Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 23, 2017
Patrick Brown’s disastrous tenure as PC leader
A leadership race based on who sells the most memberships can lead to a disappointing outcome. In May 2015, Patrick Brown won the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race against a more qualified and experienced opponent, Christine Elliott. She was a three-term MPP, deputy leader of the party, and someone with vision.
Brown was a two-term, lacklustre, social conservative MP. In Ottawa, he voted against same-sex marriage and was an anti-abortion advocate. He offered no clear vision for the PC Party during the race, but used his organizing skills to sell hundreds of party memberships.
Two years of on-the-job training and Brown’s greatest talent may yet turn out to be selling memberships. He’s lost a commanding lead over the Liberals and faces serious internal rebellion.
A strong democracy requires a strong opposition — one that challenges the governing party and presents a credible alternative. Brown is struggling to deliver on both counts.
In his first year as opposition leader everything seemed possible. He was dealing with a seemingly spent 15-year-old, scandal-plagued government. He and the PCs vaulted ahead in the polls. Premier Wynne was falling out of fashion.
He swelled the party membership from 11,000 to 80,000 and won two by-elections, including his own seat in Simcoe North. He countered the Liberal attempts to brand him a social conservative by claiming to be a “pragmatic conservative.” That meant surprise support for the LGBT community and a “revenue neutral” carbon tax. Beyond that, Brown was bereft of any engaging policy ideas.
By the end of last year the hope was Brown’s young, slick image would give way to a more passionate politician with a plan for the future.
So far this year he’s failed to deliver on that hope. Instead of scoring easy points against the vulnerable Liberals, Brown attacks without having a plan. He rails against soaring hydro rates but hasn’t offered a solution. He complains about “reckless spending” but hesitates to say where he’d make major program cuts. (Continued: Toronto Star)