Blaming Doug Ford For Conservative Defeat Is Weak & Wrong

Ford is more popular in Ontario than Andrew Scheer is.

A big part of leadership is persuasion. Can you make a case that causes people to reconsider something, or view it from a new perspective?

For example, the idea that Doug Ford has gone around slashing everything in Ontario is widely accepted, yet isn’t actually the case.

Spending in Ontario has gone up, and is up even from the Wynne years. What has changed is the rate of spending increases. And of course, we know that reducing the rate of spending increases is not actually a cut.

That’s the case that Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives could have been making, instead of hiding Doug Ford away. They could have used the spotlight of the campaign to – instead of hiding Ford – to help improve his popularity numbers and thus improve their own chances, by pushing back against the false ‘Ford cuts’ narrative.

And when it comes to Ford’s popularity, the idea that he is some sort of universally-loathed figure is simply false.

As I wrote back in June, the evidence seems clear that Doug Ford is actually more popular than Justin Trudeau:

“The latest Angus-Reid Institute survey of the approval ratings of Canada’s provincial premiers shows Doug Ford with 36% approval. The Ford PCs won 40.5% of the vote in the provincial election, meaning that he is keeping almost all of his support – despite making some tough decisions forced on him by the horrendous record of the Ontario Liberals.

So, Ford is at 36%.

What is Trudeau at?

Eric Grenier’s Leader Meter – the most comprehensive accounting of federal leader approval ratings – puts Justin Trudeau’s approval rating at just 31%. That’s based on compiled leadership polls.

The most recent poll included in the ‘Leader Meter’ puts Trudeau at 31%. Some have him even lower, with Angus-Reid putting him at 28%.

The Nanos Survey asks a different question – preferred PM – and even on that score Trudeau has weak numbers. He’s at 27%.”

Despite a federal campaign, those numbers haven’t changed much. Ford is still holding most of his base, while Trudeau is clearly unpopular. Yet, it turned out that in Ontario, Scheer was even more unpopular than Trudeau.

And here’s another key point:

Doug Ford is certainly more popular in Ontario than Andrew Scheer is.

Again, the PCs won about 40% in 2018, while Scheer won just 32%. In fact, Scheer did worse in Ontario than Stephen Harper did in 2015, in terms of percentage of the vote, losing about 2 points over that span.

Doug Ford was able to win Ontario despite having the entire media establishment and many public sector unions launching constant attacks on him, while Scheer was unable to even come close to Ford’s numbers, despite facing a heavily-weakened Justin Trudeau.

So, the attempt by some on the Conservative establishment to pin all the blame on Ford is nothing but weakness, and it’s totally wrong. They are attempting to pretend that campaigns don’t matter, and are ignoring the fact that many polls showed the Conservatives leading in Ontario prior to the start of the federal election period. If Ford had really destroyed the Conservatives chances, then not a single poll would have shown them leading at any point.

The reality is this: Justin Trudeau and his campaign team effectively won the messaging battle in Ontario by relentlessly demonizing Ford, while Andrew Scheer hid Ford away, barely defended him, didn’t persuade anybody, ceded the argument on Ford to Trudeau, and lost votes in Canada’s largest province.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – Twitter

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