Rivers on the PC leadership choice: When you turned your clock back did you take it to the 50's?



Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 12th, 2018


“Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. Take thou what course thou wilt.”
( William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)

Even though Doug Ford claims to have been brother Rob’s brain, advising him daily as Rob ran the city of Toronto, I keep coming across articles which refer to Doug as stupid.

Perhaps people are being prejudiced, swayed by his appearance, a likeness to that high school bully which we all had to confront or accommodate. You know the tough guy who always struggled with his grades, had trouble attracting the right girl for some reason, and who always spoke in monosyllabic superlatives.

Doug Ford finger pointing

Doug Ford – expect to see a lot of him in the next 90 days.

Yet it is possible that this so-called ‘dummy’ has just pulled off the biggest coup in Ontario’s political history, thereby lifting himself to the top of the roost in the respected party of John Robarts, Bill Davis, and Mike Harris. If true this would have been a plot to equal the best scripted by that genius Shakespeare.

The story starts in the aftermath of the 2014 election. The Tories had been devastated by their loss and vowed never again as they licked their wounds. They needed a change of direction and a leader to take them in that direction. Enter Patrick Brown, someone with no apparent dirty laundry, no enemies and no friends in provincial politics, but with the kind of credentials one earns hanging around Stephen Harper’s backbench.


Patrick Brown gaining the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party.

He had a vision – a pathway to victory – growing the party membership, filling the war chest, and creating a platform which had something for everyone in Ontario. It was close enough to the status quo to appeal to left leaning Tories and right thinking Liberals alike. And the people responded in numbers large enough to promise a landslide if the polls could deliver for him. True enough, the party’s popularity wasn’t all his doing, but he was at the helm and the PCs were headed for a victory not seen since Mike Harris.

But things didn’t work out that way for our young hero. The right wing of the party establishment violently disapproved of the newly adopted platform’s policies, which appeared to be carbon copies of those of the stinking Liberals they wanted to replace. Why would the public want to change horses when the one they were on is already going in the right direction. And how could anyone take the PC’s seriously when they were parading themselves as nothing more than blue Liberals.

The right wing establishment must have been AWOL, or fast asleep, when the party membership unanimously approved Brown’s platform just last November. But clearly there was a sense that Brown didn’t deserve to lead, hadn’t been in the trenches, and must have pulled a fast one to slip by Christine Elliott in the leadership vote.

pc-leadership- ontario debate-20180228

It came down to these four – what happened in the back rooms can only be imagined.

This upstart had offered himself up as another social conservative but now was behaving like it was his personal party and he and it had undergone a metamorphosis from red neck to red Tory.

Doug Ford had trumpeted his ambition to one day be the leader of this land – Canada. Ambition is a powerful motivator, especially for a man trying to live up to all that he believed his father could have been. It was Ford’s time, if only he could get rid of Brown. Elliott wanted revenge and Mulroney was simply Mulroney – owed the title by divine providence. If the young Brown got in he might remain premier for a decade or more, and then the time might have passed for these pretenders to the throne.

The flash point in Brown’s platform was his acceptance of the provincial sex-education curriculum. At least it was for Tanya Granic Allen whose extreme religious persuasion propelled her directly onto the war path against Brown. She was not going to stand for it – after all she hadn’t seen the word ‘love’ in the sex-ed program.

Brown may have been gaining popularity among the people but was losing respect in the minds of his peers and the old Harris guard – the right wing of the party. They have always been clear that less government is better government. Tax cuts are good and regulations bad. The primary role of the provincial government is to stop social creep, especially when it comes to matters of sex.

Patrick Brown resigning

Patrick Brown resigning.

So is it possible that these unlikely wannabe leaders, and a few more of the party’s neocon class, teamed up, conspired to bring down the new king, figuratively, as Julius Caesar’s stalwart’s had taken him down. A couple of shaky accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour, some innuendo about fake membership numbers and some suggestion of financial irregularity – that Brown was pilfering funds from the PC trust fund – would be enough to smear him. Then he’d have to resign and one of their kind would take over.

Of course this is all hypothetical and in this hypothesis it’s possible that only one or two of the candidates may have been aware of the planned political assassination of Brown but it is inconceivable that the others wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. The chief protagonist may not even have been one of the candidates. But if this story is accurate there was a plan to win and Ford won.

And the party echelon had to be eager to rid themselves of a leader bent on a mission to forever shift the party to the centre of the political spectrum and betray those who are have spent their lives arguing right from left. So somebody got to Brown’s old girl friends and then Randy Hillier complied a list of wild accusations and the party was ready to perform political assassination as Brown whimpered ‘et tu Brute?’.

Oh what a tangled web we weave. It wasn’t long before the fangs came out as our lovely snakes engaged in tribal cannibalism. Ford, jumped in feet first calling Elliot his friend, even as he ripped into her over her flip flops and her government job. He was, after all, the only fellow who had demonstrated real leadership – the first to hit the road and set the pace – trashing the carbon tax promise and attacking the morality of allowing teachers to explain sex to students.

That is what likely drew in co-conspirator Tanya, an eleventh hour entry into the pack. She was there to eat into the female vote so Ford would have a better chance of slithering past Elliott. And she did and he did. And ironically Ford, hardly a pinnacle of godly behaviour in his earlier street life, entered into an unholy alliance with Allen. Her reward was that damned sex ed thing, and ending renewable energy and maybe opening the debate on abortion again – from his pulpit as leader of Canada’s most populist province

Conspiracy theories book cover

Their will be more than one book written on “what really happened” – will we ever know?

Conspiracy theories come along all the time about one thing or another. Still there is no other logical explanation for the rapid demise of an elected leader only a few months before an election. There is no rational for the almost panic-like urgency to replace him. And what else explains the chaos that has ensued and will no doubt continue for some time.

If not a conspiracy the only other explanation is sheer incompetence. If a party can’t manage itself choosing a leader does anyone believe it can manage the affairs of the province?

Conspiracy or incompetence, take your pick.  Either way the people of Ontario deserve better.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers



Background links:

Ford- Elliot –    Detailed Results –     More Leadership

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14 comments to Rivers on the PC leadership choice: When you turned your clock back did you take it to the 50’s?

  • joe gaetan

    Yes deserve better than Wynne

  • Roger

    I cannot trust for Doug not to become premier and turn Queen’s Park into a copy of what is happening in the Washington – having used the word elite and fake press – in no way shape or form from who I talked who wanted to voted PC – will not

    • Phillip

      I am no fan of Doug Ford but what is the option? Are you going to vote for Kathleen Wynne–part of a government that has tripled Ontario’s debt, been involved in such corruption as the Gas Plants Fiasco including the criminal erasing of files and such scandals as as EHealth, Orange Air Ambulances and the Green Energy Act? A government that has made a mess of public education and health care in the province? A government that has increased the tax burden in Ontario? A government that has created a negative business environment?

      And when Wynne indicated yesterday that Doug Ford was preparing to slash government employees and services in Ontario when he has said no such thing? Yes, I would call that FAKE NEWS! Doug Ford has indicated that he is looking for efficiences of 4% in government expenditures–do you not feel that such a saving cannot be found in the bloated government bureaucracies?

      • Roger

        If I voted for the Outer Space party – that is my right in a democracy – there is FREEDOM OF THE PRESS – guaranteed by law – you can call it fake all you want – when has opinion become FAKE NEWS

        FAKE NEWS – DRAIN THE SWAMP – GET RID OF THE ELITES – may play well in other area but not Ontario – we are a diverse and completed province and simple statements to solve our problems are unrealistic

        The option is a minority government – Doug Ford has brought forward a social platform that is better suited to 1925 not 2018

        Even Harper realized to stay away from social politics to stay electable – Ford is taking the PC party in a direction that WILL keep votes home and not vote – cause them to vote for another party or move their vote to Option 2 because what is worse – Kathleen Wynn or Doug Ford – economically Kathleen is word – social policy Doug Ford – I am a parent – I cannot in good faith look at my children and tell them I support a person in an effort that will take the province back 45 years in social policy

        • Mr A

          Agree. Ford is exactly the definition of an elite. Which is fine but don’t pretend to be blue collar! He is from a wealthy and privileged family.

  • Susan

    If Doug Ford becomes Premier, we could have a mini Harper Government running things at Queen’s Park.

    Some of Stephen Harper’s defeated MP’s are running in Ontario. There’s Paul Calandra (formerly Harper’s top defender) Daryl Kramp, Susan Truppe (former Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women), Parm Gill (former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs), and Greg Rickford (former Minister of Natural Resources) are all running for the PCs and, like Calandra, could reasonably be in line for cabinet position.

  • Gary

    Don’t give up your day job as a novelist. The only thing you failed to mention was the nearly unseen hand of George Soros in this affair. I suspect the “haste”, as you referred to it,has something to do with an election in June, but I could be wrong about that. I am not fond of the main opposition party being “Liberal-lite”. If the Ontario voters want to continue to vote for “bread and circuses”, as they seemed inclined to do, then they get, as they say,”the government they deserve”. But since there are already 2 parties competing for the leftist vote, it is useful to be offered a party that is actually on the right.

  • Hans

    It would be nice to have a premier who had more than a high school education…

    • R D Oliver

      High school education???? Get real!! Ron Regan, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and one can keep going. Trudeau barely has one. Drama teacher is not exactly stellar. Formal education has zero to do with wisdom and ability

  • R D Oliver

    Ray: we both know that the pen is mightier than the sword; and since you control your pen, albeit a pen with a liberal bent, you also control your desire and ability to ask for objectivity. Doug Ford, albeit bother to Rob Ford, is also son of MPP Doug Ford Sr and Diane Ford, one having been and the other being very politically connected and astute. Doug Ford has all of the qualities to be an outstanding Premier. Asking your readers for a modicum of rational rather than emotional objectivity is not a big ask, given the stakes.

    • Mr. A

      Im not sure that you want to use familial reputation as a reason to vote for him. A can of worms better left unopened ! I still remember the startling image of handing out $ 20 bills in Toronto at a community centre while campaigning, until they were told it was illegal !

  • George

    Interesting title I rember the 50’s and our Prime Minister Louis St Laurent a liberal who did a good job of running the country without incurring debt like Pierre Trudeau a Liberal in the 60’s and The Liberals McGuinty and Wynne in the first two decades of the new century. Canada and Ontario could use some of the wisdom of the 50’s.

  • Zaffi

    Well worth waiting for you Ray.

  • craig

    God help us if another Ford is elected to lead Ontario might as well call him trump north we must elect one of the other parties please!