The electoral campaign in Ontario is now over. Don’t worry if you weren’t really aware of it – it seems that even those most concerned with the elections, Ontario’s electorate, didn’t pay much attention. Some, however, have kept a close eye on what has been happening in the most populous Canadian province: the federal political parties.
The reason why is quite simple. Ontario is a microcosm of the country’s electoral map as a whole. The Ontario elections could serve as a crystal ball for predicting the three main federal parties’ futures. And, needless to say, the province is home to a score of federal ridings. Hence the acute interest in the province shown by the federal parties.
For Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, the choices made by Ontario’s electorate will be a harbinger of which issues are on voters’ minds. This should serve them well in the months to come, as they will be honing their thoughts before presenting their platform for the next federal election, a platform based on the Ontario election’s results.
The Liberals will probably be the ones to get the most out of this election. We already know that the Ontario
Liberals’ campaign has mostly focused on voters from the major urban centres. The Progressive Conservatives have mainly campaigned in the fringe areas of Toronto and the more rural regions in order to attract votes.
This particular tactic, performed across the country in the past by the Conservatives, has served Stephen Harper’s party very well to date. Take, for example, British Columbia, where Harper’s troops have mainly concentrated their efforts in rural areas, yet have not ignored ridings on the outskirts of Vancouver. In fact, it looks like the federal Conservatives have pretty well given up on the idea of making gains in the most populous ridings in Canada. And, as proven by the 2011 elections, they don’t need to.
As for Trudeau’s Liberals, gaining power will rest in the hands of these populated centres, and especially Montreal, where they bit the dust in 2011. But they will also turn their interest towards voters from ridings in the fringe areas. This was Kathleen Wynne’s challenge in Ontario. This is why many lessons will be learned from the Ontario elections.
The NDP, on the other hand, is not without its own challenges. They’ve seen the Liberal Party invade their political space these past few months. This is a formula Justin’s Trudeau’s federal Liberals seem to want to adopt.
We’ll see how the elections turn out in Ontario but there is little doubt that there isn’t enough room for two major political parties sharing more or less the same political cards.
Whatever the results may be, the campaign in Ontario will have served as an experimental political laboratory for federal strategists. Let’s see how they perform in a little less than a year.
NOTE: For professional reasons, Serge Corbeil is no longer able to provide political commentary
for The Source. We warmly thank him for his contribution over the past 7 years.