Ontario general election, 1985

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Ontario general election, 1985
Ontario
1981 ←
May 2, 1985
→ 1987

125 seats in the 33rd Legislative Assembly of Ontario
63 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  PC David Peterson (2005).jpg Bob Rae.jpg
Leader Frank Miller David Peterson Bob Rae
Party Progressive Conservative Liberal New Democratic
Leader since January 26, 1985 February 21, 1982 February 7, 1982
Leader's seat Muskoka London Centre York South
Last election 70 34 21
Seats won 52 48 25
Seat change -18 +14 +4
Popular vote 1,343,044 1,377,965 865,507
Percentage 37.0% 37.9% 23.8%
Swing -7.4pp +5.2pp +2.6pp

Premier before election

Frank Miller
Progressive Conservative

Elected Premier

Frank Miller[A]
Progressive Conservative

Diagram of the 1985 election results in the Provincial Legislature

The Ontario general election of 1985 was held on May 2, 1985, to elect members of the 33rd Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, Canada. This election ended 42 years of Progressive Conservative Party rule in Ontario with David Peterson's Liberals eventually forming a government with the support of Bob Rae's NDP.

Near Thanksgiving of 1984, Premier Bill Davis announced that he would be stepping down. Davis, in office since 1971, had rung up a string of electoral victories by pursuing a moderate agenda and relying on the legendary skill of the Big Blue Machine team of Tory advisors. Davis remained popular when he decided to retire, and the opposition leaders were pleased to see him go.

The subsequent leadership race saw the PC party divide into two rough camps. The moderate and mainly urban wing was represented by second place finisher Larry Grossman. The more strongly conservative rural faction backed eventual victor Frank Miller. These divisions within the party were reinforced by the controversy over the separate schools question. Bill Davis had pushed through full funding for Ontario's Catholic school system. This decision was supported by both other parties, but the Tory base had strong misgivings. After the convention the party factions failed to reconcile; especially important was that a number of the mainly moderate members of the Big Blue Machine were pushed aside.

Despite these problems, the PCs remained far ahead in the polls, and when Miller called an election just six weeks after becoming premier, he was some twenty percentage points ahead of the Liberals in the polls. Over the campaign the Tory lead began to shrink as the Liberals waged a highly effective campaign. The Tory popularity was also hurt by Miller's refusal to participate in a leaders debate. Partway into the campaign, the separate schools question re-emerged when the Anglican prelate of Toronto, Archbishop Lewis Garnsworthy, held a news conference on the issue where he compared Bill Davis to Adolf Hitler. Garnsworthy was much criticized for his remarks, but the issue was revived, alienating the conservative base, some of whom chose to stay home on election day.

The election held May 2, 1985 ended in a stalemate. The PCs emerged with a much-reduced caucus of 52 seats. However, since rural areas were still slightly overrepresented at the time, they were still the largest party in the chamber. The Liberals won 48 seats, but won slightly more of the popular vote. The NDP thus held the balance of power with 25 seats.

Despite taking 14 seats from the PCs, the result was something of a disappointment for the Liberals, as they felt they had their first realistic chance of winning government in recent memory. The NDP was also disappointed by the election result. It had been nearly tied with the Liberals for popular support for several years, and had hoped to surpass them.

As the party with the most seats the PCs remained in power with a minority government. This would not last long, however. Rae and the NDP had little interest in supporting a continuation of PC rule, and reached an agreement with the Liberals, known as "The Accord". Rae and Peterson signed a deal that would see a number of NDP priorities put into law in exchange for an NDP motion of non-confidence in Miller's government, and the NDP's support of the Liberals. The NDP agreed to support a Liberal minority government for two years, and the Liberals agreed not to call an election during that same time.

On June 18, 1985, the PCs were defeated on a motion of no confidence introduced by Rae. Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird then asked Peterson to form a government. Miller resigned eight days later, and Peterson's minority government was sworn in the same day.

Results[edit]

  Party Leader 1981 Elected % change Popular vote
 % change
Progressive Conservative Frank Miller 70 52 -25.7% 37.0% -7.4%
     Liberal David Peterson 34 48 +41.2% 37.9% +4.2%
     New Democratic Bob Rae 21 25 +19.0% 23.8% +2.7%
     Libertarian Scott Bell   -   0.4%  
Green     -   0.1%  
     Communist Gordon Massie   -   0.1% -0.06%
Freedom none (Robert Metz, President)   -   0.1%  
     Others     -   0.7% -0.1%
Total Seats 125 125 - 100%  

The Revolutionary Workers League fielded one candidate.

Constituency results[edit]

Algoma:

Algoma—Manitoulin:

Armourdale:

Beaches—Woodbine:

Bellwoods:

Brampton:

Brantford:

Brant—Oxford—Haldimand:

Brock:

Burlington South:

Cambridge:

Carleton:

Carleton East:

Carleton—Grenville:

Chatham—Kent:

Cochrane North:

Cochrane South:

Cornwall:

Don Mills:

Dovercourt:

Downsview:

Dufferin—Simcoe:

Durham East:

Durham West:

Durham—York:

Eglinton:

Elgin:

Erie:

Essex North:

Essex South:

Etobicoke:

Fort William:

Frontenac—Addington:

Grey:

Grey—Bruce:

Haldimand—Norfolk:

Halton—Burlington:

Hamilton Centre:

Hamilton East:

Hamilton Mountain:

Hamilton West:

Hastings—Peterborough:

High Park—Swansea:

Humber:

Huron—Bruce:

Huron—Middlesex:

Kenora:

Kent—Elgin:

Kingston and the Islands:

Kitchener:

Kitchener—Wilmot:

Lake Nipigon:

Lambton:

Lanark—Renfrew:

Lakeshore:

Leeds:

Lincoln:

London Centre:

London North:

London South:

Middlesex:

Mississauga East:

Mississauga North:

Mississauga South:

Muskoka:

Niagara Falls:

Nickel Belt:

Nipissing:

Northumberland:

Oakville:

Oakwood:

Oriole:

Oshawa:

Ottawa Centre:

Ottawa East:

Ottawa South:

Ottawa West:

Oxford:

Parkdale:

Parry Sound:

Perth:

Peterborough:

Port Arthur:

Prescott and Russell:

Prince Edward—Lennox:

Quinte:

Rainy River:

Renfrew North:

Renfrew South:

Riverdale:

St. Andrew—St. Patrick:

St. Catharines:

Party Candidate Votes % +/-
     Liberal (x)Jim Bradley 20,605 57.94
     Progressive Conservative Elaine Herzog 9,029 25.39
     New Democratic Party Michael Cormier 5,624 15.81
     Communist Eric Blair 305 0.86
Total valid votes 35,563 100.00
Rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 201
Turnout 35,764 61.65

St. David:

St. George:

Sarnia:

Sault Ste. Marie:

Scarborough Centre:

Scarborough East:

Scarborough—Ellesmere:

Scarborough North:

Scarborough West:

Simcoe Centre:

Simcoe East:

  • (x)Al McLean (PC) 13371
  • Fayne Bullen (NDP) 11002
  • George MacDonald (L) 7566

Stormont—Dundas—Glengarry & East Grenville:

Sudbury:

Sudbury East:

Timiskaming:

Victoria—Haliburton:

Waterloo North:

Welland—Thorold:

Wellington—Dufferin—Peel:

Wellington South:

Wentworth:

Wentworth North:

Wilson Heights:

Windsor—Riverside:

Windsor—Sandwich:

Windsor—Walkerville:

York Centre:

York East:

York Mills:

York North:

York South:

York West:

Yorkview:

Post-election changes[edit]

York East (res. Robert Elgie, September 26, 1985), April 17, 1986:

Cochrane North (res. René Fontaine, 1986), August 14, 1986:

David Ramsay, elected as a New Democrat, joined the Liberal Party on October 6, 1986. Tony Lupusella, also elected as a New Democrat, joined the Liberal Party on December 17, 1986. After Lupusella's defection, the Liberals held as many seats in the legislative assembly as the Progressive Conservatives, at 51, (if the Speaker of the Legislature is included as a Liberal).

Paul Yakabuski, PC MPP for Renfrew South died July 31, 1987

Notes[edit]

A Replaced as Premier by David Peterson on June 26, 1985

B Turmel ran as a "Social Credit Party of Ontario" candidate despite the fact that the party was long since defunct

See also[edit]