Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday April 27, 2022
So… when was the last time you really thought about the NDP?
You might have noticed something interesting about the election campaign that’s underway, although not yet official, in Ontario.
The official opposition, the New Democrats? No one is talking about them.
So it’s not that the NDP isn’t getting any attention. It’s more that it wasn’t getting any attention for a long time before this. Let me ask a question of you, dear readers: before the platform release, when was the last time you thought about the NDP or Andrea Horwath at all? There was that recent weird nomination story, where a sitting NDP MPP didn’t win the right to run under the party’s banner in his current riding. There was all the speculation about the ejection of former NDP MPP Paul Miller from caucus last month. And that’s … about all that comes to mind? Which isn’t great. These aren’t shining moments for the party.
It’s not just me, by the way. I literally monitor Ontario politics for a living, so it would be bizarre if I were just missing a bunch of stuff the NDP and Horwath were up to. But not impossible. Look at the opinion polls, though. The main takeaway from all the recent polls is that the Tories are in the lead — sometimes lopsidedly so, but in some polls, just barely. (The data is a bit all over the place right now, to be honest, and I really have no idea what the current state of the race is. Hopefully a more clear polling trendline will become apparent soon.) One thing that is abundantly clear from all these polls, though, is that it’s a race between the Doug Ford Progressive Conservatives and the Steven Del Duca Liberals. The NDP is in third. Looking back at every poll of Ontario voter intentions this year, there are a few where the NDP are ahead of the Liberals, but only a few, and in some of those, only by a point or two, well within the margin of error. The more recent the poll, the better the Liberals are doing relative to the NDP. Hell, in recent years, before Del Duca was selected by the Liberals to be the new leader, there have been times when Liberal Leader to Be Determined was shockingly competitive with Horwath, the real-life person Ontarians really ought to know by now.
Over the past four years — turbulent times, to be sure — the party has had no shortage of opportunities to rightly roast Ford and his government for their decisions. It’s tried. Try as I might, though, I can’t think of a moment when it’s really succeeded. When it’s really connected with voters and shown itself ready and able to govern, should voters kick the current government to the curb. Ford keeps gently lofting balls right over the plate, but Horwath just can’t seem to knock one even all that far into the outfield, let alone out of the park. (Continued: Matt Gurney TVO)