Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ontario Votes ... and Tory Loses...

Ontario's Dalton McGuinty won a second majority tonight, albeit a somewhat reduced one.

This is interesting - not at the provincial level - in fact the results are almost a yawn really, but at the federal level. It has been rumored for some time that one of the reasons that Harper delayed restarting parliament was to enable his Ontario MPs to support John Tory's campaign.

Tory's campaign pretty much fell apart once he opened the can of worms around direct provincial funding of religious schools beyond the existing parallel Catholic system.

What's interesting is that disaffected voters did not "automatically" choose McGuinty's party as the natural alternative - instead, they seem to have gone to either the NDP or the Green party. Assuming that this is even mildly reflective of Ontario's political mood, it's not good news for either Harper or Dion. (although Elizabeth May might just have reason to smile a bit more tonight)

First, it suggests that Harper is vulnerable in Ontario - especially to the message that he is tied to the religious hard-line crowd in Canada. For Dion, it means that he's going to have a hard time getting traction in that all-important province.

Layton might not lose as much as I had expected federally in the next election - unless his ridings get sufficiently annoyed with the Con$ervatives and their policies, and Layton's seemingly inconsistent performance where he seems to change his allegiances and philosophy from moment to moment depending on where he thinks he can "score a few points".

Ontario is up for grabs federally - and it's up to the individual parties and their leadership to figure out what it is that Ontarians are watching for in their next government. I don't think it's going to be "easy" for any of the parties to win in that province.

In truth, this is actually good news for Canada's political landscape - it tells us that Ontarians haven't swung their vote strongly along ideological lines to align with whatever's the fashion in Ottawa, and when the next Federal election is finally called, I think we can look forward to a very interesting campaign in that province. (Alberta remains a federal write-off province. Until we send something other than a Con$ervative to Ottawa, this part of Canada remains an "assumed constant")

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