Excellent analysis Blake. Ontario clearly does not want austerity measures implemented, but change must come so I hope Wynne will spend some time to sit down with Ontarians to really listen to what people have to say.
A Lesson Not Learned
Following the crushing defeat of last night’s provincial election, I had to put pen to paper to express my thoughts on what can only be a ringing rejection of the current PC party. A campaign that didn’t work in 2011 was even more soundly rebuked again in 2014.
First, however, I want to congratulate the Liberal party under the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne on a well fought campaign and the resulting clear victory in attaining a majority government. I look forward to observing how she cleans out house and promotes future stars like Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqvi to key leadership roles. It is incumbent to the opposition parties to hold her accountable for the promises she made to the Ontario people to garner this win.
Turning back to the PC party, it was appropriate for leader Tim Hudak to resign. After losing a winnable election in 2011 by running on cuts and smaller government, I can’t understand why that again became the focus of this election. Especially when there was so much the McGuinty government had given the party in terms of fodder to offer a positive, alternative good government campaign.
Mr. Hudak is a super guy but clearly has not been able to do the job of connecting with Ontario voters and winning back the government for the Ontario Progressive Party. So what does the party need to do now? What kind of leader do they need to elect to give them a chance to ever form an Ontario government again?
For starters, the Ontario PC party needs to understand where the majority of the Ontario public lie speaking of fiscal and social policy. On the fiscal side, any idea about cutting anything translates into fear of loss of jobs and loss of services that most Ontarians like or with which they are satisfied. Ontarians are not loathsome of big government they just don’t like waste. They want a well-run government with an eye on the future and making Ontario more competitive and having a strong economy.
So fiscally, the PC party has to focus on shoring up the Ontario economy, making it more competitive and a hot bed for new jobs and new businesses. After all, business should be a PC strength.
There is a lot of work needed on the social agenda for the PC party. As the province has evolved on issues like LBGT rights, religion, and immigration, the PC party is stuck in an archaic policy trap dating back to the 1960’s. You just have to look around the room at a PC meeting to see with whom their message still resonates. The PC party needs to work on social policies that cast a wider net. They must be an inclusive party and not an exclusive party.
This means modernizing policies that deal with multi religious views, multi ethnic priorities and focusing on the youth of the province. I call this fiscal/social balance the politics of fiscal conservatism and social prosperity. It has to be a positive message to move the province forward.
The lesson to be learned from both the 2011 and 2014 defeats is that what the PC Party is selling is not what the voters of Ontario are interested in buying. I hope the party does come to realize their situation in the true light of day.
I understand why Blake strikes this tone, there are several factors he is overlooking. First, the economic realities of the province simply must be addressed no matter how is in power. Kathlynne has merely stepped into the role of deficit slayer and perhaps without realizing it, will make almost exactly the same choices Tim Hudak would have made. The difference is that she is the one that will face the harsh realities that come with making those cuts, not the Tories.
The "archaic" policy Blake talks about may not be the hottest thing off the press, but they are essential to a log term healthy economy and culture. Changing their tune is indeed necessary, but not as he suggests, to sound more in tune with the liberals, but to offer something time tested and proven. It is a lesson Justin Trudeau is learning as we speak. To sum this gentle rebuttal up, Blake sees fiscal conservatism and social prosperity as two different things, that properly managed, lead to a prosperous society. I say no. It is from true conservatism, both fiscal and social, that real wealth and success flows. In other words, without one, you can't have the other.
Ontario could have been ready for change, creating opportunity for a PC government. I'm a liberal and even I would've considered shifting to the right in order to cut some bureaucracy and electricity costs, but as soon as Tim Hudack put forward his platform, he alienated myself and most voters that I know. After Mike Harris, the PCs are going to have to learn to be more moderate to appeal to voters. Canadians are too progressive for the closed minded right wing approach that works in the US. I also hope that Kathleen Wynne will change her approach to reduce spending and I hope that the PC party will rethink their philosophy to reflect Canadian values.