Monday, September 20, 2004


This weekend, the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party elected a new leader, John Tory. As numerous profiles in the provincial media have outlined, he is a successful businessman with a wealth of contacts in both the charitable and business communities in Ontario and ran a close second to David Miller in Toronto's mayoralty contest last year. As some readers might know, I supported former Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Jim Flaherty, who placed a close second.

I have never claimed to be an idealogue; I have always considered myself to be somewhat of a pragmatist--there is a role for government and certain policies make more sense during certain times. But I do have principles that I stand by. Government cannot be all things to all people. It should create a positive environment for business and provide the necessary (but not excessive) regulations to protect consumers, the environment, etc. It should be limited in its size, doing what is necessary to serve the people and not much more. I'm a firm believer of law and order and an unapologetic supporter of law enforcement agencies. And I do think we pay too many taxes.

I for one am willing to give John Tory a chance.

There is no question Mr. Tory is a well-regarded man. I supported him during his run for the mayoralty of Toronto. I think he brings a lot to the table. But I (and I would argue many grassroot PC members) have some concerns. During the leadership race, he said very little about his vision for Ontario. While that might have been on purpose, it still doesn't tell me what I can expect he will put forward to Ontario voters in 2007. And that makes me nervous.

I have no problem with someone who is more of a "moderate" (although I personally believe Mike Harris did what was right for the times, as opposed to espousing policies because he was a "neo-conservative"). I think the PC Party has a lot to offer Ontario voters, especially as an alternative to Premier Dalton McGuinty and his boulevard of broken promises. But if you want the top job, you need to show voters why you are worthy of it. Its not enough to not be someone--you need to specifically show them your vision for the province.

My (unsolicited) advice to John Tory is to unabashedly be who you are. If you're a moderate, fine. Be a moderate. If you do believe in more "right-wing" policies (you did pledge to reinstitute the lifetime ban for those convicted of welfare fraud) then put it out there and stick to it.

Voters appreciate knowing what to expect. And frankly, so do I. I can respect someone who is true to what THEY believe in, whether or not I believe in it. I can say I didn't agree with everything that Mike Harris did while in government, but I still supported him wholeheartedly. Don't follow polls and try to please everyone. That's where you will lose support. And always do what you said you were going to do. Never break the trust voters have placed with you.

Best of luck. And if you want to give me a call, you have my number.

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