Wednesday, October 10, 2007


By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm busy watching the election returns this evening. Ontario voters went to the polls today to elect 107 provincial legislators, or MPPs, as well as to vote in a referendum on electoral reform, the first provincial referendum since 1924. The Liberal Party won a comfortable majority in 2003 and have, according to projections, won another one, the first back-to-back Liberal majorities in 70 years.

Which means that Dalton McGuinty will remain premier. John Tory, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, is doing poorly in his own riding and may not win a seat. The New Democratic Party is doing better than in '03 but will remain a distant third. The Green Party, the largest of the smaller parties (but one that has never won a seat in the Legislature), is doing well in central Ontario, where the NDP is weak.

I'm sure that readers of this blog, even infrequent ones, even new ones, can guess accurately my political leanings in Ontario. I am, indeed, partial to the Liberals, and was once even a dues-paying member. Owing to the nature of my work, however, which I recently mentioned here, I do not blog about Ontario politics and will not comment on the election other than to say this:

Good for the Liberals. Good for Ontarians.

This is the right choice for Ontario.

If you want to find out more about the election, with up-to-date returns, see the CBC or CTV -- or, for a more Toronto-centric perspective, CityNews.

For those of you who don't know much, or anything, about Ontario -- and I realize this blog has an international, if still mostly American, readership -- we are the financial and industrial center of the country, the most populous of Canada's ten provinces with a population of over 12 million. (See Wikipedia for more. Speaking of which see also the Wikipedia entries for the election and the referendum.)

As for the referendum, I have been intimately involved with the government's electoral reform initiative -- as well as with its democratic renewal agenda generally -- over the past three years, and so will defer to one of the world's leading experts on elections, electoral systems, and electoral reform, co-blogger MSS, who recently posted on the referendum here. (He will no doubt have more to say in response to the vote in the coming days.)

Enjoy your evening, everyone.

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  • Well I can't say that I agree with the majority win by the Liberal's. I live in Ontario and in the 905. Our riding has a PC winner and I like the person who I voted for. I would perfer to see a minority with the PC and NDP balancing out against the Liberals. This allows for some give and take in passing legislation and really working together as they should. A majority just means that the Liberals can do what they please without any opposition from the PC or NDP. The only good thing about this is that if anyone is to blame for the next downfall of the Liberals, it will be easy to look into the mirror and see who to point fingers at! I just hope things don't get worse and we see more moving forward. All I want is a better Ontario and don't care who drives the ship as long as they are making changes and keep it sailing straight ahead into a positive future.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 AM  

  • Thanks for your post, Michael.

    One thing I will object to:

    "This is the right choice for Ontario."

    Except that it was the choice of only 42% of Ontarians.

    So, indeed, good for the Liberals, who rode the ancient FPTP system to a whopping majority (on, by the way, four percentage points of the vote less than they won in 2003). And good for them that even fewer voters wanted to change to a fair, democratic electoral system than wanted to keep the largest minority party in power, essentially unchecked, for another four years.

    As a non-Ontarian, I don't particularly have a horse in this race among the parties, though I have always admired the NDP from afar, and I am a dues-paying member of another affiliated party of the international Green movement. (So, I am cheered to see the Ontario Greens reach 8%, but of course, under FPTP, they never had a real chance at a seat.)

    I do, however, lament the missed opportunity to change the electoral system. The Citizens Assembly had a well crafted proposal. I do not think it is dead--not given this outcome--but it will lie dormant for a while. Maybe in 2011 the Liberals will again be "reelected" on not even 40% of the vote, or not even a plurality. Either is a distinct possibility, and would certainly help revive the idea of MMP or other electoral reform.

    I am sure I will have more to say--putting back on my more objective political scientist's hat--at some point soon, at F&V (click my initials in this comment), and perhaps here as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:53 PM  

  • Anon: I wouldn't have preferred a minority, but perhaps a smaller majority would have been better. The point is, the Liberals haven't done much wrong the past four years and deserved another term. For all Tory's talk of character and accountability, he proved himself to be a poor strategist with the religious schools issue and the leader of a party without much of an identity at the moment. In his concession speech, he basically presented his party as the voice of the dispossessed and disenfranchised. Since when has that been what conservatism is about?

    MSS: I certainly take you points regarding the referendum on electoral reform. (Although I am hesitant to respond to them here!) The issue is certainly not dead.

    What I should have said, to be more precise, is that a Liberal majority was the right choice for Ontarians under the existing system. As I said above, the McGuinty government really didn't do all that much wrong the past four years. Now, such a large majority? Well, no, that's not what Ontarians wanted -- but I think a second mandate reflects where Ontario is at right now. Just as the NDP's win in 1990 reflect the mood at that time, just as the PC's wins in 1995 and 1999 did as well.

    Obviously, though, it will be interesting to see how the Liberals govern in a second mandate. This is new for them. They haven't had two consecutive majorities in 70 years. For decades it was the Tories who were, or who seemed to be, the province's natural governing party. There is a lot that needs to be addressed: the environment, energy, transportation, crime, etc. What will they do? Will they be transformative, leaving a true legacy, or will they avoid taking such risks and content themselves with the safety of more of the same?

    As for the NDP, they have lost much of their voice as the party of protest in Ontario. What do they stand for now? Not all that much, it would seem. The Greens did better, running well in some ridings, and maybe, just maybe, they could win a seat or two -- eventually, even under the current system. But, of course, you're right. FPTP is not kind to small parties.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 4:03 PM  

  • Those interested in this election result might want to check out my F&V post, where I put on my "analyst" hat, rather than my "activist" one. To read it, please click my initials in this comment, and it will be (as of now) the second post on the page. (I think the post is too specialized to cross-post here at The Reaction.)

    In the post, I anticipate some of the things Michael says here in his comment.

    Within the paradigm of FPTP, I argue that indeed there was nothing all that remarkable about the result, and that Ontarians are probably fairly happy with the current government and political situation overall.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:08 PM  

  • Ontario elections - not surprising. If I recall, Ontarions complained 4 years ago this McGuinty was a liar after they voted him in, and now a chance for CHANGE, and as expected, he and his Liberal party are back in for another dreaded 4 years. At least at a Federal, we can count on the other provinces to say TIME FOR A GOOD CHANGE, and Harper has lived up to his word so far. Hummm...not so bad eh?!

    I laugh in the face of any Liberal the day McGuinty scr#ws things up for us again...and digs in our pockets for more tax dollars for some kind of scheme of his. Good luck to us all!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 PM  

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