Monday, August 1, 2011

Could Ontario NDP Pull A Layton?

This is interesting:
The Forum Research survey found Hudak’s Tories at 38 per cent — down from 41 per cent in June — to McGuinty’s Liberals at 28 per cent, up from 26 per cent. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath jumped to 24 per cent from 22 per cent and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner was down to seven per cent from eight per cent.

The article goes on to note that the NDP leader - Andrea Horvath - has the highest rating of all the leaders. I have to admit that while I read the papers regularly I have seen almost nothing about Andrea Horvath in the news. That's not at all a criticism of her. The NDP are not the Official Opposition in the Ontario Legislature and tend to not get covered, plus not much has been happening, except for the early stages of campaigning - mostly statements from the Tory leader about what scumbags they'll be if we're dumb enough to elect them. What this suggests to me is that there is a continuing impact from the federal election, which gave the NDP massive national momentum, particularly in Quebec though they began to pick up steam in Ontario in the dying days of the campaign. The second thing that this suggests is that the population is shifting to the left.

It has helped that Hudak made the mistake of announcing that he's anti-choice on abortion in a province where a whopping +90% describe themselves at least nominally as pro-choice. Only about 8% are against abortion under any circumstances. But, the economy continues to be a source of concern for working people with manufacturing having not recovered from the recession of 2008-2010 and not likely to return to pre-recession levels for several years.

Manufacturing shipments slipped over the past three months from a post-recession high in January, largely reflecting a slowdown in export sales to the United States. Sales in April remain 13.6 per cent below the prerecession high in July 2008.
In the first four months of 2011, sales totalled $84.6 billion, up $5.7 billion (7.2 per cent) from the same period last year. Year-to-date, year-over-year growth has been led by transportation equipment, primary metal, machinery, fabricated metal and petroleum/coal products.
Looking ahead, Ontario’s manufacturing industries are forecast to post relatively small GDP growth rates through to 2013. Total manufacturing GDP growth in 2002 prices (i.e. net of price inflation) is forecast at 1.8 per cent in 2011, 1.8 per cent in 2012 and 2.1 per cent in 2013, down from 8.2 per cent in 2010. Ontario’s export-oriented manufacturers will struggle over the next two years with a currency around par and below normal demand in the U.S.

Employment remains unstable and isn't looking to improve. In fact, the debt ceiling fiasco in the USA makes it likely that we'll suffer negative economic consequences, particularly in the manufacturing (and thus export) heartland of Ontario. It's likely that there is a receding appetite for deeper neo-liberal assaults on living standards at a time of difficult economic conditions - not dissimilar to opinions in the US where only 7% of people think cutting services is a good idea, rather than dealing with jobs. The Tories are, of course, most associated with Republican style cuts to services and taxes for the rich. The NDP are associated with spending on services and investment. The Liberals are seen as being the party that holds the line, "finds a balance" and all those other cliches that cover for the fact that they use compassionate rhetoric while implementing Tory policies (not so very different from the NDP when it comes to economic issues actually). It probably doesn't help that our mayor is both a Tory and a moron and is doing a tag team routine with his brother (and their trained monkey, Giorgio Mammoliti) to lose the respect of as many people as possible in the GTA in record time.

Ontario and Quebec between them have well over half of Canada's total population and a solid majority of the country's manufacturing. Let's hope that opinion continues to swing leftwards towards the NDP. A big uptick in NDP support - and seats in the legislature - will help continue the Orange Wave that is transforming Quebec politics and mark a real Achilles heel for the federal Tories.
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