A leading pollster says Ontario is headed for a spring election now that it appears the minority Liberals might not win the two byelections in Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan they need to reclaim a majority.
According to a Forum Research poll conducted on Tuesday, NDP candidate Catherine Fife is leading in Kitchener-Waterloo with 42 per cent support — well ahead of the Liberal Eric Davis and Progressive Conservative Tracey Weiler at 26 per cent each.
“It is a little surprising because this is considered to be a so-called Liberal riding,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.
“The Liberals miscalculated who the NDP candidate would be. The NDP ended up with a very strong candidate. The Liberal candidate is not that strong. He lost in the last election.”
According to Bozinoff, Fife, a highly-regarded school trustee, also appears better suited to handle the recent turmoil with the teachers.
Though Liberal candidate Steven Del Duca seems poised to win in Vaughan — with 49 per cent of the vote compared to 37 per cent for PC Tony Genco and 11 per cent for the NDP’s Paul Donofrio —his party needs two more seats for a majority in the legislature.
Premier Dalton McGuinty now has 52 seats, while the NDP and PCs have 53 combined.
“The odds of having an election in the spring are now much, much higher,” Bozinoff said.
“The NDP are gonna feel good if they get their win in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I think the Tories are chomping at the bit to have another chance. They’ve been out of office a long time … I think we’ll have an election in the spring.”
Last month, longtime Liberal incumbent Greg Sorbara announced he would leave his Vaughan post to devote himself to running the Liberals’ provincial election campaign.
And in April, Progressive Conservative Elizabeth Witmer resigned her seat in Kitchener-Waterloo to accept McGuinty’s offer to chair the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
Elections Ontario estimates 6,154 people voted in advance polls in Kitchener –Waterloo and 2,575 in Vaughan —down nine per cent and 44 per cent, respectively, from the general election last year.
The byelections will be held Thursday.