Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today, We Are All Ontarians

OK everybody. In keeping with the proud tradition of "If nobody else is going to say it, I am" that has come to characterize TCAM since its inception, it is now time to say what has to be said.

In Alberta yesterday, voters were given a choice between Principled Conservatism and Unprincipled Conservatism. And Unprincipled Conservatism- populism- won the day. Boy, did they ever win the day.

Now, I'm not going to lecture Albertans on their choice. But I am going to say that, with the results of this election being as decisive as they were, it is time for Principled Conservatives to stop their lecturing.

All of you- Sun News especially- need to take a deep breath and a hard look at what just happened. You all need to start wrapping your heads around the possibility that Principled Conservatism isn't the goddamned answer. Sure, it's important. Sure, it's needed to keep us from becoming a cult like the Liberals. But it isn't the be all and end all answer, like it's made out to be.

The Wild Rose offered the most conservative province in the country the most conservative list of policy positions that you could ask for. Abolishing human rights commissions. Conscience rights. Balancing the budget in no time flat. Support for private options in health care. Charter schools. Respecting private landowners. It was all there.

The Wild Rose did this because they believed that if we adhere to Principled Conservatism, we win elections. That's what we've been told since the beginning. If we lose elections, it's because we didn't stick to our principles.

Well guess what? Tim Hudak, the guy who put forward Changebook, did better than the Wildrose. Against an actual Liberal Premier, instead of a pretend one.

This was the Wild Rose's chance to prove to everyone that waffly pseudo-Liberalism is no match for honest conservatism with all its flaws. And that didn't happen.

What's more, the list of reasons issued by so-called "grassroots members" of the PCPO as to why we lost in October can now seriously be called into question. Candidates were muzzled? Hudak didn't attack as much as he needed to during the debate? Lack of fundraising? Top down policy process? The fact that the P in PCPO stands for "Progressive"? The Wild Rose didn't have any of those problems.

What's more, the PC Party of Alberta's strategy of "Ahhhhhhh! Scary!" worked. This is the same strategy that has been used on conservatives since Stockwell Day. How do we get past this strategy? Ask Harper.

Oh, and the fact that the PCPO "blew a big lead in the polls"? Well, as a whole bunch of pollsters and people who read polls are finding out today (myself among them), a big lead in the polls doesn't always count for a whole hell of a lot.

If we judge the Wild Rose by the standard that this was this was their first general election in which they were competitive, they certainly did well. They bore up well against the firestorm of criticism that was hurled their way. They won a bunch of seats, got Smith into the Legislature, and have a chance to win government if they work at it.

But you see, too many people want Principled Conservatism now. They think that all you have to do is offer people what the Wild Rose offered, and all will be sunshine and roses. So now Danielle Smith, Principled Conservative, will have to deal with the same complaining and disappointment from her base that Hudak has to deal with.

Now let's talk about the day that was in Ontario. We are not, as I said a month ago, going to have an election, because the NDP put discretion before valour. Dalton decided to accede to an NDP demand to raise taxes on the wealthy, thus breaking his promise to not raise taxes for the billionth time. Both of these decisions were not principled ones. Instead, they were based on popular perceptions here in Ontario that an election is a terrible idea and that soaking the rich is a great idea.

Now, if you disagree with those ideas, then the only party for you is the PC Party of Ontario. Because we opposed this charade as soon as we read the budget and saw that Dalton lacked the testicular fortitude to address Ontario's problems. You wouldn't know that if you listened to Dalton, who says that we marginalized ourselves here. But what Dalton won't tell you is that he- and the NDP- have to deal with the fallout from this budget, as it was and as it stands.

If you read the Toronto Star, you'll find a column by Carol Goar, who thinks Ontario doesn't have a humane welfare system. If you read the National Post, you'll find a column by James Doak, who thinks higher taxes on the rich is comparable to ethnic cleansing. Then, as you move towards the centre, you have corporations, doctors, environmentalists, unions, teachers, rural Ontarians, and everyone else who doesn't like this budget. Dalton and his NDP friends think they can deal with this lot, and I wish them well.

Tim Hudak's job is to take the people who think the government is off track and needs change - that is, the people who Dalton labelled "marginal"- and translate that into real change. This is going to take time. It isn't going to happen tomorrow. It isn't going to happen if we totally lose our backbones a la John Tory. It isn't going to happen at all if real effort isn't made by him to address what our party is doing wrong and how we can fix it, like, "Why can't we get our basic message out?" Could it have something to do with this?

As for us on the ground? We can stop pretending that just because our views are principled, people will share them.


  1. Oh please - 9 out of 10 stories in this election were about racism and bigotry. It wasn't a rejection of principled conservatism. It was a victory for slander and scare tactics.

  2. And there is the crux of the matter. Democracy is flawed. It is mob rule. A politician can promise the majority anything and it can then be taken from the minority. There are no protections against government sanctioned theft.

    It is the reason why all democracies eventually fail in a pool of unpayable debt. 0 lessons learned from Greece.

    Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. Winston Churchill

  3. Craig: I'm almost absolutely sure that I wrote that Principled Conservatism wasn't the be all and end all, but that it was still necessary.

    Principles are great. But they aren't enough.

    Or else the same strategy that worked against Stockwell Day wouldn't have worked yesterday.

  4. albertans , just like ontario people want their fair share of someone elses money.

  5. Well I feel sorry for anyone who moved or decided to move to Alberta (or even was hoping to) because they could see there was a good chance for a real Conservative government. Just like my husband and I who retired to Ontario for several reasons, but hoped the Liberal government was on the way out.

    Sad that there will be less and less open political discourse because people will be afraid there remarks will be twisted.

    Sad that there will be fewer and fewer honest people willing to go into politics because of how they are treated by the media and their opponents.

    My respect for PM Harper goes up once again because we can see he is the last man standing.

  6. Doesn't Danielle Smith describe herself as a populist?

  7. You're right we should emulate the PCPO. How majority government's has Hudak won already?

  8. I was under the impression that Smith described herself as a libertarian. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/27/jesse-kline-albertans-should-have-their-say-on-prostitution/ Who can tell anymore?

    I am almost completely positive that I never said "we" should emulate the PCPO, but rather that the PCPO, and WildRose too, should look at what they're doing wrong and find solutions. Had the WildRose learned from the PCPO's bozo eruptions in the Ontario election, we might not be having ths conversation!

  9. The bozo eruptions were bad but there's as yet no hard evidence they were the primary problem. It could just be the issue of being a really small party going bigtime. The PCPO on the other hand is a lame as in unprincipled POS and that has cost it multiple elections since Harris left. We don't want what you're selling.

  10. That "really small party going bigtime" had the backing of Canada's entire conservative movement, including people from the PCPO (you're welcome), and right up until the end they were dominating a party who had ruled Alberta for over 4 decades. They raised more money than the Alberta PC's and even had the Toronto Star fooled into thinking that they were going to win. They had everything they needed to win, and they didn't. This wasn't the federal NDP circa 2006 chugging along despite all odds, so as far as I'm concerned, they don't get the Good Try Award.

    No one has yet explained to me how Hudak, with Changebook, did better than the Wild Rose with their dream list of principled conservative policy positions.

    We don't have the answer. But neither do you.