Doug Ford won because he can read the environment around him. He is wooden, but he has an instinct that brought him two decisive victories: he improbably won the leadership campaign at the absolute most inconvenient time for the party, and then won the provincial election. That he didn't have the support of the news media in the province underscores just how little power the press now wields.
But Ford had several advantages with the obstacles he faced.
He was up against not just Kathleen Wynne -- but also Justin Trudeau. Voters put the screws to Wynne in order to put the screws to Trudeau. Trudeau is bungling on a global stage because he wears blinders, thinking more about cultivating a static image than on looking outside of his own selfie.
And this bungling came at a very bad time: when he thought he could impress and charm Trump who would be so taken by his beauty, that he'd leave Canada alone. That wasn't going to happen, and it just brought unwanted attention to Canada -- a country that has always been built on a house of cards -- one ill wind and everything can fall to the ground.
Any ideation of prosperity is an illusion: people either have a good salary because they work for the government or crown corporation that is unionized -- or because they work for an American company with a satellite presence here.
As soon it is a Canadian-based company, they will howl at the idea at giving workers a decent working wage because they are not capable of being a prosperous business.
We have natural resources. We have numerous other blessings here, the problem is we haven't actually tapped into any of it because there is a petty jealous undercurrent hampering Canada from paving a better path, one where we do not have to shake in our boots at every bump or tremor.
Trudeau has made a serious mess of things right now, and Ontario is in the crosshairs of it. People in Ontario were panic-voting and it split the base in two: the Haves whose livelihood depends on Americans treating us as allies and not rivals, or worse, enemies, and they voted for Ford.
The Have Nots -- and the Government-dependent Haves whose survival depends on the government giving them things from dental care to a pay check, ditched the Liberals and went with the NDP.
For the latter group, they are now in serious trouble. The provincial PCs got their mandate and marching orders to politically align with the US president who now has a real axe to grind with the federal Liberal regime. The voters willingly kicked the support of Wynne away from Trudeau -- and this is a premier who had countless gratuitous photo ops with the Prime Minister.
Do not underestimate the significance of this slight.
And for journalists who exploited and covered every single one of these canned events uncritically, they too, have been put on notice that their babbling will be ignored.
The moment where Trudeau put Canada in the crosshairs came when he mucked up his India trip. It was one thing that Trump trashed talked us -- it could chalked up to partisan slagging, but that the Indian regime agreed with Trump changed everything.
So bad was the India trip, that Trudeau went from pre-sofa jumping Tom Cruise to post-sofa jumping Tom Cruise.
He humiliated his own country gratuitously.
This gave Trump an opening, and he took full advantage of it.
Trudeau then made matters infinitely worse by bringing in the clueless and obtuse Chrystia Freeland into the quagmire, and the bumbling duo are still throwing temper tantrums when they are in no position to do it. The point of Trump's exercise is to bring in chaos and break alliances to bring those members to heel to the US advantage -- and he can pull it off.
And yesterday's election in Ontario has sent a message: jobs are a priority. Making peace with the Americans is essential as is shoring up Ontario's financial matters.
Had the unions thought things through -- they wouldn't have jumped the Liberal ship, despite the peculiar logic. They split the vote, decreasing their chances of having critical protection because if they do not have cabinet ministers in their corner, they are vulnerable enough to be broken.
But they threw the same temper tantrums and unreasonable requests Trudeau is doing, and it is not a good thing. Schools can be privatized, for instance, and in Ford Nation, that is a viable option.
There is a time to hold them and a time to fold them, and the unions should have dropped back their demands. Hold on to the status quo -- it is a sweet status quo that most people in the province do not have, but they kept pushing and alienating the rest of the province, tweaking the noses of those who aren't in cushy positions enough to get them to form a voting bloc that was going to put Ford Nation in charge of the province.
Kathleen Wynne is a polarizing figure and a smart cookie who was saddled with a radioactive regime. It was always a thankless job, but she was up to the challenge, and no, if she resigned a year ago, the Grits would have still lost everything, including party status, because Wynne was of the same political affiliation of the bumbling Trudeau who is making bigger trouble for the country than she ever did.
She made a single miscalculation of thinking that taking care of her alliances generously would translate into voting loyalty, and those blocs stabbed her in the back as they ran away with the NDP who sent them right into the lion's den. Had she been a tougher negotiator and held the pursestrings more tightly, she would have managed to eke out a victory. It would have also helped if she distanced herself from the federal Liberals, but she was placed in a corner, and while she is a very able fighter, the strategies of Wing Chun aren't in her political répertoire.
The Progressives are now in serious trouble thanks to their smug narratives and inability to read the signs and adjust their message accordingly.
But journalism is the biggest loser of this election. They tried to steer voters away from the PCs, but it wasn't going to work. They even tried to be sneaky about it, but those whose fortunes depend on the US didn't even hear them.
Just reading last night's shrill editorial from the Toronto Star shows how out of touch with reality journalism has become:
Reality will quickly bite for Doug Ford’s new PC government in Ontario
Reality is biting Ontario. That is the reason we have elections and vote in various regimes. It will always bite, and considering the Tories have been already in power, they got the memo and still want to rule.
It is not just the PCs: it is the entire province who is now in trouble.
But then the bitter finger-wagging begins:
Their verdict is that Ford and his Progressive Conservatives will have a solid majority at Queen’s Park. It’s not the outcome we wanted to see, but it has to be said that Ford has delivered for his party barely three months after becoming leader. The PCs’ victory will silence the doubters in his party, at least for now.
I am certain Trudeau's bizarre antics in India was something Canadians did not want to see, either. If you are supposed to be chroniclers of reality, you shouldn't have outcomes you want and don't want to see. You are admitting bias and gotten off the rails, alienating those readers who voted to save their lifestyles.
And then the nagging lecture begins:
First, the PCs have won their majority with just over 40 per cent of the votes cast. That’s perfectly legitimate, and not even unusual, under our voting system.
But it’s also true that some 58 per cent of voters chose more progressive options — NDP, Liberal and Green. There was no big swing to the right among Ontario voters, and the PCs will quickly go astray if they mistake their electoral victory for a mandate to make sweeping, ideologically motivated changes.
This shows a complete misunderstanding of the voting process. No government is going to get 50% or more of the vote. Most people didn't even vote. The Grits didn't have a majority, either. It has never been about majority rule. It is about scraping just enough votes to get into power and then maintaining those interests. You can ignore the majority who have shut themselves out. Those who are willing to negotiate and lobby can get any government to play ball.
Remember, the Grits ignored the majority for fifteen years and still won multiple elections. This threat of the Star's is just silly.
But not as silly as point two:
Second, this was much more a vote against the Liberal status quo than it was a positive vote for what the PCs were putting forward. Ontarians knew what they didn’t want — more of the Liberals after 15 years of having them running the show. They were less sure of what they wanted to see in their place.
How long have the editorial board lived in Canada? Five minutes? Canadians always vote the bums out. They voted out the Liberals to align with the hardball player south of the border. Trump can easily inspire enough companies to pull out of Canada, and those employed in these places know it.
The vote was nothing personal. It was just business. If a cute and cuddly Democrat was president right now, the PCs would be shut out again and the Grits would still be in power -- it doesn't means voters like the Reds: it's just more prudent to back them.
But the Star is notorious for taking everything personally:
Third, Ford never bothered to spell out anything like a proper program for governing. He promised to be “upfront and honest about what I’m going to do,” but he was anything but.
His “Plan for the People” is a paper-thin compendium of headline promises with no accounting of how they’ll be paid for or what trade-offs (i.e. cuts) will have to be made.
It was a shrewd course of action: the more vague the promises, the easier it is to keep them. He doesn't know what he is facing if elected. It was pragmatic to hold back than to have a definite plan based on a faulty hypothesis. He has wiggle room that the NDP wouldn't have if they were elected.
But the Star contradicts themselves:
We won’t be surprised if they pull the oldest trick in the book and declare that (surprise!) the financial situation is worse than they imagined and they can’t possibly do all the things they promised on the campaign trail.
Ford did not make hard and fast promises, and the Auditor General had already sounded that alarm before the election; voters who wanted the PCs did so to protect themselves against possible American retaliation. The Ford brand has always been about finding efficiencies, and he is on safe ground here. There are other quagmires, but this isn't one of them.
It goes on:
Aside from questions over policy, there’s the big question of Ford himself. There’s every reason to fear that the type of chaos that surrounded him and his late brother Rob at Toronto city hall will follow him to Queen’s Park.
The chaos of the Ford's came from the Toronto Star's relentless attacks on the family. The Star inoculated voters by savaging Rob Ford. Doug wisely kept out of their way and spoke to the people directly. The Star's fortunes have dropped significantly since then, meaning they will be nothing more than white noise this time around -- and they know it.
There is one more sour grapes point:
Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats should look back on this campaign with satisfaction. Horwath herself ran the strongest campaign of the three major party leaders, and as official opposition at Queen’s Park the party will play a much more prominent role.
No, the NDP failed colossally last night: they failed to win the election. That is all that counts. It is not as if they get to govern one third of the province: they sit across from the actual power as they still do what they have done for years: nag the guys with clout with no ability to do anything to change what will happen. A move from second place from third translates into nothing and have the same power as the lone Green MPP.
And worse, the voters they gained used to have the clout that came from having an MPP in power -- and often one with a lofty cabinet position. They now do not reside in a riding that has real representation -- and all the protections they had are going to go to the areas that do. That is not a minor downgrade. That is a devastating loss that has a lot of ramifications.
Just look at Hamilton. When they voted in representatives who were in government, it was a very strong region. On a federal level, Sheila Copps alone brought in supports as she always championed her hometown. I remember my mother calling Copps to air grievances -- and Copps spoke to her from her home at length. Once Hamilton lost those warriors who won the prize, it collapsed -- and if it weren't for government-based jobs such as hospitals, universities, and the like, this city would have collapsed.
Now that Hamilton shot itself in the foot yet again, they are in serious trouble given the fact that the American president has taken notice. Steel is in jeopardy. Perhaps someone will clue in and show some respect to their lone insider Donna Skelly, but I seriously doubt it.
But the NDP is as impotent now as they were before. There is no victory here, only defeat.
Meaning this observation is just ridiculous:
Their challenge will be to hold Ford accountable and replace the Liberals as the alternative to the PCs for the long haul. It helps a lot that many voters started to look at Horwath this time as someone who could actually be premier.
They were blind to the obvious in that case. When Horwath held the balance of power when the Liberals were in minority territory, she was outfoxed by Wynne -- and Horwath never did anything with her once in a lifetime opportunity, which she spectacularly blew.
Voters should work on having something the resembles a memory, but they split their own vote because they were miffed at their Matriarch Kathleen Wynne and were going to punish her.
Wynne was their best bet in this election. The Left betrayed her even though she never betrayed them. They fell for the strategic knocks that came from the NDP and PCs -- and had they stopped to think for themselves instead of being influenced by feints and ruses, they would have stayed the course: at worse, the Grits win a minority, Horwath has no choice but to prop up the Liberals with a coalition, and the federal Grits have to tone down their tantrums with the US. Unions would tone down their list of self-entitled demands, and still keep their gains. Wynne is teachable, gets the message, and has to find the new centre of gravity and keep businesses happy.
But the Left have gotten into the very bad habit of throwing hissy fits if someone's needs are not aligned perfectly with their own, and this time, it cost them a lot more than usual, and many have no idea how big that final bill is going to be.
If the Star was an actual news product, it would have seen the lay of the land. We are in a darker situation than we were before 2016. The bigger bloc of voters saw it and voted for the candidate who has a sense of strategy, knowing full well that's what is needed right now.
Whether the Tories are up to the actual challenge is the variable right now, but journalism hasn't been to the challenge at all -- and why they can be ignored in these uncertain times...