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Ontario Liberal Party

The Ontario Liberal Party is a provincial political party in the province of Ontario, Canada, and forms the Government of Ontario as of the Ontario general election, 2003. The party is ideologically aligned with the Liberal Party of Canada. The party is currently led by Dalton McGuinty, who has been its leader since 1996.


Ontario politics has in recent times has been dominated by the Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals have formed the Government only five out of the past sixty years, and have spent most of those years in opposition. For forty-two years, from 1943 to 1985 the province was governed by the Tories. During this period the Liberal Party often was further to the right of the moderate Conservative administrations.

The Ontario Liberal Party first broke this hold in 1985 under the leadership of David Peterson who served as premier of a coalition government until 1987, and majority government from 1987 to 1990. Peterson's government ruled in a time of economic plenty where occasional instances of fiscal imprudence were not much remarked on. Peterson was a close ally oof Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on the Meech Lake Accord but opposed Mulroney on the issue of free trade. The election of 1990 was a shock defeat to the Liberals, who had gone in with strong poll numbers. They were defeated by the New Democratic Party under Bob Rae. The Liberal defeat was in part caused by voter anger at going to the polls just three years into the governments mandate. The campaign was also bady run with a mid-campaign proposal to cut the provincial sales tax a particularly bad blunder.

In 1995 the Liberal party was expected to replace the unpopular NDP, but a poorly run campaign under Lyn McLeod saw the party beaten by the Conservatives under Mike Harris. In the 1999 election the Conservatives started the campaign behind in the polls, but an advertising strategy focusing on attacking new Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty as well as a weak campaign by the Liberals saw the Tories returned to power.

The 2003 Ontario election, however, saw the Tories run the poor campaign, and the Liberal party held onto its earlier support and even increased it, eventually winning a landslide victory and once again forming the government of Ontario.

See also: List of Ontario Premiers

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