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Ford surges to victory. Horwath and Del Duca quit. What's next?
In this edition: what you need to know about election night, what's next after Horwath and Del Duca step down, meet the independent at Queen's Park
Happy Thursday. Welcome to a special edition of POLICORNER. The election is officially over and the Tories are back in power with a majority government. Have something to share? Drop us a line with all the tips and gossip.
In this 9 minute read, everything you need to know about election night. Horwath and Del Duca resign — what happens next for the NDP and Liberals. Speculation ramps up on leadership contenders. Ontario nixes mandatory masking in hospitals and on public transit. Plus, meet the incoming independent at Queen’s Park.
Doug Ford is headed back to Queen’s Park with a super majority. Two major parties — the NDP and Liberals — are now leaderless.
It took eleven minutes after 9pm — when voting ended in most ridings across the province — for major networks to declare a Progressive Conservative victory.
The standings in the Legislature will remain unchanged. The Tories secured 83 seats — up seven from the last election and 21 over the 63-seat majority threshold. The NDP will remain as Official Opposition with a downsized caucus of 31 MPPs. The Liberals failed to secure party status after winning eight seats. Mike Schreiner will remain the lone Green after winning re-election in Guelph.
Schreiner was first to speak. “We are proving that Greens are here to stay, we're building momentum across [Guelph] and across this province,” he told supporters. Doug Ford declared victory and said that they were “reimagining our party.” “We have changed what it means to be a Progressive Conservative in Ontario,” he said. “This victory belongs to every worker who knows that they deserve better. Every family knows that they can dream bigger.”
Andrea Horwath — who stepped down after thirteen years at the helm of the party — thanked NDPers and voters and said she “could not be more proud of the vision that we put before Ontario.” “It is time to pass the torch,” the tearful NDP captain told the crowd in Hamilton.
An interim leader will be chosen before a leadership race gets underway.
NDP MPPs huddled last week to deliberate on their pick for interim captain, newsBeyond has learned. Caucus members will meet again to finalize their choice before an appointment is made by the executive council. Peggy Sattler (London West) — who served as house leader — is among the names circulating within party circles as a favourite for the job. Longtime NDPer Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) has also been viewed as a possible candidate.
Expect an appointment to come quickly. Insiders suggest the party will look to swiftly appoint an interim leader who will replace Horwath — as soon as next week — in preparation for an expected summer sitting.
Meanwhile, two names have been floated within party ranks as possible successors to Horwath: NDP MPPs Marit Stiles (Davenport) and Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre). Stiles told Metro Morning that she “would consider it if people seem to want me to do that,” while Harden said “that’s not on my mind right now.”
Horwath’s next steps? Amid speculation that the outgoing NDP captain may launch a mayoral bid in Hamilton, an NDP spokesperson said Horwath is planning to stay on as MPP for Hamilton Centre.
After losing his own seat in Vaughan—Woodbridge and failing to secure party status, Liberal leader Steven Del Duca called it quits. “I have no doubt that the women and men that Ontario Liberals have elected will do their part to help grow a new and energetic progressive movement here in Ontario,” Del Duca said.
“It will, however, be a movement that will be led by a new leader,” he added.
Speculation is in the wind over who will vie to replace Del Duca. Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York) told the Toronto Star he is “seriously considering” a leadership bid. Liberal MPP Stephen Blais (Orléans) told CityNews Ottawa he is “mulling” over a run for the party leadership.
Liberal MPPs Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough—Guildwood) and caucus mate Ted Hsu (Kingston and the Island) are two names being floated for possible bids.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is ruling out a possible run. “I remain deeply committed to our city and look forward to continuing to work with Premier Ford and our local MPPs to advance our key city building priorities,” Crombie told newsBeyond when questioned about a possible bid.
More details on the party’s next steps are incoming. A Liberal spokesperson says an update will be coming “in the weeks ahead.”
She was a Tory staffer. She’s now the only independent at Queen's Park: Q+A with Bobbi Ann Brady
Bobbi Ann Brady is headed back to Queen’s Park. This time is different for Brady, who is returning to the Legislature — not as a staffer — but as an MPP.
She ran as an Independent candidate and defeated Tory candidate and Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt in Haldimand-Norfolk. We spoke with Brady days after her victory about her win in the riding and her legislative priorities.
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
“I spent 23 years working for MPP Toby Barrett. I started as a constituency assistant, went on to being the legislative assistant and then became his executive assistant quite quickly. I've served the community for 23 years. I’m a mom of two. I enjoy kickboxing, karate and hockey.”
You were the only Independent elected last week in a stronghold Tory riding. What does this moment mean for you and for your constituents?
“When our riding was appointed a PC candidate that none of us as local Conservatives could condone, we decided that we needed to stand up for democracy. The single most important decision that could be made by the Haldimand-Norfolk PC Association — which I have been president for 20 years — was taken right out of our hands. We raised money. We host meetings. We do events and yet we're not trusted with having a nomination night or choosing our own representative. That was really a slap in the face to democracy. This election to me is one of hope and courage. I said for the past few years that nobody really seems to have courage when it comes to standing up to some of these things that we see in politics and in government.
“The people of Haldimand-Norfolk were brave enough to go to the ballot box and check off something that they normally don't check off. I think that can serve as hope for others right across Ontario and this country who are saying we've got to do things differently. We have to restore respect to the system. I'm hoping that is what this win will do. Restore the respect that is so badly needed.”
Tell us more about the controversy surrounding the Tory candidate in the riding. What happened?
“Toby Barrett — who had been the MPP for 27 years — had met with the Premier's Office after the last election and said to them that this will be my last run. They knew. I knew what Toby's intentions were. So — in January — I started going to the party saying we have to plan for the future. When can we have a nomination meeting or what are we doing? I was told we have to wait.
I said okay. I went back in February and I was told the same thing. When I went back in March and there was no plan, I really started to scratch my head. I went to Toby and said I think he needed to call the Premier. Something was inherently wrong here. Toby made that call to the Premier. The Premier asked Toby who he would appoint to the nomination. Toby told him it would be my EA of 23 years, Bobbi Ann Brady. Keep in mind that every outgoing MPP — except for Toby Barrett — was afforded two options: appoint their successor or hold the nomination night. Toby was not afforded either one of those. The Premier said ‘leave it with me.’ He got back to Toby a while later and said they were appointing the mayor of Haldimand County. Toby made it very clear to the Premier that he could not support such an appointment for various reasons. The mayor has worked against us for many years. He has never held a PCPO membership. He has never come to one of our local events. He has never donated to the local riding association. Here’s the kicker: he ran for the Liberals federally a few years ago. Nothing made sense as to why this guy was being appointed. So local conservatives couldn't condone it. We went back to the party and were told the Premier’s appointment will stand.”
What will be your priorities as MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk?
“I want to make sure that the message has been received loud and clear by all the parties: you need to respect the taxpayer. I also want to ensure that our small businesses and our farmers — I come from a rich farming riding — are treated with best respect. Another thing is that I want to call for tax cuts. People are telling me that they are now trying to decide between putting gas in their vehicle and putting food on the table. Life is becoming unsustainable and governments need to start to address that. Another issue is home care. I went to countless doors where people said they just can't get home care in this neck of the woods. I think the easy fix is that the government has to recognize that you can't pay nurses and PSWs going into home $5 less than you’re paying those who are going to work every day in a LTC home or in a hospital. You have to fight the inequality.
I will also be asking to establish an all-party Rural, Outdoor and Agricultural Committee that includes urban MPPs. And I think we need to link rural Ontario and urban Ontario together. So, I want to call for the establishment of this committee so that we can tackle some of these issues that are plaguing rural Ontario but also help folks who are doing processing-type jobs in the cities.”
You can't sit on parliamentary committees. You don’t get caucus resources. How does this impact your ability to represent your constituents?
“I will be in front of the people of Haldimand-Norfolk all the time. I will be meeting with them and will be able to write as many letters as I want to cabinet ministers. I have very good relationships with people on all sides of the House, including the PCs, who many of them encouraged me throughout the campaign and have offered us their assistance since last Thursday night. I will be able to ask whatever questions I want on behalf of my constituents. I'll be able to make the statements I'd want without party politics playing a factor into what I say. I think I will be able to represent the riding in a very, very unique way — in a way it never has been represented before.”
You were a longtime Tory staffer. Would you be open to joining the Progressive Conservative caucus?
“I will say two things: I will not join the Progressive Conservative caucus until the Premier has his house in order and until the party says we're going to respect the grassroots again. They've got a lot of housecleaning to do. I'm not the only one who says that. There seems to be this culture of anger between parties and it's gotta go. It's not good for you and I as taxpayers. That’s the first thing. When their house is clean, if the people of Haldimand-Norfolk said to me ‘walk through that front door and back to your family,’ that's the only time I will do it. It's not a decision that I will make on my own. It's a decision that the people of Haldimand-Norfolk will have to make alongside me. There's a lot of folks right now — Conservatives and all stripes — who said ‘we look forward to you sitting there as an independent for a while. We need to see some changes before we're actually going to say walk through that front door.’”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Michael Balagus — who served as the longtime chief of staff to NDP leader Andrea Horwath — is leaving the OLO. Balagus broke the news to NDP staffers and MPPs in a memo. He will be staying on in the role until September to help with the transition and participate in campaign debriefs.
Ontario is dropping the mask mandate for public transit and hospitals as of Saturday. Masking will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes. “While masking requirements are expiring, organizations may implement their own policies,” top doctor Kieran Moore said.
CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions — the union representing 55,000 education workers — has served the province with a notice to bargain. CUPE-OSBCU president Laura Walton said in a statement that “now is the time to avert classroom upheaval in September.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
TORONTO STAR: “The inside story of how Doug Ford beat the NDP — and destroyed the Liberals — in the Ontario election” by Robert Benzie
GLOBAL NEWS: “Doug Ford prepares for cabinet selection, potential summer sitting at Queen’s Park” by Colin D’Mello
CBC NEWS: “Brown says he won't run for the Conservatives if Poilievre wins the leadership” by John Paul Tasker and Emily Haws
CANADIAN PRESS: “Conservatives say leadership vote won't be delayed after 'many new members' signed up” by Laura Osman
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Can you name the two PC MPPs-to-be from Windsor? Send us your answers or reply to this email.
Thank you for reading POLICORNER. We’ll be back to our regular publishing schedule after the whirlwind election campaign that was. Have the latest gossip on leadership contenders? Do you have the list of new cabinet ministers? Drop us a line and we’ll keep you anon. Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up now to get the newsletter in your own inbox.