Thursday, May 26, 2022

If you want a new, progressive government at Queen's Park, vote for the Ontario Liberals

It's pretty simple.  After four years of government at Queen's Park that ranged from chaotic and crazy to barely adequate, I want Doug Ford's Conservatives out.  

A little bit of a bad thing can be overcome with time.  One term of Ford has done a lot of harm, but Ontario can likely bounce back.  But eight years of a bad thing?  That could do serious damage.  I want so much more for Ontario than what Doug Ford has to offer.  I am not alone in that sentiment.

I ask everyone to think back to Doug Ford's chaotic first year in office after 2018.  Because that's probably the sort of stuff he'll have in store for us all should Ford win another majority next week.  I simply don't want to give him that chance to break Ontario more than he already has.  

I dislike how Ford's true instincts had to be massively suppressed by more mature adults in order for Ontario to barely get through the worst of the ongoing COVID pandemic.  I haven't so easily forgotten the bad decisions he made as late as this past winter on that file.  I hate how Ford has no ability to control his words in public unless given a teleprompter script, which he still often fumbles, exposing his lazy mind.  I'm frightened what he'll do in a second term without the maturity of folks like Christine Elliott around him.     

It's clear that Ford doesn't care much about climate change, as evidenced by his obsession with promoting carbon-burning transportation options including throwing at least $10 billion on an unneeded highway.  He'd develop the entire Greenbelt if he could get away with it.      

So much needs to change in Ontario on so many files and Doug Ford is an impediment to all of that change.  He's the wrong person for this time. 

Steven Del Duca isn't a perfect man or leader.  But he's the person for this moment.  He's the best alternative premier in this election.  He's made good platform choices on so many issues including rent control, housing, public transit, public education and health care.  His promises to outlaw private/for-profit long term care, promote better home care, and lower transit fares to $1, are what we need in this province.  If given the choice between the thoughtful Del Duca and the thoughtless Mr. Ford, I'll take Del Duca.  

Progressives have too much choice this election.  And the progressive majority seems to be currently splintering between those choices, while Doug Ford's PCs cruise along in the mid-30s.  It would be disgusting for them to win a majority with so little support from voters.  

In certain NDP strongholds and the one Green stronghold of Guelph, it's understandable some progressive voters would feel tempted to stick with their incumbents in order to keep the Tories out.  However, there are many such ridings where the Liberals on the ballot are awesome and deserve support, including Karim Bardeesy in Parkdale-High Park, Chi Nguyen in Spadina-Fort York, Andrea Barrack in University-Rosedale, Mary Margaret-McMahon in Beaches-East York, Mary Fragedakis in Toronto-Danforth, Jennifer Tuck in Waterloo, Raechelle Devereux in Guelph, and Kate Graham in London North-Centre.  I look forward to Dr. Nathan Stall's contributions to provincial politics, should he win St. Paul's back for the Liberals, which he's expected to do.

In most other ridings in Ontario, it's clear the Ontario Liberals are the party that should get your support if you want to kick the Tories out.   I live in such a riding: Toronto Centre.  I voted this past weekend in the advanced poll for Liberal candidate David Morris, a local activist and leader who will make a great MPP for this riding if elected.  His approach to local politics is similar to my own: he's interested in working hard at the grassroots level to help the many people in this riding who need it the most.  He'll be a huge asset to local people if elected.   

NDP candidate Kristyn Wong-Tam in Toronto Centre is a well-known local councillor but is running for a party that's not going to beat the PCs anytime soon.  It's perhaps unfair to judge her based on the one big mistake she made, but Wong-Tam's strange sojourn into COVID misinformation last year with a Toronto Sun column still baffles me.  The Toronto Sun?  Really?  Yes, she has an otherwise decent record.  But I think it's time for new leadership in Toronto Centre.  I'd like instead to see what David Morris can do for voters.  

Province-wide, I had hoped that Steven Del Duca's Liberals would start to close the gap with the PCs in the polls after last week's leaders' debate.  Instead, NDP support remains at around 24% while the Greens are up to 6 or 7%.  Support for the Ontario Grits remains between 25% and 30% in public polls.  

The Grits need a boost up over 30% to really start to knock off Tories in key swing ridings where NDP candidates are not competitive.  That would be in most ridings without NDP incumbents.  I hope many progressive voters in those ridings land in the Liberal column by election day.     

Regardless of what happens next Thursday, in the long term, I see the Ontario Liberals as the party that will challenge and eventually replace the Tories.  Thus, if we really want change in this election, we've got to bring back the Liberals in a big way.  

Monday, May 16, 2022

UPDATE: Will Steven Del Duca stop Doug Ford's mediocre, regressive government from winning a second majority?

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

On the one hand, I can understand why Doug Ford's PCs continue to have a decent lead among voters as we approach the June 2nd provincial election.

Many voters aren't yet sick to death of them, and feel ambivalent or even supportive of many of their policies.  Plus, when they look at the main alternatives - Andrea Horwath's NDP and Steven Del Duca's Liberals - voters seem to be unimpressed.   Or at least that has been the case up until now.  

I do get why voters remain unconvinced about Horwath.  She reached her peak performance in 2018 and lost badly.  In my opinion, she's done pretty much nothing to improve since.  Her platform is largely the same.  She still has mostly paper candidates running in the ridings she needs to win to stop the Tories.  She doesn't seem to be bringing much new to this year's pitch and I don't expect her to.  

For pragmatic progressives like myself who took the plunge and voted NDP in 2018 in a desperate bid to stop the Tories, there seems to be no reason to try the same option again.  It would be the definition of insanity.   

The NDP is now down in current polls about 10 points from their 2018 vote total.  And Steven Del Duca's Liberals are up about 10 points from 2018 and seem to be set for some kind of comeback.  The question is how much of a comeback.  

Del Duca was the one wild card going into this election.   The new leader, who won his party's leadership in 2020 just as the COVID pandemic was starting, didn't have much of a chance to make his case to Ontario voters before this election started.   

How's Del Duca doing now that the election campaign is upon us?  It seems their second-place support ahead of the third-place NDP is solidifying.  Liberal policy proposals are solidly progressive and easy to support.   

But are progressive voters convinced it's time to put Del Duca's Liberals back in power in order to get those policies implemented?  It doesn't seem so yet.

Hence, why the NDP's support seems to be hanging in at around 25%, while the Greens also are still grabbing about 5%.  So the Liberals seem stuck at about 28% to 30%, which is not enough to truly turn this election into a race.

Del Duca needs a big night in Monday's leadership debate to really break through and solidify the Liberals' comeback.  I'm hoping that once more voters see Del Duca in action tonight, including his obvious intelligence, political skills and unflappable, no-nonsense demeanour, more will be persuaded to vote for the one party that has a chance of actually beating Doug Ford.

It's possible if progressive voters do get inspired to coalesce behind the Liberals, the end result of this provincial election could be quite different than what most pundits are currently expecting. 


Quick hit analysis after watching last night:

Del Duca had a solid night showing force and confronting Ford well on several fronts and creating key moments which are already going viral.  Del Duca’s answers always focused on the substance of his policies even in the face of ridiculous attacks and insults. He showed admirable restraint and solid awareness of the issues and how his plans can fix many problems we face.  He didn’t do much to expel the old Liberal skeletons and apologize for the errors of the past to show contrition and growth. Had he done that he would’ve won the night.  But as an introduction to voters, Del Duca presented well and may start to pull away into a clearer second place and even challenge Doug Ford’s PCs.

Green Mike Schreiner had the best night with the most engaging answers which used emotion to shred Doug Ford’s record on health care and education.  I’m not sure this strong performance will do much more than guarantee his personal victory in Guelph on June 2 though.  Any Green poll surges typically disappear by Election Day as the party has no ability to identify and get their supporters to the polls.

Doug Ford was stronger in this debate than in 2018.  But he was clearly only speaking to his echo chamber of supporters who would buy the immense exaggeration and bullshit he was selling.  He didn’t necessarily help his cause as I don’t expect the PCs to rise in the polls after last night.  If anything I expect the gap between the Libs and PCs to get smaller.  Ford may still win the election and most cynical pundits will say that’s all it takes for Ford to be considered the debate winner.

Andrea Horwath showed us nothing about why she’s still here, spending the night talking about vague emotions, stories and plans.  The same thing didn’t work the last three campaigns so I doubt it will this time.  A lot of progressives who were sitting on the fence are probably either to vote Liberal now or possibly Green.  Those intent on challenging the dud that is Ford will probably give Del Duca a chance, especially if polls show the Liberals pulling up into the 30s and challenging the PCs.