|NDP tweeter Derek Leebosh turning the tables.|
This time, with the NDP apparently moving into second place in the polls, the tables are turned and many NDPers are arguing that all Liberals should abandon their party and vote NDP in order to stop Doug Ford.
These sentiments are understandable as New Democrats have frequently seen the Liberals eat their lunch and collect the bulk of progressive voters in elections, only to fail to deliver on many key progressive promises in government.
But the future of Ontario is too important for petty partisan griping or score-settling.
Progressive voters need to think seriously about how best to stop Doug Ford, and in many constituencies swinging behind the local NDP candidate may actually defeat stronger Liberal incumbents and hand victory to Doug Ford's PCs.
In most of the key battleground constituencies in the 905 region around Toronto, the Ontario NDP is again running paper or parachute candidates to simply fill up the NDP's line-up. This would include Mississauga, as well as Halton Region, and most of York Region. The same goes for most of North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke, truth be told. In most of those ridings, Liberal incumbents are not only fending off their main PC challengers, but also upstart New Democrats stealing the progressive votes they need to win again.
In ridings like Oakville or Milton or Newmarket-Aurora or Eglinton-Lawrence or Scarborough Agincourt, there is no point voting NDP, even if they continue to climb in the polls; the Liberals with a stronger ground game and incumbents there will remain the main challengers to the Tories.
Meanwhile, in areas like Oshawa, or Sarnia, or Windsor, or most of Hamilton or Niagara Region or London, or most parts of northern Ontario, it is the NDP that will be the main challengers to the PCs. The Liberals aren't in the game in those constituencies (with the exception of Hamilton West, London North Centre, St. Catharines, the Thunder Bay ridings, and Sudbury.)
Of course, there are also ridings where the Tories have zero chance and it really is a choice between the Liberals and the NDP, like in Toronto Centre, Spadina Fort-York, University-Rosedale, Davenport, Parkdale-High-Park, Beaches-East York, Humber River-Black Creek, and Ottawa Centre. Voters there can be free to choose between the NDP and Liberals, without risking an accidental PC victory.
But in other key ridings around the province, all three parties legitimately have a chance of victory and it's there where this election will be decided: in my mind, those ridings are Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, Brantford-Brant, Scarborough Centre, Scarborough Southwest, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Kingston and the Islands, Kitchener Centre, Cambridge, Peterborough, and London North Centre.
In most of those key constituencies, strong Liberal incumbents are running again. Voting NDP there actually risks taking away just enough votes from those Liberals to hand the seats to the Conservatives.
Guelph is also in contention, but is actually a three-way race between Green leader Mike Schreiner, stellar Liberal candidate Sly Castaldi and the PCs hoping to slip up the middle. The NDP is likely not really in the game in Guelph.
My message to progressives: know your riding and vote accordingly.
At the outset of this campaign before the NDP started to move up in the polls, I was worried that key working class NDP ridings, like Oshawa, or Niagara Centre, or Hamilton East, or the Windsor or London ridings might fall to the PCs were the NDP to get squeezed out of contention. But now that the NDP is seemingly stronger, those ridings are likely to be held by the party, which is good as it helps prevent a Ford majority.
Conversely, if strong NDP third place totals in Oakville, or Kingston, or Cambridge, or Peterborough, or Mississauga East-Cooksville, deny Liberal incumbents victory and instead elect a slew of Tories, Doug Ford will be on his way to a majority and we'll be in store for four terrible years.
Yes, I'd love to stop Doug Ford from winning altogether. The argument has been made from the outset that it was impossible for Kathleen Wynne to win this election to stop him. At first, I doubted that analysis, but as the campaign has progressed, it is becoming clear that people just want the Liberals gone in spite of their respect for Wynne. Now, perhaps the notion that only Andrea Horwath can stop Doug Ford is coming true.
It's possible that Horwath will continue to surge and pull a Rachel Notley, with the NDP winning constituencies they need to win the election outright. But at this juncture, I'm still seeing a PC victory. I'm praying that it's only a minority government, which would greatly limit the damage that Doug Ford could inflict on the province.
If both the NDP and Liberals can finish strongly in key constituencies and regions of the province, they will be able to hold off the worst case scenario of a Doug Ford majority.