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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Whatever happened to the Big Blue Machine?

During the last leadership debate on TVO’s The Agenda, a graphic credited to The Canadian Press showed that PC Ontario membership in 2002 was 100,000, then fell to 61,000 in 2004 and now stands at 40,000 members eligible to vote in the upcoming leadership vote.

I find these numbers incredibly depressing, especially when one considers the thousands of new memberships signed up by the four candidates. According to another graphic shown during the debate and not disputed by the candidates, the following are the numbers of new members signed up by each candidate:

Tim Hudak: 14,000
Christine Elliott: 11,500
Frank Klees: 10,312
Randy Hillier: 3,200

Source: Toronto Star, May 6, 2009)

The above adds up to just over 39,000, which suggests that most of the 40,000 members eligible to vote this week, are new members.

Thank God for a leadership campaign every few years. Without them, would we even have a party?

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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10 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Kind of leaves me wondering what the riding associations do?

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  2. How about plotting membership against 'redness' of the leader and candidates?

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  3. Interesting thought, BillM.

    My guess is that in Burlington, someone slightly on the right resonates well and would increase membership.

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  4. One issue is the length of this campaign. I suspect that if the vote had been held in the fall we would have either reached or exceeded the 60,000 mark. This campaign is far shorter than the last, therefore there was less time to gear up and sell memberships before the cutoff date. That's one of the biggest reasons I was in favour of a fall vote (early September).

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  5. It clearly speaks to the job being done by McGunity since 2003 that the PC membership has dipped so low. He is leading Ontario in the right direction (esp after the mess left by Harris) and citizens of Ontario realize this and see no reason why a change in government is necessary.

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  6. Having a progressive as party leader depresses the party's base. It's a tacit sign that active grassroots activity isn't wanted. Just respond ro rhe fundraising letters; that's all that is wanted.

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  7. My point is that the membership should have been much, much higher before counting new members brought in by the leadership candidates.

    Riding association presidents should be running membership drives on an ongoing basis and not depend on leadership contests to bail them out.

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  8. Nonsense, Anon.

    McGuinty's government is the second worst since the 1950s--only Bob Rae's government was more inept.

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  9. Mike Harris and John Tory are repel people. Who wants to be associated with their failures. Apparently not many. I don't blame them. These guys did a lot of damage.

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  10. For those that suggest that having a "right wing" Leader would reverse the Party's fortunes, I think that you miss the point that under "moderate" leadership, the PC's had 42 years of ruling. Party membership under Davis, the last Red Tory premier was higher than under Harris.

    There are a number of issues that have contributed to the reduction in Party membership, including changing demographics, the effect of technology, the balkanization of urban areas, and the Party's own indifference and inability to change.

    The Party had 9,000 members at the start of the process, so the numbers quoted in the Star article are clearly inaccurate.

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