Monday, October 31, 2011

Hepburn Gets Burned

First thing you learn in fancy-pants Jurnalizm Skool: check your sources. Over to you, Ms. Elliott:

I want to set the record straight about Bob Hepburn’s inaccurate assertions. I am focused on representing the people of Whitby-Oshawa and, despite what Mr. Hepburn suggests, I have absolutely no intention of resigning my seat. The confidence placed in me by my constituents is something that I will continue to work every day to retain.

My husband, Jim Flaherty, is honoured by the responsibility given to him by Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the last five years to serve as Canada’s finance minister during these difficult times. He continues to play a pivotal role in helping Canada demonstrate international leadership on economic matters. He has no intention of leaving his role in Ottawa to seek the leadership of the Ontario PC Party. Jim and I are united behind Tim Hudak.

Take note, kids: this is what happens when you do the Liberals' dirty work.

Anybody else care to stand up and be counted as one of the so called "leadership candidates"?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: I Make The Rules/Who Cares?

Did you hear about how that power plant in Mississauga is still open??? Even after Dalton said he'd close it???? WTF? What is the matter with people? Don't they care?
No. No they don't.

That is the only possible explanation. Dalton said the power plant was going to close. The power plant is not closed, and not only is it not closed, work on it has not stopped. People are aware of this. They can see it for themselves.

Why don't people care?

Because Dalton didn't care. Neither did Chretien. Neither, it must be said, does Harper. 
He Makes The Rules, people. Deal with it.

And what's more, people knew before the election that Dalton wouldn't close the plant, and that he would, if given the chance, raise taxes again. We weren't telling them anything they didn't already know. They just didn't care. Because Dalton didn't care.

Well....that's not entirely true. I think Dalton does care. That's why he got rattled at the debate when Hudak attacked him about the power plant. But he knew, or someone on his campaign team knew, that under no circumstances could he admit that he cared. Because caring about what people say about you puts them in control.

Total control.

If I could identify one thing that all Canada's political leaders have in common- the successful ones- it is that they, at all times, exercised total authority over their caucus, their electorate, and their opponents. So if Hudak cracked down on Klees this week and forced him to reconsider his incredibly stupid and self serving decision to run for Speaker, then good on him. He is learning.

Think about men like King, Laurier, Mulroney, Diefenbaker, Chretien, Harper. Think about the Big Blue Machine Premiers. Think about Danny Williams, Ralph Klein, Gary Doer, Hazel McCallion. Jack Layton- who never, ever let anyone in his caucus really undermine him, no matter how bad his party did- is no exception.

Now think about the losers. Paul Martin. John Tory. Kim Campbell. Stephane Dion. Michael Ignatieff. Joe Clark. Ed Stelmach. All of them tried really, really hard to care about people. The people didn't reciprocate.

Now think about those who have survived highs and lows. What drove Gordon Campbell out of office? Ceding control to the public for an HST referendum. Jean Charest? Looking pretty weak right now with corruption getting out of control. Looked pretty weak during that provincial election where the ADQ became the official opposition. Reasserted himself the one time, not sure about this time. Christy Clark looks pretty weak now with the caucus rebellion. Brad Wall looks very much in control, Lingenfelter doesn't. Redford's the unchallenged mistress of Alberta, while Danielle Smith struggles to control her people, but that could change.

Dalton? Well, think about during the summer when his caucus was deserting him. That, more so than anything Hudak said or did, made him look totally, totally weak. Not in control at all. Then he reversed that trend, and.....

Have you noticed that now that Ford appears to care about what people are saying about him, suddenly he looks a lot weaker than he did? And what triggered this slide? Why, a consultation with the public, of course. But now that he isn't admitting guilt over this ridiculous incident with Mary Walsh, it looks like he might get away with it.

A lot of politicos assume that people will rise up in anger once they hear about all the awful things their government has done, but the truth is that Canadians really don't give a toss about what their politicians do. This ain't America, and this ain't the Middle East. You're not going to have a Tea Party, an Arab Spring, or an Occupy Whatever movement worth speaking about up here, and trying to import those concepts wholesale into Canada is going to get you a lot of funny stares from people who really don't give a damn. So long as it looks like the guy running the show is in control, nobody's going to do anything, and they might actually react with anger if someone tries to change it.

If Tim Hudak wants to win, he needs to crack the whip and show that he is the boss. He can't get wrapped up in whether people like him or not, because they've shown that they really don't care.

And until they do care, it's going to be politics as usual.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: Scaredy-Cats

There are few people who I hold in lower esteem than Bob Hepburn, editor of the Toronto Star.

Expecting journalists and editors to be unbiased is and always has been a fool's game. People in this profession who openly cheerlead is also risible, but not unexpected. But Hepburn is so far in the tank for the Liberals that he openly deigns to give them suggestions on how to lead. And not only that, but if you click those links and read what he had to say, you will find that his suggestions are usually quite wrong.

I don't know how Liberals feel about Hepburn's pronouncements. But in this morning's column about the supposed state of the PC Party, Hepburn decided he's going to give Tim Hudak advice on how to stay leader.

So now, in addition to everyone and their brother who's ever held a membership in the PC Party of Ontario, we now have the Star's editor chiming in about the future of the party. Hepburn's column is full of overheated gossip- Tom Long is planning to kneecap Hudak! Flaherty is waiting in the wings! Unnamed leadership rivals are "circling!"- and factual errors -the PC Party supposedly "dumps" leaders who lose, but all the leaders he names resigned- and while that's bad, it doesn't touch the real issue here.

See, I understand people are mad about the loss. Some people want Hudak gone. But right now, there is no doubt in my mind that Hudak is going to survive. Because of one reason, one reason that Hepburn and all the other tough talkers seem to not have considered. Are you ready? Here it is:


Hepburn thinks that because he has control over a rapidly-declining broadsheet, he can use it as a platform to make his idiotic pronouncements. He won't go on TV or go head to head with anyone on the radio to defend what he says, because he knows in the back of his mind that he'll get clobbered.

But these noble Principled Conservatives who think they know better than the party have no such broadsheet to hide behind. They like to complain, but they won't back their talk up with action. More to the point, where were these Principled Conservatives when Hudak said he wouldn't scrap the HRC's? Or when the platform was announced? Or during the months after the platform was announced when we were coasting at 40%+? Nowhere, that's where. They shut their mouths and went along for the ride. Now, they think that because Hudak lost, he's done like dinner even though they have no organization, and the people they want to replace have at least some organization.

Do we have a party full of fighters, ready to pound Dalton into red Jell-O? Or do we have a bunch of scaredy-cats like Frank Klees who stab the leader in the back, then turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble? Who would rather complain about the other half of the party because it's easy to do that, and fighting the Liberals is difficult?

It goes back to what I said about not running tentative campaigns that are fraught with concern about What The Liberals Will Say. If you, Mr. or Mrs. Principled Conservative, want Spiro or Lietaer or Hudak or whoever gone, then you had damn well better stand behind your rhetoric. Then, you may not have the admiration of the party, but you will have their respect. Or you can do nothing, and have neither.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Klees Freezes

Klees ponders dropping out of speaker's race.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Frank Klees was thought to be a Principled Conservative by lots of people who had a problem with The Party.

Oh, and FYI: I am not against Principled Conservatism. I'm just saying that the term has become so debased that it is impossible to believe anyone who says they are one. And this is why.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: Ego

There are four other Liberals running for the Speaker position as of this writing.

So either he thinks he can beat four other Liberal MPP's in a government where Liberals are the first party, or he thinks Dalton will kibosh these four, aggravating tensions within the Liberal caucus and ruining Dalton's vision of a Legislature that Moves Forward Together, or he doesn't care if he wins. If he does win, every single bill passed by McGuinty will bear his greasy fingerprints. Whatever the justification, if there is a justification, the ultimate reason is the same: Ego.

Frank Klees has forgotten that the leader leads, and everyone else follows. Maybe he didn't ever accept that. It's clear he doesn't accept that he is not leader of the party and that he probably won't ever be leader. It's clear he isn't concerned about the feelings of the people who voted for him, voted with him in caucus, and supported him in his leadership bids. Dalton can't possibly relish the thought of having this guy decide whether he moves forward with his agenda or not.

But there's a bigger problem here: This man made it to the third round of voting in 2009. Were people not aware of what kind of an individual this man was and is, or did they just get swept up in their own vision of what a conservative looks like? And if enough people in our party can be fooled into voting for this guy to almost vault him into the leadership, then how do we all individually decide that we have the golden idea, and that our own Conservative Principles are enough to get Ontarians to vote for us?

Here's the thing people- none of us, myself included, have the answers for how to get back on top in this province yet, because if we did, we'd be there. That's what these posts are about- trying to find the answer. Frank Klees thought he had the answer, and now he's getting crap rained on him- and all for what?

Both Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath had maintained their members would not seek the prestigious $152,914-a-year post of speaker — which includes a lavish suite of offices and a private apartment at Queen’s Park — for fear of undercutting their own odds of defeating McGuinty when the time is right.

Mmm-hmm. But I don't want Klees to be kicked out of the party. That would be letting my ego run away with me. I want him to lose, and then sit without a critic post, for however long he decides to stay there, alone, without any support from the people he betrayed.

We need fewer Franks, and more people who will put their egos aside for the good of the party.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: Ask Not What The Party Can Do For You

Boy, those unions really grind my gears. Who do they think they are, interfering in provincial elections like that? Obviously the federal government needs to pass the new law making unions open their books, and the provincial party needs to do more to expose the relationship between the Liberals and the Working Families Coalition.....and, um....

Um, wait a second, why are we sitting around waiting for the federal and provincial party to do something about this? We are supposed to be conservatives, right? You know...we do stuff ourselves instead of waiting for someone else to do it?

Right now, there is a family suing Dalton McGuinty's government because they feel that wind farms in rural Ontario made them sick. Mind you, these people are not Principled Conservatives who spend the bulk of their time whining about how Hudak would have won every seat in the province if only they'd been listened to. No, they are just a group of Ontario citizens- and remember that they have been sick- who took matters into their own hands.

Yet somehow, we seem to have lost the ability to do anything without the express consent of HQ, the people whom- if you listen to the Principled Conservatives- cannot be bothered to listen. Well, permit me to suggest that if these selfsame Principled Conservatives were to actually DO SOMETHING to show they could do a better job than the people they complain about, then maybe the party would start listening.

What could that something be, you may ask? Let me list a few things that would really, really help right about now for all Ontarians:

-Somewhere, there is proof of some understanding or agreement between Dalton and the Working Families Coalition. The WFC would not do all it does for free. Somebody out there knows a union member, or maybe is a union member, or knows someone who knows a union member, who is privy to this information. Find it.

-There was a report in the Star during the election about the Coalition for a Better Ontario, which created a bunch of ads during the 1999 election that got Harris re-elected. Would anyone be interested in forming such a group? Don't everyone jump forward at once.

-Is there a possibility of a legal challenge here, to have these unions or the government disclose their contributions? McGuinty says the rules were followed. What are these rules? How can we, the laypeople who don't have law degrees, find out if they were followed? Do we not have a group of lawyers that can explain this? Would a lawyer like to make him or herself famous by taking on this project?

-If you don't want to take on McGuinty's union machine, then maybe you know something about how one of his MPP's were involved in something they shouldn't have been. There is a distinct lack of people willing to step forward and be counted on this, so I will get the ball rolling:

On one of the Toronto campaigns I worked on, we received a bunch of calls saying that people were being intimidated into taking signs for the Liberal MPP. This Liberal MPP is connected quite closely to a local councillor, who - so I was told- is capable of making certain decisions about rezoning laws.

Stories like this abound, but nobody wants to come forward to substantiate any part of it. That makes knocking off these Liberal MPP's difficult.

Unless I missed something major and we actually live in some third-world country, there is nothing stopping anyone from trying to unearth these details. While I'm not blogging or working at my real job, I'm doing exactly that. What's your excuse?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Losing Ground

Troubles continue apace for the Liberals, coast to coast.

In B.C., a caucus rebellion.

In Quebec, a looming inquiry and a new party.

Federally, the divisions are still exposed.

They might get away with it all, thanks to the misplaced goodwill of the public. But they know....they know, in the back of their minds as they toil away and rob Peter to pay Paul....that the moment when it all falls apart is coming.

Things are not getting better. The system, set up by the Liberals- a practical joke on all of us- does not work. We know this. The NDP knows this. More and more people know this. That's why the Liberals are always playing defence.

It can only last so long. They can only last so long. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: It's A Trap!

Has this ever happened to you? You're toiling away on a campaign and all of a sudden, you find out something damaging about your Liberal opponent. He or she said something stupid or did something unethical. Or maybe it's someone connected to your Liberal opponent, or to McGuinty himself. Sure, it won't turn the election on its own, but it will force the other guys into damage control. And you're the only one who knows about it.

Flushed with excitement, you run back to the campaign office or to central campaign clutching the proof in your hot little hand. Boy oh boy, you've really got the Liberals by the short hairs now.

But when you get there, the reaction's a bit more....muted. People find your story interesting, but they're not anywhere near as excited as you are. And then, as reality sets back in, you hear those three deadly words:

"It's a trap."

It's a trap. The Liberals wanted you to find that quote, or they intentionally said something ridiculously stupid to the media. It's not like they, you know, make mistakes or anything. So we're not going to do anything about it.

One of the main reasons that I cannot take Principled Conservatives seriously is because they complain about how the campaign was too nicey-nicey but spend a good chunk of time scaring each other about how the all-knowing, all-seeing Liberal eye in the sky is at this moment plotting to lure them into a trap. To hear these rational Conservatives talk you would think that we were up against Tzeentch, the Chaos God of ambition, planning, and change, not Dalton McGuinty, and that this guy has otherworldly powers that wouldn't be out of place in a DC comic book.

As I observed in my last post, we might be able to make more progress against the Liberals if we weren't so busy trying to screw over the other half of the party, and we might be able to run bold and less fearful campaigns if we stopped telling each other ridiculous ghost stories about the plotting, Machiavellian Liberals and started relating to Dalton and his coterie like they were people with lives like ours who are mortal, and who do make mistakes, and who we can look at without bursting into flames.

During the election, I heard people switch from, "Heheheheh, Dalton's really blown it on this tax credit, Hudak's really ripping him a new one" to "Yeah, that tax credit was an obvious trap and Hudak walked right into it, what a noob" so quickly I felt my head spin. Seriously? If you believe that the immigrant tax credit was a trap, then you might as well believe that Dave Levac misspoke when he actually mistyped that a carbon tax was on the table, or that McGuinty's possessed hands during the debate was a strategy aimed at engaging women. After the fact Liberal spin in all three cases.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that it WAS a trap, and that not only was it a trap, it was leaked to us with the foreknowledge that we would attack and drop in the polls. Let's say that Jeff Leal, MPP for Peterborough, planned all along to comment about how the tax credit was intended to deal with a problem in Toronto, as if there are no immigrants anywhere else in the province. Let's say that the numerous clarifications the Liberals issued were also part of the plan, calculated down to the last detail months in advance in a marvel of forethought.

If all of that is true, then it means that nobody took the time to identify whether it was a leak, and ran with it without thinking. And if that is true- and I pray it isn't- then it means that all this supposed worry about "It's a trap" is even more useless than I thought it was, because all that caution did nothing to prevent us from being bilked by the supposed brilliant Liberal ploy.

Why stop there? When the Liberals were 20 points down in the summer and 16 Liberals quit, that was obviously a ploy too. All the polling companies were fooled by their play dead act, a nefarious Liberal trap to lure us into a false sense of security. No, wait....all the polling companies were told to underreport the Liberals, then overreport them at the end of the campaign. And the media? All on the payroll too. Including Sun News, and CFRB 1010, and the National Post. Liberal spy cameras in the drinking water! Liberals jamming radio broadcasts! Liberals beaming thoughts into people's minds! Of course nobody can ever prove that this skullduggery is happening.

And when we do prove that something is going on? Well, nobody ever follows up with it, so why bother? Except when we proved Nikki Holland was bribing voters with smokes, it destabilized the Liberals for a few days. And that's what the objective should be. It's not about sinking the Liberals with one well placed damaging revelation. It's about keeping them off balance so that we can make gains while they're running around putting the fires out. Obviously the media is not going to bother (because they're on the payroll, no doubt) so it's up to us to keep the Liberals off track, and that means a constant barrage of damaging information, no matter how petty it is.

What's that? You don't want the party to get involved with this stuff? Well hey, isn't that what we have ever-helpful bloggers for? *cough cough*

Now, I'm not in any position to make recommendations or expect they would be followed, but if I was, I would recommend that instead of arguing about whether we need to drop the P from Progressive Conservative or not, we bloggers and activists should be digging into the closet of every single one of the 53 Liberal MPPs at Queen's Park and making their lives unliveable instead of complaining about how the party won't. Just a crazy thought.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just A Quick Observation On The New Cabinet

No cabinet post for Mike Colle?!!?!?!?!


Does loyalty mean nothing to the Liberals? ;) Maybe Mike Colle should switch parties (again!) after this insult. After all, better men than him have done it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: Two Parties

This one is not only a reason why we lost. It is a reason why we have lost before. And if we don't fix this, it'll keep happening.

Few people outside the Conservative family understand just how brutal the Red Tory-Blue Tory debate is. Whether we're in or out of government, the debate never stops.  Everything- even the name "Progressive Conservative" and what that's supposed to mean - is a flashpoint.

Some people say that this is a good thing, in that it defines us from the Liberals. I beg to differ. The Liberals, as I've pointed out, care about exactly one thing, and that is social progress. Everything you see as being wrong with Ontario is something they see as being just another bump on the road as we move forward together. So, us investing countless hours fighting with each other over What Our Party Stands For may feel good, but it does nothing to help us defeat the Liberals.

HQ has to moderate between these warring factions and try to not get drawn in themselves, though they may wish to. These are the same people we rely upon to create the strategy that will win elections. They bear responsibility for the loss- that much is obvious- but maybe if they didn't have to deal with metric tons of emails and phone calls complaining about how our stance on the HST wasn't exactly what it should be, maybe they could have made a little more progress.

At times, this nonsense debate can divide our party for months. Think about the whole Carleton Mississippi Mills fiasco. The results are, as I maintained earlier in the year, meaningless. An MPP who thought he could barely represent his riding and still stay elected was challenged and lost. We are conservatives and we expect that sitting members should not be given a free ride. Even with the Liberal cheering section watching every move, it should have been a day at the office for our party. Instead, it mushroomed into a massive dirt-kicking match that had to be moved to Ottawa proper because they couldn't hold all the people who wanted to make their voice heard.

Now, I wonder: Just how many of the people who turned out for this demolition derby actually volunteered during the election? Is it possible that most of the people who self identify as Conservatives in this province are more interested in fighting the other side than they are fighting the Liberals?

At some point, both the Red Tories and the Blue Tories, Progressive Conservatives and Principled Conservatives, are going to have to understand that we can either focus on winning, or we can focus on trying to show everyone how Progressive/Principled we all are.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are having a ball watching us beat each other up. There came a point near the end of the election where the Liberal spin was both "Lowell Green is giving a What Went Wrong speech" and "John Tory is mad about for the sex-ed flyers" at the same time. The Liberals know both sides are one perceived slight away from walking away from the table, folks. They don't care if they have to speak out of both sides of their mouth on this.

I guess I can't stop people from making themselves unwitting tools of the Liberals, because they'd rather be right than have to put their own feelings aside. I can point out, as I've done innumerable times already, that people seem to have an easier time putting those feelings aside when it comes to Harper and Ford, because both of them are already in government.

And how, you may ask, did Harper and Ford get into government despite having to deal with the same problem? By enforcing the cone of silence. By telling both sides that if they can't settle this debate like grown-ups, that they are persona non grata within the party. By making those who would otherwise criticize them for being unprincipled afraid to speak out.

Hudak must learn the lesson that he cannot count on the conservative infrastructure to support him unless he makes it clear that he's in charge. It will be difficult for him to do this, being a low-key, nonconfrontational person by nature, so if he cannot do it himself the way Harper can then he must have people in his inner circle who can do it.

But right now, it isn't being done. A Sun News endorsement should be a no-brainer given a choice between McGuinty and Hudak. Candidates should not be going rogue or speaking off message, EVER. And anyone who attacks the leader personally, regardless of the election result, should not expect to have their ideas listened to.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: Stand Alone

Now for one that we're all guilty of- municipal, federal, provincial, base, party brass, whatever.

After Ford's win and Harper's majority, we assumed the Liberals were dead. I assumed the Liberals were dead. I was wrong. We were wrong.

The Liberal talking points about the trifecta are well documented. Whether this affected people's voting decisions is a matter of debate.

What is not a matter of debate is that accepting so much open and- after Ford's troubles early in the campaign- covert help by municipal and federal conservatives made the PCPO look like it couldn't run a campaign by itself.

By contrast, the provincial Liberals made it clear they didn't want help from the feds. I didn't see Bob Rae once on the campaign trail. But the Liberals went even further than that and actively told defeated MP's like Mark Holland, Dan McTeague, and Gerard Kennedy that they didn't want them to run. I received reports of these former Liberal MP's working on various campaigns, but only in a volunteer capacity.

We saw quite clearly that Ford's troubles became our troubles early in the campaign. Not just because Hudak had gone to that barbecue at Ford's house, but because there were certain similarities between the two campaigns.

Recall that during Ford's campaign for mayor, the following happened:
-Ford repeated the same talking points over and over again. Subways, not streetcars. Stop the gravy train.
-Ford was accused of being a racist for making comments to the effect that Toronto couldn't handle any more immigrants.
-There were some radio ads, in a foreign language, that some tried to link to Ford and were criticized as homophobic.

So how come the two outcomes were so different? Because Hudak isn't Ford. Ford sounds a lot more sincere when he's saying the same things over and over again. With Hudak, it doesn't seem natural because you know he has other things he wants to say. Ford was also a city councillor for 10 years, and everyone knew who he was and what to expect from him. Hudak is still a rookie.

Then, when the NDP started surging, we dusted off the coalition line of attack Harper had used during the federal campaign. But too many people associated this with Harper, so when Hudak started using it, it was all the more obvious that we were just hoping for a replay of the federal election.

To counter the Liberal claims that we are just taking orders from Harper and Ford, we need to develop our own lines of attack, separate from any other party and unique to Ontario. We need to show we can fight and beat the Liberals on our own. It starts with letting Tim Hudak be himself and letting him and showcase his own ideas.

And we cannot ever- ever- assume that the Liberals are dead until they are.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: No Answers

In my last post I discussed our tendency to try and make wedge issues our own, and why it's better to let these issues blossom on their own. I used the example of the HST. And while trying to force the issue of the HST was a problem, a bigger problem is our answers to the questions that people ask when we are trying to force the issue.

How many times have you seen some version of this in a newspaper article: "When asked for specifics on what he was going to do about [Insert Issue Here], Hudak didn't provide many."

Now, I have a very hard time believing that Hudak has no ideas about what he wants to do about Insert Issue Here. I have a very hard time believing that nobody on the campaign or in the party had any ideas about what they wanted done about Insert Issue Here.

No, what is happening here is that whatever Hudak says, he's likely to offend someone, who will then have a tantrum and refuse to vote for us, or provoke a devastating response from the Liberals which will cause nobody to vote for us. So he's being told to be short on specifics. That's why the platform was so tightly focus-grouped.

There are two problems here- worry on the part of the party brass that whatever we say will lead to catastrophe, and the tendency of people to take their ball and go home when they don't get what they want.

I fail to understand why this is such a big problem at the level of the provincial party. Ford didn't have this problem. Harper had this problem but faced down anyone who criticized him.

If the PCPO lost this election because they didn't listen to the grassroots, would someone please explain to me how it is that Harper outright ignored a resolution from what was ostensibly the grassroots about eliminating the HRC's and won a majority in the next election, but Hudak did the same thing- "ignoring the grassroots"-and lost? Maybe, just maybe, these people who complain about Hudak but give Harper a free pass are unwilling to rock the boat too hard so long as Harper is PM?

You may not like hearing this if you're not a Hudak fan anymore, but this problem is partly the base's fault. People bash Hudak for not having enough guts to implement Conservative Principles, then complain when he tries to draw a line in the sand, like he did over the foreign workers issue, and then they wonder why the party doesn't reply to their e-mails.

During the election, I tried to give people reasons to vote for Hudak. Some disagreed and said that they wouldn't, and my response was, and will be, "Go ahead." Because as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing for Tim Hudak to fear from these people, such as the ones complaining on his Facebook wall right now, because not one of these people will do anything to have Hudak removed in February. They wrote their comment on Facebook and called it a day. Of course, I could be wrong, but I doubt it. As was the case with our ground game on e-day, I will have to be proven wrong.

Pick a side, stick to it, and ignore the whiners. Then Hudak can give actual answers instead of vague statements. Don't try to please everyone and end up pleasing nobody.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reasons Why We Lost: Stop Forcing The Issue

It is time for an open and frank discussion about why the PCPO lost, because "We didn't adhere to conservative principles" isn't going to cut it.

I am tired of losses and setbacks, and also victories, being explained by this phrase, which has become so devalued as to become meaningless. If a conservative wins an election, they are principled conservatives. If that conservative loses, it's because they abandoned those principles. If there is a conservative government, that government may be behaving in a ridiculously unprincipled fashion, but so long as they appear to be making progress, nobody rocks the boat too much. I have lost count of the number of times people called Harper unprincipled. It didn't stop him from winning a majority.

At best, "lack of conservative principles" is only one factor. People talk about it as though it is the only factor, and this ends right now. Unless we identify and examine the specific reasons why we lost, we will learn nothing.

Reason number 1 why we lost: We tried to force the issue on people. This needs to stop.

Since the leadership, our party- and that includes all four leadership candidates, all MPP's, and a large percentage of our base- has been opposed to the HST.  It's hard for me to remember a time when the HST and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing has not dominated any discussion I've had with any political person.

People don't like taxes. The PC Party of Ontario thinks that taxes are bad and wants to identify Dalton McGuinty as a tax hiker. Wedge issue identified! Commence outrage!

So we called it the Dalton Sales Tax, asked people to fill out anti-HST petitions, and drove a forklift into the Legislature bearing HST amendments.

Meanwhile, out in BC, people didn't like the HST either. But out there, they took a radically different approach: instead of an opposition party jumping in with both feet, former Premier Bill Van Der Zalm led the charge. Sure, the B.C. NDP stoked the fires, but instead of constantly reminding people that the tax was horrible, they let the people of B.C. draw that conclusion on their own. The resulting referendum claimed Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell. Here in Ontario, the two Liberals to have held the position of Revenue Minister- John Wilkinson and Sophia Aggelonitis-  lost their seats, but Dalton McGuinty lives to fight another day.

I get why we did it. We needed to stop the John Tory practice of going along with whatever Dalton said. But in the process- by making it "our issue"- we prevented it from becoming something the people could be mad about without becoming attached to a political party.

Making it our issue also means we have to deal with Liberal counterattacks, such as them calling our bluff and asking why we didn't repeal the tax if we were opposed to it. We also had to deal with people like John Tory saying he supported the HST. The people don't have to deal with counterattacks. If the people are genuinely angry- like they were the first time Dalton's sex-ed program came to light, or when they discovered the eco-fees had been slipped in- then, more often than not, Dalton will back down in some way.

Other times, we would try to make some issue people never heard or didn't understand of into an issue they should be infuriated about. The Debt Retirement Charge. The LHINs. The Samsung deal. On their own, these are objectionable, but Dalton is smart enough to keep just enough details about these items under wraps.

If we really want to discover a wedge issue that's going to burn Dalton, we need to amplify the things people are already angry about. Everyone knows about the Mississauga power plant and how we tried to make it into an issue that would swing some seats our way. But instead of working quietly with the group that brought the issue up in the first place, we ignored them.

While frustration simmered with the Liberal Ontario government's approval of the Eastern Power plant in 2008, many seemed equally frustrated with the Conservatives.
Not one Conservative candidate invited to the meeting attended.

"I used to be a card-carrying member of the Conservative party," CHIP's Rohn said.

"I'm disgusted. Not one of them bothered to show up tonight. All the other parties did."


Oddly enough, we managed to win a bunch of seats down south when our candidates there vocalized their opposition to wind turbines after realizing that people didn't like them. They didn't force the issue, they recognized there was one and acted appropriately. You think there might be a connection?

There are people out there in Ontario who want to defeat Dalton McGuinty. It shouldn't be hard to find them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You Can't Handle The Truth

A funny thing happened while we were all standing around bemoaning the failure of the various provincial PC parties. In P.E.I., Manitoba, and Ontario, the Liberals lost seats. And in Newfoundland, the Liberals now barely cling to Official Opposition status.

In B.C., the Liberals are on the defensive after the HST revolt. Jean Charest in Quebec is facing a tough challenge in the next election and may also see his majority chiselled away.

The Liberals are non-entities in New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the North, and Nova Scotia. Federally, the situation for them is bleak.

It is too soon to count the Liberals out. But if the past year is any indication, we're getting there.

And if we are getting there, why are we getting there?

I think it is because people are finding it harder and harder to ignore the truth, the truth that we have understood for a long time. That the system, built and designed by them, is unsustainable and eventually will crumble.

I've long argued on this blog that the Liberals owe their success to fuzzy, happy memories of a past Canada, when everyone trusted the government to do the right thing. Now, as their leaders cling to power or watch it fall into the hands of the NDP or the Conservatives, the tide is slowly turning against them.

McGuinty used every trick in the book to stay Premier of Ontario. He copied Harper's campaign. He courted unions. He pushed the federal Liberals away. He conscripted what was left of the federal Liberal staffer corps. And it worked....for now.

When I was knocking on doors during this election, people wanted to vote against McGuinty. But, ultimately, they fell back on the fantasy of the calm, quiet province where we all move forward together. So they made excuses for themselves, or bought into McGuinty's excuses.

These people, the ones who voted for Harper and Ford but not for Hudak, still believe that the Liberal way is the right way in some corner of their minds. They are like the old woman who believed the earth stood on the back of a turtle, and when asked what the turtle was standing on, she said another turtle supported the first one, and so on, turtles all the way down.

Before the election, I thought we had reached the breaking point. It certainly looked that way. But when Dalton refused to go down without a fight, the cities rallied to him. They seized on our mistakes and ignored his. But now, with a reduced mandate, he seems to be going it alone. He's running out of room, and people will find it harder to ignore errors when he can't brush them off as easily.

We must find a way to get enough people in the province to this breaking point, where they cannot ignore Dalton's failures anymore. Then and only then will they vote for us.

Nobody, not even Dalton himself, can believe in his heart of hearts that this turning point will never occur. It will happen.

It will happen.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Brick Short Of A Load

Geez, that's gotta suck for Dalton. One short of a majority.

Could it have been due to the bumbling of Sarah Thomson, the "star" candidate for Trinity Spadina who lost thanks to her hilariously terrible "dance-campaigning?"

This woman almost became an MPP, people!!!

Or perhaps due to the failure of Bernie Farber, close friend to the War Room Boss, who thought people would forget about his past commitment to faith-based schools?

Or maybe it was the Liberals down south who couldn't stand against the mighty wind generated by Wind Concerns Ontario?

With a possible second recession looming, Dalton's got less room to maneuver. Already, the media is starting to comment about how alienated the Liberals are from rural regions of the province. The people of Ontario, who turned out in record low numbers for last Thursday's election, are clearly not in the mood for more legislative games, or for a post-election kick to the gonads in the form of another tax hike. If Dalton takes the easy way out and induces one of the opposition MPP's to be the Speaker, or simply gets one of them to cross the floor, he could share the same fate as the last guy who tried something like that. Playing legislative games so that he can continue Moving Forward Together is not going to sit well with the people who just cut his lead.

So it's time for another one of those interesting experiments I like so much. Is Dalton going to tread carefully, or keep marching to his own drummer?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The "We Lost" Post

So: the votes are in. And we didn't make it. There is no joy in Toryville.

The truth is, I've been composing this post in my head for a very long time. I hoped I wouldn't have to write it, but I do.

I want to congratulate everyone who busted their behinds day in and day out on this campaign, fighting Dalton and his associates. We gave them a hell of a hard time, and we hurt them badly. They can claim victory, but they are wounded and they know it. We proved we could stand up to the worst they could offer, and that's something to be proud of.

Now for my armchair theories on what we need to do going forward.

1. Getting rid of Hudak is out of the question. The federal Liberals tried this with different leaders after each election and got stomped worse and worse every time. There are no saviours here and the fact that McGuinty has blown it repeatedly will not elevate just anybody into the Premier's chair. We need to build on the gains we've made and keep on pushing. Hudak's problem is that he was a rookie leader trying to take down a two-term majority Premier in one election. Harper lost his first election. Harris lost his first election.
McGuinty is who he is, just like Ford is who he is and Harper is who he is. Yes he's a liar, but people know he's a liar. We didn't let Hudak be authentic. And he certainly didn't get exposed to enough people before the election started.

2. People have complained the platform wasn't conservative enough. That's funny, because the only people who complained about our platform were people who were going to vote for us or for another conservative party. The Liberals tried to attack our platform, and failed miserably. Remember when they were going to make chain gangs the focus of this election?

No, the problem was that we needed to make the case that our platform was good for Ontario, not just an alternative to Dalton McGuinty. Could we really not have an economist sign off on our platform, saying it would help reduce the deficit? Could we not get some endorsements by some well-known individuals who believe the platform would make things better, alongside quotes from hardworking Ontario families?

3. If McGuinty is going to use proxies to attack us, then we need to use proxies too. What was the problem with those sex ed flyers? That our name was on them. Same with the immigrant tax credit. Even the "We can't afford Dalton McGuinty" gave people the impression that we were more interested in running down McGuinty than offering ideas. So, other people need to handle our attacks. McGuinty seemed to be able to produce a range of people, from mayors who should have known that Dalton was no friend of theirs to the leaders of random movements that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared soon afterwards. Where are our allies?

4. Psychological warfare matters. People need to be following Dalton everywhere he goes, activists need to pop up at every single Liberal event and cause disruption, and if one of Dalton's handlers trips and falls, it needs to be on Youtube within the hour. McGuinty makes mistakes when he speaks but we never read about it in the paper. Let's amplify them and destabilize the Liberals. Not just during the campaign either.

5. Now for the one that is going to generate the most anger.

This election result has established as far as I am concerned that the Principled Conservative crowd are a bunch of complainers that forced us to tend to them repeatedly and assure them that, no, we hadn't abandoned our principles or forgotten the true meaning of Christmas or whatever.

So at the beginning of the election, we tossed them a bone and at the end of the election, we tossed them a bone. And while it made the Sun News crew take notice for about two seconds, the fact is that the Sun News crew is more interested in forcing us to keep them happy than they are in letting us take Dalton's votes which is what we need to do IN ORDER TO WIN. Not that it mattered, because they decided to not endorse anyone because they weren't satisfied with the concessions we did make. And in the end, did those concessions really win us votes? I sincerely doubt it, and I am very curious why the central campaign thought this would benefit us at all. But then again, they have to deal with armchair theories on How To Win from the base every day (and yes, I know that's what I'm doing here, but the difference is that I won't throw a tantrum if they disagree), and they did engineer some measure of progress for us, so between the two, I'm siding with them.

In which the Liberal War Room boss cuts Principled Conservative journalist Brian Lilley to ribbons over the Liberal immigrant tax credit.

Now consider, when you watch that embarassment of a video, that Lilley was speaking as a journalist without any restrictions imposed on him by handlers or message control people. He got to yell and scream all he wanted at one of the most hated Liberals walking to make the case that privileging one group of people at the expense of another is wrong. And he still got trounced. Could you do better?
Until the Principled Conservatives can prove- not assert loudly, I said PROVE- that we can WIN by releasing a platform that they will like, and not crap all over us when it isn't note-perfect, they should expect to be ignored the way Harper has ignored them.

Oh yes, I forgot. Rob Ford. Rob Ford won against Dalton's ex-attack dog minister, George Smitherman, who was hated by most of the Ontario Liberals, had never sat on Toronto city council, was dogged by the eHealth controversy, and put on a nice-guy act which everyone, including his own campaign volunteers, saw right through. Had David Miller run again, there is some data that suggests he would have won again.

But no- Ford won because of Principled Conservatism. Well, let me tell you that when a single union-funded poll sends you scrambling for a deal and you are forced to compromise, that ain't Principled Conservatism. That's the same kind of two-step we've seen with the federal Conservatives over and over again. It's certainly necessary, but it sure ain't Principled Conservatism. Oh- but Harper gets a pass from the Principled Conservatives because he has a majority and Ford gets a pass because he won a big mandate. Suddenly the problem is union pigs at the trough, not why didn't Ford stand up to those union pigs at the trough. As "Thucidydes" put it so memorably a few days ago in a comment:

"If Hudack loses, or even just squeaks in, there should be some serious housecleaning in the PC party, or movement ot one of the new parties which really does represent Classical Liberal thought."

That, right there, is the problem with so-called Principled Conservatism. If Hudak loses or just squeaks through, then let's burn the house down, but if he had won a majority? Ehhhh....we'll let it slide, apparently.

When these people display the type of wherewithal needed to influence our party by DOING SOMETHING, not just wrecking things by staying home, then I'll treat them with some respect. You think Hudak needs to go? Prove it at the leadership review.

People like Tracey Kent, and all the other red Tories who allowed themselves to become Liberal tools, are a problem too, but these people are so innocuous as to be unworthy of comment. I refer you to Norm Sterling, who was hilariously defeated in his own riding due to his own laziness, not due to any genius tactics employed by those who sought to defeat him.

Now, for most of Friday and Saturday, I will be taking a well deserved break. Comment as you will, if you will, and I'll be back on Sunday to respond. And after that, we shall proceed here at the Clown at Midnight with the Dalton watch.

Keep smiling. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Into the Unknown

I have no idea what's going to happen. Nobody does.

I will merely repeat a few words before the electorate passes their judgement.

1. Based on my discussions with people on the ground and with the central campaign, if the PC Party gets out their vote, they will win.

2. Voting for the PC Party of Ontario is the only way to stop Dalton McGuinty. Doing anything other than voting PC says that you think Dalton McGuinty deserves another term in government, because that is what your vote or lack of vote is contributing to.

3. Polls, more so in this election than in any other, have been proven to be misleading garbage. Within the space of three days there have been polls suggesting a tie, a Liberal majority, and a PC lead. At least one and possibly all of these polling companies are going to end up looking very stupid tomorrow.

4. The PC Party is trying to defeat a two term incumbent Premier backed by a gang of unions. This is extremely difficult under the best of circumstances.

5. The NDP will likely split the vote in interesting ways. Mostly, in ways that benefit the PC Party.

6. John Tory led the PC Party to a frankly disgusting result four years ago, after a frankly disgusting campaign, and despite loud screams for his head (some of which, full disclosure, came from me), he was not removed from office after a leadership review.

7. Quick and easy answers for why we got the result that we will get are likely wrong.

8. Anything other than a massive majority for the Liberals constitutes a victory of some measure for us, given all of the above.

And that's it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just A Guess

The Principled Conservatives at the Winnipeg Sun endorsed Hugh McFayden. They didn't endorse Tim Hudak.

How did that work out for Mr. McFayden? Oh.

Now let's just see if not receiving the Sun's endorsement matters for Hudak.

History Repeating?

Well now. We're going to have ourselves a little social experiment.

In the story the Liberal War Room Boss (often) tells about the Chretien face ad, there's one detail that gets neglected. And that is that the federal PC Party pulled the ads in the face of Liberal pressure.

Now I have always wondered about this. Were the ads themselves- which didn't actually *say* anything about Chretien's face- what led to the federal PC Party collapse?

Or was it the climbdown by the PC Party afterwards?

I guess we'll never know. But now- 18 years later- comes an opportunity to test the theory. Hudak is not backing down on these flyers. The party has not backed down. What's going to happen, if anything? I can't wait to find out.

Oh, and message to the Principled Conservatives who wanted Hudak to "speak from the heart"? How this affects the results is going to prove you right or wrong in my book. Now let's just see if it makes the difference, one way or the other.

Monday, October 3, 2011


From today's Globe:

But Mr. Hudak’s campaign manager, Mark Spiro, specializes in voter mobilization – probably more so than anyone else in the country. Having honed this craft with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, he is trying to ensure a repeat of the federal phenomenon in which the Tories fare better on election day than the polls (or the pundits) predict.

As with most modern get-out-the-vote strategies, Mr. Spiro’s is enormously complex. But at its root is finding ways that don’t involve the mainstream media to connect with a disengaged electorate.

Meanwhile, rather than relying too heavily on traditional events like campaign rallies, the Tories are trying to find other ways to engage supporters in battleground ridings. One of their preferred methods in this election has been “telephone town halls,” in which Mr. Hudak can be connected with thousands of people at once.

In some cases, other high-profile Tories are brought in to help with this task. Last weekend, Jewish voters were invited to participate in a telephone town hall with federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. (How they managed to frame this as a discussion about the provincial election is unclear.)

The name of the game is supplementing traditional door-to-door and telephone efforts to identify would-be PC voters, who can then be cajoled into coming out on election day. While any party’s progress reports have to be taken with a grain of salt, senior Tories seem genuinely confident in how that effort is going. And given the number of ridings that could be settled by a few hundred votes, that could make all the difference – especially in the “905 belt” around Toronto, where it’s especially difficult to engage voters.

See, this is how Conservatives surprise people on e-day with better than expected results. And with the best available polls showing a literal deadlock, this is what makes the difference.

Listen well, Liberals: If you cannot outfight us on the ground, you lose. It makes no difference how many PC's you get to be your tools a la Sinclar Stevens on twitter IF you cannot get the bodies out. The party assures me that they will be getting their bodies out and until proven otherwise, I will believe them. Will you? Or is it all about how many people you can force into rallies in the GTA?

And with the best available polls showing a literal deadlock, are you willing to call our bluff and rule out a voting arrangement with the NDP? Do you really have the stones to go this alone? I don't think you do. You'll have to show me differently. Because your federal cousins sure didn't.
Enough talk. Put it on the line.

How It COULD Have Gone.....

Oddly similar, isn't it?

Just seven months ago, it seemed Manitoba New Democrats were headed to the end of 12 years in government.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives had jumped well ahead in opinion polls. Premier Greg Selinger, who took over the premier’s office in the fall of 2009, was still working on his public-speaking skills, trying to connect with the voters and fending off attacks on the province’s high crime rate and health-care waits.

With a fixed election date of Oct. 4 looming, NDP members had reason to worry.

But things have turned around dramatically. Two polls in recent weeks suggest the NDP has the lead in the run-up to Tuesday’s provincial election and is on the verge of winning a fourth consecutive majority government – a rare feat in Canadian politics.

The reason, according to analysts, is a combination of a positive economy and negative advertising, the latter aimed squarely at Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen.

“During the winter, we saw the NDP launch … a whole series of advertisements called: ‘Who is Hugh McFadyen?’” said Christopher Adams, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Winnipeg and vice-president of polling firm Probe Research.

“This has put McFadyen on his heels.”

The ads, which have become more frequent since the election campaign began, accused Mr. McFadyen of having a secret agenda to privatize Crown corporations such as Manitoba Hydro and parts of the health-care system. They pointed to his work as a policy adviser to former premier Gary Filmon, who sold off the province’s phone company, and portrayed Mr. McFadyen as a dangerous risk.

The NDP’s union supporters joined the fray as well. The Canadian Union of Public Employees took out ads demanding that the provincial utility be kept public. The Manitoba Nurses Union ran ads warning of a return to the 1990s – a time when the Tories were in power and cut health services.

The ads were so effective Mr. McFadyen spent much of the election campaign denying the accusations. He took out his own full-page newspaper ad saying he would not privatize Crown bodies or health-care services.

And I'm sure we'll have lots of Principled Conservatives out in Manitoba telling everyone that the real reason for the Manitoba PC troubles is lack of Conservative Principles, right?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not Necessarily A Coalition.....

Today's Star, buried waaaaaaaaaaay at the bottom.......

"Liberal sources told the Star that even if the Tories win up to 10 more seats than the Grits, yet fall short of the majority threshold of 54, McGuinty would appeal to union leaders to “lean on” Horwath to back his party."

Say it with me now......OH NOEZ.

Quick! Hide!

Dalton's B-team in Brampton is in serious trouble this weekend. Not only did the Brampton Guardian endorse us, not only did Bill Davis endorse us, but Liberal MPP Linda Jeffrey has gone into hiding:

Isn't that weird? And with the vote-rich 905 up for grabs, can Dalton's stuffed shirts really afford to ignore their consituents this way?

Oh, and some weird flyers have the Liberals all bothered. Hee hee hee.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hudak Declares War On Unions

Prepare to die, Working Families Coalition.

It is the first time he has said he would consider freezing the pay of the province's more than one million public sector workers. Wages take up 55% of the provincial budget, costing the Ontario government more than $50-billion a year.

A two-year wage freeze would save $2-billion a year.

"We're all in this together and I expect the unions to be responsible," Mr. Hudak said, referring to the province's deficit, which is projected to be $16-billion this year. "The problem is Dalton McGuinty always folds. Over and over again, Dalton McGuinty has thrown down his cards and handed over the chips. We can't afford that anymore."

I think a whole bunch of Principled Conservatives just found their reason to get off the bench.

And I think a whole bunch of Liberal-friendly unions are getting very. Very. FRIGHTENED.

Oh, and just remember, friends: McGuinty cannot be trusted to stand up to these vampires. He will most certainly be beholden to them if he wins.