Political fate of party leaders hangs in the balance as Ontarians go to the polls | CBC News

With Ontarians heading to the polls today, the election will determine not only the province’s next premier, but also the political fate of all party leaders.

Steven Del Duca, for example, has said that regardless of tonight’s election results, he will remain as Liberal leader. But regardless of his intentions, it is likely the display of his group, and his own battle within leading him, that may very well determine whether he remains in command.

Meanwhile, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who has led the New Democrats in four elections, was vague this week when asked if she would fight to continue leading even if her party forms the Official Opposition again.

CBC News spoke with political analysts for their observations on the stakes for the top party leaders in this election.

doug ford

Polls indicate PC leader Doug Ford is expected to win a majority government in Thursday’s election. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

An outright loss for Doug Ford would certainly be a politically devastating, if unlikely, outcome for the progressive conservative leader. But the prospect of leading a minority government would also be a blow.

It’s an all-or-nothing election for Doug Ford,” said Andrew Steele, vice president of StrategyCorp and a prominent activist for Ontario’s Federal and Liberal parties.

“Yes [Ford was] below the majority threshold, it is almost impossible for any of the opposition parties to sustain it. The gulf between the opposition parties and the Conservatives is huge.”

But that scenario looks doubtful, as polls indicate a majority victory for the Progressive Conservatives. And for Ford, who many political observers say has gone from political liability to political asset, any majority, no matter how big or small, will likely be seen as a huge victory.

“There was a time when it was [thought] this government will not last even four years… It was very, very depressing within the party,” said Jaskaran Sandhu, political organizer and strategist at State Strategy.

“I think he would take his re-election with a majority as a vindication that the people of Ontario like what he has to offer,” said Peter Graefe, an associate professor of political science at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Ford has emerged from low poll numbers to build a coalition of support that isn’t just liberal PC voters and traditional conservatives, but now also includes endorsements from unions, said Ginny Roth, a former Ontario PC strategist who now works in government relations. for the Crestview strategy.

“I think the world is going to be their political oyster to some extent,” he said. If he wins, he will have “a lot of political capital to spend.”

“I think he will be in a pretty strong political position when the votes come in Thursday night,” he said.

As for the size of any majority, Roth said he doesn’t think it really makes much of a difference; even if the party loses a few seats, the majority is the clear dividing line.

“I think in practical terms, when the legislature comes back and starts legislating with a fresh new mandate, the total number of seats in a majority I don’t think matters that much,” he said.

Andrea Horwath

NDP leader Andrea Horwath has been cautious about staying in office if she fails to become Ontario’s prime minister. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

With Horwath herself remaining cautious about her post-election political future, it appears that unless the NDP leader is the next provincial premier, her political fate may be sealed.

“Even if it strengthens the NDP’s position as Official Opposition, the [feeling of the] membership of that party will likely be, ‘Well, she had the chance to go from that position to prime minister and she didn’t get there,'” Graefe said. “‘Do we have another ace up our sleeve? Is there someone else who perhaps connects better with the people of Ontario?'”

But Roth said Horwath could justify his stay if the party significantly increases its number of seats.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, and… I think she probably knows that,” he said. “I think she’s probably ready to go easy on everybody on election night and hand the baton over to someone else.”

Steven Del Duca

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is running for his first election. Could it be the last? (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

While he is not expected to become Ontario’s next prime minister, Del Duca could rack up a string of other smaller political victories to proclaim the evening a success.

But the key for the Liberal leader is to win his own Vaughan-Woodbridge race, where polls suggest he is in a close race.

“I think it’s a win for him if he wins his own seat,” Roth said.

However, a loss could also be politically fatal.

“If you lose your [riding]unless [the Liberals] they’ve done spectacularly well, it’s gone, I think,” Graefe said.

It is also of great political importance for Del Duca to regain official party status for the Liberals, who were reduced to just seven seats after the 2018 election and would need to win five seats in tonight’s contest.

That in itself would be enough for Del Duca to stay in the lead, Steele said.

“I think as long as he has party status, he has enough to credibly say, ‘I’ve gotten us out of a lot of shit and we’re fine,'” he said.

“The NDP was getting several million dollars a year as a recognized political party that the Liberals didn’t have. The resource gap was huge this time. If that gets removed, that’s a huge win.”

Roth said that regaining official party status is “the absolute lowest bar you’ll want to cross.”

While she thinks that’s doable, the big open question for her is whether Del Duca can win his own seat and whether the Liberals can form the Official Opposition.

“If he does both, he has a very strong case to make to those party members that he should be given a second chance,” he said.

“If he can’t do any of those things, if he can’t win more seats than the NDP, and if he can’t win his own seat, I think that’s a pretty hard case to make for party members to make a decision.” second opportunity.”

Sandhu said he sees some potential scenarios for Del Duca’s political future.

“If Del Duca finishes third, he’s out. If Del Duca finishes second behind the NDP…and loses his top seat, I think he’s out.”

But if he takes over the Official Opposition, he will remain party leader, he said.

Sandhu said that one of the challenges of replacing Del Duca is that it can be difficult to find someone to challenge him.

“Del Duca will continue to raise more funds than most people in the party. He probably has a better field game than most people in the party in the whole province,” he said. “So unless he comes in as an outsider and tries to take over leadership of Ontario…what’s the alternative?”

michael schreiner

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner was the first person to win a seat in the Ontario Legislature for his party. He won at Guelph Equestrian in 2018. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A big win for the Green Party would be to rack up another seat at Queen’s Park.

Still, observers agree that for Michael Schreiner, the first Green Party member to be elected to the Ontario Legislature, retaining his seat is a huge victory.

“I think that’s a very good case for saying that his next challenge in any election is going to be showing Ontarians that the Green Party is about more than just him,” Roth said.

“I think the fact that he has had some success gives him a strong case to stay and try to nurture the game, develop some of the problems.”


Leave a Comment