The newly released Progressive Conservative platform channels the big rock candy mountain approach to government policy more commonly seen coming from proponents on the left of the political spectrum than the more conservative approach that has been the foundation of that party since time immemorial—or at the very least since the heyday of the “red Tory” reign of Bill Davis’s version of the Big Blue Machine.
The (relatively) newly minted leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Patrick Brown has certainly delivered on his promise to put a new face on the party, designed to win back what he has termed “natural” PC supporters, including civil servants like police, EMS workers, nurses, doctors and private sector groups like the small business portion of the middle class.
Mr. Brown has been accused by his opponents as being weathervane a politician, switching his direction to suit the moment. Certainly his rise to power as leader of the party that forms the Official Opposition seems to bear that out. The heir apparent to the PC crown, Christine Elliott, and her team were effectively blind-sided by Mr. Brown’s courting and mobilization of social conservative interests to sell memberships that eventual won him that crown—only to almost immediately swing about face to march in Pride parades and declare abortion and other right to life pillars as off-limits to his rank and file MPPs.
Mr. Brown’s new platform seems to have been designed more on the pattern of Justin Trudeau’s Sunny Ways than any fiat of the government of Stephen Harper (for whom Mr. Brown was a backbench MP). He promises lower taxes for the middle class (although the touted 22.5 percent cut is not quite as trumpeted on close examination) while claiming that under Tory rule the province will “move ahead.” Hard to envision how that will play out, particularly in light of the $12 billion cuts to government services currently enjoyed by Ontarians that is underplayed in his PR work.
Politics has always been a game of spin, with smoke and mirrors and policy sleight of hand playing a larger role than the truth—but we seem to be entering a whole new era these days where politicians are letting slip the reins of truth in the naked pursuit of power in a way rarely seen since the heyday of the Cold War Politburo and Comintern communicates, sadly leaving the public with little clue as to how the carriage of state will veer once a new driver has taken the seat.
Little wonder that the common person is tending to say “a pox on all their houses,” and electing the Trumps of this world in retaliation, even though it is the common person who will suffer the ill in the end.
We must each of us resist the temptation to turn our backs on our democracy and make every effort to grasp back the reigns of our governments from demagogues and charlatans of any ilk. It isn’t easy, looking behind the curtains of the Great Oz never is, but if we want to secure our future at the end of the yellow brick road we must muster up our brains, our courage, and yes, our hearts if we are to discern the truth behind the spin.