Dalton McGuinty

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Posted by r2d2 03/31/2009 @ 09:13

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News headlines
mcguinty urges protesters not to carry Tamil Tiger flag - Globe and Mail
Ontario Premier Dalton mcguinty has urged protesters not to carry the Tamil Tiger flag at their protests, as plans emerged for another mass protest to centre on Queen's Park tomorrow. “I don't think that helps their case,” Mr. mcguinty said of the red...
McGuinty says he doesn't want an election over EI, just a better ... - The Canadian Press
TORONTO — His federal cousins may be itching for an election, but Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty doesn't want Canadians to have to head to the polls over employment insurance reforms. The Liberal premier has long decried what he calls a lack of...
Sheppard extension brings short-term stimulus plus long-term growth - Market Wire (press release)
TORONTO, ONTARIO, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - May 15, 2009) - Toronto Board of Trade President and CEO Carol Wilding says today's announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to build the Sheppard East LRT...
PM, Premier pledge $950-million for Sheppard line - Globe and Mail
Stepping off a clanging, 30-year-old streetcar at an elaborately staged news conference inside a TTC maintenance garage, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged yesterday to cover the entire $950-million cost of the...
Taxpayers may be on hook for GM package: McGuinty - Metro Canada - Toronto
An aid package for General Motors will likely involve bigger-than-expected sacrifices from taxpayers, unions and the company if the recent concessions required to bail out Chrysler are any indication, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday....
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan pledges to help resolve GM pension ... - The Canadian Press
Premier Dalton McGuinty recently said there isn't enough money to cover General Motors Canada pensions if the company goes under. Duncan told the retirees their concerns are valid and that he plans to introduce legislation this fall to address the...
Dalton McGuinty hams it up - Toronto Life
The provincial government hosted a photo-op luncheon at Queen's Park this afternoon, complete with Dalton McGuinty robotically slinging the province's pork products. “They're nutritious and delicious!” he said, attempting to calm anxieties over swine...
Ontarians already resent harmonized sales tax plan - Toronto Star
(Source: Nanos Research) Premier Dalton McGuinty's harmonized sales tax is more than a year away but Ontarians already resent it, a new survey suggests. Even though consumers will not be paying the 13 per cent levy until July 1, 2010, there is growing...
McGuinty says eHealth agency expensive undertaking - CTV.ca
TORONTO — Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending a government agency tasked with developing electronic health records for spending millions of dollars each year on consultants. Documents obtained by the Conservatives show that the Smart Systems for...
CAW, GM fail to reach deal by deadline - United Press International
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on Friday said both sides must be prepared to give more so a deal can be reached. "Our message has been clear throughout this entire period to all stakeholders," Harper said,...

Dalton McGuinty

Dalton McGuinty

Dalton James Patrick McGuinty, Jr., MPP (born July 19, 1955 in Ottawa, Ontario) is a Canadian lawyer and politician and, since October 23, 2003, Premier of Ontario. He is the twenty-fourth premier of Ontario, and the second Roman Catholic to hold this office.

McGuinty is generally regarded as holding moderate views on economic issues, with his first budget raising personal taxes and planning to eliminate the province's tax on the capital of corporations. He holds liberal views on social issues, supporting abortion rights and endorsing equal marriage for same-sex couples during the 2003 election. In early 2005, his government passed legislation confirming the legal status of same-sex marriage in Ontario.

McGuinty was born in Ottawa. His parents are politician and professor Dalton McGuinty Sr. and full-time nurse Elizabeth McGuinty. Being the son of a francophone mother and an anglophone father, McGuinty became bilingual. He grew up in an Irish Canadian Catholic family with nine brothers and sisters, with younger brother David representing the riding of Ottawa South in the Canadian House of Commons since 2004.

An alumnus of St. Patrick's High School in Ottawa, he studied biology and earned a B.Sc. from McMaster University. He then took his LL.B from the University of Ottawa before practising law in Ottawa.

Since 1980, he has been married to high school sweetheart Terri McGuinty, an elementary school teacher. The couple has one daughter and three sons.

His father, Dalton Sr., served as Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Ottawa South until his death in 1990. Dalton Jr. won the Ontario Liberal Party's nomination for Ottawa South for the provincial election of 1990, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as the MPP for his father's former riding.

The Liberal government of David Peterson was unexpectedly defeated by the social democratic Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) in this election, and McGuinty was the only rookie Liberal MPP elected. In opposition, McGuinty served as the Liberal Party's critic for Energy, Environment and Colleges and Universities. He was re-elected in Ottawa South in the 1995 provincial election without much difficulty, which saw the Liberals maintain their status as the official opposition amid a provincial swing from the NDP to the Progressive Conservatives.

McGuinty's supporters in his 1996 leadership bid included John Manley, Murray Elston, and Bob Chiarelli. He was elected leader at the party's 1996 leadership convention in a surprise victory over front-runner Gerard Kennedy. McGuinty thus became the Leader of the Opposition at Queen's Park.

Kennedy, a former head of Toronto's Daily Bread food bank, was popular on the progressive-wing of the party, while McGuinty built his core support on its establishment and pro-business right-wing which some nicknamed the "anything-but-Kennedy movement". McGuinty was fourth on the first and second ballots but he was not far behind third-place finisher Dwight Duncan. He then overtook Duncan and Joe Cordiano on the third and fourth ballots, respectively, receiving the support of their delegates to win a fifth ballot over Kennedy. McGuinty holds the distinction of being the only Canadian party leader to win his party's leadership after finishing fourth on the first ballot.

McGuinty's first term in opposition was difficult. He was often criticized for lacking charisma and being uncomfortable in the media scrums, and was described as ineffective by the province's tabloid press. Although Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris was not especially strong in media relations, the general consensus was that McGuinty was the more awkward of the two. The governing Progressive Conservatives played up McGuinty's low profile by defining him as "not up to the job" in a series of television advertisements.

McGuinty's management of the Liberal Party was also criticized. He was forced to reverse himself on a decision to hire his brother Brendan (later the chief of staff to Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli) as principal secretary. His decision to replace former leadership rival Joe Cordiano with Gerry Phillips as Deputy Leader in 1998 angered some in the province's Italian community.

McGuinty's performance in the 1999 election was widely criticized, particularly in its early weeks. He appeared unfamiliar with his party's platform in the buildup to the election, and by all accounts delivered a poor performance in the televised leader's debate, being unable to defend several first term gaffes. He was also criticized when, in response to a question by late CITY-TV journalist Colin Vaughan, he described Mike Harris as a "thug".

McGuinty's Liberals however enjoyed the support of Ontario's public-sector unions in this election, who hoped to defeat the governing Conservatives by strategic voting. The unions had abandoned their tradition backing for the New Democratic Party after former Premier Bob Rae's overrode collective agreements through the Social Contract.

Mike Harris and the PC Party were reelected in the provincial election of 1999, having significantly reduced the provincial deficit and being credited for the strong economic growth. McGuinty was nevertheless able to rally his party in the election's closing days and drew 40% of the vote for the Liberals, their second-best performance in fifty years. The Liberal Party also increased its seat total in the Legislature from 30 to 36. McGuinty himself faced a surprisingly difficult re-election in Ottawa South, but defeated his Progressive Conservative opponent by about 3,000 votes.

McGuinty's second term as opposition leader was more successful than his first. With the Liberals consolidated as the primary opposition to Harris's Progressive Conservatives, McGuinty was able to present his party as the "government in waiting". He hired a more skilled group of advisors and drafted former cabinet minister Greg Sorbara as party president. McGuinty also rebuilt the party's fundraising operation, launching the Ontario Liberal Fund. In preparation for the 2003 election, the party adopted a platform that emphasized lowering class sizes in schools, hiring more nurses, increasing environmental protections, and "holding the line" on taxes. McGuinty also made an effort to improve his debating skills, and received coaching from Democratic Party trainers in the United States.

McGuinty's chances of forming government were improved by a number of controversies involving the governing PC Party, including the fallout over the shooting death of native protester Dudley George at Ipperwash, the deaths of seven people from tainted water in Walkerton, and the decision to provide tax credits to parents who sent their children to private schools. Harris resigned in the fall of 2001, following the then-Premier's high profile testimony at the Walkerton Inquiry and the PC government's defeat in a by-election in Vaughan—King—Aurora.

Harris's successor, Ernie Eves, received a short boost in the polls from his attempts to move the PC Party to the centre. However, Eves was never able to gain control of the political agenda, and appeared indecisive and reactive on issues ranging from electricity restructuring to taxes. In 2003, Eves reversed his move to the centre and campaigned on a right-wing agenda.

The 2003 North America blackout gave Eves increased exposure and rallied some support for his party. He called an election immediately after the blackout, and polling showed that the previous Liberal lead had narrowed to a tie in the first week. The rise in Tory support was short-lived. The Liberals took a commanding lead in the campaign's second week, and remained in that position until election day.

In contrast, Liberal Party's advertising remained positive, selling the merits of changing governments and arguing their preparedness for office. McGuinty undertook a series of choreographed events, including signing a taxpayer's protection pledge not to raise taxes, and appearing on the popular sports show "Off the Record", where he received an endorsement from Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm. At the same time, caucus members like George Smitherman carried the party's negative message in critiquing the PC Party record.

Following the election, the McGuinty government asked former Provincial Auditor Erik Peters to examine the province's finances. Peters revealed that the out-going Conservative administration had left a hidden deficit of at least $5.6 billion. The Conservatives questioned Peters's methodology, and suggested that the McGuinty government was overstating the province's financial difficulties to break or delay some of its campaign spending promises.

McGuinty formally took office as Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on October 23, 2003.

The new government called the Legislature back in session in late 2003. The government brought in auto insurance reforms (including a price cap), rolled-back a series of corporate and personal tax cuts that had been scheduled for 2004, passed legislation that enshrined publicly-funded healthcare into provincial law, hired more meat and water inspectors, opened up the provincially-owned electricity companies to Freedom of Information laws and enacted a ban on partisan government advertising.

On May 18, 2004, Provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara released the McGuinty government's first budget, the first year of a four year plan focused on tackling four deficits the Liberals claim the previous Tories left behind: the "health deficit", the "education deficit", the "infrastructure deficit" and the "fiscal deficit".

This budget was focused on health care. At its core was a large infusion of new money into hospitals specifically to shorten wait times in key areas: knee and hip replacements, cancer treatment, cardiac treatment, cataracts, and MRI and CT scans. The government also brought in free immunizations for children, 150 new Family Health Teams to improve access to physicians, almost 100,000 new home care spaces for Ontario's elderly, almost 4,000 new long-term care beds, and $200 million more to improve public health and fight potential outbreaks like SARS and West Nile Virus.

As a result, the Liberals dropped badly in polls and McGuinty fell behind Ernie Eves in the category of preferred premier. The party later recovered in popular support, but the broken promise has created a lasting difficulty for McGuinty's administration.

The Ontario Health Premium also became a major issue in the early days of the 2004 federal election, called a week after the Ontario budget. Many believe that the controversy hampered Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's bid for re-election.

Also controversial was the elimination of coverage for health services not covered by the Canada Health Act including eye examinations and physical therapy. Other elements of the McGuinty government's first budget were a four-year plan to tackle the deficit, funding for 1,000 new teachers, a transfer of two cents of the existing gas tax to municipalities to help fund transit, and a three per cent increase to those on social assistance, the first increase in ten years.

Soon after the federal election, McGuinty attended a First Ministers' Meeting on health-care reform that resulted in a new agreement for a national health accord. This Accord saw the provinces receive new federal funding in exchange for providing reports on such things as waiting times for surgeries.

McGuinty's government ended the year by releasing "Progress Report 2004: Getting Results for Ontario". This work focused on health, education, and economic growth, and set targets to achieve before the next election (including reducing the high school drop out rate, increasing participation in post-secondary education and reducing wait times for specific medical procedures).

During early 2005, McGuinty called the Legislature back for a rare winter session to debate and pass several high-profile bills. The government legislated a "greenbelt" around Toronto. The size of Prince Edward Island, the Greenbelt protects a broad swath of land from development and preserves forests and farmland. In response to court decisions, the McGuinty Liberals updated legislation to reflect the change in the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples.

McGuinty also launched a campaign to narrow the so-called "$23 billion gap" between what Ontario contributes to the federal government and what is returned to Ontario in services. This came as a sharp turn after more than a year of cooperating with the federal government, but McGuinty pointed to the special deals worked out by the federal government with other provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia) as compromising the nature of equalization. In particular, McGuinty noted that immigrants in Ontario receive $800 in support from the federal government, while those in Quebec receive $3,800.

Premier McGuinty and Prime Minister Paul Martin debated the Ontario government's accusations throughout the spring of 2005. McGuinty and Martin finally met in May and, following a nine-hour meeting, McGuinty received a commitment for $5.75 billion, spread out over five years, including new money for immigrant settlement, training for the unemployed, federal delivery of meat inspection and corporate tax collection and per capita funding for post-secondary education.

In late April 2005, McGuinty announced the closure of the Lakeview coal-fired generating station, one of Ontario's largest polluters. Although the McGuinty government originally promised to close all coal-burning plants by 2007, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan announced on June 14, 2005 that this was no longer possible, and that the that Nanticoke Coal Plant will not close until 2009.

On May 11, 2005, the McGuinty Liberals delivered their second budget, built around the "Reaching Higher" plan for education. The second year of the four year plan, this budget was designed to tackle to so-called "education deficit." Investing $6.2 billion over the next four years, the budget included the largest investment in higher education in forty years. It also increased accessibility for low-income students, expanded medical school spaces, and invested in new faculty, graduate scholarships and research. The budget also broke a previous promise to balance the budget in 2007-08. The government has instead aimed at balance in 2008-09.

The McGuinty Liberals also moved to expand infrastructure spending by encouraging Ontario's large pension plans to invest in the construction of new roads, schools and hospitals. Specific projects in the budget included a 10-year expansion of the Toronto Transit Commission and GO Transit, 15,000 new affordable housing units and improved border crossings. NDP leader Howard Hampton described this move as "privatization by stealth".

During their second year in office, the McGuinty Liberals brought forward a series of successful negotiations with the province's unions.First, Health Minister George Smitherman concluded an agreement with the province's doctors that included incentives to practice in family health teams or under-serviced communities. Education Minister Gerard Kennedy established a province-wide negotiating framework with the province's teachers' unions with the result that most school boards settled their contracts without lost teaching time. Finally, Management Board Chair Gerry Phillips closed a deal with the provincial government's own civil service union, the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union.

On June 22, 2005, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy announced that 90-95% of Ontario students between junior kindergarten and Grade Three will be in classes of twenty students or fewer by 2007. He also acknowledged that extenuating circumstances may require slightly larger classes in some cases. Opposition critic Frank Klees accused the McGuinty government of breaking its promise to cap classroom sizes, but Kennedy responded that some flexibility is always necessary, and that any reasonable person would regard a 90-95% success rate as a promise kept.

Also in June 2005, two cabinet ministers in McGuinty's government came under scrutiny for alleged improprieties. Joseph Cordiano faced calls for his resignation after it was discovered that he billed $17,000 for personal expenses to his riding association. These expenses included meals in Paris and Milan, as well as theatre tickets in London. Cordiano insisted that these expenses were related to riding activities, and refused to resign. McGuinty defended Cordiano in public, claiming he had "complete confidence" in the minister.

At around the same time, Minister of Transportation Harinder Takhar was accused of a conflict-of-interest, after visiting a company that he owned in a blind trust. Takhar acknowledges that he made "an error in judgement", but denied any wrongdoing. Both Cordiano and Takhar were retained in their portfolios following a cabinet shuffle on June 29, 2005. The matter was sent to the provincial ethics commissioner who issued a ruling on January 4, 2006 that finding that Takhar had violated the province's integrity guidelines by not maintaining an arms length relationship with the trustee appointed to run his blind trust. McGuinty has defended his minister, and has rejected calls to remove him from cabinet, even after the Integrity Commissioner issued his finding.

In the same cabinet shuffle, Premier McGuinty withdrew from the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio and became the province's first Minister of Research and Innovation.

On October 11, 2005, police raided the Sorbara Group offices - owned by Greg Sorbara and his brothers - as part of the ongoing Royal Group Technologies investigation. The warrant stated that there were reasonable grounds to believe Sorbara and other directors of Royal Group defrauded the company and shareholders when they bought land in Brampton, that was owned by a subsidiary of the Sorbara Group. Sorbara initially resisted opposition calls for him to step down, but later resigned as Minister of Finance the same day. Sorbara consistently denied any knowledge of the specific allegations against him, and launched legal action against the RCMP to either clarify their case against him or withdraw their investigation. Following Sorbara's resignation, Dwight Duncan was appointed as Minister of Finance and Chair of the Management Board. Donna Cansfield took over Duncan's responsibility as Minister of Energy and Jim Bradley as Government House Leader.

The next day, the McGuinty government put forward a throne speech in October reiterating their priorities of health, education and economic prosperity. The speech outlined plans to offer the first money-back guarantee on a public service: a refund if you do not receive your birth certificate within 15 days of applying on-line.

On November 18, 2005, it was announced that Ontario's Drive Clean emissions program was to be expanded rather than scrapped.

The 2006 budget was the third year of the four-year plan, and focused on the "infrastructure deficit." The centrepiece was MoveOntario, a $1.2 billion investment in transportation infrastructure. $400 million was invested to build and repair roads and bridges in municipalities across Ontario.

On May 18, 2006, a judge agreed with Greg Sorbara's contention that the RCMP had erred in including his name in the search warrant. In striking Sorbara's name from the warrant, Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court said there were inadequate grounds for police to include him in the first place. The judge was particularly scathing in his review of the RCMP probe of Sorbara. On May 23, 2006, Sorbara was reinstated as Minister of Finance, while Duncan returned to the Energy portfolio.

On August 17, 2006, Foreign Direct Investment magazine (a British magazine owned by the Financial Times) named Dalton McGuinty "personality of the year" for encouraging investment in the auto sector, for developing a plan to increase energy production, and for promoting research and innovation.

Education Minister Gerard Kennedy resigned his cabinet post and seat to seek the leadership of the federal Liberal party leadership. McGuinty and his ministers backed Toronto councillor Sylvia Watson to succeed him in the Parkdale—High Park by-election, making numerous visits to the riding to bolster her candidacy. She ran on the McGuinty government's record of education and health care, while her opponents targeted numerous Liberal broken promises, including delaying the replacement of coal-fired power plants, and the addition of the $2.4-billion health premium after campaigning on a pledge to not raise taxes. Trailing in polls during the last week of the campaign, Watson released a number of press releases attacking NDP candidate Cheri DiNovo. These releases made reference to DiNovo's LSD use at a younger age and alleged that she endorsed the church ordination of pedophiles and axe murderers in Qu(e)erying Evangelism. They also claimed that DiNovo had made past comments in which she compared Canadian murderer Karla Homolka to a Christ-like figure. Both NDP and Conservatives denounced the press releases as mudslinging, saying that DiNovo's comments were taken out of context. Howard Hampton, Peter Kormos, and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) accused McGuinty of condoning and orchestrating the smear attacks, which he denied. DiNovo easily defeated Watson in the election.

On June 14, 2006, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan announced the McGuinty government's twenty-year electricity plan, which committed to spending forty-six billion dollars on rebuilding all of the province's ageing reactors. The plan also made the McGuinty government the first Ontario government since the 1970s to commit to building new nuclear stations. The plan also pushed back again the schedule for closing Ontario's coal stations to 2014. In response to the government's announcement, Greenpeace activists occupied Energy Minister Dwight Duncan's offices.

The day after the McGuinty government announced its long-term electricity plan the Globe and Mail published a front page story that the government had quietly passed a regulation to 'exempt' its energy plan from an environmental assessment.

The government's decision to exempt the government's electricity plan was criticized by some environmental organizations. In a press release, Greenpeace the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute noted that they had provided the government a legal opinion prepared by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, which concluded that the government's energy plan would be subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.

The McGuinty government's 2007 budget was criticized by Toronto mayor David Miller, who argued that the province was refusing to "pay its bills", and said that Toronto's budgetary problems were the result of $500 million in social service costs mandated by the provincial government. During a later discussion, provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara declined to help the city to fix its $71 million shortfall, saying that "he doesn't have a mandate to fix this". Miller has since moved to have the city sue the province over the shortfall.

On July 26, 2007, McGuinty forced Mike Colle to resign as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, with his portfolio being taken over by Gerry Phillips who will also retain his current responsibilities as Minister of Government Services. Colle has been criticized for his role in giving out $32 million in government grants to immigrant and cultural groups without official applications or formal statements of purpose. In one case that the auditor general highlighted, the Ontario Cricket Association received $1 million when it asked for $150,000. Premier McGuinty agreed to commission a special report on the matter, to be released in July 2007. Colle was also to be investigated in committee before the Legislature was prorogued by the Premier. Some believe this was arranged to prevent his testimony from going public.

In late 2004, John Tory was chosen to replace Ernie Eves as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. A principal secretary to former PC Premier Bill Davis, Tory is widely regarded as more moderate than Mike Harris and the mostly rural MPPs who make up the majority of his caucus. McGuinty's Liberals ran a candidate against Tory during the latter's successful bid to enter the legislature. Howard Hampton continues to lead the NDP. Though Tory has out-polled McGuinty in the category of preferred premier, the Liberals hold a lead over the Progressive Conservatives, while the NDP are held to around 20% support.

In October 2006, the McGuinty Liberals held their last Annual General Meeting before the next election. The event set in place several key elements of their reelection strategy. First, American political consultant James Carville advised Liberal activists to stick to a simple message in the next election. Second, the party elected long-time activist Gord Pheneuf as the new president. Finally, Premier McGuinty laid out the theme of the next campaign: standing up for Ontario families.

On October 10, 2007, McGuinty and his Ontario Liberal party won a consecutive majority government in the 39th general provincial election. The last Liberal Party Premier to achieve such success was Mitchell Hepburn during the 1930s.

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Ontario general election, 2003

Ontario general election, 2003

The Ontario Legislature after the 2003 election.

The Ontario general election of 2003 was held on October 2, 2003, to elect the 103 members of the 38th Legislative Assembly (Members of Provincial Parliament, or "MPPs") of the Province of Ontario, Canada.

The election was called on September 2 by Premier Ernie Eves to capitalize on an increase in support for the governing Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the days following the 2003 North American blackout. The election was won, however, by the Ontario Liberal Party, led by Dalton McGuinty.

In 1995, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party or "Tories" under Mike Harris came from third place to upset the front-running Ontario Liberal Party under Lyn McLeod and the highly unpopular governing Ontario New Democratic Party under Bob Rae to form a majority government. The Harris government was far more activist than earlier Ontario PC governments, and over the next two terms moved to cut personal income tax rates by 30%, closed almost 40 hospitals to increase efficiency, cut the Ministry of the Environment staff in half, and undertook massive reforms of the education system including mandatory teacher testing and student testing in public education and public tax credits for parents who sent their children to private schools.

In the 1999 provincial election, the Tories were able to ride a strong economy and a campaign aimed at proving rookie Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty was "not up to the job" to another majority government. However, the Walkerton Tragedy, where a contaminated water supply led to the deaths of 7 people and illness of at least 2,300 were linked in part to government environment and regulatory cutbacks, the government was badly damaged. A movement to provide tax credits to parents with children in private schools also proved to be unpopular.

In September 2001, Harris announced his intention to resign and the PC party called a leadership convention for 2002 to replace him. Five candidates emerged: former Finance Minister Ernie Eves who had retired earlier that year, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer, Health Minister Tony Clement and Labour Minister Chris Stockwell. The resulting leadership election was divisive in the PC Party, with Flaherty adopting a hard-right platform and attacking the front-running Eves as "a pale, pink imitation of Dalton McGuinty" and a "serial waffler." At one point, anti-abortion activists apparently supporting Flaherty distributed pamphlets attacking Tony Clement because his wife worked for hospitals that performed abortions. At the convention, Eves was able to win on the second ballot after Elizabeth Witmer and Tony Clement both endorsed him.

Eves took office on April 15, 2002, and promptly re-aligned his government to the political centre. The party would negotiate a deal with striking government workers, dramatically cancel an IPO of Hydro One, the government's electricity transmission company, and defer planned tax breaks for corporations and private schools for a year. With polls showing the Conservatives moving from a 15 point deficit to a tie in public opinion with the Liberals, the media praising Eves' political reorientation of the government, and the opposition Liberals reeling from the seizure of some of their political turf, the time seemed ripe for a snap election call. Many political observers felt that Eves had the momentum to win an election at that time.

However, several factors likely convinced Eves to wait to call an election. First, in 1990, the Liberals had lost the election in part due to perceptions that they called the election early for purely partisan reasons. Since then, the shortest distance between elections has been four years less five days (Ontario has since moved to fixed date election dates). Second, the PC Party was exhausted and divided from a six-month leadership contest. Third, the move to the centre had created opposition in traditional Conservative support. Financial conservatives and businesses were angered over Eves' cancellation of the hydro IPO. Others felt betrayed that promised tax cuts had not been delivered, seemingly breaking the PCs' own Taxpayer Protection Act, while private school supporters were upset their promised tax credit had been delayed for a year.

In the fall of 2002, the opposition Liberals began a round of attacks on perceived PC mismanagement. First, Jim Flaherty was embroiled in scandal when it was revealed that his leadership campaign's largest donor had received a highly lucrative contract for slot machines from the government. Then, Tourism Minister Cam Jackson was forced to resign when the Liberals revealed he had charged taxpayers more than $100,000 for hotel rooms, steak dinners and alcoholic beverages. The Liberals showed the Tories had secretly given a large tax break to the Toronto Blue Jays, a team owned by prominent Tory Ted Rogers.

At the same time, both the New Democrats and Liberals criticized the government over skyrocketing electricity prices. In May 2002, the government had followed California and Alberta in deregulating the electricity market. With contracting supply due to construction delays at the Pickering nuclear power plant and rising demand for electricity in an unusually warm autumn, the spot price for electricity rose, resulting in consumer outrage. In November, Eves fixed the price of electricity and ended the open market, appeasing consumers but angering conservative free-marketers.

That winter, Eves promised a provincial budget before the beginning of the fiscal year, to help hospitals and schools budget effectively. However, as multiple scandals in the fall had already made the party unwilling to return to Question Period, they wished to dismiss the Legislative Assembly of Ontario until as late as possible in the spring. The budget was instead to be announced at the Magna International headquarters in Newmarket, Ontario rather than in the Legislature. The move was met with outrage from the PC Speaker, Gary Carr who called the move unconstitutional and would rule that it was a prima facae case of contempt of the legislature. The controversy over the location of the budget would far outstrip any support earned by the content of the budget.

The government faced a major crisis when SARS killed several people in Toronto and threatened the stability of the health care system. On April 23, when the World Health Organization advised against all but essential travel to Toronto to prevent the spread of the virus, Toronto tourism greatly suffered.

When the spring session was finally convened in late spring, the Eves government was forced through three days of debate on the contempt motion over the Magna budget followed by weeks of calls for the resignation of Energy Minister Chris Stockwell. Stockwell was accused of accepting thousands of dollars in undeclared gifts from Ontario Power Generation, an arms length crown corporation he regulated, when he travelled to Europe in the summer of 2002. Stockwell finally stepped aside after dominating the provincial news for almost a month, and would not seek reelection.

By the summer of 2003, the Progressive Conservatives received an unexpected opportunity to re-gain popularity in the form of the 2003 North American blackout. When the blackout hit, Eves initially received criticism for his late response; however, as he led a series of daily briefings to the press in the days after the blackout, Eves was able to demonstrate leadership and stayed cool under pressure. The crisis also allowed Eves to highlight his principal campaign themes of experience, proven competence and ability to handle the government. When polls began to register a moderate increase for the Conservatives, the table was set for an election call.

In 1995 and 1999, the Progressive Conservatives ran highly focused, disciplined campaigns based on lessons learned principally in US states by the Republican Party. In 1995, the core PC strategy was to polarize the electorate around a handful of controversial ideas that would split opposition between the other two parties. The PCs stressed radical tax cuts, opposition to job quotas, slashing welfare rates and a few hot button issues like opposing photo radar and establish "boot camps" for young offenders. They positioned leader Mike Harris as an average-guy populist who would restore common sense to government after ten lost years of NDP and Liberal mismanagement. The campaign manifesto, released in 1994, was titled the "Common Sense Revolution" and advocated a supply side economics solution to a perceived economic malaise.

In 1999, the PCs were able to point to increased economic activity as evidence that their supply side plan worked. Their basic strategy was to again polarize the electorate around a handful of controversial ideas and their record while preventing opposition from rallying exclusively around the Liberals by undermining confidence in Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty. They ran a series of negative television ads against McGuinty in an attempt to brand him as "not up to the job." At the same time, they emphasized their economic record, while downplaying disruptions in health care and education as part of a needed reorganization of public services that promoted efficiency and would lead to eventual improvements.

Heading into 2003, Tom Long refused to work for Ernie Eves. Most speculated that Long saw Eves as too wishy-washy and not enough of a traditional hard-right conservative. Jaime Watt took Long's position as campaign co-chair and more or less all the same players settled into the same spot. A few new faces included Jeff Bangs as campaign manager. Bangs was a long-time Eves loyalist who had grown up in his riding of Parry Sound.

The Progressive Conservatives once again planned on polarizing the electorate around a handful of hot button campaign pledges. However, with their party and government listing in public opinion polls, they found their only strong contrasts were around the experience and stature of Premier Eves. Their campaign slogan "Experience You Can Trust" was designed to highlight Eves' years in office.

Each plank was targeted at a key Tory voting bloc: homeowners, seniors, religious conservatives, parents and law-and-order types.

Eves' campaigning followed a straight-forward pattern. Eves would highlight one of the five elements of the platform and then attack Dalton McGuinty for opposing it. For instance, he would visit the middle-class home of a visible minority couple with two kids and talk about how much money they would get under his mortgage deducatability plan. That would be followed by an attack on McGuinty for having a secret plan to raise their taxes. Or he would campaign in a small town assembly plant and talk about how under a "Made-in-Ontario" immigration plan fewer new Canadians would settle in Toronto and more outside the city, helping the plant manager with his labour shortage. Then he would link McGuinty to Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien and say McGuinty supported the federal immigration system that allows terrorists and criminals into the country.

The Tory television advertising also attempted to polarize the election around these issues.

In one of the ads, a voice-over accompanying an unflattering photo of the Liberal leader asks "Ever wonder why Dalton McGuinty wants to raise your taxes?" The ad then points out that McGuinty has opposed Tory plans to allow homeowners a tax deduction on mortgage interest and to give senior citizens a break on their property taxes.

In another ad, the voice-over asks "Doesn't he (McGuinty) know that a child's education is too important to be disrupted by lockouts and strikes?" It says that McGuinty has sided with the unions and rejected the Tory proposal to ban teacher strikes.

Armed with a majority, the Tories were hoping to hold the seats they already had, while targeting a handful of rural Liberal seats in hopes of increasing their majority. They campaigned relatively little in Northern Ontario, with the exception of North Bay and Parry Sound, both of which they held.

The first half of Dalton McGuinty's 1999 campaign was widely criticized as disorganized and uninspired, and most journalists believe he gave a poor performance in the leaders' debate. However, McGuinty was able to rally his party in the last ten days. On election day, the Liberals won 40% of the vote, their second best showing in almost fifty years. Perhaps more importantly, nine new MPPs were elected, boosting the caucus from 30 to 36, including dynamic politicians like George Smitherman and Michael Bryant.

In 1999, the Liberal strategy had been to polarize the electorate between Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty. They purposely put out a platform that was devoid of ideas, to ensure the election was about the Tory record, and not the Liberal agenda. To an extent, they succeeded. Support for the NDP collapsed from 21% to just 13%, while the Liberals climbed 9%. However, while they almost cornered the market of those angry at the Tories, they could not convince enough people to be angry at the Tories to win.

McGuinty replaced many of his young staff with experienced political professionals he recruited. Three he kept in key positions were Don Guy, his campaign manager and a pollster with Pollara, Matt Maychak, his director of communications, and Bob Lopinski, his director of issues management. To develop his platform, he added to this a new chief of staff, Phil Dewan, a former policy director for Premier David Peterson and Ottawa veteran Gerald M. Butts. He also sought out Peterson-era Ontario Minister of Labour Greg Sorbara to run for president of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Early on, McGuinty set down three strategic imperatives. First, no tax cuts. This ran against the conventional wisdom of politics that you had to offer tax cuts to win; everyone from Mike Harris to Bill Clinton had campaigned on reducing the tax burden on the middle class. But McGuinty was determined that Ontario voters would accept that the money was needed to restore public health care and education services. Second, a positive tone. McGuinty wanted to avoid the typical opposition leader role of automatically opposing whatever the government announced, and instead, set the agenda with positive alternatives. While attacking your opponent was important, that would be left to caucus surrogates. Third, one big team. At the time, the Ontario Liberal Party was riven into factions. Peterson-era people distrusted more recent arrivals. Jean Chrétien supporters fought with Paul Martin supporters. McGuinty set a tone that divisions were left at the door.

The emphasis on building the team was highly successful as job that in 1999 were done by one person were now assigned to groups of four or six or eight. Dewan brought on board veterans of the Peterson regime such as Sheila James, Vince Borg and David MacNaughton. From Ottawa, campaign veterans such as Warren Kinsella, Derek Kent and Gordon Ashworth signed on to help oust the Ontario Tories from power.

The Liberal strategy was the same as in 1999: polarize the election between the Conservatives and Liberals to marginalize the NDP and then convince enough voters that the Conservatives had to go. With polls showing more than 60% of voters reporting it was "time for a change", the Liberals campaign theme was "choose change". The theme summarized the two-step strategy perfectly: first, boil the election down to a two-party choice and then cast the Liberals as a capable and trustworthy agent of change at a time when voters were fed up with the government.

McGuinty backed up his comprehensive platform with a meticulous costing by a forensic account and two bank economists. While the Conservatives had adopted a third-party verification in 1995, they did not in 2003, allowing the Liberals to gain credibility that they could pay for their promises.

In contrast to the Eves campaign, where the leader was both positive and negative message carrier, the Liberals used a number of caucus members to criticize the Harris-Eves government while McGuinty was free to promote his positive plan for change.

The Liberal advertising strategy was highly risky. While conventional wisdom says the only way to successfully respond to a negative campaign is with even more negative ads against your opponent, McGuinty ran only positive ads for the duration of the campaign.

Geographically, the Liberal campaign was able to rest on a solid core of seats in Toronto and Northern Ontario that were at little risk at the beginning of the election period. They had to defend a handful of rural seats that had been recently won and were targeted by the PCs. However, the principle battlefield of the election was in PC-held territory in the "905" region of suburbs around Toronto, particularly Peel and York districts, suburban seats around larger cities like Ottawa and Hamilton and in Southwestern Ontario in communities like London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.

The 1999 NDP campaign received its lowest level of popular support since the Second World War, earning just 12.6% of the vote and losing party status with just nine seats. Several factors led to this poor showing, including a lacklustre campaign, Hampton's low profile and a movement called strategic voting that endorsed voting for the Liberals in most ridings in order to remove the governing Tories. After the election, there was a short-lived attempt to remove leader Howard Hampton publicly led by leaders of the party's youth wing. However, the majority of party members blamed the defeat on NDP supporters voting Liberal in hopes of removing Harris and the Tories from power. As a result, Hampton was not widely blamed for this severe defeat and stayed on as leader.

Under the rules of the Legislative Assembly, a party would receive "official party status", and the resources and privileges accorded to officially-recognized parties, if it had 12 or more seats; thus, the NDP would lose caucus funding and the ability to ask questions in the House. However, the governing Conservatives changed the rules after the election to lower the threshold for party status from 12 seats to 8. The Tories argued that since Ontario's provincial ridings now had the same boundaries as the federal ones, the threshold should be lowered to accommodate the smaller legislature. Others argued that the Tories were only helping the NDP so they could continue to split the vote with the Liberals.

During the period before the election, Hampton identified the Conservative plan for deregulating and privatizing electricity generation and transmission as the looming issue of the next election. With the Conservatives holding a firm market-oriented line and the Liberal position muddled, Hampton boldly focused the party's Question Period and research agendas almost exclusively on energy issues. Hampton quickly distinguished himself as a passionate advocate of maintaining public ownership of electricity generation, and published a book on the subject, Public Power, in 2003.

With the selection of Eves as the PC leader, the NDP hoped that the government's move to the centre in the spring of 2002 would reduce the polarization of the Ontario electorate between the PCs and Liberals and improve the NDP's standing. It was also hoped that the long-standing split between labour and the NDP would be healed as the bitter legacy of the Rae government faded.

The co-chairs of the NDP campaign were Diane O'Reggio, newly installed as the party's provincial secretary after a stint in Ottawa working for the federal party, and Andre Foucault, secretary-treasurer of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers union. The manager was Rob Milling, principal secretary to Hampton. Communications were handled by Sheila White and Gil Hardy. Jeff Ferrier was the media coordinator.

The NDP strategy was to present itself as distinct from the Liberals on the issue of public ownership of public services, primarily in electricity and health care, while downplaying any significant differences between the Liberals and PCs. There was a conscious effort to discourage "strategic voting" where NDP supporters vote Liberal to defeat the Conservatives. The NDP slogan was "publicpower", designed to highlight both the energy issue Hampton had championed and public health care, while promoting a populist image of empowerment for average people.

The NDP campaign was designed to be highly visual and memorable. Each event was built around a specific visual thematic. For instance, in the first week of the campaign, Hampton attacked the Liberal energy platform saying it was "full of holes" and holding up a copy of the platform with oversized holes punched in it. He also illustrated it "had more holes than Swiss cheese" by also displaying a large block of cheese. At another event, Hampton and his campaign team argued that the Liberal positions were like "trying to nail Jello to the wall" by literally attempting to nail Jello to a wall.

The first round of NDP ads avoided personal attacks, and cast leader Howard Hampton as a champion of public utilities. In one 30-second spot, Mr. Hampton talks about the effects of privatization of the power industry and the blackout. "For most of us, selling off our hydro was the last straw," he says. The clip is mixed with images of Toronto streets during power failure.

Geographically, the NDP campaign focused on targeting seats in Scarborough and Etobicoke in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Northern Ontario.

The first week of the campaign was dominated by the Conservatives, who launched a series of highly negative attacks at Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty while highlighting popular elements of their platform. On the Saturday of the first week, a round of media-sponsored public opinion polls showed the Liberals 12 point lead reduced to a tie between the Liberals and Conservatives. The Conservative strategy of "going negative" appeared to be working. Combined with Premier Eves' high-profile performance in the blackout, most media commentators believed the Liberals would have to also go negative.

As the campaign entered week 2, it was anticipated that the Liberals would push a series of highly negative ads to combat advertising by the Conservatives that attacked Dalton McGuinty. However, instead they went positive and stayed positive throughout the campaign. It was Eves who went on the defensive as the Liberals worked the media to put the Premier on his heels. Stung by years of arrogance by the PC Party toward reporters, the media were quick to pile on.

After the Liberals Gerry Phillips and Gerald M. Butts accused Eves of having no plan to pay for his $10.4 billion in promises, Eves stumbled when he could not provide his own cost for his promises. "I couldn't tell you off the top of my head," he admitted. Then came a story on the front of the Globe and Mail saying that Ontarians would have to pay "millions" in extra premiums because the election call had delayed implementation of new auto insurance regulations promised by Eves on the eve of the campaign. On Wednesday the government was broadsided when - days after a raid at a meat packing plant exposed the story state of public health at some abattoirs - leaked documents showed the PC government had been sitting on recommendations to improve meat safety, leading to calls for a public inquiry by the opposition parties. The issue was made worse when Agriculture Minister Helen Johns refused all media calls and had to be literally tracked down in her riding by reporters. On Thursday, according to the Green party candidate in Nipissing (Mike Harris's old riding), a donor with Tory connections offered him money to bolster his campaign and draw votes away from the Liberals. The same day, Eves attacked Dalton McGuinty for voting against a bill to protect taxpayers from increased taxes, when it turns out McGuinty in fact voted for that bill. Finally, on the Friday of the second week, the Eves campaign issued a bizarre press release calling Dalton McGuinty an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet. This moment would prove the defining moment of the campaign. First, it was so memorable and unusual that it served to attract the attention of all Ontarians, including those who don't pay attention to a campaign until its final days. Second, the over-the-top negativity brought to life a key critique of the Liberals, that the Harris-Eves Tories picked fights for no reason and went too far. Third, the hysteria around the comment put the Eves campaign on the defensive in the media at a critical point and prevented them from regaining their footing after a difficult week. Fourth, it polarized the election around the PCs and Liberals, and left the NDP on the sidelines. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Eves team was instantly at each other's throats over who would take the blame for approving the press release.

The Conservatives spent the third week on the defensive and dropping in the polls, unable to recover from the disasters of the second week and fresh new attacks. The Liberals produced documents from the Walkerton Inquiry showing that individual Conservative MPPs were warned about risks to human health and safety resulting from cuts to the Environment Ministry budget. An attack on Dalton McGuinty saying he needed "professional help" forced an apology from the Conservatives to people with mental illness. Tory MPP John O'Toole said the Tory negative campaign was a mistake, putting Eves on the defensive once again. A leaked memo was used by the opposition to accuse the government of threatening public sector workers into not telling the truth at a public inquiry into the government's handling of the SARS crisis. Eves ended the week with another event that backfired, brandishing barbed wire and a get out of jail free card to attack the Liberals as soft on crime. Reporters spent more time focused on Eves' first use of props in the election than on his message.

By the fourth week of the campaign, polls showed the Liberals pulling away from the Conservatives with a margin of at least 10 points. It was widely believed that only a disastrous performance in the leader's debate stood between Dalton McGuinty and the Premier's Office. McGuinty - who had stumbled badly in the 1999 debate - was able to play off low expectations and a surprisingly low-key Eves to earn the draw he wanted. The debate itself was also subject to criticism from the Green Party of Ontario, which denounced a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision not to allow leader Frank de Jong to participate.

The final week of the campaign was marred by more negative attacks from Eves and the Conservatives. At one point, Premier Eves referred to Mr. McGuinty as having a "pointy head", a remark he later conceded was inappropriate. McGuinty was able to extend the bad press from the incident another day when he joked to radio hosts that they needed to be careful "so I won't spear you with my sharp pointy head." McGuinty spent the last days of the campaign travelling through previously rock solid PC territory in ridings like Durham, Simcoe and Leeds-Grenville to large crowds.

For its part, the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) led a theatrical campaign that proved ineffective. Leader Howard Hampton made an appearance in front of the Toronto home of millionaire Peter Munk to denounce Eves' tax breaks, claiming that they would save Munk $18,000 a year. He attempted to nail Jell-O to a wall to dramatize the elusiveness he accused his opponents of regarding hydro privatization. He also used a piece of Swiss cheese to suggest that his opponents' platforms were full of holes.

The campaign was contentious on the issues as well, with both the Liberals and Howard Hampton's New Democrats attacking the Tories' record in office. Various scandals and other unpopular moves reduced public opinion of the Tories going into the race, including the Walkerton water tragedy, the deaths of Dudley George and Kimberly Rogers, the possible sale of publicly owned electric utility Hydro One, the SARS outbreak, the decision to release the 2003 budget at an auto parts factory instead of the Legislature, the widespread blackout in August, and the Aylmer packing plant tainted meat investigation. . As one Tory insider put it "So many chickens came to roost, its like a remake of The Birds".

One of the most contentious issues was education. All three parties pledged to increase spending by $2 billion, but Premier Eves also pledged to ban teacher strikes, lock-outs, and work-to-rule campaigns during the school year, a move the other parties rejected. Teacher strikes had plagued the previous Progressive Conservative mandate of Mike Harris, whose government had deeply cut education spending.

Tax cuts were also an issue. The Progressive Conservatives proposed a wide range of tax cuts, including a 20-percent cut to personal income taxes, and the elimination of education tax paid by seniors, two moves that would have cost $1.3 billion together. The Liberals and New Democrats rejected these cuts as profligate. The Liberals also promised to cancel some pending Tory tax cuts and to eliminate some tax cuts already introduced.

CBC Newsworld declared a Liberal victory minutes after ballot-counting began. Ernie Eves conceded defeat only ninety minutes into the count.

The Liberals won a huge majority with 72 seats, almost 70% of the 106 seat legislature. The Liberals not only won almost every seat in the city of Toronto, but every seat bordering on Toronto as well. All seven seats in Peel region went Liberal, as well as previously safe PC 905 seats like Markham, Oakville and Pickering-Ajax. The Liberals also made a major breakthrough in Southwestern Ontario, grabbing all three seats in London as well as rural seats like Perth-Middlesex, Huron-Bruce and Lambton-Kent. If the story of the PC majorities in 1995 and 1999 were the marriage of rural and small-town conservative bedrock with voters in the suburbs, the 2003 election was a divorce of those suburban voters from rural Ontario and a new marriage to the mid-town professionals and New Canadians who make up the Liberal base.

The NDP had a disappointingly confusing election: on one hand, they won seven seats, one fewer than the eight required to keep "official party status", which would give it a share of official Queen's Park staff, money for research, and guaranteed time during Question Period. On the other hand, they increased their share of the popular vote for the first time since 1990. Despite the mixed results, Hampton stayed on as party leader, saying that the party did not blame him for the poor performance in an election where voters were apparently more concerned about defeating the Tories by any means necessary than about voting their conscience. The party was returned to official party status seven months into the session, when Andrea Horwath won a by-election in Hamilton East on May 13, 2004.

The Tories were completely shut out of Toronto, where 19 out of 22 ridings were won by the Liberals, and the remaining three were carried by the New Democrats. Perhaps more ominously for the PCs, they were also shut out of any seats bordering Toronto; only in the outermost and most ethically homogenous suburbs like Aurora and Whitby were high-profile PC cabinet ministers able to retain their seats. With the arguable exception of Elizabeth Witmer, no PC member represents an urban riding. The PC caucus is now overwhelmingly older white men from rural ridings elected in 1995 and ideologically right-wing.

The 38th Parliament of Ontario opened on November 19, 2003 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time with a Throne Speech in which the McGuinty government laid out their agenda.

High school students in every riding in Ontario were allowed to cast ballots in their classrooms as part of a student vote. While their numbers did not count in the official election, they did tell a story all on their own. The student vote reflected change a lot more than the actual result, as well as widespread anti-conservatism. 93 ridings favoured the Liberals in the student vote, nine favoured the New Democrats, and one favoured the Greens, while the Conservatives were shut out. There was also a vote for elementary students.

1 "Before" refers to the party standings in the Legislature at the end of the legislative session, and not to the standings at the previous election.

2 Richard Butson was the sole candidate for the Confederation of Regions Party.

3Ten candidates ran as "Independent Renewal" candidates. This was the Marxist-Leninist Party under another name.

4Candidates from the Independent Reform Party and Communist League also ran as independents.

5Costas Manios ran as an "Independent Liberal" candidate after being denied the opportunity to run for the Liberal Party nomination in Scarborough Centre. Outgoing MPP Claudette Boyer had sat in the house as an "Independent Liberal" from 2001 to 2003.

It is possible that some other candidates listed on the ballot as independents ran for unregistered parties.

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Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

Ontario PC Logo.jpg

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (in french: Parti progressiste-conservateur de l'Ontario), is a right-of-centre political party in Ontario, Canada. The party was known for many years as "Ontario's natural governing party." It has ruled the province for 80 of the 141 years since Confederation, including an uninterrupted run from 1943 to 1985. It currently forms the Official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The first Conservative Party in Upper Canada was made up of United Empire Loyalists and supporters of the wealthy Family Compact that ruled the colony and opposed responsible government. Once responsible government was granted in response to the 1837 Rebellions, the Tories re-emerged as moderate reformers who opposed the radical policies of the Reformers and then the Clear Grits.

The modern Conservative Party originated in the Liberal-Conservative coalition founded by Sir John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier in 1854. It is a variant of this coalition that formed the first government in Ontario with John Sandfield Macdonald as Premier. After losing power in 1871, this Conservative coalition began to dissolve. What was originally a party that included Catholics and Protestants, became an almost exclusively English and Protestant party, more and more dependent on the Protestant Orange Order for support, and even for its leadership. The party became opposed to funding for Separate (Catholic) schools, opposed to language rights for French-Canadians and distrustful of immigrants. Paradoxically, an element of the party gained a reputation for being pro-labour as a result of links between the Orange Order and the labour movement.

After 33 years in Opposition, the Tories returned to power under James P. Whitney, who led a progressive administration in its development of the province. The Whitney government initiated massive public works projects such as the creation of Ontario Hydro. It also enacted reactionary legislation (such as Regulation 17) against the French-Canadian population in Ontario. The Tories were in power for all but five years from 1905 to 1934. After the death of Whitney in 1914, however, they lacked vision and became complacent. The Tories lost power to the United Farmers of Ontario in the 1919 election but were able to regain office in 1923 election due to the UFO's disintegration and divisions in the Ontario Liberal Party. They were defeated by Mitch Hepburn's Liberals in 1934 due to their inability to cope with the Great Depression.

The Conservatives took advantage of Liberal infighting to win a minority government in the 1943 provincial election, reducing the Liberals to third-party status. Drew called another election in 1945, only two years into his mandate, to get a majority government. The Tories played up Cold War tensions to win a landslide majority, though it emerged several years later that the Tory government had set up a secret department of the Ontario Provincial Police to spy on the opposition and the media. The party would dominate Ontario politics for the next four decades.

The anti-Catholic, anti-French, anti-immigrant strain of the Tories was evident under Drew and his successor, Leslie Frost, who embodied all those elements. In 1961, John Robarts became the 17th premier of Ontario. He was one of the most popular premiers in years. Under Robarts' lead, the party epitomized power. He was an advocate of individual freedoms and promoted the rights of the provinces against what he saw as the centralizing initiatives of the federal government, while also promoting national unity against Quebec separatism. He hosted the 1967 "Confederation of Tomorrow" conference in Toronto in an unsuccessful attempt to achieve an agreement for a new Constitution of Canada.

Robarts initially opposed Canadian medicare when it was proposed, but later endorsed it fully. He led the party towards a civil libertarian movement. As a strong believer in the promotion of both official languages, he opened the door to French education in Ontario schools.

In 1971, Bill Davis became party leader and the 18th premier. Anti-Catholicism became an issue again in the 1971 election, when the Tories under campaigned strenuously against a Liberal proposal to extend funding for Catholic separate schools until Grade 13. Davis reversed himself in 1985, and enacted the funding extension as one of his last acts before leaving office.

During Davis's time as leader of the PC Party, the party moved to the centre, and on some issues, moved to the left of the Liberals. However, its base of support remained with socially conservative voters in rural central Ontario. This made him one of the most popular politicians in Ontario's history. Other conservatives in the federal PC Party accused him of damaging the conservative image in Canada by moving to the left on some issues.

Davis retired in 1985. At a leadership convention, he was succeeded by Industry and Trade Minister Frank Miller. Miller was considerably more conservative than Davis, and began shifting the party back to the right. Soon after taking office, he called an election in which the Conservatives were reduced to a minority government, and actually finished behind the Liberals in the popular vote for the first time in 42 years.

Soon afterward, the Ontario New Democratic Party of Bob Rae reached an agreement with David Peterson's Liberals in which the NDP would support a Liberal minority government. Miller was defeated in a no-confidence motion on June 18. Peterson was asked to form a government later in the day, ending the longest period of one-party rule in Canadian provincial history. Miller was replaced as leader by Larry Grossman at a second leadership convention.

When the Liberal-NDP Accord expired, an election was held in 1987 in which the Tories were reduced to third place in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Grossman was personally defeated in his downtown Toronto riding and resigned immediately. Andy Brandt was the party's interim leader until a leadership election was held in 1990 in which Mike Harris defeated Dianne Cunningham.

The Tories failed to improve their standing in the 1990 election under Harris, in which Peterson was defeated by Rae's NDP.

In the 1995 election, Harris catapulted his party from third place to an election victory, running on a neoliberal platform known as the "Common Sense Revolution" that highlighted a number of "wedge issues" and promised significant tax cuts, cuts to welfare, the introduction of workfare, and privatization of social services. Harris went on to win a second majority in 1999 despite the strikes and protests that plagued his first term in office.

The Harris government was criticized on issues such as health care, the environment, education, and its tax policies, though it remained generally popular until Harris's departure as party leader.

The slide in Conservative support began in early 2000, according to the Ipsos-Reid polling company (Ipsos-Reid website), when the Tories fell behind the Liberals in the public opinion polls for the first time since the 1999 election, with 36% support of those polled, compared to 42% for the Liberals and 17% for the NDP. Later in 2000, Liberal support rose to about half of those polled, while Conservative support remained in the low 30s. This pattern held through to the 2002 leadership campaign, when Conservative support rose to 37%, while the Liberals retained the support of about half of those polled.

With the resignation of Mike Harris in 2002, the PCs held a leadership election. Ernie Eves, who had been Harris' Minister of Finance, and who had the backing of almost all PC MPPs, won the campaign, defeating his successor as Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty.

Eves was a Red Tory, unlike Harris. He'd tried to blunt some of the edges of the more radical elements of Harris' platform while in Cabinet. His rejection of the "Common Sense Revolution" continued after he became premier. He killed plans to sell off Hydro One when deregulation of energy prices resulted in a dramatic increase in energy rates and threatened a consumer revolt. This led him to re-impose retail price controls on electricity, capping the price at 4.3 cents per kilowatt/hour, and vowing to keep it capped until at least 2006. The result was a quickly escalating public debt that made up for shortfalls in the price of electricity.

During the summer after Eves’ election as leader, the Conservatives closed the gap in popular support considerably, placing only two percentage points behind the Liberals in two summer public opinion polls. By the autumn of 2002, however, Eves’ ‘honeymoon’ with the voters was over, and the party fell back in the polls, hovering in the mid-to-high 30s, while the Liberals scored in the mid-to-high 40s.

Despite his attempt to recast the Tory government as a moderate one, Eves was unable to reverse the slide in the polls the Tories had suffered in the last years of Harris' tenure.

Eves asked Flaherty's campaign chairman, Jamie Watt, to co-manage the Conservative election campaign, along with the rest of the "Whiz Kids" team that had previously worked for Harris. Only Tom Long, the central organizer in Harris' campaigns, refused to work for Eves.

The "Whiz Kids" reputation for competence was marred by publicity stunts such as handing down his government's second budget at the headquarters of Magna International instead of in the provincial legislature. Voter backlash against this break with parliamentary tradition forced the delay of a planned spring election in 2003.

In May 2003, Eves released the party's platform, "The Road Ahead". The document promoted an aggressive hard-right agenda, and was closer in spirit to Harris and Flaherty's agenda than to Eves' own. In releasing this document, Eves reversed his earlier positions on banning teacher's strikes, jailing the homeless, private school tax credits and same-sex marriage. The platform also called for mortgage interest deductibility.

The Conservative election campaign was riddled with mistakes and miscues, and Eves appeared very uncomfortable trying to sell a platform he had opposed only a year earlier. In contrast, the Liberals had spent the last four years positioning themselves as the government in waiting, and ran on the simple platform of "Choose Change". Conservative television ads which attacked Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty as "still not up to the job" were received poorly by the voting public, and allowed the Liberal campaign to portray the Tories as needlessly confrontational.

A critical point in the campaign was when members of the Eves team jokingly referred to McGuinty as an "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet", a comment that made the Conservatives appear desperate to vilify their opponents. In the final days leading up to the vote, Eves was further criticized for saying that McGuinty just says "whatever comes into his pointy little head". On election day, the Conservatives were routed, falling to 24 seats.

In early 2004, Eves announced his intention to step down as leader. A leadership convention to replace him was called for the fall.

Jim Flaherty was the first to enter the race, campaigning on the same right wing platform as in 2002. He was soon opposed by John Tory, a former executive with Rogers Cable and a Toronto mayoral candidate in 2003, sometimes viewed as a Red Tory due to his association to former Ontario Premier Bill Davis. Member of Provincial Parliament Frank Klees, the third candidate in the race, was a supporter of the Common Sense Revolution and campaigned for a parallel private health care system.

The 2004 leadership election was held on September 18, 2004, electing John Tory as the party's new leader. Tory, a longtime backroom player in the PC Party, was elected to the Ontario legislature in a by-election in March, 2005, in the seat that Eves held.

In polling prior to the 2007 general election, the PCs' support rose after the first Liberal budget in 2004. The party was virtually tied with the Liberals, as Tory has experimented with several different orientations. During his first year as leader, Tory attempted to rise above partisan politics, openly contemptuous of partisan moves and pledging to improve decorum in the legislature. In his second year as leader, Tory adopted a more traditional approach to the issues, sharply opposing the Liberal plans on taxes, spending, deficits and cuts. Heading into the election year, Tory put most of his emphasis on criticizing the government's handling of a standoff with Iroquois aboriginals in Caledonia in order to portray the government as weak. He also emphasized traditional right-wing issues like taxes, crime and government spending.

During the 2006 PC Policy Convention, Tory introduced his plan for shaping up the PCs' platform for the 2007 election campaign. His ideas were stated in what have been called "The White Papers".

The party experienced a drop in popularity, however, after Tory pledged to provide government funding for faith-based schools. The proposal, which proved to be unpopular with voters, contributed largely to the party's loss. The Liberals won a second majority government, and the PCs made and negligible gains in the legislature (one more seat, but a 3 per cent drop in the popular vote). Tory, who had left his Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey seat to run in Don Valley West, would lose to Liberal incumbent Kathleen Wynne.

As a result of the election loss, the party decided to hold a leadership review vote at its 2008 General Party Meeting in London. The Ontario PC Party's constitution requires that the Party hold a leadership review vote at the first party convention after an election defeat.

From the election day until the 2008 General Meeting, party members were divided into two "camps": those who supported John Tory's position as Party Leader and those who opposed his leadership. Several campaigns to oust John Tory as leader of the party, most notably by a party activist group led by former party president Rueben Devlin called Grassroots PC. John Tory had the public support of the PC legislative caucus, and most notably, support from former premiers and predecessors Ernie Eves and Bill Davis.

The lead-up to the review vote was marked by high emotions on both sides of the debate and allegations of rule breaking. Such allegations were risen when caucus members sent letters on party letterhead seeking support for Tory. The letters signed by Tory MPPs Bob Runciman and Toby Barrett were a clear violation of the rules of the party, as the party in general is supposed to be neutral on the leadership review question. Tory responded by stating that he and his supporters will reimburse the party for the letters that the caucus members had sent in support of Tory's position as leaders. As a result, the party's president, Blair McCreadie, had stated that the matter is closed. A supporter of Mr. Tory's, PC Youth President Andrew Brander, launched a series of last-minute challenges of delegates on the grounds that they are representing ridings where they neither live nor work.

Tory received 66.9 support, lower than internal tracking which showed him more comfortably in the 70 per cent range - appeared to come as a shock to Tory. The percentage of support received by Tory was nearly identical to Joe Clark's 1983 support when he was federal PC leader, which resulted in Clark resigning as leader, and is often seen as the benchmark for Canadian party leaders to get to stay on as leader.

Three hours after the leadership review vote, John Tory announced to the delegates at the Ontario PC's general meeting that he would stay on as leader of the Party. Tory came under heavy criticism from several party members following this delay, with his opponents signalling that they would continue to call for an end to what they called his 'weak' leadership. Other party members, such as former Mike Harris chief of staff Guy Giorno and interim Leader of the Opposition Bob Runciman, supported John Tory, saying that his opponents should accept the results and move on.

John Tory announced his pending resignation leader the day following his defeat in a by-election. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leadership election, 2009 is expected to occur in June to elect Tory's permanent successor.

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Ontario Liberal Party

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The Ontario Liberal Party is a centrist provincial political party in the province of Ontario, Canada. It currently forms the Government of Ontario since the provincial election of 2003. The party is ideologically aligned with the Liberal Party of Canada but the two parties are organizationally independent and have separate, though overlapping, memberships. The party is currently led by the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty.

The Liberal Party of Ontario is descended from the Reform Party of Robert Baldwin and William Lyon Mackenzie, who argued for responsible government in the 1830s and 1840s against the conservative patrician rule of the Family Compact.

The modern Liberals were founded by George Brown, who sought to rebuild the Reform Party after its collapse in 1854. In 1857, Brown brought together the Reformers and the radical "Clear Grits" of southwestern Ontario to create a new party in Upper Canada with a platform of democratic reform and annexation of the northwest. The party adopted a position in favour of uniting Upper and Lower Canada into the United Province of Canada, a concept that eventually led to Canadian confederation.

After 1867, Edward Blake became leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. The party sat in opposition to the Conservative government led by John Sandfield Macdonald. Blake's Liberals defeated the Tories in 1871, but Blake left Queen's Park for Ottawa the next year, leaving the provincial Liberals in the hands of Oliver Mowat. Mowat served as Premier of Ontario until 1896.

While the Tories became a narrow, sectarian Protestant party with a base in the Orange Order, the Liberals under Mowat attempted to bring together Catholics and Protestants, rural and urban interests under moderate, pragmatic leadership.

The Liberals were defeated in 1905 after over thirty years in power. The party had grown tired and arrogant in government and became increasingly cautious. As well, a growing anti-Catholic sectarian sentiment hurt the Liberals. The Liberals continued to decline after losing power, and, for a time, were eclipsed by the United Farmers of Ontario (UFO) when the Liberals were unable to attract the growing farmers' protest movement to its ranks.

Debates over the party's policy on liquor divided the membership, forced the resignation of at least one leader, and drove away many reform minded Liberals who supported the federal party under William Lyon Mackenzie King but found the provincial party too narrow and conservative to support. The party was so disorganized that it was led for seven years (and through two provincial elections) by an interim leader, W.E.N. Sinclair, as there was not enough money or a sufficient level of organization, and too many divisions within the party to hold a leadership convention. By 1930, the Liberals were reduced to a small, rural, largely Protestant and prohibitionist rump with a base in south western Ontario.

After a series of ineffective leaders, the Liberals turned to Mitchell Hepburn, an onion farmer, federal Member of Parliament and former member of the UFO. Hepburn was able to build an electoral coalition with Liberal-Progressives and attract reformers and urban voters to the party. The Liberal-Progressives had previously supported the UFO and the Progressive Party of Canada. A "wet", Hepburn was able to end the divisions in the party around the issue of temperance which had reduced it to a narrow sect. The revitalized party was able to win votes from rural farmers, particularly in southwestern Ontario, urban Ontario, Catholics and francophones. It also had the advantage of not being in power at the onset of the Great Depression. With the economy in crisis, Ontarians looked for a new government, and Hepburn's populism was able to excite the province.

In government, Hepburn's Liberals warred with organized labour led by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, who were trying to unionize the auto sector. Later, he battled with the federal Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, which, Hepburn argued, was insufficiently supportive of the war effort. The battle between Hepburn and King split the Ontario Liberal Party and led to Hepburn's ouster as leader. It also contributed to the party's defeat in the 1943 election, which was followed by the party's long stint in opposition. The Liberals declined to a right wing, rural rump. The "Progressive Conservatives" under George Drew established a dynasty which was to rule Ontario for the next 42 years.

Ontario politics in recent times have been dominated by the Progressive Conservatives, also known as the Tories. The Liberals had formed the Government for only five years out of sixty years from 1943 to 2003. For forty-two years, from 1943 to 1985, the province was governed by the Tories. During this period, the Liberal Party was a rural, conservative rump with a southwestern Ontario base, and were often further to the right of the moderate Red Tory Conservative administrations.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Liberals were almost shut out of Metropolitan Toronto and other urban areas and, in 1975, fell to third place behind the dynamic Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) under Stephen Lewis. With the NDP in ascendency in the late 1960s and 1970s, it appeared that the Liberals could disappear altogether.

The Liberals remained more popular than the Tories among Catholic and francophone voters, due to its support for extending Separate school funding to include Grades 11-13. The Tories opposed this extension until 1985, when they suddenly reversed their position. This reversal angered traditional Conservative voters, and may have contributed to their defeat in the 1985 election.

The Ontario Liberal Party first broke the Tories' hold on the province in 1985 under the leadership of David Peterson. Peterson modernised the party and made it appealing to urban voters and immigrants who had previously supported the cautious, moderate government of Tory Premiers John Robarts and William Davis.

Peterson was able to form a minority government from 1985 to 1987 due to an accord signed with the NDP. Under this accord, the NDP exchanged its support in the Legislature for the implementation of several NDP policies. As the result of the 1987 election held once the accord expired, Peterson won a strong majority government with 95 seats, its most ever.

Peterson's government ruled in a time of economic plenty where occasional instances of fiscal imprudence were not much remarked on. Peterson was a close ally of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on the Meech Lake Accord, but opposed Mulroney on the issue of free trade.

The majority Liberal government of 1987 to 1990 was less innovative than the previous minority government. The Liberals' increasing conservatism caused many centre-left voters to look at the NDP and its leader Bob Rae, and consider the social democratic party as an alternative to the Liberals. The NDP's co-operation with the Liberals between 1985 to 1987 helped the party appear more moderate and acceptable to voters.

The Liberals went into the 1990 election with apparently strong support in the public opinion polls. This support quickly evaporated, however. On the campaign trail, the media reported that the Liberals were met by voters who were angry at going to the polls just three years into the government's mandate. Another negative factor was Peteron's association with Mulroney and the failed 'Meech Lake accord' attempt at constitutional reform, about which the public felt strongly. The campaign was also poorly run: a mid-campaign proposal to cut the provincial sales tax was a particularly bad blunder. The party had also underestimated the impact of the Patti Starr fundraising scandal, as well as allegations surrounding the Liberal government's links with land developers.

Peterson's government lost to Bob Rae's NDP, who promised a return to the activist form of government Peterson had abandoned. The Liberals suffered their worst defeat ever, falling from 95 seats to 36; the 59-seat loss surpassed the 48-seat loss in 1943 that began the Tories' long rule over the province. Peterson himself was heavily defeated in his own riding by the NDP challenger.

By the 1995 election, the NDP government had become very unpopular due to perceived mismanagement, a few scandals, and because of the severe downturn in the economy. The Liberal Party was expected to replace the unpopular NDP, but it ran a poor campaign under leader Lyn McLeod, and was beaten by the Progressive Conservatives under Mike Harris. Harris swept to power on a right-wing "Common Sense Revolution" platform. In 1996, the Ontario Liberals selected Dalton McGuinty as their leader in a free-wheeling convention. Starting in fourth place, McGuinty's fiscally prudent record and moderate demeanor made him the second choice of a convention polarized around the candidacy of former Toronto Food Bank head Gerard Kennedy.

In the 1999 election, the governing Conservatives were reelected on the basis of strong economic growth and a negative campaign tightly focused on portraying McGuinty as "not up to the job". A poor performance in the leader's debate and a weak overall campaign hamstrung the new leader, but he was able to rally his party in the final weeks of the campaign. The Ontario Liberals garnered 40% of the vote, at the time their second-highest total in 50 years.

McGuinty's second term as opposition leader was more successful than his first. With the Liberals consolidated as the primary opposition to Harris's Progressive Conservatives, McGuinty was able to present his party as the "government in waiting". He hired a more skilled group of advisors and drafted former cabinet minister Greg Sorbara as party president. McGuinty also rebuilt the party's fundraising operation, launching the Ontario Liberal Fund. He personally rebuilt the party's platform to one that emphasized lowering class sizes, hiring more nurses, increasing environmental protections and "holding the line" on taxes in the buildup to the 2003 election. McGuinty also made a serious effort to improve his debating skills, and received coaching from Democratic Party trainers in the United States.

In the 2003 election, however, the Tories ran the poor campaign, and their new leader, Ernie Eves was seen to be weak and untrustworthy. The Tories' attempt to repeat the 1999 attacks on McGuinty were unsuccessful. A strong performance by McGuinty on the campaign trail and in the debates led to a 72-seat majority government.

The new government called the Legislature back in session in late 2003, and passed a series of bills relating to its election promises. The government brought in auto insurance reforms (including a price cap), fixed election dates, rolled-back a series of corporate and personal tax cuts which had been scheduled for 2004, passed legislation which enshrined publicly-funded Medicare into provincial law, hired more meat and water inspectors, opened up the provincially-owned electricity companies to Freedom of Information laws and enacted a ban on partisan government advertising.

The McGuinty government also benefited from a scandal involving the previous government's management of Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One, which broke in the winter of 2003-04. It was revealed that a number of key figures associated with Mike Harris's "Common Sense Revolution" had received lucrative, untendered multi-million dollar consulting contracts from these institutions. Among the figures named in the scandal were Tom Long, former Harris campaign chairman, Leslie Noble, former Harris campaign manager and Paul Rhodes, former Harris communications director.

On May 18, 2004, Provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara released the McGuinty government's first budget. The centrepiece was a controversial new Health Premium of $300 to $900, staggered according to income. This violated a key Liberal campaign pledge not to raise taxes, and gave the government an early reputation for breaking promises. The Liberals defended the premium by pointing to the previous government's hidden deficit of $5.6 billion dollars, and McGuinty claimed he needed to break his campaign pledge on taxation to fulfill his promises on other fronts. Deserved or not, however, the government's early reputation for breaking promises has created a lasting public relations difficulty.

The Ontario Health Premium also became a major issue in the early days of the 2004 federal election, called a week after the Ontario budget. Most believe that the controversy seriously hampered Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's bid for re-election.

Also controversial were the elimination of coverage for health services not covered by the Canada Health Act including eye examinations and physical therapy. Other elements included a four-year plan to tackle the deficit left behind by the Conservatives, free immunization for children, investments in education and investments to lower waiting times for cancer care, cardiac care, joint replacement and MRI and CT scans.

Soon after the federal election, McGuinty hosted a federal-provincial summit on health-care funding which resulted in a new agreement for a national health accord. This accord allowed the premiers and territorial leaders to draw more money from Ottawa for health services, and requires the federal government to take provincial concerns such as hospital waiting-lists into account. McGuinty's performance at the summit was generally applauded by the Canadian media.

The McGuinty government brought forward a number of regulatory initiatives in the fall of 2004. These included legislation allowing bring-your-own-wine in restaurants, banning junk food in public schools to promote healthier choices, outlawing smoking in public places and requiring students to stay in school until age 18. Following a series of high-profile maulings, the government also moved to ban pit bulls.

During early 2005, McGuinty called the Legislature back for a rare winter session to debate and pass several high-profile bills. The government legislated a Greenbelt around Toronto. The size of Prince Edward Island, the Greenbelt protects a broad swath of land from development and preserves forests and farmland. In response to court decisions, the Liberals updated the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples.

McGuinty also launched a PR campaign to narrow the politically charged $23 billion gap between what Ontario contributes to the federal government and what is returned to Ontario in services. This came as a sharp turn after more than a year of cooperating with the federal government, but McGuinty pointed to the special deals worked out by the federal government with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia as compromising the nature of equalization. In particular, McGuinty noted that immigrants in Ontario receive $800 in support from the federal government, while those in Quebec receive $3800.

In the 2003 campaign, the Liberals denounced public-private partnerships (also known as "3P" deals) for infrastructure projects such as the building of hospitals. Following the campaign, however, the McGuinty government allowed "3P" hospital construction deals arranged by the previous government to continue.

The Ontario Liberals won their second majority in a row on October 10, 2007, winning 71 of the province's 107 seats. Winning two majorities back to back is a feat that had not occurred for the party in 70 years. .

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Source : Wikipedia