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            Horwath's NDP Has The Momentum,

                 By-election Results Show  

 

By Susanna Kelley

In politics, it's called "the Big Mo."

We're a ways from the starting gate and far from the finish line of the next election, but Thursday's by-election results lead to one inescapable conclusion: Andrea Horwath's NDP has the momentum.

In Niagara Falls riding, NDP candidate Wayne Gates won handily in a two-way fight with the PC's Bart Maves.

A city councillor and union activist, Mr. Gates' plurality was nearly a thousand votes more than Mr. Maves, a former MPP from Mike Harris' PC government. 

More significantly, however, the Liberals had held the seat for the last decade until Kim Craitor resigned.

The party had put up city councillor Joyce Morocco this time out. Ms. Morocco came in far back in third place.

In Thornhill riding, PC leader Tim Hudak’s candidate Gila Martow won a clear victory in a hard-fought race, and by a significant margin of 1805 votes over Liberal candidate Sandra Yeung Racco. The NDP's Cindy Hackelberg ran a distant third.

Thornhill was a PC riding, represented by former Tory MPP Peter Shurman since 2007.

Mr. Shurman had resigned after bitter fallout with Mr. Hudak over his expenses, but he had also been seen as one of those wanting to take a run at the leadership of the party.  Hence Mr. Hudak would not have been sorry to see the door close behind a potential rival.

Because of that ruckus, along with significant internal dissent about Mr. Hudak's leadership and his choice of policies, such as Right To Work, a win was critical for the PC leader.

If Mr. Hudak was to keep the wolves in his own party at bay, it was essential for the party to retain the Thornhill seat. 

Losing it would have unleashed a panicked backlash in his party just prior to what is expected to be a spring election.

Still, the win simply kept a PC seat blue.

In the seven by-elections held since the last general election in 2011, the Tories have not been able to increase their number of seats.

While Doug Holyday took Etobicoke-Lakeshore for them from the Liberals, they lost Kitchener-Waterloo, which had been seen as a safe Tory seat. Elizabeth Witmer had represented it for decades. And the Thornhill seat was Tory to begin with.

The Liberals are down a total of four seats, as their three wins - in Vaughn, Ottawa South and Scarborough - were also seats they held already.

The NDP, on the other hand, has picked up four new seats in by-elections since the 2011 election - Niagara Falls, Windsor-Tecumseh and London West from the Liberals; Kitchener-Waterloo from the PCs.  

And note the type of seats they are: a mixture of urban and rural.  

Rural seats are not traditional NDP territory.

The party has also won in a variety of provincial regions: the northeast, the northwest, the GTA, the southwest.  It still struggles in southeastern Ontario.

So, to recap, the Tim Hudak PCs are static in their seat count while the Liberals are down four.

Meanwhile, the NDP are up four seats since the last election.

That's momentum, and the facts show that, at this point anyway, the NDP has it.

That's a sweet position to be in when you hold the balance of power and may be on the hustings within months.

It remains to be seen whether the NDP will join the Tories and defeat Kathleen Wynne's government by opposing a Liberal budget offering, causing the government to fall and a general election to be called.

There is much tortured analysis, and a lot of pure spin, flying about as pundits and politicians read the entrails of the by-election results.

Tim Hudak is talking about how the PCs got the most votes overall, and blaming labour for the third straight loss. He blamed it for his party's 2011 election defeat, the loss of Kitchener Waterloo and now the Niagara Falls results. 

His strategy is clear: deflect blame from his already shaky leadership and pump his Right To Work policy.

Kathleen Wynne says the results are not indicative of what a general election has in store. Methinks she would say the opposite had the Liberals won the by-elections.

But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

NDP up 4, PC's static, Liberals down 4.

That's all the proof you need that Andrea Horwath's NDP have the momentum. 

And that's the wind every party wants at their back going into an election.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Susanna Kelley

Susanna Kelley is Editor-in-Chief and Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for Ontario News Watch. A veteran political and investigative reporter, documentary-maker, host and media commentator, Susanna oversees and has final editorial control over all news production at Ontario News Watch. Susanna has reported for the CBC, the Canadian Press and served as Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for TVOntario for 13 years. She has also hosted a number of documentaries for CBC’s The Current, CBC Radio News and TVOntario’s Studio 2. Passionately dedicated to excellence in political journalism, and having covered both Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, Susanna believes quality political reporting is essential to a healthy democracy. You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley
Posted date : February 14, 2014

View all of Susanna Kelley's columns
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