Ontario’s new democrats see victory only in their dreams. They are at the fork in the road of Robert Frost’s poem: The Road Not Taken. It is not a question of which path offers the accident of Bob Rae’s NDP government of the 1990s. It is the reality of the question of whether Ontario voters will want to reward the NDP for services rendered during the four years of Ford government?
And that might not be much. It is the Ford government itself that will help choose its successor. Ford has to choose who he will fight. Fighting both liberal and NDP opponents only leads to confusion. It could be as late as April next year that the voter mindset starts to choose the ultimate winner. Hopefully, covid-19 will be laid to rest. People will be more concerned about the options of the future. They will congregate at the crossroads, ready to place their bets.
And that future will hardly be a reward for the past. That is not how it works. It will be a tortoise and hare race to topple the conservative braggarts. The NDP might hold the poll position but that is a position at the beginning of the race, if it even exists.
It is leadership that matters most. It is a pattern of Upper Canada and Ontario elections since before confederation. Ford and Horwath are known and both wanting. The liberal turtle has yet to cast aside his shell.
The voters know Ford for his bluster, his broken promises, his confusion, his lack of democracy, his denial of our rights and his cronyism.
Horwath has her own problems. Her lacklustre leadership has led the NDP nowhere during their years of opportunity. She might have more money and more credible candidates but she still leads a party of losers.
The substantive challenge is for the liberals. With a rump in Queen’s Park, they have done better than expected. There is a collective wisdom in the liberal caucus that goes far beyond the numbers. The leader, the turtle has to shatter that shell and show the public direction and leadership.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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