Canada's largest province by population is having the kind of election cycle that makes the race feel as big as the province itself. The national and international headlines focus on Doug Ford, brother of the late Rob Ford, and his bid for the Progressive Conservatives to return to power in Ontario.
Premier Kathleen Wynne from the Liberal Party has been in charge since 2013. The Liberals have been in power since 2003. The PCs were in charge from 1995-2003. The NDP did hold power from 1990-1995 under Bob Rae, who switched to the Liberals and is now Canada's special envoy to Myanmar.
Normally, these past associations would be ancient history. But for Andrea Horwath, New Democratic Party leader since 2009, the NDP in Ontario runs under a shadow of the era from 1990-1995. Ford is running under the shadow of Mike Harris, who ran Ontario for most of the PCs cycle, but is running under the pseudo-populist strain that is Ford Nation.
Mike Schreiner is the Green Party leader; the party currently has 0 seats.
The Liberals had 58 of the 107 seats, but 55 as Parliament was dissolved. The Progressive Conservatives had 28 seats in the last election, down to 27. The New Democratic Party had 21 seats in the last election, down to 18. There are 3 seats that are independent, minor party, and no affiliation with 4 vacant seats.
The 2018 election will have 124 seats, up from the current 107 seats in Queen's Park.
Ford replaced Patrick Brown as the PC leader in March following sexual misconduct allegations. The intriguing legacy from that election night was that Tanya Granic Allen likely was the difference for Ford's victory, yet Granic Allen is no longer a PC candidate in the Mississauga Centre riding because of a 2014 video where Granic Allen reportedly was strongly homophobic while discussing sexual education in Croatia.
We've already seen some oddities in the election such as Ford announced on a video that he would build up the Greenbelt and then taking that back after outcries. Someone in the PC party hired actors to increase the Doug Ford crowd at the May 7 leaders debate, a move straight out of the Donald Trump playbook.
We do know that the Ford campaign has a fake news person for the Ford Nation Live television crew: Lyndsey Vanstone pretends to be a journalist interviewing Ford even though she is his executive assistant and former press secretary.
Ford also suggested the province could save money by cutting CBC funding, even though provinces don't fund the CBC.
Kathleen Wynne is trying to be the first female premier in Canadian history to win re-election and hang on to government. Ontario wants change, so that doesn't bode well for Wynne, who inherited a few messes from Dalton McGuinty, the Ontario premier from 2003-2013.
The 2018 Ontario election is June 7. This election might not be boring, but the question remains as to whether this race will be good for democracy in Canada's largest province.
photo credit: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press