Ontario strategically pushes the reset button.

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.

Strategic Voting part deux – an alternative viewpoint

Adam’s recent piece on strategic voting rejects the idea that the only way to ensure the defeat of the Conservatives, and the demise of Tim Hudak’s political career, is to vote for the current incumbent Laura Albanese. His argument is based on the probability that Progressive Conservative candidate Andrew Ffrench cannot win the York South-Weston seat. Adam concludes it does not matter if the the NDP candidate is elected, because it is not contributing toward a P.C. win.

Allow me to present a contrarian view based on conversations I have had with my wife.

A look at the policies of the three main parties in this election reveals that two parties, the P.C.s and the NDP have drastically veered from their traditional political positions.

The P.C. leader has ventured so far to the right that his party is touching on “Tea Party” territory. Mr. Hudak’s plan to create a million jobs, with no details on what type of jobs will be created, and his vow to eliminate 100,000 government positions should worry all of us. Creating jobs is not difficult if one sacrifices worker protection, environmental laws and benefits. As Reverend Al Sharpton, once astutely observed,

We had full employment in the black community during slavery. We just didn’t have wages. So we don’t want just a job, we want a job that pays, and pays so that we can take care of our families.

Part of the reason for Mr. Hudak’s shift to the soft shoulder of the extreme right is that Andrea Horwath has steered the NDP bus across the median and over to the right of centre, hi-jacking traditional Conservative policies.  When the so-called “Gang of 34” wrote their unprecedented letter, they simple pointed out the obvious fact that Ms Horwath has rejected traditional NDP values. The letter has been fiercely attacked by Ms Horwath’s supporters, questioning the reputation of people who have devoted long years to the NDP.  But her shift to the right was blatantly demonstrated when she chose to defeat the NDP-friendly Liberal budget. Ms Horwath should at least have the candour to relabel her party, as Britain’s Tony Blair did when he swung Labour to the right. Perhaps her party should be called “the New NDP”.

This drastic change in party policies, leaves just Kathleen Wynne, solidly at the centre. And despite the gas plant scandal, there really is no choice but to vote Liberal.

The results of this election have the potential to take Ontario into the kind of right wing territory which might make Mr. Harris seem a moderate.  Every seat will count in this contest. A minority government led by Hudak will allow him a bully pulpit from which to seduce people to turn against their own best interests, in favour of corporate profit and McJobs. Every seat the NDP wins will entrench Andrea’s hold as leader and encourage a further swing to the right, as happened in Great Britain after Tony Blair’s success.

Ontario voters must push the reset button in this election.  The only way to do this is to give Ms Wynne a solid majority. A Liberal majority will collapse the political fortunes of both Mr. Hudak and Ms. Horwath allowing normalcy to return. The Progressive Conservatives will reassume their traditional place just to the right of centre. The NDP will rediscover the values of Tommy Douglas and Stephen and David Lewis. Ontario will avoid the very possible slide into the delusory thinking which maintains that the only way to cope with our problems is to cut taxes, decrease government spending and allow corporations free reign so the unemployment problem can be solved by the free market economy. Research shows that these policies have not helped the average worker in the US.

“According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, those in the top 1 percent of households doubled their share of pretax income from 1979 to 2007; the bottom 80 percent saw their share fall. Worse, while the average income for the top 1 percent more than tripled (after inflation), the bottom 80 percent saw only feeble income growth, on the order of just 20 percent over nearly 30 years. The rising tide was raising a few boats hugely and most other boats not very much.” Source: National Journal

While Paul Ferreira is a worthy candidate and one who, if elected would continue to work hard for the community, the need to vote strategically in this election is of greater importance.

Unscientific poll: Who will you vote for?

The campaign is underway. If the election were today, how would you vote?

As we get closer to the end of the campaign, I’ll survey again to see how your views have changed.

I’m not collecting any identifying information. You could, then, stuff this ballot. I’m trusting you not to. I wouldn’t use that info for anything at all even if I were collecting it.

You can see the responses here.

And we’re off!

Paul Ferreira got in touch with your humble correspondent earlier today. He will be running; the official nomination will happen this Friday, at his new campaign office, which will be in Weston, at 2105 Weston Road. The NDP website, however, does not yet list him as a candidate.

The NDP (and the Tories) are off to a slow start all around the province, according to the Star.

YHC sent messages to the Tory candidate, Andrew Ffrench, today. I have not heard back.