Sunday, June 03, 2018

On history repeating

I haven't yet commented much on Ontario's provincial election campaign - and readers interested in the race will find plenty of noteworthy observers on the blogroll.

That said, it's worth noting the parallels between this campaign and a couple of the NDP's other recent breakthroughs.

To start with, Ontario's 2018 election seems to be offering an answer to one of the more interesting hypotheticals about the 2011 federal election.

In that campaign, the NDP started out well behind the Cons and Libs - but with an experienced and trusted leader who was able to contrast his own image against that of two self-perceived frontrunners who spent most of the campaign attacking each other (or three in Quebec).

By the end of the race, Jack Layton had emerged as by far the most popular of the federal leaders, including by winning over a strong plurality of Quebec voters and expanding the NDP's potential voter pool from coast to coast to coast.

But he reached that position only well into the campaign. As a result, the Libs maintained some residual support from voters accustomed to their being the default alternative to the Cons - particularly in Ontario where strategic voting campaigns based on past electoral results actually helped the Cons win three-way races. And the result was Stephen Harper's one and only majority government - albeit challenged by a strong NDP opposition.

The great what-if for the NDP was thus what would have happened if the 2011 campaign had lasted just a couple more weeks. And we may be getting our answer. 

This year, Andrea Horwath's campaign is following in Layton's footsteps. She too was largely ignored at the start of the campaign as two highly-flawed parties and leaders tried to run only against each other; she too has expanded the NDP's potential voter pool far beyond what most outside observers anticipated; she too has managed to see an already-positive reputation improve in comparison to her opponents.

But after making her move in the polls somewhat earlier in the campaign, Horwath has had enough time for voters to get comfortable with the concept of an NDP victory. And yesterday's effective concession by Kathleen Wynne means that late-deciding voters will have no doubt as to which party is actually running to provide an alternative to a Doug Ford government.

For another historical precedent, that suggests David Climenhaga might be right on the money in his long-standing comparison to Alberta's 2015 election - right down to the divided and unpopular right-wing party whose only apparent late-campaign move is to hope that voters will defer to corporate insiders in casting their ballots.

Of course, there are still some important obstacles in Horwath's way - particularly the uncertainty as to the efficiency of her party's support. But it looks entirely plausible that Horwath's wave may have crested at the right time where Layton's fell just short.


  1. Anonymous2:51 p.m.

    "The great what-if for the NDP was thus what would have happened if the 2011 campaign had lasted just a couple more weeks."

    A Harper majority. Layton flew in under the radar. His Orange wave was drowned out by a last-minute counter Blue wave. That is, 40% of the electorate is conservative and they absolutely despise the NDP. They weren't enamored with Harper. But, in their minds: way better than the alternative.

    If Stephen Harper or Andrew Scheer were leader of the ON PCs, we would get a 40% PC Fake Majority for sure.

    The only reason Horwath is in the race is because Doug Ford is a joke. Ontarian conservatives got stuck with 15 years of identity-politicking neoliberal weasels because Mike Harris was too radical. They don't want to get saddled with a Doug Ford legacy; and they don't want Doug Ford screwing up their party's chances federally – a Con Fake Majority in 2019 is shaping up to the point of inevitability.

    Just think that if Ontario had Ranked Ballot Voting, Ford would need about 50% of the vote to get an absolute majority. (Same with Proportional Representation, of course.) That means Horwath would've walked right into the government. (A Ford majority was 85% likely last time I checked - on less of the vote than the NDP.)

    Same federally. Junior expanded on the Stephen Harper era. So voters get a choice between one of two Stephen Harper parties in 2019.

    Of course, Junior put RBV back on the table after Singh won the leadership. But he foolishly rejected it, after Dippers foolishly killed Junior's electoral reform initiative to begin with. Now Singh has to kick the ball up an unlevel playing field. But no matter what kind of game he brings, Scheer is bigger than the net. He just has to stand there and all 40% of Canadian conservatives will give him absolute power to stop the NDP. (If Singh manages to displace Junior, like Horwath did Wynne – which, historically, only happens when the stars are perfectly aligned.)

    Again, Singh could've walked right into the government under RBV if he started talking policy and an alternative vision for Canada's future. (Going forward into a 21st century innovation-based economy rather than back into the 19th as a Chinese resource colony like Australia and New Zealand.)

    Before Dippers didn't deserve the boot of FPTP upon their throats. But since they got back down on the ground and defiantly welcomed it back – they sure do now! (Take that Liberals! Take our votes! Take our seats! That will show you!)

  2. Anonymous6:11 p.m.

    your a joke ananymous

    1. Anonymous8:54 a.m.

      The only joke bigger than the NDP is Canada's idea of democracy.

      We shut the super-majority out of government; we have appointed senators fooling with legislation; we have some other country's barbarous fossil as our head of state; we have a constitution that can't be amended. We are not a country; we are a British colony and a global laughing stock.

      Kinda funny the university students killed the NDP. And who indoctrinated them to become strident fanatics who are the worst enemies to their own causes? The establishment!

      (Reminds me of that scene in Silence of the Lambs. Except the wolves are running the sheep on an assembly line, and the sheep don't see it coming. Welcome to the Machine.)

  3. Anonymous9:25 a.m.

    Yep, the ON election is over. Doug Ford is on his way to a majority government. I think the latest orchestrated smear will only drive 'Ontario Proud' conservatives to get out and vote.

    Ontarians will bitch and moan. The Liberal party will promise electoral reform in 2023. They will win a majority and somehow ditch their promise -- or the NDP will kill it off if they're serious. The sheep will forget there ever was a problem. Talk about history repeating!

    Nathan Cullen killed electoral reform in Canada when he said Trudeau would be declaring the equivalent of "nuclear political warfare" if he legislated ranked ballots. My guess he was bribed to say this. This was the final straw for Junior who had been twisting his own arm on the issue. (Cullen's play was so far over the top, it was guaranteed to make the decision for Trudeau. He's too brainless to have thought of it himself.)

    If Horgan blows electoral reform in BC, he will be very richly rewarded for it. (Like Kathleen Wynne for selling off Hydro One. Now a done deal thanks to the Ford majority.)

    I got $50 that says PR in BC is already dead. Any takers?