(08 June 2018) – We spent a week and a half in British Columbia and came home to Mike Harris redux. It doesn’t make sense that Ontario would do this to ourselves, but we did. We let Doug Ford trump us, and that’s that. We’ll have him for another four years by which time we’ll be wishing we’d never heard his name.
The Green Party benefited from a weak set of other candidates in Guelph. In four years we’ll find out if, as Mike Schreiner said last night, the Green vote showed “what can happen when you vote for what you believe in.”
It could also be the case that we saw what happens when Liberal and Conservative voters find a safe parking lot until the damage at the top is cleared away. We can’t know until the morning after the next election. To prove their point, the Greens must win again in 2022.
The NDP locally was hurt by a very late nomination meeting that didn’t happen until April 22. Aggie Mlynarz and the other two candidates for the nomination were not well known in the city. The campaign would have benefited from more time to establish the candidate.
It’s all spilled milk now, and there’s no sense in crying over it. Schreiner won, and he and his campaign team deserve our congratulations. Looking on the bright side, Guelph didn’t contribute to the Ford victory. On the dismal side, for me at least, if the NDP couldn’t win Guelph this time, we probably never will.
As Trish Hennessy of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says in her election post-mortem: “Progressives who hoped Ontario was on the brink of a major expansion of social programs—universal dental care, pharmacare, child care, affordable housing—will now be tasked with turning that hope into resolve. Resolve to protect the most vulnerable in this province from the kind of massive public service cuts that did harm to real people, families, and entire communities under the previous PC government led by Mike Harris.”
There are a few lessons to take away from the debacle. For one, the dream of achieving proportional representation just got kicked to the kerb once again. The result from last night was close to proportional for the NDP but not for any of the others. Of the 124 seats in the legislature, 40.6% should have brought 50 seats to Ford Nation. They got 76. The NDP should have got 42, they got 40. The Liberals 24 instead of 7, and the Greens 6 instead of 1.
The trouble is that while we live in a multi-party world, our voting system is designed for a two-party contest. Ford isn’t going to change the rules that got him to where he is. We have to keep this question squarely on the public agenda.
Another lesson looks ahead to the October municipal election. Last night was good news for Cam Guthrie and bad for the progressive councillors who often hold him in check. Allt, Downer, Gordon, Hofland, Piper, and Salisbury should crank up their engines and put the pedal to the metal. The mayor is coming to get them.
Guthrie is being given a free pass to a second term. The chummy atmosphere around the council horseshoe means that no one has identified any serious reasons to replace him. No current councillor is running for his job and a credible contender from outside needed to be in place by now.
This allows Guthrie to free up his campaign workers to get into the ward battles. Of the incumbent councillors, only Allt (Ward 3), Salisbury (Ward 4), Piper (Ward 5), and MacKinnon (Ward 6) have filed their nomination papers so far. Now that the provincial election is in the rear-view mirror, more should soon declare their intentions. The nomination deadline is July 27. We vote on October 22.
In 2014, Anthony MacDonald got 11,048 votes for the Conservatives. Compare that to Ray Ferraro’s 14,084 last night. He demonstrated that even a weak conservative candidate can hold their core support base. Other Conservative voters who sought refuge last night with the Green Party will go home in October.
Even though Ward 5 is always good for Downer and Piper, no one should ever take an election for granted. The entire progressive side of Guelph City Council should put their campaign teams in place and get ready for an uphill fight.