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Minority government likely result of next provincial election: expert

Photographs of the empty legislature at Queens Park on Oct 16 2012. Fred Lum / File / The Globe and Mail

TORONTO – Ontario is likely going to be governed by a minority government, whether it’s Conservative or Liberal, if an election is called this spring according to analysis done by The Laurier Institute of Public Opinion and Policy.

Barry Kay, a professor at Wilfred Laurier University, analyzed three polls done in February and March of 2014 (before the latest gas plant allegations) and found a trend that also presented itself during the 2011 election; the Liberals do better in urban areas, the Conservatives control rural or less-urban areas.

While the Liberals have the upper hand in Ontario’s urban centres (Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor and London), the Conservatives find themselves dominating the surrounding areas.

“[The Conservatives are] now at a point where they hold most of the seats outside of the big urban centres, outside of Windsor, outside of Hamilton, outside Ottawa and certainly outside of Toronto in the GTA,” he said in a telephone interview.
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A look at the results from the 2011 election. Blue denotes Conservative, Red denotes Liberal and Orange denotes NDP riding victories. Patrick Cain / Global News
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A look at the results from the 2011 election. Blue denotes Conservative, Red denotes Liberal and Orange denotes NDP riding victories. Patrick Cain / Global News
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A look at the results from the 2011 election. Blue denotes Conservative, Red denotes Liberal and Orange denotes NDP riding victories. Patrick Cain / Global News
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A look at the results from the 2011 election. Blue denotes Conservative, Red denotes Liberal and Orange denotes NDP riding victories. Patrick Cain / Global News

So barring any extraordinary event, the next election is likely to end with a minority government, Kay said.

“The likelihood is the Conservatives can’t win a majority because they can’t crack into the metro Toronto area and the Liberals can’t win a majority because they can’t crack into small-town Ontario,” he said.

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The Tories do hold one seat in Toronto; Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Doug Holyday secured that seat for the Tories, their first in the city since 1999. But that was a byelection. Kay noted byelections are altogether different than general elections because the popularity of the local politician typically outweighs party loyalty. In Kay’s recent numbers, the Tories are trailing in that riding.

“The Lakeshore seat is very much an aberration and I think it would be seen to be a source of real hope and promise for the Conservatives. However in the byelection, Holyday only won that seat by four points, in the general election, the Liberals had taken it by 22.”

Right now the numbers suggest a virtual tie between the Conservatives and Liberals with the NDP making inroads in southwestern Ontario and Toronto.

Kay notes that for either party to gain the much-sought-after majority, they’ll have to make inroads in the other’s traditional territory.

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“If I was a conservative advisor to Hudak, and I was concerned about a majority… they basically got to crack into Mississauga, Brampton and some of these other parts of the GTA,” he said. “For the Liberals, on the other hand, for them to have a shot at a majority… they are going to have to do better in smaller, urban centres, places like Sarnia, they hold St. Catharine’s marginally now but its vulnerable, [and] places like Kitchener.”

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