By: Laura Steiner
Wow, what a weekend. By Saturday night at 10 p.m. the Ontario Progressive Conservatives (PC’s) had a leader, and they didn’t. Doug Ford was announced as the leader with a caveat. Christine Elliott was looking into voting irregularities. It was a situation that lasted until the two met Sunday afternoon. Afterwards, she released a statement announcing her concession and re-stating her intention to run in a riding and become part of the Ford team. Doug Ford became the PC leader in truth.
Somehow it was the least surprising, and most surprising at the same time. It was the most surprising because of the Ford last name. He’s had the reputation as being somewhat of a blowhard, easy to anger, and unpredictable. With the compressed leadership campaign, and a quick turnaround to the general election these qualities were liabilities. Added to that was the idea it was probably better to pick someone the polar opposite of Patrick Brown (read: woman), and it was difficult to believe many PC’s would vote for him. Christine Elliott would have been the safe option. To his credit he ran such a disciplined campaign it left many wondering where the real Doug Ford went. If he keeps it up, he will be Kathleen Wynne’s worst nightmare.
It’s also the least surprising. If the campaign had a theme it was “what’s the least likely thing to happen?” It only makes sense to carry it through to the conclusion. Doug Ford was the least likely person to win the campaign. It ended up being a race between a faction of people who wanted an “anti Patrick Brown” candidate, and those with the focus on beating Kathleen Wynne. There were always questions over whether Christine Elliott had enough in her to beat Wynne. Her position as Patient Ombudsman, would have been used against her despite the fact she was appointed by a non-partisan panel. She didn’t have a strong response to it in the leadership campaign, and it finished her.
But it also exposed some “rot” in the party. The misconduct allegations ended up serving as an excuse to get rid of Patrick Brown. Persistent rumours of riding nominations gone wrong, and his personal involvement in a Hamilton riding have given way to a messy situation. How Ford cleans it up, could be his first test. As serious as the nominations, are the platform issues. All four candidates pledged against the carbon tax, which, blows a minimum $4 billion hole in the platform. How does he intend to make the cash up? What if he can’t find $4 billion in cuts, What will he do then? Answer these questions satisfactorily , and he becomes Premier.
The one thing Ford’s victory tells us is that Ontario voters want change. They crave it. They are on the point of demanding it. Any leader who fails to listen to that, will be found on the unemployment line after June 7.