Ontario PC Party Malaise

It’s still 10 days until the election, but looking at the trends as opposed to current numbers, I am becoming more convinced each day that Ontario will elect an NDP government and Andrea Horwath will be the next premier.  Obviously nothing is carved in stone and I will have more on what wrong and what needs to be done to have a better result next time once the votes are counted, but at this point unless NDP’s momentum is stopped or PCs turn things around, I think a PC majority is unlikely.

I believe the malaise in the party can actually be traced all the way back to 1990 so lets walk through it.

  1.  In 1990 the PCs choose to shift rightward by choosing Mike Harris instead of the more moderate Diane Cunningham.  While this worked well short term, it made the party toxic to a much larger portion of the population than it would have otherwise.
  2. In 1999, Mike Harris’ continues with his Common Sense Revolution.  Ontario was in bad shape in 1995 so tough choices needed to be made.  In fact Mike Harris’ first term was not much different than Gordon Campbell’s in BC, but the big difference is in Campbell’s second term he pivoted towards the centre realizing his party would be booted out in 2009 if it didn’t which is why the BC Liberals lasted 16 instead of 8 and almost 20 and are in better shape than the Ontario PCs are today.
  3. Many on the right on the party wrongly interpreted both Eves’ and Tory’s loss as them being too centrist.  Eves lost because people were tired of the PCs so no matter who was leader they would have lost.  John Tory lost both due to the religious school platform, but also Liberals had only been in power for one term so desire for change was not that strong.
  4. More recently, Patrick Brown made all the right moves to broaden the party’s appeal and moderate it, but much of the more right wing elements were more interested in fighting for ideological purity than helping make the party more electable.
  5. After Patrick Brown’s fall, the PC executive should have stuck with Vic Fideli right into the election.  Vic Fideli may not be inspiring, but he is not someone who repels people.  Knowing the grassroots have a history of choosing unelectable leaders, the party should have used the closeness of an election as an excuse to avoid this.
  6. If Doug Ford didn’t have such a big ego, he would have never run realizing that he was unelectable, but since the guy is so full of himself that might be a little too much to ask for.
  7. The vetting committee should have found a way to block both Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen.  It was obvious to me both were toxic and only appealed to the base not the broader electorate.
  8. Once the campaign started, Ford realizing his weakness should have had people like Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney at more events so more focus on the team and less on him.
  9. The platform should have been released earlier so the talk was about policy not personality.
  10. By late April there were already warning signs of a possible NDP surge so the PCs should have jumped on it, not waited until it was too late.  After watching the 2011 federal election and 2015 Alberta election, I always saw the possibility this could occur.  I didn’t think it was the most probable, but it wasn’t a total shock either.
  11. Anyways unless Ford miraculously pulls off a majority, he needs to resign as leader on election night and go away.  If he does pull off a majority, the party needs to watch him closely and poll numbers and when they tank as they will, get rid of him well before 2022.

Going forward, I think it is time to return to delegated conventions.  The grassroots have shown they aren’t able to choose electable leaders so time to go back to those who are actively involved and committed to the party whose judgement based on endorsements has largely been sound.

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