Good thing the NDP has some very strong members in Toronto or this election would have been a real stinker for them. Popping in on the tale end of Toronto Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns victory party I found the vibe to be on the bitter sweet side. In between hugs from supporters Tabuns, looking exhausted in his running shoes and suit, told me he was quite disappointed with how the NDP fared across the province. “I’m of course very pleased to have won my seat but we thought we would do much better than we did” he said.
Indeed after leading the NDP through three elections and after running an underwhelming, predictable campaign with very little to show Howard Hampton’s days as leader may be numbered. Sure he wasn’t getting the air time that he wanted and in the dying days of the campaign he finally blew a gasket. “Don’t you care about any other issue” other than faith based school funding he blasted reporters. His frustration was understandable but still, maybe not a great tactic to get cynical journalists on side.
But while continually hammering away at McGuinty’s broken promises (yes, yes we know already) he ignored the Green party creeping up on his left side. Suffice it to say many people who vote for the Greens either do as a protest or have no real clue that they are market libertarians with a decided rightwing take on the economy. Hampton turned his attention towards the Greens only briefly but the oversight may have cost the NDP two Toronto seats. In Davenport, inexplicable fiefdom of Liberal Tony Rubrecht, NDP candidate Peter Ferreira lost to the Libs by 500 votes. Green leader Frank de Jong pulled 3061 votes. In York-South Weston NDP incumbent Paul Ferreira lost to Liberal Laura Albenese by just shy of 500 votes while the Greens siphoned 1200.
Parenthetically, on the issue of media attention given to John Tory and his faith based funding fiasco I can only say that it is very hard not to keep one’s eyes glued to a train wreck as it happens in real time. Watching Tory’s spectacular flame out was like heroin to political junkies.