Doug Ford vs. The Elites 

The Westerner's Guide To Ontario Politics

February 1st, 2018 | J. Lieblein
doug ford
You might not have noticed, but we’re having a bit of a week here in Central Canada. A couple of guys at the PC Party of Ontario are having a bit of personal trouble and they have to take some time off to spend with their families or changing jobs because the internal politics are just brutal. But don’t worry! We’ve totally got this next election in the bag. Crooked Kathleen Wynne is yesterday's garbage sitting at the curb for pickup. All we have to do is wait for the voters to come pick her up. Remember: In a matchup between Not Kathleen Wynne and Kathleen Wynne, Not Kathleen Wynne beats Kathleen Wynne 11 times out of ten!

Yeah, the united front the PC's are putting up isn't too convincing. But the fact remains: Wynne must go come hell or high water. You know it out West and we know it. Unfortunately- and this is the unreported story out of this Patrick Brown mess- the PC Party has been kind of coasting for a long time on the assumption that there is no way they could screw it up....which is exactly how you tend to screw it up. 

Even now, after tons of pressure from the membership (read: Caroline Mulroney) there are forces within caucus who still want to dispense with the leadership race and keep Vic Fedeli in as permanent leader- even though Vic said he wasn't interested in the job permanently. They do have one point, but that's about it: Why should elected members, who have weathered countless doomed campaigns, submit to another hostile takeover from an outsider after Brown blew up in everyone's faces? 

Well, all that- where we had Caroline Mulroney positioning herself to speak for the plebs, and caucus trying but failing to hold the line against her- was the era Before Doug (B.D.) We are now in the After Doug (A.D.) era, and the possibility that he could beat Wynne- if the PC base actually elects him, and if he doesn't change his mind first- is real. Let's review the reasons why. 

Unlike Others, Ford Is A Real Populist 

This is a point made by others as well as myself: Not only is the man's last name Ford, but he has much more of a claim to being a populist in the Trump mould than some of the Canadian play-actors that have been foisted upon us in the past. He certainly has more populist cred than any of the other potential candidates seeing as how the party caucus' de facto populist and anti-sex ed campaigner, Monte McNaughton, has decided to sit this one out. 

Paradoxically, Doug Has Plenty of PC Party Cred

A good Trump Populist is always a mass of contradictions. Trump himself, despite his wealth, positioned himself as the outsider, and nobody knows more about that than Rob Ford's brother. But you have to remember that Rob was always the family's point man on City Council, much more of a people person than Doug. Doug as Mayor of Toronto was never going to work as well as Rob. 

But when it comes to the Ontario PC's, where the boys' father, Doug Ford Sr., served alongside Jim Flaherty as an MPP in the Harris governments, Doug is a far more natural fit. A Premier of Ontario, and a PC one especially, needs to rule caucus with an iron fist, which Doug has two of. So ironically, Doug has more roots in the Ontario PC's than Caroline Mulroney could ever hope to have- and her dad led the federal PC's! 

Wynne Underestimates Ford How Clinton Did Trump

Not only do the Liberals hate Ford, but there is a large constituency of #NeverFord Ontario PC's who are horrified at the prospect of Doug destroying all of Patrick Brown's "hard work" to "move the party to the centre." Just by being himself, Ford exposes these PCPO squishes for what they are- more concerned about positioning and branding than actually delivering for the people.

Now, Wynne was motivated to beat Brown and fight hard because she knew that Brown could organize a ground game, and that PC Party grandees would shut their mouths and hold their noses as he did so. When she and her Liberal pals see prominent PC's complaining on social media, the message she gets is that the traditional PC base will stay home, and they very well might. But if an upsurge of undecideds and non-voters turn out for Doug, she may end up writing her own version of "What Happened" with a foreword by Hillary.  

Ford Triggers The Elites In A Way Nobody Else Can

Admit it: if anyone out there is still a closet Trump fan by this point, it's because of his ability to whip American liberals into a frenzy. And if that's what you like, then you'll get lots of that with Doug: You already have Andrew CoyneRobyn Urback and Paul Wells sneering at him, and he's only been in the race for a few days!

And what's the deal with the Ontario NDP? Do they stand to capitalize on this chaos? Very short answer: No. Of course, I will elaborate.

The Ontario NDP Are Nothing Like Their Western Cousins

I get it, I get it. Westerners are wary of an NDP stealth campaign ever since the Notley Surprise. And NDP governments are a fact of life in many Western provinces. But here in Ontario? No way. 

The NDP doesn't have the benefit of being the default progressive choice. They're more like the Alberta, Manitoba, or Saskatchewan Liberals. They're kind of progressive and they're kind of there, but the Ontario Liberals have a far better claim to being the voice for progressives than the ONDP, because...

The NDP Burned Their Base And The Base Hasn't Forgiven Them

Remember Bob Rae? Sure you do. His claim to fame before he became this creepy Liberal hanger-on who nobody really liked was being Ontario's first and so far only NDP Premier, who effectively got redpilled and converted. And what led to that conversion, you may ask? It was Ontario's militant labour unions declaring him to be a traitor for being a less than perfect socialist while being Premier. This led to a long tradition of unions walking out on the NDP at crucial moments and voting... Liberal?? Don't ask me to explain this.

The NDP Is Boring AF

I had the displeasure of listening to an interview with the ONDP’s top media guy, Tom Parkin, on The Agenda On Politics Podcast the other day. (Yes that is a very clunky name for a podcast and no I’m not sure if that’s where the apostrophe is supposed to go. What do you expect? This is Ontario.) The episode was titled, appropriately and sadly, "What's Left For The Left"? 

Parkin is supposed to be their go to spox and he sounds like a somewhat well informed riding association board member. The absolute highlight comes when he refers to the slapfest between the PC's and Ontario Liberals as a "children's snowball fight" which NDP leader Andrea Horwath will stay out of with Premieresque dignity. 

If you listen to the rest of Parkin's drone, he reveals that the NDP's strategy is to keep trying to close the barn door after the horse has left on transit, on pharmacare, and on child care- all areas that the Liberals have decisively owned-  by proposing slightly different policy directions, like funding fewer prescription drugs, but for all age groups instead of lots of drugs for one age group. Inspiring!

Horwath Is Not As Well Liked As The Polls Would Have You Believe

After blowing the NDP's momentum in 2014 on a disastrous rightward lurch that saw the party get wiped out in Toronto, Horwath has kept a very low profile. The now-broken NDP base has never really forgiven her for that, which is why she usually ends up on the wrong side of issues, like the minimum wage increase or strike-ending back to work legislation where she was forced to choose between students and faculty. And while she may be the most popular of the three leaders, remember that her competition is Kathleen Wynne and used to be Patrick Brown.