Given the size of the Liberal minority at Queen’s Park, the results of today’s byelections can’t change the balance of power.
The Grits hold 12 more seats than the Conservatives, so even if the government loses all five of the seats up for grabs, they will still have an eight-seat advantage and lots of time between today and the next general election to regain momentum. So in my view, there is a lot more “in play” today than there is “at stake.”
One of the most intriguing dynamics at play is the attempt by Toronto councillor and deputy mayor Doug Holyday to win the seat vacated in Etobicoke-Lakeshore by former education minister Laurel Broten. If Holiday wins, PC Leader Tim Hudak gets a potential future finance minister to tout in the next election, and the Ford brothers get a Trojan horse into Queen’s Park.
Hudak was coy with me yesterday on-air at 680News when he touted Holyday as a fiscal Conservative whose background was required to demonstrate (borrowing phrases from Ford) “respect for taxpayers’ money.”
A loss for the high-profile, highly-respected Holyday would be a devastating loss for Hudak, who is widely considered (even by Conservative insiders) as a millstone around the party’s neck. Hudak’s personal approval rating is the lowest of all three provincial leaders. He’s been unable to connect with average people, and more and more Conservatives worry that they can’t win an election as long as he is the leader.
Which brings me to another intriguing scenario. If Hudak is forced out somehow either by leadership review or by dismal Conservative results in these byelections, I suspect Doug Ford will consider running for leader of the provincial party. The Conservatives will govern again at some point, and the Ford’s would love nothing more than to have one of them in charge at Queen’s Park, while the other remains mayor of Toronto. Don’t laugh — it’s not that far-fetched.
The other Intriguing race is in London where former OSSTF president Ken Coran is joining forces with the Liberal government as its candidate, rather than to lead the fight against it, as he did as union leader over the imposed teacher contracts. Coran emerged as the candidate over the objection of local riding associations who were usurped by the premier’s office.
It will also be interesting to learn if former disgraced TTC chair Adam Giambrone can make a political comeback as the NDP candidate in Scarborough-Guildwood. I think he and Andrea Horwath are delusional to think he can, but you never know.