Much to her own surprise, incumbent Liberal Laura Albanese handily defeated the N.D.P.’s Paul Ferreira and the P.C.’s Andrew Ffrench in what was expected to be a tight race. Across Ontario, the tumultuous events of election night will echo in York South-Weston for years to come. Across the province, voters rejected the P.C.’s confusing promises of harsh austerity, cuts to government jobs and corporate incentives while providing tax cuts for corporations. Andrea Horwath’s bizarre adoption of Tory style policies such as utility H.S.T. refunds, corporate incentives and a Ford-like respect for taxpayers confused voters and infuriated the base. These two odd approaches (which stirred memories of Mike Harris and Bob Rae) gave voters no other safe haven than the Liberals. In addition, only Kathleen Wynne was able to sound sincere when the camera lights were switched on. Wynne’s enthusiasm and confidence allowed voters to trust her messages of contrition for past Liberal wrongs, sound the alarm about the possibility of a P.C. victory and promises of better days to come under a Liberal government.
Across the province, it appeared that to many voters, the only acceptable platform (or the least unacceptable) belonged to the Liberals. In order to ensure the adoption of that platform (which the NDP had rejected), strategic voting was in the minds of many voters when they were marking their X.
One good thing to come of this is that having a clear majority will allow Kathleen Wynne to work on her agenda without needing permission from the opposition. Transportation issues that plague the GTA can get the attention they deserve. Hopefully a new Mayor and refreshed Toronto City Council can work with Wynne to straighten out years of neglect and idiotic council decisions.
Another good thing to come of this is that the P.C.s will choose a new and less extremist leader. Mr. Hudak ably demonstrated that ‘Tea Party Lite’ doesn’t work in Ontario. Ms Horwath, (if she survives as leader in the Fall convention) will no doubt be charged with returning the NDP to its core values.
Premier Wynne seems anxious to hit the ground running and wants to recall the legislature to sit through July. Ms Albanese has been given a large mandate to serve and we can only hope that she will use this to more forcefully represent the electorate in Toronto’s poorest riding. In the past she was able to extract concessions from the premier because of the swing nature of the riding. Now she has four years to demonstrate to electors that she will be a strong and responsive advocate and not simply another whipped government vote.