Is an uber right-wing Tim Hudak Conservative government suddenly in the wings in Ontario??

Jan 21st, 2014 | By Randall White | Category: Canadian Provinces

Tim Hudak gets a hearty handshake from former premier Mike Harris after winning Ontario's Progressive Conservative party leadership, June 27, 2009. With him is his 20-month-old daughter Miller. TONY BOCK / TORONTO STAR .

Last Week Susanna Kelley at ontarionewswatch.com noted that “former Liberal MP Ken Dryden” has been pointing to “a palpable anger out there amongst the citizenry.”

This probably has some heightened resonance in Canada’s most populous province. And in the same context Ms Kelley has observed : “Few with any political sense are willing to make a bet right now on which party will form the next government …  But be assured: if and when the Ontario electorate is angry, a radical change of government, and direction, is very possible.”

Inside Council Chambers at Niagara Falls City Hall, from left to right are Bart Maves, Ontario PC Candidate – Niagara Falls, Tim Hudak, Ontario PC Leader, Christine Elliott, Ontario PC Deputy Leader & Health Critic, Jim Diodati, Niagara Falls Mayor.

Evidence that if there is an Ontario spring election this year, the radical change of government involved just could put what Ms Kelley has also earlier critcized as Tim Hudak’s risky “Right to Work” Conservatives into office at Queen’s Park, appeared in this past Friday’s cp24 headline, “Poll shows PCs have lead in Ontario byelections.”

More exactly : “A new poll suggests the Progressive Conservatives are off to a strong lead in two Ontario byelections being held next month … The poll, conducted Jan. 15, took a random sample of voters in both Thornhill and Niagara Falls … In Thornhill, 44 per cent of voters said they would be most likely to vote for the Progressive Conservatives, while 36 per cent said they would vote for the Liberals and just seven per cent said they would vote NDP … Results were more evenly split in Niagara Falls, though the PCs still carry an eight point lead, with 36 per cent of respondents saying they would vote PC, 28 per cent saying they would vote Liberal and 28 per cent saying they would vote NDP.”

Tim Hudak and Rob Ford at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, celebrating Archbishop Thomas Collins’ promotion to Cardinal, February 29, 2012. JAYME POISSON/TORONTO STAR.

It is no doubt worth stressing that the February 13 Thornhill byelection is being held to replace the mean and nasty Conservative MPP Peter Shurman. And the Niagara Falls byelection on the same day, though for a seat formerly held by the Liberals, is also in a countryside of which Conservative leader Tim Hudak is a kind of native son. (He sits for Niagara West-Glanbrook.) So current polling results in these two places may not translate quite as well province-wide.

At the same time, even a quick glance at the latest Labour Force survey report from Statistics Canada suggests some palpable economic reasons for an angry Ontario electorate right now. The Ontario provincial unemployment rate went from 7.2% in November 2013 to 7.9% in December 2013. Ontario now has a higher unemployment rate than what many Ontarians have long regarded as the economic basket case in neighbouring Quebec (only 7.7% in December 2013).

Andrea Horwath nd Kathleen Wynne at the 125th anniversary dinner of the Toronto Board of Trade. (Tom Sandler For The Globe and Mail).

My personal view would be that anyone who really thinks Tim Hudak’s current uber-right-wing Conservative economic policy agenda will do anything to seriously fix Ontario’s current regional economic problems just hasn’t been paying attention to what has been going on in the world at large over the past half dozen or so years. But it’s also true that voters and others seldom listen to political and economic advice from people like me. And in old Ontariario some vaguely similar economic agenda to Tim Hudak’s actually did give Mike Harris back-to-back Conservative majority governments in the 1990s.

In any event, if the Hudak Conservatives do win both Ontario byelections on Thursday, February 13, that just might be a sign, to both the minority-governing Kathleen Wynne Liberals and their sometime Andrea Horwath New Democrat supporters, that a spring 2014 election in Ontario may not be all that good an idea.

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