Officially, they are the official opposition.
In reality, Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats are punching — and polling — well below their weight.
This weekend, Horwath will be held to account at an NDP convention and leadership review to decide whether she takes the party into her fourth provincial campaign, expected in 2022. After 10 years in the job, Horwath may be the longest-serving major party leader in Canada today — enduring if not always endearing to voters.
In the daily question period, the NDP leader still reads methodically from her notes when speaking, despite her decade of experience. In the media, Horwath is often overshadowed by her Liberal and Green party rivals.
With Premier Doug Ford’s Tories tumbling, the NDP would seem well placed to profit from PC unpopularity. Yet Horwath’s New Democrats appear unable to gain traction at a time of widespread political discontent, a year after they claimed second place in the “change” election that brought Ford to power.
Surprisingly, one poll last month showed the battered Liberal party has vaulted from a distant third place into the lead, with the NDP languishing well back alongside the wounded Tories. In other surveys, the NDP is roughly tied with the Liberals and Tories and unable to break out, while the last-place Greens are gaining fresh support.
Time for Horwath to go?