Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Ontario election: Why Doug Ford is the enemy of the “little guy”

While campaigning as the voice of the “little guy”, Doug Ford’s PC’s are actually joined at the hip with corporate interests that are pushing a detailed policy agenda that will make life worse for many Ford supporters.

Introduction

A previous post made the argument that the core appeal of Doug Ford populism (much like Trump populism) is a cultural resentment against the professional class as opposed to an economic populism in which working and middle class resentment is directed against the wealthy and large corporations. In other words, the “elites” that Ford rants against are professionals such as bureaucrats, academics, lawyers, journalists and teachers who Ford portrays as “looking down” on average Ontarians. The article goes on to point out that while there is considerable truth to the fact that the professional class has a limited interest and little empathy for the everyday, pocketbook concerns of average Ontarians, this isn’t exactly news and while unfortunate, there really isn’t a public policy response to this indifference.  Moreover Ford, a rich man’s son like Trump, has no interest in improving the lives of everyday Ontarians and his PC program (such as it is), is evidence of this.

The article went on to contrast  Ford populism with an economic populism in which the “elites” are large corporations whose business practices have directly resulted in an increase in part-time, low wage jobs and the loss of good quality, full-time jobs (especially in the manufacturing and resource sectors). These economic trends have hurt many Ford supporters and economic populism embraces a set of policies that would actually improve the lives of Ford voters.

That article also argued that these two kinds of populism have considerable appeal to Ontario voters without university degrees with broadly similar social values. However, when it comes to voting intentions, those not affiliated with a union (or not living in a community with a labour tradition), lean towards a Ford-style cultural populism in which the elite “villains”  are essentially “know-it-all” professional types who “think they are better than me”. In contrast, those with a union affiliation (or who live in a community with a labour tradition), lean towards an anti-corporate, economic populism most associated with the NDP.

The article further argued that Andrea Horwath’s NDP are in a good position to tap into those who hold to this anti-corporate, economic populism. Recent polls suggest that this is exactly what is happening in the Ontario election with a surge in support for Horwath’s NDP – especially in the economically hard hit regions of the Southwest and North which have seen a massive loss of well paying manufacturing and resource jobs in the past decade.

While the NDP may be pulling even with the PC’s in terms of the popular vote, as of this writing (May 25th), the most recent polls still suggest that the Ford PC’s have a very good chance of winning  a plurality of seats with at least some chance of forming a majority government. Therefore, the question of what a Doug Ford government would actually do during its time in office needs to be examined closely. Continue reading

Ford populism and the 2018 Ontario election

While there is an element of economic resentment in Ford populism, economic elites are not its targets and it is first and foremost an appeal to Ontarians who feel ignored and disrespected by what might be called Ontario’s “professional class”. However, there is also considerable support in Ontario for a very different sort of populism – an economic populism – that would actually improve the lives of working and middle class Ontarians. Andrea Horwath’s NDP are in a good position to capture that vote.

Introduction

This is the first in a series of articles on the upcoming June 7, Ontario election. The series will look at both the partisan political strategies and policy issues at play during the election.

This article takes an in-depth look at the dynamics of Ford populism and the basis of its appeal to its supporters. The basic argument is that the core appeal of Ford populism is cultural resentment against the professional class as opposed to an economic populism in which the resentment is directed against the wealthy and large corporations.

The article argues that the two kinds of populism appeal to voters without university degrees with broadly similar social values. However, when it comes to voting intentions,  those not affiliated with a union nor living in a community with a strong labour tradition, lean towards a Ford-style cultural populism. In contrast, those with a union affiliation (or living in a community with a strong labour tradition), lean towards an anti-corporate, economic populism.

The PC’s seem destined for at least a plurality of seats

All Ontario polls done since Doug Ford was elected PC leader suggest a solid, PC majority government on June 7. These polls are relatively consistent with polls done before the Ford PC leadership victory although the consistency likely masks at least some shifts in PC support at the riding level (i.e. PC support has likely gone up in working class ridings in the GTA and down in affluent, well-educated ridings in central Toronto and Ottawa).

As of this writing (May 10), CBC’s Poll Tracker (which combines and weights recent polls) gave the Ford PC’s 41.1% of the vote, the Horwath New Democrats 27.2%, and the Wynne Liberal’s 25.7%.

The Poll Tracker gives the PC’s a 90% chance of winning a majority government and a 95% chance of winning a plurality of seats.

 

Continue reading