Advertisement
Advertisement
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM

  

                            RUMBLINGS OF DISCONTENT IN PATRICK BROWN'S PC PARTY

 

By Peter Shurman

Are we about to witness the biggest shake-up in Ontario politics ever? Pollsters measure status quo, but what if the game changes totally?

Everyday Ontarians pay very little attention until about eight to ten weeks before an election. They complain about high electricity bills but then celebrate the resulting reduction. Sometimes, they comment if they overhear a phrase like “past their best before date.” But not many eat provincial politics for breakfast.

Right now, among those who do, it’s no stretch to say there’s a palpable malaise - and it’s important. Why? Because what they are thinking usually translates into what the public ultimately hears and votes on when Election Day arrives.

I’ve heard Liberal insiders question Kathleen Wynne’s ability to work her magic one more time and NDPers say their leader, Andrea Horwath, either wins in 2018 or it’s the end of the line.

But the real surprise is unexpected chatter coming from inside the PC Party, where I used to hang my hat. Quoting from an old Broadway lyric, there may be “trouble in River City.”

Next spring, we should see an interesting race, perhaps a good thing. New options usually attract public attention, make people read and think a bit more carefully, and then actually vote!

What I’m referring to is mounting talk of two identifiable Conservative factions not in sync with the PCs. One is fairly visible and well known - the social conservatives or ‘so-cons’. They’ve expressed unhappiness with leader Patrick Brown’s alleged desertion of positions attributed to him, when he was a federal MP, on issues like abortion and sex-education. A well-known party activist recently wrote: “It is time we gave Patrick Brown exactly what he wants and leave the party. It is time for a new party on the right.” Then, there’s a website “axethecarbontax.ca” and a similar Facebook page, the work of Jim Karahalios, a high-profile organizer. He’s not alone in standing against Brown on a carbon tax for Ontario. And, just two weeks ago, another PC party voice from North Bay, Craig Dellandrea, wrote this in an article published in Policy Options by the Institute for Research on Public Policy: Ontario needs a party that can be the home for all those in the political wilderness on the right." 

Then, there are the moderate party faithful who, like me, are hard fiscal conservatives but more socially liberal, where there are also rumblings. This group accepts the prevailing broad view on issues like same-sex marriage, for example, but what seems like a growing number also appear unimpressed with the carbon tax idea.

There’s agitation about local candidate nominations. A gilt-edged list of senior PC and Conservative leaders wrote to the PC Party Executive supporting an appeal of “serious irregularities” at a May 11th nomination meeting in Ottawa West-Nepean. There’s the same dissatisfaction in Newmarket-Aurora and Hamilton-West/Ancaster. And disturbing news has been circulating suggesting a new alternative movement is in the nascent stages. Word is it could include disenchanted conservatives, right-leaning Liberals, local campaign organizers, former candidate wannabes and may even feature names from within the PC caucus.

So, what if a parallel party did develop? Or even two? While it’s difficult to say how many voters would lean toward a socially conservative option, some estimates currently suggest as many as 70,000 politically active Ontarians are in that orbit. It’s not a small number. Keep in mind that the win/lose party differential in 2014 was about 300,000 votes - flip 50% around and everything goes the other way.

There’s enough ‘noise’ to conclude something is happening. Clearly, conservatives have questions. But no new party is about to take over government in Ontario next year. What a new party might achieve is to upset the current balance. The NDP under Horwath and the Liberals under Wynne are both social democratic parties on the left. Only the PC party occupies the space to the right. Traditionally, a swing block of voters numbering (at most) 20% defines Ontario as Liberal or PC. But what if they rejected Wynne and the PC party splintered? Andrea Horwath might become “three times lucky” and look forward to measuring for new drapes in the Premier’s office. The other scenario, if Horwath cannot attract more than her traditional 20-something percent and the conservative vote splits, is a Wynne win with Ontario maintaining a Liberal government for another four years.

The question is why this shift is suddenly making waves? The wild card is Patrick Brown and allegations popping up of wrong-headed policies, insufficient policy development, undesired centralized control of riding nominations and questionable tactics inside this old and proud institution.

All parties are going to have to clearly solidify their positions long before June 2018. If strong voices emerge from unanticipated newcomer groups running counter to what Ontarians have come to expect, the political landscape could look different than the pictures being painted by both mainstream media and polling organizations.

 

Peter Shurman is a former Conservative MPP & Opposition Finance Critic.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted date : June 01, 2017
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM
The Liberals won three of four by-elections this week, including a seat in an area they haven't taken since 1949. What do the results mean? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate.
December 12, 2017
Is the centre-left getting crowded? The PC's, Liberals and NDP all seem to be targeting voters there. Which will win them?
December 11, 2017
Canada is redoubling diplomatic efforts to avoid the threat of nuclear weapons hitting Canada and the U.S. Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin on what can be done.
December 05, 2017
What happens when water pollution becomes "nobody's problem?" Ontario has it's own sorry history of water poisoning, and its ecological sins now reach international waters.
December 03, 2017
Postmedia and Torstar are cutting nearly 300 jobs and closing more than 30 newspapers - most in Ontario. Can the government step in? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate.
November 29, 2017
Immigrants in Ontario are much less likely to live in small towns than in big cities. That may make for targeted election policies in 2018.
November 26, 2017
There's plenty of it going on in Canadian politics, not just the U.S. We asked Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin how politicians need to conduct themselves - and avoid ending their careers.
November 22, 2017
Funding needs to be higher and long term to mitigate damages from climate change. It shouldn't just be about getting the Liberals re-elected.
November 19, 2017
The renegotiation of NAFTA resumes this week in Mexico City. What does Canada have to do to save NAFTA - or should it bother? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin weigh in.
November 14, 2017
A recent series of lectures in Toronto might help Prime Minister Trudeau's search for an path towards reconciliation with Canada's First Nations.
November 12, 2017
Justin Trudeau's fundraiser and former Liberal PMs Jean Chretien and Paul Martin are linked to companies with holdings in offshore tax havens. Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate.
November 08, 2017
While populists in some countries say immigration and freer trade have caused inequality inside nations, globally it's a different story. More migration helps.
November 06, 2017