Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
The Conservative party came into existence more than 20 years before the province of Ontario was created in 1867. Tories have governed the province for longer than any other party, claiming 13 of the province's 23 premiers as theirs.
The PCs have governed the province for 50 of the last 60 years. After a decade out of power from 1985 to 1995, the Tories swept back to power with Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution, and its promises of tax cuts and smaller government. Ernie Eves took over as leader in the spring of 2002.
Liberal Party of Ontario
The Liberals have been around longer than the province of Ontario, which came into existence with Confederation in 1867. The party has governed Ontario for 48 years, 34 of those before 1905. The Liberals boast eight premiers, including Sir Oliver Mowat, who won six successive elections and was premier for 24 years at the end of the 19th century.
The last Liberal government to hold power was under David Peterson, for the latter half of the 1980s. Peterson's government ended 42 years of Conservative rule in Ontario. He lost to the NDP in 1990, after taking voters to the polls just three years into his party's mandate. Dalton McGuinty is the current leader of the party.
New Democratic Party of Ontario
The NDP was founded in 1962 by labour unions and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The party traces its roots back to the labour and farmers' movements that emerged after World War I. It is a based on principles of social democracy, including "a fair distribution of wealth amongst all citizens." One of the NDP's founders, Tommy Douglas, is credited with spearheading the creation of Canada's health-care system based on universal access.
In its first Ontario provincial general election, in 1963, the NDP won seven seats under Donald C. MacDonald. One of those MPPs was Stephen Lewis, who went on to lead the party through much of the 1970s. Under Lewis, the NDP became the official opposition in 1975. The NDP has won a single majority government at the polls - in 1990 under leader Bob Rae. Howard Hampton has led the party since Rae resigned in 1996.
The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario), under leader Elizabeth Rowley, is fielding a handful of candidates in the 2003 election. The party was founded in May of 1921, in a barn just outside Guelph, Ont., as a response to growing post-war unemployment. The party sees signs of hope for its socialist cause in the demonstrations and movements that have arisen around the world to fight against globalization.
Family Coalition Party
The Family Coalition Party was founded just in time for the 1987 provincial election, when it fielded 36 candidates. It is dedicated, according to its Web site, "to principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law." Under leader Giuseppe Gori, who's running in Halton, the party is putting forward over 50 candidates this time around.
Freedom Party of Ontario
The Freedom Party of Ontario was founded in 1984 and touts the "live and let live" philosophy. Under leader Paul McKeever, the party proposes such things as allowing "parents to pay their tuition fees directly to the schools of their choice," so private schools aren't only for the wealthy. It stands sixth in the tally of candidates fielded by registered parties in Ontario.
Green Party of Ontario
Under leader Frank de Jong, the Green Party of Ontario had hoped to field 103 candidates in the 2003 election, so "each and every Ontario voter [would] have the chance to vote Green." But when the nominations closed on Sept. 18, 2003, the party was one candidate short of a full slate, with 102 Green candidates having registered with Elections Ontario.
The Green Party of Ontario was constituted in the spring of 1987, and is part of a larger, international movement to bring the "protection, preservation, and restoration of the natural world" onto the mainstream political stage. Its mission is to make the development of society both "sustainable" and "non-exploitive" of the earth.
In this election, the Greens list their 10 key values as: sustainability; social justice; grassroots democracy; ecological wisdom; decentralization; non-violence; feminism; diversity, personal and global responsibility; and community-based economics.
Internationally the Green political movement has had some success entering the political mainstream, most notably in Germany, where a system of proportional representation has seen the election of Green candidates to the German parliament there. The party faces a larger challenge in the Canadian political system.
In 2000, well-known consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader ran for the U.S. presidency under the Green banner, against George W. Bush. He garnered support from nearly 2.7 million voters, or 2.6 per cent of ballots cast.
Ontario Libertarian Party
The Libertarians are running for office to "reduce government involvement in our lives and economy." They propose, for example, that government get completely out of education and health care, and stop financing "any business in any manner." Topping the list of guiding principles are individual freedom and property rights. Under leader Sam Apelbaum, the party is running about a half-dozen candidates. The Libertarian Party of Ontario was formed in the early 1970s. http://www.libertarian.on.ca
Here and Now's Avril Benoit talks with Libertarian Party leader Sam Apelbaum about why his group wants to shrink government. (Sept. 25, runs 6:01)|
Ontario Provincial Confederation of Regions Party
The Confederation of Regions Party of Ontario was founded in May 1990, and is most notable for its opposition to official multiculturalism and the use of French in the delivery of government services. It currently has no leader, but says it would elect one if it had a caucus. It is fielding one candidate in the election (as of Sept. 12).
Here and Now's Avril Benoit talks with Dr. Richard Butson, the sole Ontario Confederation of Regions Party candidate, about the party's philosophy (Sept. 29, runs 5:56)|