Kathleen Wynne landslide in Ontario shows the Liberal brand is as strong as ever

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In the final days of the Ontario election campaign, few expected what was to come.

Tonight, the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne won a resounding majority government, capturing or leading 59 consituencies as this is being written.

The Progressive Conservatives were far back with 27 elected or leading, and the NDP was in third with 21 candidates elected or in first place.

Meanwhile, Tim Hudak has announced that he will resign as leader of the Progressive Conservatives after voters rejected his plan to cut 100,000 public-service positions.

It's a devastating repudiation of the Conservatives and spells bad news for Prime Minister Stephen Harper going into the 2015 federal campaign.

Harper's federal majority in 2011 was largely achieved through his party's gains in Ontario in recent elections.

Now, that could be be in jeopardy, judging from the drubbing some Progressive Conservatives endured in Greater Toronto.

Wynne succeeded in part because of her focus on education. 

The Liberals promised student grants to cut tuition by 30 percent for low- and middle-income students.

There was also a pledge to enhance the public-school system with a $150-million fund to help buy tablets, software, cameras, and other high-tech learning resources.

In addition the Liberals said they would promote better career education for high-school students and implement a Math Action Plan. This includes encouraging more teachers to specialize in this area.

(Math education has been largely ignored by B.C. provincial politicians, despite declining student performances in this subject.)

The Liberals also said they would fund 20 more hospices and promised to ramp up infrastructure spending.

To seal the deal, the Liberals repeatedly told citizens that a vote for the NDP was only going to help Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives form the next government.

This scare tactic consolidated Wynne's support.

Expect the federal Liberals under Justin Trudeau to repeat a similar mantra during the next national campaign.

The Ontario Liberal majority comes after the Quebec Liberals won a stunning majority earlier this year.

In 2013, the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark also surprised the pundits by winning a majority.

It was not so long ago that the Liberal brand was in terrible shape.

Liberal premiers Jean Charest and Gordon Campbell were two of the least popular provincial leaders in Canada.

Former federal Liberal leaders Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion suffered brutal shellackings at the hands of the Harper Conservatives.

But with Wynne's victory tonight, the pendulum continues moving in a positive direction for Liberals across the country.

It's too early to say that this is the beginning of the end of Harper and powerful federal cabinet ministers like Jason Kenney, John Baird, Peter MacKay, Joe Oliver, and James Moore.

But none of them is likely resting any easier after tonight's election results.

Comments (3) Add New Comment
Tea Bags
I have to admit that I don't follow Ontario politics much, but I would think that axing 100,000 jobs would be about the worst election promise that any candidate in any party, in any region on earth, could make.
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A
It is unwise to equate the defeat of the PC as "bad news" for their federal cousins. Ontario has often elected opposite governments (e.g. Liberals federally, Tories provincially, and vice versa) - it seems Ontarians do not like to put their all their eggs in one basket.

I see this more as a defeat for the PC's than a victory for Wynne. I don't think Ontarians are pleased with the Gas Plant Scandal ($1 billion cancellation) and Green Energy Scandal which reek of corruption. Also of concern is the mounting provincial debt... if not controlled, this could hurt the entire province, and in particular low- and middle-income families. Nevertheless, Hudak lacked charisma and he did not connect with voters, so they probably "stuck with the devil they know."
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Michele Baillie
I remember well when Kathleen Wynne first was placed in the Premier's Chair by the Liberal Leadership Convention was asked about her being gay; she replied to the effect; " yes, but that's not why I entered public life; (or politics- I forget which she said) I'm here to serve." Well said Premier.

I wish you good luck Premier Wynne, and to my native Province; I wish you well.
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