125 seats in the 33rd Legislative Assembly of Ontario
63 seats needed for a majority
The 1985 Ontario general election was held on May 2, 1985, to elect the members of the 33rd Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada. The Progressive Conservatives won the most seats but not a majority.
Shortly afterward, the 42 years of PC governance in Ontario came to an end by a confidence vote defeating Premier Frank Miller's minority government. David Peterson's Liberals then formed a minority government with the support of Bob Rae's New Democratic Party.
Around Thanksgiving in 1984, Ontario Premier Bill Davis announced that he would be stepping down from his longtime post and as leader of the Ontario PCs in early 1985. In office since 1971, he had a string of electoral victories by pursuing a moderate agenda and by relying on the skill of the Big Blue Machine team of advisors. Davis, who remained generally popular throughout his term in office, would unveil a surprise legacy project: full funding for Ontario's separate Catholic school system, which would become known as Bill 30. That decision was supported by both other parties but was generally unpopular, especially in the PC base.
The subsequent leadership race saw the party divide into two rough camps. The moderate and mainly-urban wing was represented by the second-place finisher, Larry Grossman. The more conservative rural faction backed the eventual victor, Frank Miller. After Miller's victory at the convention, the party's factions failed to reconcile, which was especially important since many moderate members of the Big Blue Machine were pushed aside.
Despite those problems, the PCs remained far ahead in the polls, and when Miller called an election just six weeks after becoming premier, he was about 20% ahead of the Liberals. Over the campaign, the PCs lead began to shrink as the Liberals waged a highly effective campaign. During the campaign, the separate schools question re-emerged when the Anglican prelate of Toronto, Archbishop Lewis Garnsworthy, held a news conference on the issue in which he compared Davis's methods in pushing through the reform to Adolf Hitler, saying: "This is how Hitler changed education in Germany, by exactly the same process, by decree. I won't take that back."  Garnsworthy was much criticized for his remarks, but the issue was revived, which alienated the PC 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. The Liberals won 48 seats but won slightly more of the popular vote. The NDP held the balance of power, with 25 seats. Despite taking 14 seats from the PCs, the Liberals were somewhat disappointed, as they felt that they had their first realistic chance of winning government in recent memory. The NDP was also disappointed by the election result. The party had been nearly tied with the Liberals for popular support for several years and had hoped to surpass them.
The incumbent PCs intended to remain in power with a minority government, as they had done on two occasions under Davis' leadership. Rae and the NDP had little interest in supporting a continuation of PC rule, while the Liberals were also more amenable to a partnership compared to in the 1970's. Among other things, the Liberals repeatedly pointed out that (again, unlike in the previous decade) their party had won the popular vote and therefore, in their view, had at least as much of a right to govern the province as the Conservatives. The NDP began negotiations on May 13 to reach an agreement with the Liberals. Rae and Peterson signed an accord on May 29  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 during which the Liberals agreed not to call an election.
Miller, apprised of negotiations, considered a plan to address the province on the television two days before the throne speech, disown funding for Catholic schools, and announce he was meeting with the Lieutenant Governor to request an election before a confidence vote could take place.  Believing that the Lieutenant Governor would have to call an election if requested before the confidence vote, Miller refused to do so since he believed the party's finances to be too fragile for a second campaign and that repudiating a key Davis policy would tear the party apart. 
In what was by then a foregone conclusion, on June 18, 1985 the PC government was defeated by the passage of a motion of no confidence introduced by Rae. Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird then asked Peterson to form a government. Privately, Aird's actions suited Miller since even without party infighting and finances to consider, the PC's internal polling had by then clearly indicated the voters did not want another election and that even if the Lieutenant-Governor could have been convinced to call one, the Liberals would have been likely to win in a landslide. The actions of Aird, who was appointed by former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, therefore allowed Miller to portray his relinquishing of the premiership as a grudging acquiescence that he was forced to undertake by a representative of the sovereign, who the PC's would subsequently claim had breached constitutional convention and inappropriately engaged in partisanship to elevate his second-place party to government. In any case, Miller resigned on June 26 and Peterson's minority government was sworn in on the same day.
|Party||Leader||1981||Elected||% change||Popular vote|
|Progressive Conservative||Frank Miller||70||52||-25.7%||1,349,168||37.11%||-7.3%|
|New Democratic||Bob Rae||21||25||+19.0%||857,743||23.59%||+2.5%|
|Freedom||none (Robert Metz, President)||—||1,583||0.04%|
The Revolutionary Workers League fielded one candidate.
Kingston and the Islands:
Prescott and Russell:
St. Andrew—St. Patrick:
|Liberal||(incumbent) Jim Bradley||20,605||57.94|
|Progressive Conservative||Elaine Herzog||9,029||25.39|
|New Democratic||Michael Cormier||5,624||15.81|
|Total valid votes||35,563||100.00|
|Rejected, unmarked and declined ballots||201|
Sault Ste. Marie:
Stormont—Dundas—Glengarry & East Grenville:
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
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
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