Another Ontario election soon after this one? Don’t count on it

Standing in front of a statue of a bicycle-riding Jack Layton to rather unsubtly push back against claims that she’s abandoned her party’s roots, Andrea Horwath did not sound like someone overly eager to work with either of the other parties in another minority legislature. She wanted to be “100 per cent clear,” she said, that she had no intention of supporting Tim Hudak’s government-slashing plan; nor did she intend to support “corrupt Liberals.”

Considering the likelihood that another minority legislature is exactly what we’re headed for, with Ms. Horwath’s NDP again the third party, such talk is likely to spur speculation that the next government will be extremely short-lived.

The reality, though, is that however nasty this campaign might be getting in its final leg – and however much Ms. Horwath and others seem to be backing themselves into corners – a couple of factors make it unlikely that the province’s politicians will imminently be back on the campaign trail.

One is the possibility of leadership changes. It’s widely expected that if the Liberals win back government, Mr. Hudak will step aside. It’s less of a sure thing that Kathleen Wynne will exit if the Liberals lose, but there’s at least a chance of that. And either way, if the NDP doesn’t make gains, Andrea Horwath could be on her way out as well. If any of the parties is in the midst of a leadership contest, it will be highly reluctant to force another election – giving whoever is in office at least a bit of leeway.

The other, based on watching this campaign, is that the parties would be very hard-pressed financially to fight another election battle shortly thereafter.

That applies, in particular, to the New Democrats. We won’t know until after the election is done how much was raised and spent, but it certainly looks like they’ve been very short on cash even this time around. While they often get outspent by the other two parties, it’s been more noticeable than usual – particularly when it comes to television advertising, which is one of the better barometers.

That may have something to do with unions, annoyed by the NDP’s decision to defeat a left-leaning budget and chance Mr. Hudak’s Tories getting elected, putting away their chequebooks and being reluctant to back up loans. It may also point to lackluster grassroots fundraising. Whatever the case, if the NDP is struggling to pay for this campaign, it’s hard to see how it could pay for anything resembling a competitive effort months later.

Whichever of the Liberal or Tories winds up in opposition could be challenged on the financial front. Both those parties have much better fundraising operations than the NDP, but the corporate cash they both partly rely on is hard to drum up quickly when you’re not in government.

Sooner or later, like pretty much every minority legislature, this one would become unsustainable. But for all the tough talk now, there would be incentive to keep it going for a good while.

Ask The Globe: Your questions on citizenship, C-51 and refugees

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Ben asks: #AskTheGlobe Can the government legally revoke someones Canadian citizenship? #MunkDebate

and Sarah asks: What conditions can a Canadian loose their citizenship, residency, or voting rights? Do refugees hafta pay interest? #AskTheGlobe

Let’s deal with these two together.

First, yes, the government can legally revoke citizenship if it was obtained fraudulently. The Conservatives also added another policy, which is that dual nationals can potentially lose their citizenship if convicted of terrorism or treason crimes. Depending on the circumstances, someone whose citizenship was revoked may be removed from the country.

On voting, the Conservatives did change the eligibility to vote for Canadian expats living abroad. Generally they lose their right to vote after five years, which Donald Sutherland was not very happy about.

Chris asks: Did Tom Mulcair really say different things about repealing C51? #AskTheGlobe

The NDP has never supported Bill C-51, the Anti-Terror Act. The New Democrats voted against the bill, which was supported by the Conservatives and Liberals. However, in interviews earlier in the year, leader Thomas Mulcair did change his tone. In February, Mr. Mulcair said he wouldn’t commit to repealing the bill if elected, though his party would definitely change it. Weeks later, in March, Mr. Mulcair committed to repealing the entire law.

Myles asks: Harper says ours response has been generous- is that true compared to past refugee crises? #MunkDebate #asktheglobe #futurevoter

It depends on what past refugee crises we’re comparing it to. In terms of numbers and speed of access for refugees, it’s much lower than Vietnam (when Joe Clark raised the target to 60,000 refugees). Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at the Munk Debate brought up comparisons with Vietnam to accuse Harper of being stingy. What sets Syria apart from Vietnam is the rules Stephen Harper introduced about refugees needing their status approved by UNHCR or a third country, a rule that didn’t exist for the Vietnamese (and which the Kurdi family blames for the events leading to Alan’s death off the Turkish coast). If we’re comparing Syria with the Second World War, though – when we famously turned away a boatload of Jewish refugees in 1939, and were pretty hostile to Jewish refugees even during the war – our current response looks more generous. (Doug Saunders and Sean Fine have done really good historical analyses of Vietnam, the Second World War and our response to the Hungarian refugee crisis in the 1950s).

Ask The Globe: What happens if two parties tie for the most seats?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Christopher Stasiuk asks: If two parties tie for first with the most seats in the federal election, who governs? Who is the PM? #asktheglobe

According to Wednesday’s Nanos numbers the Liberals and Conservatives are locked in a dead heat atop the polls. Which makes Christopher’s question a timely one.

Digital politics editor Chris Hannay explains the process.

The incumbent always gets first crack at forming government. (Usually, if the incumbent has not won the most seats after an election, they decline.) If the incumbent is one of the tied parties and they have a Speech from the Throne, and it gets defeated by the other parties, they have to go to Governor-General David Johnston and declare that they don’t have the confidence of the House.

The Governor-General can then decide whether to call an election or let another party have a chance at governing.

If an election has just happened, typically the Governor-General is expected to let another party have a chance to form the government so as not to waste voters’ times. (This happened in 1926)

If the second-place party, or the other party that was tied, can survive a confidence vote with other parties’ support, then they’re in government now.

This is essentially what happened in Ontario in 1985.

This is what students want to ask Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau and May

Would you allow more immigrants to come to Canada? How can we reduce the use of fossil fuels? How would Canada change under your leadership?

These are questions for federal party leaders, but no, they are not from the latest debate.

These queries come from elementary and secondary students across Canada.

The young Canadians are posing these questions to Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May through Student Vote, a project of the nonpartisan Civix, which aims to engage youth in our democratic process.

Student Vote will be running a parallel election in more than 6,000 schools across Canada just before the real vote on Oct. 19. (Click here to register your school — there’s only a few days left before the deadline.)

Aside from the mock election, Student Vote also runs democracy bootcamps for teachers and provides educational materials. The Globe and Mail is a media partner with Student Vote. Here’s The Globe’s Jane Taber in a Civix video explaining how political advertising works:

Watch for the leaders’ responses in the coming weeks.