Amidst the wailings and the lamentations at the Ford victory in Ontario, (and Dr. Dawg is pitch perfect outside the Twittersphere here) a singular fact has emerged: voter turnout, which had been in decline for two decades bounced up to 58%.
I have no idea whether or not Ford is actually a conservative or a populist (which are not the same thing) but what he is is very different from the run of Progressive Conservative leaders of the past few decades. Those leaders had a tendancy to reflexively adopt bien pensant thinking on things like climate change for fear of alienating perceived elites. Ford was never going to win the Annex or in Ontario’s university towns nor was he going to win a lot of votes from well paid members of public service unions so he was free to take a somewhat more reasonable, conservative, line. That, in turn, meant that real conservative voters, instead of staying home because voting would make no difference, seem to have shown up to the polls.
It will take a bit of analysis to see if that hypothesis is actually true – the question being the relative voting strength of the Conservatives in this election compared to the last two or three – but it is an idea that other conservative parties in Canada should be looking at. Running real conservatives on real conservative platforms might just bring disenchanted conservative voters out to the polls.
One other thought: contrary to received opinion, being dubbed a mini-Trump is not quite the kiss of death it was thought to be. There are, I suspect, a significant number of Canadians who rather like Agent Orange but are unwilling to take the social risk of saying so in the Great Progressive North.