LILLEY: Opposition leaders’ talk of coalition a gift to Ford

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I’m not sure they meant to do it, but Ontario’s three opposition parties have handed Doug Ford’s PC Party a massive gift.

In their haste to ensure the public knows they want to replace the Ford government and that they would never prop him up, they have put the possibility of forming a coalition of the far left in front of voters.

Voters aren’t necessarily opposed to coalitions in Canadian politics, but they do think that the party that wins the most seats should get a chance to govern.

In a column published in the Toronto Star this week, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner all said that under no circumstances would they support Ford if he had the most seats after the next election but not a majority.

“I would definitely not prop up Doug Ford, absolutely not,” Horwath told the Star.

Del Duca was also unequivocal in his statement.

“There is no way we’d be supporting Doug Ford,” he said.


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Finally, Schreiner had his say.

“No, I can’t see how I’d support a Ford-led government,” Schreiner said.

The Star gleefully put this column and photos of Ford and the opposition leaders on its front page under the headline, Leaders issue warning to Ford.

It should have read, Opposition hands Ford gift.

From this day forward, the PC’s can campaign by appealing to voters that anything other than a vote for Ford’s re-election is a vote for a coalition of the far left. The NDP and Liberals have been stuck in the mid-20s in terms of voter support in several polls and are not in striking distance to wrest power away from Ford at this point.

What would Del Duca need to offer Horwath in order to get her support if Ford gets a minority? What about Schreiner?


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Sure, it’s theoretically possible that the NDP could end up in second place in the next election, but it is not likely. Despite Ford’s first year being chaotic and full of stumbles, Horwath was never able to capitalize on the situation, and it has been the same in the pandemic.

The most likely scenario at this point is that if we end up in a minority, the Liberals will be in second place and will be dragged left by the NDP and Greens. Del Duca has tried to position himself as a Chretien centrist despite having served in the Wynne government which tried to outflank the NDP on the left.

Del Duca would be dragged further left if he tried to seize power. I’m betting he regrets talking about this issue with the Star already.

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I’m also betting the brain trust behind the PC campaign is rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of running against this coalition idea.


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We may not get to that point, of course. Despite all the hype, there is still a good chance that Ford could win a majority once again.

A poll conducted by Maru Public Opinion for TV Ontario two weeks ago showed that when asked which party voters would choose to lead them through the pandemic if they could turn back time, 42% still chose the Ford PCs, 25% chose the NDP and 24% chose the Liberals.

  1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters next to Deputy PM and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Aug. 18, 2020.

    Liberals, opposition clash on legislative agenda in final week before break

  2. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pictured at a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario on June 22, 2021.

    LILLEY: Trudeau talks as if election campaign has already started

That’s an indictment of the opposition, not Ford, considering that he only received 40% of the vote in 2018.

Lots can change between now and when voters cast their ballots on June 2, 2022 but at this point, the opposition is running from behind and doing a bad job of trying to catch up.


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