Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Introduction to Ontario

Ontario is the largest province in Canada in terms of population and has been since Canada's founding in 1867. Population trends suggest this is unlikely to be changed any time in the next century.

Ontario contains 38.38% of the Canadian population. 29.3% is visibile minorities, with 8.7% of Ontario being South Asian, 5.7% being Chinese, 4.7% being Black, 2.4% Filipino, 1.8% First Nations, 1.6% Arab, and 1.5% from Latin America. In terms of Religion, roughly 1/3rd of Ontario identifies as Catholic, 1/3rd as Protestant, 2/9ths as Atheist, and 1/9th as a mix of various other religions including Islam (4.6% of total population), Hindu (2.9%), Jewish (1.5%), Sikh (1.4%), and Buddhist (1.3%).

Toronto is Ontario's Capital and largest city, containing 2,731,571 residents, and much starker demographics, with 51.5% identifying as visible minorities; including 12.6% South Asian, 11.1% Chinese, 8.9% Black, 5.7% Filipino, 2.9% Latin American, 2.2% West Asian*, 1.5% Southeast Asian, 1.5% Korean, and 1.3% Arab.
* in this context, mostly Iranian.

Toronto also contains concentrations of Ontario's non-christian population, including Islam at 8.2%, Hinduism at 5.6%, and Judaism at 3.8%.

Other municipalities near Toronto also contain concentrations of various visible minority groups; Markham is 45.1% Chinese, Brampton is 44.3% South Asian, Ajax is 16% Black, and Vaughan is 15% Jewish.

This all has impacts on the electoral map. For example, most of Ontario's Jewish population is concentrated along Bathurst Street, from Eglinton, into Vaughan. This means ridings such as Eglinton-Lawrence, York Centre, Willowdale, and Thornhill are especially sensitive to issues impacting this community.

The majority of the population in Ontario is concentrated in the Golden Horseshoe, which includes the Greater Toronto Area. Most of Ontario's largest municipalities are included within this area, with the largest municipalities outside the area being Ottawa, London, and Windsor.

Ontario's first election, in 1867, was "won" by the Conservatives, over the Liberals. In reality, the Tories and Grits tied at 41 seats each, but the Conservative leader was able to convince some moderate Liberals to join with him in a coalition. The following election in 1871 was won by the Liberals, who held office until their 1905 defeat.

This began Ontario's longest, though interrupted, political dynasty.

In 1919 the United Farmers and their more urban Labour allies, won an election and governed for 4 years. In 1934 the Liberals won a majority, and governed until 1943. The 1943 victory of the Progressive Conservatives marked and unbroken string of victories that would last until 1985.

With the aforementioned governments lead by other parties as exceptions, and minority governments in the periods from 1943-1945, and 1975-1981, the Tories held government from 1905 to 1985.

The 1985 election would see the Tories win 52 seats, compared to 48 for the Liberals and 25 for the NDP. The Liberals, however, won the popular vote, 38% to 37% to the Tories, and 24% for the NDP. The NDP decided to support a minority Liberal government

That Liberal government would continue until 1987 when, the Liberals called an election and managed to win a large majority, 95 seats compared to 19 for the NDP and 16 for the Tories. When Peterson called a snap election just 3 years later, hoping to retain his large majority, the voters turned on him. The result was a majority for the NDP, a result unexpected even by top New Democrats, including incoming Premier, Bob Rae.

The elected Rae NDP government failed to properly deal with a minor recession, and in 1995, was defeated by Mike Harris and the Tories. Harris campaigned heavily on a very right-wing economic message of lower taxes and cuts to welfare, known as the Common Sense Revolution. (An aside, 31 different ridings voted for each of the past 3 governments)

In 1999 the number of ridings (constituencies) in Ontario was reduced to better match the Federal ridings. At the time, Ontario was seeing 4% growth, and Harris managed re-election, but by 2003 the Tories were suffering from unpopularity related to their steep cuts to government funding. The election saw a majority of seats go to Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals.

The 2007 election saw the Liberals enter while somewhat unpopular. Part of the reason for their victory, however, came in the fact that the PC leader managed to stick his foot in his mouth by committing to funding expanded religious education, a policy that proved unpopular among voters. 2011 saw more general mistakes by the PC Party leading to yet another Liberal Majority, despite strong polling for the Tories.

By 2014, Kathleen Wynne had become Premier and Liberal Leader. The PC Party managed to lose, in great part, due to their "1 million jobs plan" which called for the creation of a million jobs over a number of years, but the cutting of 100,000 jobs in the short term. Additionally the plan suffered from a massive math error.

This brings us to the next election, in 2018.

Three major parties are contesting the election, as well as two other parties of note.

Ontario Liberal Party

Lead by Kathleen Wynne, the Liberals have held government since 2003. The party has been slowly shifting from a more centrist position under McGuinty, to a more progressive track under Wynne. The party is generally centrist to left-of-centre, but is increasingly unpopular due to various scandals. The party currently holds 56 seats

The Liberals will be struggling to hold on after 15 years in government, and facing various scandals related to wasteful government spending.

Ontario Progressive Conservatives

Lead by Patrick Brown, the PC Party has struggled to win elections in the past decade and a half. Under Brown, the party has been moving towards the centre, and been gathering a large number of star candidates over the past year or two. The party currently holds 29 seats.

Most of the polls for the past number of months and years have shown the PC party leading, and there is a good chance that they can win the election.

Ontario New Democratic Party

Lead by Andrew Horwath, the NDP is a left-wing pro-Labour party. The party has been fairly moderate under Horwath. The NDP has struggled to gain traction since the disastrous Rae government, and remains somewhat unpopular, especially when voters consider the usual Liberal Vs Tory race for the top. The party currently holds 19 seats.

The NDP's best chances come from a collapse of the Liberals. Many of the ridings where the NDP does best are places where the Liberals present the largest challenge. A strong PC campaign means these ridings only become more, not less safe. This handy resource can help you see that.

Green Party of Ontario

Part of the worldwide Green movement, the Green Party of Ontario is a sister party, on a provincial level, to the federal Green Party of Canada. The GPO in particular, in Canada, was known for being much more Eco-Capitalist, or Blue-Green, than the GPC. For a time, the GPO and GPC had bad relations due to that, and both are seperate parties.

The best chance for the Greens comes in Guelph, where the party has some base of support. The leader ran there last election and some political insiders (even in other parties) have heard that there is a good chance for a victory there in 2018

Trillium Party of Ontario

This is a small right-wing party that currently holds 1 seat in the Legislature due to a defection. This is not unknown in Canada. In 2005 DRBC was in this position, as well as WCC in Saskatchewan in 1985, the Progressives in Manitoba in 1981, or Reform in Alberta in 1982. None of these parties managed to win any seats, even though the latter two were actually founded by their defecting MPs (these parties tend to do far better, but, even then, they have not come close to winning re-election)

The main narrative of this campaign for political junkies is if the PC Party can manage an entire campaign without making a major mistake. To that end the party has released its platform early. The 80 page document (the platform itself begins on page 31) spells out what a Patrick Brown lead PC Majority would do in office.

The platform does not or even imply cuts to Ontario's welfare system, something most previous platforms have done. (to view previous platforms, go to this website from the university of laval)

The platform is extremely moderate, and after a careful look, there is almost nothing that the other parties can attack, the only thing being near the bottom of page 76, their budget.

These two lines are where the bulk of the money will come from to pay for the remaining PC promises. What I've noticed from this is twofold.

First: The "Value for Money Audit" is their way of saying they will simply 'find the money' by saving money in operation of current programs.

Second, the "Cap-and-Trade" fund. From this they expect to gain 2 billion dollars. The plan for the Tories is to cancel Cap-and-Trade and replace it with a Carbon Tax. Part of the problem here is that according to the (Liberal) Government, Cap-and-Trade won't cost 1.9 Billion, but will bring in 1.9 Billion in revenue. Additionally, the Carbon tax is nowhere in this document.

I therefore do not understand exactly where this money will actually be coming from, and it is possible that some of this is yet another embarrassing math error.

Despite that, I do think that releasing such a moderate platform so early before the election, especially one this detailed* will help the party.

*The 2018 platform is 80 pages long, compared to 26 for 2014, 44 for 2011, 61 for 2007, 123 in 2003, 54 in 1999, and 23 in 1995. It should be noted that the 2018 "platform" starts 30 pages in, but, due to text size, does retain its status as '2nd longest' even compared to 2007 or 1999.

At current, my projection is for a PC victory. Using a math based projection, I have the following results:

This would be a disaster for the Liberals, who, despite finishing 2nd in popular vote, would finish 3rd in terms of seats.

This is assuming the PC Party can and will retain its strong polling position, but that the Liberals will drop a few points as it becomes clear they will not win.

The Greens also win a seat in this projection simply based on the math.

So what can change? There are two simple ways that the Liberals can win.

1 - Screw Ups.

This would fit in with 'tradition' in recent elections. There are a number of ways this could happen.

A - Math Error
That 'error' I found in the budget could turns out to be a real error and not just my misunderstanding.

B - Brown Mistake
In this we would see Patrick Brown make a mistake. I've watched his convention speech and he seemed nervous and anxious, it is possible he could crack under the pressure.

C - Bozo Eruption
This has PC Candidates saying or doing stupid things that make voters fear that the party is still right-wing and "scary"

2 - Liberal Boldness.

For this the options are much, much more limited. In fact, as I see it, there is only one.

A - Basic Income.
The Liberal Party comes out in support of a Basic Income for all of Ontario.

Outside of these, I see the PC Party winning the next election with a majority.

Of course, the election is June 7th, which is more than 7 months away, and things can change.

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