Ontario Election Wrap-Up
Now that the dust has settled on the 2022 Ontario Election and now that we know who will be representing each riding in the 43rd Ontario Parliament, let’s take a look at some of the fall out.
The 2022 Ontario Election will go down in history for one very concerning reason: only 4.6 million out of a possible 10.7 million voters (or 43%) took the time to have their voices heard. Compared to the 2018 election, which had a 57% voter turnout, this is a marked drop. We can only speculate the reasons why so many stayed home on election day – was there Covid fatigue? Was it the growing cynicism toward voting and politics? Did most feel like none of the parties represented them or their values? Did people think that the election was a foregone conclusion? Regardless of the reason, while people in other parts of the world are quite literally dying to be able to vote, here in Ontario, more people declined their ballot than put an “x” on one.
And the winner is…
Doug Ford will remain Premier of Ontario with his PC Party taking 83 of a possible 124 seats in the legislature. That’s 7 more seats than they won in the 2018 election. The NDP lost nine seats and finished with 31, while the Liberal Party increased their seat count by one to a total of eight seats – still not enough to gain official party status (more on that later). The Greens and their leader Mike Schreiner held onto their single seat in Guelph. The last seat, and probably the most interesting story of the night, went to Independent Bobbi Ann Brady in Haldimand-Norfolk, in a riding that looked like a lock for the PC Party.
With the NDP losing nine seats and the Liberals failing to gain official party status, both Andrea Horwath (NDP) and Steven Del Duca (Liberal) announced that they would be stepping down as leaders of their prospective parties. In her concession speech, Ms. Horwath said that it was time (after leading the party through the last four elections and 13 years) to “pass the torch… to hand off the leadership of the NDP. It makes me sad, but it makes me happy because our team is so strong right now.” While the NDP did take a step back this election from the last and there is surely disappointment in the result, there is truth to the statement that the NDP is in some ways stronger than it’s ever been in Ontario. Traditionally, the NDP has been the third party in the Ontario Legislature, with the Liberals and PCs taking turns as government and official opposition. But the NDP formed the official opposition in both of the last two elections.
It’s hard to find silver linings from the Liberal Party’s perspective. The 2018 election saw the Liberals go from a majority government to a distant third place with only seven seats. That result brought about the resignation of Kathleen Wynne as leader of the party. Steven Del Duca took over that role in 2020 with the goal of rebuilding the party for the 2022 election. One challenge that Mr. Del Duca faced was getting himself back into the Ontario legislature. In 2018, he lost his seat in the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge to PC candidate Michael Tibollo. The fact that he was not able to win this seat back on election day and that the party only gained one new seat were driving factors for his decision to step down as leader.
Official Party Status
To gain official party status in the Ontario legislature, a party needs to have at least 12 seats. The Liberals were not able to gain this official party status for the second consecutive election. What does that mean for them? To start, each official party is given funds based on the number of MPPs so that the party can hire office and research staff (in addition to the funds provided to each MPP). The Liberals will continue to miss out on this. Additionally, when bills are debated, MPPs that are not from official parties have limited speaking opportunities (and are often excluded altogether). MPPs will essentially sit as independents and will only be able to debate bills if the speaker of the legislative assembly calls on them. This applies to Question Period as well. MPPs can submit requests to the speaker, but the speaker decides whether to call on them or not. These MPPs will still be able to make comments and ask questions on other members’ speeches, raise points of order, receive appointments to committees and present private members bills, but not having official party status certainly limits an MPP and their party.
In the coming weeks, Premier Ford will be announcing his Cabinet. A few prominent Cabinet Ministers decided not to seek re-election, including Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott. Additionally, the legislature will likely come back for at least a few days in order to swear in the MPPs and maybe even present an updated version of the budget. Look for the priorities of the government to be similar to promises made before and during the election campaign:
- Rebuild Ontario’s economy by attracting manufacturing jobs, specifically in the area of electric vehicle battery manufacturing.
- Build highways and key infrastructure, specifically, Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, as well as expand GO train service to London and Bowmanville.
- Work to get more people into the skilled trades.
- Expand three-year college degrees and increase minimum wage.
- Keep costs down, specifically by scrapping the licence plate sticker renewal and removing tolls off Highways 412 and 418.
- A plan to stay open by hiring more health care professionals.
- Helping seniors live in their homes longer and working to produce PPE and vaccines in Ontario.
What would we like to see?
The morning after his victory, Premier Ford made one more promise to the people of Ontario. At a news conference he said, “We are going to make sure we keep every single promise.” We hope that promise includes promises made during the 2018 election. During that election, Premier Ford and the PC Party promised to protect the conscience rights of physicians as it pertains to assisted suicide and offering an effective referral. We’re hoping to engage the grassroots in the coming months to bring this issue front and centre in the Ontario legislature once again.
Additionally, prior to the election, we wrote about Why Family Law Should Be An Ontario Election Issue. In this article we outline four key issues we would like to see addressed as it pertains to the family here in Ontario:
- Address the fact that parentage in Ontario law is disconnected from any objective standard.
- Address the fact that the terms “mother” and “father” no longer exist in Ontario law.
- Address the fact that the law permits various arrangement by which multiple adults can sign an agreement to become legal parents of a child.
- Address the reality that Ontario law fails to connect children with their biological parents and instead bases parenting on ‘intent’.
What can you do right now?
First and foremost, remember to pray for our elected officials here in Ontario as they pick up their tasks once again. Pray that they would have clarity on how they ought to govern, that they would recognize where their authority comes from and seek to serve God in the roles that they have. Also, consider sending an email or letter to your MPP and the Premier. Congratulate them and tell them that you’re praying for them and why you’re praying for them.
May God bless Premier Ford, our MPPs, and the entire province of Ontario.
Colin, Daniel and Ryan discuss the results and the impact on the political landscape in Ontario.