The popular wisdom is that campaigns matter. And yet, last night’s outcome rarely seemed in doubt.
The Doug Ford-led Progressive Conservatives were in a strong position to reform government at the start of and throughout this election campaign. And when all was said and done, Doug Ford has been re-elected as Premier of Ontario and the PCs have grown their majority from 76 seats (when they were elected in 2018) to 83 seats. The PCs were also able to slightly grow their share of the popular vote from about 40.5 per cent in 2018 to just under 41 per cent this time around.
Despite robust election platforms, appeals to those wanting to “stop Doug Ford” and relatively strong campaigns, neither the Liberals nor the NDP were able to chip into the PC’s lead.
The NDP returns as the Official Opposition with 31 seats (down from 40), but Andrea Horwath will not remain on as their leader. Despite winning her own seat in Hamilton Centre, Horwath failed to secure government in her fourth election and announced she is resigning. The NDP will go through a leadership process to choose a new leader in the coming months to represent the party and caucus at Queen’s Park. Speculation on this front is already starting and the new leader is expected to emerge from the current roster of NDP MPPs.
The Liberals failed, once again, to gain official party status in the legislature, ending up with a total of eight seats. Steven Del Duca was unable to secure his own seat and announced he will be resigning, with the Liberals also slated to go through another leadership race to rebuild, just two years after Del Duca was elected as the party’s leader.
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner was also re-elected in Guelph. While the Green Party was optimistic about expanding their representation at Queen’s Park, the party was not able to elect any other candidates.
Despite the significant difference in seats won, the NDP and Liberals received essentially the same number of votes (just under 24 per cent of the popular vote). For the Liberals, this was an increase of about 4 per cent from the 2018 election, while the NDP saw about a 10 per cent drop in their vote share.
One of the more notable outcomes from last night was the overall voter turnout. Only about 43 per cent of eligible voters in Ontario cast a ballot, an almost 14 per cent drop from the 2018 election. In many ways, this drop in voter turnout reflects the opposition parties’ inability to fire up voters to turn out. It appears the Liberals suffered most from this low voter turnout.
Notable Wins & Losses
What Happens Next
This morning in his first press conference, the Premier stated the party intends to “take its time” in announcing Cabinet. Even so, all indications are the re-elected Ford government wants to get back to business, and quickly. A reconstituted Cabinet will be announced in the coming weeks, almost certainly before the end of June. Our sources suggest there will be a lot of known faces in familiar ministerial roles. But take this with a grain of salt - there are some big portfolios to fill (most notably, the Minister of Health) and, once you move one piece, it can be amazing how many other changes result.
Almost as important will be the staffing of ministerial offices. Over the next few months, we expect to see ministerial offices staffing up with some seasoned staffers departing over the course of the summer, while bringing on many new hires. We expect offices to be fully staffed by the fall.
The Legislature is currently scheduled to return on September 12. Based on the Premier’s press conference this morning, a summer session may not be on the cards. But keep in mind the government still needs to re-introduce and pass the legislation implementing the 2022 Budget. So at least some legislative activity over the summer may not be that surprising.
The summer months will give newly elected and re-elected MPPs a chance to spend time in their local ridings. It also gives ministers a chance to become familiar with their portfolios and to engage with relevant stakeholders as they learn about their mandates and plan for how to achieve them. Organizations looking to advance a particular file or priority are well advised to begin their advocacy during the summer. Expect a very busy parliamentary session to close out 2022.
For the Ford government, it could be a short honeymoon. The war in Ukraine and its effects on the global economy continue. The Bank of Canada continues to raise interest rates to get inflation under control. House prices in Ontario remain out of reach for many. There are big questions around the sufficiency of our electricity supply. We still face a climate crisis. And did we mention contracts with the teachers’ unions expire on August 31, 2022?
There are no shortage of files and issues filling up the Premier’s inbox. And the next four years will be busy.
This is the time where organizations should lay the foundation for engagement with a new government and hit the ground running. Please do not hesitate to contact your Sussex consultant should you have any questions about the election results and what this means for you.
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