A byelection is uncovering serious flaws in the Ontario PCs’ campaign game
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown can exhale now. Yesterday, voters in the Toronto provincial riding of Scarborough Rouge River handed PC candidate Raymond Cho a decisive victory in a byelection to replace outgoing Liberal MPP Bas Balkissoon.
He won in spite of Brown, certainly not because of him. His campaign was sideswiped by a last-minute controversy over an email letter sent under Brown’s signature stating that if the Tories won the election, the PCs would scrap the province’s controversial sex-ed program — a position Brown then publicly disavowed, despite having held it during his leadership campaign two years earlier.
For a week, the reversal sucked much of the oxygen from the Tory campaign, which had been riding high on voter anger at stratospheric hydro rates and news that the government of Premier Kathleen Wynne spent $70 million to create a pension plan that will now be scrapped due to federal changes to CPP. Add to that a slew of stories about Liberal cabinet ministers hosting pricey fundraising dinners with lobbyists and the loss of 40,000 jobs in July, and it was hard to find voters who didn’t have an axe to grind against the current Liberal government.
The sex-ed curriculum, which involves teaching children about same-sex relationships, gender identity and masturbation, was another bone of contention, particularly among parents in the South Asian and Chinese communities — which happen to make up two-thirds of Scarborough Rouge River’s population. But after the campaign letter had circulated for five days, Brown claimed that a) he hadn’t known about it and b) he was willing to lose Scarborough Rouge River rather than win it “on false pretenses.” It was a major political gamble — and it could have backfired in spectacular fashion.
For while Brown denied that he wanted to throw anyone “under the bus,” it certainly looked that way to disgruntled supporters who had seen in the new leader a champion for their causes.
Read the full article on iPolitics.