result. Quite sadistic of her, wouldn’t you say?

        • The Doctor says:

          She’s progressive so she gets a pass. It’s like that Nixon going to China thingy.

        • Derek Pearce says:

          How many people care about bears compared to how many people have, or no someone who has, an autistic child?

          How many people care about bears compared to how many people live and work, or know someone who lives and works, in Toronto?

  9. Phil says:

    I disagree with you Warren, Doug Ford DID cost the election, but not in the way many think he did. Doug cost Andrew the election because he didn’t push his way into the campaign.

    I actually think the failure of the Conservatives to embrace Doug Ford and the Ontario PC was the biggest mistake of their campaign.

    In Ontario who is really mad at DOFO? Would rural Ontario have left the conservatives if Doug Ford was campaigning with them? No, the unions and the left are mad at DOFO and even that does not have the protest numbers of the Mike Harris or the Dalton McGuinty days.

    I’m the father of an autistic kid, if anyone could turn it would be me but I realize that the money I could never get was held up because of people milking a program for years that was intended to be a temporary training.

    Doug Ford was/is the realistic needed alternative to wanton spending. He is not a right wing lunatic.

    They should have been joined at the hip and bragging about how Ontario is turning around under his leadership.
    Now, if you are on the left, please don’t miss the point. You are perfectly entitled to disagree about Doug Ford in any way you wish but I am saying to the view of conservative supporters he would have ADDED to the campaign.

    My last point, it feeds the Liberal narrative of the “hidden agenda” when the conservative cousins can’t even be seen in public together. Harper/Hudak both misread Rob Ford’s ability to gather the vote and so has Scheer with his brother.
    If you are conservative and proud of it why the hell would you hide it? If I am wrong, I would rather lose for being who I am than win and wear the mask.

    • lyn says:

      Phil: EXACTLY!! Thanks for saying it…I like Doug Ford and he is doing what the people of Ontario hired him to do and the UNIONS don’t like it.

  10. Peter says:

    I think on this question one must consider the phenomenon of voters being perfectly happy to go one way federally and another provincially. Quebecers are notorious for this, but it can’t be completely absent in Ontario.

  11. The Doctor says:

    Agreed. He’s a lousy politician and he ran a lousy campaign.

  12. RKJ says:

    Fully agree. Scheer didn’t and likely doesn’t, have the human skills needed to show leadership. If he’s still around for next election will likely be reduced to 80 seats, at most.

  13. Ron Benn says:

    What cost Andrew Scheer and the CPC’s the election? Let’s start with the CPC leadership vote in 2017.

    Andrew Scheer was the first choice for only than 22%. With each successive ballot, the candidate with the lowest score was dropped. It took 13 (that’s right, 13) rounds for him to actually record 51% support. Put another way, he wasn’t even second choice for very many CPC voters for most of the rounds.

    If you aren’t the first choice for the people in your own party, why do you think you will be the first choice for the entire country? Want more examples?

    Joe Clark was 4th on the first ballot in 1976. Stephane Dion was 3rd or 4th on the ballot (some one can clarify that). Both went on to win their leadership campaigns after a number of ballots.

    Clark did win a minority government, but that was attributed to being the result of a desire for change after more than a decade of Trudeau I. He then squandered it all by failing to understand basic arithmetic.

    In contrast, Stephane Dion went down in flames against Stephen Harper.

    In short, Andrew Scheer was destined to fail in the general election for the same reason that it took multiple ballots at the 2017 CPC leadership vote. He could not inspire the voters to support him.

    • The Doctor says:

      Bang on, Ron. Those compromise candidates almost always end up being awful in general elections. It isn’t leadership to just be the bland guy who doesn’t offend people.

  14. Peter says:

    Nice “wonk” analysis, Ron. But your problem is that most Canadians aren’t wonks, they just vote with their instincts and hearts, sometimes at the last minute.

    • Ron Benn says:

      Peter, thank you for the compliment (I think). The point I was trying to make was that when there is not a clear cut favourite (first on each ballot, with very few ballots) in the leadership campaign, then what is effectively occurring is the selection of someone who is a compromise between “warring” factions (which was the back story on Joe Clark and Stephane Dion).

      If an individual fails to truly inspire the party membership, then that individual is likely to fail to inspire the general electorate. This is more an observation about human behaviour than about how a political party should go about selecting a leader.

      That is why Andrew Scheer needs to be replaced during 2020. This was a winnable election, and he did not win. Increasing the number of seats, winning the popular vote – that is for the wonks who want to explain that an election loss wasn’t really an election loss. Just like hockey games, the score at the end is what really matters.

  15. Anon001 says:

    I’m wondering why J. Singh would support the Liberals without being part of a formal coalition with at least one senior cabinet position.

    • Walter says:

      I suspect Singh will get a commitment to get electoral reform in exchange for his support. They do, however, have to ensure that adequate consultation is done – so we will head to a few years of hearings. Then, miraculously, the next election will hit before any changes are passed.

      • lyn says:

        Walter: If Singh believes Trudeau he is more than gullible!! Trudeau more promises and more LIES!! This PM should be in jail and NOT be our PM!!

      • Derek Pearce says:

        My bet is that sure, electoral form will be a dance between the Libs & NDP but will be cut short as you say. The NDP knows this.

        My money is actually on national pharmacare being passed as the price for NDP support. We’ll see.

  16. Walter says:

    I didn’t quite hear – but how many time was Trudeau asked if the Liberals do opposition research?

    I heard them ask Scheer quite a number of times, so I would assume that if the media were not biased they would have asked Trudeau as well.

  17. Christoph Dollis says:

    Being boring, milquetoast, and awkward sank Scheer. That and the Liberals’ strategy of importing a new electorate to vote Liberal.

    • lyn says:

      Christoph Dollis: You are so wrong. Scheer isn’t boring or milquetoast or awkward. Just maybe you should look at Trudeau he is childish, awkward falling all over the stage one night, boorish, clownish, insensitive, uncouth shall we going or have you heard enough about about Lying PM Trudeau!!

      • Derek Pearce says:

        Why not both? Trudeau is a privileged phony douche, true. By the same token Scheer comes across as sneaky, like he’s always trying to look you in the eye but get away with something behind your back. Phony won this time around.

    • Pedant says:

      Worked like a charm in Milton.

  18. Doug says:

    Shying away from Ford only reinforced the narrative that the Ford government was doing something wrong. Releasing the platform on the Friday before Thanksgiving furthered the impression that conservative politicians lack the conviction to defend reduced government spending. The Conservative campaign should have messaged along the following:

    “Ontario’s finances are in poor shape largely due to the people that form Trudeau’s inner circle. Telford and Butts were key figures in the Wynne government. Persistent deficits eventually accumulate large debts that diminish a government’s ability to provide services. Four years of Telford and Butts have yet to leave the Government of Canada in as bad a shape as the Government of Ontario. The Liberals propose larger deficits going forward. Given that the economy could be heading into a recession sometime over the next 4 years, Telford and Butts are likely underestimating the deficits much like they did during the years they ran Ontario’s finances into the ground. A Conservative government will take decisive but measured action to reduce deficits now to avoid harsh decisions in the future. Unfortunately, 15 years of mismanagement by an irresponsible previous Liberal provincial government has put the current Premier in a tough position. A Conservative government will not put future government services at risk. “

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