Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Kathleen Wynne earns the right to govern, with a little help from Hudak and Horwath

By: Matt Elliott Metro, Metro Published on Fri Jun 13 2014

Kathleen Wynne was handed a giant pile of toxic baggage when she became Liberal leader. She inherited a government with only a fragile minority, she had to answer for a political party plagued by a ridiculous number of big-ticket scandals, and she faced an electorate that had consistently told pollsters that they’d really like to see another party in charge at Queen’s Park.

She had all the makings of a lame-duck premier. A footnote in history. Another Kim Campbell story.

Wynne deserves a lot of credit for the unexpected success. She set the tone for the election with the budget her government released on May 1. It firmly put the party to the left of where it had been under Dalton McGuinty, with big plans for spending on infrastructure, creating a pension plan and levying a tax increase for higher-income individuals.

She redefined the old, tired Liberal Party of Ontario as something new. Something voters, apparently, really kind of liked.

It didn’t hurt that she got a lot of help from opponents Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath. Both leaders made key strategic errors that cost them big when voters went to the polls.

For Horwath, this election was a textbook example of why political parties can’t simply assume their base of support will stick with them, regardless of platform and policy.

Horwath chased votes in suburban and rural ridings by dialing up populist rhetoric surrounding taxes and government waste. That did lead to gains in parts of the province, but at the expense of key bread-and-butter NDP seats in downtown Toronto.

The NDP can spin its performance as a marginal win, but it’s really a loss. The party had a great deal of influence prior to this election. Now, as the third party in a majority government, the NDP’s got nothing.

Hudak, meanwhile, deserves credit for running a sincere campaign based on his own principles, but that kind of sincerity doesn’t work too well when your numbers don’t add up and a good chunk of the electorate finds your principles terrifying.

Hudak has said he’ll resign as PC leader. He’s right to do so. Voters clearly rejected his ideology. Horwath is staying on as NDP leader, but shouldn’t plan on making another run in an election. She’s got little left to offer after a failed attempt to get power.

And Wynne? Well, she’s now got a chance to govern on her own terms. Against strong odds, she’s earned the right to set aside the baggage and really show us what she can do.

This post was originally published at on 2014-06-13T00:00:00.000Z

About the author

Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
Website / Twitter / Email Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott


Follow Me on Twitter

Recent Posts

Recent Comments