Ontario election blues 2014 : a junkie’s journal, May 13 — is uber right-wing Hudak Conservative government etc?

May 13th, 2014 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief

What is still only potentially the most interesting Ontario election campaign in years has not yet come to any tight focus, some 10 days after the at least unofficial start. A question raised on this site back this past January may come closest to where things almost seem to be : “Is an uber right-wing Tim Hudak Conservative government suddenly in the wings in Ontario??” But it is still too early to jump all the way to this conclusion.

For signs of movement in this direction, Eric Grenier’s poll averaging speculations have moved from “Ontario polls continue to confuse” on Friday, May 9 to “Will turnout give the PCs a majority?” on Monday, May 12. Coming at things from a somewhat different but still related angle, on Monday, May 12 Robert Fisher also gave us “ANALYSIS — Tim Hudak’s public sector promise a potential turning point” on the CBC News site.

As Fisher sees things : “It’s been only 10 days of unofficial and official campaigning in the Ontario election … But its potential ‘defining moment’ is already firmly in place courtesy of Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak,” who “is clearly counting — some say gambling — on Ontarians wanting another ‘way’ to deal with what he sees as a ‘bloated’ public service and the province’s growing deficit.”

Fisher goes on : “The plan will, according to Hudak, affect 100,000 civil servants except police, nurses and doctors doing ‘vital work’ … And all programs and services will be ‘on the table’ including education. ‘It will mean fewer teachers and their assistants,’ said Hudak who some months ago made it clear that as premier, there would be ‘pink slips’ for 10,000 education assistants … The PC leader says he is offering Ontarians what he calls ‘the plain truth.’ But will voters be prepared to accept it?”

* * * *

Even Eric Grenier seems to be assuming that an Ipsos Reid poll for CTV and cp24, released on May 9, carries some water for the argument that at least enough voters to give Hudak something close to majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly just may be prepared to buy the Conservative mystique. (Remember Mike Harris’s two terms etc.) According to this latest poll (of 821 Ontario residents) 37% of all eligible decided provincial voters currently favour the Hudak Conservatives, 31% the Liberals, and 28% the New Democrats.

(Even more perhaps significantly, Grenier speculates, 42% of likely decided voters are Conservative, and only 28% Liberal, and 27% New Democrat. Conservatives, that is, say they are more enthusiastic about voting, and more likely to actually show up and vote — although, one comment writer on Grenier’s site notes, this is the same kind of ultimately misleading statistic that made Mitt Romney think he was going to win the 2012 US presidential election.)

As a sign that the two ladies of progress have been concerned enough to directly confront the uber-right-wing Hudakian wisdom on trimming the public sector at the present juncture, see “Ontario Tories draw fire with plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs” ; “Hudak would ‘destroy’ Ontario’s social fabric: Wynne” ; “Tory plan would plunge Ont. back into recession: Wynne” ; and “Rivals blast Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s 100,000 job cuts.”

It has also been a prior criticism of the harsh medicine Tim Hudak’s Conservatives feel is so important for the Ontario economy that the Ontario economy is probably not in such dire straits as to requite medicine that really tastes altogether awful. (Well, not that awful in any case??) The province-wide unemployment rate in April 2014 was 7.4%, compared to 7.9% in December 2013.  And, according to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, “Ontario created 17,600 jobs in April, the most of any province” in Canada. (It is the most populous province too, of course, and it has been facing a broad front of economic restructuring for as long as a generation … but still … the latest Labour Force numbers do not raise all that vast alarms.)

Regional results of Ipsos Reid poll for all eligible, decided voters, May 6–9. Percentages of regional popular vote : Red = Liberals, Blue = Conservatives, Orange = New Democrats, Grey-Black = Green and other.

It also seems true enough that perceptions of just how well the Ontario economy is doing depend quite a lot on just where in Ontario you live. From this angle, the most interesting part of the Ipsos Reid poll released on May 9 could be its results for the province’s six major regions (see chart , borrowed with gratitude from Eric Grenier). Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are ahead (albeit quite dramatically) only in the “GTA/416” (ie the official City of Toronto). The Hudak Conservatives are ahead in “GTA/905”, “Central Ontario,” and ”Eastern Ontario.” And the New Democrats are ahead in both “Southwestern Ontario” and “Northern Ontario.”

There have been similar polling signs of Conservative political strength over the past several months, but they have subsequently vanished in the face of subsequent polls in other directions. And as Eric Grenier was telling us this past Friday, as opposed to only yesterday, “Ontario polls continue to confuse … the polls are still confused, as they have been for some time.” At the same time again, anyone who is hoping that Kathleen’s Liberals will win at least another minority government on June 12 probably ought to be a bit worried. If the May 9 Ipsos Reid poll of 821 residents holds up in any degree at all, it is not just that the Conservatives are ahead at the moment. The New Democrats are, so far at any rate, doing almost as well as the Liberals!

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