Friday, June 13, 2014

Five observations on the Ontario election

1) A record of corruption and incompetence doesn’t disqualify a party from forming government. The Ontario Liberals cost taxpayers almost $1 billion when they cancelled two power plants in 2011 to improve their election chances, and were either dishonest or incompetent in covering up the real costs. It wasn’t enough to get them kicked out of office. In fact, their share of the popular vote rose from 38 per cent in 2011 to 39 per cent this week. 
Opposition parties can't count on voters to punish parties for past wrongdoing.
2) Changing leaders, as the Liberals did, appears to be like a shaking an Etch-a-Sketch over your head. Everything is erased and you get a fresh start.
3) A large number of voters are more-or-less happy with the status quo or don’t believe the promises of those proposing change. The Ontario Conservatives said they would cut 100,000 public sector jobs and cut spending sharply. It didn’t sell. (The Conservative campaign also stumbled when its plan to create one million jobs was revealed to be based on bogus numbers, and leader Tim Hudak refused to acknowledge the giant error.)
4) Our winner-take-all election system doesn’t reflect voter preferences. The Liberals took 39 per cent of the votes and 55 per cent of the seats; the Conservatives 31 per cent of the votes and 25 per cent of seats; the NDP 24 per cent of the votes and 20 per cent of the seats. (The Greens captured five per cent of the votes, but didn’t elect any candidates.) 
5) Third parties face a tough road. Despite the Liberal record, the NDP failed to attract voters, up just one percentage point from 2011. There was little to choose between Liberals and New Democrats in terms of policy, and the electoral system encouraged those opposed to the Conservatives to vote Liberal.


Anonymous said...

1) BC Liberals too $1BILLION and we are still waiting for the Harper government to give their tax blessing - if BC loses then the BC Rail deal was all for naught.

2) Christy Clark - She was part of the first wave of BC Liberals, but the electorate seemed to forget that.

3) The BC voters didn't believe Dix - and he didn't do anything to engender trust.

4) BC did manage 1 Green seat, but your point stands.

5) Third parties face a tough road in BC too - especially since the corporate press are too confused on how to treat the Greens - other than as NDP vote splitters.

kootcoot said...

"Opposition parties can't count on voters to punish parties for past wrongdoing."

Actually a party is more likely to get punished for doing the right thing. If parties got punished for wrongdoing, Gordo wouldn't have gotten re-elected the first time in 2005 (I think).

Steve said...

The underlying reason the Libearls won was transit and green energy.
Why Wynne Won!

Norm Farrell said...

We should not underestimate the power of incumbency, particular for the government side. In six years, the federal Conservative Government spent $548M on partisan advertising, according to an estimate in a Dec/13 John Ivison column for the National Post.

I get regular mailings from my Conservative MP that are nothing more than self-promotions. At the same time, the Conservatives are trying to punish the NDP for mailing partisan materials, using the same delivery system used by Andrew Saxton, MP.

Recently, we've seen Stanley Cup and FIFA World Cup TV programs, among the most expensive for spots, larded with federal government advertising. (One that offends me particularly is about a veterans services cutting government promoting itself for helping vets it sent to a wasted effort in an pointless war.)

The Ontario Liberals seem to have spent much public money to further their political objectives. Just as in BC, those expenditures of taxpayer funds, supplemented by spending of dependent special interests, ensure the corruption of our political system.

Yes, third parties face a tough road. They don't have taxpayer funds to get their ideas out, nor do they have money from corporations placing secondary bets, as did the BCNDP when it had more than a $1m of corporate funds to spend in 2013.

Most private operations would not tolerate its officers accepting benefits from people with whom the company does business. Yet, it happends routinely in the public realm. Unless and until we clean up this financial situation, democracy will be crippled and the advantage will always rest with incumbent governments.

Anonymous said...

The Ontario Liberals spent quite a bit of money painting the provincial Conservatives as a gaggle of Harper 'mini-me' and it seems to have worked.

scotty on denman said...

1) I agree voters won't remind themselves of a party's wrongdoings; it's up to the Opposition to remind them which party did the wrongs and which will do the punishing.

2) Changing leaders will only erase the past if opposing parties let it.

3) You sort of make it sound like voters didn't believe Hudak would layoff 100,000 government workers as promised---otherwise I agree people weren't hurting enough in Ontario to want change necessarily.

4) Our Single-Member-Plurality system does represent voter preference: the winning candidate is preferred by most of the people in a given riding; it's still up to the winner to represent each constituent, whether a supporter or not.

5) If you wanted to convince that third parties got it tough, you could have picked a better example than Ontario where the NDP did pretty well, barely eclipsed by the second party---and they actually increased their seat-count, too; it's more remarkable that the Ontario NDP is able to retain such a respectable number of seats in a Westminster-type parliament where first and second place finishers are procedurally favoured; it wasn't the electoral system that convinced people to vote Liberal, it was a well-run Liberal election campaign---they were the only ones shouting,"Vote for us!".