If you saw this coming you’re either delusional, or your name is Brian Lynch.
Lynch, no political rookie, told me Thursday night when the last of the ballots in the provincial election were being counted, that he had a feeling (more like a “fear”) that a Liberal majority was possible.
Turns out, that’s exactly what we got.
The campaign manager for NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald suggested a Liberal minority was more likely, and to be honest even the most ardent Conservative, though they were hoping Tim Hudak could eke out a minority of his own, had to admit a win would be an uphill climb at best.
In reality it would be more fair to suggest the Tories lost this election, than to say the Liberals won.
The celebration at MPP Jim McDonell’s victory party went from jubilance at the local results to anger and despair when CTV News predicted a Liberal majority.
One Tory insider summed it up neatly with: “We’re screwed.”
Only he didn’t say screwed.
Brian Lynch can say all he wants about the Liberal majority – the fact is no one saw this coming.
The local campaign went pretty much as advertised. Jim McDonell cruised to a win, with 19,457 votes. While it’s a huge victory, its news value is not exactly a reason to break out the Third World War font.
The local election was his to lose (or win, if you’re a glass half-full kind of person) and he and his staff pushed all the right buttons.
The real news locally is the showing by Liberal candidate John Earle, who was pretty much written off by media experts and even some members of his own party who privately rolled their eyes to me when I asked about his chances of getting elected.
With the last poll reporting in, Earle captured 9,287 votes, about 900 more than NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald.
Before the election many people were commending MacDonald on how well her campaign had gone, and some local PCs even told me they were a little concerned about just how many votes she would count on election day.
Someone forgot to tell the voters, who ignored Earle’s rookie designation and relatively poor showing at some of the local debates and instead cast a ballot in his favour.
MacDonald, as professional a politician as one will find, had a hard time containing herself, I am told, when the results began to come in.
For some reason Sharron Norman, the local Green Party candidate who couldn't find the corner of Pitt and Second streets without the aid of a map and a head start, garnered 1,047 votes.
Really, people? She never even set foot in the riding. Libertarian Shawn McRae rounded things out with 608 votes.
What do the results mean for the local riding? Not much, really. Once again we have elected an MPP who will sit in opposition, though this time around we’ll have him for the full four years.
Provincially it’s another story.
Kathleen Wynne and her Grits have created a Liberal majority, seemingly out of thin air, and in the process have turned their chief political opponent into a has-been.
Hudak, after his party’s poor showing, announced he would not be leading the Tories into the next election in four years, and instead the PCs will choose another leader.
Wynne, the first-ever female premier elected in Ontario, can not only run the board in the Legislature by virtue of her majority government, but can also sit back and watch the Tories fight amongst themselves over who will run the party moving forward.
Heck, there’s even talk that NDP boss Andrea Horwath might not survive as leader, which would really provide Wynne and the Liberals with all the time in the world to basically do what they want.
Did Ontario make the right decision? Liberals will tell you it did, Tories will tell you the opposite and the NDP will suggest that triggering this election was probably a mistake.
Guess we’ll only really know the answer to that question in four years.