The Ontario general election of 1995 was held on June 8, 1995, to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, Canada. The writs for the election were dropped on April 28, 1995.
The governing New Democratic Party, led by Premier Bob Rae, was defeated by voters, who were angry at the mistakes made by the inexperienced NDP and frustrated by the recession, rising taxes, and unemployment. The NDP had lost much of their base in organized labour, due to the unpopularity of its Social Contract legislation in 1993.
Lyn McLeod's Liberals had been leading in the polls for most of the period from 1992 to 1995, and were generally favoured to benefit from the swing in support away from the NDP. However, the party hurt its credibility through a series of high-profile policy reversals in the period leading up to the election. The most notable of these occurred when McLeod withdrew Liberal support from a same-sex benefits package for civil unions when it was introduced by the NDP government in 1994. Her decision was seen as cynical and opportunistic in light of the Liberals' earlier rural by-election loss in a socially-conservative riding. This gave the party a reputation for "flip-flopping" and inconsistency while offending its socially progressive supporters.
The televised party leaders' debate is often regarded as the turning point of the campaign. During the event, McLeod further alienated many voters with an overly aggressive performance. Harris used his time to speak directly to the camera to convey his party's Common Sense Revolution platform, virtually ignoring all questions asked of him by Rae and McLeod and avoiding getting caught up in their debate. Since Liberal support was regarded by many political insiders as soft and unsteady, many voters who were previously leaning to the Liberals shifted to the Progressive Conservatives after the debate.
The Progressive Conservative Party, led by Mike Harris, found success with its Common Sense Revolution campaign to cut personal income taxes, social assistance (welfare) rates, and government spending dramatically. Roughly half of his party's seats came from the more affluent regions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), especially the suburban belt surrounding Metro Toronto, often called the '905' for its telephone area code.
In addition, by presenting himself as a populist, representing "ordinary Ontarians" over "special interests", Harris was able to build Tory support among working-class voters. Although there were regional variations, many working-class voters shifted directly from the NDP to the Tories during the election, enabling the latter to win formerly NDP ridings such as Cambridge and Oshawa.
Due to the above factors, voters gave the Tories a large majority, while the Liberals finished with less support than they had in the 1990 election. The NDP, despite improving their standing in some Northern Ontario ridings, were heavily defeated and reduced to third party status from which they have not yet recovered. McLeod and Rae resigned their party leadership posts not long after the campaign.
One independent candidate was elected: Peter North in the riding of Elgin. North had been elected in 1990 as a New Democrat, but left the NDP and declared his intention to run as a Progressive Conservative. The PC Party did not accept him as a candidate, however.
|Party||Party leader||# of|
|1990||Elected||% Change||#||%||% Change||Progressive Conservative||Mike Harris||125||20||82||+310%||1,870,110||44.8%|| align=right||Liberal||Lyn McLeod||125||36||30||-16.7%||1,291,326||31.1%||-1.3%||New Democratic||Bob Rae||125||74||17||-77.0%||854,163||20.6%||-17.0%||Family Coalition||Donald Pennell||55||-||-||-||61,657||1.5%||-0.1%||Natural Law||Ron Parker||68||-||-||-||18,326||0.4%|| align=right||Green||Frank de Jong||37||-||-||-||14,108||0.4%||-0.3%||Libertarian||John Shadbolt||18||-||-||-||6,085||0.2%||-0.4%||Freedom||Jack Plant||11||-||-||-||4,532||0.1%||-0.1%||Confederation of Regions||6||-||-||-||3,971||0.1%||-1.8%||Communist||Darrell Rankin||5||-||-||-||1,015||0.02%||-0.08%||Independent||61||-||1||-||33,077||0.8%|| align=right|
At least five unregistered parties fielded candidates in this election.
Candidates from the aforementioned parties appeared on the ballot as independents. It is possible that some candidates listed below as independents actually belonged to these or other parties.
|by-election, February 29, 1996: York South|
|Liberal||Gerard Kennedy||7,774||39.22||New Democratic Party||David Miller||6,656||33.58||Progressive Conservative||Rob Davis||5,093||25.69||Independent||David Milne||151||0.76||Libertarian||George Dance||77||0.39||Independent||Kevin Mark Clarke||70||0.35|
|Total valid votes||19,821||100.00|
|Rejected, unmarked and declined ballots||264|