Victoria Toronto — tales of two Canadian provincial elections, maybe

Apr 29th, 2013 | By | Category: In Brief

There is a side to Ontario, you might say, that channels Nova Scotia. Another side channels Quebec (the “sister province,” as Bill Davis liked to put it), and another side channels Alberta. Still another side channels beautiful British Columbia. And this side may have the strongest implications for the Canadian future right now.

In any case, we know for a fact that there will be a BC provincial election this coming Tuesday, May 14 — only some two weeks away. We also know for a fact that there will be a rather late Ontario budget this coming Thursday, May 2. And if Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats do not finally support this budget, there will be another Ontario election soon enough.

Ontario-BC linkages are  similarly reflected in the recent news that : “Veteran strategist Don Guy declines to run another Ontario Liberal campaign   …   Reached on Friday while in British Columbia, where he is working on Premier Christy Clark’s uphill re-election battle, Mr. Guy cited family needs for his decision, as well as the possibility of an Ontario campaign beginning before he returns to the province …  The [Ontario] Liberals are in the midst of trying to convince the provincial New Democrats to support next week’s budget, rather than join with the Progressive Conservatives in bringing down the government and forcing a spring election.” (And btw don’t worry about the latest rumblings close to someone’s lunatic fringe, such as: “Ontario Tories call for non-confidence vote on gas plant controversy unlikely to succeed.” They are all smoke and mirrors, etc, etc.)

Perusing recent news in the Vancouver Sun, you may run across as well : “Jonathan Manthorpe: South Korea’s powerhouse conglomerates face forced reform.” Ontario political history addicts will recall that in earlier incarnations, the Sun‘s current “International Affairs columnist and a foreign correspondent for nearly 25 years,” Jonathan Manthorpe, “grew up in Toronto,” once wrote on Ontario politics for the Toronto Star, and published the still memorable The Power and the Tories : Ontario Politics — 1943 to the Present in 1974.

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One thing many among we current Ontario residents are having some trouble understanding is why a provincial premier as cute as Christy Clark is having so much trouble holding onto her job as BC Liberal premier.  (An April 24–25 Angus Reid poll puts Adrian Dix’s BC NDP at 45%,Ms Clark’s BC Liberals at 31%, the [quite beleaguered] BC Conservatives at 11%, the BC Greens at 10%, and all “Others” [eg,  Libertarian, BC Excalibur Party, BC Vision, Communist Party of BC, British Columbia Party, BC Marijuana Party, and the Work Less Party] at 3%.)

If Charlie Smith at straight.com is right, the key problem is that : “Since becoming premier in 2011, BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark has introduced some progressive measures … But [in the current election campaign] rather than talk about these moves, Clark has chosen instead to market herself like a 21st-century Thatcher … The failure of Clark to recognize that neoliberalism is dead—as much as anything else—will explain why her party’s candidates are likely in for a rude awakening when BC voters go to the polls on May 14.”

Similarly (you might guess), if neoliberalism really is as dead in the Western World etc as Mr. Smith contends, in any near-future election Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne may surprise both Tim Hudak’s alleged Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats. (And note here that the Hudakians apparently had a slight lead over second-place Wynners, in an April 3-10 EKOS poll, an alleged big lead in an April 12 to 17 Ipsos Reid poll, and now no lead at all in the latest April 26 Forum Research poll [“Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals jump into first-place tie with Tories: poll”]. Meanwhile at least some Horwathians seem to be forgetting that Premier Kathleen Wynne has also introduced some progressive measures, and is definitely NOT choosing to “market herself like a 21st-century Thatcher.”)

Whatever the other current similarities between Ontario and BC (and I agree they are more substantial than some may want to believe), as matters stand the two provincial Liberal parties are quite different. (Ms Clark is certainly cuter as well as younger, but Ms Wynne is clearly more comfortably progressive, however you may want to define that term.)

Liberal-NDP co-operation, it seems right now at any rate, is just not going to happen in or after the May 14 BC election. And there are those in Ontario progressive circles who do want to follow the BC model. (See, eg, “Why Andrea Horwath should force an election.”)

I am still hoping myself that the rational case for even some very vague form of Liberal-NDP (or NDP-Liberal) co-operation in Ontario will ultimately prevail. I still think this kind of co-operation is the only dependable way forward for the progressive cause in Canada at large. Unfortunately, I am still not altogether convinced that it will actually happen even in Canada’s most populous province, over the next few weeks. Like everyone else who is remotely interested, I am waiting to see just how appalling the future that fate has in store for we anglophone central Canadians will finally prove to be!

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