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Tough night for the Ontario Libs & Wynne

Last night, there were 2 byelections in Ontario, which were seen as a test of what the political winds are like in Ontario these days. The Ontario Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne was hoping to wrest away Thornhill from the PC’s, while Niagara Falls, in Tim Hudak’s backyard, it was seen as a test to see which opposition party would wrest it away from the OLP.

It was not a very good night for the OLP: in Thornhill, the PC candidate won comfortably – with vote totals only slightly down from the last general election, while in Niagara Falls, Liberal support cratered, but fled mostly to the NDP, which gained a victory in a riding they haven’t had a rich history of winning.

What does that mean for the legislature? One would think these results would take some heat off of Tim Hudak, and allow him to continue his pressure on trying to bring the minority government down. What of Andrea Horwath, the leader of the NDP?

On the one hand, it may give her more leverage with Wynne in policy and budget talks to wrest more concessions out of the OLP. On the other hand, as one NDP political colleague pointed out, since 2011, the NDP has gained 4 seats in Ontario at the Liberals’ expense, while the PC’s are stuck in neutral, so she may start to believe that Liberal support will flee mostly to her (for those people wanting a change) in a general election. Wynne and the OLP may need to swallow some pride and negotiate more with the NDP on certain bills, policies, etc, if they want to avoid a Spring election (which, for someone like me that has a liberal/progressive view on politics, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

One other thing I’ll mention; Forum Research, who has taken a lot of heat from folks (including me) on the accuracy of their polling, had an okay night last night. In the Falls, they overestimated NDP support by 9% and underestimated PC support by about 6%, while their Thornhill polling was more or less within the MOE of the result. Is it because they’ve improved their polling, or is it a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day? We’ll have to wait and see for the next set of elections, but I’m not prepared (yet) to say I trust their polling now.


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