TORONTO: The results of Thursday’s by-elections in five ridings are not good news for the already shaky Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minority Liberal government.
Though the Liberals retained Ottawa South – vacated by former Premier Dalton McGuinty – and Scarborough-Guildwood, the ruling party has lost to the NDP which has made big gains by winning Windsor-Tecumseh and London West.
Even the Tories managed to win Etobicoke -Lakeshore, their first seat in Toronto in over a decade.
The by-elections were caused by the vacation of these seats by the resignations of former Premier Dalton McGuinty and his four Cabinet ministers. Kathleen Wynne was elected the Liberal leader in January after Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned over the gas plant scandal.
The by-election results show that Canada’s first openly gay premier has failed to reverse the fortunes of Ontario Liberals thanks to McGuinty’s legacy and that the NDP continues to eat into the party’s left-wing base.
However, her minority government faces no immediate threat.
In her post-result speech, the Premier said “the message had been heard … people expect better.’’
Admitting the fall-out of the baggage left by the former premier, Wynne said, “People are angry about the gas plant issue, they are angry that a lot of money was spent, especially when budgets are tight…I totally get that. As a member of the government that made those decisions, I could not be more sorry.”
The results also confirm that the opposition Conservative Party under Tim Hudak is not making any progress even though the party won its first seat in the Toronto area in a decade.
But its victory in Etobicoke-Lakeshore where its candidate Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday beat Liberal Councillor Peter Milczyn may have been possibly because of Mayor Rob Ford who campaigned for Holyday.
Interestingly, both the candidates are members of the mayor’s council.
As for the NDP, its victory is Windsor Tecumseh was smooth, but it is in London West where the party sprung a surprise by bagging the seat for the first time when former school board chair Peggy Sattler sank Tory candidate Ali Chahbar and Liberal Ken Coran.
Taking potshots at the Liberals after the results, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said people “have had enough of an arrogant government that takes them for granted. They’ve had enough of a government that’s more concerned with managing the fallout from the latest scandal than with creating jobs and improving the health-care system. They want leadership that delivers results for them.’’
But Horwath will have wait for more time even as the McGuinty baggage is becoming a little too much for the Liberals.