Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday December 5, 2023
Bonnie Crombie Faces Uphill Battle to Revitalize Ontario Liberals
In the aftermath of her victory, Bonnie Crombie now grapples with the challenging task of rejuvenating the Ontario Liberal Party, an uphill battle exacerbated by the shadows of unpopular predecessors. The names Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne, and Steven del Duca still linger as ghosts of electoral defeats past, casting a daunting backdrop against the present provincial landscape, where the PCs hold a commanding lead in polls.
Crombie’s leadership ascent, once predicted as a triumph on the first ballot, turned out to be a prolonged struggle, taking three rounds to secure a narrow victory. Moreover, the lackluster turnout for the leadership vote rings an embarrassing note, considering the boasted surge in Liberal memberships. Despite efforts to stoke enthusiasm, only a fraction of the party’s members participated, casting doubts on the true vitality of the Liberal base.
Crombie, a self-described retail politician with an energetic and relatable persona, now faces the formidable task of defining a clear party focus. Her leadership platform, while extensive in policies, lacked the critical element of fiscal responsibility, leaving voters uncertain about how her ambitious plans would be funded.
Early in her campaign, Crombie’s wavering stance on ideological positioning, initially leaning centre-right before retracting, raises concerns about her clarity and consistency. Striking a balance between attracting a broad spectrum of voters and establishing a distinct party identity will be paramount.
As leader, Crombie confronts four key challenges: crystallizing the party’s identity, learning the intricacies of provincial politics, fundraising, and attracting quality candidates. With the next election more than two years away, she has a window of opportunity, but the clock is ticking.
The decision on securing a legislative seat poses another strategic dilemma. Crombie’s contemplation of running in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, a historically strong PC constituency, underscores the complexity of her path to power. The challenge intensifies as she leads a party with only nine MPPs, necessitating careful seat selection for potential gains.
The scale of Crombie’s task becomes apparent when examining the Ontario Liberal Party’s recent political decline. From a dominant force with 72 seats in 2003 to a mere seven in 2018, the Liberals face the arduous challenge of regaining relevance. Despite recent modest gains, the party remains far from its former stature.
Crombie’s leadership strengths, particularly in fundraising, offer a glimmer of hope. However, overcoming the financial disparity with the PC and NDP rivals requires a sustained and aggressive approach. The grassroots rebuild, crucial for local support and candidate recruitment, appears to be an even more daunting endeavour, with many riding associations described as “completely dead.”
A recent poll underscores the enormity of Crombie’s task, with the Doug Ford government enjoying a substantial lead. While her leadership could sway some voters, forming government remains a distant prospect. Distancing herself from the Federal Liberals and Justin Trudeau is a necessary move, given the potential drag on her leadership aspirations.
In conclusion, Bonnie Crombie’s leadership journey is just beginning, marked by challenges that demand resilience, clarity, and strategic acumen. The road to rebuilding the Ontario Liberal Party is long, but with abundant energy and enthusiasm, Crombie might just navigate the twists and turns, propelling her party back into contention. (AI)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro. If you’re creative, give illustration a try: