Friday, February 6, 2015

How the heck did you lose that one, Andrea?

Credit: Sudbury Star

I will admit from the top here: I actually expected Glenn Thibeault and the Ontario Liberals to go down in flames in Sudbury last night.

That opinion was despite my own obvious leanings and my immense respect for Glenn as a politician. Let's face it though, it isn't often that you have a scandal this large casting its shadow over your campaign, especially one so local and with such a sympathetic narrative, and manage a victory - especially for the Ontario Liberals. They have a propensity to lose by-elections in spectacular fashion, often coming down from on high to mess around in a local riding's machinations and completely screw it up. It has this effect even more when it faces off against the NDP for some reason - I submit as evidence by-elections in Hamilton East and London West, the former of which gave us Andrea Horwath herself.

However, the Sudbury by-election has clearly bucked my hypothetical trend. That is absolutely amazing to me, and congratulations - I think the better candidate won frankly, and the number of Liberal volunteers I know that went up to Sudbury are beaming with pride - well deserved, in my opinion.

There is a flip to this story, however - that of the losers, or as I like to call them, the NDP (that's a joke, please don't bite my head off).

The Ontario New Democrats are a party that was supposed to be on its way to inevitable victory against a corrupt Liberal government and incompetent Tory party - that never panned out, and instead the NDP and leader Andrea Horwath's decision to force an election allowed the Liberals to claim a majority government, while they had to settle for continued third place and minimal influence on government policy.

Now the dirt has been rubbed in their faces with the loss of Sudbury, a coveted riding they probably poured immense resources into in the 2014 general election and now have nothing to show for it. That is despite having a quality candidate in Shawna Shawbonquit and a helpful vote split with Andrew Olivier, the ex-OLP candidate running as an independent.

There will be plenty of excuses: the OLP bribed the electorate with promises of cabinet influence, or its a natural Liberal riding, or Thibeault's star power was too much, so and so forth. That is all fair, but there was just so much riding in your favour, Dippers. How did you not turn it to your favour? How did Andrea, or Thomas Mulcair for that matter, not manage to convince voters in the city to stick by their decision in 2014 to be the finger stuck in the eye of the Liberal government?

That's certainly a question I'd be asking of my leader anyway.


  1. The NDP was never even a realistic possible to win.

    1. The by-election was also terribly unimportant; hence why 0 commentary from me. And the Liberals did not win. The Liberals could have won if Thibeau was still an MP, but once he got involved it was his to win or lose; if he ran as an IND he'd have won as an IND, if he ran NDP, he'd won NDP.

    2. from my personal blog

  2. Very good question Kyle H, very good question indeed. Frankly, I am amazed at the fact that Horwath kept her job after the debacle of the last election in Ontario, and it was a debacle. Not only did she trigger an election on a bad issue for her, she hadn't kept the most basic readiness for an election call in both infrastructure and platform, which when you are in a minority government is ALWAYS the bare minimum you do as a competent leader! The way she ran that campaign was also less than impressive, and how she celebrated gaining no more seats (yes, she changed three in equivalent exchange, woh hoo) and a bare 1% increase in voter support at the expense of retaining third party status and yet gave an election night speech that sounded like a victory speech is something I find simply astonishing. Also, losing any power over government policy by virtue of it no longer being a minority government, and worse doing so in what only a few months earlier to that election being seen as a real contender to form government an become the second ever NDP Premier of Ontario further demonstrates poor leadership IMHO. Then we take the fact she had Hudak as the only other change contender who clearly made a major mistake in his 100,000 job cuts to make a 1,000,000 job gain announcement, and she still did this badly and still kept her job even after this second try as leader? Really?

    Then she loses this seat, which as you say given all this issues surrounding it should have been as close to a "gimme" for her if she played it well as you could have, but here we are. Like you I expected the Dippers to win in the end between the scandals, the vote split, and what I would have expected to be the more motivated voters being angry with what happened than those willing to support Thibeault to come out, especially since this was a by-election. I make no claims to expertise in Ontario Provincial politics but this did seem to be the impression one got watching from down here in NS. The only thing against the NDP and Horwath in this was having a candidate who folded after 6 months from election, aside from that she and her side had a lot of advantages, including in the candidate they ran, and yet this is what happened? How this does not reflect badly on her leadership I do not know, and it also doesn't do anything to help Mulcair since he decided to involve himself in this by-election at the Provincial level to campaign against Thibeault, who is already under some suspicion for not having any coattails politically speaking given the federal by-election results since he became leader of the NDP.

    No, this should have been one for the ONDP, and the fact they lost, and lost fairly strongly by a good 5-6 % margin, in a riding they won in a general election 7-8 months ago despite all the resources and efforts the ONDP and its leader put into it, well how does that not look bad for Horwath? However, given how she managed to keep her support after the last election at the recent NDP convention it seems her defenders will just shrug this off as more evidence of the vast conspiracy of powers out to screw them once again, that certainly seemed to be the vibe I got reading the Babble thread on the election earlier today. I'll also bet Mulcair is really happy with the SCC Right to Die ruling today deflecting attention from the loss in that riding last night and his own role in it.

    1. Some of the posts I read on Rabble threads are too far outside of the mainstream and scream tinfoil hat thinking.

      These people make it seem Wynne is some right-winger and Horwath is a leftist who would unleash her true socialist credentials once she gets elected. In reality, the difference between Wynne and Horwath is rather minimal.

  3. Like them or not, the Ontario Liberal Party is a well oiled, well organized political machine. Perhaps one of the best this country has ever seen. Right now only the federal Conservatives and BC Liberals come close to having such strong party organization.

    The federal Liberals can't even come close to how organized the provincial Liberals are. I canvassed for both parties during a general election and I was astonished at the organizational difference of the two parties.

    A Cohn article in the Toronto Star claims that Wynne really wanted to win Sudbury to put Horwath "in her place" and demoralize the NDP. I cannot think of any other reason why the premier, the entire cabinet team and party volunteers across the province spent so much time in this by-election.

    Horwath should resign before the next election. She performed below expectations during the election last May. She first tacked right before the election, and now she is tacking to the left again. Nobody knows what Horwath stands for. I saw some of the questions her party is asking during question period, they were chiding a Liberal minister as being sexist. Seriously?

    A leadership race in 2016 would be good for the party. A new leader and fresh ideas can benefit the party. That way MPPs that were elected between 2011 or subsequent by elections have some experience before they attempt the leadership. Since the federal election would be over NDP MPs (or ex MPs) can access the situation in Ottawa and see if its worth trying to become provincial leader.

    Personally, I think an experienced MP such as Charlie Angus or Paul Dewar would make a good fit as a Horwath successor. Most of the fresh faces in the provincial caucus are too wishy washy like their boss Horwath (i.e. Jagmeet Singh, Catherine Fife, Taras Natyshak).

  4. To add, the NDP does not do much to differentiate themselves from the OLP in terms of large policy discussions. There is political space for them to be more vocal about the Beer Store monopoly. The party can take a bold gamble with the Catholic school question.