In Vaughan this morning, Kathleen Wynne said that if Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives win a plurality of seats in a minority legislature, she’ll let them govern rather than try to team up with Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats to hold on to government.
There’s good reason for Ms. Wynne to make the commitment. It’s not especially helpful for her to allow Mr. Hudak to go out and rally his base by claiming a Liberal-NDP plot to keep him from power. Nor does Ms. Wynne want left-of-centre voters thinking it doesn’t matter whether they vote Liberal or NDP, because there’s a coalition in the works regardless.
Still, based on conversations I’ve had with Liberals in the past few weeks, some of them will be disappointed by their leader’s commitment.
They know that if their party were to ostensibly lose power after holding it for more than a decade, the perception that it was trying to ignore the election’s results – which, while not an accurate representation of parliamentary democracy, is one Mr. Hudak could be counted on to push – wouldn’t look great.
But privately, some Liberals have suggested that there might be a difference between a strong plurality and a weak one. They conceded that if Mr. Hudak’s Tories won, say, 50 of Ontario’s 107 seats, it would be hard to make the case that they didn’t deserve to form a government. But if it were a weak one – 43 seats, say, with the Liberals holding 41 or 42 and the NDP the rest – they might argue that the party with the agenda wildly at odds with the other two shouldn’t automatically get to run the province.
Unless Ms. Wynne adds a qualifier at some point, or is simply saying whatever she thinks she needs to say on the campaign trail without meaning it, those voices within her party appear to have lost out before the debate over what to do in such a situation ever really started.