All right, very quickly, a summary of Ontario’s 2011 general election campaign. Ontario is having a general election on October 6, 2011. This date is chosen by a dumb fixed-date election law. Yes, fixed-date election laws are dumb in a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. So what’s in store for each of the players?
Green Party of Ontario
The Green Party of Ontario is lead by Mike Schreiner. Unlike the Green Party of Canada, there is nowhere near as much cohesive support for the Greens. They also don’t seem to be doing the all-in strategy like the GPC did for Elizabeth May, so their chances of success are near zero. I don’t know much else about them except that they may or may not be quasi-lolbertarians.
Ontario Liberal Party
The Ontario Liberal Party is lead by The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario and MPP for Ottawa South. He will be having a difficult time holding on to power because of a combination of unpopular initiatives, perceived rising cost of living, and the natural tendency for unpopularity to grow the longer you’re in office. Like the other major parties, he has some populist crap thrown in there like the tuition reduction and new citizen tax credit, but he also seems to actually have a vision in green energy and the educated workforce, which is more than I can say for the others.
For most of the months leading up to the campaign period, it looked like he was screwed and we’d get a Tory majority. Luckily, once we entered the campaign period, he seems to have caught up and is in a position to at least attempt to form a government. Unlike the others, his strategy is less clear and will involve trying to mitigate his losses as best as he can and possibly causing the others to stumble.
Ontario New Democratic Party
The Ontario New Democrats are lead by Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton East. She seems to be trying to have the same disposition as Jack Layton in connecting with working families and such. The ONDP seems to be taking a leaf out of the BCNDP handbook and going for a set of piecemeal populist proposals rather than any coherent social democratic vision and leaving urban issues and the environment out.
That probably has a lot to do with their strategy. Andrew Steele had written about Ontario electoral strategy, where you can split seats up into urban, suburban, and rural and go for two of the three. The ONDP, in choosing Horwath, was going with the classic NDP working class and northern rural ridings. This is pretty unfortunate, because with Jack Layton’s passing, there was an opportunity to grab some of those urban seats.
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is lead by Tim Hudak, MPP for Niagara South. This election should have been a cakewalk for Hudak. He was going to end up with a million seats and complete the conservative hat trick. Of course, John Tory was supposed to do that last time, and, well. Hudak’s strategy has largely been to remind everyone how bad McGuinty is, which is all well and fine, but he hasn’t really told us what he’s going to do other than TAXES BAD.
Like the ONDP, the PCPO largely set their strategy in choosing their leader. What they’re hoping to do is to repeat Mike Harris’ electoral success in going for rural and suburban seats after the failed experiment in trying to go for urban seats with under John Tory. In a way, this is also the Conservative Party of Canada strategy. The problem here is that I don’t think Hudak has done enough to cement his victory among suburban ridings. Certainly, his railing against foreign workers and foreign students isn’t going to help in that demographic.
The OLP and PCPO are neck-in-neck with no one in clear majority territory. The next parliament could very well be a hung parliament. Ontario’s history indicates that we could end up with a minority government or a coalition or some kind of deal. And polling seems to indicate that a ton of ridings will be flipping, so really, this is going to be pretty messy.