All right, everybody. This is it. After months of wailing and breast beating, it is finally time for us to get down to Niagara Falls and get serious about fixing this party and this province.
We all know what the stakes are here. Either the PC Party of Ontario continues to do what they've always done, and get what they've always got, or we can start doing what needs to be done.
What we need to do is elect an executive of ruthlessly competent men and women who are absolutely committed to victory, regardless of the personal cost. People who don't care about whether they're hated for doing the conservative thing. If someone running for party executive strikes you as someone who will blink when attacked by Liberals, don't vote for them. I know that Kevin Gaudet won't blink.
What we need to do is restore confidence in Tim Hudak by giving him a strong mandate to continue as leader, but at the same time he must not leave the convention without understanding that the time for playing nice is over. It's time for Tim Hudak to declare war on greedy public sector unions and shine a very big spotlight on McGuinty's obfuscation of how public money is misspent in the health sector. When Liberals ask him why he wants to "gut healthcare", he needs to say, "We can't afford to do what we've been doing."
What we need to do is get our riding associations active, to start nominating candidates now, and to ensure that our platform is a conservative platform next time around. There should not be one person in all of Ontario who does not feel that our platform next around is not conservative enough, whatever other criticisms are made of it. Anyone who is derelict in getting these tasks accomplished has no right to call themselves a conservative.
But most importantly, what we need to do is to understand that the conservative way of doing things is the correct way of doing things. Those who do not accept that the conservative way of doing things is the correct way of doing things must not be ignored. They must be fought, until they are made to see that we are in the right.
We saw this week what happens when conservatives assume they've won and stop fighting, when Rob Ford gave an inch and lost a mile. I want to blame the unions and the special interests and the traitorous city councillors like everyone else, but I can't help but feel that part of this is Ford's fault for letting these people carry on, for allowing them to assume, even for a second, that they were allowed to continue as they had been during the Miller administration.
Our supposed claim to fame as conservatives is that we love freedom, and that even those we disagree with are free to do as they choose. But those on the left are only too willing to use our benevolence against us. They do not afford us the same courtesy that we would afford them. They believe that their feigned concern for humanity's best interests justifies their own hatred and contempt towards us. So we must deal with them mercilessly. We win no points for good sportsmanship.
And that is why, more so than any changing of the guard on our executive, more so than pointless debates about the leader, and more so than any policy debate, Niagara Falls has got to be about a change in attitude. It is no longer enough to pretend that we will win elections just by showing up. It is no longer enough to pretend that the party lives and dies with the leader or the executive or the logo. And it is no longer enough to pretend that just because Dalton McGuinty is not liked by people, people are going to vote against him.
If we allow the people a single reason to vote Liberal, they will return Dalton McGuinty to government. Because Dalton won't force them to make hard choices, and we must force them to make those choices. That is what it comes down to, after all is said and done.
Whatever you must do to get yourself in that state of mind, do it in Niagara Falls, and then keep on doing it between now and the next election.