How’s this for optics?
You’ve been propping up a scandal-plagued minority government.
You decide the time has come to pull the carpet out from under them, in a move that comes as so little a surprise your opponents actually had time to step off the carpet, get on the express bus and head off down the road. You’re a week into the campaign, and you’re still holding the carpet, scrambling to find candidates.
If this sounds like you, you might be the provincial New Democratic Party. All signs point to the party knowing it wasn’t going to support the Liberal budget well in advance, yet somehow came into the campaign bewilderingly unprepared.
They had to know the plan was not to prop up the Liberals, who have been through the gas plant scandal, the Ornge scandal, a deleting-emails-in-relation-to-gas-plants scandal, and a premier resigning a year into the term.
Yet, according to recent polls, the Liberals are in position for another minority government.
That idea brings to mind words most of us would say among friends, but be offended to read in a local paper. So let me pare it down: How in the Forest Hill did that happen?
The NDP was doomed from the start. The party had two options: support the budget and be known as the party who thrice propped up a scandal-plagued minority government, or force an election by rejecting a budget that was filled with all the toys they circled in the Sears catalogue — only to campaign on promises of spending grandma’s cheque on said toys.
The only way out is to hope that saying “enough was enough” is enough. But when the ace up your sleeve is actually a four, it’s already too late to fold.
Now, realize we’re likely to see the same downward trend in Tim Hudak’s popularity as in 2011 following the televised debates, when voters realized he had all the charm and appeal of the salesman you call back to turn down the ’90s-era sedan with the missing door (because you already have a bike, anyway).
Both the NDP and PCs are at a situational disadvantage to the Liberals.
When one of those two parties loses followers, they are less likely to be lost to each other than they are to the Liberals.
As voters head right from the NDP and left from the PCs, all the Liberals need to do is make sure the bowl of milk they put out on the porch isn’t too sour, and the strays will land in the centre.
Expect to see the Liberals come away with another minority or possibly a majority government.
Meanwhile, the PCs and NDP will be left having confidence votes. Neither party could afford to keep the leader who allowed a vulnerable opponent to slip away unscathed, and appear stronger for it.
Come June 12, it’s likely we’ll have Kathleen Wynne as leader and two other parties looking for a new one.
And the next time we head to the polls it’ll be a leader who overcame incredible odds against two first-timers.
Now how’s that for optics?
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