On Saturday the Progressive Conservative (PC’s) Party of Ontario chose Patrick Brown as their new leader. He’s young, energetic and ready to do what’s necessary to rebuild their party.
He’s also a bit of a contradiction. He describes himself as a pragmatic progressive conservative willing to consider all ideas even if they come from the Liberals or NDP. But he’s also describes himself as a pro-life, with the Pro life coalition said to be among his fundraisers for the leadership campaign. The thought of those two things alone is enough to make many women a little wary. A P.C. win in the next provincial election would mean having to wall these views off into his private life, and not allow them to influence decisions. If he doesn’t, Kathleen Wynne, and Andrea Horwath will pounce on him.
The lack of seat is still a sticking point. One of his own members has to step down, a by-election called. The scary thing here is the alleged lengths to which the Liberals’ will go to win a by-election. How quickly the Sudbury situation has been forgotten. There could be a scenario where he runs, loses, and then what happens? Without a seat he has little standing in the legislature. Potentially we could be back in the same situation in 18 months picking yet another leader.
There are also some questions about judgement. Former leadership rival Monte McNaughton has been vocal in his opposition to the Wynne government’s Sex Education curriculum. Last week he sent an email to Brown’s supporters that accused Christine Elliott of saying those who didn’t support the new curriculum wouldn’t be welcome if she won the leadership, suggesting she should have a “little pink tent.” Elliott didn’t respond, but former candidate Lisa McLeod did in a tweet saying: “I’m extremely sad to see an attack on Elliott by one of our own.” How Brown deals with fights like this will be key. Why didn’t he tell McNaughton to be quiet until after the results were announced?
Patrick Brown is walking a fine line here. He could end up as Premier, but he needs to decide on a direction. Is he a true Social Conservative as he’s starting to appear to be? Or is he a true pragmatist as he professes to be? He needs to make a choice before the opposition does it for him.