Monday, May 11, 2015

Patrick Brown: An Ontario Liberal's best friend

There was something surreal about seeing a white male from Barrie rise before the assembled delegates of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party to hail his own election to the leadership, as Patrick Brown did on Saturday, as somehow an indication of the party being "more diverse".

But this is what he did -- and it says something very telling about Brown and his constituency.

In reality this backbench MP, that Harper never seems to have remotely considered handing any type of responsibility, was able to ride a wave of right-wing, socially conservative anger both within and external to the party, but still very much on Ontario's fringes, to its leadership over a woman who was more moderate in her views and who was seen as the establishment candidate.

I think it is safe to say that Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is so happy at this result that one could almost think it worthwhile to comb the PC membership lists of those newly signed up for the names of Liberal cabinet ministers!

The odds of the sagging Liberals winning the next election have just increased exponentially.

While, it might be said, this is the province that elected Harris and Rob Ford, those were "perfect storm" moments for the right that both very much involved the Conservative establishment (a fact that, in the case of Ford, John Tory worked rather hard to try to make everyone forget).

And, despite the left's contempt for him, Ford actually had and has a type of charisma and "everyman" quality to him that it is hard to detect at all in Brown who seems rather flat like  Hudak but with an even dimmer intellectual gravitas.

The Liberals, predictably and immediately went on the offensive to portray, entirely correctly, Brown as a dangerous right-wing radical:

"This isn't your father's PC Party.  It's not the Party of Bill Davis.  Patrick Brown is so out-of-touch and so right-wing that he makes Tim Hudak and Rob Ford look progressive," said Liberal MPP Steven Del Duca.  "Brown is so right-wing and so ineffective that Stephen Harper chose not to promote him when he's had the chance.  Even Mike Harris and the Ford Brothers think Patrick Brown was too scary for Ontario," said Del Duca.

You can rest assured this is what they will say for the next three years every chance they get.

Brown's elevation makes the NDP's constant refrain, expressed to one degree or in one way or another, that the Liberals and Conservatives are essentially "the same" that much harder and less likely to sway the minds of voters given that on terribly important social and legal issues this is so obviously false and will now likely be much more so.

This rather explains the NDP's far more muted response congratulating Brown and then saying that his lack of experience makes them "the only real opposition to the Wynne Liberal's short sighted agenda".

Which may very well be true, but given that the Liberals will now campaign non-stop as the only real bulwark (and in a sense "opposition") to Brown, it is also not at all the point.

As for the Conservatives one has to wonder how long Brown will have to prove himself to a caucus he is not even a part of. To many of them this has to make taking Queen's Park back seem far less likely and given his performances to date, I think we can safely say he has a long road to travel before he can be said to be in anything like the league of the truly effective or charismatic politicians right-or-left -- and one really has to be one of these two things to bring down a government, "perfect storm" or otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment