When the Ontario campaign began six weeks ago many political experts predicted the Conservatives would defeat the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty. Instead, last night the Liberals increased their majority and the Conservative leader, John Tory, went down to personal defeat in his own riding.
What happened? Tory’s promise to extend public funding to faith-based schools (Jewish, Muslim etc.) became the salient issue of the campaign. Although the policy would affect only 55,000 pupils (in a student population of two million), all hell broke loose. What the Conservative leader proposed as a measure of fairness was denounced as breaching the wall between church and state and as an undue drain on the public purse.
Even the Catholic schools which are publicly funded were told their funding would be taken away. Shades of the old Orange Ontario.
Was their a whiff of bigotry in yesterday’s election results in Ontario?