We are at a gathering of the in-laws – three generations of children, parents and grandparents celebrating a birthday in a suburban small town on the fringe of Ottawa. Within the members of this family and their spouses or partners: a landscaper, a teacher, the owner of an auto-body shop, a police officer, a factory worker, a retired public servant, a caretaker, a film animator, a couple of students at community college, a retired bus driver, several homemakers.
As the children toddle and scream, I ask some grown-ups around the table how they plan to vote in the June 7 Ontario election.
Pete shakes his head. “I don’t know,” he says, “I just don’t know. That Kathleen Wynne, she’s gotta go. But Doug Ford? Doug Ford?” Everyone nods in perplexed agreement.
These people elect governments. Most of them live in suburbs. They commute by car. They value good schools, a decent hospital nearby, police who keep them safe, roads without potholes.
They also expect to keep most of the money they earn. They expect the governments that serve them to balance the books in good times and keep taxes within reason. They squirm at some of the things their children are being taught in sex-education classes. They are shocked by how much their hydro bills have shot up.
Although they often vote Liberal, in the 1990s such people supported Mike Harris’s provincial Conservatives. In the last decade, they voted for Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives. But Doug Ford? Doug Ford?
Less than four weeks before the Ontario election, Mr. Ford’s Progressive Conservatives enjoy a strong lead in the polls, with the Liberals and NDP competing for second place.