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A major reason the electorate was so receptive to the call for nonpartisanship was a basic anti-party tradition pre-dating the establishment of the province itself. From 1888 through 1905 the territorial government operated along strict nonparty lines; even when partisanship was introduced with the formation of the province, "as long as the provincial administration elected by party methods devoted itself officially to the provision of the desired physical helps to the rapidly growing economy it served well enough. But it was supported less for its party principles than for its business efficiency." (Nossal 1989)

A survey in 1968 and a province-wide survey in 1971 found that most respondents rejected party politics at the local level. (Nossal 1989) In the consecutive study, almost 60 percent of the respondents were opposed to partisan municipal elections. The results of the 1971 survey, show that fewer than a third of the municipal residents in Ontario were favourably disposed to party politics. (Nossal 1989) A surprising finding was the almost negligible variation between the responses of residents in large cities and those in small villages. One would expect to find much stronger support for parties in large cities with diverse and competing socio-economic and ethnic groups than in smaller, relatively homogeneous communities.

Another study conducted in 1977 suggests that Ontario’s electorate was growing somewhat less hostile to municipal parties. While only 38 percent of respondents agreed "with the idea of locally-based political parties contesting local elections," another series of questions related to the perceived advantages and disadvantages of local parties in Ontario revealed much stronger support for them. (Atkinson 1993) In every case, more respondents felt that the advantages of parties outweighed their disadvantages. Since one of the underlying assumptions of the reform movement was that corruption was associated with municipal parties, one would expect a substantial number of respondents to make the same association, yet only 11.3 percent appeared to believe that local parties would lead to more corruption in city government. (Atkinson 1993) Nevertheless, the relatively high percentage of respondents who agreed that parties "make no difference" probably opposed their introduction into Ontario politics, since there would have been no reason to disturb the status quo. (Atkinson 1993)

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