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Monday, May 4, 2015

Why I recently joined the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

The oxymoronic term "Progressive Conservative" sounds like taking one step forward and one step back, which really means going nowhere. That's not exactly what Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party had done for the last four elections. Based on the party's inept leadership and their uncanny ability to alienate voters as Official Opposition, Ontario's PC's have had their gear set firmly in reverse. It was so bad that the worst governments in the province's history, under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, still managed to hold on to power because the Progressive Conservatives offered such unappealing alternatives. 

That may change, depending on the outcome of the Ontario PC's leadership election, which is taking place this week. The two candidates, Christine Elliott and Patrick Brown, represent very different visions for the future of the party. Only one of the two has a vision that I believe will finally defeat the unethical, incompetent Ontario Liberals in the next election. 

I have never been a member of a provincial political party before, though I am and have been a member of the federal Liberal Party, off-and-on, since I was a teenager. It takes a lot for me to make that commitment. I rejoined the Liberals to support Marc Garneau, because I knew Justin Trudeau would be a disaster for the Liberal Party and the country. My one membership wasn't enough to do anything about that disaster. I joined the Ontario Progressive Conservatives recently because this province desperately needs an effective opposition.

Brown is the federal MP for Barrie and has committed to ushering in a brand new way of doing things for the PC's, including shaking up the bureaucratic leadership. In his case, that pledge is plausible, particularly in light of the outright hostility and fear the current PC bureaucracy is showing at the prospect of his winning.

Elliott, on the other hand, seem to think that winning involves invoking the names of successful Progressive Conservatives from the past, and saying she'll get Ontario's economic house in order, but leave Kathleen Wynne's "progressive" spending and social engineering policies in place. 

The two names Elliott frequently invokes are Bill Davis and Mike Harris. Davis was a great Premier for his time. However thirty years ago, Ontario was a very different place. Davis was one of the great architects of Ontario's education system; a tremendous achievement, but one with a shaky foundation. One of the terrible legacies Davis left for the province was his decision to fully-fund Catholic schools until the end of high school, giving preference to one religious group over all others. That was unfair for everyone else and ultimately bad for Catholic education, since by taking money from the government's outstretched hand, Catholic schools had to become less Catholic and include the government's social agenda in their curriculum.

Mike Harris was a foul politician in every sense. He imposed amalgamation on the City of Toronto and its suburbs, flouting the democratic wishes of its citizens, which voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to reject it. That's because Harris didn't care the least about urban Ontario. He made the cold, cynical calculation that he could screw over the cities, particularly Toronto, to win enough rural votes to win a majority. He was correct in his calculations, but that doesn't make it right. Harris then went on to bleed the cities, downloading services previously paid by the province onto them so he could say he was was spending less. Yes, Harris' governments spent less, but the taxpayers started having to pay more, since they were put at the mercies of the corrupt bunglers running municipal governments. Part of Harris' legacy was creating such lasting bitterness towards the Progressive Conservatives that the party hasn't won a general election since he resigned as Premier. 

Particularly worrisome is that Elliott is a supporter of Kathleen Wynne's depraved social experiment, a Sex Ed curriculum, the architect of which is a convicted pedophile, that introduces highly sexualized content to children at an inappropriately young age. Whether Elliott is sincere in the belief that such content is needed in the curriculum, or if she simply lacks the courage to stand up to the name-calling by Kathleen Wynne's Liberals towards any of its opponents is unimportant. Either scenario suggests she would make a poor leader. 

If Ontario's PC's revert to a combination of poor leadership and promoting an implementation of Christine Elliott's version of watered-down Kathleen Wynne policies, it could eliminate any effective opposition in Ontario for a generation.

Patrick Brown promises something different. His experience on the federal level represents inclusiveness with Ontario's diverse population that the provincial party hasn't been able to achieve. His fiscal policies are sound. He isn't antagonistic to non-political public service unions, like those of the firefighters and nurses, simply because they are unions.  And Brown is committed to revising education in Ontario to focus on the basics of reading, science and math, rather than the half-dozen supposed gender identities Kathleen Wynne and Christine Elliott feel children should have as part of their schooling. Reshaping the party and forming an effective opposition are critical if the PC's hope to win an election, and Brown represents a break from the past that is much more credible than Christine Elliott's promise of "change."

Ontario could have had real change years ago if the PC's had found a different leader than Tim Hudak, someone with zero political instincts and all the charm of a jack-in-the-box popping out in a child's dark, quiet bedroom at 3 am.

The Progressive Conservatives have a choice this week to pick someone who can lead to bring about a new direction in Ontario, or someone who seems to want to lead because they think they are entitled to lead. Ontario needs a new direction, and that's why I voted for Patrick Brown.


Cross-posted at The Rebel


Skippy Stalin said...

I hope you're right, but I'm not getting that vibe yet. The way I see it, Brown has two immediate problems;

I) It could take him at least a year to get a seat.

Like it or not, the caucus is overwhelmingly behind Elliott, and because the last election was such a bloodbath (going from 15 points up before the writ to losing nine seats) that all of its members are in pretty safe seats.

I expect that it's going to take awhile for Brown to convince someone somewhere to give up their seat for him (Remember how long it took John Tory to get Laurie Scott's seat in '09?) Then Wynne has six months from that day to call a month-long by-election.

While Brown can use that time to reorganize the party and raise money, I can't see a positive in being out of the news cycle for a year or more. If you're not in Queen's Park, you simply don't exist.

2) His record on social issues is toxic.

Brown refuses to say whether he was serious about reopening the debates on abortion and gay marriage, or just pandering to Team Jesus. Neither answer does him any favors.

The Liberals are smart and exceptionally fucking mean. They can and will paint Brown as an extremist nut based on his votes in Ottawa. And they can circumvent the "it's a federal issue" argument by pointing to OHIP funding and provincial family law. I figured that out, and I'm five-eighths retarded. Count on the Liberals spending a zillion dollars to drive that message home, especially while Brown doesn't have a seat.

Of course, none of that appears to matter, since the deal seems to be done.

Richard K said...

We'll see. By-elections do happen for other reasons from time to time and in any case, I suspect someone could be incentivized to give up a seat in the interim.

As to gay marriage and abortion, I can't believe Brown would try to open those cans of worms, simply because he doesn't come across as being insane.

Skippy Stalin said...

Incentivizing a member to give a safe seat is easy when you're in government and can offer all manner of cool jobs. When you're in opposition, however, all you have is the Leader's office and the party headquarters, which I assume will be chock full of Brown campaign loyalists.

As for social issues, it doesn't matter if Brown wants to open them up or not. All the Liberals have to do is convince enough voters that he might.

And that's where the example of Stephen Harper is instructive. More than any other leader in Canadian history, Harper has mastered the art of pre-writ negative advertising. He's carpet bombed three Liberal leaders in a row that way.

I know our side of the aisle doesn't like admitting it, but Wynne is a brilliant politician, much better than I ever dreamed of giving her credit for.

She can and will use issues that an overwhelming majority of the province already agrees with her on to turn Pat Brown into Pat Robertson. Moreover, she's got the money and the political precedent to do it.

Brown actually did cast those votes in Ottawa, and the PCPO is going to look silly complaining about negative ads in the face of "Not a Leader" and "Just Visiting."

She didn't have to do it to Hudak because he was already defined by the time she came to power. I guarantee you that she'll do it to Brown, and the odds are better than even that it'll work.

Richard K said...

You're assessment of Wynne as some mastermind would be fine if she were up against a competent opposition. She wasn't.

Hers was no more effective than the hopeless opposition Jean Chretien faced and she's nowhere near the politician Chretien was.

Wynne's not a particularly good speaker, she's not especially smart, nor is she charismatic. She had a shitload of union money and an opponent who imploded his own campaign. She's not a genius, she's lucky.

My cat could have beat Tim Hudak in an election.

Watching Christine Elliott fall over herself trying to distance herself from Hudak even though she was his Deputy Leader isn't giving me much confidence in her either.

Brown is far more capable and a better politician than Hudak.

Vox Cantoris said...

This is an exceptionally good analysis of the situation. I've never voted Liberal, always Conservative except once for Reform because Jean Charest was almost as inept as Tim Hudak.

Christine Elliot is Wynne Lite and she is more of the same problem with the oxymoronic party telling the card carryings members what to think.

She insulted me and other social conservatives on TVO last week and it will lose her the vote.

Further, I asked her a question on her Facebook page about the sexualised curriculum as opposed to proper sex education and her handlers removed my right to comment. Then, when I put that fact on my own linking back to her notifications, they blocked me.

So much for her big tent.

If she wins, I will not vote PC in the next election. I will join the New Reform Party of Ontario (formerly Family Coalition) and maybe even run as a candidate. Yes, it will split the right/centre-right but can't we have some principle once at least?

Skippy Stalin said...

As I've said before, Tim Hudak is the dumbest motherfucker I've seen up close. That part of the Wynne strategy (sitting back and watching the Tories lose) wasn't that impressive.

But in dealing with the NDP, she took a very high risk gamble that could have blown up in her face.

You might remember that, going into the last election, I thought that an NDP minority was entirely possible. Apparently, so did the Liberals.

First, there was last year's budget, which was, for all intents and purposes, an NDP document. Wynne basically dared Horwath to defeat it.

Had that happened, and there was another year before an election, I believe that it would have been harder for her to survive the McGuinty scandals.

But the budget did something that, in retrospect, was very important. It separated Andrea Horwath from her base, which was in love with the Wynne proposals.

Once the government was defeated, Wynne ran further to the left than any Liberal in Ontario history, which also could have backfired badly. Generally, Ontario Liberals run to the center, or slightly right of it.

It was beautifully set up, from a strategic perspective. Alienate your chief rival from her base, and then steal it in a general, all while avoiding a vote split that should have elected Conservatives.

The level of difficulty there was astronomical. There were any number of ways that the strategy could have broken down, leaving Kathleen Wynne to be mocked for all of history. But it worked.

That's more than a little impressive.

Skippy Stalin said...

Two other points;

1) Deputy leader is more of a ceremonial position that is either a way of reaching out to a rival base within the party, or a final resting place for a loyalist.

2) If Brown is such an awesome politician, why hasn't Harper found something for him to do? A howling mediocrity, like Fantino makes it into Cabinet, but Brown can't even get a parliamentary secretary gig?

Shit, Eve Adams advanced further in the Harper caucus than Brown has. There's gotta be a reason for that.

Anonymous said...

I joined the PC party to support Monte McNaughton because he was a bright light in the murky sea of conservatism. He had a platform that was realistic and it went well beyond opposition to the sex ed curriculum.

When he left the race to support Brown, I know I could not in all good conscience, support either of the leadership candidates that were left in the race.

Christine Elliott is the epitome of "big tent" progressive politics that as both McNaughton and Brown kept hammering away at. If she is elected as leader, please take the Conservative our of the party's name and leave it at "Progressive".

Patrick Brown - has no platform to speak of, He promises to "shake up the party" and give members a voice. What else does he stand for? Not a whole lot according to his website.

Neither candidate seems to give a darn about any issues in this province like plans to get rid of the Green Energy Act, Hydro One, hydro prices, balancing the budget and paying off the province's deficit.

Elliott didn't even have the common courtesy to show up to the first sex ed protest at Queen's Park in February. At least Brown and McNaughton showed up and spoke to us. And yes, this is an issue and has united patents and concerned citizens of all faiths, colours and sexual orientations across this province like no other issue.

Do Brown and Elliott even know about the new scheme to take away our constitutional right to face our accusers in a court of law when it comes to traffic tickets and other Provincial offences. There is so much else to fix in Ontario and I don;t think either one is up to the job.

This party should take a serious look at the Alberta election and see how arrogance, egos and bath math brought in an NDP government.

This leadership contest is ego driven on both sides, it's a fight as to see who can insult each other the best. I cannot in any good conscience vote for either candidate. They have shown me why I shouldn't vote for them and not why I should vote for them.