The Yawn-tario Election

4 minute read

We are just a few days away from a long-awaited, and pivotal event that could change the course of Ontario for years to come. As everyone knows, June 2nd is National ‘Leave the Office Early’ Day, a truly galvanizing and inspiring occasion that encourages everyone to consider how making small adjustments in the way we approach our work can greatly improve results. Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, June 2nd is also election day in Ontario.

While typical voter turnout hovers between 50%-60%, meaning millions of Ontarians don’t usually vote, it’s understandable why this election may be especially low on one’s radar. Between Putin’s War in Ukraine, the sky-high price of gas (not to mention everything else), a destructive storm that tore through Ontario and Quebec, and recent tragedies in Buffalo and Texas, voters’ attention span is chock-full.

The other argument is that this has been a pretty dull election. Some recent polling would suggest voters are uninspired in their choices for who should lead the province. And a recent debate did little to shake things up, aside from giving Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner a bit of a boost after a strong debate performance, the first appearance by a Green Party Leader.

To be fair, the campaign has seen some drama and excitement. Whether that’s a candidate being dropped for making dubious scientific claims, two of the five party leaders coming down with COVID mid-campaign, and Ford pulling an about-face by largely avoiding the media after what seemed like daily pressers during COVID. But all in all, the 2022 Ontario election will not be remembered for its drama, if at all.

So where does that leave us? Most polls suggest Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are on their way to re-election, but two big questions remain – is it a majority? And, who forms the Official Opposition, the Liberals or the NDP? 

Expectations were mixed for Andrea Horwath coming into this election. She’s well known to Ontario voters, having led the Ontario NDP into four elections, but has struggled to connect with voters and faced challenges maintaining a grip on key union support. The fact is she made it clear that she was running to beat Ford in this election and hasn’t lived up to expectations. The party is likely to consider whether she is the right person to continue leading it, and may see this as an important opportunity for renewal. Names from within the Ontario NDP caucus are in short supply, however.

One possibility that might seem far-fetched but might make sense is current federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Mr. Singh was previously an NDP MPP, and a very popular one at that. He has increased his name recognition due to his federal profile, demonstrated an ability to get results for his base (see dental care, Pharmacare, etc. in the Supply and Confidence agreement), and his chances of winning a provincial election seem higher than those of winning a federal one. Of course, it would be difficult to make the move from the federal to the provincial level without looking like he had failed. Expect rumblings to grow post June 2nd. 

A for the Liberals, while Steven Del Duca certainly hasn’t lit the world on fire with his personality, he may succeed in his primary task, which was to return the Ontario Liberal Party to relevance. However, there will inevitably be questions as to whether he is the right leader to carry the party forward from here. There are rumours that former federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains is considering a return to the political scene. Other names being floated include Liberal candidates Andrea Barrack, a community leader and seasoned executive, and former Kitchener Hospital president, Lee Fairclough. There are also a handful of federal Liberal MPs who will no doubt consider taking a run. Just like for the NDP, expect more noise after June 2nd.

Ultimately, kudos are due to Doug Ford and his team. Mr. Ford was at the helm during a once-in-a-century health and economic crisis, difficult for any leader. And while his leadership was far from perfectCOVID outbreaks and deaths in long-term care homes, school closures, a tendency to be MIA during crucial moments – he was largely able to hold things together and steer the province through it. 

The opportunity to make this a change election was on the table but ultimately the Opposition failed to make the case. Team Ford spent time, energy, and money to talk about the future under the ‘Yes’ Premier. They even went so far as to call his campaign bus the ‘Yes Express’. Add that to a strong, non-ideological personal brand, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Thursday’s results seem as predictable as this campaign has been dull. That’s music to the ears of Team Ford but could prove to be the quiet before the storm for both the Liberals and NDP. Don’t forget to have your say – be sure to vote!

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