Saturday, July 5, 2014

Andrea Horwath: Her Smugness Takes A Hit

The other day, while watching some reactions to the Ontario Throne Speech, I couldn't help but note a truculent and smug Andrea Horwath, the leader of an NDP party now diminished by her foolish decision not to support a progressive budget, thereby triggering an election that few wanted. She opined that the now-majority Liberal government will have to make massive cuts in order to balance the budget by 2017-18. Indeed, she called the speech a Trojan Horse plan.

Who knows? She may be right, but the fact that she gambled and lost the leverage her party enjoyed in the legislature thanks to her decision to go for the brass ring of power has weakened considerably both her credibility and stature among voters. Perhaps this helps explain these results published in today's Star:

One third of Ontarians think NDP Leader Andrea Horwath should resign in the wake of her recent provincial election defeat, a new poll has found.

The poll, conducted by Forum Research, found 35 per cent believe Horwath, who triggered the election by announcing her party would no longer prop up the minority Grits, should step down as leader, while 43 per cent felt she should stay on and 21 per cent had no opinion.

In terms of personal approval, Horwath has dropped to 28 per cent compared to 41 per cent for Wynne. Last August, Forum found the NDP leader at 50 per cent and the Liberal premier at 36 per cent.

Lorne Bozinoff, the president of Forum, noted that the party got nothing out of Horwath's ill-considered decision to force the election:

They don’t have any more seats than they had going into the election and they lost control of everything,” the pollster said, referring to the NDP’s loss of the balance of power in a minority legislature.

“She took a real hit with the whole election thing and not supporting the budget. It just didn’t go well and I think she really did alienate some of her own supporters, the progressives”.

The article also notes the mandatory review Horwath faces in November, where tradition demands that she get at least two-thirds support from the delegates.

Will she meet that criterion? The NDP has few bright stars in its stable, and considering the real possibility that the Progressive Conservatives will pick a female leader (Christine Elliot is the early favourite), it is unlikely that the NDP will pick a male replacement. The only viable alternative, it seems to me, would be Cheri DiNovo. Currently the MPP for Toronto's Parkdale-high Park, she is a United Church Minister and much more a traditionalist when it comes to NDP progressive values.

So it would seem that the party has some intensive soul-searching to do leading up to the November review.

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