Progressive Conservative Leadership Race
The last few weeks in Ontario have been playing out like a season of House of Cards. Ever since the end of January, allegations of sexual misconduct have been publicized about the former PC leader Patrick Brown, former PC president Rick Dykstra, and a number of other MPs and MPPs in the other major parties, A Trudeau cabinet minister, an NDP member of parliament were also in the headlines following Brown’s allegations. However, these (not surprisingly) did not garnish the same amount of attention as either of the PC scandals. The two allegations against Brown sparked a leadership race for the party, with members voting between March 2nd through to the 8th, and the votes counted and released on March 10th. Unfortunately for any reader who is not already a member of the PCs and who wanted to have a vote for the next leader, they missed their chance. Any new member after February 16th will not be allowed a vote. Seeing as how the average leadership campaign for a political party ranges between 12 to 18 months, this election will have to be done within two, since Ontario goes to the polls in June to decide whether or not Wynne’s Liberals get another shot at leading.
I had said it before I started The Honest Canuck, and I'll say it again now since more evidence (or lack thereof) in the Brown allegations have come to light. I originally was never sold on Brown; I found him to come off as a bit shady, and willing to do whatever possible to get elected. There was an ad on television I remember seeing where he was talking about growing up with a stutter, and how he understands what it means to live with a mental illness. I'm not saying stutters aren't an issue for children growing up, but it felt gross to see him equate that to being depressed or suffering from an extremely tough mental illness. That could just be me, but it didn't sell me on him and that was a couple of years ago. So when the allegations began, I was honestly not surprised. But then I read the allegations, and watched as the media followed their story. As more people came forward against other representatives on both the provincial level and the federal, there was no more accusations against Brown. The accusations against him were also very similar, and seemed as if they were a little exaggerated. Brown may have lost the support of the PC party, which I'm in favour of their choice to do so. Caroline Mulroney said it best when she said that a leadership race is no place to try and clear your name. The party needs to pull off a win in June, and going into the election with it still undecided whether or not Brown committed sexual misconduct would not be a smart tactic. That being said, I think it was wrong how the party went about ousting Brown from his leadership role. He claims that party executives wrote and sent his resignation letter without his knowledge or approval. I'm no judge, but I think that claim could very well be a legitimate one, seeing as Brown refused to step down originally and stood his ground at the first press conference he called right before the allegations were made public. But on February 21, the PC party approved Brown’s application to run in the leadership race.
Patrick Brown says that he has managed to clear his name following the accusations against him of sexual misconduct. How he’s managed to do so without the media reporting it, I don’t really know. Brown also believes that the PCs forced him out of office, and that he was not even in the loop about his resignation letter, and believes that it was a move done by his “political enemies”. He still has a number of supporters who believe that he is the right candidate to lead them into the June election. He stands by the People’s Guarantee, and believes that he was illegitimately pushed out of his leadership role. When Brown announced that he would be entering the contest in order to try and reclaim his title, the PC party had to go through a vetting period in order to decide that his candidacy is a legitimate one. Every one of the five candidates had to go through the vetting process, except Caroline Mulroney as she had already gone through it in order to be the nominee in the York-Simcoe riding. Brown originally would have been able to skip the vetting period because he is already an MPP, but since interim leader Vic Fedeli had barred Brown from the PC caucus. On February 21st, the party executives approved Brown’s bid to run in the leadership race. The People’s Guarantee is the platform that the Progressive Conservatives were going to go into the June 2018 election behind, and Brown as well as a number of PC members agree that changing the party’s election platform on the fly so soon to an election will result in another loss. Brown believes that because he raised the membership of the party from 12,000 to 200,000 means the members support his leadership. However, those numbers may be a little exaggerated. Fedeli has said that the party membership may be close to 70,000 fewer than what Brown has alleged. Brown argues that the exact number of members does not really matter, because whether its 120,000 or 200,000 it’s still the most members the party has had. He also blames the discrepancies on the fact that memberships expire, and the exact number can go up or down on any given day depending on how many people have renewed their memberships or allowed them to expire. Brown has also given Bell Media notice of libel, claiming the CTV News in both its television news cast as well as its website engaged in malicious, irresponsible, defamatory and false reporting that resulted in his political career taking a hit. His notice named Bell Media, CTV, and a number of reporters and journalists. I do agree that he has a very legitimate claim against CTV, as I had said in my original Patrick Brown scandal post; I think that if victims of sexual misconduct want to publicly report their claims reporters and journalists should have to go through proper interrogation training so that they do not ask leading questions. Their main goal is to make a money making story, and will ask the victims questions to give them the story they know will sell. Also, one of his accusers has changed her story; she originally said she was in high school and underage when Brown offered her drinks and asked that she perform oral sex on him. She now admits that she was both out of high school and of legal drinking age. So in my own opinion, she regrets what happened and felt that he was out of line, but I really don’t think he was based on what remains to be true in her story. But for someone who says that he has cleared his name, I find it odd that he wants to face Bell Media in libel court as well as run the PCs into an election.
The People’s Guarantee is what Brown wants the entire party to run on in June. Some of the big promises that have been made in the platform are lowering the middle class’ income tax by up to 22.5%, and a refund of up to 75% on childcare expenses. Brown’s platform also seeks to take 12% off of the average hydro bill, to make the largest commitment in Canadian provincial history in regards to mental health, as well as to introduce the first trust, integrity, and accountability act. The People’s Guarantee also does include putting a price in carbon, and this is probably where Brown really loses me. He believes that the Wynne system of cap-and-trade does not work, which I agree with. In the platform, Brown says that the current system Wynne has implemented will result in less carbon emissions, but not in Ontario. By sending more than $460 million of investment out of Ontario in order to pay for the carbon emissions released from companies in Quebec and California by 2020. That results in less emissions in those places, but Ontario does not have the same carbon reduction itself. Brown’s plan is to have a carbon emission plan that follows Justin Trudeau’s federal Pan Canadian Framework on Climate Change. He believes that by following the federal plan, Ontario will avoid being taxed twice for its carbon emissions, as well as the federal government holding true to its word and returning the revenue created from the carbon tax to the jurisdictions it was raised. Brown says that the money returned to the province will go towards families, but I doubt that the government will return the money at all. With the Trudeau government’s spending habits I feel it's extremely unlikely that Ontario would get any of that money back. I’m also opposed to the federal plan in general, because I believe that carbon pricing shouldn’t be mandatory, let alone a mandatory obligation handed out by the federal government over the provincial ones. It goes against Canada’s system of federalism, and takes responsibility out of the provinces’ hands and consolidates that kind of power in the federal government. The rest of the People’s Guarantee seems like a good platform, but I really do not believe that the PCs could deliver the tax cuts or hydro cuts without the carbon tax revenue, and I’m against any form of carbon tax. So in my opinion I don’t think that Patrick Brown should be the next leader of the Progressive Conservatives. He is going into the leadership race with the allegations of sexual misconduct still hovering over him like a dark cloud, and that matters regardless of whether or not he believes he’s cleared his name. I also can’t get behind much of the People’s Guarantee purely on the basis of it needs a carbon tax to fund the tax cuts, and adding a tax to counteract another does not really make much sense. If anyone wants to read the entire platform, you can here and decide for yourself whether or not you believe Brown’s People’s Guarantee.
The first person to throw their hat into the ring when Patrick Brown stepped down as party leader was Doug Ford. I have to admit, when I first saw that in the news I was pretty excited. I’m not totally sure how much the entire province knows about Doug Ford, or his late brother Rob Ford besides the latter’s cocaine scandal during his term as mayor in Toronto, but Rob was able to do quite a bit for the city. And I’m also proud to say that my first ever vote was for Rob Ford in his first mayoral race that he won. Doug Ford was a city councillor during his brother’s time as mayor, and finished the race for Rob when he had to bow out to try and beat the cancer that eventually took his life. Doug lost to the current mayor John Tory, and had recently announced that he was planning on running for mayor again in October. But with the opening in the leader’s office in the PC party, Ford quickly began campaigning. He has organized his campaign on the simple message of “we have to clean up the mess”, meaning the mess within the PC party in regards to the membership numbers, sexual misconduct scandals, and what he calls the party’s elite, as well as the corruption in the provincial government as a whole. Ford has run a very different campaign as well compared to those of Mulroney and Elliott. He uses more anger and aggressive styled politics, and points the blame to the PC elites (who he believes do not want him to run at all) for the loses to Wynne and McGuinty in previous elections. Ford is against any form of carbon tax, which again I agree with. Ford says that as he’s travelled Ontario to talk to grassroot members that he’s heard the same things over again, and that he will fight to have those members heard. They want cheaper hydro rates, lessen the size and cost of the big government, more jobs, and to fix both the education and healthcare systems. These are goals that I, and any real conservative in Ontario, believe. He also is open to changing the controversial sexual education plan that Wynne’s Liberals introduced in 2015. I personally do not understand what is so controversial about the changes. In all reality, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for children to learn about the body and how it works in school, so long as there is no political agenda behind it (such as what the federal Bill C-16 has enshrined in it). I do think that the party elites don’t want Ford to lead to PCs into the June election, because there are much safer choices than Ford, because of his late brother’s scandals and as well as the rage and anger he debates with. But according to him, that’s needed if the party wants to defeat Wynne’s government. He very well may be right, and just because there are safer candidates in the running does not mean they will win. In the early 1990s the PCs nominated an outsider named Mike Harris, who lost his first election but one two majority governments afterwards. Then in 2004 the party nominated a safe choice in John Tory, who lost his election. In 2009 the party elected the unsafe candidate Tim Hudak to lead them into two elections which he lost. More recently the party nominated another outsider, Patrick Brown, and we all know how that’s gone for them so far. So I don’t know if the party membership - the people who vote to pick their next leader, not the elites like Ford believes - is all to concerned about who the safe candidate is. All that matters to most PC members, including myself, is that the next leader really can unify the party, put together a good campaign platform, and defeat Wynne’s Liberals in June. As much as I was excited for the Ford brother to “stop the gravy train” like Rob did in Toronto, I don’t think that all of Ontario is as on board for him as some of his GTA allies are.
The third candidate that I’ll discuss is someone who I really don’t believe has a shot in the dark to become the next PC leader. Not because I think she is an idiot or anything like that. I was actually very surprised with how Tanya Granic Allen handled herself in the first leadership debate. She was able to hold her own while debating Ford, Mulroney and Elliott, and had the most energy during the hour-long televised event. Granic Allen is running a very socially conservative campaign, meaning that she stands for pro-life groups, free speech, and has a hard stance against Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum. Again, I don’t really understand why people are so against this curriculum. Do I think it’s the massive change that Wynne advertised it as? No, absolutely not. In all reality, it is hardly that different than the previous sex-ed curriculum. The one thing that I am hesitant on is the inclusion of defining gender identity at such a young age (grade 3). The federal Bill C-16 makes the inclusion of gender identity in education at such a young age close to a violation of the parent’s right to teach their children. I know that there are people out there who identify with a gender different than the one they were born with, but teaching children who are eight or nine years old the complex subject of gender identity before they themselves know who they are can lead to issues. For example, there was recently a 17 year old child whose parents have lost custody of her because she identifies as a boy, and the parents were refusing to give her the treatment she wanted. In court, the judge gave custody over her to her grandparents. Because of the federal government passing Bill C-16, this overstepping of government power is now allowed in Canada. I’m for people doing hormonal treatment and going through the process of changing their gender (although I’m not entirely convinced that it helps and that it should be covered by government healthcare), but I really disagree with the government stepping into family disputes of this sort and laying down the law. Afterall, didn’t the (not really) great and amazing Pierre Trudeau once say that the government’s business is not in the bedroom? This is the bedroom of someone, and just because they can be minors does not make the parent’s beliefs and understandings on a complex topic null and void. It is also very risky to start giving children puberty blocking hormones, and by confusing children about something like gender could easily result in kids who don't actually identify as another gender taking hormones that damage their bodies for life. How many young kids have you ever met who say things like “I want to be a boy just like my brother”? It happens all the time, and the government shouldn't be the ones dictating whether or not a nine year old’s claim is a legitimate one. Granic Allen is the president of Parents as First Educators, a group of social conservatives who believe that the government should not be the sole educators of children. The party has the support of over 75,000 Ontarians, which is a huge reason to why Granic Allen was able to come up with the $100,000 needed to enter into the leadership race. Granic Allen also has the support of the anti-abortion group called Campaign Life Coalition, who are giving her credit for bringing Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum back into the spotlight. This weekend however, Granic Allen received support from someone who she had to denounce on her Twitter account. Canadian white supremacist by the name of Paul Fromm tweeted out that he had given Granic Allen his support, and urged his followers to do the same. Being the furthest right candidate, Granic Allen found herself having to denounce Fromm and say that there is no place in Ontario PC politics for racists. I have to respect her for that, and not taking his support for the sake of his vote (like someone in the Oval Office did in his bid for the presidency). But because I do believe in abortion rights as well as not being a religious person, I cannot stand behind a social conservative candidate in 2018.
The next two candidates I’ll be discussing are the two front runners, and one of them will most likely become the next PC leader. While I do like both of them, I really think I’ve made my decision and who I’m voting for come March 2nd. The first of these two front runners has a very recognizable name, and that has helped her very much. But Caroline Mulroney has a number of attributes that make her a valid candidate for the PC leadership besides the fact that her father is Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993. She is very highly educated, going to school at both Harvard and New York University. She opposes the carbon tax as well, and in doing so is one of the four candidates who are not standing behind the People’s Guarantee. Mulroney has been very clear when it comes to the Patrick Brown scandal, believing that a leadership race is not the place to try and clear his name. In an email she has sent to her supporters (I’ve signed up for emails from all five of the contestants to try and get a better understanding of each of them), she asked them to answer a quick survey, and a vast majority of participants agree that Brown should not run for the leadership of the party. I agree with her in that the party does not need to have the black cloud hanging over it if Brown was to lead them into the election. Being the newcomer in politics compared to the other four leadership-hopefuls, Mulroney has shaped her campaign to revolve around the idea that it's time for a new approach to leadership, and she can be that generational change. Caroline Mulroney had been running as a candidate in the York-Simcoe riding for nearly six months before the leadership race began. In that time, she was pushing the People’s Guarantee, but is now saying that the part about a carbon tax never sat well with her. I’m glad to hear that, and her reasoning is very similar to mine on why I believe a carbon tax isn’t the answer to our problem. She also believes that the sex-ed curriculum could use some work, like Ford does, but not in the same way that Granic Allen wants to completely scrap it. Mulroney, Ford, and Elliott want to reopen the discussion about the sex-ed curriculum, because they feel that parents were not consulted enough before Wynne implemented it in 2015. I can go along with that, especially since it gives the socially liberal beliefs of even some hardline conservatives more of a say in the debate than Granic Allens social conservative stance would. Like Granic Allen, Ford, and Elliott, Mulroney does not actually have a solid political agenda like Brown. She does not stand behind the People’s Guarantee anymore, and would have to devise a new platform to lead the party into the June election. I have recently received an email from Mulroney’s team saying that she will be releasing her platform very soon, but the leadership election begins this Friday (I’m writing this post on February 25th), so I’m not sure how it’ll be received and understood well enough for people to vote on it. My biggest problem about Mulroney is that she is a political newcomer, even if her father was once the Prime Minister. It’s a major reason to why I was so opposed to Justin Trudeau becoming the current Prime Minister. He won mostly because of his last name, and his two years in Ottawa have only proven that. Just because he was a young, new take on Liberal politics doesn’t mean he was qualified for the job. That’s my biggest concern with Mulroney. Just because she is very well educated and has a great career in the private sector does not translate to being a successful politician. As much as they play by their own agenda, they are still public servants and have to know how to take criticism, handle the media frenzy, and answer to those who matter most - voters. Justin Trudeau has shown that his education and lack of political experience are not enough to lead, so I worry that Caroline Mulroney might slip into that trap.
The fifth and final candidate for the PC leadership is widely looked at as the favourite, and for all the right reasons in my opinion. Christine Elliott is a long time Progressive Conservative, and was the MPP for nine years for the Whitby-Oshawa riding. Elliott ran for the leadership of the PCs twice before, placing third in 2009 and second in 2015, behind Patrick Brown. Her late husband was Jim Flaherty, who was once the Finance Minister for Ontario, and is best known as the Finance Minister of Canada who helped Stephen Harper keep Canada from falling deeper into the recession in 2008. Like all of the candidates (except for Brown), Christine Elliott does not have a solid platform that she is running on yet, but there are some things that she has made clear. She is opposed to the carbon tax, and in an email survey her team conducted with 1,500 participants, says that 92% disagree with it as well. She’s said that she’s been PC member for two decades and has never been in favour of any new tax. Elliott’s campaign is based around her idea that in order for Ontario to get rid of the Wynne Liberal government, the PCs can’t afford to gamble with an inexperienced leader. Like I had said before, Elliott was a member of provincial parliament for nine years, and has also served as the Ontario PC Deputy Leader. When Tanya Granic Allen entered the race, Elliott said that she welcomed another form of conservatism into the race and made it clear that she believes it’s important to be able to use our freedom of expression. Elliott is a progressive conservative, but has vowed to include the diversity of ideas that conservative Ontarians hold. She stands firmly on freedom of speech, and says that she will back free speech in places like university campuses, where the battle of free speech and freedom of expression have been raging lately. That is a huge plus for Elliott in my books, since I myself have faced a lot of push back and discrimination for my right-of-center political beliefs at the University of Guelph. Luckily the head professor of political science is a very reasonable and intelligent woman, and was open to discussion on either side (shout out to Professor Small). Other professors were not so tolerant. In regards to the sex-ed curriculum, Elliott has taken the same stance that Ford and Mulroney have; it does have some room for improvement, and that improvement should be done with the help and advice from parents. Elliott has also received backing from a number of big name MPs and MPPs, including MPs Erin O’Toole and Michael Chong. I cannot find who has backed other candidates, but from the huge list on Elliott’s website she seems to be the clear favourite. Christine Elliott, for me at the very least, seems like the best candidate for the leadership race.
It took me a couple of weeks to decide between Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott, but as the March 2nd voting period approaches I really think I've made my decision who will get my vote. Elliott just fits all the boxes right now. She is a very experienced MPP and has been in the public sector for a very long time. She is a progressive conservative when it comes to social issues such as women’s reproductive rights, but is willing to open the discussion with social conservatives about the sex-ed curriculum. Elliott is opposed to a carbon tax, especially one dictated by the Trudeau government. It isn't that I don't have faith in Mulroney and think she would be terrible as the PC leader and hopefully Premier, I just have a hard time backing someone with practically the same public service resume that Trudeau had in his last election. Maybe once she's served as an MPP or MP for a term or two she’ll have my support, but as of right now I can't give it. For me, my voting preference goes as followed: Elliott, Mulroney, Ford, Brown and then Granic Allen. You don't have to vote the way I do, but I just think it's important that I'm honest and open about who I want to lead the PCs into the election. If you're already a member, you have time to do a bit of your own research and come to your own conclusions. I would urge anyone to do so even if they do agree with me or have come to their own decision. It's never a bad thing to do a bit of reading on any given subject, especially one that you have a stake in.
Links and Articles Referenced