Jan 242013
 
NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
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Support for the NDP crucial in the coming election.

from the Little Education Report

Having backed a mixture of Liberal and NDP candidates in a strategic voting strategy since 1995 and before, the teachers, education unions and perhaps some other public sector unions need to put on their thinking caps to work themselves through 2013 and an anticipated provincial election, notwithstanding coalition or working together talk emanating from some quarters.

The long-term ally the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) has betrayed their commitments to the unions in a deeply deceitful and underhanded fashion. They were very happy to accept teachers and other public union money and human resources during the fall 2011 election campaign including the support of the heavily public union-financed Working Families Coalition and Premier McGuinty went so far as to appear at the front of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) convention pledging his fealty to free collective bargaining before turning on his heel and sticking the knife into the backs of his erstwhile allies.

The Liberals clearly do not deserve the support of the teachers and educational workers federations. Full support for Liberals based on the fear of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (OPC) sends the clear message that governments can kick teachers and education workers to the curb with impunity.

The primary beneficiary of the teachers federations ought to be the Ontario New Democratic Party and their leader Andrea Horwath.

This is still the case, the serious question however is, does the NDP have the strength to win the election outright? Most astute observers would say that although they are flying high above their support in the last election, usually in second place in public opinion polls and with the decisive Kitchener Waterloo by-election to demonstrate on-the-ground support, the NDP is just not flying high enough to be able to predict an NDP majority government.

At the same time one can also hear the deep string base and spot the dorsal fin of the Great White Progressive Conservative Party with leader Tim Hudak promising major public sector slashing and vile anti-union so called Right-to-Work laws for Ontario. This is not your father’s red-Tory Bill Davis OPC. This is the Tea Party Express anti-government small-minded, intolerant, knuckle dragging, red neck party that has been terrorizing Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and recently Michigan.

So what is a self respecting progressive voter, unionist, or public sector worker to do politically in this environment? Well luckily the best thing that can possibly happen under these political circumstances is also the most likely thing to happen given the present balance of forces in Ontario. Recent Abacus and Forum polls show the following:

One might wonder how the OLP gets more seats from fewer votes but the experts say it is due to a mal-distribution of NDP votes.

When the regional breakdown of seats is provided it appears as follows:

This outcome means a loss of 20 seats by the OLP, a gain of 6 by the OPC and a gain of 13 by the NDP. The NDP gains unless thing change rapidly for the new Liberal premier and ‘her’ honeymoon, would mean NDP gains in:

Thunder Bay Superior North, Thunder Bay Atikokan, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Ottawa Centre, Oshawa, Windsor West, Windsor Tecumseh, Scarborough Rouge River, Scarborough Southwest, York South West, plus one or 2 other seats.

Since either a win for a majority OPC or majority OLP government would be a disaster for the teachers federations and a minority government with a radically strengthened NDP is the best possible result that can be envisioned, it is very hopeful to see that this is also the most likely outcome. Experts will repeat the cliché that “nobody votes for a minority government” or “minority government is not on the ballot” nevertheless a minority government can be engineered and it could even be headed by Premier Andrea Horwath

A minority government in Ontario, unless the Liberals finish first, puts the Liberals in a very awkward spot. If the OPC finish first, the OLP will be under tremendous pressure to create an “arrangement” with the NDP to govern together. Their instinct will be to prop up a Hudak OPC government but this would cost them dearly with the progressive Liberal voters. If the NDP were in second place, they would be obliged to make Horwath the premier which will cause mass dyspepsia amongst Blue Liberals.

What should the teachers federations and some other public sector unions do under this balance of political forces?

First, they should support the NDP in all incumbent seats plus the eleven seats listed above at a minimum. They may want to support a few Liberals from the progressive wing that had serious questions about the teacher bashing austerity direction of the government, the Kim Craitor, Jim Bradley, Dave Levac types here and there around the province.

Secondly they should very quickly recreate the Working Families Coalition, push out Marcel Weider and Pat Dillon or simply recreate a Working Families Alliance, to fund an independent campaign, free of Liberal operatives to send out a positive public services message. The new organization should choose orange as its colour in case anyone was wondering.

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