The Progressive Conservatives have broken into Toronto. Their candidate in Scarborough Rouge-River Raymond Cho took the riding’s by-election last night despite the misstep by leader Patrick Brown’s camp in releasing a letter promising to repeal, and change the sex-ed curriculum.
It stands as a blow to Wynne’s leadership, and the Liberal policies. It’s a signal her party after nearly 14 years in office is starting to wear out. It’s a verdict on her climate change policy, and carbon tax. It’s a condemnation of all the scandals, the mishandling of money, and all the constant fee increases.
It casts doubt on her survival as leader. Wynne wasn’t able to take a by-election called for the end of summer in a low turn-out environment where Brown made a pretty big mistake. What’s the chance she can maintain the majority government in two years? When you combine this with the cabinet shuffle, it makes it seem likely there are a few Liberals that want to see her leave before the next provincial election.
For Patrick Brown this victory is a kind of crossing the Rubicon. For the last several elections there’s been this perception a Conservative of any kind (federal or provincial) can’t win in Toronto. Now one has it opens up a beach head for a continued invasion. Progressive Conservatives can win in Toronto, because Cho has.
The letter will haunt Patrick Brown. He has apologized for sending it out, backtracked on his views. But it’s out there. And questions as to who wrote it (Brown still refuses to say), and what his own stance are out there. It’s too easy for the Liberals, and N.D.P. to take the letter and use it to cast doubt on him as leader. It won’t be easy for Ontarians to shrug off because it’s an actual concrete example of why he might not be good for the job.
The P.C.’s may have cracked Toronto but there’s a lot of hard work ahead to make it a success.