I’ve lost count: is this Ontario PC party leader Patrick Brown’s double or triple flip-flop on the province’s sex education curriculum, which apparently includes lessons on same-sex relationships and gender identity/expression?
Did not this former federal back-bencher criticize the sex education curriculum during his leadership bid in 2015 when he was pandering for votes from the social conservative wing of the PC party? I remember him and MPP Monte McNaughton going all-in to fan the flames of parental opposition to the sex-ed curriculum and gain the support of evangelical Christians.
Then after his successful campaign, did we not hear how he was all about being a “pragmatic conservative” and a supporter of LGBT rights? He even attended Toronto’s Gay Pride parades as he tried to put some distance between the “new” pragmatic Patrick Brown and his past, social conservative voting record in Ottawa.
All that, to this observer, suggested he would be more at ease with Premier Wynne’s progressive sex-ed agenda.
It came as more than a bit of a surprise, therefore, when I read recently that he had sent a letter—widely distributed and under his signature—to residents in Scarborough-Rouge River riding, suggesting he would “scrap” the updated curriculum. Then surprise turned to bemusement when I read his op-ed declaring his letter “a mistake” and that it is not his view. He goes further saying, “I apologize.” and, “I strongly support an updated curriculum.”
I remember when Mike Harris became leader of the Ontario PCs. Within months, I saw him “grow” into the job as he faced his first general election as leader. His professional development in a relatively short time was nothing short of amazing, and justified my confidence in him.
So I believed there was hope for Brown.
I did not support Brown’s 2015 leadership bid because I did not believe he had much in the way of past accomplishments and was in well over his head. I did hope, however, he would seek and follow advice and grow into his new job, as Harris had done. Unfortunately, though, this does not seem to have been the case.
So what does Patrick Brown really stand for? What are the core principles that inform his politics. Is his core, guiding principle really pragmatism? If it is, is this what we want as a replacement for the current premier? I think not.
And that’s a shame. Ontario needs better fiscal management and more honest governance than it’s getting or is ever likely to get from the ineffectual, scandal-prone Liberals. But we also need leadership informed and constrained by a moral compass we can identify with and respect.
Everyone makes mistakes and Brown had little in the way of professional experience to draw from. He’d better grow and become a principled politician soon, though, or we’ll all be in a pickle if we have to endure another four-year term of those Liberal rascals.