No one should be happy about the Liberal majority. Well, maybe Kathleen Wynne—she owned up to the gas plant scandals and she ran a terrific campaign. This is, more than anyone else’s, Wynne’s win.
Elections have a way of showing us what we don’t see (or don’t want to see) before the vote. When Ms Wynne comes down from cloud 9, she will realize that she is Premier of a Province severely divided. The rural-urban split is real and sharper than ever, with the PCs taking the farm belt across the middle of the Province and the Liberals the cities and the 905.
There’s an essay in why that happened, but this isn’t it.
First Nations remain outside the mainstream political discourse, at least in central Ontario. In this riding (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound) their vote was the inverse of the Provincial: first NDP, then Liberal, then Tory—same as many other FNs in Ontario in 2011. The turn-out at Saugeen and Nawash was, as usual, well below the Provincial average. There’s another essay in why this happens election after election.
But another, more clear and present divide has opened up in Ontario—the divide between those of us who have more than enough and those of us who don’t. We know now that income inequality is a huge problem for families, communities and for society.
I bet everyone knows someone who is struggling to get to the end of the month before their pay cheque runs out. If it weren’t for family ties, food banks, affordable housing, and universal health care, precarious work would be putting whole families on the streets.
“The Gap” is what they call it in England. They’re not referring to the store, although The Gap is certainly symptomatic of the problem. The inequality gap is getting worse as good, middle-class wage jobs remain AWOL in Ontario. It is widening and threatening to become feudal – a class of people permanently underemployed serving another class permanently overpaid.
None of the major parties articulated a vision or promoted a platform that addressed this divide. The NDP might have, but Ms Horwath moved them to the right where they bumped into the Liberals who, with their clever budget, took votes away from them.
The Progressive Conservatives clung to their mantra: cut taxes, cut jobs. A decade of cutting corporate taxes and middle class jobs in the public sector hasn’t worked to create good jobs in the private sector, so you’d think they’d be looking for another ideology.
But they aren’t. I know this from talking to some of them, including candidates, after the vote was in and they saw how badly Mr Hudak’s articulation of that ideology was received.
There is nothing much in the Liberal budget that will successfully address the Gap. It is a political budget, a mishmash of policies and promises designed to win an election—hardly the framework on which to rebuild a prosperous society.
If there is no political vision from above, it means we have to discover it ourselves. It’s time for us to start thinking outside the little boxes of our favourite ideologies and, together, find our own solutions to what divides us.
© David McLaren, 13 June 2014
Seat Count after the 2014 Ontario Election
Liberals (majority government) 59
Progressive Conservatives (PCs) 27
New Democratic Party (NDP) 21
Source of maps: Global TV
(riding by riding results).
More maps: Toronto might be Liberal but it is still divided against itself.