Hor­wath seems happy she lost. So are we

Toronto Sun - - COMMENT -

Sel­dom have we heard a po­lit­i­cal leader as over­joyed about los­ing an elec­tion as Ontario NDP leader Andrea Hor­wath.

It started with her “con­ces­sion” speech on the night of June 7, which sounded more like a vic­tory ora­tion, with Hor­wath re­peat­edly shout­ing out her con­grat­u­la­tions to her­self and her party, her arms raised in the air in tri­umph.

She’s been in the same cel­e­bra­tory mood ever since, in­clud­ing

Thurs­day’s meet­ing in Toronto with her new NDP cau­cus.

In one sense, we un­der­stand

Hor­wath’s joy.

Af­ter all, de­spite the NDP go­ing down to de­feat in Hor­wath’s third elec­tion in a row as party leader, she saved her own job by el­e­vat­ing the NDP into of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion sta­tus, as com­pared to her pre­vi­ous third­place fin­ishes as leader in 2011 and 2014.

Hor­wath ran a good cam­paign, was seen as the most like­able of the ma­jor party lead­ers and, as she noted on elec­tion night, the 40 MPPs elected on her watch is the NDP’s best show­ing in a generation.

How­ever, it’s not ac­cu­rate to say, as Hor­wath claimed, that On­tar­i­ans re­sponded to the NDP as never be­fore, given that the NDP un­der Bob Rae won a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment in 1990.

Plus, elec­tions are all about ex­pec­ta­tions.

While Hor­wath ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions at the start of the cam­paign that she would again fin­ish in third, a mid-cam­paign surge in NDP sup­port, ac­cord­ing to the polls, put her not just in sec­ond place ahead of out­go­ing pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne and the Lib­er­als, but with a shot at de­feat­ing fron­trun­ner Doug Ford and the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives.

Alas, it was not to be.

Hor­wath’s mo­men­tum halted when she was un­able to de­fend con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies like vow­ing never to use back-towork leg­is­la­tion to end labour dis­putes, and her in­abil­ity, or un­will­ing­ness, to dis­tance her­self from the in­de­fen­si­ble views of some of the po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists the NDP re­cruited to run as MPPs.

We sus­pect Hor­wath was re­lieved to have fin­ished in sec­ond place, lest she would have had to form a cabi­net and gov­ern with the col­lec­tion of ide­o­logues she now has in her cau­cus.

That said, since Hor­wath ap­pears to be happy to have fin­ished in sec­ond place — in other words, happy to have lost — we’re happy, too.


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