Ontario Election 2018: Right-Wing Populism Prevails Over Moderate Social Democracy

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1637 ... July 9, 2018
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Ontario Election 2018:
Right-Wing Populism Prevails Over Moderate Social Democracy

Matt Fodor

In the June 7 provincial election, Ontario politics took a sharp turn to the right as the Progressive Conservatives (PCs), under the leadership of the populist businessman and former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, steamrolled to a majority government. The PCs took 40.5 per cent of the popular vote and 76 out of 124 seats in the Ontario legislature, putting an end to the 15-year reign of the Ontario Liberals. The Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP), under the leadership of Andrea Horwath, catapulted from their third-place position to Official Opposition, and received 33.6 per cent of the popular vote and 40 seats. Meanwhile, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals suffered a catastrophic defeat,... receiving just 19.6 per cent of the popular vote and 7 seats -- one seat below the threshold for official party status in the legislature.

The PCs last won an election in Ontario in 1999, when the right-wing government of Mike Harris -- whose ‘Common Sense Revolution’ included large tax cuts, ‘workfare’, the weakening of trade unions and deep cuts in public spending -- was re-elected with a second majority. By the 2003 election, however, the tide had turned strongly against the Tories and the party spent the next 15 years in opposition. During this period, the party was divided between those that wished to continue the Harris approach and those that sought to move closer to the political centre. In the most recent election in 2014, PC leader Tim Hudak, a right-wing ideologue, flirted with ‘right to work’ laws and promised to take the Common Sense Revolution further. His One Million Jobs Plan that called for the elimination of 100,000 public sector jobs in order to eliminate the province’s deficit, as well as the slashing of corporate taxes by 30 per cent in order to attract investment. Offering voters little more than hyper-austerity, the Tories again went down to defeat.

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