Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Red Dog who had No Bark

The Toronto Star runs an editorial pleading the case for John Tory, leader of the Ontario Conservative party, and if that isn’t enough to rot your socks, the T-Star suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoint one of Conservative party MPP’s to the federal senate as a way to make room for John Tory so he can try to run for a seat to finally be able to run in the provincial legislator.

I am of the belief as long as John Tory runs as a conservative, he could run in the safest Conservative riding anywhere in the country, and still manage to lose. So why does this red dog loser have the Toronto Star endorsement?
However, the lack of a seat in the Legislature for Tory is not, in itself, the main problem facing Tory today. Rather, it is a symptom of the problem, which is that support for him within the provincial Conservative party is eroding. By now, a leader in a stronger position would have been able to force another MPP to step aside and make a seat available. Tory has pushed four or five different Conservative MPPs, and they have all pushed back.

The signs of the shakiness of Tory's position are everywhere, from disparaging quotes from unnamed party members to slack attendance at fundraising dinners. This may seem strange to outsiders, as Tory is a man of obvious talent with an unrivalled work ethic. But he is also a Bill Davis Conservative, and the Mike Harris wing of the party has never much liked him. When the Conservatives lost the 2007 election, the Harrisites blamed Tory and his proposal of public funding for "faith-based schools" (even though the idea flowed from one of Harris's own policies, the private school tax credit). Now the Harrisites are actively undermining Tory, and sources say he may quit out of exasperation.

This would be a loss, and not just for the Conservatives who would have to turn to second-stringers in the Harris wing for a replacement. Under Tory, the Conservatives are a middle-of-the-road party that can present itself as a viable alternative to the Liberal government. Under a Harrisite replacement, the Conservatives would undoubtedly turn hard right and essentially give the Liberals a free pass to stay in power. That would not be good for democracy or the province.

The thing about the Harris Conservatives is, when the party ran as the ‘hard right party’, the voters of Ontario delivered two back to back conservative majorities. Ernie Eves stint as Ontario Premier took Ontarians back to the middle of the road liberal lite conservatism and the Conservative party lost again to the Liberals and has been losing ever since.

John Tory is simply the manifestation of ills of the conservative party in Ontario and not the cure. Drop this red dog, and come up with a truly conservative party platform to draw conservative voters like me back into the fold. Until then, I hope you enjoy your stay in electorial perdition.

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