The pollsters got this election right – a Ford majority seemed increasingly popular as the election campaign progressed and when the dust settled the PC Party ended up with a massive 83 seat super majority. It was a fantastic night for the Premier and a disaster for both the NDP and Liberal parties.
The PCs made gains in all regions of the province. While they won 76 seats in 2018, they entered this election with only 67 after several defections and members being forced out of caucus. After a rocky first term that included some early scandals and was later hampered by the pandemic, the Ford government will now have a strong and secure majority to enact its plan to rebuild the economy and make major investments in big infrastructure projects.
The PCs won over 40% of the popular vote while the NDP and Liberals each took 23%. This split on the left, without either party coming close to Doug Ford’s conservatives, allowed the PCs to win more ridings with less votes than they received in 2018. Overall turnout was just 43.4%, 13% lower than 4 years ago. If you do the math, Doug Ford won a super majority with the support of just over 17% of eligible Ontario voters. Election campaigns that fail to inspire or motivate citizens to get involved always favour incumbents and this election was no exception.
Check out CBC’s Election Night Stats and website here.
Elections always have consequences for the various parties and their leaders and fallout from this vote’s outcome didn’t take long. From Doug Ford’s perspective things could not have gone much better especially when you look at the impact the results had on his two main party rivals.
While the NDP managed to fend off the Liberals and maintain the position of Official Opposition, they dropped 9 seats. In her election night remarks, Andrea Horwath announced she would be stepping down as NDP party leader. This was the fourth election for Horwarth as leader and pressure was on her to at least reduce the PC government to a minority. Ms. Horwath has been leader since 2009 which is a very long time in politics. The party will now look to identify a new leader to lead the party and assume the role as leader of the Official Opposition at Queens Park. Expect a NDP leadership convention within the next 6-12 months.
Most pundits thought the Liberals couldn’t possibly do as bad as they did in 2018 but all things considered this result was equally if not more disastrous. Party leader Steven Del Duca didn’t even come close to winning his own seat, a seat he held for years as a member of the McGuinty/Wynne governments. Just recently Del Duca said he would remain as leader if he didn’t win his seat but changed his tune in his post-election remarks last night, resigning as party leader immediately. The results leave the Liberals without official party status and only one additional seat in the legislature.
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner easily won his seat in Guelph, but the party failed to win a second seat in Parry Sound Muskoka where many felt they had a chance. The one big upset for the night was in Haldimand Norfolk where independent candidate Bobbi Ann Brady defeated all the main parties. Ms. Brady was the long time EA to former PC MPP Toby Barrett, who represented the PC party in that riding for 27 years. Ms. Brady was denied an opportunity to run as the PC candidate at the last minute by party brass, choosing to run as an independent as a protest vote.
While speculation will start immediately on who the Premier and his team will choose for cabinet, the government may decide to recall the legislature briefly to first pass their budget bill. If this happens expect a very brief session in June before everyone takes a well-deserved break, returning when the legislature resumes in September. You will recall the government delayed the tabling of the budget so that they could deliver it on the eve of the election where it essentially became their election platform. Cabinet positions will be filled in June or July and new ministers will be sent back to their constituencies with briefing binders on their respective ministries.
While the vast majority of Doug Ford’s cabinet ministers were reelected there will be some holes to fill. A mini cabinet shuffle earlier this year filled some vacancies created by a handful of ministers who announced their retirement. As a result, the only prominent position that needs to be filled is for Minister of Health following Christine Elliott’s late decision that she wouldn’t seek re-election. While the premier has the luxury of a deep bench to choose from, don’t expect many, if any, newly elected MPPs thrust into ministerial positions. Unlike the challenges Premier Ford faced in 2018 where he had to fill cabinet with a full slate of rookie ministers, he now has the luxury of getting to know the 20+ new members of caucus and can integrate some into cabinet when needed. The pending shuffle will quite likely see some of the previous cabinet ministers into moved different roles, however several front bench members including Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and potentially Labour Minister Monte McNaughton may stay put for now.
What’s the Focus for the New Government
This election win will be rightly interpreted as a ringing endorsement for the Ford government’s vision for Ontario going forward. If you look back to the budget tabled in April there were several prominent focus areas for which the government planned to make major investments including:
- Rebuilding Ontario’s economy which included investing in the north and a plan for critical mineral extraction
- Supporting blue collar jobs which included more investments in the skilled trades
- Building highways and supporting infrastructure including the controversial highway 413 and billions for municipal transit systems
- Improving Ontario’s healthcare system by hiring thousands of more nurses and increasing hospital capacity
Its an ambitious and expensive list of commitments at a time when the overall global economy is on shaky ground. Compared to 2018 the PC government lead by Doug Ford has 4 years of experience under its belt and is in a clear position to move quickly in to enact many of its plans for Ontario. The next couple of years has the potential to be transformative for the province in many ways.
Advocacy Plans Matter
Industry groups and businesses should be paying close attention to the decisions made by the Ford government over the next couple of months. While many senior members of cabinet will remain the same, several will be in thrust into new portfolios and there will be dozens of new faces in the legislature who will need to be educated on your issues.
When the fall session opens up in September, lobbying by stakeholder groups including after hour receptions will return and the calendar of activities and events will quickly fill up. It will be a very competitive landscape and finding creative ways to get your message heard by government will be paramount for success.
Grassroots will be closely monitoring the plans and priorities of the new government in the weeks ahead. Watch for our briefing on the new cabinet as soon as its announced and summaries on government news as they happen.