Sunday March 11, 2018
He’s the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario. He is the outsider candidate against the party establishment (or ‘elites’ as he calls them), he’s against carbon taxes, against regulation, the current sex-ed curriculum, and of recent, he’s questioning access to abortion. Throw in a checkered past, courting of evangelicals, the support of a populist movement, a bellicose style, and placed against a left-of-centre woman heading a tired government that has ruled for 15 years and, well… the parallels to a certain situation to Canada’s south takes on such banal proportions.
It’s hard to understand how a party smarting from lost elections due to killer issues like faith-based school funding and massive cuts to the civil service has put its faith into a machine that could very well make the common sense revolution look like a gentle frolic through a Spring meadow.
After all the delicate redefining and reshaping of a political party humbled by consecutive losses, it looked as if the PCs were well on their way to being the true centrist option for Ontario voters with its glossy People’s Guarantee platform. Patrick Brown had gone through a chameleon-like ideological conversion therapy from a virtual unknown anti abortion right winger to a rolled up loosened tied leader who might be confused for having the middle name ‘Dalton‘. But then the palace coup ended it all for the presumptive centrist Premier and his name became history.
As the snark (which I intend to contribute to) inevitably grows against his movement toward election day, observers need to recall that the “it can’t happen here” attitude preceded the unimagined result in the U.S. two Novembers ago.
Kathleen Wynne, for all her level headed smarts, finds herself at the point in Ontario’s history where the pendulum is naturally due to swing to the right, especially given the fact she’s governed less as a McGuinty centrist and more like an NDP Premier. The historic yinyang of Confederation which finds a political party installed at Queen’s Park to counter whomever’s in charge in Ottawa is destined for a re-alignment. People are tired of her, and her party, and the record level polls showing consistent unpopularity certainly back that statement up.
As the centre left, wobbly as it is at Queen’s Park, but firmly in control of the levers of power in Ottawa serve up well meaning measures that are very appealing to liberals, like gender based budget analysis, progressive trade, cannabis legalization, carbon taxes, reconciliation, and countless gestures to marginalized Canadians and wannabe citizens, there is a counter movement seething on the sidelines foaming at the mouth, wanting to slow, and indeed, reverse the course of government.
Doug Ford, for all his flaws (i.e.: his drug dealing past), clownish demeanour, and rabid following of the right, can thank part of his rise as a counter to the flawed, clown-like leader of Canada (think Namaste hands and Indian wedding costumes), Justin Trudeau, with his own rabid following on the left.
While Christine Elliott puts up challenges in the background against a faulty leadership election process which desired a centrist party going into June’s election, it’s clear there won’t be a place for moderate voters to position themselves. The long ago days of bland management of the province seem, sadly, behind us.
Doug Ford Cartoon refresher