The main takeaway from multiple party insiders – including those helping to run leadership campaigns – was that the federal Conservatives need to emulate Ford’s blue-collar messaging and build a new voter coalition to take on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
“This majority is a testament to the relentless hard work of Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton over the past four years to build relationships and trust with labour union workers,” said Melanie Paradis, who served as director of communications to former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole.
“Blue-collar workers should absolutely be voting Conservative, but we haven’t appealed to them for years. Now they know Ford has their back … I hope the Conservative movement will embrace this nationally.”
Global News projected Thursday night that Ford’s PC’s will return to Queen’s Park with a majority mandate, securing at least the 63 seats required to hold power in the legislature.
The Ontario NDP under Andrea Horwath was projected to once again form the official Opposition, with Steven Del Duca’s Liberals expected to finish in third place. As of late Thursday evening, it was not clear whether Del Duca would win the race for the Vaughan-Woodbridge seat.
There were plenty of federal Conservatives milling about the Etobicoke Congress Centre Thursday night, celebrating a provincial Tory win after repeated losses at the federal level.
O’Toole made overtures to organized labour, and those close to the former Conservative leader hoped to emulate British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s success in winning over the blue-collar vote.
O’Toole had just a year to try and bring his party along to that message, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Ford, meanwhile, had secured the endorsement of several private sector unions in his bid to secure another majority mandate.
Throughout the federal Conservative’s troubles over the last number of years, strategists and staffers from multiple camps have said winning is the best way to shut their opponents up. But victory has proved elusive both under Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole.
Senior party insiders tell Global News that it’s uncertain that after a particularly nasty leadership race whoever ends up leading the party can hold the coalition together. Pierre Poilievre, the assumed frontrunner in the race, has run a sharp-elbowed campaign painting his chief opponent, Jean Charest, as a liberal.
Global News spoke with strategists from multiple federal leadership campaigns Thursday afternoon. Aside from seeking out a new voter coalition, the consensus was that Ford’s authenticity – what you see is what you get – was another asset in his bid for a second majority mandate.