The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s pre-election problems are evolving into a strange saga worthy of a novel or movie script.
As vigilant readers of this publication will recall after Patrick Brown’s resignation/ouster as party leader late last month I wrote in this space that the PCs could still win the election that was supposed to be theirs if they were able to present a united front to Ontarians. I also wrote that a leadership campaign prior to June’s provincial election seemed like an internal distraction when the goal should be defeating Kathleen Wynne with an interim leader and choosing a permanent one later.
The party has mistakenly decided to stick with its decision to hold a leadership contest and that contest is quickly growing into a spectacle worthy of a big top.
First there was the announcement that former Toronto city councillor and human megaphone Doug Ford would be seeking the position. Ford made that eye-roll-inducing announcement from the very un-elite location of his mother’s basement presumably to make some kind of statement about how tough things are for Ontario’s working class despite the fact that Ford himself is of course a millionaire.
Then there’s Caroline Mulroney – lawyer businesswoman and daughter of a former prime minister. While Mulroney has already earned the nomination to run as the PC candidate in the riding of York-Simcoe and impressive as she may be does the party really believe that Ontarians will make someone with no previous political experience of her own the premier of the province?
The party is lucky that Christine Elliot a former longtime MPP who lost the leadership bid to Brown in 2015 has put her name forward again. The party should have chosen Elliot as its leader three years ago and if it’s at all interested in winning the election if indeed that it is even still possible it will choose her.
Then there’s Tanya Granic Allen president of the socially conservative group Parents As First Educators which opposes the province’s sex ed curriculum.
If you’re like me you’ll have to consult Google to find out who she is. Seems unlikely someone with such low name recognition will become premier given we are just a few months away from the election.
Then and this is where things get really strange in a reality-suspending way there is Patrick Brown.
After a segment of an audio recording of the caucus conference call where Brown was pushed to resign was leaked to the media Brown was kicked out of the PC caucus last Friday. Just hours later the newly independent MPP filed papers to run as PC leader.
These are all things that really happened.
Given that he has steadfastly denied the claims of sexual misconduct against him it seems likely that Brown will use the public platform of the leadership race to attempt to clear his name. Or he is simply trying to thrust chaos upon a party that has thrown him under the bus. Or both.
Either way it’s a spectacular mess. The PC leadership race is turning out not to be a distraction but a total circus.
And down the rabbit hole we go.