Skip to Content
Sign up for Grass Roots Public Affairs Quarterly Newsletter Twitter Facebook

2017 Year End in Review in Ontario

Mon 18th Dec 2017
Year end has many people asking: “Holy smoke, where did the year go?”

Image result for queens park christmas toronto
The provincial legislature at Queens Park has risen and will not sit again until Tuesday, February 20, 2018. In our annual year end newsletter, we will look back at the political landscape of 2017 and look ahead to 2018.

Looking Back
Throughout 2017 there were many political issues that garnered a lot of attention with the following being perhaps the most notable:
  • Hydro: an ongoing negative issue that plagued the Liberal brand throughout 2017 and which the PCs will continue to hammer away at moving forward.
  • Minimum Wage: the increase to minimum wage polls well for Ontarians {63% approve,31% disapprove, Forum Research] despite strong opposition from business groups and predictions of significant job losses. Libs will continue to promote minimum wage under their “Fairness” banner.
  • Healthcare: always a top priority. Liberals demonstrating a caring philosophy with their pharmacare policy which was first promoted by the NDP. PCs taking a different approach prioritizing mental health funding which could prove a differentiation from the other two parties come election time as it’s an issue about which they have been, to date, silent.
  • Marijuana: controversial issue that the Liberals want to get out ahead of. By this time next year recreational marijuana will be legal but expect a bumpy ride along the way.
  • Trade: Premier Wynne has been very active on Ontario trade activities and uncertainty surrounding NAFTA and the overall stable Ontario economy may serve her well going into the election.
  • Scandals: the year ends with continued accusations and squabbling about gas plants, emails deletions, who did what, how and when, most notably between Kathleen Wynne and Patrick Brown; Grassroots expects an acrimonious lead in to the election. 
Now What?
2018 and the race is on. The writ does not drop until May but the three main parties are beginning to position themselves for a long and drawn out election campaign.
Image result for party leaders ontario
Most recent polls show the Liberals behind the eight ball:
  • Innovative Research Group (November 17) PCPO 32% OLP 24% NDP 15% Green 6%
  • Forum Research (December 4) PCPO  40% OLP 24% NDP 26% Green 8%
But another poll from Campaign Research shows a statistical tie between the PC’s and Liberals.
  • Campaign Research (December 8) PCPO 34% OLP 35% NDP 22%
Premier Wynne is overwhelmingly unpopular and often polls lower than her party brand. Expect another generous budget early 2018 with more left of centre government policies to enhance the Wynne’s government appeal for votes and voters.

When it comes to opinion polling, the opposition PCs have consistently led the pack since 2016 but Patrick Brown is still not that well known by voters. The launch of his change narrative outlined in the “People’s Guarantee” and Brown’s assertion to not seek re-election as premier if he fails to follow through may well address his knowledge deficit. Expect both the PCs and governing Liberals to invest heavily in defining him further, in very different ways of course, that will help their competing campaigns.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath has high personal approval ratings, often polls above her party and is positioning herself and her party as the sensible middle option.  Organizationally her party trails the other two significantly and the Liberal government has taken many NDP ideas and made them their own leaving voters uncertain about what the NDP can do to become noteworthy.

Political Analysis:
Despite the low polling for the governing Liberals, expect a competitive campaign and an acrimonious election process.

Daunting reality for the PCs: they need to win more than double the number of seats they currently hold in order to win a majority. Time will tell if the PC narrative for change and the “People’s Guarantee” has sufficient appeal to achieve that objective.

A significant portion of the Ontario electorate self identify themselves as Liberals. The problem for the Libs is Kathleen Wynne’s low approval rating and whether they can maintain discipline and cohesion within the party to get out the vote on Election Day. An electoral advantage is that many Liberal incumbents are popular and well liked in their riding. However, many powerful incumbents will not be running again.

This government’s confusing changes to the Fair Elections Act has hamstrung the power of all parties and candidates to raise money. Additionally, labour-driven third-party groups spent massive amounts of money during the 2014 election disseminating negative messages about PC leader Tim Hudak. They will no longer have the funds to disseminate similar negative messages about Patrick Brown.

The NDP face steep electoral obstacles and are likely to lose seats. According to polling results today pollster Greg Lyle recently predicted on TVO, that the NDP are likely to win just 12 seats, but those 12 seats will be incredibly valuable if the race is tight and we end up with a minority government.

Looking Ahead
During the winter break just about all MPPs have a ‘New Year Levee’ allowing politicians to mix and mingle with constituents. 2018 being an election year, candidates from all political parties may well hold something similar. For details in your riding visit the sitting MPP websites as well as websites of those seeking office. Get involved, become and stay active.

Grassroots Public Affairs hopes your 2017 is ending well and we commit to monitor the political landscape on your behalf to help you navigate purposefully, strategically and successfully throughout 2018.

We are reminded of the Chinese saying: “May you live in interesting times”. We sure do.

To your continued success and the continued success of this the greatest province, Ontario, in this the greatest country, Canada.
Image result for 2018