Thursday, September 1, 2016

Patrick Brown: If you don’t stand for anything, sooner or later you’ll fall over something

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.


  1. This along with his support of Wynne's carbon tax makes him more of a liberal than I can vote for.

  2. Russ, I always believed the Ontario PCs troubles started at the party executive level and repurcussed in what the exec-rigged leadership process produced as a "leader?".

    Let's be honest the PCs have not seen real leaders and leadership teams since the days of Davis and Harris. Competent candidates do not go near politics because it has become such a media-corrupted cat fight. Eaves, Tory, and all who follwed were the result of CINO party apparatchiks who basically apologize for being right of center and who want ideologically androgynous candidates who cover the spectrum of ideologies who will not draw heat from a media who are now patrons of kleptocratic socialism.

    Ontario needs another Mike Harris and nothing less - there has to be some real conservative tough love in getting the fiscal house in order - that need be done as a matter of the province's survival - and once the "blue meanie" has accomplished fiscal stability and economic prosperity is in ascension again, the leadership should be handed over to a kinder gentler progressive conservative leader who knows how to spend wisely and maintain equilibrium between Keynesian and Austrian school economic governing. Most of all, get government out of placating special interests, stop paying union extortion and neutralize media hysteria with grass roots popular support.

    Conservatives see that Rob Ford populism is the answer to putting true conservative administration at work again but they shudder at the media hell storm he underwent - The media can be tamed and the unions read the riot act if it is done intelligently and carried off with strategic planning and commitment from the entire party to the caucus and leader - that level of cohesive effort and insight does not exist in the PC organization because the people from successful private sector life reject the sleaze and ego wars of party politics.

    -Bill Elder-

  3. If they even have image consultants, someone should get him to tone down the spikey hair. It makes him look like the poster boy for Wehrmacht recruiting.

  4. I think more lack of specifics is his problem rather than where he stands on the spectrum. If recent elections are any indication, I just don't think there is a strong desire to take a sharp turn right. Yes maybe it is needed to clean things up, but it won't win you an election so better just promise a core review of all government activities and perhaps dust off the Drummond Report. Otherwise make the big cuts if needed but do it once in power and do it in the first two years only. I am originally from BC and we had a similar situation in 2001. Gordon Campbell ran on smaller government but not dramatic cuts, otherwise the New Era for BC was quite different than the Common Sense Revolution document yet he made similar size cuts in the first few years, but then the economy picked up and since 2005 there have been no major cuts and the party is still in power. So probably that is the closest blueprint I can think of that might work best. As I don't want the PCs to lose another winneable election and neither do I want them to be a one term wonder. Yes eventually the Liberals will return as no party stays in power forever, but I would like them to be able to win at least two terms in office. And hopefully by the time the Liberals return provincially we have the Tories in office federally to balance things out.