Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday March 8, 2016
Patrick Brown sees a new, inclusive Ontario PC party
Taking aim at climate change, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is signalling his party will propose a “sensible” price on carbon emissions.
“We have to do something about it,” he told about 1,700 delegates Saturday evening at the first PC annual meeting since taking the party’s helm in May.
“Sensible carbon pricing doesn’t have to be a contribution in terms. But it cannot be a cash grab,” he added in a reference to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cap and trade plan, which will add an average 4.3 cents to a litre of gasoline and $5 to homeowners’ monthly natural gas bills.
The line drew lukewarm applause and a shout of “no” from one vocal skeptic and some groans in a crowd that came to its feet several times during the 26-minute address.
“I spoke from the heart,” Brown told reporters later, noting he had briefed his MPPs about the stance and got “practically universal” support.
“We have a grassroots party. People are entitled to have divergent opinions. … It’s healthy.”
Although Brown did not detail how his plan would work as the party begins deliberations on an election platform for 2018 and freshens its face with a new logo, he promised a carbon tax that is “revenue neutral” to the government and will come with “corresponding tax cuts for individuals and businesses.”
Promoting himself as a “pragmatic” Progressive Conservative, Brown said the Liberals, who have trounced his party in four elections since 2003, are not expecting a more nimble and canny rival than in years past, when Tory campaigns were scuppered by ideas that flopped.
In a reference to the ill-fated Tim Hudak PC election promise in 2014 to cut 100,000 public sector jobs, Brown said, “The public sector should be seen as a partner, not an adversary” and insisted that “never again” would candidates have to defend a promise like former leader John Tory’s 2007 push to fund faith-based schools.
The first PC leader to lead an official delegation of his party in Toronto’s Pride parade also sent a message of inclusivity.
“It doesn’t matter who you are … it doesn’t matter who you love, it doesn’t matter if you belong to a union … it doesn’t matter where you worship, you have a home in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.”
But voters eager to see where Brown stands on a wider variety of issues will have to wait until a policy convention next spring. (Source: Toronto Star)