Yesterday, Ontarians cast their ballots and re-elected Doug Ford and his Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (PC) in a landslide victory that saw their majority strengthen from 76 to 83 seats in the Ontario Legislature. The relatively quiet 30-day campaign followed the typical front-runner approach that presented PC Leader and Premier Ford, in a safe and controlled environment.
PC candidates while out knocking on doors remained largely “under the radar,” often missing from all-candidate debates and seldom responding to media requests. At the same time NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner fell short of making the case to Ontarians that they should replace the Ford government. The results show this was not a change election for Ontarians. While Ford strengthened his voter base, the three main opposition parties were left to fight amongst themselves in a de facto opposition primary, leaving the opposition parties in the same or worse position than before the campaign.
Though for the NDP, they managed to hold some ground. Despite losing nine seats compared to the 2018 election results, the NDP will again form the Official Opposition retaining 31 seats. However, that opposition will be led by a new leader as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced her decision to step down after her fourth successive election loss.
The Liberals again will be seen as the biggest losers of last night’s election, failing to secure official party status for a second straight election by managing to win a total of eight seats, just one more seat compared to the 2018 election. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca also announced his resignation calling on the party to organize a leadership contest as soon as possible. Though this should not come as a surprise as he failed to win his own seat, losing his riding a second time to incumbent PC Michael Tibollo.
That leaves Premier-elect Ford and Mike Schreiner as the two remaining party leaders still standing.
By the numbers
At the onset of the campaign, province-wide polling aggregates were reporting that the PCs had around 37 per cent support with the Liberals trailing at 28 per cent, the NDP at 22 per cent and the Greens at five per cent. The final aggregate numbers simply strengthened at the top with the PCs finishing at 40 per cent, both the Liberals and NDP almost identical at 23.8 per cent and 23.7 per cent respectively and the Greens at 6 per cent.
By the seats
Premier Ford has won seats in all regions of Ontario, including seats in more traditional, working-class NDP ridings such as Hamilton, Timmins, and the Windsor area. Across Ontario, the breakdown was as follows:
Northern Ontario and Near North: 5 seats. Of note is that the PCs took two NDP incumbent seats away in Timmins and Thunder Bay—Atikokan. The riding of Timmins was previously held by the NDP incumbent, Gilles Bisson, for 32 years.
Eastern Ontario: 11 seats. Liberal incumbent, Amanda Simard, who crossed the floor in 2019 lost her seat to the PC candidate in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. All the remaining PC incumbents held on to their ridings, except for Jeremy Roberts who lost his Ottawa West—Nepean seat to the NDP candidate.
Western and Southwestern Ontario: 22 seats. The PCs took the Windsor—Tecumseh riding away from the NDP. Former PC MPP and Deputy Speaker, Rick Nicholls, who ran as an Independent lost his riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington to a PC candidate. PC incumbent and former Attorney General of Ontario, Doug Downey, was re-elected to serve the riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, with less than a 2 per cent lead.
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area: 45 seats. Of note is that the PCs managed to take three seats away from incumbent NDPs in the Brampton area and a Toronto riding seat, which was won by Premier Ford’s nephew and former City Councillor, Michael Ford. Independent and former NDP, Paul Miller, also lost a seat he has held for decades to a new PC candidate. Some close races in the GTHA included:
- Ajax: 4.7% margin
- Eglinton—Lawrence: 1.8% margin
- Etobicoke—Lakeshore: 1.7% margin
- Milton: 4.3% margin
- Mississauga East—Cooksville: 3.7% margin
- Mississauga—Erin Mills: 4.7% margin
- York South—Weston: 2.6% margin
By the voters
Elections Ontario has shared its preliminary results, which indicate the 2022 election saw the lowest voter turnout in Ontario’s history, with just 43.5 per cent of eligible voters showing up to the polls. In the entire province, approximately 4.6 million votes were cast, which is about 13.5 percentage points lower than the 2018 election. This begs the question: Did enough people even care to vote?
As history suggests, for an incumbent government to lose its power, voter turnout must be high or at least above average, which simply was not the case during this election. The PCs were successful in keeping their demographic invested and potentially broadening their reach while both the Liberals and NDP again fought for a place in each other’s pots.
What is next?
Premier-elect Ford and his key advisors will spend the next while appointing a new cabinet, new Parliamentary Secretaires, setting the date of the swearing-in and presenting a Speech from the Throne to officially commence the 43rd Parliament of Ontario. While just speculation at this point, you can expect the Premier to consider new cabinet ministers from breakthrough regions for the PCs in Windsor and Northern Ontario. Premier Ford has committed to re-introducing the Ontario Budget this summer, which was released on April 28 that focused on the core key themes of:
- Rebuilding Ontario’s economy
- Working for workers
- Building highways and key infrastructure
- Keeping costs down
- A plan to stay open
Stay tuned for a detailed analysis on what a returning PC government means for Ontario from NATIONAL’s Public Affairs team next week.