TORONTO: What made Doug Ford Ontario’s new Premier on Thursday night?
The answer: Ford Nation and Bob Rae’s legacy.
Voters wanted a change after 15 years of Liberal rule and wasteful stewardship of Premier Kathleen Wynne. So they voted against her party with a vengeance.
Thursday’s vote was more against the Liberals than in favour of Ford.
The man is plain lucky. Once Patrick Brown was ousted in January following allegations of sexual misconduct, Doug was elected the Progressive Conservative Party leader in March despite opinion polls showing him to be a riskier choice for the party than Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney. But he won!
During the run up to the elections, he never enjoyed good personal ratings as six in ten viewed him unfavourably and more people preferred New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Andrea Horwath as the next premier. Just three days before the polls, Ford even faced a lawsuit from his brother Rob’s wife.
But in the end, his personal appeal never mattered. His PC party got a thumping majority of 76 in the 124-member Ontario Parliament. The NDP got 40 to become the official opposition in the House. The ruling Liberal Party got just seven. The Green Party too opened its account in Ontario with a seat.
The PC party captured 40 percent of the vote, the NDP 34 and the Liberals 20 percent.
Though Andrea Horwath was neck-and-neck with the PC party in opinion polls, her party fell short on Thursday despite doubling its tally this time in the Ontario parliament. It looks like former NDP Premier Bob Rae came to haunt Andrea Horwath. Many older voters – who still carry bitter memories of Bob Rae years – decided not to vote Andrea Horwath.
Older people are generally more committed than younger people to come out and exercise their franchise on polling day. This mattered on Thursday.
Just like Trump rode to the White House on the strength of a sentiment against the status quo – what he called `the swamp’ – Ford won the day because people voted against the two contenders.
Ford Nation too mattered on Thursday.
In his victory speech to his supporters after the results, Ford admitted that he won’t be the Premier but for his late brother and Toronto Mayor Rob. It was the Ford Nation movement that had put his brother in the mayor’s seat in 2010.
“Rob is looking down on us from heavens. He is celebrating with us today. We owe so to Rob’s legacy – a legacy that will continue,’’ Doug said.
To the cheering crowd, he said, “A new day has dawned in Ontario… we have taken Ontario back…’’
He said, “Help is here and my government will put you first.’’
The incoming Premier said the election results showed that Ontario is open for business.
“The work has just begun and we will bring prosperity to you, reduce taxes and gas prices and keep more money in your pocket.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget the trust you put in me. This victory belongs to you.’’
He thanked his opponents Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne too for fighting `a hard campaign.’