Is change the answer to Ontario’s many woes? Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is saying ‘yes’, of course, and offering himself as the man to deliver it.
At the PCs’ weekend policy convention, the party unveiled its ‘People’s Guarantee’, a glossy 78-page platform document featuring Brown’s face on the cover and the word “change” on every single page. The term appears 14 times in the index alone, in reference to families and hydro and the justice system and schools.
It ought to be an easy sell. After 14 years of Liberal rule, many voters feel the province badly needs a reboot. Wynne’s promise to bring “fairness” to everything from hydro rates to wages seems unfair to the many voters who will suffer for it — ratepayers whose hydro prices will rise in coming years due to an “amortization” of the province’s hydro debt, small businesspeople facing higher labour costs due to an increased minimum wage, parents who feel the province puts the interests of unions before those of students.
Add to this the ethical issues that have mounted over the years — the gas plant cancellation scandal, fundraising conflicts, court cases involving high-profile Liberal aides — and there’s plenty of fertile ground for the opposition to till.
And despite this, and Wynne’s persistent unpopularity, the election is no gimme for the PCs. A recent Forum Research poll has the Tories at 36 per cent, the Liberals at 32 per cent and the NDP at 25 per cent. This is happening as Wynne’s personal popularity continues to sink towards the centre of the earth; she hit 12 per cent approval in the past year.
And that NDP number poses a problem for Brown, too. Despite the NDP’s clear program and likeable leader, Andrea Horwath, the Liberals have been holding her party at bay by leaning more and more to the left, stealing the NDP’s thunder on issues such as pharmacare, seniors’ care and labour conditions.
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