OTTAWA — Doug Ford, a brash populist and a brother of former Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, will become the next premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, after leading his party to a decisive victory in elections on Thursday.
Just 21 minutes after most polls closed, both the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and CTV News declared that Mr. Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party would gain a majority of seats in Ontario’s next provincial legislature.
Mr. Ford, who declared victory in a speech to supporters Thursday night, has led the party and been involved in provincial politics for only a few weeks. A populist who campaigned on pledges to reduce the size of government and cut taxes — and bring back $1-a-bottle beer — he represents a significant change for Ontario, which has been under the control of the Liberal Party for almost 15 years.
“My friends, help is here,” Mr. Ford told the crowd in Toronto. “Tonight we have sent a clear message to the world: Ontario is open for business.”
As his supporters shouted “jobs, jobs, jobs,” Mr. Ford added: “Together we made history, we have taken back Ontario. We have delivered a government that is for the people.”
The Conservatives began the race looking like they would easily sweep into power. But during the campaign their support eroded significantly in favor of the New Democratic Party, which started in third place.
Mr. Ford’s Conservatives had a commanding lead in legislative seats, according to the network projections, though their lead over the New Democrats in the popular vote was comparatively narrow.
Official results were incomplete late Thursday. But if projections hold, the New Democrats, led by Andrea Horwath, a former community and labor activist from Hamilton, Ontario’s largest steel town, will lead the opposition.
Kathleen Wynne, who has served as premier for the past five years, conceded last weekend that her Liberal Party would lose the election. As the final results were trickling in Thursday, it was unclear if the Liberals would hang on to the eight seats they needed to be officially recognized as a party in the legislature.
Ms. Wynne resigned as party leader on Thursday and she retained only a slim lead in voting for her seat.
“Life is always complicated,” she told supporters in Toronto.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Liberal, is unlikely to be enthusiastic about the victory of Mr. Ford, an ideological opposite whose style often invites comparisons to President Trump. Mr. Ford, for example, has vowed to eliminate Ontario’s federally mandated tax on carbon emissions and cut gasoline prices, a move that could increase such emissions.
Mr. Ford’s campaign was run by several top Conservative operatives who will now turn their attention to defeating Mr. Trudeau in next year’s national vote.
And while Mr. Ford’s Conservative candidates were particularly successful in the vote-rich area surrounding Toronto, the New Democrats took over many seats in the city itself that were once held by the Liberals.
Canadian voters often have different, even conflicting, preferences in provincial and federal elections, meaning that Mr. Ford’s success will not necessarily transfer to his federal counterparts.
The Green Party also elected its first candidate in Ontario, Mike Schreiner, who was born in Kansas and educated in the United States.
The campaign was filled with unexpected twists, many of them involving the Conservatives.
Mr. Ford’s only political experience is a single term on Toronto’s City Council and his role as an adviser and unofficial spokesman for his brother Rob, who, while mayor, confessed to crack cocaine use and public intoxication. Rob Ford died in 2016 from a rare form of cancer.
On Thursday, Doug Ford told his supporters, “I know my brother Rob is looking down from heaven.”
Doug Ford came to lead the Conservatives only after Patrick Brown, a former federal politician, stepped down in January over accusations of sexual misconduct.
Mr. Brown has strenuously denied the accusations and has filed a lawsuit against CTV News, which first reported them.
During the whirlwind leadership campaign to replace Mr. Brown, Mr. Ford repeatedly displayed a less-than-firm grasp on what provincial government does. Once he became leader, he reprised some of the political moves he and his brother used.
He again called his followers the “Ford Nation,” and his campaign materials and signs largely omitted any mention of the Progressive Conservative Party in favor of the family brand.
But over all his campaign was less flamboyant than his tenure on the City Council, when he once challenged a heckler at a council meeting to meet him on the floor while repeatedly shouting, “Bring it on, big guy.”
For most of this campaign, Mr. Ford often seemed to be reciting his speeches with all the vibrancy of an auditor reading a routine statement. His interactions with reporters were brief and tightly controlled.
Mr. Ford shares Mr. Trump’s dislike of the media and fondness for the term “fake news.” During the campaign he also portrayed himself as champion of “the people” who, he said, were being undermined by society’s elites.
But he is very unlike Mr. Trump when it comes to immigration. Since his brother’s time in office, the Fords courted and welcomed immigrants to their ranks. Last month, Mr. Ford swiftly disavowed a white nationalist from Quebec who supported his campaign.
Most analysts attribute the Liberals’ collapse in large part to steep electrical rate hikes, particularly in rural areas. While Ms. Wynne reduced the increases using borrowed money, the issue continued to rile voters.
Mr. Ford has promised further rate reductions although he did not explain how that could be squared with billions of dollars in tax cuts, beyond citing the elimination of waste that he said exists throughout the government. In turn, Mr. Ford also promised that he could eliminate that waste without cutting government jobs or services.
But Thursday night was about celebration, not accounting, for Mr. Ford.
“A new day has dawned on Ontario,” Mr. Ford said, his face beaming. “We will make Ontario once again the engine of Canada.”
Published at Fri, 08 Jun 2018 02:53:02 +0000