ONTARIO ELECTION WATCH III : Ford not exactly on cruise control to certain victory with majority government, but …

May 18th, 2022 | By | Category: In Brief
“Untitled” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, May 2022.

ONTARIO ELECTION WATCH 2022, CW EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MAY 18, 2022 : With a mere two weeks before election day on June 2, we’d point to the headlines for two recent opinion columns by noted analysts to summarize our own sense of where the 2022 Ontario provincial election is right now.

To start with we don’t quite agree with the memorable slogan for a May 17 Don Martin piece on the CTV News site : “Ford on cruise control to victory in Ontario …. .” We think the Ford Conservative polling numbers are not quite good enough for quite this buoyant an assessment.

It is certainly true that the two leading poll aggregators, Éric Grenier and Philippe J. Fournier, are both projecting Ford majority governments as we write. But a poll just released today from Mario Canseco’s Research Co. reports that “34% of decided voters say they will support the Ontario PC candidate in their riding in next month’s provincial ballot.”

And it seems clear enough from the available records which begin in 1914 that no party has won a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario with as little as 34% of the popular vote — with the possible inexact exception of E.C. Drury’s unique United Farmer-Labour coalition government just after the First World War (and the so-called Spanish Flu pandemic).

How big a popular vote do you need for a majority government?

In 1990 Bob Rae’s Ontario New Democrats won a majority government with 37.6% of the province-wide popular vote.

Drury’s Farmer-Labour coalition governed from the election of 1919 to the election of 1923 with a slim majority of 56 to 58 seats in a 111-seat house (depending on just how supporters are calculated in a less strictly regimented earlier 20th century party system).

The combined popular vote of the two parties was just under 34%.

Since then, if our eyes haven’t completely glazed over looking at the numbers, no party has won a majority government with less than the 37.6% won by Bob Rae’s New Democrats in 1990. (Though Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals came close in 2014 with only 38.7% .)

All other such “majority government” victories in Ontario political history since the First World War have been accompanied by province-wide popular votes of at least 40% — and usually a bit more. The Ford PC s in 2018 had 40.5 %. The average vote of the eight successive Progressive Conservative majority governments from George Drew in 1945 to Bill Davis in 1971 was 45.6%.

“Doug Ford still standing after a debate short on inspiration.”

The four main Ontario party leaders pose for a photo ahead of the 2022 televised election debate in Toronto on May 16. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press).

All this is just a long way of saying that even if the Research Co. Poll released today is what finally happens this coming June 2, the Ford Conservatives will no doubt win the most seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. And here we want to introduce the second recent noted headline summarizing our own sense of where the 2022 Ontario provincial election is right now.

It appeared almost immediately after this past Monday evening leaders’ debate — from Martin Regg Cohn at the Toronto Star : “Doug Ford still standing after a debate short on inspiration.”

Whatever else there is no recent public polling that suggests either Steven Del Duca’s Liberals or Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats stand any serious chance of being the party with the most seats on election day. Premier Ford probably is on cruise control to winning in this sense, barring some very dramatic change over the next two weeks.

But could a Ford Conservative minority government work?

Premier Ford hard at work in his Queen’s Park office, March 20, 2020.

In June 2022 , however, it will almost certainly not be enough for the Ford Conservatives to just win the most seats. If the Research Co. poll released today is what finally happens, eg, they will also probably not win the at least 63 seats required for even a bare majority in the current 124-member legislature.

In these circumstances the best Doug Ford could do would be to continue as premier with a minority government. But as Mike Crawley at CBC News has just today pointed out : “To get a second term in office, Ford must win a majority. That’s because all of the opposition parties say they will not support a PC minority.”

Mr. Crawley has also admirably compiled a list of 17 of Ontario’s 124 current provincial ridings (or electoral districts as the officials now seem to say?). These are ridings especially important for a Ford majority government. On election night their fate will help decide whether the Ford Conservatives will manage to win a second majority of seats in the Assembly, when push comes to shove.

For further elucidation see Mike Crawley’s excellent article “Doug Ford’s path to another majority runs through these ridings … If Ontario election delivers minority, NDP, Liberals, Greens say they won’t prop up a PC government.”

17 ridings the Ford Conservatives need for a majority government

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca campaigns in his own Vaughan-Woodbridge riding in the vote-rich Greater Toronto Area, beyond the City of Toronto itself.

We are taking the liberty of posting the names of all 17 Mike Crawley ridings in alphabetical order, as a simple list that can be copied and then set between the beer and chips on election night, as a guide to how well Premier Ford is doing on the TV returns :

Brampton South
Brampton West

Kitchener South-Hespeler

Ottawa West-Nepean
Sault Ste. Marie
Scarborough Centre

Scarborough-Rouge Park

Concluding notes

Five of the seven candidates vying to become the next MPP for Peterborough-Kawartha gathered at the Lakefield Legion on May 10, 2022 for a two-hour debate hosted by the Peterborough and Kawartha Chamber of Commerce.

Very broadly, if the Ford Nation “Ontario PC s” are doing well in these ridings on election night, they are probably going to win a majority government.

If not they will likely enough remain the government until they meet the new Legislative Assembly, in which they do not command a majority of seats. And then Ontario could enter a period of possibly intriguing and possibly just annoying political hi-jinks, as who now knows just what ultimately unfolds?

Meanwhile, here are two final notes on the list. (1) The very last riding, Vaughan-Woodbridge, is where Liberal leader Steven Del Duca is running for his seat, which is apparently no sure thing!

And (2) Peterborough-Kawartha “has voted for the party that has won the most seats in every election since 1977.” Conservative Dave Smith won the riding in 2018. Keep a TV eye on this seat on the evening of June 2, to see if this particular Mr. Smith can hang onto this bellwether of Ontario political destiny since 1977, for majority government and Doug Ford.

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