I took a little time off after the election. Conservatives foretold the end of times if Premier Wynne were re-elected and I wanted to be prepared. Thrilled as I was by a majority no one called, well almost no one, I’m disappointed by the lack of hellfire promised to me since. I bought canned goods dammit.
The Ontario election has been analyzed to death but at the end of the day it was fairly simple. The NDP went out of their way to appeal to anyone but their base. Hudak tried to convince enough people to vote for him so he could make life harder for many who wouldn’t. Premier Wynne’s campaign tried to appeal to people across Ontario, not just a segment likely to vote for her. In that context the election results should be less of a surprise. What was a surprise was who opposition parties faulted for their respective losses.
On election night, several Conservatives blamed their loss on unions and voters not understanding their message. You can hear Doug Holyday do so here, around 3hr:15min mark for example. Whether you thought Tim’s pledge to put 100,000 people out of work was a good idea or not, their unions had a right, even an obligation, to speak out against it. Conservatives attitudes suggest they should have kept quiet. That’s either naive or arrogant, regardless if you aren’t prepared for their response don’t be surprised when it’s effective .
As for voters not understanding your message, guess who’s fault that is? SPOILER: Not the voters.
Yesterday NDP leader Andrea Horwath made her first public statement since the election. Unlike Conservatives she didn’t blame voters for being stupid, she blamed them for being scared. What I can’t quite understand is if you buy the premise voters were scared of a Hudak government, could they not have elected a Horwath one? The NDP campaign left some traditional supporters feeling abandoned, but Horwath said she has no regrets about it. If the campaign was good and voters gripped by anti-Hudak panic, one has to ask why it wasn’t Horwath’s cabinet sworn in this week?
Poor excuses for bad campaigns aside, the NDP and the PCs spent a good deal of the election on reasons, some perfectly valid, not to vote Liberal. They should have been talking more about why to vote for their own party. Voters were well aware of the scandals the Liberals had faced. The strong appetite for change polls showed before the election were proof enough of that. Voters also know voting a party out means voting another one in. Both opposition leaders failed to make a compelling case as to why it should be theirs, and that was the ballgame.
The election should serve as a lesson. Criticizing your opponent is a necessary part of any campaign, but it’s not enough alone to win one. The hubris shown by the NDP and the PC’s post election makes me wonder if it’s a lesson they have learned yet. If not they have four years to figure it out. If they don’t, well that won’t be the voters fault either.