Has the populist wave that swept Donald Trump into the White House in the November, 2016 U.S. presidential election now pushed north of the border?
That's the conclusion many are drawing after Doug Ford was elected as the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives—a decision that only was confirmed Sunday evening when runner-up Christine Elliott finally conceded defeat.
There certainly are plenty of parallels between Mr. Ford and President Trump. Both are larger-than-life figures with a shoot-from-the-lip mindset. Both are heavy on the rhetoric, to the point of being bombastic, and apt to cry “fake news” at any media coverage they don't like or agree with.
Both also play up—through their words and actions—as being on the side of the “little guy.” In essence, they are poster boys for the anti-establishment, anti-elite movement that clearly is resonating among voters these days, particularly in the U.S., and both have been able to tap into it at the expense of their political rivals.
It's difficult to discern just how potent this populist, anti-elite backlash is here in Ontario. After all, Mr. Ford won the PC leadership by a razor-thin margin, indicating the party isn't awash in the “drain the swamp” mentality that propelled Mr. Trump to the most powerful elected office in the world.
It also remains to be seen whether it's strong enough amongst the general Ontario electorate to help send Mr. Ford into the premier's office at Queen's Park come June 7.
There's no question voters, both here in Ontario and right across the country, are growing increasingly frustrated with the current state of our political system and parties—and are demanding change.
In deciding what that change should be, though, keep in mind the old adage: Be careful what you wish for.