Doug Ford is making an attempt to rewrite the foundations of Canadian democracy by dictating who will get to control as premier. Upfront.
No shock there. Stephen Harper tried the identical trick as prime minister to fend off a coalition problem in 2008, and received away with it — browbeating the governor normal, bullying his rivals, and bamboozling the folks concerning the supposed illegitimacy of parliamentary alliances that dare to thwart Tories.
Is historical past about to repeat itself in Ontario? It shouldn’t, as a result of this province has its personal distinct and dignified monitor report of democratic power-sharing in a single kind or one other.
Bear in mind minority authorities? Ford’s Progressive Conservatives try furiously to neglect.
“The folks of Ontario need change, not some backroom deal by the NDP to maintain the Liberals in energy,” Ford declared in a Trump-like tweet this week.
Dangerous sufficient that Ford needs us to erase our personal political historical past to advance his personal partisan future. What’s worse is that his Liberal and NDP rivals are dancing to his tune for their very own self-serving causes.
NDP Chief Andrea Horwath promptly took the bait, badmouthing the concept on cue: “I’ve no real interest in a coalition authorities with the Liberals … I’m unequivocally saying I’ve no real interest in partnering up with that get together.”
Liberal Chief Kathleen Wynne performed alongside, refusing to say “who we’re going to work with or not work with.”
Ford says Boo! And so they each soar excessive.
All three leaders are being too intelligent by half, in equal measure. That doesn’t imply the remainder of us — the press and the folks — should play together with their cynical recreation of electoral put-downs, one-upmanship and one-upwomanship that retains us all in the dead of night.
Nobody but is aware of the election end result, not to mention all these pollsters who publish exact percentages. However we as voters nonetheless need to know the probabilities and parameters of minority authorities with out the politicians making an attempt to close down the dialog in mid-campaign.
Don’t underestimate Ford’s marketing campaign crew. Led by Harper veterans, they know the way to set the agenda — whether or not within the latest PC management race or the present normal election marketing campaign.
Make no mistake, minority authorities is the sleeper challenge on this marketing campaign. However what’s unnerving is how foolishly Ford’s error-prone opponents sleepwalk into his traps.
With the wind in her NDP sails, Horwath goals of hovering into the premier’s workplace on the wings of a majority all her personal — Orange Crush reprise, Bob Rae redux. Ignoring the headwinds, Liberal Chief Kathleen Wynne fantasizes about clinging to her nook workplace at Queen’s Park.
Excessive on his personal hubris, Ford grasps at a “mandate from the folks” even earlier than the votes are counted. But he is aware of full effectively Ford Nation’s limitations, for the extra Ontarians get reacquainted with him the much less they appear to love him.
Based mostly on his public musings (and personal polling), Ford is frightened of falling brief. And apprehensive, with good motive, about whether or not some other get together would prop him up.
Would Horwath’s New Democrats, whose 2018 platform is diametrically against the whole lot Ford stands for, preserve him in energy? What about Wynne’s Liberals, whose pre-election finances isn’t any much less left-of-centre? If Inexperienced Social gathering Chief Mike Schreiner wins a seat, he’d be the final one to empower Ford’s Tories to finish the battle towards world warming.
What then? If Ford misplaced a vote of confidence within the legislature, he may demand contemporary elections to interrupt the impasse — a redo.
Or the opposite get together leaders may do the correct factor — the democratic factor — and discover a path ahead to accountable authorities that respects our legislative legacy. That might imply advert hoc help for frequent legislative targets, a proper alliance, or a full-fledged coalition that shares cupboard seats.
Both method, it’s not for Ford to say who governs in a minority state of affairs. Even because the self-proclaimed incarnation of Ford Nation, he has no innate energy to declare himself the winner with a mandate from heaven or the grassroots.
In our legislature, it’s a easy majority of MPPs that decides the end result. Underneath our constitutional type of authorities, it’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell who performs referee in a impasse.
If Ford thinks the vice-regal function is elitist, he can inform it to the crown. And rewrite our constitutional rights if he dares.
This election is an unusually unpredictable three-way battle, but all three leaders have entered into an unstated conspiracy to by no means talk about its aftermath — that’s, the seat depend. All of them need personalised clean cheques to behave as they please post-election, voters be damned.
Wishing away a minority isn’t simply unrealistic, it’s undemocratic. A minority alliance isn’t illegitimate, it’s a parliamentary perennial, exemplified by the 1985-87 Liberal-NDP alliance (when their platforms have been far much less congruent than they’re as we speak).
Sure, it’s too early to foretell a minority end result. But it surely’s additionally far too early for Horwath and Wynne to do Ford’s bidding by going alongside together with his anti-democratic narrative that insults the intelligence of voters.
Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based mostly in Toronto masking Ontario politics. Comply with him on Twitter: @reggcohn