Image via Twitter
What a fiasco.
After a turbulent four years that was marred by incompetence, malice, arrogance and often incoherence, the reactionary, anti-worker Doug Ford government in Ontario easily won reelection last night (June 2) after a campaign whose main theme seems to have been deep voter ennui.
Only slightly more than 43% of those eligible voted, a staggeringly low number. The lowest in the history of the province and down by around 13 points from 2018. This is reflected in the fact that Ford won more seats this time around and yet the Progressive Conservative vote actually decreased by around 410,000.
An even more astounding collapse was in the NDP's vote. It declined by around 820,000 or 42% a truly remarkable setback. According to the Dispatches from the Limestone City blog -- from which, with permission, I am drawing many of these numbers -- "this is the biggest setback suffered by the Official Opposition in Ontario history."
Remember that as NDP leaders and apologists try to frame the election in positive terms or to claim holding onto to Official Opposition was some kind of "victory".
It was not. The result is a catastrophe for the party and a total repudiation of its approach and its leadership. As I noted in my piece Ford cruising to reelection in Ontario due to squandered opportunities, uninspiring opposition the Ford government was deeply unpopular after its first year and a half in office. So much so that it was rumoured Ford would not even finish his term. The squandered opportunities for the ONDP, as I outlined there, are hard to fathom.
They went from first in 2018 to third in the Toronto regional vote:
Graph used with permission of the Dispatches from the Limestone City blog
While they won 23 seats more than the Liberals their total popular vote was lower province wide by around 6,000. That the ONDP could lose so many votes and actually get fewer votes than the Liberals overall speaks to how fundamentally uninspiring its banal messaging about making life "affordable" was along with its milquetoast policies that were all framed in boring "respectable" and "responsible" ways.
No doubt the party will draw entirely the wrong lessons from this, but that is a question for a later article.
The election was also, of course, a total disaster for the Liberals and, most especially Liberal leader Steven Del Duca. While their vote remained relatively steady with 2018 they still took only 8 seats due to the nature of our electoral system and the way their vote is spread. This was hugely below expectations.
Both NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Del Duca have now resigned. Ford will get a renewed honeymoon with his major opposition parties looking for new leaders, though likely anyone he faces in 2026 will have been an improvement in both cases.
Anyway you look at it the Left has to realize that the fact that so many felt they had no one to vote for or no real reason to vote speaks to just how disaffected people have become with the politics of neo-liberal capitalism. A majority of people stayed home and that clearly indicates massive detachment from the mainstream political parties and a sense among millions that there is nothing to vote for.
Non-voters are often framed as "lazy" or "indifferent" but this is an elitist and reactionary take. It makes perfect sense, given the interests that all the mainstream parties pander to and represent, for people to feel the process is pointless, alienating or a waste of time and this is heightened by our undemocratic voting system.
There are many more aspects to the state of affairs in Ontario for workers and the Left that need to be looked at and it is essential that anti-capitalist leftists outside the NDP try to figure out "what is to be done" strategically in the days ahead as we are confronted by four more years of Ford. Leftists still within the NDP or apologizing for it truly need to reexamine the utility of their approach which has failed everywhere in Canada where it has been tried.
When millions of Ontarians say "a pox on all your houses" there is both danger and opportunity for the Left. We have to seize on a strategy and on tactics that lead to and make the most of the latter.