Andrea Horwath learns the lessons she unlearned
Andrea Horwath now has a second chance to lead Ontario’s third-place party.
New Democrats are sticking with their leader largely because they’re stuck with her: With no obvious understudy ready to step in, delegates voted to forgive her forgettable 2014 campaign performance.
On judgment day, Saturday, Horwath atoned for her electoral sins. She vowed to learn the lessons of a campaign that sent the party back into opposition obscurity.
In a formal leadership review, delegates returned their verdict: 76.9 per cent voted in favour of Horwath keeping her job — slightly above the 76.4 per cent she won in the last convention in 2012, and well above the traditional benchmark of 66 per cent that spells trouble. That means Horwath will survive — if not quite thrive — to run again another day.
In the months since the June 12 election, NDP activists had complained bitterly about a campaign that cost them three crucial Toronto seats — and, importantly, the balance of power in a minority legislature. That defeat deprived New Democrats of the leverage they’d held since 2011 to push a progressive agenda upon the Liberals.
The bigger loss, however, was the sense that Horwath had lost her way — and her progressive purpose. She had ceded the NDP’s traditional vision to Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, who emerged as the more persuasive progressive voice in the campaign.
The unprecedented role reversal left voters perplexed: Why elect New Democrats to be keepers of the legislature’s conscience if Horwath had already ceded it? If Wynne was cheerfully campaigning for pension improvements and wage hikes for the working poor, while Horwath was publicly opposing an Ontario pension plan and playing politics with low-wage workers, why vote NDP? (Source: Toronto Star)