Doug Ford strikes a magnanimous tone. The Big Blue Collar Machine. Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca exit stage left.
Alex Boutilier: It’s one thing to win a majority. It’s another thing to win a majority and watch your two principal rivals resign.
Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca’s resignations were the cherry on top of Doug Ford’s election night sundae, with the PCs easily securing another four years of majority rule in Ontario. It was smiles all-around at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke on Thursday night, after Global News took just 11 minutes to call Ford’s victory.
What struck me — and probably just because I spend way too much time thinking about the federal Conservative Party — was Ford’s victory speech. After thanking the opposition leaders by name, Ford talked about how his proudest achievement as PC party leader was expanding the party’s base, welcoming in people who hadn’t voted Tory before, and making people feel at home with the Progressive Conservatives.
I think this election campaign was proof positive of that, with Ford snapping up major endorsements from private-sector unions who fought tooth and nail against the Tories in previous campaigns. Will this be a lasting alliance, Colin, and if so, what does it mean for Ontario politics going forward?
Colin D’Mello: The day after winning a second landslide, Ford acknowledged that he’s a changed man. A political neophyte who learned how to be premier while on the job, and a partisan discovered the recipe to being a good politician.
No longer is he swatting away political flies. Now he’s luring them in with some sweet non-partisan honey. He’s also received some brilliant strategic guidance from experienced conservatives who knew how to give Ford broader appeal and dull his sharp edges.
Ontario election: How Doug Ford’s campaign strategy helped PCs win 2nd majority
But this victory isn’t just Ford’s alone. His Labour Minister Monte McNaughton was instrumental in securing support with a multitude of unions, while Caroline Mulroney took her star power to Francophone ridings to help support non-traditional PC regions.
The first test of this new “unity” premier will come during the summer months as contracts with Ontario’s education unions begin to expire. Teachers have been engaged in a non-stop fight with the Ford government since 2019 and are sending early signals of potential strikes if they can’t agree to agree.
Ford has signalled fair negotiations with education and health care unions — but ultimately if push comes to shove, Ford will reveal his true colours.
But if Ford et al can succeed in keeping their support, this could be the beginning of a new Ontario PC election playbook.
Alex Boutilier: Of course, the other significant change to Ontario’s political picture is the end of the Andrea Horwath era, and Steven Del Duca’s quick exit from the Liberal leadership after Thursday night’s drubbing.
The Liberal campaign post mortem figures to be brutal. They badly underperformed expectations, both based on public polling and the campaign’s own spin in the days leading up to the vote.
But that’s yesterday’s news. How do you see the two parties’ leadership races playing out? Are their heirs apparent waiting in the wings, and what kind of task do they have ahead of them to rebuild their respective parties?
And for purely selfish reasons, do you think Ford has any federal ambitions? Any chance he might not serve the full four years and make the jump to Ottawa?
Colin D’Mello: After a dozen years, there are no doubt a number of candidates lining up to take over for Andrea Horwath, including current caucus members like Marit Stiles, Jennifer French and Catherine Fife. We could also see some defeated NDP candidates decide to take a run at the leadership.
There is something poetic about Gurratan Singh running for the leadership of the provincial NDP, while his brother leaders the federal NDP.
As for the Ontario Liberals, there’s a lot of chatter about GTA-area mayors such as Maurizio Bevilacqua and Bonnie Crombie taking on the fight. Liberal MP Michael Coteau and failed leadership candidate Kate Graham could also enter the fray.
The party is now in renewal 2.0 after a devastating election outcome and will likely have to focus on the anthesis of Steven Del Duca: a leader with charisma, broader appeal, and that Trudeau hair.
As for Ford: If wishes were ponies, Alex, you’d be trotting down Sparks Street, my friend!
Ford can win Ontario, that much is evident. But a path to a federal majority also runs through Quebec. And while voters there might enjoy his folksy-ness, his primary-level command of French would be a huge strike.
Alex Boutilier: Well, a boy can dream.
And with that, a fork has been stuck in it, the lady in the viking helmet has sung, and this weird, dozy provincial campaign has come to an end. Thank you for coming with us on this journey, and for reading. Stay tuned to globalnews.ca for all your political analysis needs, and we’ll see you back in this space in 2026.
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