(Reposted from BLY May 14, 2011)
With an election looming in Ontario and several other provinces this fall, today's Chantel Hebert column is very pertinent - Shifting provincial politics gives Harper the upper hand (Star).
She explores the historic changes in the recent federal election and speculates on how they might impact the upcoming provincial elections - and the eventual working dynamics between the premiers and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
What particularly caught my interest in Hebert's column was her mention of an apparent mood shift against elitism and towards populism which could very well explain what happened in Toronto:
...Looking at the May 2nd results, it is impossible to completely divorce from Mayor Rob Ford’s victory the return of the federal Conservatives to the city after a two-decade absence.
An attraction to populism rather than an ideological swing to the right may have tilted the balance in both outcomes. But the fact remains that twice over a six-month period, a significant section of the Toronto electorate embraced a less elite-driven less activist approach to governance.
The NDP was not totally immune to lingering Toronto municipal dynamics either.
Jack Layton — who emerged as the main opposition option in the days leading up to the federal vote — is closely identified with the opposition forces at Toronto City Hall. He sat on the municipal council in a previous life; last fall he campaigned on behalf of son Mike and some of his left-leaning seatmates.
On May 2nd in Toronto, the NDP did well where Ford had not while the Conservatives made their biggest inroads in the periphery of the downtown core.
Hebert suggests that the McGuinty Liberals might therefore have reason to be fearful, but may also cling to the "hope that voters stick to their longstanding practice of not putting their eggs in the same basket at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa when they go to the provincial polls next fall."
This is where things start to get interesting though. First of all, the federal Conservative Party of Canada and provincial Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario are entirely different not only in jurisdiction but also in philosophy. I would argue that policy-wise the PCPO is very close to the OLP.
However what differentiates them is the Top-down elitist approach in which Dalton McGuinty uses/abuses his power. This is where I think Tim Hudak and the PC Party can make some traction.
Premier Dad has been telling us what to do for eight years now. The Nanny State of Ontario is a mess. There is little respect for the taxpayer and the average working family. It's all about secret deals like Samsung and financially-crippling environmental policy being shoved down our throats.
Tim Hudak needs to exploit Dalton McGuinty's arrogance and Father-Knows-Best attitude for all it's worth. The working people are getting sick and tired of elitists. It's time to rebel.
Eight years of Dalton McGuinty's stifling parental approach is enough!
Let's show him that we're all grown up now.
* * * *
Merriam: McGuinty's Liberals likely next victim of 'vote-against' wave - Toronto Sun:
...There's little likelihood voters will be in any better mood by then. And the Dalton Gang has provided an abundance of reasons why people will choose to show them the door.
The latest is the secret 1% deal with one public sector union, while government leaders were talking about wage and cost controls.
Not only is a secret deal anathema to a democracy, but this one also illustrates a government with the backbone of a garter snake. The Gang was willing to freeze the wages of non-union workers, where they knew they'd face little opposition.
But they ran scared of the unions doing nothing to control either negotiated or arbitrated wage settlements. The secret deal shows things were even worse than imagined.
The Gang has done other backroom deals, such as the one involving offshore electrical giant Samsung. The company is to bring green-sector jobs to Ontario, in exchange for sweetheart pricing and years of bonuses.
This deal is part of the green energy imbroglio in which the government finds itself. Even supporters of green energy don't understand the above-market prices paid for power that regularly is sold out of province at discount rates because it isn't needed...
Ontario's Liberals look for a way to win - Lee Greenberg, Ottawa Citizen:
...In framing the discussion about energy in terms of health and education, the Liberals are relying on their two core policy strengths, both areas where voters have traditionally favoured them over their opponents. (Conservatives are typically trusted more on economic issues, including taxes.)
But Nanos says those hard and fast rules of past elections should be thrown out the window.
According to his latest poll numbers, the Conservatives are nearly tied with the Liberals when respondents were asked whom they trusted on health and education. An additional 30 to 40 per cent are not yet sure who to turn to on those issues.
And the negative signs are mounting...
Toronto Tory has more.
Ontario Liberals helped hospitals hide embarrassing information: critics - Social Policy in Ontario