I know there are a lot of people out there who are of a nature that an old friend describes as ‘NeanderCons‘ and they are deeply opposed, on principle I hasten to add, to Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown and to the platform he has put in place. But they are wrong, and Chris Selley is right, in the National Post, when he says that you may call it, the PCPO platform, ‘Liberal-lite‘ if you wish but Patrick Brown has offered a programme that can and should lead Ontario back to the road to sanity: a PC majority government in Queen’s Park.
Ontario, like Canada, is a socially moderate place where, for good or ill, the welfare state ~ the one that Otto von Bismark started almost 150 years ago ~ is an important part of the social fabric, and it is the sort of moderate place where most people do not stake out stark, black and white positions on matters like sexual orientation or climate change.
Patrick Brown’s platform might be ‘Liberal-lite‘ because the Liberals may have gotten the issues right and may just have, certainly did, in my opinion, fouled up the execution. It may well be that most Ontarians actually want the sorts of things the Liberals promised but failed to deliver.
We can fault the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals for many, many things, but not for failing to promise what Ontarians wanted. What Patrick Brown is doing, it seems to me, is taking up the challenge that the Liberals dropped: the challenge of giving Ontarians what they want … but in an open, honest and responsible manner. Mr Brown is, very certainly, not promising to turn the clock back to the 1950s, in fact, as Mike Crawley reports on the CBC News web site, “Patrick Brown and his Ontario PCs are making clear that they are in it to win it, offering a platform jam-packed with promises designed to appeal to that crucial swath of voters who aren’t bound to a political ideology … [and] … As Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberal Party unabashedly tries to woo the left, the Progressive Conservatives are seeng their chance to grab hold of the centre … [but] … The big question is whether those middle-of-the-road voters will trust Brown to be a moderate if he wins power. After all, he spent nine years on Stephen Harper’s backbenches and he’s leading the party that brought Ontario the Common Sense Revolution under Mike Harris.” Patrick Brown is neither Leslie Frost (Old Man Ontario) nor is he Mike Harris … and that disturbs some on the political right.
But it’s not “old Ontario” any more; it is in need of some common sense and, above all, honesty in government but it just needs to be steered back in to the right lane … a revolution is neither wanted nor needed. The NeanderCons in the PCPO have had too much power since about 2003 and the result has been a decade plus of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne because the Conservative alternatives have not been acceptable ~ not Ernie Eves, not John Tory and not Tim Hudak. Ontario deserves and needs better. “Better” is fiscally responsible, honest, socially moderate and concerned for all Onarians. If the NeanderCons want to keep electing Kathleen Wynne style Liberals then all they need to do is, yet again, to divide the Conservative party on rigid, ideological lines … that’s what they’ve done year after year and that’s why we’ve had too much Liberal dishonesty and ineptitude.
We need to be aware that in the next Ontario and federal elections it will not just be the Liberals and NDP who will be out to stop the Conservatives. Many special interests, including Big Labour (the public sector unions) will spend big money to try to defeat Conservatives. In fact they have already started … Working Families, for example, is just one arm of organized labour which has the sole aim of preventing a Conservative government.
Ditto for foreign funded special interests like the Canadian arm of the shadowy Tides Foundation that do not want to see Conservatives in power anywhere.
The new Ontario is key to a Conservative victory in 2019 in “New Canada,” too. As I have mentioned, many times, before, the Conservative base (about 30% of the electorate) seems pretty solid since 2015 ~ that should translate into 70 to 100 seats; but a majority government 70 to 100 more seats and they will have to be found, mainly, West of the Ottawa River and that means mainly in the suburbs around Toronto and Vancouver … especially in Ontario. Look at this map » 50% of the population of Canada lives below that red line, most of them live in Ontario. The people who live in those suburbs are “switchable” voters, as they showed in 2015. They are also what have been described as “veto voters” and, given what’s happened in 2017, they look more and more likely to be willing to switch away from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Some will return to the NDP but many may be persuaded to return to or switch to the Conservative Party, too … if it is a party that represents them: the people that Patrick Brown is courting in the moderate middle.