If ever a solid argument could be made for proportional representation, it is evident in Ontario today. With three weeks left before the June 7 vote, the Progressive Conservatives, under populist leader Doug Ford, hold a comfortable lead in the polls. The latest polling indicates the PCs hold just under 41 per cent support among decided voters, followed by the NDP at 31 and Liberals at 24.
One surmises those numbers would give the Tories a slim majority or a comfortable minority. But seat tracking projections give the PCs a whopping 84 seats, the NDP 38 and the governing Liberals 2 despite having the support of almost one quarter of voters. The probability of a majority PC government is tabulated at 94 per cent.
If these projections hold true, Mr. Ford will become a powerful, conservative force across the national political spectrum. The outcome will tilt the country’s most populous province decidedly toward the right. And the larger question, will Canada be far behind? And what does it mean here in the Atlantic region?
Is this the start of a movement to take Canada more into line with Donald Trump’s vision of America? It’s no accident that many comparisons are being made to label Mr. Ford as ‘Trump North.’
Mr. Ford believes in “looking after our own first.” It’s a stark departure from the pan-Canadian vision of inclusiveness and compassion – a view endorsed by a majority of Atlantic Canadians, based on an Ekos poll earlier this year. Mr. Ford supports pushing newcomers aside and giving Ontario residents first option for jobs. It doesn’t sound encouraging for Atlantic Canadians who have long found Ontario a favorite destination for work and opportunity.
It’s no surprise that Mr. Ford is anti-Muslim, has voted against LGBTQ issues, wants to curb wage increases, has drawn the ire of labour and has endorsed a candidate with extreme views against abortion.
Is this a case of Ontario residents aligning with Mr. Ford’s views or a desire to defeat Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne? There is no question that Mr. Ford’s mantra has appeal: Lower taxes, smaller government, fewer regulations, commitments to public health-care and education and little interest in environmental issues.
Mr. Ford’s plans to scuttle efforts to combat global warming will cause headaches for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And his stance on pharmacare could determine if this essential national program will proceed.
Atlantic Canadians aren’t into divisive politics. The Ekos poll finds that feelings of displacement are lowest in Atlantic Canada. Views on our economic future, populism, outlook and racial tolerance put us in first as the most open region in the country. St. John’s, N.L., is the most open city in the country. Halifax is tied in sixth spot. Our shared values and ties that bind communities are social and economic realities. Atlantic Canadians will continue to reject the politics of fear and divisiveness because we prefer to see the best in people and events.
We remain confident the angry Ontario wave won’t reach our shores.