Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives to take power after seismic Ontario election
For the first time since 2003, there will be a change in government in Canada's largest province. After 15 years of Liberal rule under Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, voters in Ontario have given the Progressive Conservative Party, led by former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, a surprisingly-strong majority government.
The Ford-led Tories, at the time of writing, have won 76 of the 124 seats in Ontario's Legislative Assembly. "Our team will work every single day for a better Ontario, a better future, and a brighter future for our children," a jubilant Ford declared to supporters during his victory speech in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke.
Though Ford's party did not release a costed platform, he made several promises on making life less expensive for everyday voters. Ford pledged to lower income and gas taxes and hydro prices, as well as promising to take over Toronto's subway system from the municipal government.
He also controversially pledged to "scrap the carbon tax", meaning to end the province's membership in the cap-and-trade carbon emissions system that Ontario is a part of along with Quebec, New York and California. It is unclear if Ford will be legally able to do that, and even if he can, Ontario would face a federally-imposed carbon levy instead.
The New Democrats, led by Andrea Horwath, will form the official opposition at Queen's Park for only the second time in their history, winning 39 seats. Opinion polls through the final weeks of the campaign had pointed to a very close contest between the Tories and the NDP, with many observers predicting neither party would win a majority. In the end, though, the New Democrats finished a close second in the popular vote, and a distant second in seat-count.
Kathleen Wynne's Liberal Party went into the election with a majority government, and have emerged with just seven seats -- one fewer than the eight that is needed for official party status in the province's legislature. Many senior cabinet ministers, including the ministers of finance and justice, lost their seats. The party won just over 19% of the province-wide popular vote; the worst result for the Ontario Liberal Party in a provincial election ever.
Over the last weekend, Wynne made the nearly-unprecedented move of conceding the election five days early, saying that it was unlikely her party would be re-elected to a fifth term in power. She urged voters to vote for her party to prevent the Progressive Conservatives from winning a majority government, a gambit that appears to have backfired.
Wynne was narrowly re-elected in her Toronto riding of Don Valley West, but facing the scale of her party's defeat, she resigned as Liberal leader on election night. Blinking back tears, she said, "I have spoken to the party president, and asked him to start the process of choosing an interim leader. And it is the right thing to do."