Ford elected Premier, Progressive Conservatives win a Majority – Liberal Party loses official party status

Aaron Propp - 2B Computer
Posted on: June 16, 2018

On June 7, Ontarians were supposed to elect a new government and elect a new government they did. The PCs will form government with 76 seats, a majority in a house of 124 seats. The NDP will form Official Opposition with 40 seats. It was a historic election for the both the Liberals and Greens. The Liberals achieved their lowest standing in the house with 7 seats, just 1 shy of official party status. The Greens won a seat in Guelph, a first for the Green Party of Ontario.

The polls for once were right in predicting this election, for both the popular vote and seat count. The popular vote was within the margin of error for all parties. As for the seat count, the CBC Poll Tracker was surprisingly close in predicted seat counts for all parties except the Liberal party, which was forecast to just have received one seat. This comes after the polls have failed to predict multiple elections including the most recent federal election.

As well, the adage campaigns matter failed to materialize. Before the campaign, the PCs were forecast to win a majority, which they won. All the campaign facilitated was the Liberals being decimated in the seat count and that support subsequently moving to the NDP.

This was the first time ballot counting machines were used in an Ontario general election. They were implemented to require less staff on election day and report the result quicker on election night. That they did, with the results being conclusive just 15 minutes after polls closed. The ballot counting machines were completely offline and kept both a scanned image of every ballot and the physical ballot for verification afterwards. There were several hiccups with the machines which led to a small number of ridings not reporting immediately on election night.

As with every election, there is always calls for electoral reform. In this case the PCs won a majority with just over a 40% of the popular vote. Federally, since 1921 (the first year more than two parties participated in an election), only three majorities have been elected with more than 50% of the popular vote. In the 2007 Ontario general election, a referendum was proposed to adopt Mixed Member Proportional as the electoral system in Ontario. The electoral system was roundly rejected by Ontario voters at the time. Finally, any government that would propose electoral reform (i.e. Harper’s Conservatives and Trudeau’s Liberals) must have been elected under the system they’re proposing to eliminate. From the view of a political party it is a bad idea to do away with a system that just put you in power.

While the PCs were elected on June 7, Doug Ford is still Premier-designate until June 29 as transitions from the previous government to the new government take place. Not much is known about the transition at this point. Several high-profile female MPPs including Caroline Mulroney, Christine Elliot and Lisa MacLeod are expected to receive cabinet positions. Meanwhile, Ford has promised to recall legislature to legislate an end to the York University strike and lower the Ontario portion of the gas tax. At this point, it’s a waiting game to see what type of Premier Ford will be. It’s one thing to campaign and an entirely different thing to govern.

The NDP are in a once in a generation position. They are forming the Official Opposition and must work to show that they are more than just the second choice party for liberal leaning voters. This has happened before, with Stephen Harper’s majority government being opposed by Tom Mulcair’s NDPs only to have the NDPs fall down to third party status in the next election.

There are two main differences here that will give the NDP more time to transform themselves as the alternate governing party to the PCs. One is that Harper’s Conservatives at that time were facing fatigue, leaving the NDP less time to organize their newfound support. Another is that Liberals at that time still held official party status meaning they had less rebuilding in front of them, again giving the NDP less time to organize their new supporters.

The Liberals were utterly decimated on election night, reaching their floor in popular vote support and were given 7 seats, 1 short of what they needed to be an official party. Official party status comes with two key privileges. One is funding for policy research, which the Liberals will have to get by without. The other is the are no longer entitled to time in Question Period and when they do get time, are not acknowledged as being a Liberal party MPP. However, the threshold can be modified by the legislature leaving the decision in Ford’s hands. Andrea Horwath however was much less sympathetic being quoted as saying “The people gave the Liberals seven seats, that’s what they have in the legislature and that’s what they’re going to have to deal with”.

In addition, the Liberal party will need to find a interim leader to replace Kathleen Wynne who resigned on election night. The process has been started, but candidates have yet to declare themselves. An election of an interim leader is a decision of Liberal caucus members, riding president for ridings without representation in the legislature and executive members of the Liberal party.

The Green party of Ontario achieved success, winning a seat in the legislature for the first time. The Green party needs to take advantage of this win and identify one or two other seats in the province. The ideal position for the Green party is to hold the balance of power in a tight election, similar to the position the Green party of British Columbia.

By conventional wisdom, Justin Trudeau should be quite happy right now as the federal election often goes the opposite way of the Ontario election. With all being said and done, there are municipal elections coming up in the fall. Register to vote as these elections impact our daily lives the most. Public transportation, garbage collection and especially as students building development (because who wants to live in a hotel for their first term). Register to vote!

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