ANALYSIS: Kathleen Wynne’s $15 an hour formula for re-election

Click to play video 'Liberals “see no reason” to delay $15/hr minimum wage' Liberals “see no reason” to delay $15/hr minimum wage
Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn leaves door open to changes in interview with Focus Ontario – Sep 21, 2017

Polling data headlines are like blurbs for new movies. Epic! Unforgettable! Massive! Single words that reinforce already established preferences.

If watching a Transformers movie makes you want to jab a ballpoint pen in your eyes, there’s no font size of the word “epic” that won’t also make you think “migraine.”

Popularity polls for political leaders work the same way, except inverted.

We relish disliking our elected officials with more evangelical zeal than a boatload of missionaries.

READ MORE: Ontario promises to help small business, farmers cope with $15 minimum wage

So when you read Kathleen Wynne is the most unpopular premier in Canada, it tends to reinforce a view you are already inclined to have.

Even if you don’t have a problem with Wynne, those polls will give you a heavy dose of FOMO (fear of missing out) on what everyone else is ticked off about.

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You might think Liberal tears are dripping into Ontario craft beers over this string of “Everybody Hates Kathleen” headlines, but this is a party with both a history and a habit of winning.  Plus, Wynne’s advisors believe they have the formula to do it again.

It’s $15 an hour.

VIDEO: Pros and cons of a $15 minimum wage

Click to play video 'The pros and cons of a $15 minimum wage' The pros and cons of a $15 minimum wage
The pros and cons of a $15 minimum wage – Aug 15, 2017

Buried under a recent avalanche of polling was this number from Ipsos:  66 per cent of respondents approve of the government’s plan to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019.

That lines up with polling commissioned by the Liberals showing the policies of the Wynne government are far more popular than she is.

So it was no fluke that when inevitably asked about this disparity, the premier was ready with an “it’s not about me, it’s about the people” response. Party brass were so happy with Wynne’s answer they spent money pushing it on social media.

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READ MORE: Who wins and who loses in Ontario’s decision to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour?

The Liberals will continue to hammer this message in the coming months – it doesn’t matter what you think of Wynne, focus instead on popular policy proposals.

Despite growing calls to slow the implementation of $15 minimum wage, the promise will be the shiniest of the baubles in the Liberal campaign window next spring.

Party polling shows a high percentage of women voters with an inclination to vote Progressive Conservative approve of $15 minimum wage.

READ MORE: Ontario chamber cautiously optimistic about minimum wage hike help

If that doesn’t float your boat, how about free pharmacare for those 25 and younger?


Perhaps you might remember your hydro bill has dropped 25 per cent on average, and if that doesn’t make you happy and least you have one less thing to be ticked off about.

Come election day in June 2018, the Ontario Liberal party is counting on the ballot question being about policy not popularity.  And Wynne is counting her chances of remaining premier at a rate of $15 an hour.