Bonnie Crombie and the Right-of-Centre - She Gets It

 By Ray Rivers

December 4th, 2023



The Ontario Liberals held a party to celebrate the crowning of their new leader last Saturday.   Like the other political parties have done in their internal politics, the Liberals used a ranked ballot to ensure that the new leader would be a first or second choice of at least half of the delegates.

Ranked ballots lend themselves to electronic voting where once a voter’s choices are recorded on a computer spreadsheet, the outcome can be had with the flick of a switch in a matter of minutes.  But the Liberals wanted to have a party.   So instead of on-line voting, which had been discussed at one point, members had to show up at a polling station to cast their ballot.  And then the vote counting was by hand, a tedious affair of recounting the same ballots each round as the lowest scoring candidates were eliminated.

More than 1000 Liberals gathered at a Convention Centre to watch Bonnie Crombie win the Leadership on the third ballot.

Apparently the party executives had decided that a celebratory party was as important as the leadership election process itself.  And how else could they entice all those Ontario Liberals to gather together into one room when a simple press release announcing the results five minutes after the polling stations closed would suffice?  It would have been somewhat anti-climatic after such a long campaign.

Clearly the party wanted to add some suspense to the process, so the assembled crowd waited patiently for the results after each of the three rounds of counting at the Toronto Convention Centre.  It was nostalgic, hinting at the good old days of delegated conventions when backroom deal making by the candidates and their supporters was half the fun.   This exhausting process was all for show.  But then that is so much of what politics is about in the end – the show.

Bonnie Crombie: No stranger to winning

Suffice it to say that Mississauga Mayer, Bonnie Crombie, the front runner from day one, won handily over her three worthwhile opponents.  It took three ballots but the betting was on Bonnie.  And she is no stranger to winning.  The people of Mississauga have elected her mayor three times, each with a greater plurality than in the previous election.

Crombie defined herself in the very early days, saying she was a right-of-centre Liberal, even daring to suggest that Greenbelt boundaries could be adjusted to some extent.  That probably hurt her within the party but then she was speaking to appeal to the wider voting public.  And she learned from that misstep, and saw the light, as the leadership campaign wore on.  At the end she was singing from the same hymn book as the other candidates.

In any case, not all liberals are left-of-centre, however defined.  And not all policies lend themselves to easy labelling as right or left.  In today’s world the environment is seen as a left wing issue.  Yet protecting the environment is largely a matter of conservation, preventing its deterioration by restricting urban sprawl and polluting transportation, for example.

I have never understood why those who consider themselves conservatives object to efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and to preserve natural habitat and farm land.  One would expect conservation of the environment to be at the heart of sound conservative values?  Certainly it was during the leadership of former Tory leaders like John Robarts and Bill Davis.

And yet progressive conservative premier Ford’s plans to open up the Green Belt to urban sprawl and building highway 413 across some of Ontario’s best farm land stand in stark contrast.  His admission that he made a mistake came too late to save him.  His justification for these policies was shown to be pure unadulterated hog wash.   Breaking up the Greenbelt had nothing to do with building more affordable housing.

Wait for results of the RCMP investigation to know to what extent Ford committed any criminal acts.

And it wasn’t just the Greenbelt.  Ford issued a succession of ministerial orders running roughshod over the proper planning process of municipalities almost everywhere.  In too many cases it was about converting protected natural and farm land into more urban sprawl.   We should wait for results of the RCMP investigation to know to what extent Ford committed any criminal acts,  All the same, real conservatives must be shaking their heads.

The vast majority of Canadians understand that we have entered into a period of global heating, and yet federal delegates to a recent Conservative Party of Canada annual meeting refused to endorse former leader Erin O’Toole’s motion that climate change is real.  Mr. O’Toole paid the price for his efforts to bring the party into reality by being replaced as leader by another, in the all too long line of climate deniers running that party.

What could be a more conservative value that protecting the planet from the danger of overheating?  What could be more conservative than conserving the planet’s ecosystem for future generations?  Is this what we call right wing politics?

In that case it is no surprise that Bonnie Crombie never talked about being right-of-centre again.

She gets it.

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4 comments to Bonnie Crombie and the Right-of-Centre – She Gets It

  • Ray Rivers

    Joe – thanks for that. I served in the Mulroney government as chief of the Pollution Prevention Branch – he was very committed to the cause and deserved the recognition. Harper, by contrast, killed Canada’s Kyoto Protocol involvement and refused to support Ontario when we shuttered the coal plants.

  • Joseph Gaetan

    For the record Here is what she actually said, ““I think the Liberal party moved much too far to the left. (J.G., AGREE) I think traditionally our roots are in the centre (J.G.,AGREE). I believe we govern from right of centre,” ( J.G. HISTORICALLY PERHAPS) says Crombie, echoing a refrain common among those Liberals who see themselves as more business-aligned. “I would hope to attract Red Tories and Blue Liberals back to the party and let the opposition deal with the issues that are too far to the left.”(J.G. MAKES PERFECT SENSE).

  • Joe Gaetan

    “Brian Mulroney was honoured Thursday night as the greenest prime minister in Canadian history”, and he is still waiting to be unseated. Mulroney actually accomplished something without lecturing other leaders, and driving Canadians into bebt with a burdensome tax. Talk is cheap.

  • Phil Waggett

    Ray, another rant on the lack of a climate plan by the federal Conservatives. But what requires greater analysis is the record of your precious climate heroes, Trudeau and Guilbeault on the climate file. When Trudeau took office in 2015, greenhouse gas emissions were 764.53 mt; in 2022, they were measured at 756.81 mt–that’s a whopping decline over 7 years of 8 mt, almost a rounding error. Of course it’s now 2023 and given that those emissions have been rising in the past two years since the pandemic they are likely higher than they were in 2015. Typical Liberal–talk a good game, fail to deliver. ttps://