Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford ended 15 years of Liberal government in Ontario Thursday night.
Ford will be the next premier of Canada’s largest province, winning a solid majority in the legislature, taking 76 of the 124 seats. Speaking to supporters in Toronto, Ford said, “We have taken back Ontario. My friends, help is here.”
Ford’s brother, Rob Ford, was the popular and polarizing mayor of Toronto who was often in the news as a result of problems in his private life and larger than life personality.
At one point in the campaign, the Conservatives fell to second place in polls behind the New Democratic Party (NDP). But Ford was assisted by a third-party texting and social media outreach campaign by a Facebook group called “Ontario Proud” that targeted NDP candidates.
Outgoing Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that she was resigning as Liberal leader and acknowledged that it had been a “difficult night” for the party.
Ford ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility in contrast to the governing Liberals who have amassed a huge public debt while being embarrassed by a series of spending scandals. Ford alluded to those issues, telling the crowd, “The party with the taxpayer’s money is over.” Ford has also promised to replace a graphic sex education program that the Wynne government introduced to elementary schools in the province.
Even though Ford was accused by Rob Ford’s widow of financially mismanaging the late mayor’s estate, the next premier of Ontario fondly remembered his brother in his victory speech.
“I know that my brother Rob is looking down from heaven,” Ford said. “I’m just getting chills talking about him right now.”