I was at Queen’s Park a few months ago to cover a speech made by my local MPP. Sitting in the member’s gallery I took in every detail of the chamber, from its high ceilings and ornate décor to what everyone looked like in real life.
One of things I couldn’t help but notice was the Progressive Conservatives (P.C’s). For the Official Opposition they looked lost, unfocused. A lot of this was due to the lack of leader because they were entering a leadership contest.
The leadership race is entering its final stages, with a vote coming in early May. It looks like the two serious contenders are Christine Elliott, and Patrick Brown.
Elliott is the widow of former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. She’s an established commodity in the Conservative movement. Reading her website she makes it clear she wants to leader now, and Premier in the 2018 election. She’s aware of the problems her party and is pledging a two-pronged approach focusing on internal party problems, as well as developing public policy.
Her identity is as a red tory. She’s the co-founder of Whitby’s Abilities Centre for people with special needs. As an MPP she wrote a private member’s bill creating two select committees on Mental Health and Actions, and a Select Committee on Developmental Services. The questions surrounding her are: Is she going to take the party too far to the left? And is she too close to the party to see what needs fixing?
Brown is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Barrie. His main pledge is inclusiveness, focusing on getting more nurses, paramedics, and police into the fold. That’s great, but Ontario is also small-business people, self-employed people, people working for minimum wage, and people who are unemployed. He needs to pay just as much attention to those individuals too.
His identity is as the new guy. He brings the fresh perspective of someone who hasn’t been part of the P.C. party throughout the Hudak, and Tory years. Some fresh blood might not be a bad idea. There’s a couple of questions that surround him. He speaks on his website about loyalty. He’s the MP for Barrie, and trying out for a new job. Where’s the loyalty to his constituents? You could argue it is the end of the term, but Parliament still sits. How effective is he with a divided focus.
The other is how Patrick Brown handles the question of a seat. As it stands he has none, meaning if he wins he doesn’t get to ask questions in Question Period and is relegated to the public galleries. It limits your effectiveness. When it comes down to it, this will probably play a bigger role than it is right now.
It’s the classic case of experience vs. the new guy. The result? We’ll see what happens in May.