Cheri DiNovo throws down the gauntlet.
The Ontario New Democratic Party needs to reclaim the socially progressive values it abandoned in the recent provincial campaign, according to one of its own MPPs. In an interview on Sunday, about a month after election day, Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo blamed the NDP’s poor results in Toronto—including the loss of three MPPs—on her party’s lack of focus on poverty, child care, housing, and education. “It was a debacle from the beginning, from day one,” DiNovo told us at a cafe within the riding. “When I would hear at the door, ‘We love you, but…’ I knew we were in trouble.”
DiNovo says that while Horwath has been widely criticized for the party’s campaign and platform, the NDP faces broader leadership challenges: “Whatever happened is not the leader’s issue alone…. This a problem of leadership generally, and there’s a whole strategic team involved in that.” In reference to the departure of Yanez and Anderson, DiNovo said, “You can change the strategists, you can change the chief of staff … those are probably good things to do. But at the end of the day it’s about who we are as a party and what we stand for that we need to look at as New Democrats.”
DiNovo says the NDP will not regain frustrated supporters by portraying the recent election as progress, which has been the official line—focusing on the fact that the party improved its share of the popular vote by one per cent, and that efforts to attract voters outside of Toronto yielded gains. “It’s important for our voters in Toronto to know that we did not see that campaign as a success,” DiNovo says. “I think voters appreciate honesty.”
“I understand that we were trying to appeal to Conservative voters outside of Toronto, but we can’t ever give up our core values and principles,” DiNovo continued. “To do it is to become another Liberal party, which is the last thing I want.” She promised to keep fighting for what she sees as critical progressive issues in her riding, including housing, the electrification of the Pearson Airport rail link, and Toronto’s ongoing struggles with the Ontario Municipal Board.
“We’ve lost the ability to talk about investment across party lines,” said DiNovo. “But that we’ve lost the ability to speak about it in the New Democratic Party … that’s not us, and that shouldn’t be us.”