Rivers on the Progressive Conservative leadership race: 'Beware of the Doug'

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 2nd, 2018



What could be more conservative than Doug Ford announcing his candidacy for the leadership of the provincial party, live and direct from his mother’s basement? It’s called family values and if the Fords are anything, they are family. Doug’s father, also a Doug, was an MPP under the great Mike Harris, so Doug Jr. comes to his politics honestly.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford in his mother’s basement announcing his candidacy

Much as Justin Trudeau did, Mr. Ford is seeking to fulfill his destiny, ascending to the lofty political top rung which is his divine right. The divine right of the political elites. This is not new – it is how we practice what we like to call western democracy.


Ivanka Trump – Rivers sees her as a future US presidential candidate

South of the border there are the Bush boys, Ron and Rand Paul, the Kennedy clan and now the Donald Drumpf dynasty with Ivanka Trump lining up to become the first woman president of that country.

Back in the great white north we made Paul Martin’s son, also Paul, our 21st PM. Jack Layton’s great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a Father of Confederation. His grandfather Gilbert was a Quebec cabinet minister, his father Robert was a federal cabinet minister, his son Mike is a Toronto Councillor and his widow, Olivia Chow, was a companion MP and an also-ran just behind Doug Ford in the last election for mayor of Canada’s largest city.

Dominic Leblanc followed his father Romeo into the federal House. Then there is John Clement and his stepson Tony. Joe and his son Robert Ghiz were PEI premiers. Quebec’s premiering Daniel Johnson was succeeded by sons, Pierre-Marc and Daniel. Of course there was David and Stephen Lewis; James and Peter Lougheed; Elmer and Peter MacKay; Ernest and Preston Manning; Harry and Robert Nixon; Grant and Rachel Notley; and Jim, David and Tim Peterson, and their sister Deb Matthews.

Elliott PC

Christine Elliot, came in second when Patrick Brown won the PC leadership.

More relevant to the PC leadership race there was the husband and wife team of Jim Flaherty and Christine Elliot. Elliot got her comeuppance running for leadership last time and was beaten by the now disgraced Patrick Brown – though there is still suspicion about how he won. And while the particulars of Brown’s departure are still pretty much of a mystery, it’s looking more and more like an inside job. Somebody or a lot of somebodies wanted him out.

No sooner had Brown left the building but his party president Rick Dykstra was also shown the door – something to do with sexual misadventures during his time with the federal party. And that has dragged the federal Tories into this mess as well.


Caroline Mulroney – no political experience; with a name like that does she need it?

Caroline Mulroney is at least a new face. And the sins of the father are not necessarily those of the daughter. But anyone who read Stevie Cameron’s ‘On The Take’ will be swallowing hard before voting for her just because of that name. Mulroney may have been a success in the business world but she can’t help but come across as an opportunistic carpet bagger, and hardly the savior to restore respectability to a party heavily mired in scandal and in-fighting.

Doug Ford was the first candidate out of the gate. Despite his own royal blood, he claims to want to represent the real Tories, the grass roots crowd – as opposed to the elites. But it really depends on how one defines elites. He may not be the brightest star in Tory heaven but nobody should count him out. He ran a close second to John Tory in the last mayoralty race, losing by only 60,000 votes in a very competitive race.

His brother Rob was loved by his followers and Doug was his puppet master, except for the crazy drug and alcohol-induced incidents, which Rob needed no help in orchestrating all on his own. So Doug can count on the full support of ‘Ford Nation’ in this race. And he knows a thing or two about business, successfully operating and expanding the label company his father started and bequeathed him.

And his entrepreneurial acumen runs deep into his more youthful days when he was reportedly a major player in Toronto’s drug scene. And that is exactly the kind of experience this province needs as it prepares to introduce legalized marijuana to the public. He might even still have his list of contacts and suppliers, who knows? He has been accused of hanging out with some pretty unsavoury criminal characters as well – hey but friends are friends.

Ford continues to deny this part of his history despite all the evidence the media has uncovered about his past as a hash supplier, and we’re not talking corned beef. But today Doug, like his brother before him, preaches law and order, tough love for all the criminals and crooks. He comes from the Mike Harris school of cutting taxes for the wealthy, privatizing public services, gutting social services, and cutting red tape.

Elliot and Mulroney have just announced they too are in the race. There may be a couple more wannabe’s announcing before the February 16th deadline and that will make it an even more interesting and exciting donkey race. But the voting will be by over before March 10th when the new PC leader will be announced.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the hearings into the gas plant cancellations at Queen's Park in Toronto on December 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

When the Tories have figured out who is going to lead them in the June 7th provincial election – this is the candidate they are going to have to beat.

Ford has also announced that he is dropping his bid to run again in this year’s municipal elections against John Tory. And that makes sense since running against Tory, a former leader of the Ontario Tory party – and with a name like that to boot – would be strategically unwise. He doesn’t need to alienate any more conservatives than he already has.

Even so, it’s unlikely John Tory will be doing much to support him in the leadership race or even in the provincial election should he become leader. Hearing how Ford had announced his candidacy, Tory couldn’t resist quipping that he’d love to follow the Ford method of announcing his own candidacy, but his Mom lives in an apartment.

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:

Canadian Political Families –   Doug Ford –    Dykstra

On the Take –    More Ford –    Even More Ford

Even More of Ford –    Ford Family History –    Defence of Ford’s History

Ford’s Basement

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6 comments to Rivers on the Progressive Conservative leadership race: ‘Beware of the Doug’

  • David Fenton

    I will vote for Doug Ford. There I’ve said it. Scary; Not really, the other options we have, Now that’s scary.

  • Alide Camilleri

    Ray, You are spot on. None of the candidates instill any kind of confidence other than that we would face another slash and dash Harrison-style government. But Doug Ford is the scariest of all. He talks like a thug, he walks like a thug and shares far too many similarities with the Trump/Drumpf background that makes one shudder. God help us all should he wins the leadership, and even might get elected.

  • Gary

    This is very sad for Ontario. We are facing the possible re-election for another 5 yers of that clapped out, province destroying, Liberal party.

  • Mike

    The problem we have bears no ties to any party. We, the people, have allowed our system of democracy to evolve enabling a system of elites, the government leaders (both elected and appointed), because government is too big and has control of too much decision making on how the government funds are spent, whether it is on new or existing policies. Access to these purse strings is the biggest game around. Until, we the people, force some change in this model, who we have there will only be tinkering around the edges to ply their voters’ support. Contrary to your statement Ray that (some) PCs want to gut programs, the reality if you really asked them is that they want fiscal constraint. We should have not and cannot keep spending $10’s billions we don’t have to pay for program spending. (Investment in infrastructure with a long life span can have separate rules as I have mentioned before in response to your articles).

    So a few key items that should form this new model:
    – improved transparency on spending and costs – government needs to make it easy to obtain detailed spending on any program so evaluation can be make against its Value for Money. I believe most people would be shocked to learn what is spent every year on various items. This should be handled by an arm’s length non-partisan group of the government mandated to publish this information and provide the data source for outside comparative analysis).
    – budgets must be balanced every year. Any new program must have funding generated to support it or it must be obtained from other existing areas.
    – Any new significant (causes an increase in spending of more than $200 million) program change or policy change, must be approved by vote of the public and include objectives, costs to administer, funding plan for 10 years.
    – all programs must have a mandated 10 year sunset to cease operation unless re-voted to continue which is to force a justification of value for money (we have technology that would allow this to easily be accommodated between general elections).
    – government role should be constrained to a policy, program and regulator. Operation of programs and services should be handed to the marketplace or if deemed inappropriate have an agency charted with the mandate. There should be a public justification of this rationale and expectations to allow for review. Ten year cycles should be enacted for these agencies too forcing them to show their Value for Money.

  • D.Duck

    The only thing, I think, that I have agreed with you.

    Doug Ford is the Trump of Canada. He is already stating that his core are the ‘common folk’ and that the elite PC party is playing foul to hinder him. Like Trump, you cannot count him out of this race. I would imagine the PC debates to mirror those of the GOP in 2016. One-sided & nasty by this power hungry threat.

  • Stephen White

    For those like myself who are predisposed to vote PC, and for whom just the thought of another four years of Kathleen Wynne’s government makes us want to upchuck, the events of the past week have been a nightmare.

    I would have been quite content with Vic Fedeli as leader. An accomplished businessman, a former Mayor of North Bay, and a truly decent man he combines political acumen, compassion and credibility. Instead, he gets pushed aside and thrown under the bus due to the backroom machinations of Bay Street insiders. Now we endure a hurried 5 week leadership campaign in which the leading contenders emerging are: 1) a loud braggart with an exalted view of himself; 2) a two time leadership loser; 3) the offspring of a Prime Minister who has never run for public office and has no political experience and seems to be running on her father’s reputation; 4) a Bay Street business executive who also has no political experience running in a riding where there is no assurance he will even win.

    If the Tories manage to self destruct this year as they have done in the past three provincial elections they should give very serious thought to doing what was done in Saskatchewan after disgraced Premier Grant Devine was defeated. Trash the name, scrap the brand, disband the Party and start over. Otherwise, just send in the clowns!