2003 Ontario General Election

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Sep 1, 2003

On October 2, 2003, Ontario voters changed the landscape of politics in their province by electing Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party to government. The election results ended eight years of rule by the Progressive Conservatives, first under Premier Mike Harris, and later under Premier Ernie Eves. This article provides an overview of the history, issues, party leaders and platforms, and results of the 2003 Ontario provincial election.

Ontario Electoral Backgrounder

Previous elections and pre-election party standings/polls

2003 Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

Leader and key policies of the Progressive Conservative Party

2003 Ontario Liberal Party

Leader and key policies of the Liberal Party

2003 Ontario New Democratic Party

Leader and key policies of the New Democratic Party

2003 Ontario Election Results

Liberal Party wins a majority government

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List of links for more on this topic


Ontario Electoral Backgrounder

Previous elections and pre-election party standings/polls

1999 General Election Results

The last Ontario general election was held in 1999. In that election, the Progressive Conservative Party won its second majority government. Progressive Conservative Party leader Mike Harris was re-elected Premier of Ontario.

Political Party

Seats

Result

Progressive Conservatives

59

Majority Government

Liberals

35

Official Opposition

New Democratic Party

09

 

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

Provincial By-elections (1999-2003)

In 2000, one by-election was held, in which the Liberal candidate won the seat.

Constituency: Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot

Candidate

Party

% Vote

Ted McMeekin

Liberal

58.75

Priscilla De Villiers

PC

30.09

Jessica Brennan

NDP

6.78

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

In 2001, three by-elections were held, with the Progressive Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the NDP each winning one seat.

Constituency: Parry Sound-Muskoka

Candidate

Party

% Vote

Norm Miller

PC

49.30

Evelyn Brown

Liberal

34.31

Joanne R. Bury

NDP

3.39

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

Constituency: Vaughan-King-Aurora

Candidate

Party

% Vote

Greg Sorbara

Liberal

61.24

Joyce Frustaglio

PC

33.94

Mike Seaward

NDP

1.97

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

Constituency: Beaches-East York

Candidate

Party

% Vote

Michael Prue

NDP

49.66

Bob Hunter

Liberal

36.44

Mac Penney

PC

9.99

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

In 2002, two by-elections were held, with the Progressive Conservatives taking both seats.

Constituency: Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey

Candidate

Party

% Vote

Ernie Eves

PC

46.59

Josh Matlow

Liberal

35.74

Doug Wilcox

NDP

8.02

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

Constituency: Nipissing

Candidate

Party

% Vote

Al McDonald

PC

45.54

George Maroosis

Liberal

45.48

Wendy Young

NDP

5.93

Source: Elections Ontario – Results and Statistics

Pre-election Public Opinion Polls

In June 2003, Ipso-Reid released a poll indicating a large lead in support for the Liberal Party, with the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats in second and third place, respectively. The following are some of the results from that poll.

Party Support

Liberals

48%

Progressive Conservatives

35%

New Democrats

14%

 

Make Best Premier

PC Eves

39%

LIB McGuinty

28%

NDP Hampton

15%

 

Opinion of PC Premier Eves

Improved

15%

Stayed the Same

48%

Worsened

32%

Opinion of NDP Leader Hampton

Improved

13%

Stayed the Same

66%

Worsened

8%

Opinion of LIB Leader McGuinty

Improved

20%

Stayed the Same

60%

Worsened

12%

Source: Ipso-Reid Ontario Politics Poll

Party Standings Prior to the Election

Prior to the election, the Progressive Conservatives held a majority government in the Ontario Legislature, with the Liberal Party as the Official Opposition. Ernie Eves, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, was the Premier of Ontario at the time of dissolution.


Political Party

Seats

Result

Progressive Conservatives

56

Majority Government

Liberals

36

Official Opposition

New Democratic Party

09

 

Independent

01

 

Vacant

01

 

(Current as of July 07, 2003)
Source: Legislative Assembly of Ontario Website


2003 Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

Leader and key policies of the Progressive Conservative Party

Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party

Ernie Eves was born in Windsor, Ontario, in 1946. He attended the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He was called to the bar in 1972 and was made a Queen’s Counsel in January 1983. Mr. Eves is the father of a daughter, Nathalie. He was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1981 as the member for Parry Sound. Mr. Eves has served as Deputy Minister, Minister of Finance, Government House Leader, Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister of Skills Development, and the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development with primary responsibility for native affairs. In 2001, Mr. Eves left politics and entered the private sector. In March 2003, following the resignation of Make Harris as Premier and Progressive Conservative Party leader, Mr. Eves was elected party leader. In April 2002 he became Premier of Ontario.

Progressive Conservative Party Platform

In the area of economic policy, the Ontario PC Party made the following commitments:

  • Tax deductions: Introduce a mortgage interest tax deduction to help homeowners, a property tax break for seniors, greater tax deductions for caregivers, and more tax relief for job-creating businesses.
  • Government finances: Continue to balance the budget and pay down Ontario’s debt.
  • Labour and Energy: Sensible labour laws and reliable, affordable energy to keep the economy strong.
  • Taxpayer rights: Create the Taxpayer Protection Act and new standards for accountability to protect Ontario taxpayers.

Regarding health care and education policy, the Ontario PC Party promised the following:

  • Shorter waits: Provide shorter waiting times for priority services such as surgery and MRI scans, guaranteed to be within recommended medical limits.
  • Investment: Invest more money into facilities and doctors and nurse recruitment.
  • Standardized testing: Introduce standardized tests and other reforms to make sure every student has an equal opportunity for success.
  • Prohibition of strikes: Prohibit education strikes, lockouts and work-to-rule job action during the school year.

In regard to social policy and communities, the Ontario PC Party committed the following:

  • Crime: Introduce tougher laws, more resources and funding for more police, probation, and parole officers. Specifically, provide funding for at least another 1,000 front-line police officers across Ontario.
  • Immigration: Negotiate an immigration deal with the federal government to give Ontario the power to bring in the necessary skilled immigrants, and to secure provincial borders against criminals and terrorists.
  • Homelessness: Introduce Shared Care Teams of outreach workers, nurses, doctors, and psychiatrists to bring health and mental health services to homeless people. These Shared Care Teams will have the power to remove people from the streets and take them into care when it is necessary for their protection.
  • Social Service Abuse: Prevent illegal immigrants and deportees from using the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, end legal aid for refugee and immigrant claims, and crack down on welfare fraud.
  • Highways and Transit Investment: Commit to investing in highways and transit to meet growing transportation demands. Also commit to being sensitive to the environment when planning and implementing highway and transit projects.

2003 Ontario Liberal Party

Leader and key policies of the Liberal Party

Leader of the Liberal Party

Dalton McGuinty was born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1955. He received a law degree from the University of Ottawa, and a science degree from McMaster University. Mr. McGuinty is married to his wife Terri, and together they have four children. Before entering politics, Mr. McGuinty practised law and taught business law at Carleton University. He was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1990, representing the riding of Ottawa South. Mr. McGuinty was elected Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in 1996.

Liberal Party Platform

In economic policy, the Ontario Liberals promised the following:

  • Government finances: Freeze taxation levels and strengthen investment in core public services.
  • New investment: Attract new investment in key job-creating sectors, including the auto industry, agriculture, and small business.
  • Labour training: Increase accessibility to post-secondary education, freeze tuition and double the number of apprenticeships.
  • Trade: Expand trade relationships and invest in faster, more efficient, border crossings while maximizing security.

In health care and education, the Ontario Liberal Party made the following commitments:

  • Medicare Act: Pass a Commitment to Medicare Act that will make universal, public medicare the law in Ontario.
  • Shorter waits: Guarantee waiting times for treatment, expand critical diagnostic services, and open 1600 new hospital beds.
  • Accountability and transparency: Give the Provincial Auditor the authority to audit all health care agencies and deliverers.
  • Senior health: Reverse the 15 percent hike in nursing home fees. Invest in home care and set high standards for nursing homes.
  • Commitment to prevention: Increase investment in prevention programs to keep Ontarians healthy, thereby reducing pressure on the health care system.
  • Reject the Progressive Conservative Party’s strategy of supporting private schools. Introduce programs and support for struggling schools and to help schools innovate. Offer public school choice so parents can decide which public school is right for their children.
  • Include a real cap of 20 students per class in the early grades. Provide teaching mentors in schools to aid other teachers.
  • Ensure that all students have the opportunity to experience a full range of learning that includes music, art and drama, as well as sports and other extracurricular activities. These are essential parts of a well-rounded education.
  • Introduce an Excellence for All Plan that guarantees that within the first Liberal mandate, 75 percent of students will meet or exceed the provincial standard on province-wide tests.

In the area of government, the Ontario Liberals promised the following initiatives:

  • Election reform: Commit to a more inclusive political process in Ontario. Hold elections on fixed dates and introduce Internet voting.
  • Democratic reform: Make institutions more democratic by freeing Members of the legislature to represent their constituents, mandating public consultation on all major legislation, and requiring Ministers to attend Question Period.
  • Campaign finance reform: Impose strict limits on money raised and spent in politics.

In the area of social policy and communities, the Liberals made the following commitments:

  • Introduce a Best Start program, in which parents will be entitled to assistance with their childcare costs paid to caregivers who register with the government, undergo a background check, and receive ongoing training.
  • Pollution: Clean up air, protect water, and crack down on polluters.
  • Urban sprawl: Address gridlock, contain sprawl and preserve green space.
  • Housing: Provide real protection for tenants and invest in affordable housing.
  • Crime: Invest in more police and prosecutors.
  • Northern/Rural: Introduce new programs to support rural communities and northern development.

2003 Ontario New Democratic Party

Leader and key policies of the New Democratic Party

Leader of the New Democratic Party

Howard Hampton was born in 1952. He is married to Shelley Martel, and together they have two children. He earned his law degree from the University of Ottawa, a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Prior to entering politics, Mr. Hampton worked as a labour lawyer for the Canadian Labour Congress and in private practice in Fort Frances. He also worked for the Blakeney government in Saskatchewan, and as a teacher in southern and northern Ontario. Mr. Hampton was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1987. Under Premier Bob Rae, Mr. he served as the Minister of Natural Resources and as Attorney General of Ontario. He was elected leader of the party in 1996.

New Democratic Party Platform

In social and economic policy, the NDP made the following commitments:

  • Labour: Increase the minimum wage to $8 an hour, prohibit scabs (those hired to replace striking workers) and treat injured workers fairly.
  • Child care: Reduce child care fees to $10 a day for children aged 18 months to five years in non-profit, regulated child care, and create 20,000 new child care spaces.
  • Pensions: Protect pensions from inflation, and allow employees to transfer their pensions from job to job.
  • Stable funding: Create dedicated Education Excellence Fund for education funding.
  • Public school support: No public funds for private schools.
  • Post-secondary education: Cut tuition by 10 percent and ensure that no student is denied a quality education or training for financial reasons.

In health care policy, the NDP committed the following:

  • Home care: Extend public home care, create 100 new Community Health Centres and cut long-term care user fees.
  • Public health care support: Cancel plans for private MRI/CT clinics and privately built hospitals, and put funds back into public health care.

In the area of communities, the NDP promised the following:

  • Public hydro support: Stop hydro privatization and deregulation and ensure clean, reliable public power at cost.
  • Clean water: Keep the province’s public drinking water and protect water from source to tap.
  • Affordable housing: Freeze rents for two years. Build at least 32,000 units of affordable housing and increase shelter allowances.
  • Transportation: Lower transit fares, shorten waits, and reduce gridlock with a dedicated transportation trust fund.

2003 Ontario Election Results

Liberal Party wins a majority government

The Liberal Party soundly defeated the incumbent Progressive Conservatives, winning a large majority government. As a result, Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty became the new Premier of Ontario. The Liberals managed to end the PC Party’s eight-year rule, forming only the second Liberal majority government in 65 years.

Results of Election

Political Parties

Popular Vote

Seats Won

Status

Liberal Party

46.45

72

Majority Government

Progressive Conservative Party

34.64

24

Official Opposition

New Democratic Party

14.70

07

-

Other

4.21

-

-


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