Is Red the New Orange?

The Ontario election has featured a deeply divided, ideologically intrenched split. Two polarized points of view on how our province should run which will determine who runs it. To be clear, I’m only talking about the NDP here.

This election began with NDP leader Andrea Horwath announcing her party would not support the Liberal’s budget. She ignored a budget which was NDP friendly, and when labor leaders called on her to support the budget she also ignored NDP friends. If only weeks ago some sooth saying scribe predicted this may cause a rift among NDP voters.    

Cough…. called it… cough

Friday prominent NDP supporters shared a letter written to Horwath objecting to the campaign she’s been running. With her campaign described as “populist” by some media their dissent is not surprising. They questioned why she was “running to the right of the Liberals”. They wanted to know if she’s “given up on progressive voters or are taking them for granted”. That may not be Springer levels of airing the family’s dirty laundry, but the sheets hit the fan all the same.

If these supporters reflect an overall trend, looking at where the NDP continue to idle in the polls that is possible, how will that affect the election? NDP supporters, like a Danforth drunk Ford may be asking “Where’s the party?” If they aren’t satisfied with the answers they have two choices, vote Liberal or stay home. For Andrea Horwath that’s a lose lose situation.

NDP leaning voters voting Liberal seems more likely to me. The Liberal platform reflects the same progressive priorities laid out in the budget. Investments in transit, child care, increases to ODSP, as well as the creation of an Ontario Pension plan read like the playlist for the NDP’s ipod. Of course if that’s not the tune they want to dance to, they may get down to the #StopHudak shuffle.

Labour unions and their supporters on twitter have been tagging their tweets #StopHudak, seemingly to encourage strategic voting. I normally don’t favour strategic voting, but I can’t fault them for wanting to protect the livelihoods of 100,000 public workers and possibly 50,000 private ones. What’s telling though is the hashtag is #StopHudak, not #VoteAndrea. With Liberals already ahead in the polls this could lead to another Liberal government, but with a lower seat count for the NDP than they had. In other words, an effort to protect jobs from Hudak could wind up costing Horwath hers.

The other choice for NDP supporters is to simply stay home. This would be even worse for both Horwath and the NDP. There are enough ridings where a low NDP turnout would hand the race to the PCs, rather than the Liberals, enough to hand them the government as well. A Hudak government is a direct threat to public sector jobs, a large part of the NDP’s base. That is of course when Hudak is not a direct threat to everyone else. Having forced the election Horwath could well be seen as responsible for Premier Hudak. Again a scenario likely to ensure hers is one of the first jobs lost in Hudak’s Ontario.

The NDP twitter account doesn’t recognize who the Premier of Ontario is. Hopefully voters leaning their way not only recognize her, they recognize Wynne is the only one talking about their interests. The only one committed to investing in causes their care about. At the very least let’s hope they recognize Wynne is the only one poised to seriously challenge Hudak for the government at this point. It isn’t clear yet if Red is the new Orange. What is clear is how terrible Ontario would look in Blue.





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