QJPolitics: Surprise election results

Premier Kathleen Wynne survived a job performance review on June 12, when she led the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) to victory. The surprise of the night, even for the OLP, was her guaranteed employment for the next five years. Wynne’s party won a majority of the seats in the legislature much to the dismay of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (OPCP) and the Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP). While many like myself predicted an election too close to call, the result was not close at all.

Polls going into the election suggested there would be a tight race for the popular vote. Many pundits believed it was likely that OPCP leader, Tim Hudak, would form a minority government. Much of the public also thought similarly, so it wasn’t surprising the Liberals received so much anti-Hudak support. Many Ontarians that feared conservative cuts went out in force to vote for the OLP, despite past scandals that plagued the party’s reputation.

As predicted, the leader position at the head of the OPCP is now vacant. Not long after the loss on June 12, Hudak resigned from his position. He’ll continue to hold his seat in Niagara West–Glanbrook. The OPCP performed poorly and won only 28 seats in the legislature, which is down nine from the provincial election in 2011. The OLP won 58 seats and the ONDP retained 21. It is clear that conservatives were not out en masse to vote. Unfortunately, they also lost a chance at power for quite a while.

Andrea Horwath of the ONDP isn’t out of the woods following this election. While she didn’t dip from her total number of seats, she didn’t increase the amount either. New seats that were won on the night, such as Sudbury, were traded with the Liberals for other seats. Yet, Horwath no longer holds the power in the legislature. Before the election, she was the needed support of the OLP and could push legislation more favourable to her party. That’s no longer the case now and the ONDP may give her the boot for that reason. The party faithful unhappy with her drifting toward the political centre during her campaign may also take this opportunity to realign the party back toward the left of the spectrum.

The most curious event of the night was the debunking of the vote splitting myth. While it does happen and seems to continually happen at the federal level, the provincial election demonstrated high support for all parties. One party did not lose as the result of another closely aligned party stealing votes. The ONDP was able to hold their own, while the Liberals took seats from the OPCP. I truly doubt the furthest most left and right parties are considering a merger to stop the OLP next election.

Did Ontario forget the scandals? I don’t think so. Many non-card carrying liberals hoped for a minority again. This would give Wynne legitimacy as an elected premier and keep the OLP in check in case of further scandal. However Wynne is trying to rebrand the party away from the legacy of her predecessor. And now she has four years to do it.

Even if you were unhappy with the result, Ontarians should be proud. Despite advanced poll voter turnout being down, unofficial results at press time suggested voter turnout increased four percent from 2011. It’s an exciting and promising start, especially considering it was an election where many did not like the available options.

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